AFC Free Agency Notes: Key Departures Mean Ravens Now Harbaugh's Team
In Baltimore, Mike Preston wrote the Ravens are coach John Harbaugh's "team now." With Ray Lewis retiring following the Super Bowl, this "was the perfect time for Harbaugh to clean house." He "appears to have gotten rid of the most outspoken players on the team." The Ravens this week have traded WR Anquan Boldin to the 49ers and cut S Bernard Pollard, and the team has "yet to re-sign" OT Bryant McKinnie or S Ed Reed. Those five players were the "rabble-rousers, and they didn't hesitate to give their opinion and challenge Harbaugh, even in public" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/13). Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said there is a thought that cutting ties with these players “is part of the retribution” after a “near mutiny” during the ’12 season. Pollard and Reed were seen “as guys who instigated it” (“PFT,” NBC Sports Network, 3/13).
CENTER OF ATTENTION: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde writes the changing landscape of the AFC East, which includes the Patriots not re-signing WR Wes Welker, makes the first two days of free agency "a success for the Dolphins." The "narrative only improves by their adding" WR Mike Wallace and "debunking two commonly held, constantly repeated, often overstated myths." The first is Owner Stephen Ross "won't spend for a winner," while the second is free agents "won't come to the Dolphins." It is "fun to be the center of attention like the Dolphins are now." But March is a "fool's month and being its champion means nothing" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 3/14). ESPN’s Eric Mangini said the Dolphins “wanted to make a splash” in free agency and “get the fan base excited." But with Wallace now being the third-highest paid WR in the NFL, it "creates problems down the road because you only have so much money and the splash you make now it’s going to affect you in future years.” ESPN's Tedy Bruschi: “It better pay off” (“NFL32,” ESPN2, 3/13).
WRATH OF THE TITANS: ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky wrote the Titans in free agency have "traditionally sat back, let the market set itself, then reacted as members of the second phase of player acquisition." But "not this time." Titans Exec VP & GM Ruston Webster and coach Mike Munchak yesterday introduced G Andy Levitre, TE Delanie Walker, DT Sammie Lee Hill and RB Shonn Greene. Webster said that he has been "thrilled with the way things have played out." He said, "(Titans Owner Bud) Adams gave his blessing and allowed us to be aggressive. It was actually fun to set a plan and just go do it" (ESPN.com, 3/13).
THE WAITING GAME: In N.Y., Steve Serby writes Jets fans have "every right to wonder" whether Owner Woody Johnson, GM John Idzik and coach Rex Ryan are "asleep at the free agency switch." What is "unfolding before your bloodshot eyes, Jets fans, is the very reason why the owner should have ushered Ryan out the door with" former GM Mike Tannenbaum. Serby: "You cannot function properly when your general manager has one vision and your head coach has another." But just because "you lay in the weeds at the start of free agency doesn’t mean you don’t have a clue." The "problem is the Jets are the Jets, meaning they are guilty until proven innocent" (N.Y. POST, 3/14).