Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 4/20/12

1.     Peyton Manning- Denver Broncos

You can say the Broncos overpaid to get him, but the reality is you can’t really overpay for a quarterback like Peyton Manning in today’s NFL. Detractors who cite that a rightly angled shot to Manning’s neck could spell the end of his career in 2012 are missing the point. Yes, signing Manning was a risk by the Broncos front office. To be a little more specific, it was a risk clearly worth taking. Without Manning, the Broncos had essentially no chance of winning the Super Bowl in 2012. With Manning, they have a realistic chance of winning a Super Bowl. That’s all you really need to know in assessing the Broncos signing of Manning.

2.     Randy Moss- San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers signing of Randy Moss may have been the smartest move of the entire offseason. The main weakness of the 49ers offense last season was the lack of a deep threat. In my opinion, it was this weakness that cost them in their NFC championship loss to the Giants. Randy Moss probably wasn’t one of the top nine players in the free agent pool this season, but this doesn’t change the fact that he was the second best signing. In signing Moss the 49ers both address their single biggest need, while at the same time don’t much of a hit to their salary cap. They signed Moss for a surprisingly cheap one year deal worth between $2.5 and $4 million based on incentives.

3.     Mario Williams- Buffalo Bills

Mario Williams landing in Buffalo may have very well been the most surprising signing of the offseason. Williams, who missed the majority of the season in 2011, is an elite defensive end. His deal is the most lucrative for a defensive player in NFL history.  Williams is scheduled to make up to $100 million with half of it guaranteed over 6 years. There is no doubt that Williams is well worth the money however. Williams has recorded 53 sacks in his first 6 NFL seasons, erasing any doubt that the Texans made a mistake with their first round pick in 2006.

4.     Reggie Wayne- Indianapolis Colts

Very few people thought that the Colts stood a chance to keep Wayne after the surprising release of Peyton Manning. Since conventional wisdom pointed towards Wayne following his longtime quarterback wherever he landed, I was as surprised as anyone when the Colts resigned Wayne at the start of free agency. Wayne was the best receiver available on the market. In keeping him, they will really ease the transition of Andrew Luck into the NFL. The fact that it’s a three-year deal is also smart, as I wouldn’t expect Wayne to have much more than three years of elite production left in him. Without Peyton, Wayne’s production certainly took a dip as he failed to record a 1000 yard season for the first time since 2003. This is understandable however, considering who Wayne had throwing the football to him.

5.     Carl Nicks- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Nicks could be the best guard in football right now. He received an extremely lucrative 5 year $47.5 million contract for a guard, but Nicks is worth every penny. Nicks went to the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2011, and was a first team All-Pro selection in 2011. The Bucs need help in a lot of places, so what better place to start than with the offensive line.

6.     Vincent Jackson- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the last few seasons, Jackson has developed into one of the best receivers in the league. Supremely talented coming out of Northern Colorado, Jackson has really improved in terms of route running since then. Other than the 2020 season in which he held out for over half the year, Jackson has reached the 1,000 yard mark in every season since his breakout year in 2008. Jackson has the elite speed necessary to stretch the field, and the height and physicality necessary to come down with the ball in the red zone. The Bucs had one of the weakest receiving corps in 2011, so the signing of Jackson could not have made more sense.

7.     Cortland Finnegan- St. Louis Rams

Finnegan signed a five year, $50 million ($27 million guaranteed) deal with the St. Louis Rams on March 13, 2012.It’s easy to love the way Finnegan plays the game of football. He may not be exactly what I’d call a shutdown corner, but the reality is that that term is extremely overused anyway. The way the rules are set up nowadays, there just aren’t very many “shutdown” guys really out there. Finnegan is a scrappy physical type who comes to play on every down. The secondary was one of the lone bright spots for the Rams in 2011, and with the addition of Finnegan I would expect this to continue next season.

8.     Marques Colston- New Orleans Saints

Like the Colts, the Saints resigned there best receiver. What makes the Saints offense so special is Drew Brees has more weapons to distribute the ball to than any other quarterback in the league besides maybe Tom Brady. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. With Colston back, the Saints offense is sure to be one of the most prolific in the league yet again in 2012.

9.     Matt Flynn- Seattle Seahawks

Let’s be clear here. There is absolutely no guarantee that Matt Flynn will be an above average NFL quarterback. In the NFL today, however, signing an inexperienced quarterback with potential is as good better than signing the proven commodity at any other position. When Flynn was granted the opportunity to play in Green Bay, he excelled every time. The reason there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Flynn is that he has only been granted that opportunity twice thus far in his young career. In the Packers final game of the 2011 regular season against the Lions, Flynn threw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns, both of which are now Packers regular season records. Neither Favre nor Rodger ever put up numbers like that in a single game, and that should be extremely exciting for Seahawks fans. I think all NFL fans are anxious to see whether Flynn is a fluke or the real deal.

-Demers

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