Thursday, March 14, 2013

4 comments Bleacher Report Has a List of Teams Who Need to Spend Money They Don't Have in Free Agency

This article is ridiculous. The whole idea that "Team A, B, and C need to spend money in free agency in order to excite their fans" is a crazy point of view to me. Bleacher Report has provided us with a list of teams who need to make a big splash in free agency this year. The problem with a few of these teams making a splash in free agency is they don't have the cap room to do so. "That's no problem," says the author when confronted with this reality in the comments,

I work with the cap every day. Easy to find money.

He works with the cap everyday, people. It's easy to find money. It's not so easy to find money and still put a good team on the field, but that's beside the point because the author WORKS WITH THE CAP EVERYDAY. He wakes up, works with the cap for eight hours and then goes to bed. Little do NFL teams know the premier capologist on the planet is wasting his life away working as a certified contract advisor and writing for Bleacher Report when he could be fixing a team's salary cap situation with ease. When confronted with one team only having $22 million in cap room, the author says, 

ANY team can make and find cap space.

The author finds cap space AND YOU CAN TOO! The author is an NFLPA certified contract advisor and was an NFL scout, so while he has experience working with cap space, I can't help but think he is simplifying how easy it is to get cap space for some teams. Plus, getting cap space and then just spending that cap space on the free agent market sounds anti-theoretical to me.

I'd like to see how he would fix Carolina's cap issues without cutting the team's starting running back, starting left tackle, best cornerback, and two starting linebackers. Sure, all of those players can be cut, but then they have to sign draft picks and have money available for next year as well. Would cutting five starters and then spending on free agents really make Carolina a better team next year? Splurging on free agents will simply put Carolina in the same position next year as they are in this year. Of course, it's easy to find cap space so I don't know what I am worried about.
So immediately we know we aren't dealing with the most rational person who thinks teams need to sign free agents to excite the fans and also believes finding cap space is the same thing as finding cap space and still fielding a competitive team. What's the point of making a big splash in free agency if you have to cut your best players to get that cap space? Not to mention, some of the cap space each team has will go to signing draft picks. Here's the list of teams who need to clear cap room only to spend all of their cap room. 

All the cap figures I will use come from this cap tracker and the cap room John Clayton said each team had in early January.

Historically, there are teams that are not very active in the unrestricted free-agent market.  The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are two perfect examples.  While each team will sign its “homegrown” players, rarely do the Packers or Steelers spend big money on other teams’ free agents.

Because these teams are successful with this strategy, then some NFL teams should do the very opposite of this strategy and spend money on other teams' free agents...because that makes sense. 

General manager Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano knew they needed to do something to get the fans fired up again.  So the Buccaneers spent heavy in free agency, locking up wide receiver Vincent Jackson, offensive guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright.

The Buccaneers also had $43 million in cap space. When you have that kind of money then you can spend it in free agency. By the way, the Buccaneers didn't make the playoffs last year, but I'm sure the Tampa Bay fans are fired up again.

Jackson was one of the best receivers in football, and Nicks was a dominant player until he was placed on injured reserve.

So basically Carl Nicks got injured. He was an expensive free agent who got injured after seven games. Isn't this an example of why free agency is a crapshoot? Nicks may be fine for this upcoming season, but the Bucs spent good money on him, only to have him injured. I'm not saying Nicks was a bad free agent signing, but do want to note Nicks got injured in the first year of his free agent contract.

Here are 10 teams that need to be players in free agency in 2013.  These franchises either need more talent or need to spend big to show their fans they are serious about winning now.

Because nothing says a team is serious about winning like spending cap room they don't have and cutting current players on the team. Cutting players to get cap room, only to fill this cap room with free agent signings is what some of these teams need to do.

Let's start the slideshow!

Arizona Cardinals

I am showing the Cardinals had approximately $-1.8 million in cap room when this article was written (all cap figures will be as of the day this article was written or as close as possible to that date). They don't have enough money at this point to sign their draft picks, but of course it's easy to clear up cap room!

