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Armchair Quarterback: The rich get richer, not necessarily better

Eagles proved star-studded NFL teams aren’t sure bets

March 16, 2013
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Sports Staff Writer (sbrownlee@miningjournal.net) , The Mining Journal

Just like Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, this Armchair Quarterback came out of his post-NFL season burrow on Thursday and saw his shadow.

And you know what that means? Six more weeks of waiting for the NFL Draft to commence on April 25.

When I was shaken awake the other day, I was so groggy that I'm not sure if it was because of all the chatter dealing with free-agent signings this week, or more likely, it was the mouth-watering announcement of the unveiling of the "Baco," the West Michigan Whitecaps minor-league baseball team's new food item.

Article Photos

STEVE BROWNLEE

It's a taco wrapped in a specially made bacon shell, which in the photo I saw of it, actually appeared fairly appetizing except for what looked like uncooked strips of bacon forming the shell. I guess that's the "specially made" part of it.

For the Grand Rapids-area team's new menu item, the Baco beat out The Bad Joke, a corn dog covered in cheese with two strips of duck bacon on a bun. I can see why the Baco won.

Enough about lunch, let's see if we can make some sense of the player-jumping taking place around the NFL.

There certainly seems to be some winners and only a couple real losers out of the signings, but I take the loading up of free agents by some teams with more than one grain of salt.

Can you say 2011 Philadelphia Eagles? Or 2012, for that matter.

Andy Reid and Co. signed seemingly every free agent on the market between the '10 and '11 seasons, apparently thinking that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would let them carry 85 guys on their roster.

Considering the Eagles lost four of their first five games in 2011 and got lucky just to end up 8-8, it made me think of the classic phrase "addition through subtraction," except they reversed it - subtraction through addition.

Philly supposedly needed a year to integrate all this talent and their personalities, so what did the Eagles do in 2012? Enough to get Reid fired, sharing with the Detroit Lions the NFC's worst record of 4-12.

So pardon me if I don't shake in my boots at Seattle's addition, through trade, of Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin, plus Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril as a free agent, or Denver's signing of a half-dozen guys, including New England receiver Wes Welker and Philadelphia cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

"The main thing is just to go out and play football and play consistent," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who was part of the 2011 Eagles' ill-conceived haul. "Don't get caught up in the hype of names and people on the roster. Really grind it out."

He wouldn't bother to say that if it came naturally for the prima-donna stars of the league, particularly wide receivers. But apparently it doesn't.

While teams may not get rich by indiscriminately adding players, a team like Baltimore may well get poorer losing lots of its parts.

That's because the Ravens knew how last year's players fit in, especially considering their unlikely run to winning the Super Bowl.

Baltimore has already lost linebacker Ray Lewis (retirement), receiver Anquan Boldin (trade), safety Bernard Pollard (released) and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger (free agency), and may still lose another couple guys.

Maybe the credit goes to Lewis, maybe not, but you have to admit the Ravens had chemistry. Whether they replace these starters with other big names or move up reserves to replace them, this chemistry will change. Chances are for the worse.

Of course, in these days of salary caps, teams can help themselves immensely by later picking up quality players at a good price, and of course, the draft that occurs in six weeks can fill in gaps.

So if your favorite team hasn't made much of a splash this week, don't panic. At least not yet. Wait for your No. 1 draft pick or rising new star to skip training camp in August as a contract holdout.

Then it will be time to run for the panic room.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net

 
 

 

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