The 2008 NFL Season has entered its second half and while some teams are rejoicing over the moves they made this past summer in either signing or trading for players, others are wondering what the hell they were thinking.
Below are five of the best acquisitions from the 2008 NFL offseason, as well as five of the worst. Granted, these moves might look differently at the end of the season or in a year or two, but for now, these are the best of the best and the worst of the worst from the 2008 offseason.
Five Best Offseason Acquisitions:
1. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons handed “The Burner” a six-year, $34.5 million contract in early March and while some pundits loved the move, others thought it was too much for the unproven Turner, who had spent his entire career backing up LaDainian Tomlinson. But the signing has paid huge dividends for a Falcons team that ranks second in the league in rushing thanks to his bruising running style. He’s formed a nice “Thunder and Lighting” combo with Jerious Norwood and more importantly, has taken a lot of pressure off rookie Matt Ryan by demanding opponents to focus on taking away the run. He hasn’t fared well against top defenses this season, which is a concern, but outside of that he’s been everything Atlanta had hoped for. He has rushed for 890 yards on 203 carries and has scored seven times.
2. Asante Samuel, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
There was a lot of talk last offseason that Samuel would never live up to the hype that surrounded him in New England. But through 10 games this season, it’s hard to argue that the former Patriot hasn’t lived up to his big play billing. Samuel has recorded three interceptions on the year and has fit into Jim Johnson’s defense better than most expected. He’s not a shutdown corner, but he plays well in zone and rarely gets burned deep. He has also helped the Eagles rank sixth in the league in pass defense and ninth overall in yardage allowed. He was pricey at just over $57 million for six years, but so far Samuel has been worth the money.
3. Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets
Brett has looked absolutely brutal at times this year, but what he’s meant to the Jets’ organization far exceeds his penchant for turning the ball over…and over, and over, and over, and…He’s given the team a bona fide playmaker at quarterback and while his horrible decision making was obviously earlier in the year as he learned the playbook, he has been hot of late leading the J.E.T.S. to five wins in the past six games. He’s also tied with Kurt Warner for the fourth-most touchdowns (16) and more importantly, his teammates have responded to his energy. They believe that they can win on Sundays and their quarterback won’t hold them back. No offense to Chad Pennington who is playing very well in Miami, but Favre has lifted the Jets this year and might just take them to a playoff berth if they can get past New England.
4. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings
Allen has been everything the Vikings wanted since they parted with a first round pick to acquire him from Kansas City. He’s been a monster along Minnesota’s stout defensive line and has brought the true pass-rushing threat that the team has been dying for. He already has nine sacks on the season, including two multi-sack games against the Bears and Texans. Better yet, he’s stayed out of trouble off the field and has been a great motivator for a Vikings team that has leapt back into the playoff chase in the NFC.
5. Alan Faneca, OG, New York Jets
The Steelers didn’t want to pay huge money to an aging guard who could be on the downside of his career. But Faneca has spearheaded a Jets’ rushing attack that ranks ninth in the league and that, for the most part, has kept Brett Favre’s uniform relatively clean. Faneca might be 31, but his level of play hasn’t dropped off in the slightest and he continues to play at a high level. He has also motivated younger teammates D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold – two players that went through a sophomore slump, but who are now playing well again.
Other worthy candidates: Shaun Rogers, DT, Cleveland; Benard Berrian, WR, Minnesota; Jonathan Vilma, LB, New Orleans; Justin Smith, LB/DE Cincinnati; Calvin Pace, LB, NY Jets.
Five Worst Offseason Acquisitions:
1. DeAngelo Hall, CB, Oakland Raiders
There’s no question that Hall was the biggest offseason bust this year, if not in the history of the NFL. The Raiders traded away multiple draft picks (including a second round pick this year) to acquire Hall from Atlanta, then handed him a seven-year, $70 million contract with $24.5 million in guarantees. What Oakland got out of Hall was eight games of lousy play before they eventually decided to waive him. The Raiders wanted someone to play opposite of Nnamdi Asomugha that could hold his own in man-to-man coverage. But Hall excelled in Atlanta playing in a zone scheme that allowed him to freelance. He’s a self-proclaimed “shutdown” corner, but the fact of the matter is that he’s one of the most overrated players in the entire league. That said, it’s still amazing that the Raiders waived him after only eight games. It just goes to show you how bad he really was.
2. Derek Anderson, QB, Cleveland Browns
Anderson wasn’t technically an acquisition since he never left the Browns, but he fits under the “offseason moves” category that I’m referring to. The Browns honored Anderson’s terrific 2008 season by giving him a three-year, $24 million contract in the offseason. But inconsistent play and a few hundred dropped passes by Braylon Edwards doomed Anderson to the bench as he was replaced in Week 10 by second year quarterback Brady Quinn. Romeo Crennel gave Anderson every opportunity to hang on to his job, but in the end he didn’t do enough to remain the starter. Again, it wasn’t all his fault as Edwards has taken a major step back after finally turning in a good season last year and Kellen Winslow Jr. has missed time once again due to injury. It’s hard to fault the Browns for re-signing Anderson in the offseason with how well he played last year and given Quinn’s inexperience, but the team will likely part ways with him next offseason without getting any compensation. That’s a tough pill to swallow considering at one point they were hoping to land multiple draft picks for him.
3. Adam “Pacman” Jones, CB, Dallas Cowboys
It hardly cost the Cowboys anything to acquire Pacman from Tennessee but they still got what they deserved. They used him as their sideshow clown in their freak circus this offseason during the taping of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and therefore shouldn’t have been surprised when he eventually screwed up again and wound up in Roger Goodell’s doghouse. Again, it didn’t cost Dallas much to take a shot on Jones turning his career around, but ultimately it was a decision Jerry Jones is probably regretting, as his team has turned dysfunctional over the past month.
4. Alge Crumpler, TE, Tennessee Titans
The Falcons parted ways with Crumpler this offseason despite his vast leadership and popularity among teammates and fans. But clearly they knew what they were doing because Crumpler has failed to make a dent in the Titans’ offense, and has taken a backseat to Bo Scaife in the process. Highly regarded as the best free agent tight this summer, Crump was supposed to be completely healthy after struggling with knee and back problems over the past couple of years. But he has just 16 catches this year for 169 yards and one touchdown. Tennessee didn’t sign him to a huge contract (5 years, $5.25 million), but still, one would have thought Crumpler would have made more of an impact at this point in the season.
5. Randall Gay, CB, New Orleans Saints
This wasn’t a huge signing in the offseason, but it was one that was supposed to make an impact. The Saints have been searching for a cornerback to play opposite Mike McKenize for years and thought they finally found a solid player in the former New England Patriot. But Gay has been limited to this season due to a nagging hamstring injury and has yet to record an interception. Worse yet, New Orleans ranks near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed and just lost McKenize for the season due to a knee injury. Maybe Gay will step up, but at this point, he’s largely been a bust since the Saints signed him to a three-year, $13.55 million contract.
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