The first move new Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim should make is getting a quarterback who can win some games.

I'm glad the first move is the most simple. There are at least 10 quarterbacks available right now who can "win some games." These quarterbacks will also sign a 4 year negative $21 million contract, so it all works out. All of these quarterbacks who can win games will sign with the Cardinals and actually free up cap space. It's a win-win!

Then, he should sign some offensive linemen that can block for said quarterback.

It's easy to find quality offensive linemen who will work cheap. Keep thinking that.

The market for a starting quarterback is not good, so Keim will have to work to trade for a player like Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers.

The good news is the Cardinals won't have to sign as many draft picks, while the bad news is the Cardinals just traded for Alex Smith. I like Alex Smith. Take Alex Smith out of San Francisco and I start to have questions about Alex Smith's ability to play the quarterback position. Also, how is trading for Alex Smith spending money in free agency?

Notice the author says the Cardinals need to sign a quarterback who can win games, but he only lists Alex Smith as an option. There's Matt Flynn and Alex Smith on the market right now in regard to quarterbacks who can "win some games," and we don't even know if these guys can win games or not really. So it isn't like the Cardinals can just go out and find a quarterback in the next hour to win them some games.

The quality of free-agent offensive linemen is very high, though, so look for the Cardinals to sign at least two players.  Offensive tackles Jake Long, Branden Albert, Ryan Clady and Andre Smith are instant upgrades.

Normally I would make a comment about the Cardinals having to worry about getting cap room to sign one of these quality tackles, but we have learned already it's easy to free up cap room, and it's not like the Cardinals need to sign draft picks or anything. How expensive could these four young tackles cost on the free agent market? The Cardinals are currently projected to be over the cap and they have now signed a quarterback, two offensive linemen and still have to sign their draft picks.

Carolina Panthers

I've already detailed Carolina's salary cap situation with the link I provided earlier in this post. It's crucial. Carolina is over the cap and they are going to have to cut quite a few players just to get under the cap enough to sign their draft picks. But why not be very active in free agency?

The Carolina Panthers front office needs to hit on this free-agent class to stay competitive in the NFC South.

Absolutely, but first they have to get under the salary cap and cut salary. That's going to be difficult enough without some restructured deals and difficult cuts, but then they should go spend the salary cap space they just acquired? Doesn't make sense.

Neither starting cornerback Josh Norman nor Chris Gamble are elite.

Neither starting cornerback is elite! Cut them all! Only elite corners allowed!

The Panthers need to add a cornerback like the Steelers' Keenan Lewis or the Falcons' Brent Grimes. 

I'm not entirely sure Keenan Lewis or Brent Grimes are elite corners either. 

At safety, the 49ers' Dashon Goldson would be the perfect addition.

Considering Carolina is approximately $5-$11 million over the projected cap of $121-$122 million, they would have to get $15-$20 million under the cap in order to sign Lewis/Grimes/Goldson in free agency and still have enough money to sign their draft picks. Seems kind of hard to do. What do I know though? I'm not a capologist. Just cut a bunch of players or push the cap hit down the line in order to sign free agents. It makes brilliant sense.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns need to win more games, and hitting big in free agency will help bring some fire back to fans that deserve a contender.

The author is all about free agency providing huge amounts of excitement for a team's fan base. You know what else would provide excitement for the Browns fan base? Winning games and continuing to draft well. The Browns have cap space, so they will obviously be players in free agency, but I think the author relies too much on "hitting big in free agency" to fix a team's problems.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions released defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch this week.

Why did the Lions do this? To get under the salary cap. They now have $2.7 million to play with, spend it as fast as possible!

With Vanden Bosch gone, the Lions could be without seven starters from 2012, according to

The Lions need to hit free agency hard on the defensive side of the football, but will have to be smart.  Before this week’s cuts, the team did not have any room in cap space.

