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NFL Free Agency '10, Evening Snack: Rolle, Gaither and Bethea Assessed

The Giants make the division's first big splash, signing S Antrel Rolle to a five year, $37.5 M deal, with $15 M guaranteed.  This makes him the highest paid safety in league history.  (Via Adam Schefter on Twitter)

-- The Redskins missed on OT Chad Clifton, who re-signed with the Packers, for 3 years at $20 M.

I just got off the phone with K.C. Joyner and got his take on a couple of players of possible interest, one the fans have isolated, OT Jared Gaither, and another whom Dallas is apparently tracking -- Colts S Antoine Bethea.  (Scroll down in the link.)

Joyner told me that Ravens LT Jared Gaither grades out as a good pass blocking, but so-so run blocker.  His win percentages on play run behind him has been in the low 80s, a good, but not great number.  "He'll just miss on run blocks, but he's a solid pass protector."

Getting back to Dallas, does this sound like a significant upgrade over Doug Free?  And would this justify burning the first rounder it would take to get him?  I asked Joyner if he saw Gaither as demonstrably better than a top OT prospect like Maryland's Bruce Campbell, who Joyner profiled for ESPN Insider, and he said no.  "They're different players.  Campbell is a better run blocker and Gaither a better pass blocker, but I'd say they're about the same.  I will say that Gaither does fit the Dallas profile, in that their linemen are better pass blockers than they are run blockers."


A Bethea in the Hand vs. a Thomas in the Bush?

Turning to Bethea, he thinks he's one of the better coverage safeties in the league, but wondered if he fits the style of defense Wade Phillips plays.  He has excelled in the Colts defense and he was outstanding in coverage, but he rarely plays down in the box, though he started there for Indy but moved to coverage safety in '07.

I asked why the move was made and was told, "it's probably a better fit for his skills.  He had safety coverage YPAs in the low 5s, which means he didn't just play well in the Colts scheme, he excelled.  Now, players who come from their system and move to other teams sometimes go up a bit, cause they play more man, but even if you added a yard or yard and a half to his numbers in Dallas' scheme, you still have a good player and one who upgrades their secondary. 

He told me he would have rated Antrel Rolle slightly above Bethea, in that he's a better ballhawk, though not as good in coverage as Bethea.  Of course, dollar amounts were not part of our discussion.  Adjust accordingly. 

Programming update:  I'm going to slide the C profile until Monday, to keep free agency updates coming.  Mock 3.0 will go up tomorrow morning as scheduled.

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