Debunking The Free Agency Myth

Debunking The Free Agency Myth

"From Nnamdi (Asomugha) to (Dominique Rodgers-) Cromartie, to Jason (Babin) to myself. I know they are going to do some more things... It's just beautiful to see where we're trying to go." - "Dream Team" Backup Quarterback Vince Young
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In the 2011 offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles attempted to go from good to great by adding a slew of big-name free agents to their roster. After being knocked out of the playoffs in Wild Card Weekend the year before, the team added what appeared to be the missing pieces to kickstart a Super Bowl run. The moves backfired and the team spiraled out of control before midseason. Just five years later, not a single one of these offseason acquisitions remains on the roster. The team now serves as a modern cautionary tale about the woes of building a team through free agency.

Yet, teams continue to dole out big bucks to attract free agents to their teams, with similarly poor results. Not having learned from their past mistakes, the Eagles attempted a similar splurge last offseason, inking Demarco Murray and Byron Maxwell to big money contracts as well as adding Sam Bradford through trade. The team was a full-blown disaster, finishing 7-9 and firing Coach Chip Kelly before the end of the season. Similarly, in recent years, the Miami Dolphins have attempted to model their team building through free agency. They’ve added big names like Ndamukong Suh, Brent Grimes, Mike Wallace, Reggie Bush, and, most recently, Mario Williams in free agency. They currently sit in one of the worst cap situations in the league and they haven’t won more than eight games since 2008.

Traditional wisdom says that big spending in free agency is a misguided way of building a team. Due to the new CBA in 2011, the league is now directly built to the advantage of teams who draft, develop, and retain players. The teams with the deepest, most stable rosters in the league, like the Packers and the Seahawks, have been built almost exclusively through the draft, only using free agency to plug holes with reasonably priced veterans. Aside from signing Julius Thomas, the Packers have, in fact, aggressively avoided using the avenue of free agency.

This offseason, we’ve seen teams like the Jaguars, Giants, and Raiders lure high-priced free agents to their teams in the opening days of free agency. Of course, pundits have already written them off as just the next in the long line of teams pulled in by the allure of free agency, soon to crash and burn just like any number of teams before them.

Except, recent history tells us that this may not be the case. The past two championship teams have been built heavily through free agency. In 2012, John Elway lured perhaps the biggest free agent of all time, Peyton Manning, to the Broncos after the Colts decided to move on to the Andrew Luck era. The next offseason, the team added key contributors through Louis Vasquez, Terrance Knighton, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, and Wes Welker. That year, the team sported one of the best offenses in league history and it ran through the AFC almost unscathed, finishing with a league-best 13-3 and scoring a record 606 points during the regular season. It wasn’t enough. The team was humiliated by a more physical Seahawks team in the championship game.

That offseason, Elway set out to reshape his roster into one like the team that had kept them from winning a Super Bowl, a team that wouldn’t be bullied by the powerhouses of the NFC. With an aging Quarterback, he knew that he didn’t have the luxury of time on his side. He couldn’t wait to draft and develop a punishing defense. Elway added three blue chip defensive talents in Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware, and T.J. Ward in free agency that year, as well as elite receiver Emmanuel Sanders. After a "one and done" appearance in January, the team added another starting safety in Darian Stewart during the next offseason. Elway’s investments paid off with massive returns in the next season. Despite the diminished talent of Manning, the team sported the league’s best defense, allowing the least yards per game over the course of the season. It also lead the league in sacks and allowed the fourth least points per game in the NFL. The defense carried the team through the playoffs, even though Manning acted as little more than a game manager during this time. Just like during Elway’s final year, Manning was allowed to ride off into the sunset as a champion, even though he was no longer the reason why his team was winning.

The year before, the Super Bowl-winning Patriots roster was similarly built through free agency. The Patriots added key contributors like Danny Amendola, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Chung, and Brandon LaFell in the two years leading to their title run in 2014. Revis, in particular, was the type of big-name addition that makes analysts preach about the perils of free agency, signing a 1 year and $12 million prove-it deal in 2014. These additions lead to the team getting over their 10-year-long title drought, with their first Super Bowl victory since 2004.

Of course, the nucleus of both of these teams was built through the draft. Lineups with the likes of Von Miller, Demaryius Thomas, and Dereck Wolfe come from success on draft day. The same holds true for the Patriots. The building blocks to a consistently successful team still do come from drafting and developing the core of a team. With the salary cap as it is, it isn’t a sustainable model to construct the bulk of a team in free agency. However, recent history tells us that just using that isn’t enough to get a team over the hump. There’s a reason why the Packers haven’t been able to get over the hump in January, despite possessing a generational talent at Quarterback. Free agency provides a direct avenue to add star power to a team without the time commitment of the draft. So, the next time when a team inks a couple of March’s darlings to offensively large deals, please ignore the comments of the network analysts and think back to how other championship teams have come together.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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I Wouldn't Trade My DII Experience To Play DI Athletics Any Day

I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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As a high school athlete, the only goal is to play your varsity sport at the Division 1 level in college.

No one in high school talks about going to a Division 2 or 3 school, it's as if the only chance you have at playing college athletics is at the DI level. However, there are so many amazing opportunities to play a varsity sport at the DII and DIII level that are equally fun and competitive as playing for a division 1 team.

As a college athlete at the DII level, I hear so many DI athletes wishing they had played at the DII or DIII level. Because the fact of the matter is this: the division you play in really doesn't matter.

The problem is that DII and DIII sports aren't as celebrated as Division 1 athletics. You don't see the National Championships of Division 2 and 3 teams being broadcasted or followed by the entire country. It's sad because the highest levels of competition at the DII and DIII level are competing against some of the Division 1 teams widely celebrated across the country. Yet DII and DIII teams don't receive the recognition that DI athletics do.

Not everyone can be a DI athlete but that doesn't mean it's easy to be a DII or DIII athlete. The competition is just as tough as it is at the top for DII and DIII athletes. Maybe the stakes are higher for these athletes because they have to prove they are just as good as DI athletes. Division 2 and 3 athletes have just as much grit and determination as Division 1 athletes, without the glorified title of being "a division 1 athlete."

Also, playing at the DII or DIII level grants more opportunities to make your college experience your own, not your coach's.

I have heard countless horror stories in athletics over the course of my four-year journey however, the most heartbreaking come from athletes who lose their drive to compete because of the increased pressure from coaches or program. Division 1 athletics are historically tougher programs than Division 2 or 3 programs, making an athlete's college experience from one division to another significantly different.

The best part of not going to a division 1 school is knowing that even though my team doesn't have "DI" attached to it, we still have the opportunity to do something unique every time we arrive at an event. Just because we aren't "DI" athletes, we still have the drive and competitive spirit to go to an event and win. We are great players, and we have broken countless records as a team.

That's something we all have done together, and it's something we can take with us for the rest of our lives.

We each have our own mission when it comes to our college athletic careers, however together we prove to be resilient in the fight for the title. Giving it all when we practice and play is important, but the memories we have made behind the scenes as a team makes it all worth it, too.

The best part of being apart of college athletics is being able to be passionate about your sport with teammates that embody that same mindset. It's an added benefit to having teammates who become your best friends because it makes your victories even more victorious, and your defeats easier to bare.

No matter what level an athlete is playing at in college, it's important that all the hours spent at practice and on the road should be enjoyed with teammates that make the ride worthwhile. The experiences athletes have at any level are going to vary, but the teammates I have and the success we've had together is something I cherish and will take with me forever. I'm thankful that I didn't go DI because I wouldn't have had the best four-year experience as a college athlete.

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