Salary cap space, smhalary cap space. It's easy to find cap room, don't you remember? You said so in your comments. It's time for the Lions to make a big splash in free agency. Sure, they are potentially losing seven starters on defense, but why not spend free agent money on a player or two who makes a big splash and gets the Lions some headlines. Headlines win Super Bowls.

They can add value and get good players by signing the likes of Raiders defensive end Matt Shaughnessy or the Texans' Connor Barwin.  Green Bay Packers linebacker Brad Jones or the Vikings' Erin Henderson make the Lions better while making an NFC North opponent weaker.

These are not terrible suggestions. The problem is signing any of these four players isn't "making a big splash" in free agency. Smart signings like these don't make a big splash, so smart value signings like this go against the entire premise of this column it seems.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to find players who can get the fans back in the stands.  

I think saying free agency is a way to get fans back in the stands is a bit short-sighted. Winning gets fans back in the stands and smart free agent signings can help a team win, but to sign a player simply to get fans to show up isn't a good long-term plan.

At cornerback, both Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox are free agents.  The Jaguars have a players' coach in Gus Bradley running the ship and should make a run at the best cornerback in the class, Aqib Talib.

Raheem Morris was also a player's coach and that didn't work out incredibly well for Talib. If anything, Talib doesn't need a player's coach, but needs a coach who won't allow him to get away with being a knucklehead. I don't know if the Jaguars need to try and sign more expensive free agents to use up the $22 million in cap room they have. They probably should focus on drafting better. Aqib Talib doesn't seem like the best free agent to place on a struggling and developing team like Jacksonville.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are about $6 million under the cap. So they don't have a ton of room to sign players, but let's see what kind of splash they can make in the view of the author.

The San Diego Chargers need depth at running back behind oft-injured Ryan Mathews, so look for them to add a player like Peyton Hillis of the Chiefs or Felix Jones of the Cowboys.

I'm not sure this counts as "making a splash," but if the Chargers are looking to sign two underachieving running backs then these are two good names to achieve that goal.

The defense could lose both starting cornerbacks and three starters along the defensive line. Dallas' Anthony Spencer would fit nicely at the outside linebacker position.  

Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks and the Raiders' Richard Seymour have had success in the 3-4 defense and add veteran leadership to that side of the football.

The Chargers are $6 million under the cap. Signing Hillis or Jones wouldn't be difficult, but signing Anthony Spencer and then Seymour/Starks feels like it would take up quite a bit of cap room. The Chargers would need to make enough cuts to get these three players signed and then free up enough cap room to sign their draft picks.

Of course as the author says, it's easy to find money and cap space. Plus, he clearly sees free agency as the best way to get headlines and make a splash in free agency, and we all know the team that makes the most noise in free agency always wins the Super Bowl.

There's also a Bleacher Report slideshow on "College Basketball Stars Who Need to Stay Another Year." It's got small tidbits of interesting writing in it.

9. B.J. Young (Arkansas)

Young needs to continue to develop his playmaking skills because he legitimately will be evaluated at the next level for playing PG, not SG.

So Young will be legitimately evaluated at the next level for PG, not SG. Was there a point where he thought he would be illegitimately evaluated at the next level for PG, SG? Why is the word "legitimately" in this sentence?

7. Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)

Before the 2012-13 season opened, Willie Cauley-Stein (7.6 ppg; 5.8 rpg; 1.9 bpg) was considered, more or less, a novelty recruit who would develop over the course of a couple of seasons at Kentucky.

No, he wasn't. Willie Cauley-Stein was seen as a one-and-done guy prior to the beginning of this college basketball season and he will probably go in the first round if he enters the draft. Also, I don't know what a "novelty recruit" is, but I do know Cauley-Stein has already been recruited over for the 2013-2014 college basketball season. If he sticks around next year it will be because he didn't play well enough to enter the draft this year, which means he won't be starting next year because the Wildcats have a monster recruiting class coming in. He needs one more year probably, but he wasn't ever considered a 2+ season guy at Kentucky.

3. Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)

His return is much more likely if Michigan makes an early departure from March Madness 2013.

This is the final sentence of this part of the slideshow. I'm confused. How does the author know Glenn Robinson III is more likely to return if Michigan loses early in the NCAA Tournament? Does he know the Robinson family? I sense he is just guessing, but he makes this statement and has absolutely no verification for this statement.

1. James Michael McAdoo (UNC)

James Michael McAdoo started off the 2012-13 season projected as a lottery pick.

A less-than-sensational sophomore season has created the possibility that JMM should strongly consider coming back to Chapel Hill just to regain his predicted draft position.

Freshman year statistics: 15.6 mpg, 6.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.3 bpg, 0.9 spg, 63.8% FT, 43.4% FG.
Sophomore year statistics: 29.8 mpg,14.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 0.3bpg, 1.5 spg, 56.7% FT, 44.9% FG.

Considering McAdoo was on an extremely talented team last year and is on an extremely less talented team this year, has his sophomore year really been that disappointing and not sensational? He's been playing out of position this year, including playing the center position for extended periods of time. NBA scouts should know this, right?

I don't think McAdoo has been as bad as it seems he has. He's playing out of position on a less talented team. I'm not sure he is a lottery pick this year, but I'm not sure he was a lottery pick last year either. Since he didn't declare for the draft we will never know. Still, I disagree with the notion his sophomore year has been disappointing. There are extenuating circumstances.


Ericb said...

So this slideshow boils down to the following wisdom: These crappy/mediocre teams need to get better players and win some games so their fans can get excited about them again.

Wow, what insight that guy has.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, that does seem to be the basic point of the slideshow doesn't it. It's nice these teams don't have the cap room to do some of the things he suggests.

Snarf said...

Bleacher Report is pretty bad overall. I sort of thought they had sold their collective soul more recently, but they've always sort have been that way. Recently, when looking for info about Ripken's '91 season I came across this article, which isn't surprising considering BR's gaming of google results. Keep in mind that I'm a Ravens/Orioles fan, but you have to admit this is pretty bad. Too BR's credit, it's not in slideshow format.

His first point that Ripken's team wasn't very good is decent. I don't subscribe to the best player on the best team MVP methodology, but at least it's a coherent thought. It's followed by this gem of reasoning and argument:

Ripken's numbers actually weren't that great. He didn't hit 61 homers or drive in 150 runs. Not even in the top five in batting average. He hit only 34 homers, which was well below Canseco and Fielder, putting him on par with Joe Carter's 33. And oh yeah, Carter, who also played in all 162 games like Ripken, played on the AL-East leading Jays. So, that "iron man" argument in favor of the O's shortstop just doesn't fly. In fact, not only Carter, but also Fielder—who lost out to Rickey Henderson in 1990—played all 162 for his team.

Oh, so he didn't hit 61 homers? He must have blown then...

Forget that he had the highest WAR that season and tied for the #49 highest single season total of all time. He didn't have 61 homers nor was he top 5 in average.

He was actually #6 in average (gotta love the arbitrary cut-off point) that year, and #1 for SS, a traditionally defensive position. And since top-5 finishes are so important, he was #1 in slugging, #3 in HR's that season and #1 in total bases, which all qualify as top-5.

Sorry to hijack the comments, here, just wanted to continue to bash BR, haha.

To the article being discussed, horrible. Nothing like saying a team is stupid for doing something they literally cannot do.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, those are good points. Isn't the fact Ripken didn't hit 61 HR a good thing in retrospect? That shows he wasn't juicing.

I didn't read that article on BR. They have so many articles I could probably dedicate this entire blog to them. That's gotta be a fan of another MLB team writing that column. Ripken had a pretty good year and him not hitting 61 HR should not matter.