– NFL’s Free Agency Foxtrot presents…….

The Free Agency Foxtrot!

Now playing at an NFL Franchise near you.

According to legend, vaudeville performer Harry Fox invented the “Fox Trot” by adding rapid trots to the gliding movements of the traditional two-step, thus creating the basic Foxtrot rhythm of slow-slow-quick-quick. How’s that for trivia? Who says you can’t learn anything from an NFL column? Certainly the standard NFL off-season free agency rhythm of “wait, wait, sign now, sign now” mimics this American ballroom staple. Not to mention the entire nature of social dance – which is to enable participants to change partners at will! Sound familiar? Okay, so football is a contact sport and not a cotillion, but you see my point.

It’s only been a month since the Pro Bowl, but we football faithful have been held in thrall, waiting for those marquee swaps that make March the crucible in which our favorite team’s 2009 roster will be forged. Lost your star WR? Still smarting over that useless running back your GM saddled you with last April (for well over $20 million no less)? Did your favorite QB retire (sniff, sniff)? Never fear – Free Agency is here! The Draft may make dreamers salivate over rookie potential; this NFL fan would far prefer a proven commodity. Maybe it was growing up watching Redskins teams manned by George Allen’s Over-the-Hill-Gang, but I think experience is a good thing in just about ANY human endeavor. Call me crazy, but if my team is going to spend double-digit millions on a player, I’d like the guy to have played a down or two.

Ready, set—Change Partners!

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers. So far the Champs are avoiding the wholesale exodus that usually plagues Super-Bowl winning franchises. Other than losing WR Nate Washington and CB Bryant McFadden the team has survived thus far intact in the stalwarts department. I’m guessing the plan is to move 2008 promising rookies Limas Sweed into Washington’s number 3 role. Since the weather stinks and we all know there are teams out there that pay more, there must be some truth to all those kind words players and staff constantly have about how wonderful it is to work for the Rooneys. Are you listening, Al Davis?

Baltimore Ravens. Of course I could be wrong, but I don’t see Baltimore shopping for a QB or a new Head Coach this off-season. They are going to be using a new Dcoord., since Ryan “jetted” off to the Big Apple and took LB Scott and Safety Leonard with him. Dominique Foxworth was added to replace Leonard and Scott’s departure undoubtedly greased the wheels for what I think is a VERY smart move in re-signing Ray Lewis. The team locked up Suggs with the franchise tag and wisely decided not to let a leader of Lewis’ character get away. I don’t care how old the guy is – he’s one of a kind. And frankly, they added a leader of similar caliber on the offensive side by stealing Center Matt Birk away from Minnesota. The Harvard-educated former Viking is an early Christmas present to any hard-working young QB. I can see Flacco grinning from here!

Cincinnati Bengals. I’m shocked – shocked I tell you – that Marvin Lewis still has a job after several abysmal seasons in the Rust Belt. I can only assume that either ownership is giving him a pass since he was without Carson Palmer all of 2008 – or there is more than rust in the water in Ohio. This team seems to have tunnel vision yet again this spring since the only action has been on the O side: they lost T.J. who’s your mama and replaced him with oft-injured Laveranues Coles from the Jets. I’d say the jury is out on whether this was a good move. Hey, T.O. was available for about 10 minutes – didn’t you want to get TWO loud-mouthed prima donnas for Carson to deal with? Meanwhile I see no improvement to date in either the running game or the defense. Nothing will change for the tigers until they realize there are quite a few other aspects to the game than passing.

Cleveland Browns. WR L. Coles was available and former Jets, now Browns, coach Eric Mangini didn’t touch him – does this not tell you something? Hmmm. He did however dump high maintenance TE Kellen Winslow and sign solid blocking TE Robert Royal. That’s pretty much all the action in Cleveland, except for retaining Safety Mike Adams. We’ll all have to wait and see what the questionably monikered “Man-Genius” has in mind for the storied but under-performing Browns. I don’t expect to see Derek Anderson in orange come September, unless Brady Quinn trips over his own feet on the way to mini-camp.

Coming Friday March 13th…. The AFC South!

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