Did Chargers get value back for Cromartie?

The trade of Antonio Cromartie to the Jets for what appears to be the undervalued amount of a third-round pick in 2011 indicates there is more going on there than meets the eye. First, Cromartie is in the last year of his deal and the Chargers either knew they weren’t going to meet his contract demands or — more likely — didn’t want to, so they took what they could a year early. Also, the Chargers became tired of some “high maintenance” issues on Cromartie — not the highest character player in the league. And further, the Chargers may have had a better deal on the table earlier from the Lions, but Detroit got spooked by some premature media reports about a deal and backed away. Thus, the Jets became one of if not the only option.

The two biggest names on the free agency docket this year appear headed for the teams that have long been rumored to be targeting them most aggressively. With Julius Peppers in Chicago and Karlos Dansby in, or on the way to, Miami, these teams are the frontrunners to sign them. Certainly, the process has moved along to a deep stage financially for these teams to be the first — and probably only — visits. They have discussed parameters of a contract that has led to the formality of a recruiting visit. The visit is simply to put the player in front of the coaches; the decision from the front offices has been made: we are going to get this guy! If not, other teams — in the case of Peppers, the Eagles and Patriots — wait to pounce.

The re-signing of Gary Brackett with the Colts was certainly expected. The Colts have a history of negotiating with core players that they want back all the way up until the doorstep of free agency before finally agreeing to significant terms — in Brackett’s case, a five-year, $33 million deal with a $12M bonus. They have done this with multiple players, including the one Peyton Manning agreed to on March 2, 2004. In talking to other teams, it seemed that there was not even a question as to Brackett returning; it was only a matter of when.

Leonard Weaver’s deal with the Eagles retains a player that exceeded both his contract and expectations of the team. I worked on Weaver’s deal a year ago, insisting on a one-year deal while each side felt out the other about the fit. Although Tampa Bay, Houston and Minnesota were interested then, Weaver knew the best fit for him was the Eagles and we worked out a one-year deal for a bit under $2M. Now he will make almost three times that much on guarantee alone over the next three years, a strong deal for a player that the Eagles could have simply sat on with the tender for the year. Kudos to the Eagles and agent Harold Lewis for solidifying that relationship after a successful one-year test drive.

And this treasure to trash update: almost exactly a year ago, the Dolphins made a big splash in free agency by signing Gibril Wilson to a five-year, $27.5M deal with $8M in 2009. Today, the Dolphins released him. So much for that $8M. Wilson is a particularly interesting free agent, as he was signed by the Raiders in 2008 to a six-year, $39M contract with $16M in guarantees. For those of you counting, that’s almost $25M guaranteed for a player who’s been released twice in the past two years. Wilson may not be much of a player, but certainly knows how to make money!

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