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Offseason winners and losers

Posted by Doug on April 12, 2006

Most of the free agency dust has settled by now. If you've lost track of who's where, check out this handy dandy player movement tracker at my other site, You can sort and sift the list based on a number of different criteria to get a feel for this offseason's activity.

The tracker has a column labeled "Importance" that ranks each player on a scale of one to five. Edgerrin James is a five. Darnell Alford is a one. Brian Griese is a three. These numbers are not scientifically determined and should only be used to place players into large buckets. Nonetheless, I couldn't help running with an idea suggested by a footballguys message board poster named "Kleck."

He suggested that we add up, for each team, the total "Importance" of the players acquired minus the total Importance of the players departing. This will give us an imprecise-but-generally-somewhat-reasonable measure of which teams have improved and which teams have declined. Here is the list, sorted from most improved to most declined:

TM + - NET
HOU 32 7 +25
DET 23 12 +11
WAS 20 12 +8
CAR 19 13 +6
MIA 26 20 +6
CLE 24 19 +5
STL 20 15 +5
PHI 15 10 +5
CHI 5 0 +5
ATL 14 10 +4
TEN 15 11 +4
NYG 12 9 +3
OAK 8 6 +2
SEA 16 14 +2
NYJ 17 15 +2
DAL 22 21 +1
MIN 27 26 +1
GB 16 16 +0
BUF 17 18 -1
ARI 8 9 -1
NO 19 21 -2
TB 6 9 -3
JAX 9 12 -3
CIN 7 11 -4
PIT 5 10 -5
SF 9 15 -6
BAL 12 18 -6
KC 7 14 -7
DEN 6 16 -10
SD 6 19 -13
IND 5 18 -13
NE 8 29 -21

So according to this imprecise and unscientific accounting system (by the way, did I happen to mention that this thing was not to be taken too seriously?), the Texans figure to be the most improved team in the NFL in 2006. And that's before they add Reggie Bush. It's easy to improve, of course, when you're 2-14, but that gap over the rest of the league --- imprecise and unscientific as it may be --- is substantial.

On the other end of the list, it will be very interesting to see what happens with the Patriots this year. Weis and Crennel are gone. The Brady/Belichick duo has proven to be fallible, if only just a little. And now New England loses a ton of players in the offseason, including the clutchest kicker to ever to go 1-out-of-3 on field goal attempts in a Super Bowl. Granted, most of the players they are losing are not real difference-makers. But there will be a lot of turnover on both sides of the ball, and this should be the year we find out how strong The System is.

Patriot fans will probably point out that my method doesn't count players coming back from injury, of which every team has some but the Patriots probably have more than most. They would have a point. After years of hating New England, I finally learned to coexist with them last season. Rather than relishing their potential downfall this year, I am simply watching with detached interest.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 12th, 2006 at 4:09 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.