Who's Up? Who's Down? Here is today's edition after a whirlwind of player moves between NFL Teams...
Bengals new QB Bruce Gradkowski (he likely wins a starting gig and with a clean slate with young talented receivers A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, the overlooked Jordan Shipley and TE Jermain Gresham, it’s a nice opportunity for renewed relevance, even without Ochocinco – although I wouldn’t yet draft him even as QB2)
Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton (because no novice should have to lead a team in his first NFL game; this gives him time to develop at NFL speed)
Cardinals new QB Kevin Kolb (finally gets his shot, but being an Arizona QB of late has been something like being drummer for Spinal Tap, so it’s a high risk high upside move for him, too)
Cardinal’s elite WR Larry Fitzgerald (even if Kolb doesn’t turn out to be a great starting QB, he’s still going to be better than anyone Fitz had tossing last season)
Chargers RB Darren Sproles (the exit of Reggie Bush from New Orleans creates a vacuum that practically has this receiving back’s name on it… but if that happens, rank WR Lance Moore and other Saints receivers and backs down to where they were yesterday morning)
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Reggie Bush’s move to Miami signals that the Dolphins couldn’t match the offer NY already made to #44. Jints are simply the better team for him to produce with… although presumably Denver is still in the hunt for him)
Panthers management (in spite of itself! Owner Jerry Richardson has long had a rep as a tight-fisted SOB, but the new Collective Bargaining Agreement forces him to spend 99 percent of the cap and suddenly now they’re hanging unexpectedly on to players like DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith and various defensive gems, trading for former Bears TE Greg Olson and such. Some analysts call this the Cam Newton Effect. Balderdash. It’s the Salary Floor Effect!)
Patriots new WR Chad Ochocinco (I’m of the opinion that he’ll go back to pre-2008 Chad Johnson numbers and may even change his name back: #85 in the red, white and blue is already occupied by TE Aaron Hernandez. And you just can’t claim to know more about winning than Brady or Bellichick the way one could with Palmer and Lewis.)
Patriots QB Tom Brady (another great weapon in Chad Whatever-his-last-name-now-is…)
Vikings new WR, the former Packer James Jones (I thought that Jones would be heir apparent to Donald Driver’s slot on the Packers, apparently so did QB Aaron Rodgers, who reportedly begged the team to keep him, but management said no dice. This will come back to bite GB in the ass, twice a year in division rivalry. Jones fell victim to late season good luck by Jordy Nelson last year, but Jones is the better receiver and a good fit for Minnesota and Donovan McNabb)
Dolphins WR Davonne Bess (new RB Reggie Bush is going to cut into his short yardage receipts, with or without Orton at the helm).
Chiefs new WR Steve Breaston (KC passing game will struggle this year and Breaston will mainly serve to draw coverage away from Dwayne Bowe, but it could be good for Bowe, and certainly not bad news for RB Jaamal Charles to have another receiver to spread out the field. Could even mean a spike for TE Tony Moeki)
Giants RB Brandon Jacobs (presuming Bradshaw is in the Meadowlands to stay, look for a new Brandon-tantrum and for Coach Coughlin to begin testing out new RB2s)
Seahawks new WR Sidney Rice (no way he improves or even stays at game with a struggling new offense).
Jets WR Braylon Edwards (the re-signing of Santonio Holmes makes it extremely unlikely he sticks around Big Green. He might get new life on another team, but the clock is ticking on the game of WR musical chairs, with a lot of good competing talent still out there in free agency)
Jury is still out
Dolphins new RB Reggie Bush (his 2011 prospects depend on Miami nabbing Orton at QB.)
Pats new defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth. (He needs to learn to obey Bellichick’s every command, or he’ll be out on his ass again. This ain’t no Shanahan to kick sand in the face of the coach.)
In a possible sign that at least he thinks the Dolphins are going to get Bronco Kyle Orton or another new QB, Tyler Thigpen has just signed with the Bills where he will back-up to Ryan Fitzgerald. In Miami, Thigpen was reported to be competing with Chad Henne for the starting job. Something changed his mind about that possibility, and we’re guessing it’s an Orton. Caveat Emptor: There is no reason to believe that Thigpen has definitive inside information.
Free Agent Watch
Still on the auction block: Kyle Orton, Vince Young, Malcom Floyd, Zach Miller, Nnamdi Asomugha, Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards, Plaxico Burress.
Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Matt Forte, Marcedes Lewis. I am guessing that Forte, Lewis and Gore will get quick deals, probably CJ, too, but D-Jax may be going down the same rocky road that V-Jax trod in 2010…