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    "The funny thing about free agency is that everyone acknowledges that it
    begins with a frenzy of overspending and wishful, if not outright irrational,
    decision-making. And yet, every year, free agency somehow manages to once again
    begin with a frenzy of overspending and wishful, if not outright irrational,
    decision-making. Mistakes of the past are repeated enough to make George
    Santayana roll over in his grave.

    And yet, free agency is not ALL bad. Just ask the Saints, who changed their
    franchise overnight after signing Drew Brees in 2006. Or the Packers, who
    reinserted themselves on the national map by signing Reggie White in 1993.
    People forget, but the Packers – who, under the build-through-the-draft formula
    of General Manager Ted Thompson, have signed just one free agent in the past
    three years – found the keystone of their byzantine defense in 2006 when they
    signed an expensive 29-year-old free agent named Charles Woodson.</p>

    A judicious team can make quality improvements via free agency. The teams
    that bank heavily on improving through free agency are the ones that fail (just
    ask Redskins fans). There’s a simple yet often overlooked reason for this:
    roughly 90 percent of free agents are only free agents because their last team
    did not want them. Maybe the player has unreported injury issues. Maybe he’s
    hard to get along with. Maybe he tied coaches’ hands by not grasping the entire
    offense. Maybe he’s simply not worth his perceived market value. Whatever it is,
    it’s very telling. No front office and coaching staff knows that football player
    better than the one that just spent 60-80 hours a week with him for the past
    year (or two or three or four or five).</p>

    With that in mind, the 2012 free-agency analysis we begin rolling out over
    the next few days will always begin with this disclaimer: Remember, roughly
    90 percent of free agents are free agents because their last team did not want
    . This is even truer this year given that franchise tags are more
    affordable than ever.</p>

    We’ll rank the free agents as a means of perspective, but we’ll also
    categorize them under the broad headings of: First Class Elite, Pro Bowl
    Caliber, Starter, Role Player and Backup.</p>

    Word of caution: you might find that a lot of player classifications are
    somewhat cynical (Reggie Wayne as a “Starter”, for example). And, not to give
    anything away, but there are only two First Class Elite free agents in this
    year’s class (you can probably guess one of them). Your refutation for these
    seemingly cynical classifications will probably involve stat-and accolades-based
    arguments. Statistics and accolades are important, but not nearly as important
    as what a player shows on film. And the film is what we go by.</p>

    First up shortly will be a look at the quarterbacks."</p>

    Andy Benoit is an NFL analyst for and founder of He can be reached at or @Andy_Benoit.
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2

    While I agree that teams have a history with the players they release and would be in the best position to make sound decisions on their player; we know not all teams are created equal. I disagree with your number that 90% of players are free agents because their current teams doesn't want them.Teams lose players because they can't afford a Dream-Team, when you draft players you draft them with the idea that they will produce, so produce higher than expected and become to expensive to be retained. I think the ratio of teams not wanting some of there own FA is more 60/40 that 90/10. Review so of the FA this year, it's not like there current team don't want them, but made a decision for the organization that the price is to high to retain the player. While you list Reggie White and Woodson do a little more research and you'll find a few more homerun from the FA pool in the past. I'll list a few solid FA signings from the past;

    Vinteria - Colts
    Deion Sanders - several times
    Michael Turner - Falcons
    Vrabel - Patriots (he was a steeler for 4 years)
    Hardy Nickerson - Bucs (he was a steeler )
    Kevin Mawae - Jets
    Priest Holmes - Chiefs
    Curtis Martin - Jets
    Sam Mills - Panthers

    I just listed a few, but the point I want to make is one teams trash can be another teams treasure. There is no perfect science in determining who can still play at high level; it guess work and sometime the previous team is right and sometimes they just can't afford to be wrong and that's why there's Free agency so when the team thinks a player is do, he can tell his previous team F-you I can still play!!