Building winning teams in an era of free agency.
Free Agency has changed professional football in a number of ways. No longer can you assume your favorite player or the team’s best player will remain with that organization any longer than their contract length. It has also leveled the playing field where teams that are struggling can become competitive very quickly by good choices in the draft and free agency. In this era of free agency, dynasties are difficult. It takes a great organization to sustain championship level play and talent.
I have witnessed many coaches and leaders fall prey to the thinking that a high profile, popular, highly sought-after, and highly-priced player is best.
There have been times where that free agent, for various reasons, is just not a good fit to continue building towards a championship. It could be that your existing talent simply won’t be good enough for that high dollar acquisition or be as effective. It’s possible your scheme and tactics don’t suit this player as well. The media will initially welcome this kind of player and fanfare. Initially, it will stir great interest at the fan level. When the team falters or the free agent doesn’t fulfill expectations that are unrealistic he will become the primary target of criticism. This can easily become a distraction.
All of this can be avoided by one simple rule. Do your homework! There is absolutely no reason a team and an organization shouldn’t know exactly what they are buying.
I have been with some organizations that sign a player as a free agent and pay a high price because the market dictates the value and think the players on field production will change to reflect the market. That is the number one fallacy. The player you sign will be the same player you viewed on video. There may be small degrees of change for good or bad, but an organization that does their homework will not be surprised.
It is easier to manage the media’s expectations by educating them and the fan base as to exactly what was bought.
It is amazing to me that in the NFL and its billion-dollar business, GMs, Head Coaches, and organizations will invest millions of dollars without being thorough in the evaluation process and investigating the move from all angles. There are teams that simply don’t do their homework or ignore the data because of the initial excitement created for the team.
Many organizations fail because of the arrogance. With the popularity of professional football and technology with access to all games, there are new analytical companies that have been born. They grade every single player on every single play. Because some of the analysts are not scouts or coaches, an organization’s arrogance that anyone but themselves can grade a player prevents them from using a valuable tool to offset their own work.
For more insight on how to evaluate talent and get the most out of your team check out my leadership course.