By Ron Lippock
Posted Mar 24, 2007
Last week, I analyzed the success rate of teams that sign other team’s free agents.
But how do teams that sign more of their own players fare? And do teams that lose many of their own free agents suffer more than teams that do not? And in general, is there any correlation between the overall number of off-season changes a team goes through and that team’s success?
2005 Free Agency – Players Lost:
The teams that lost the most players in free agency, in order, were St. Louis, New Orleans and Minnesota with 12 players lost each. Behind them, with 10 lost players each, were New England, Miami and Baltimore. Carolina and the New York Jets followed with nine and behind them were six teams that lost eight players.
Teams that lost the least were Chicagowith zero. Cleveland was next with just two. Pittsburgh was next with three, and three teams followed with four lost players – Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.
Of these teams, the eight that lost the most players saw their combined records improve by 15 wins, nearly a two-game average. Three of those eight teams saw their records drop (Minnesota, Carolina and Miami).
The six teams that lost the fewest players saw their overall records actually drop by 2 games. Of the six, only Philadelphia and Chicago saw their records improve.
2005 Free Agency – Players Signed
The teams that signed the most players in free agency were Houston with 16, followed by Detroit with 14, Miami with 12, New Orleans, Buffalo and St. Louis with 11 and Minnesota with 10.
The teams that signed the fewest free agents were: Denver and Indianapolis with one each; Atlanta and Pittsburgh with two; San Diego with three; and Chicago, Arizona and Cincinnati with four each.
The seven teams who signed the most free agents saw their records improve by seven games overall, about a one-game average. However, three of the seven saw their records worsen despite the overall record increase.
The eight teams that signed the fewest free agents actually saw their overall record decrease by six games – with only one team showing improvement (San Diego) over the prior year.
2005 Free Agency – Total Team Turnover
Teams that suffered the most combined free agency turnover (losses and free agent signings) were Houston, St. Louis and New Orleans with 23 total changes, Miami and Minnesota with 22, Detroit at 21 and the New York Jets and Buffalo both with 18.
Teams that suffered the least total free agency turnover were Chicago with four, Pittsburgh with five, Denver with six, Atlanta with 7 and Indianapolis and Tennessee with nine each.
Of the eight teams that suffered the most turnover, the cumulative record improved by 13 games – about 1.5 games on average. Five of the eight teams improved.
Of the six teams that suffered the least turnover, the overall record dropped by four games – less than one game each. Only two of the six teams declined from the prior year.
What does this tell us?
That there’s no evidence that being more active in free agency and that player continuity is as big a factor in the success of teams as many assume it is.
Teams that lose more of its own players don’t necessarily lose more games – nor do teams that are more active in free agency necessarily win more.
There’s no right or wrong way – no clear correlation between free agency activity (or lack of activity) and success.
I was almost going to type here that at least we know it's cheaper to build through the draft.......then I thought, but wait, we are as close to the caps edge as anybody. We are traditionally a team that builds through the draft yet we struggle with the cap just like anybody else. You stand just as good of a chance overpaying to keep one of your own players as you do to overpay for someone elses. Negotiating contracts for how you think someone will play in the future is just as risky with your own as with somebody elses players. You can get burned either way!