With free agency dying down, it’s time to look back in history and see what it all means. This year, some teams went crazy spending money while others sat back and hardly did anything. Some teams like the Miami Dolphins didn’t go crazy but didn’t sit back either. With that said, is there a right way to go about free agency? Should we get all worked up over the media reports about who’s going to make the playoffs in March? Let’s take a look at the past three years to analyze the big winners and losers of free agency and see if there’s a pattern of what works and what doesn’t.
Eagles: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin
Cardinals: Stewart Bradley, Daryn Colledge, Todd Heap
Seahawks: Sidney Rice, Robert Gallery, Brandon Mebane
The Eagles finished 8-8, Cardinals finished 8-8 and the Seahawks finished 7-9. Not one of those teams made the playoffs.
As for the losers, they named the Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets. The Dolphins’ final record was 6-10, Vikings finished 3-13 and the Jets finished 8-8. Not one of those teams made the playoffs.
Based off of 2011, it looks like the trend is that you want to be somewhere in the middle. That means a team shouldn’t go crazy nor should a team sit back and do very little. It’s about finding pieces here and there and making smart moves that make sense for the team.
Buccaneers: Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Eric Wright
Rams: Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Mario Haggan, Trevor Laws, William Hayes
Bears: Geno Hayes, Jonathan Wilhite, Kelvin Hayden, Chilo Rachal
The Buccaneers finished 7-9, the Rams finished 7-8-1 and the Bears finished 10-6. None of them made the playoffs.
As for the losers of free agency, they named the Dolphins, Cardinals and New Orleans Saints. The Dolphins finished 7-9, Cardinals finished 5-11 and the Saints finished 7-9. None of them made the playoffs.
What does 2012 show? The ones that went crazy and spent lots of money didn’t make the playoffs. The ones that sat back and did very little didn’t make the playoffs. The ones that were in the middle – not spending crazy but not sitting back – made the playoffs.
Athlon Sports named the Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and Vikings free agent winners. Let’s take at the top players each team signed:
Falcons: Steven Jackson, Osi Umenyiora, William Moore, Sam Baker
Dolphins: Dannell Ellerbe, Dustin Keller, Brent Grimes, Philip Wheeler
Vikings: Greg Jennings, Phil Loadholt, Jerome Felton, Matt Cassel
The Falcons finished 4-12, the Texans finished 2-14 and the Dolphins finished 8-8. They all missed the playoffs.
As for the losers, they named the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. The Ravens finished 8-8, the Bills finished 6-10 and the Browns finished 4-12. None of those teams made the playoffs.
For the third straight year, it shows us that teams that go crazy in free agency do not make the playoffs. It shows us that teams that sit back and do very little to fill their holes do not make the playoffs. It proves that a team should be very strategic in free agency, filling holes here and there without chasing every big name that hits the market.
Unlike last year, the Dolphins didn’t throw crazy money at every free agent possible. They were very deliberate this year, signing Branden Albert and Earl Mitchell within minutes and hours of free agency opening. They then slowed it down and waited for the market to settle before re-signing Randy Starks and bringing in Shelley Smith and Cortland Finnegan.
As history has shown us, this is the way to go about free agency. Free agency isn’t a tool to re-build your entire roster. It’s a piece of a large puzzle that teams must figure out how to fit the right way within their vision for the future. Based on the past three years, the Dolphins did it the right way in 2014.