Connecting the dots in free agency

The moves teams make in free agency can be predictable based on personal connections.

  • The Cardinals hired Donnie Henderson to coach their secondary. When Antrel Rolle signed with the Giants, the Cardinals quickly acquired Kerry Rhodes from the Jets. Who was the Jets' defensive coordinator when the team drafted Rhodes in 2005? Henderson.

  • The Rams hired Pat Shurmur as their offensive coordinator before last season. When the Rams sought a veteran quarterback this offseason, the team signed A.J. Feeley. Who was the Eagles' quarterbacks coach when Feeley was a backup in Philadelphia? Shurmur.

  • The 49ers watched free agent Arnaz Battle leave in recent days. Battle joined recently fired 49ers special-teams coach Al Everest with the Steelers.

  • The Seahawks spent Saturday visiting with Broncos restricted free agent Brandon Marshall. Their new offensive coordinator, Jeremy Bates, coached Marshall previously in Denver.

So many of these moves are somewhat predictable if we pay close enough attention to the connections. St. Louis made another reconnection Monday when they signed defensive tackle Fred Robbins, who played for Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo when both were with the Giants. The Cardinals reportedly have interest in linebackers Joey Porter and Larry Foote, who played for the Steelers when Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt was a coach for Pittsburgh. On and on it goes.

It makes sense for teams to seek players they know will fit their systems. I also think teams can value familiarity too much. Sometimes it's easier for a coach to plug in a known part than to put in the work needed to develop a younger or more talented player.