The 2013 NFL off-season has been a notable one thus far in regard to moves in both free agency and in trades. No question, we’ve seen our fair share of surprises. While some may have enjoyed watching a second string QB give pressers in the off-season of 2012, last year’s constant Tim Tebow/Mark Sanchez debacle are a thankful distant and painful memory for the majority of us. This year, save for an alleged fax machine snafu or two, we’ve seen actual championship-caliber deals and signings.
Let’s look at the top 5 off-season transactions so far in this mature 2013 off-season. Even though my top off-season moves don’t necessarily equate to power ranking, the Niners are still my early NFC favorites. I did include another move from the same conference and division that could give them a fit or three. Enjoy!
1. Denver Broncos (Ryan Clady). It starts up front, and more than anybody, John Elway knows that. All the more reason to put the franchise tag on the second best player on the team. Peyton can’t throw to the best receiving core now (thanks Welker) unless he is protected. And while Ryan Clady was never a real threat to leave Denver, the fact that he is still there will have a significant impact on their Championship run in 2013. Of the 21 sacks Manning took in 2012, only one was given up by Clady and he didn’t even give that up until week 12. If Clady can remain durable, which he has done (hasn’t missed one game in all three of his Pro Bowl seasons), expect Denver to give the rest of the AFC trouble.
2. Seattle Seahawks (Percy Harvin). The Seahawk offense just got a lot more explosive. Say what you want about the ” throw it to me or else” wide receiver, he will provide the Seahawks a much needed deep threat guy, returner and nightmare to every defense back they go up against. With Russell Wilson at the helm, Harvin should help to alleviate some of the pressure off of the rest of the receiving corps made up of Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Sidney Rice. If anybody could give the younger Harbaugh’s Niners fits, this team is now poised to certainly give them one or three.
3. New England (Aqib Talib). Traditionally, if there has been one weakness to the Patriot’s team, it has been their secondary. Re-signing the aggressive Talib to a one year deal should prove to aid in the defensive backfield. The Patriots certainly missed him in not only the AFC championship game against the Ravens last season, but also in the first nine games before they signed him. He will have plenty of help in the slot with Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard on the other side. Look for the Patriots to draft another corner if Dennard ends up serving jail time next year.
4. Baltimore Ravens (Elvis Dumervil). No question the Ravens are going to be a completely different team than last year’s AFC Championship version. If the old adage, “Defense wins championships” holds true though, the Ravens may still be in the mix. With Terrell Suggs/ Courtney Upshaw playing the opposite side of Dumervil on the defensive line, things could get interesting for the opposition’s quarterback. All fax jokes aside, this was a significant pickup for the Ravens.
5. Houston Texans (Ed Reed). It will be awkward not seeing him in a Ravens uni. I wouldn’t expect the production (or knowledge) of the 34 year old safety to be earth shattering, but I do believe he will be a nice fill in for the loss of Glover Quin. Even though he is beginning to show his age, he still had 58 tackles (most since 2006) and 4 interceptions last season. He’s arguably one of the smartest and best defensive players of all time. He will provide quite a bit of leadership to a fairly young team.
With the draft less than a month away, it will be interesting to see how things may (or may not) change. For now, we can all just be thankful Tim Tebow isn’t holding any more press conferences.
BY AARON BRATKA ON APRIL 2, 2013