Deep Thoughts on Free Agency: Week 1
The Baltimore Ravens made the best free agent move in bringing in Steve Smith. I knew this was going to happen. I had a very sick feeling in my stomach as soon as the Carolina Panthers made the head-scratching move in cutting Smith a few days ago. Smith is still a very productive receiver who is always eager to prove people wrong and rub their faces in it. He is also a guy who will bring attitude and swagger to a locker room. The Panthers fed off of his intensity for the majority of his career. And now, unfortunately, that attitude will do nothing but help the Ravens.
The Ravens missed that attitude and swagger when they let Anquan Boldin go for pennies last off-season. You could tell how bad they missed him during their 8-8 season. Now Smith’s swagger will help a receiving core that features Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Great move for Baltimore, bad news to the rest of the AFC North (especially for my Steelers).
Speaking of Carolina…
What in the hell are the Panthers doing? It wasn’t just that Carolina let Smith go. It was HOW the team bungled it. General manager Dave Gettleman disrespected Smith and denigrated his accomplishments at the NFL Combine. Gettleman said that Smith would become a distraction in the locker room. Gettleman allowed the news to leak that the team was trying to trade Smith – without having a conversation with Smith. Smith wasn’t even offered to take a pay cut. Now the Panthers are in the midst of dealing with a PR disaster.
And Smith’s release alone is not troubling. Tedd Ginn, Jr signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Charlotte native Hakeem Nicks spurned the Panthers and signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Domenik Hixon signed with Chicago. Brandon LaFell is testing the free agent market. Who in the hell can QB Cam Newton throw the ball to?
Packers’ pass rush improved with Julius Peppers signing. The Packers were moribund on defense, and their pass rush suffered after injuries to Clay Matthews and others. Peppers is a feared pass rusher who will help the Packers immensely. Peppers on one side and Matthews rushing the passer from the other – scary.
By the way, Peppers leaving the Bears for the arch-rival Packers goes to show how NFL free agency has killed any sense of loyalty.