NFL Free Agent Spending Spree

With most of the NFL teams looking at millions of dollars to spend, most of the NFL GMs that spoke at the NFL Scouting Combine talked about expecting the spending to come early and often. And they were right — spending came from every angle (though for once not led by Dan Snyder's private jet). Let's take a look at the major spending and see who did well and who may have slipped up.

Thumbs Up

Buffalo Bills

The Bills made the biggest and earliest splash when they signed former Redskins OG Derrick Dockery to a seven-year, $49 million contract. Dockery, who has never made a Pro Bowl, basically got the same contract as perennial All-Pro OG Steve Hutchinson, as he raked in $18 million in guaranteed money. The Bills also picked up offensive lineman Langston Walker (Raiders) and Jason Whittle (Vikings).

While many critiqued how much money the Bills spent on Dockery, and I won't disagree that it was too much, the Bills did address a basic need of protecting QB J.P. Losman. Dockery is an above-average guard that is entering his prime and he had a breakout year for the Redskins in 2006. The Bill spending shows their willingness to improve at the level where most games are won — the trenches. Now they'll look to ship out RB Willis McGahee and find a running back that can fill his void and take even more pressure off of Losman.

New England Patriots

The Pats have always been careful about spending money ... sometimes too careful, as QB Tom Brady might point out. But this offseason they spent money and they spent it wisely. Picking up OLB Adalius Thomas from the Baltimore Ravens, a pickup at a relatively cheap six-year, $35 million contract. While there are worries that Thomas might flop outside of Baltimore, I think he could be just the defensive spark the Patriots need. He is a pass-rushing master who also has the capability of lining up on wide receivers and stopping the run and his versatility should work perfectly for the Pats.

The Pats also picked up TE Kyle Brady, a great free agent pickup that comes cheap and fills the need for a blocking tight end after the departure of TE Daniel Graham. With the departure of RB Corey Dillon the Pats also picked up RB Sammy Morris. Looks like a decent start to the offseason for the Pats and as always, expect Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the rest of the New England crew late into January.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins did not make a huge splash by signing a bunch of guys, but the one signing they made, I think, was a smart one. Grabbing OLB Joey Porter from the Steelers is a great move for the Dolphins, who kept the loud-mouthed backer from making any other free agent visits. Despite his age, Porter should make an immediate impact on the Dolphins "D" and help create a formidable linebacking corps along with MLB Zach Thomas and OLB Channing Crowder.

Thumbs Down

Dallas Cowboys

It looks like Jerry Jones is really sticking his neck out there and taking a risk ... surprise, surprise. The amount of money spent on OT Leonard Davis is risky considering that most people look at Davis as a bust. The former No. 2 overall draft pick has underperformed his entire career in Arizona, yet Dallas hit him up with a huge payday. Expect this to end in disappointment for Dallas. The Cowboys, however, did make a smart play by signing QB Brad Johnson to backup QB Tony Romo.

Houston Texans

While having a veteran running back was a priority for Houston, you have to wonder what exactly the Texans were thinking when they picked up RB Ahman Green for as much as they spent ($23 million). Green is an older back who has been beat up in the past and you have to expect the wear-and-tear to start catching up to him in the next year or so. I think Green could be a purposeful and effective pickup for the Texans, but I also think they overspent.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs added QB Jeff Garcia to compete with Chris Simms, a signing that contributes if by nothing else than by providing competition and security if Simms goes down again. They also added LB Patrick Chukwurah, FB B.J. Askew, DE Kevin Carter, and most recently T Luke Petitgout. Despite the security the Garcia signing might add, the guys they brought in makes it look more like the Bucs took a page out of Dan Snyder's book by signing several free agents and hoping for the best. I don't see these signings working out for the Bucs.

Somewhere in Between

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have been the most active team in free agency and certainly have thrown the dollar signs around the most. The Niners made CB Nate Clements the most expensive defensive player in the league (eight years, $80 million), added S Michael Lewis, LB Tully Banta-Cain, and WR Ashley Lelie. Clements and Lewis will be expected to shore up the San Fran pass defense, while Banta-Cain will also add help on the defensive side of the ball. I don't, however, expect Clements to be a Champ Bailey type corner in San Fran, but I do expect him to be a decent corner that will help the Niners continue to improve this year. Lelie, however, I expect will be a disappointment for the Niners.

Washington Redskins

Finally, the Redskins show some restraint at free agency time. It's usually Christmas come early for owner Dan Snyder, who last year spent lavishly (and unsuccessfully) on WRs Brandon Lloyd (trade) and Antwaan Randle El, safety Adam Archuleta, and DE Andre Carter. This year, however, the Redskins made some decent pickups in MLB London Fletcher, who, despite his age, fills an immediate need for the Redskins. Being 31 does throw up some caution flags, but the fact that Fletcher has not missed a game in eight years and has been a solid performer throughout his career with the Bills means the Skins may have finally spent wisely.

The 'Skins also brought back CB Fred Smoot with the hopes that returning to Washington may revive his career the way they saw LB Jeremiah Trotter succeed after leaving the 'Skins to go back to Philly. Smoot will probably fill the nickel role for the Skins and is a clear upgrade from CB Kenny Wright, but the amount of money they spent may have been a bit too much.

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