View Full Version : ColdHardFootballFacts.com AFC North Free Agency Rankings

03-22-2007, 06:10 PM


Free agents signed:
C Sean Mahan (Tampa Bay)
RB Najeh Davenport (re-signed)
CB Chidi Iwuoma (re-signed)
Free agents lost:

WR Sean Morey (Arizona)

Free-agency status: Treading water

The Steelers are proof that teams aren't built through free-agency. Since the inception of the concept, the Steelers have made stars and watched them sign elsewhere in the free-agent market when the tread started to wear on their tires. Yet Pittsburgh remains a perennial postseason contender (8 division titles and 10 postseason appearances in past 15 seasons).

The Steelers last year at this time lost two key players from the 2005 title team, S Chris Hope and WR/KR Antwaan Randle-El. And while the absence of these two players didn't explain the drop from Super Bowl champs to .500 chumps, both were missed. Hope played at a Pro Bowl level in Tennessee, and while Randle-El flopped in Washington, his replacement, rookie Santonio Holmes, killed the Steelers during their early-season funk.

Despite their 8-8 season, Pittsburgh doesn't have any glaring holes. They were pretty much good or average in all phases of the game except for turnovers (29th in total giveaways, with 37; and 27th in turnover differential, at minus-8). Fixing that problem goes beyond free agency, and can mostly be solved inside QB Ben Roethlisberger's concussed skull. He was singularly responsible for 25 of those turnovers, with two lost fumbles and 23 picks - more INTs than he tossed in his first two years in the league (20).

You might have noticed very little news out of Ben this year. Absolutely a case of no news is good news.

03-22-2007, 06:10 PM

Free agents signed:
DE Jarret Johnson (re-signed)
RB Musa Smith (re-signed)

Free agents lost:

FB Ovie Mughelli (Atlanta)
T Tony Pashos (Jacksonville)
LB Adalius Thomas (New England)
DT Aubrayo Franklin (San Francisco)

Free-agency status: Sinking

The Baltimore Ravens of 2006 were a pretty darn good football team. They were above average at almost everything and downright fantastic at some things. The finished first league-wide in five of the eight defensive categories listed above, and they posted the best cumulative ranking of any NFL team in our 2006 Quality Stats. Those are no small feats.

Unfortunately, scoring six points at home in the AFC Divisional round is no small feat, either - especially against a Colts team that would allow 34 points in Indy the following week.

There was plenty of offensive blame to go around after that 15-6 loss, but the official scapegoat was RB Jamal Lewis, who was cut. He rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries that day. Not a bad average, but he never looked good that day. Baltimore's run game was its only glaring weakness last year, and the Ravens made a fairly bold stroke in trading for Buffalo RB Willis McGahee. McGahee's impact, or lack thereof, will be one of the most interesting subplots of the 2007 season.

While McGahee was only a 3.8-yard-per-carry back last year, he goes from the 31st ranked offensive line in Buffalo to the seventh-ranked offensive line in Baltimore, according to our Offensive Hog Index. Lewis averaged just 3.6 YPC for Baltimore last year, while backups Mike Anderson and Musa Smith combined to average 4.5 per tote.

Other than the running back position, the Ravens basically stood pat. They'll certainly miss LB Adalius Thomas, but have three other defensive Pro Bowlers plus Ray Lewis remaining on defense. There are two ways to look at Baltimore's inactive off-season: 1) when you're as good as they were last year, the loss of one good player just doesn't send the whole thing crashing down like a house of cards; or, 2) a team that couldn't even win a single playoff game last year has made no effort to improve itself in the free-agent market.


Free agents signed:
DE Antwan Peek (Houston)
DT Robaire Smith (Tennessee)
DT Shaun Smith (Cincinnati)
G Eric Steinbach (Cincinnati)
CB Kenny Wright (Washington)
C Hank Fraley (re-signed)
C Lenny Friedman (re-signed)

Free agents lost:
WR Dennis Northcutt (Jacksonville)
S Brian Russell (Seattle)

Free-agency status: Swimming

Say what you will about the Cleveland franchise, its players or its mind-numbingly dull uniform scheme, but the Browns can't be faulted for their attempt to improve the team this offseason.

