Free Agency Con
With the advent of free agency (that’s a little Lenten joke, Chris), this is the time of year that we will once again be treated to the tired litany of complaints from fans and columnists that Packers general manager Ted Thompson won’t make the effort to sign a ‘big name’ player. The funny thing is that the people who bag on TT for not spending lavishly in free agency would be the first ones to whine when those moves didn’t pan out.
Every year, we see the same pattern when free agency starts. A handful of marquee players sign big contracts with desperate teams the first weekend. And more often than not, those moves turn out to be less than effective.
I admit that a few weeks ago, I advocated that the Packers take a run at Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. But that was before the team decided to switch to a 3-4 defense and it was not without reservations about Haynesworth. He has been labeled as a player of questionable character who tends to take plays off. Now that the Washington Redskins have inked him to a $100 million contract, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he has there. Perhaps even more ridiculous than the Haynesworth signing is the $55 million that the Redskins committed to cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who came to the team after being released last season by the pathetic Oakland Raiders.
In fact, Washington is a good example to use when looking for evidence of the dubious value of unabated free agent acquisitions. Owner Daniel Snyder and, to a lesser extent Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, tend to run their teams like fantasy franchises; picking up whatever player is in vogue at the time without concern for how they will fit in their scheme and/or locker room. This is noteworthy because that’s how many Packer fans would have Thompson run their favorite team. For all the buzz generated by the ‘Skins and ‘Boys the last few offseasons, they have exactly one playoff win between them in the last ten years!
When used judiciously, free agency can be a good tool to plug the occasional hole in a lineup. Atlanta Falcons running back Michael (The Burner) Turner and Green Bay’s own Charles Woodson would be two of the better examples of how to delve into that market. But teams that use it as a ‘cure-all’ do so at their own peril.