Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The NFL Free Agency Don'ts

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The NFL Free Agency Don'ts

Article excerpt

Sometimes an NFL team's best move is resisting the urge to throw millions at older, overrated players.

Breathe, people. Breathe.

Yes, NFL free agency starts Saturday when teams are allowed to begin contacting players from other teams. Yes, players can begin signing Tuesday. Yes, every media outlet in the country will immediately knee-jerk every team into two black-and-white piles for winners and losers.

But if you find your blood pressure rising with unrealistic fantasies of your favorite team buying Super Bowl XLIX before St. Patrick's Day, take a deep breath, close your eyes and ask yourself three things:

1. Whatever became of that "Dream Team" the Eagles bought in March 2011? Answer: #nightmare.

2. Who won the first week of free agency in 2013 and how many actual on-the-field victories did it translate into? Answer: Dolphins, one (6-10 to 7-9).

3. Which five words might best describe why Redskins owner Dan Snyder doesn't have a Lombardi Trophy? Answer: Impatience, free agency and Albert Haynesworth.

Some have described the start of free agency as Christmas morning. And, yes, there are some treasures to be found. But realistically, if Santa were in charge, he wouldn't take the really good toys - Greg Hardy, Jimmy Graham, Brian Orakpo, etc. - out of the sleigh before departing the North Pole.

With the salary cap at $133 million - $10 million above last year's total - and expected to keep climbing in future years, most teams have ample room to (over)pay players they like now and release them without too many financial entanglements if they fall short of expectations (see Carlson, J.). The Vikings have about $34 million in cap space and two primary needs: offense and defense.

Heading into free agency, it's probably better to have a not-to- do list than a to-do list. Here's one person's guideline:

1. No 30-year-olds. Thirty isn't the new 25. Thirty is too old and too close to the proverbial NFL wall to be flirting with.

2. No running backs. Sorry, Toby. Sorry, Knowshon. But good running backs can be found younger and cheaper on Day 3 of the draft or among the pool of rookie free agents. …

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