The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Falcons Spent Wisely

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Usually, the big-money free agent signings in the NFL end up being inconsequential. Almost always, the teams that do the best in free agency are those that focus on keeping their own players, and then fill in around them with wise signings of contributing players. That's why Floyd Reese's guest post on this discussion is right on target. It's all about those mostly overlooked free agent additions like Jake Scott and Travis LaBoy.

But there are some big-money, high-profile free agent signings that do work out, and it's happening this season in Atlanta.

The Falcons gave free agent tailback Michael Turner a six-year, $34.5 million contract that included $15 million in guaranteed money this past offseason, figuring that the talented former backup to LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego would thrive as the centerpiece of another team's running game. So far, they've been right. Turner is the NFL's third-leading rusher this season behind only Clinton Portis and Adrian Peterson.

Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan is getting a lot of credit for the Falcons' surprising success, and rightfully so. It's almost impossible to win in this league as a rookie starting quarterback, and Ryan is pulling it off (just as fellow rookie Joe Flacco is doing in Baltimore). But Ryan probably wouldn't be getting it done without the running threat being provided by Turner. And the Falcons probably wouldn't be 5-3 and in the thick of the NFC playoff race without the smart money they spent in the offseason on Turner.
Usually, the big-money free agent signings in the NFL end up being inconsequential. Almost always, the teams that do the best in free agency are those that focus on keeping their own players, and then fill in around them with wise signings of contributing players. That's why Floyd Reese's guest post on this discussion is right on target. It's all about those mostly overlooked free agent additions like Jake Scott and Travis LaBoy.
But there are some big-money, high-profile free agent signings that do work out, and it's happening this season in Atlanta.
The Falcons gave free agent tailback Michael Turner a six-year, $34.5 million contract that included $15 million in guaranteed money this past offseason, figuring that the talented former backup to LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego would thrive as the centerpiece of another team's running game. So far, they've been right. Turner is the NFL's third-leading rusher this season behind only Clinton Portis and Adrian Peterson.
Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan is getting a lot of credit for the Falcons' surprising success, and rightfully so. It's almost impossible to win in this league as a rookie starting quarterback, and Ryan is pulling it off (just as fellow rookie Joe Flacco is doing in Baltimore). But Ryan probably wouldn't be getting it done without the running threat being provided by Turner. And the Falcons probably wouldn't be 5-3 and in the thick of the NFC playoff race without the smart money they spent in the offseason on Turner.

Of course, the NFL's biggest offseason move of all wasn't a free agent signing, but the training-camp trade of quarterback Brett Favre from the Packers to the Jets. And, actually, that's working out well for everyone involved, even after all the rancor that it took to get it done. Aaron Rodgers is playing well enough in Green Bay to begin to emerge from his famous predecessor's considerable shadow; he already has gotten a handsome contract extension from the Packers. Favre has the Jets in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC East, already with one more win than they had all of last season. It was difficult to imagine that there would be a happily-ever-after ending for all parties while the melodrama of the summer was taking place. But maybe, just maybe that will be the case.

By Mark Maske  |  November 7, 2008; 3:03 PM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Posted by: TIZ. BY THE WAY | November 8, 2008 2:28 PM

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