Take a look around the SB Nation NFL megaverse and you will see a lot of fans scratching their heads as to why their favorite teams are purging their rosters of key players. Many of these players were big free agent signings one or two years ago, and they re-inforce the tried and true method of Bill Polian, the Rooney family, and Bill Belichick: Draft well, or die. Free agency is a highly over-rated method to build your team. It will give you headlines. It will make the clueless turds at ESPN giddy. It will move you up in BS power rankings.
It will not win you football games, and often it will KILL your team's cap.
Take a look at some of the players cut in the last few days:
- Fred Taylor, Jaguars
- DeWayne Robertson, Broncos
- Jerry Porter, Jaguars
- Drayton Florence, Jaguars
- Jeff Garcia, Bucs
These moves were followed by the odd pre-shake-up in Cincinnati, which saw the Bengals slap the franchise tag... ON THEIR KICKER! This means free agent WR TJ Houshmandzadeh is going to walk, and it likely means Chad Johnson's days in Tigerland are numbered as well. Add to this the news out of Arizona than Aquan Boldin is bolting and the requested trade by DE Julius Peppers in Carolina.
That's a lot of change for several organizations that have been (somewhat) good the last few years.
Then there is the LaDanian Tomlinson situation unfolding in San Diego, who will also likely lose Darren Sproles. The Titans could lose DT Albert Haynesworth and QB Kerry Collins. The Cardinals (in addition to losing Boldin) could lose Kurt Warner to retirement and will definitely lose Edgerrin James, who is their best RB.
To put it simply, there will be a lot of turnover this off-season. Teams are stripping away "dead weight" players or players that might indeed be productive but their cap hit did not match that production. As Colts fans, we should view any cap casualties from our own team with the same perspective. Many good, quality teams are trimming away talent; stripping down their roster in order to save money.
The NFL faces an uncertain future with a potential (and possibly league killing) uncapped year in 2010 in an economy that is hemorrhaging 300,000 jobs a month. So, if we see people like Marv, Jeff, Hunter, and Freddie get slashed from the roster, just know it is not necessarily based on performance.
This is a business, and when things go bad with the economy the first thing businesses do is trim. That said, please feel some security with the fact that Bill Polian is the best front office man in football. Corey Simon is off the books, and the Colts have an impressive system of drafting well and developing from within. They have very few holes, and despite the changes with the Head Coach and some assistants, there is a lot of continuity within the organization. Unlike many other teams, our's does not have to strip down and start over.