First off "4th and inches..." will be my tag line for when I want to throw out randomness about the NFL. Tag lines can be cliche but I like it and this initial entry is about the first weeks of free agency. It all begins and ends with Peyton Manning. He signed with Denver for 5 years and $96 million. Wow. I like this move. San Francisco may have been the team more ready to compete for the Super Bowl but I like it. Some of it has to do with the pairing of him and executive/former great John Elway. You know Elway and coach John Fox are happy to get past the Tim Tebow era and develop a game plan involving the passing game. Will Manning be ready? Yes. Will he be 100%? Who knows but an 80% healthy Manning still makes him a top ten quarterback in this league and should make Denver a team ready to challenge for a division crown each year. Some say they must win a Super Bowl to justify this signing but I don't agree. I think Manning will charge the fanbase like it hasn't been since Elway was under center. A Super Bowl win would just be icing on the cake.
Tampa Bay also made a big splash signing Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright right out of the gates. If Josh Freeman is for real this team could make some noise in their division as Atlanta's free agency news is all bad as players are walking left and right and the Saints don't even have a head coach right now.
New England and Washington ensured they won't be wanting for wide receivers with the Pats signing three and Washington two. Overall New England has been one of the busiest teams. They haven't signed the sexiest free agents out there but as is their M.O. they are stock piling bodies in the hope they can get the best out of players other teams didn't want.
The Bears grabbed WR Brandon Marshall for a pair of third round picks. Assuming he isn't in jail or suspended next season this is a great pickup. Yes, he wasn't a free agent but I'll lump it in here anyway. Chicago also picked up running back Michael Bush and quarterback Jason Campbell, both from Oakland. This gives them quality backups at positions in which the team has had a glaring need in the recent past.
I am surprise restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace still hasn't received an offer. Any team signing him would have to give up a first round pick but he is only 25 and is a very fast receiver who has put up very big numbers the last two years. He wouldn't be a rookie coming out of college having to learn the ropes. I think he could step right in and make any passing game quite a bit better right now. Pittsburgh would have the right to match any offer but they don't have a great amount of cap space so I think he can be had at the right price.
Quick Hits: Didn't see Reggie Wayne returning to the Colts but the comfort of staying with Indy may have been his priority. San Diego also made smart signings in Le'Ron McClain, Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, and Randy McMichael just to name a few of their nine signings. St. Louis spread their financial wings in signing cornerback Cortland Finnegan and center Scott Wells.