There's Peyton Manning and then there's everyone else. Making a list of free agency winners and losers seems silly before the top-ranked player has yet to sign, but the drama is dragging on indefinitely and the suitors are now identified and predictable. In short, it's possible to do a workaround to accomplish our task of compiling the biggest winners of the NFL free agency period.
So after the first five days, here's our attempt to put together a top three winners and losers in free agency (and yes, we're biased) thus far in the NFL offseason:
1. St. Louis Rams
Key Additions: CB Cortland Finnegan, DE Kendall Langford, OL Scott Wells, Dan Snyder's Future
Every one of the free agent signings for the Rams is among the best in free agency this year, from landing the top corner on the market (along with Brandon Carr) to grabbing Wells from Green Bay. Langford in particular is one of the better underrated signings thus far. But this is all about the future of the Rams, a course charted with the incredible trade with the Redskins.
By moving down four slots in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Rams picked up two future first round choices as well as an additional second this season. In short, that's three more impact players in the next 25 months that the team had before. In a league separated by the smallest margins, teams that acquire impact players at key positions can set themselves up for dominance.
Of course, the Rams have to use these players well, but given the acumen displayed this free agent season, fans of the Rams have reason to hope.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Additions: WR Vincent Jackson, OL Carl Nicks, QB Dan Orlovsky, CB Eric Wright, OL Jeremy Zuttah (extended)
There's no denying that opening your wallet Dan Snyder style will lead to some questionable decisions. Eric Wright's contract, for example, is a bit pricey to lure away the decent man-corner from the Detroit Lions. But the Bucs had an incredible amount of money to spend (over $42 million) and the Glazers put it to good use.
Vincent Jackson will give the team the dynamic receiver they've lacked to further Josh Freeman's development at quarterback. Nicks and the extension of Zuttah will keep the offensive front as a strength for years to come.
The only question mark is that the 2012 offseason represents a lopsided offensive investment for a team that gave up the third most yards in the NFL last season. Still there's no denying adding Nicks and Jackson will help any team in the league.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
Key Additions: TE Kevin Boss, RB Peyton Hillis, QB Brady Quinn, CB Stanford Routt, OL Eric Winston
The Chiefs' defense won several games for them last season, so Scott Pioli now turns to the offense in the 2012 offseason. The team lost Brandon Carr to the Cowboys, but Pioli struck preemptively and grabbed Routt on release from the Raiders.
From there, Pioli has addressed the team's biggest need at right tackle with the best option on the market with Winston, which is the biggest win for the Chiefs. Pioli also paired Hillis with Jamaal Charles to give the team the best tandem they've had in years. Boss also adds depth and options at tight end given Tony Moeaki's durability concerns.
For KC, the questions remain about quarterback and Quinn is not the answer fans were hoping for. It's likely the team goes with Matt Cassel for the 2012 season, but he'll definitely have the most talent around him than ever. If Cassel still cannot succeed, the Chiefs will have to do something drastic.