Many young players tend to have a disappointing second season in what is known as a ‘sophomore slump’, while others show improvement. So how did our rookie quarterbacks do last season, and more importantly for NFL handicappers, how will they fare this season?
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With the wild and woolly world of uncapped free agency upon us in the NFL as of midnight last night it’s now time to look at the deals that have been done – both signings and an abnormally high number of big name trades – and give a quick knee-jerk reaction to them:
Julius Peppers to the Bears – I think that Peppers is generally overrated, and as such he’s probably overpaid with this deal. There are a couple of things that make me generally positive about this deal, though. First, Peppers has been so desperate to get out of Carolina – he even took shots at the Panthers on the way out of town – that he should be refreshed and recharged by the move. Also, this acquisition and the other moves – notably Chester Taylor – that the Bears made on the opening day is a clear sign that the team is serious about competing and setting a tone that they are willing to do what needs to be done. I still think they need help on offense – like a receiver – but I don’t hate this deal.
Anquan Boldin to the Ravens – I absolutely love this deal for the Ravens – it’s a no-brainer. They only had to give up two mid-range draft picks to pick up an elite level quarterback. Boldin is the real deal, and there is no reason why he won’t continue to be. Joe Flacco must be the happiest guy in the country today.
Antonio Cromartie to the Jets – The price of this trade was very reasonable, and if it works out for the Jets then they will unquestionably have the best secondary in the league. That’s a big if, though. Cromartie is a Pro Bowl caliber player, but he’s a real piece of work. He has seven kids with five different women and he’s only 25. The Chargers were willing to part with him because he has serious maturity issues, and it doesn’t seem like moving to the playground of New York is a way to find that maturity i a hurry. I’m a little pessimistic about this one, but I can’t blame the Jets for trying.
Karlos Dansby to Miami – The deal isn’t officially done yet, but it seems like Dansby will head to the Dolphins, and he’ll become the highest paid inside linebacker in the league. Perhaps they are overpaying, but Dansby is a solid player, and will be even better than he has been in Arizona when he has a more competent defense around him. Dansby has Pro Bowl potential, and it’s hard to fault the deal too much.
Jake Delhomme cut – Delhomme becomes the first casualty of the uncapped period. If the salary cap was still in place the Panthers couldn’t have afforded to cut him and eat the cap hit, but without that being an issue they could cut him free. There is no doubt that it was time for him to move on – it was past time for him and the team. I don’t think he’s done as a player, but he needs new surroundings. My biggest issue with the move is that the Panthers seem committed to going with Matt Moore. He finished strong last year, but I’m still not entirely convinced that he’s a starter.
Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nate Burleson to Detroit – I like that the Lions made an early, aggressive splash, I accept that they overpaid because they have to to get players, and I like what both players bring to the table. They aren’t the best players out there, but they are better than what the team had in both cases, and the moves are very solid given what Detroit has going against them. Neither of these deals make Detroit an instant winner, but then there is no deal in the world that would.