The Browns were 30th in the Offensive Hog Index and 26th in the Defensive Hog Index a year ago (a sure recipe for failure), and they've made significant moves in both areas. They added three defensive linemen, re-signed two offensive linemen, and landed one of the few front-line starters available in free agency (former Bengals guard Eric Steinbach).

They also added a running back from the released pile in Jamal Lewis (see Baltimore, above), a maneuver that enabled them to trade incumbent Reuben Droughns for WR Tim Carter, a plus move if not a game-changer.

Of course, they had other holes to fill, but when you're this bad you can't solve everything in one season.

So Cleveland gets plenty of credit for assessing needs and filling them. Execution? Well ... the three defensive linemen they bring in came from three of the worst defensive groups in the league - Robaire Smith (Tennessee, 32nd in Defefensive Hog Index), Antwan Peek (Houston, 31st) and Shaun Smith (Cincinnati, 23rd). They also signed CB Kenny Wright from Washington, who was a member of the worst secondary in the league (32nd in defensive passer rating). And RB Lewis was the point man for a Baltimore rushing attack that ranked 31st in yards per carry.



Free agents signed:
TE Reggie Kelly (re-signed)
RB Kenny Watson (re-signed)
P Kyle Larson (re-signed)

Free agents lost:
LB Marcus Wilkins (Atlanta)
G Eric Steinbach (Cleveland)
WR Kelley Washington (New England)
S Kevin Kaesviharn (New Orleans)
TE Tony Stewart (Oakland)
DT Shaun Smith (Cleveland)

Free-agency status: Sinking

The Bengals once again possessed a solid offense in 2006 (8th in total yards, 8th in scoring offense, 5th in passing YPA), but the defense (30th in yards allowed, 17th in scoring defense) undermined any playoff dreams that might have been lingering in Cincinnati.

The Bengals will have to address all of those defensive needs in the draft, as their only three moves in free agency have been to retain a tight end, punter and backup RB. Not exactly game-changers.

They also lost guard Eric Steinbach, who is considered a top-flight blocker - although the Cincy offensive line was pretty poor (25th in the Offensive Hog Index) without injured LT Levi Jones.

03-22-2007, 07:46 PM
Nice writing partner...
Good information and I enjoyed all your info... I think that the Ravens have got to be the odds on favorite in our division again though. It will be a very tough division in my mind with the Steelers Ravens and Bengals should also be improved if they can stay out trouble...

The Duke
03-22-2007, 08:43 PM
Everyone seems to be making important signings, but the Browns seem to be doing to much of what they should in the draft, but I don't know some of those guys so won't judge them, i'll just watch them lose :tt02:
On a side note the ravens and bengals do seem like they will give us competition this year, I couldn't be more excited about that :helmet:

03-22-2007, 09:14 PM
This is the same site that had hard empirical data that proved the Bill Cowher would not and could not ever win a Super Bowl.

03-22-2007, 09:32 PM
Will > Skill. And empirical data.

03-22-2007, 09:35 PM
Great article

Treading water aint to bad atleast we aint sinking like dem bengals and the ratbirds

03-22-2007, 09:47 PM
This is the same site that had hard empirical data that proved the Bill Cowher would not and could not ever win a Super Bowl.

Cowher didn't win the superbowl....it was the refs.....ask Holmgren!

03-23-2007, 01:03 PM
I think people make too much out of the FA signings. In all honestly, I believe it comes down to how well the individuals perform as a unit, as a TEAM! You can take all the talent in the NFL, put them on one team and lose more than half your games because they don't play well together. You can also take some of the lesser talent, have them play their positions, know what's going on during the play, and win the Super Bowl!

I don't care who is on the team, as long as they play as a TEAM!

03-23-2007, 08:21 PM
great reading!