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What veterans did the eventual Super Bowl Champs add in the prior offseason?

by Chase Stuart on March 13, 2013

in History, Team Building

Mike Wallace dropped Pittsburgh for Miami.

Mike Wallace dropped Pittsburgh for Miami.

Happy New Year to the NFL, which opened for business at 4PM yesterday. It’s been a busy couple of days, as the Seahawks (Percy Harvin) and 49ers (Anquan Boldin) acquired veteran receivers a day before the floodgates opened. The Dolphins made the biggest waves yesterday by signing WR Mike Wallace and ILB Dannell Ellerbe from AFC North heavyweights, and then later released ILB Karlos Dansby and signed OLB Philip Wheeler from the Raiders. The Colts chose to go quantity over quality by signing four different players (G Donald Thomas from New England, OLB/Colin Kaepernick turnstile Erik Walden from Green Bay, T Gosder Cherilus from Detroit, and DE Lawrence Sidbury from Atlanta). The Ravens lost Paul Kruger to Cleveland but did sign former Giants DE Chris Canty.

Tennessee made some noise signing G Andy Levitre from Buffalo and TE Delanie Walker from San Francisco, while the Chiefs picked up 3-4 DE Mike DeVito and TE Anthony Fasano from the AFC East. Chicago helped out Jay Cutler by signing TE Martellus Bennett (Giants) and T Jermon Bushrod (New Orleans), while Sam Bradford will be happy to know that the Rams added TE Jared Cook from Tennessee. The Broncos added guard Louis Vasquez from division-rival San Diego to keep Peyton Manning upright, and are rumored to be after Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall. The Eagles won’t win the headlines, but made a couple of interesting signings in NT Isaac Sopoaga (San Francisco) and TE/HB/WR/FB/Chip Kelly chess piece James Casey from Houston. About an hour later, the Eagles added CB Bradley Fletcher (Rams), S Patrick Chung (Patriots) and LB Jason Phillips (Panthers). And there were some releases, with Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo), Nnamdi Asomugha (Philadelphia), Sione Pouha (Jets), and Darrius Heyward-Bey and Michael Huff (Oakland) among the more notable cuts. You can check out Pro-Football-Reference.com’s free agent tracker to stay up to date on the latest signings.

The first few days of the league year provide fans across the country with an opportunity to ring in the new year with a dash of optimism. But how often does adding a veteran or two via trade or free agency land a team in the Super Bowl? The table below lists every notable veteran acquisition1 by the 40 teams to make the Super Bowl since 1993, the start of the Free Agency era in the NFL. The “W/L” column shows whether the team won or lost in the Super Bowl, while the AV column shows how much Approximate Value the player provided in his first season with the new team. The N-1 Tm and N-1 AV columns show where the player came from and how valuable he was in the prior year; the table is sorted by the average of the player’s AV in Years N and N-1.

