Over the next several weeks we -- you, me, Around The League and every writer who gets paid to discuss the NFL -- will fall all over ourselves about the free-agent signings that take place. Good signings, bad signings, expensive signings, cheap signings, odd signings or sound signings; we'll break it all down, analyze, overanalyze. Shake. Rinse. Repeat.
With the three-day negotiating window now open, agents of players who will become free agents can speak with any club they choose. The earliest any contract can be executed is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, and we'll see a flurry of signings that day as well as the days that immediately follow.
However, not every team is leaning on the first splash to build its roster.
"If you look at the first four to five players we signed in free agency versus the last four to five players before training camp, it's night and day in terms of bang for the buck and the type of success that player had," Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said this week, per the Arizona Republic. "It just goes back to solidify the fact that there's no reason to rush and go out and overspend."
Evidence for patience: Several early 2013 Cardinals' free-agent signings include running back Rashard Mendenhall, linebacker Jasper Brinkley and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. Later signings: linebacker Karlos Dansby (a month into free agency), left tackle Eric Winston and linebacker John Abraham (both at the start of training camp).
The latter three played a bigger role in the Cardinals' success than the former three. But for Keim, there is a distinct difference between being patient and waiting around.
"Once a free agent leaves the building ... we're moving on to the next guy," Keim said. "If you don't take that approach, you're going to miss out on two or three other players. You just can't get caught flat-footed."
He admitted that a good starting left tackle is not likely to be found on the open market in July. With a need at the position, the Cardinals could be in play early for Branden Albert or Eugene Monroe.
Then Keim will go back to sifting through the free-agent rubble to uncover lower-cost gems.
The Cardinals of 2013 are one example that if your team doesn't win any awards in the next two weeks, it's probably a good thing.