In one respect, we’ve seen this before.
The Arizona Cardinals signed a couple of big-name veterans who get fans excited because of who they once were.
Alan Faneca and Joey Porter come to mind, and neither of those pickups worked out too well.
But in another respect, the additions of tackle Eric Winston and defensive end John Abraham are nothing like anything we’ve seen before.
Sure, each has been in the league for a while, as Winston will be entering his eighth season and Abraham his 14th. Each was available for a reason, and it’s not because they were too good for everyone else.
However, what separates these signings from those of the Ken Whisenhunt Cardinals is neither has ties to head Coach Bruce Arians.
They were brought in not out of any sense of loyalty or reminiscing of days gone by; they were brought in because the coaching staff believes they can still be productive football players.
Abraham has tallied 32.5 sacks over the last three seasons — including 10 last year. That would have led the Cardinals, by the way.
And Winston, though a bit outspoken at times, has started 16 games a season the last six years for a reason.
Each comes in with the idea of taking someone’s job. Abraham’s signing made O’Brien Schofield expendable, and it’s only a matter of time before the ripple effect of Winston’s addition is felt somewhere else along the line.
Free agency in the NFL is a tricky thing, as most of the time players are “allowed” to leave for a reason. Often times a desperate team overpays in an effort to make a splash (see: Wallace, Mike), and rarely does a big-money acquisition turn out to be worth every penny.
The odds of success seem to be even less with players who are signed just days before training camp.
Whether Abraham, Winston or both prove to be good pickups remains to be seen. As my colleague John Gambadoro noted, the Cardinals have been burned in the past by past-their-prime players who arrived with big expectations and little left in the tank.
But unlike the previously mentioned former Steelers, or guys like Emmitt Smith and Edgerrin James, Winston and Abraham were not brought in out of a sense of loyalty or with an eye on selling tickets. They are in Arizona because the Cardinals’ highly-respected coaching staff and apparently shrewd general manager believe they will make the team better.