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2005 Unsung Free Agents: 3 Skins on List

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http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings.php?p=2175&cat=5

Every Free Agent Counts

Unsung 2005 Free Agents

by Michael David Smith

As the season winds down I’ll take a break this week from dissecting one aspect of one game and go over my notes for the season with an eye for players who will be available as free agents in the spring of 2005. You’ve heard about Edgerrin James and Drew Brees and some of the other stars, but in Every Play Counts I like to focus on the players who haven’t received much attention, so that’s what I’ll do here. One note: NFL contracts are full of clauses that restrict some players from moving even if they’re called free agents, while other contracts technically have years remaining but are designed to force a team into cutting a player. I don’t want to get into the details of the contracts here, so I’m just going to focus on players who are likely to be available and what I’ve noticed watching them this year.

Here is my baker’s dozen of free agents to keep an eye on, listed alphabetically:

Rock Cartwright, fullback, Washington

The Redskins haven’t used him much this year, but Football Outsiders readers know what he can do. Click here for an analysis of why Cartwright is better than the Panthers’ DeShaun Foster, or at least why he was better in 2003, and for one of the best discussions we had at Football Outsiders last off-season. The Redskins can restrict Cartwright by making him a qualifying offer, but I can’t imagine that they will, seeing as they haven’t given him the ball a single time this year.

Donovan Darius, strong safety, Jacksonville

His hit on Robert Ferguson probably makes it impossible, but I actually think Green Bay would be a good fit for Darius. He’s one of the best run-stopping strong safeties in the league, and the Packers could really use that. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that Marcus Stroud and John Henderson get too much credit for the Jags’ success stopping the run, and Darius doesn’t get enough.

David Dixon, guard, Minnesota

I love this guy. At 343 pounds he’s awfully big for a guard, but he’s still got some mobility. No matter who their running back is, the Vikings are always effective at running up the middle, and Dixon is a big reason for that. He turns 36 in January, which might scare some teams off.

Bubba Franks, tight end, Green Bay

Franks is an effective receiver and not a bad blocker, but I’m not sure the Packers should try too hard to keep him. He’ll turn 27 in January, which isn’t too old for a tight end, but I just haven’t seen much improvement from Franks. I’m not sure that he’s any better right now than he was when the Packers made him their first-round choice out of Miami in 2000. (I also don’t think Jeremy Shockey has improved since his rookie year. Do University of Miami tight ends enter the league as good as they’ll ever be?)

Edgerton Hartwell, linebacker, Baltimore

I once saw Hartwell play in college (at Western Illinois), and I’ve been enamored with him ever since. He’s a hitter who seems to know where the play is going on almost every down. It’s tough to say whether he’d be as impressive in a defense without all the talent he has around him in Baltimore, but we’re probably going to find out next season.

Darren Howard, defensive end, New Orleans

Somewhat inconsistent and injury-prone, but when Howard has his A game, he’s one of the best defensive ends in the league. Anyone who saw the way Howard feasted on the Redskins’ Patrick Ramsey with three sacks a couple of years ago won’t soon forget it. Yes, I know Steve Spurrier’s blocking schemes made a lot of defensive ends look like stars, but Howard was in another world.

Lamont Jordan, running back, NY Jets

Any running back would look good running behind guys like center Kevin Mawae, guard Pete Kendall, and fullback Jerald Sowell, all of whom are having impressive years for the Jets. But it must be noted that Jordan is (according to DVOA) more effective when he gets the ball than Curtis Martin is. Will some team make Jordan, who just turned 26, its running back of the future? Or might the Jets say goodbye to Martin and keep Jordan in Jersey?

Antonio Pierce, linebacker, Washington

The arrival of Gregg Williams as the coach in charge of the defense has been a big part of the Redskins’ success on that side of the ball, but perhaps an equally important part has been Pierce, who is in his first year as a starter after three seasons as a backup in Washington. After injuries to Mike Barrow and Lavar Arrington, Pierce is emerging as one of the league’s best linebackers. The Redskins need to do whatever is necessary to keep him.

Shaun Rogers, defensive tackle, Detroit

Re-signing Rogers should be the No. 1 priority for Matt Millen this off-season. Actually, resigning should be the No. 1 priority for Matt Millen this off-season, but since that’s not going to happen, Lions fans will have to settle for keeping Rogers, who is one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in the league. The only concern is that he does have a history of ankle problems, and when you’re carrying 350 pounds around, your ankles go under a lot of stress.

