March 13, 2013

Winners and losers in the NFL

by Dan Bilicki In: Football

The first day of the NFL’s season calendar was an interesting one as always. You have free agency kicking off, trades coming through and some pretty significant roster cuts too. Let’s give out some winners and losers from Day 1 of the NFL’s 2013 season.

WINNER: The Minnesota Vikings.
They traded away disgruntled, oft-injured receiver Percy Harvin and got a first-round pick back. Now that’s a great move – they didn’t even need him to make the playoffs last season. Now, with that extra first-round pick, we could see them make a move for restricted free agent Victor Cruz, who is even better and more reliable than Harvin.

LOSER: The Buffalo Bills.
Tuesday showed what kind of a mess that the Bills can be. First, their GM Buddy Nix gets duped into a phone conversation where he bashes his starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, basically saying that he’s a backup QB at best. Then, when the tape of that conversation comes out, he releases the guy just a season and a half after signing him to a huge extension. Also, to make matters even worse, they lost their best offensive lineman, Andy Levitre, to the Titans.

BIGGER LOSER: The guys that recorded the Bills-Bucs phone conversation.
Somebody must have forgotten to inform the two guys who got Nix and Bucs GM Mark Dominik onto a conference call without their knowledge that the sort of thing is illegal. Now they, along with Deadspin.com, are facing possible federal charges.

WINNER: The Atlanta Falcons.
They got Tony Gonzalez back, so that’s great news. They’re also in the hunt for a couple of big names that could put the best regular-season team over the top.

LOSER: The Baltimore Ravens.
They’ve traded away Anquan Boldin, they lost Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger and Ed Reed still hasn’t been re-signed. It’s going to be tough for the champs to make the playoffs with all these holes in their squad, let alone repeat.

WINNER: Nnamdi Asomugha.
You may find it odd to see someone become unemployed landing in the win column, but that’s actually a good move for the former all-pro. The Eagles used the incredible cover man all wrong, lining him up in the slot or playing him in zone. No wonder he wanted to eat lunch by himself in his car.

LOSER: The Miami Dolphins.
When was the last time that a Super Bowl was won through free agency? The Dolphins’ big-money signings of Mike Wallace and Ellerbe are reminiscent of the Redskins overspending in the 2000s. There’s a reason why the Steelers let Wallace walk and are we sure Ellerbe is good and not just riding one hot streak?

WINNER: Ryan Mallet.
He is garnering quite a bit of trade chatter after serving as Tom Brady’s backup for two seasons. He was a hot draft prospect when he came out and now some teams are coming calling to see if playing understudy to a great is as good as actually playing – something Mallet has done very little of.

WINNER: San Francisco 49ers.
They needed a good receiver to compliment  Michael Crabtree and got that in Boldin for the paltry price of a sixth-round pick. Boldin has been a steady contributor for years and you can even make the case that he’s a borderline hall of famer. Look for San Fran to be a title contender again this year.

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