NFL Free Agency Frenzy has officially begun, and teams are on the lookout for franchise-changing players. I will talk about all the big headlines, and give you my analysis of what is going on. Without further ado, let’s get started.
The Quarterback Carousel Spins
After months of speculation, we finally know where Kirk Cousins will play in 2018. He locked up a 3 year, $84 million contract, with all the money being fully guaranteed. Is $28 million per year overpaying for a guy who has never won a playoff game, and has been bad in important games? Probably. But Kirk is now playing on a stacked Vikings team, and he’s proven himself more than Case Keenum has.
Photo Courtesy: AP
Speaking of Case Keenum, the journeyman QB will now land in Denver, and likely start in 2017. But that doesn’t mean Keenum won’t be your prototypical “bridge” QB, as Denver could still easily be taking a QB at #5 overall.
Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater signed with the Cardinals and Jets respectively, meaning 3 QBs on the Vikings roster last year will probably get a chance to start this year. Bradford and Bridgewater could also be bridge guys, so look out for what the Jets and Cards do in the draft. The Jets already traded up to the #3 spot, and the Cardinals may very well be trading up as well.
AJ McCarron signed with the Bills, but he has had very little experience starting in the NFL. The Bills have already traded up to the #12 pick, and they might not be done with trading up.
Browns Continue their Makeover
After getting QB Tyrod Taylor, WR Jarvis Landry, and CB Damarious Randall, the Browns don’t appear to be done. They signed offensive tackles Chris Hubbard and Donald Stephenson, and that happened to be the day before Joe Thomas announced his retirement. They signed RB Carlos Hyde to continue to improve their offense. Does this mean they won’t be taking Saquon Barkley? Quite possibly. If I were the Browns, I would look to get Sam Darnold at #1 overall.
Cleveland also released 9 players on Thursday. None of them are really big names, but it truly seems that the Browns want a complete makeover from their 0-16 team from a year ago.
Giants finally get a decent LT and LB
After 3 years of the Ereck Flowers experiment at left tackle, Giants fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Nate Solder will replace the embattled o-lineman, and Flowers will likely move over to right tackle, or maybe one of the guard positions. Whatever the case, Flowers will play a more natural position for him. New York traded for LB Alec Ogletree earlier this month, adding some much-needed help to the linebacking corps. Perhaps the Giants will also draft a linebacker, considering James Bettcher’s defense is a 3-4.
Raiders and Bears add new weapons on offense
Oakland signed RB Doug Martin, proving once again that the Raiders are the NFL’s ultimate destination for second chances. Martin has struggled with injuries and suspensions throughout his career, but the Muscle Hamster has also had two great Pro Bowl seasons. In addition, the Raiders signed WR Jordy Nelson to pair with Amari Cooper. Derek Carr now has two great WRs to throw to, though it looks like the 32-year old Nelson will step down to the role of a #2 receiver.
The Bears can’t trust Kevin White to stay healthy at this point, and they’ve added plenty of new pieces to the receiving corps this offseason. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Josh Bellamy have signed with Chicago. The Bears also resigned Cameron Meredith, after a solid showing in 2017. TE Trey Burton was also added to Matt Nagy’s offense. Mitch Trubisky has a lot of new toys.
San Fran builds around their Franchise QB
The 49ers made Jimmy Garoppolo a rich man this offseason, but they could certainly afford it with their cap situation. They got rid of Carlos Hyde, but added Jerrick McKinnon at RB. They signed center Weston Richburg to a big contract, but their most notable signing has to be CB Richard Sherman. Sherman will turn 30 a few weeks from now, and his Achilles injury in 2017 is concerning. However, Sherman was an elite corner for many years, and could definitely return to that form with the 49ers.
Patriots lose important players
The Patriots lost LT Nate Solder, WR Danny Amendola, RB Dion Lewis, and CB Malcolm Butler. Tom Brady will turn 41 this season. Could this be the beginning of the end? Probably not, they’re the Patriots after all.
Other Important Signings
The aforementioned Titans signed Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler. Could they end up being the team that meets the Patriots in the AFC Championship this season? The Jaguars signed prized guard Andrew Norwell to a big contract, while also adding tight ends Niles Paul and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Packers signed Jimmy Graham, who gets the privilege of playing with Aaron Rodgers. The Texans signed Tyrann Mathieu after he was released by the Cardinals, adding another great player to a defense that could be elite when healthy.
Overall, every team is trying to build a winner this offseason. Personally, I think if the Browns do things right, they’ll win 8 games this season. But while many teams in the league will improve in 2018, many will be on the downfall. With Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman gone, has the Seahawks championship window closed? We shall see in 2018.