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Analyzing the NFL's Biggest Offseason Moves

Busts, Boneheads and Blockbusters


Analyzing the NFL's Biggest Offseason Moves

Peyton Manning drops back to pass with his old team, the Colts.

Cpl. Michelle M. Dickson

The thrill doesn't end with the last play of the Super Bowl. The NFL offseason always has a few juicy and controversial player moves to be analyzed, scrutinized and agonized over.

Now that we have a little game film to watch, let's take a look at this point in the season at the biggest moves of the past offseason: The best deals, the biggest bust and the biggest steal.

Glamour Boys

This year, we saw some serious action at the NFL's glamour position. Pro quarterbacks are the most celebrated and scrutinized of the NFL elite, and none so more now than future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

Denver ended up signing Manning to a five-year $96 million contract in March, then trading the enigmatic and controversial Tebow and a seventh-round draft pick to the New York Jets in exchange for two picks.

Are the Broncos taking too much of a financial risk with Manning? Even in today's NFL, $96 million is a heavy wad of cash. And Manning, as spectacular as his career has been, may be showing signs of starting that long, downhill slide which happens to 36-year-olds in a violent sport.

The 'What-if" Clauses

He spent more time huddled with surgeons than offensive coordinators last year. His multiple neck surgeries caused him to miss the entire season, which is why the Colts unceremoniously dumped him a day before they were due to fork over a $28 million roster bonus.

The Broncos read injury reports like anybody else and are trying to guard themselves against a recurrence of Manning's neck problems by inserting several "what if" causes into the fat contract. Manning's long, delicate neck is only part of the problem; it's obvious he can't throw deep as well as he once could, depending more and more on his short, precision passing game.

But, what a game that is. Manning, though he claims to still be "adjusting" to his new teammates, is the same supremely confident field general he's always been. Oh, and incidentally, he's ranked in the top five in completions, yards and touchdowns so far this season. So far, so good.

Manning went from Indianapolis to Denver, where the Broncos were just as stumped as everybody else trying to figure out what to do with Tim Tebow.

As for Tebow, he remains one of the most controversial backups ever in New York behind struggling Mark Sanchez.

More Intrigue

Of course, there were other intriguing offseason acquisitions at the glamour spot, like the two prized quarterbacks taken in the draft, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

Luck and Griffin, picked Nos. 1 and 2 respectively in the draft, have thus far justified their lofty status. The supremely athletic Griffin is being hailed as a savior in our nation's capital. Luck, while not exactly banishing the memory of Manning in Indianapolis, is well on his way to passing Manning's rookie stats.

It's apparent neither is in any danger of worming his way downward into our worst draft picks of all time list.

Not So Super Mario

Now, to the bust: The much heralded signing of Mario Williams by the Buffalo Bills has been the biggest loser of all the offseason moves thus far.

Turns out, Super Mario ain't so super. He's getting shoved around by opponents like he's the schoolyard sissy. If he can ever get his wrist healed, it might be a different story, but for now, he's just a pricy ornament.

Best Deal, Best Steal?

Enough on losers. Let's talk about Atlanta's offseason acquisition of cornerback Asante Samuel from Philadelphia. This is one of the most talented defensive backs in the league, a four-time Pro Bowler with 46 career interceptions, and an integral part of two Super Bowl champions. Yet this move didn't attract as much attention as you might expect.

Samuel has taken away one whole side of the field against opposing quarterbacks, who are scared to throw his way. And then on Sunday of week 6, he was back to his old tricks, returning an interception 79 yards for a touchdown and helping unbeaten Atlanta continue its best start in franchise history.

What did the Falcons give up to get him? A lousy seventh-round draft pick.

The Samuel move, right now, is the steal of the 2012 offseason.

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