My attempt at staying up to date on free agency moves, covering the ones that will affect fantasy the most.
DOLPHINS – Reggie Bush – If you are already an owner of Daniel Thomas or had plans on drafting him, this is very good news. Bush will join the team behind Thomas who is more physical and an every down type of back, where as Reggie is more of a specialized running back. It is likely Bush will be used in pass catching and long down situations, with Thomas seeing the majority of the hand offs. If you are a fan of Reggie Bush or a fantasy owner, it is good news for you as well because he will be leaving the crowded New Orleans backfield and moving to Miami where it is just him and Thomas at the moment.
PANTHERS – Steve Smith – Despite rumors that Smith would be leaving town and had been requesting a trade, it has been confirmed that the team all time receiving leader and 4 time pro bowler will be back with Carolina this season. Smith himself has not said much through this off season so its hard to say what he thinks of this, but the team has resigned other big name players, has a Heisman winning rookie QB and a healthier squad, perhaps he was lured back to Carolina by the possibility of a much better season.
CHIEFS — Steve Breaston — Steve Breaston is heading to Kansas City where he will be reunited with Todd Haley, who was offensive coordinator for Arizona a few seasons ago when Breaston had a 77 catch 1000-yard season. It will be interesting to see how many targets Breaston gets once the season starts, he is worth a late pick but will have to prove he can be a viable fantasy option again before I will recommend him. He will be in the slot with Bowe and Baldwin on the outsides; RB’s McCluster and Charles will also see targets as pass catchers.
BENGALS – Bruce Gradkowski – The Bengals have signed the up and down Gradkowski to a two-year deal I suppose to help with the teams rebuilding. I envision Gradkowski starting week 1, but everything after that is up in the air, it depends on how the man plays. I do not recommend Bruce, but he may come in handy later if your QB goes down or you need a one-week replacement.
REDSKINS – Jabar Gaffney / Dante Stallworth – The Redskins have added a pair of WR’s to the mix by signing Jabar Gaffney and Dante Stallworth. Stallworth has barely played in the last 2 years so I don’t expect much from him until the season starts and he is given a chance to prove himself. Gaffney’s numbers swelled playing in the Denver’s pass-happy system that saw Brandon Lloyd lead the league in yards, I do not expect him to have another year like that, but he could play well opposite Santana Moss. Both are basically last final rounds picks up if you are looking for depth or a potential breakout miracle.
PATRIOTS – Albert Haynesworth – The massive tackle that is hard to keep happy is heading to New England, a well-coached team where more than a few dying careers have been revived. Haynesworth was often a distraction for coach Mike Shanahan and other players, being asked to play a position he did not want to play (nose tackle in a 3-4 system). I imagine that this trade will greatly appease the big man as he heads to a team that wins a lot. In New England he will be with a good coach, a good team and will likely have something to prove. This is a steal for the powerhouse Patriots, and a perfect situation to redeem yourself if you are Haynesworth.
EAGLES – Jason Babin – DE Justin Babin who had 12.5 sacks last year, easily the highest total of his career will be rewarded this season as he signs a new contract with the Eagles. Babin will join an already strong defensive line, I do not imagine he will reproduce his 12.5 sacks, but I do see another solid outing this season.
LIONS – Justin Durant – The OLB has reached a deal with the Detroit Lions, despite a lot of talk that he was getting offers from Chicago. Detroit continues to boost itself grabbing a solid defensive player like Durant who spent his last seasons in Jacksonville. Durant has always been a good tackler; he just needs to improve his anticipation and decision-making, still a good pick up for the Lions.
Buccaneers – Quincy Black – The Buccs OLB has resigned with the team via a 5-year contract with about 29 million. Both Buccs OLB’s Black and Ruud were free agents this off-season, with Black being the first to be resigned. Ruud’s future is still up in the air despite leading the team in tackles each season since becoming a starter. I would be shocked if the Buccs let the captain of their defense leave in the middle of the team resurge. Black is a quality play at IDP most weeks; if somehow Ruud is not resigned it would boost the value of Black.