Name
Year
Age
Team
W/L
Pos
AV
N-1 TM
N-1 AV
avgAV
Marshall Faulk199926ramWRB25clt1821.5
Deion Sanders199427sfoWRCB14atl1213
Adalius Thomas200730nweLLB8rav1813
Rod Woodson200237raiLFS14rav1112.5
Aeneas Williams200133ramLLCB18crd612
Sam Adams200027ravWLDT17sea712
Terrell Owens200431phiLWR12sfo1212
Ken Norton199428sfoWRLB8dal1511.5
Randy Moss200730nweLWR20rai311.5
Wes Welker200726nweLWR16mia510.5
Darrien Gordon199727denWRCB17sdg410.5
Corey Dillon200430nweWRB15cin510
Neil Smith199731denWLDE12kan810
Brian Waters201134nweLRG11kan910
Darren Sharper200934norWFS13min710
Rickey Jackson199436sfoWRDE7nor1310
Bart Oates199436sfoWC11nyg89.5
Tony E. Jones199731denWRT10rav99.5
Rodney Harrison200331nweWSS14sdg59.5
Tony Martin199833atlLWR13sdg69.5
Deion Sanders199528dalWLCB4sfo149
Eugene Robinson199835atlLFS10gnb78.5
Reuben Davis199429sdgLRDT7crd98
Willie Clay199626nweLFS7det98
Keenan McCardell200232tamWWR6jax108
Kawika Mitchell200728nygWRLB8kan88
Kim Herring200126ramLFS6rav108
Sam Adams200229raiLLDT6rav108
Eugene Robinson199633gnbWFS9sea78
Chidi Ahanotu200131ramLLDE8tam88
Chartric Darby200530seaLLDT7tam98
Stephen Davis200329carLRB11was58
Micheal Barrow200030nygLMLB8car77.5
Bill Romanowski200236raiLLLB8den77.5
Adam Timmerman199928ramWRG8gnb77.5
Dhani Jones200426phiLRLB8nyg77.5
Roman Phifer200133nweWRLB10nyj57.5
Jevon Kearse200428phiLLDE8oti77.5
Donte Stallworth200727nweLWR9phi67.5
Gary Plummer199434sfoWMLB8sdg77.5
John Parrella200233raiLRDT7sdg87.5
Anthony Pleasant200133nweWRDT10sfo57.5
Santana Dotson199627gnbWRDT10tam57.5
Jeremiah Trotter200427phiLMLB8was77.5
Antowain Smith200129nweWRB12buf27
Greg Spires200228tamWLDE10cle47
Bryant McFadden201029pitLLCB8crd67
Michael Pittman200227tamWRB7crd77
Flozell Adams201035pitLRT7dal77
Mark Fields200129ramLRLB6nor87
Bryce Fisher200528seaLLDE8ram67
Shawn Jefferson199627nweLWR9sdg57
Dusty Zeigler200027nygLC7buf66.5
Dennis Gibson199430sdgLMLB6det76.5
Jacoby Jones201228ravWWR7htx66.5
Bryan Cox200133nweWLB5nyj86.5
Shaun Ellis201134nweLDE4nyj96.5
Ray Donaldson199537dalWC7sea66.5
Mark Wheeler199626nweLLDT8tam56.5
Justin Hartwig200830pitWC7car56
Neil O'Donnell199933otiLQB5cin76
David Patten200127nweWWR9cle36
Lomas Brown200037nygLLT8cle46
Shannon Sharpe200032ravWTE9den36
Mike Compton200131nweWLG7det56
Jamie Sharper200531seaLLOLB4htx86
Tony Martin199429sdgLWR9mia36
Tom Newberry199533pitLLG7ram56
Mike D. Jones199930otiLDE4ram86
Andre Carter201132nweLDE8was46
Ricky Manning200626chiLRCB6car55.5
Roman Oben200230tamWLT6cle55.5
Seth Joyner199733gnbLLLB5crd65.5
Todd F. Collins199929ramWRLB7nwe45.5
Kerry Jenkins200229tamWLG5nyj65.5
Dwayne Harper199428sdgLRCB6sea55.5
David Baas201130nygWC5sfo65.5
Joe Jurevicius200531seaLWR8tam35.5
Trent Dilfer200028ravWQB5tam65.5
Erric Pegram199526pitLRB7atl35
Don Beebe199632gnbWwr9car15
Bill Brooks199329bufLWR7clt35
Ken Dilger200231tamWTE4clt65
Kelly Herndon200529seaLLCB4den65
Keith Traylor199728denWLDT8kan25
Glenn Parker200034nygLLG6kan45
Jake Delhomme200328carLQB10nor05
Andre Dyson200526seaLLCB4oti65
Keith Traylor200435nweWNT5chi44.5
Tyrone Poole200331nweWRCB7den24.5
Dave Thomas200032nygLLCB7jax24.5
Jason Fisk199927otiLRDT7min24.5
Mario Manningham201226sfoLWR5nyg44.5
Joe Jurevicius200228tamWWR4nyg54.5
Mike Vrabel200126nweWLLB7pit24.5
Cedrick Wilson200527pitWWR5sfo44.5
Jonathan Scott201027pitLLT5buf34
Corey Graham201227ravWCB4chi44
David Griggs199427sdgLLLB7mia14
Mewelde Moore200826pitWRB7min14
David Thomas200926norWTE5nwe34
Oliver Barnett199327bufLLDE4atl33.5
Ted Washington200335nweWLDT6chi13.5
Bryan Robinson200834crdLNT5cin23.5
Marc Edwards200127nweWFB5cle23.5
Pio Sagapolutele199627nweLRDT5cle23.5
Sammy Morris200730nweLRB4mia33.5
Travis LaBoy200827crdLRDE5oti23.5
Ricky Proehl200335carLWR4ram33.5
Devin Bush199926ramWFS5atl13
Greg Favors200329carLLLB6buf03
Desmond Howard199626gnbWKR4jax23
Terrance Shaw200229raiLLCB4nwe23
Ma'ake Kemoeatu201233ravWNT6--03
Charlie Peprah201027gnbWSS5atl02.5
Dorsey Levens200434phiLRB4nyg12.5
James Ihedigbo201128nweLS4nyj12.5
Don Davis200129ramLLLB4tam12.5
Anthony Hargrove200926norWDT5--02.5
Mickey Washington199325bufLCB4was02
Randy Moss201235sfoLWR4--02

The Patriots built a dynasty by finding valuable free agents, but that hasn’t been the model in recent years. If you go down the list of the last eight Super Bowl champions, the biggest veteran acquisitions by them in the immediately preceding off-season were Jacoby Jones, David Baas, Charlie Peprah, Darren Sharper, Justin Hartwig, Kawika Mitchell, Anthony McFarland, and Cedrick Wilson.

It would be impressive if Harvin makes the Super Bowl with the Seahawks this year… but how’s this for a random trivia question: Tony Martin made the Super Bowl in his first year with a new team twice, first with San Diego and then with Atlanta. Ditto Randy Moss and Ricky Proehl (but not with the Rams), although Martin stands out because he was his team’s leading wide receiver in both seasons.

  1. Here, notable means having an AV of 4 or greater in Year N. []

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

BLACKnBLUEnGOLD March 14, 2013 at 11:32 am

Add Joe Jurevicius to the list of guys who made the Super Bowl with a new team twice. Or, you know, the list of wide receivers who made the Super Bowl with a new team twice, since they’re all receivers. Oddly enough, #1 types Tony Martin and Randy Moss went 0-2, while guys further down the depth chart fared better.

So I guess the moral of the story is sign a new #3 receiver every year and win more Super Bowls (see also: Don Beebe in GB, Cedrick Wilson in Pittsburgh).

Names like Antowain Smith, Michael Pittman, Erric Pegram and Mewelde Moore also highlight the fungibility of RBs and the wisdom of going with a cheap committee at the position, rather than dedicating significant resources to it.

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