With the free agency period and the 2009 NFL Draft now in the books, it’s time to look back and see which teams bolstered their lineups for the upcoming season. Who will be the biggest movers and shakers for NFL bettors this fall? The following teams have certainly staked their claim:
Washington signs DT Albert Haynesworth
The hulking Haynesworth (6’6, 320lbs) is widely regarded as the most dominant defensive tackle in football; no surprise, then, that he signed one of the biggest free agent contracts in NFL history. The Redskins signed Haynesworth to a deal that – if he hits all his incentive clauses – could reach $115 million. Haynesworth spent the first seven years of his career in Tennessee, racking up 24 sacks and nearly 200 tackles while being named to two Pro Bowls. He’ll be a huge addition to a Washington defense that was already solid, finishing fourth in total defense a year ago.
Buffalo signs WR Terrell Owens
The Bills made a huge splash in free agency by signing the volatile 35-year-old wideout, giving them the type of offensive playmaker the team hasn’t had in years. While Owens is a 14-year veteran, he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down – last year with Dallas, Owens hauled in 1,052 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns. He instantly makes Buffalo a more dynamic offensive team, an important addition for a team that only averaged 21 points per game last year (23rd overall in the NFL).
Seattle signs WR TJ Houshmandzadeh
After a disastrous 2008 season that saw Seattle lose wide receivers Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson, Ben Obomanu and Logan Payne to injury, it was important for the Seahawks to find a consistent receiving target. Well, they got it in Houshmandzadeh, the former Cincinnati Bengal who has caught at least 90 passes in his last three seasons. “Housh” figures to fit in well with Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck; he provides a tough, sure-handed receiver who can catch passes in traffic.
New York Jets draft QB Matt Sanchez
After suffering the highs and lows of last year’s Brett Favre experiment, the Jets decided to find a long-term solution at the QB position by drafting former USC star Mark Sanchez. The Jets made the biggest draft-day trade in franchise history to get Sanchez, giving up three players, the 17th overall pick and a second-rounder to move up to No. 5 and take him. Barring injury or a complete disaster in preseason, Sanchez will start for the Jets this season, although New York is presenting what they call a “legitimate competition” for the No. 1 job between Sanchez and Kellen Clemens.
Kansas City trades for Matt Cassel
A year ago at this time, Cassel was a little-used backup in New England playing behind who many saw as the best QB in the league – Tom Brady. But after Brady went down in Week 1 with a season-ending knee injury, Cassel assumed the starting position and ran with it. His numbers – 21TDs, 3,693 passing yards, a 89.4 QB rating – stunned the league. Within a year, Cassel went from afterthought to one of the most sought-after commodities in the NFL, and was rewarded accordingly. He received the Pats’ franchise tag (earning him a one-year deal worth $14 million) and was then traded to Kansas City. This year, he’ll be leading a Chiefs offense that has talent but suffered growing pains a year ago; KC only averaged 18.2 points per game and went a woeful 2-14 overall.