Fred Smoot, cornerback, Washington

Several teams probably celebrated last off-season when Smoot fired agent Carl Poston, who is known for holding his clients out of training camps. Smoot is likely to make his new agent, James Cook, a very rich man. After the loss of Champ Bailey, Smoot emerged as one of the best corners in the league. It’s going to be difficult for the Redskins to keep both Smoot and Pierce, but if Dan Snyder is smart, he’ll open the checkbook. The Raiders’ Charles Woodson also becomes a free agent after this season and might get more money than Smoot, but I’ll take Smoot over Woodson any day.

Tra Thomas, left tackle, Philadelphia

I’m sick of hearing about Orlando Pace of St. Louis and Walter Jones of Seattle making their annual training camp holdouts, only to sign for the franchise-player salary at the start of the regular season. This year let’s make it a different left tackle. Thomas isn’t a particularly impressive run-blocker, but I like him a lot in pass protection.

Robbie Tobeck, center, Seattle

He’s started every game for Seattle for the last four years, and they’d love to keep him around. But that seems unlikely, given that the Seahawks have bigger name free agents, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander, cornerback Ken Lucas, and the perpetual free agent Jones.

Mike Wahle, guard, Green Bay

Wahle’s contract doesn’t expire after this season, but he has a $6 million bonus coming his way in the spring on top of a $5 million salary, making it very likely the Packers will release him if they can’t figure out a way to renegotiate his deal. You can read what I wrote about Wahle earlier this season if you want more detail, but suffice to say I think he’s one of the game’s best guards. Marco Rivera, the other guard in Green Bay, becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, and it’s vital that the Packers keep at least one of these guys. Although Rivera made the Pro Bowl, I think Wahle is the better of the two, especially after I watched Minnesota’s Kevin Williams feast on Rivera on Christmas Eve.

Who’s missing from this list? Let the arguments begin.

posted 12-29-2004 at 9:19 AM by Michael David Smith || Every Play Counts

Edited to add the link they refer to above regarding why Rock Cartwright is better than DeShaun Foster...

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings.php?p=215&cat=1

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David Dixon, guard, Minnesota

I love this guy. At 343 pounds he’s awfully big for a guard, but he’s still got some mobility. No matter who their running back is, the Vikings are always effective at running up the middle, and Dixon is a big reason for that. He turns 36 in January, which might scare some teams off.

Mike Wahle, guard, Green Bay

Wahle’s contract doesn’t expire after this season, but he has a $6 million bonus coming his way in the spring on top of a $5 million salary, making it very likely the Packers will release him if they can’t figure out a way to renegotiate his deal. You can read what I wrote about Wahle earlier this season if you want more detail, but suffice to say I think he’s one of the game’s best guards. Marco Rivera, the other guard in Green Bay, becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, and it’s vital that the Packers keep at least one of these guys. Although Rivera made the Pro Bowl, I think Wahle is the better of the two, especially after I watched Minnesota’s Kevin Williams feast on Rivera on Christmas Eve.

Robbie Tobeck, center, Seattle

He’s started every game for Seattle for the last four years, and they’d love to keep him around. But that seems unlikely, given that the Seahawks have bigger name free agents, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander, cornerback Ken Lucas, and the perpetual free agent Jones.

If we go after two of these three we should have a lot of freedom in the draft given o-line should be taken care of. I still say we should trade down, but instead of o-line first take Spears, WR, then depth for the team.

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Tobeck would be a huge upgrade for the skins. I might take a run at Darren Howard, just to see how much salary he wants. I wouldnt give him a ton, but i would talk to him.

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Originally posted by Akhhorus

Tobeck would be a huge upgrade for the skins. I might take a run at Darren Howard, just to see how much salary he wants. I wouldnt give him a ton, but i would talk to him.

Yeah, but if we pick him up, we need to break the mold of overpaying veteran FA pickups. The Skins are developing a bad reputation among players/agents as a Club Med for players who want to get "paid" and not work anymore. I'd rather have a hungry young talent, personally.

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Originally posted by bird_1972

Yeah, but if we pick him up, we need to break the mold of overpaying veteran FA pickups. The Skins are developing a bad reputation among players/agents as a Club Med for players who want to get "paid" and not work anymore. I'd rather have a hungry young talent, personally.

yeah. But Tobeck is a solid Veteran. I'd take a run at him.

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Originally posted by Akhhorus

yeah. But Tobeck is a solid Veteran. I'd take a run at him.

Just please, don't overpay. That's all I ask. We need a paradigm shift in the FO in the worst way.

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If we can address our O-line needs via free agency we can get a WR in the draft. A guard or center can be the real deal and we can get one cheap I believe. We need to fix the o-line and free agency would fix it faster than the draft. Rather than drafting an unproven young kid, we could get a proven, smart, mature, veteran in a long term deal. Then again, the rookie has more upside and hasn't developed many bad habits yet.

