[UPDATE: Monday evening the 49ers signed Randy Moss to a one year contract. See the comment section for the various thoughts of Outsider readers regarding this unexpected development.]
Tuesday at 4:00pm EDT, the 2012 Free Agency gates swing open, freeing hundreds of football players who have been enslaved by six and seven figure per year contracts. We already had an eight figure slave emancipated last week. When we start seeing nine figure guys get unshackled, we’ll know it’s time to look heavenward and sigh, “I’m coming to join you, Elizabeth.”
This year’s FA class is a bit larger than normal because last year’s class, due to the lockout, had only a short window of opportunity and many of them just signed one year contracts, with an eye toward re-entering free agency again this year. The 49ers’ Carlos Rogers was one of these guys. He’ll now have a full FA period to shop himself, but there are more CBs to choose from, too, which could lower his value.
It’s no secret the 49ers will be looking for a WR. Maybe more than one. Randy Moss will be catching passes from Jim Harbaugh today, just in case there is any tread left on Moss’s wheels. And it’s his wheels that are going to be more important than his hands during this workout. If Moss can’t run anymore, he’s useless. His attitude will probably get the Harbaugh psyche eval, too.
The team will also be looking for a CB, a safety, an OLB, and an ILB. All of these acquisitions must be good special teams players. Only the WR and the CB have a shot to be starters. Also on the FA list of wishes would be that Peyton Manning and Red Bryant sign up with AFC teams, or at least non-NFC West teams.
Jason LaCanfora is a fairly reliable source of rumors, but he said over the weekend that Manning should sign with the Cardinals because the NFC West was there for the taking. Hello! Sorry, Jason, but this is a pretty ignorant statement. If you want a division that is there for the taking, look no further than the AFC West. And Manning to Denver would have the additional amusement of making Tim Tebow cry in public.
The Rams are getting a lot of love for supposedly fleecing the Redskins and getting a boatload of draft picks that will surely transform them into a contender. As far as I can tell, they have picked up only three additional picks, and only one occurs this year — a second rounder. In addition, they’ve dropped out of the top five in this year’s draft, meaning they will get a lesser valued player than what they could have had. This does not appear to significantly improve their team this year, and may even have a lessened impact.
The Redskins are betting the house and will either have another Cam Newton to show for it or be a team that will have bottom feeder written all over it for the next several years. If Robert Griffin is the real deal, though, the picks they gave up for him will be well worth what they got in exchange.
The Rams are betting the house, too, on Sam Bradford. If he approaches the 2010 Bradford, they’ll be alright, but if he settles into the 2011 Bradford, the Rams will be in deep trouble, the kind of trouble two extra quality players will not bail them out of.
The Bay Area beat writers would have us think that the 49ers and Alex Smith are at a contractual impasse that may result in Smith leaving via FA. But this is manufactured drama. Smith has no desire to play elsewhere, other teams know that, and there’s no way Trent Baalke and Harbaugh are going to jeopardize the 2012 season by changing QBs or insulting the one they have. The two sides will work out a mutually acceptable contract sometime before the first OTAs begin. There’s nothing magical about the beginning of FA as a deadline.
Deadlines do help move negotiations to fruition, though, and there should be quite a few guys re-signing with their old teams today and tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll get some relief from the All Manning channel soon, too. However, expecting relief from the All Alex channel is surely asking for too much.