There’s only one sports craze that’s keeping myself and other sports fans going right now.
NFL free agency began last week and there’s been plenty of moves and speculation to keep the fans angry or excited for the POSSIBLE 2020 NFL season. There are no guarantees that we’ll get a full season or a season at all in 2020, but if we do there will be plenty of storylines to follow.
With most of the big names off the market, here are my biggest winners and losers in free agency so far.
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Additions: QB Tom Brady
Key Losses: QB Jameis Winston, DE Carl Nassib
Re-sign/Tag: DE Shaquil Barrett, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Ndamukong Suh
The Bucs signed the greatest quarterback of all-time. He is going to be 43 years-old when the season begins, but they believe he will be productive for them for the next two seasons. Being able to franchise tag Barrett, who led the NFL in sacks with 19 in 2019, was important for this team. The defense keeps its playmakers and will look to grab more depth in the upcoming draft. Just look at the numbers Brady has put up compared to the other 16 quarterbacks the Bucs have started since 2001.
Loser: New England Patriots
Key Additions: DT Beau Allen, QB Brian Hoyer, S Adrian Phillips
Key Losses: QB Tom Brady, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, K Stephen Gostkowski
Re-sign/Tag: S Devin McCourty, G Joe Thuney
The Patriots lost six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. That automatically puts them in the loss column. To add on to that, they lost many of the key defensive pieces that were young enough to help them fast track the “re-tool” year that 2020 should be for Belichick’s squad. The Jarrett Stidham era is about to begin, but Belichick hasn’t given him much help this offseason.
Winner: Miami Dolphins
Key Additions: CB Byron Jones, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Shaq Roberts, G Ereck Flowers, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, RB Jordan Howard
Key Losses: None
The Dolphins entered free agency with the most amount of cap space. They’ve been using that cap to overpay players, but nevertheless, they have drastically improved the roster. They made Byron Jones the highest paid defensive back in the league, gave $10 million to Ereck Flowers to bolster their offensive line and added a playmaker in Kyle Van Noy, who head coach Brian Flores coached when he was in New England. This team looks ready to attack the AFC East now that Brady is no longer there.
Loser: Los Angeles Rams
Key Additions: DT A’Shawn Robinson, OLB Leonard Floyd
Key Losses: OLB/DE Dante Fowler Jr., LB Cory Littleton, DT Michael Brockers, RB Todd Gurley III, CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, OLB Clay Matthews, S Eric Weddle
Re-sign/Tag: OT Andrew Whitworth
The Rams spent money the past two offseasons like rambunctious teenagers who just discovered no-limit credit cards. The bill finally came due and they had to let talented players like Michael Brockers, Cory Littleton and Nickell Robey-Coleman walk. They’re also still on the hook for $22 million over the next two years on Todd Gurley’s contract even after cutting him. Their win now mentality got them to a Super Bowl, but it will be tough to get back without keeping their young, cheap talent.
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
Key Additions: WR Deandre Hopkins (trade), DT Jordan Phillips, OLB Devon Kennard, LB De’Vondre Campbell
Key Losses: RB David Johnson (Hopkins trade), DE Rodney Gutner
Re-sign/Tag: RB Kenyan Drake, WR Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals won free agency on day one, through the most lopsided trade in the past decade, if not ever. They landed 27 year-old, all-pro wide receiver Deandre Hopkins from the Houston Texans for a deteriorated David Johnson and a second-round draft pick. You don’t see all-pros with no off field baggage or injuries get traded for nothing in their prime. Even Antonio Brown was traded for a first-rounder, and then a second-rounder, with all his off field drama. Kyler Murray now has two great weapons to throw to. Their defense was also improved with underated signings like Devon Kennard, who was great in Detroit.
Loser: Houston Texans
Key Additions: RB David Johnson (Hopkins trade), WR Randall Cobb, S Eric Murray
Key Losses: WR Deandre Hopkins (trade), DT D.J Reader
Re-sign/Tag: K Ka’imi Fairbairn, CB Bradley Roby
This trade was simply the worst move in a series of odd moves that Bill O’Brien has made in the past year. Trading away star player Jadeveon Clowney and Deandre Hopkins without getting any first round picks is highway robbery. Paying Randall Cobb doesn’t help because he’s not worth three years and $27 million. There could be more mistakes made by the Texans (like possibly trading away Deshaun Watson??).
Buffalo Bills- Traded for WR Stephon Diggs, signed CB Josh Norman.
Las Vegas Raiders– Signed LB Corey Littleton, CB Eli Apple, TE Jason Witten, QB Marcus Mariota.
Indianapolis Colts– Signed QB Phillip Rivers, traded for DL DeForest Buckner.
There are still some big names remaining on the market, but these teams have made the best and worst moves in free agency so far. Many like to believe that you can win a championship in March, but that’s just the first step.