Excellent work listing the free agents. I think the free agency pool for linemen looks stronger than the draft. We can get either Mike Williams at WR or Marcus Spears at DE>

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Marcus Spears is not the best DE in the draft, I have seen very little improvement out of him this season and that scares me being as how another year older in college football he should have been running people over, I just don't think we can be sold on him yet.

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Rock better than DeShaun Foster. Interesting thought. I could see him fitting in well on a team in desparate need of a RB (Arizona or someone else).

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I like Rock, but better than Foster, lets be serious.

I'm not at all suggesting we do this b/c we dont have the money. But could you imagine Sean Taylor and Donovan Darius back there. Whew.

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Mike Wahle, guard, Green Bay

Wahle’s contract doesn’t expire after this season, but he has a $6 million bonus coming his way in the spring on top of a $5 million salary, making it very likely the Packers will release him if they can’t figure out a way to renegotiate his deal. You can read what I wrote about Wahle earlier this season if you want more detail, but suffice to say I think he’s one of the game’s best guards. Marco Rivera, the other guard in Green Bay, becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, and it’s vital that the Packers keep at least one of these guys. Although Rivera made the Pro Bowl, I think Wahle is the better of the two, especially after I watched Minnesota’s Kevin Williams feast on Rivera on Christmas Eve.

Robbie Tobeck, center, Seattle

He’s started every game for Seattle for the last four years, and they’d love to keep him around. But that seems unlikely, given that the Seahawks have bigger name free agents, including quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander, cornerback Ken Lucas, and the perpetual free agent Jones.

Either of these guys from GB and a C would be perfect, assuming we re-structure Samuels.

Then trade down in the draft and pick up a DE, TE, CB

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Originally posted by Skins26

I like Rock, but better than Foster, lets be serious.

I'm not at all suggesting we do this b/c we dont have the money. But could you imagine Sean Taylor and Donovan Darius back there. Whew.

poor pinkston would have nightmares every night. :laugh:

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Personally, I like Casey Rabach, Baltimore and Roberto Garza, Atlanta, since both play either C or G.

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Originally posted by SkinsCrunkin

Marcus Spears is not the best DE in the draft, I have seen very little improvement out of him this season and that scares me being as how another year older in college football he should have been running people over, I just don't think we can be sold on him yet.

Who is the best DE in the draft? Please don't say Mathias...he all potential. To me, Spears is the best combo of the run and pass rush. Erasmus James?

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I know Smoot and Pierce WILL be re-signed...they are what Gibbs is referring to as "Core" guys. I don't know what they are going to do with Rock....I feel he may be gone with Gibbs preference for H-Back's and TE's..this season he has been left out because of the numbers game...sorry Blondie!

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so if we get a guard... are yall saying dockerry should sit on the bench? I thought bugel likes dockery, and will continue to develop him as a player. We all lknow we don't want Randy Thomas to sit out .. sooooo. what exactly are yall saying

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Originally posted by Skins26

I like Rock, but better than Foster, lets be serious.

I'm not at all suggesting we do this b/c we dont have the money. But could you imagine Sean Taylor and Donovan Darius back there. Whew.

Rock is a good player and plays tough, but Deshaun Foster? Let's return to reality. Foster when healthy given the reigns of a team can be a 1500+ yard back, I don't think you'll ever see that from Rock.

As for Donovan Darius w/ the Skins :wish:

That would be the hardest hitting/ most fined secondary in football.

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Originally posted by Westbrook36

Tra Thomas is signed until 2008.

He'll be cut long before that. The Eagles have done very well managing their cap and staying a very good team, but they have a train wreck coming in the cap: Kearse, McNabb, TO, Tra Thomas and Runyan take up a TON of cap room in the near future. By 2006, they take up(roughly) nearly 35-40 million in cap room. And it just goes up from there.

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Originally posted by Akhhorus

He'll be cut long before that. The Eagles have done very well managing their cap and staying a very good team, but they have a train wreck coming in the cap: Kearse, McNabb, TO, Tra Thomas and Runyan take up a TON of cap room in the near future. By 2006, they take up(roughly) nearly 35-40 million in cap room. And it just goes up from there.

What I would like you to do is go do some research on what you just said, instead of just talking smack off the top of your head, and come report back to us about what complete untrue and ridiculous garbage you just posted.

Thank you in advance.

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Originally posted by Westbrook36

What I would like you to do is go do some research on what you just said, instead of just talking smack off the top of your head, and come report back to us about what complete untrue and ridiculous garbage you just posted.

Thank you in advance.

:laugh: now you know how it feels to be us

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