The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

Kampman bolsters Jags


One early free-agent who will have an impact on his new team?

Try Aaron Kampman, at least on paper. He signed with Jacksonville, which was last in the NFL with a ridiculously low 14 sacks last season, less than one a game. Kampman had 15 1/2 by himself for Green Bay in 2006.

On the other hand, does anyone really know what will happen when a player changes teams, especially one like Kampman who was switched to linebacker when the Packers went to a 3-4 defense last season, then missed the final seven games of the regular season and the playoffs with a knee injury? But the Jaguars need a pass rush after getting almost nothing from high draft picks Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves and Kampman was the best available pass rusher after Julius Peppers in this uncapped year, when many of the best free agents went from unrestricted to restricted.

My theory is that teams that make a big early splash usually fail, a fact known well in Washington.

Better to identify needs and fill them less expensively. Sit back, wait for prices to go down, then sign second-tier hole pluggers. Many have done nicely -- my favorite example is Kawika Mitchell, signed relatively late in the free-agent period for almost nothing by the Giants in 2007 and a monster at linebacker during their Super Bowl run that season. Their only mistake: giving him a one-year deal. He's now in Buffalo, doing quite nicely.

The splash this year was, of course, Chicago's signing of Peppers.

It was, to be blunt, Snyderesque, the kind of move Dan Snyder has made for years with the Redskins, signing "names'' to overinflated contracts to little end. Change the name? Call it Haynesworthian given last year's example.

Peppers is likely to have little effect on Chicago, which needs offensive linemen, wide receivers and safeties more than it needs a defensive end. The deal ($42 million guaranteed on a deal that could reach $90 million) smacks of desperation by people -- GM Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith -- trying to save their jobs and without draft choices because they gave them away for last year's savior, Jay Cutler.

The other loser seems to be Arizona.

Not only did Kurt Warner retire, but the Cardinals lost linebacker Karlos Dansby to Miami and safety Antrel Rolle to the Giants and finally traded Anquan Boldin to Baltimore, meaning that four key players on their Super Bowl team of 2008 are now gone. They cut Rolle rather than pay him a roster bonus, then tried to get him back by matching New York's offer (an overinflated $42 million over five years).

But who knows?

The Cardinals are well fortified at receiver, the defense with Dansby and Rolle wasn't so hot anyway and maybe Matt Leinart will realize his potential at quarterback. Still, it smacks of Bill Bidwill's penury that kept his franchise at the bottom for 60 years. You don't have to make a splash, but you have to keep your own best players.

As for the good ...

Kampman went from small market to small market without much noise.

He may turn out to be a better move than Peppers.

By Dave Goldberg  |  March 9, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , Free Agency , Jacksonville Jaguars , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Trio of pass rushers top list | Next: Dansby is the man

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