Another entry in our series where we try to find out if Thomas Dimitroff can outperform a few other teams. We compared the offseasons of the Falcons general manager with the ever changing general manager of the Browns, the Giants long-term general manager Jerry Reese, and the Seahawk's impressive general manager John Schneider.
We toss our grade on free agency moves. If someone is cut without guaranteed money, that player gets a 2 out of 5. If a player barely plays and gets millions of dollars, they get a 1. If they make the Pro Bowl at well below market value, that is an easy 5. If they meet expectations, they get an average 3. We measure them up and see where everything shakes out.
It feels like the Falcons try sitting out of free agency more often than not, and 2012 was no different. They made the great trade for Asante Samuel, who despite declining age, helped the Falcons
make the Super Bowl miss the Super Bowl thanks to a blind ref. Samuel was a veteran corner with multiple Pro Bowls that only cost a 7th round pick and took a pay cut to play in Atlanta. Great move, even though his career in Atlanta was short.
The Falcons added Robert McClain who had a great 2012 season and looked like Atlanta's nickel of the future. That did not work for very long, but he was a great investment.
Lofa Tatupa begs discussion because he was a risky signing. He was a beastly linebacker, but had struggled with injuries the last few seasons. I don't have a problem with the total amount of money in the contract, but Dimitroff offered up $600,000 guaranteed even if he couldn't stay healthy. It could have worked out, but it was very risky. He, of course, got hurt and never played a snap for Atlanta.
New York Giants
The Giants had a disaster of a draft, but similar to the Falcons, came up with a quality grade thanks to some cheap signings. The names should all be familiar, and the Giants were hoping to hit on a few of their cheap deals. And they did. Martellus Bennett had nearly 1,000 receiving yards, Stevie Brown had his career-best season, Sean Locklear played a lot, and other guys who failed to make the roster had no guaranteed money. Not a bad way to supplement the bottom of the roster.
The Seahawks had an interesting offseason. Their quarterback for the future was quickly replaced with Russell Wilson. Matt Flynn was paid $8 million for a little fill-in work, which is as bad as can be possible in free agency. The Wilson pick will balance out the move, of course, but this was a very bad contract in retrospect. Seattle signed, then later traded Barrett Ruud. They spent $100,000 to see if Deuce Lutui can become a dominant force again, but the big guard never returned to form. Jason Jones was a decent investment for the year.
Thanks to the Julio Jones trade, the Browns had about a billion picks in the draft. So they understandably stayed out of free agency for the most part. And based on their history, that was a good idea. They paid Juqua Parker a little bit of money at the end of his career, and he did well. They also gave Frostee Rucker a boatload of money, even though he has never been a starter in his career. He was cut next year after being paid $6 million for a couple of sacks.
The Falcons managed a quality 3.33 average, thanks in part to a bunch of cheap signings. The 2012 draft and free agency period netted the Falcons only Asante Samuel and Robert McClain, and both of those guys made only a brief impact. By 2014, the entire offseason left the Falcons with basically nothing.
The Giants got a good impact in 2012, but like the Falcons, their low-risk contracts couldn't provide long-term upside. Both teams went conservative and ended up with a good 3.33 average. No big losses, but no big additions.
The Seahawks didn't add much here, with both Flynn and Jones the only players that stuck... and both were gone next season. They earned their 2 grade.
The Browns finished up with a 2.5, which is really a nice win for Browns fans.
Follow along for more in our series, and find out where Dimitroff ranks among a few other general managers.