Lions, 49ers headed in opposite directions

Scouts, Inc., breaks down the teams with the five most productive and five most disappointing offseasons.

Updated: June 8, 2004, 12:22 PM ET
By Todd McShay | Scouts, Inc.
One reason that June 1 is no longer the dramatic date on the NFL calendar that it once was is because players and agents are smart enough to realize that they don't want to be part of it. Teams have a lot more money to work with on April 1 than they do on June 1, so players tell their agents to get a deal done in April rather than having to scramble in June.

Each year there will be some stubborn players (ie. Eddie George) who will try to hold their respective teams hostage, but there is a growing sentiment among NFL players that they are better off taking a lesser deal in April than rolling the dice as a free agent in June, when few teams have money left under the salary cap.

As a result, few teams will be able to significantly upgrade their roster between now and the beginning of the 2004 season. The Browns can still get a trade done to send Tim Couch to Green Bay as Brett Favre's backup. DT Daryl Gardener should become a Bengal soon. Zack Bronson is still available, DC Tyrone Williams has talent but is aging and inconsistent, C Dave Fiore can probably start for a few teams, and RB Trung Canidate could make a decent third-down back. Two impact linebackers are still available in Jason Gildon and Jeremiah Trotter.

Todd McShay

ESPN Senior Writer