What We Learned This Week in the NFL Offseason:
- Cleveland Browns overpay for defense but get RB Ben Tate cheap
- Ravens sign veteran WR Steve Smith
- Emmanuel Sanders signs with Denver amid free agency controversy
- Steelers now thin at wide receiver
From September to February fans fancy themselves to be NFL head coaches, thinking they know the best plays to run and what direction their team needs to go in order to achieve success. But, once free agency opens in March, we all become GM’s and we convince ourselves and whoever will listen to us that we know just which free agents are worth signing or letting go. The first week of NFL free agency is about to wrap up in a couple of days and there has been a fury of movement so far. The Steelers have been mildly active, signing two new players in safety Mike Mitchell and defensive lineman Cam Thomas.
The Cleveland Browns have been active so far in free agency, throwing tons of money at defensive players Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby. They had just a little bit left to grab a new running back when they inked Ben Tate to a 2-year, $7 million deal. The Browns raised some eyebrows when they let safety T.J. Ward leave and then gave Whitner big money. Guess that kind of stuff happens when you’re constantly rebuilding.
While Steve Smith was still bitter from being released by the Carolina Panthers he was able to make his way to Baltimore and sign a three year contract with the Ravens. Smith played 13 seasons for the Panthers and is ranked 19th in the NFL in career receptions. The Ravens also re-signed Jacoby Jones showing that there will be plenty of guys available to chase after the cornerbacks who pick off Joe Flacco this season.
Emmanuel Sanders has found a new team by signing a 3-year, $15 million deal with the Denver Broncos but it didn’t come without any controversy. Apparently Sanders’ agent was pulling dirty tricks all over the NFL. Looks like Sanders’ agent, Steve Weinberg, agreed on his behalf to a deal in principle with the Kansas City Chiefs. But then, Weinberg took that deal and shopped it to other teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There was also a scheduled visit with the San Francisco 49ers. Somewhere the Broncos emerged and naturally Sanders isn’t going to pass up an opportunity to be a receiver on a Peyton Manning-led team so that’s where he signed. While there wasn’t anything done here that would land Sanders or his agent in any kind of trouble, it sure doesn’t look good. Saturday night Sanders posted this “Thank you” video to Steeler Nation for his time with the team.
— Emmanuel Sanders (@E_Sanders88) March 15, 2014
With that, the Steelers are now down some wide receivers it seems. Steeler Nation knew that once free agency opened the one sure thing was that Sanders pretty much was as good as gone. Jerricho Cotchery was the one receiver whom Ben Roethlisberger openly expressed his wishes for a return to the roster. Cotchery is expected to visit Carolina on Monday. The Steelers, in turn, are bringing in Lance Moore this week but I’m hoping they can do whatever they can to prevent Cotchery from even making the trip to Carolina and just nail him down instead. The Steelers have a little less than $3.5 million left under the cap. Plenty to sign Cotchery.