Sometimes in life it is just better to say no. Year after year NFL General Managers spend foolish amounts of money in free agency feeling that they truly made an improvement towards their football team. Yet year after year it proves to be an evil process with players never making it to the end of those mega deals. Does anyone remember Albert Haynesworth? The fact is your team really cannot take the next step unless you land a franchise quarterback. The Jets for instance can spend a boat load of cash on a new secondary, but does it make their team that much better? Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick are the quarterbacks which means the playoffs are out of the realm of possibility. History also sides with this bases. Here are the past four offseason so called “winners”.
- From previous 2 years to next 2 years
2011 Eagles: $177 million spent in free agency ——–> minus-9 wins
2012 Broncos: $139 million spent ————————–> plus-14 wins (Peyton Manning helps trend)
2012 Redskins: $81 million spent —————————> plus-2 wins
2012 Bucs: $141 million spent ——————————-> minus-3 wins
2013 Dolphins: $124 million spent ————————–> plus-3 wins
2013 Titans: $97 million spent ——————————-> minus-6 wins
2014 Bucs: $124 million spent ——————————-> minus-9 wins
2014 Raiders: $91 million spent —————————–> minus-5 wins
You can see the one team that actually benefited was the 2012 Broncos. Then again look a little closer and you can find a quarterback (Peyton Manning) made the difference. Did it ever occur to anyone that players are not as motivated after cashing in on a big pay day. There is one organization that stands out above the rest when it comes to avoiding the evils of free agency. On the surface it may seem like the Baltimore Ravens lose every offseason by letting go good players year after year, but in reality the opposite always takes place. What the rest of the league doesn’t realize is General Manager Ozzie Newsome is simply smarter than you are. When Sports Illustrator’s Peter King asked to interview Ozzie on the subject he declined. It’s safe to say he wants to keep his free agency secrets to himself. Newsome relies heavily on the compensatory pick system. Draft picks are given when a player departs a team in free agency. This year the Ravens will be receiving four extra draft picks from free agent departures last season.
—-> DL Cory Redding (30 games, 60 tackles, 7.5 sacks in 2 Ravens seasons) left in 2012 via free agency for Indianapolis
—-> Ravens awarded a fifth-round comp pick in 2013 draft
—-> Ravens used comp pick (No. 168 overall) to select RT Rick Wagner
—-> T Michael Oher (never misses a start in 5 years) left in 2014 via free agency for Tennessee
—-> Wagner takes over Oher’s job in 2014; Wagner ranked the No. 2 RT by Pro Football Focus
—-> Ravens will be awarded a comp pick for Oher; King predicts another fifth-rounder
—-> Ravens select DE Dwan Edwards in second round of 2004 draft
—-> Edwards left in free agency to Buffalo in 2010 after becoming a part-time starter in Baltimore
—-> Ravens awarded fifth-round compensatory pick for Edwards in 2011
—-> Ravens selected Pernell McPhee with 2011 comp pick; becomes key pass-rush specialist
—-> McPhee left for Chicago in 2015 via free agency
—-> Ravens will get a comp pick in 2016, King predicts a third- or fourth-rounder
Many people may never realize this happens until a team gets burned in free agency. Michael Oher was given a four year, $32 million dollar deal from Tennessee. Oher was released a year later, while Ricky Wagner was one of the best right tackles during 2014. Then again this system shows a team has to draft well to become successful long term. C.J. Mosely, Timmy Jernigan, Crockett Gilmore, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and John Urschel all had an impact with Baltimore last season as rookies.
You can also point to the teams ability to find bargain free agents. Last year Baltimore signed Justin Forsett to a league minimum contract. He than rushed for over a 1,000 yards are averaged a league high 5.4 yards per carry. Half Backs like Ben Tate and Maurice Jones-Drew signed multi-year deals yet were released before seeing the end of the contract.
Daryl Smith was another bargain pickup by the Ravens. After winning the Superbowl in 2012, Baltimore was in desperate need for a middle linebacker. With the departure of Danell Elerbee and retirement of Ray Lewis there was a gaping hole at linebacker. G.M. Ozzie Newsome than waiting around to sign Daryl Smith on June 5th. The wait allowed to team to not be charged a comp pick after the deadline. Smith also became a dominant force for the defense recording 123 tackles in 2013 and 128 tackles in 2014. In the end Newsome can evaluate talent better than everyone else. Elerbee never lasted in Miami after signing a 5 year deal following the 2012 season.
Simple put the Ravens do the offseason better than everyone else. Now of course the proponents may say the Ravens have failed on a couple of draft picks which is true. Nevertheless the team can combat those mistakes with those additional comp picks. 2013 showed to be one of the worst draft classes in team history with the failures of 1st and 2nd round picks Matt Elam and Arthur Brown. Then again the great Ozzie Newsome struck gold in the 3rd and 5th round to secure studs along the defensive and offensive line (Brandon Williams, Rick Wagner). The Ravens will have 10 draft picks at their disposal come April 30th. Expect Newsome the be heavily involved in the trade market securing the next great Raven. By simply saying no, Ozzie Newsome has proved that free agency is one giant mistake waiting to be made.
Newsome in fact has been so good teams have been trying to pry his assistants for over a decade. Assistant G.M. has been with Newsome from the beggining, yet has never left his side. DeCosta turns down interviews every single year because he knows how the system works. Unless you are in position to land a franchise quarterback you will be fired in no time. Joe Hortiz is the director of college scouting for the team. The Eagles tried to pry him out of Baltimore this past season, Ozzie Newsome was obviously not going to let that happen.
Quaterback Joe Flacco has a lot to do with that success being on of the top postseason quarterbacks ever. The league has proven you can’t win without an elite quarterback. Flacco has 10 postseason wins in his seven year career. Drew Brees is viewed as a much better quarterback has only 5 playoff wins in the same time period. A lot may have to do with the genies of General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
Teams such as the Eagles, Dolphins, and Jets have not significantly improved when you think about it. Does spending over 100 million dollars on Ndamukong Suh make the Dolphins Superbowl contenders? The easy answer is no Ryan Tannehill is the quarterback therefore a Superbowl run is complete nonsense. The Jets may have re-bolstered the defense but is it any different When Geno Smith is in charge? The Eagles may have been spent 42 million on Demarco Murray but will he rush for over 1,800 yards again? The answer is no and it may not even come close when you factor in his injury history. A team must draft well to maintain success in this league. Free agency is a quick fix that rarely ever pans out. Ozzie Newsome has proved the buyers beware system proves true. The Ravens have made the playoffs six of the past seven years using the same philosophy since the team came into existence in 1997.