A little over a week into the official start of the new NFL year and teams have been actively engaging in free agent signings, trades, and restructuring of what their 90-man roster will look like. So who’s made the most significant moves and who’s moves leave us shaking our heads?
Free Agency Winners
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick: The rich get richer. Brady clearly wants to play for a few more seasons and Belichick wants to get the most out of those years. Replacing Martellus Bennett at tight end with Dwayne Allen, adding speedster Brandin Cooks to the wide receiving group, trading for edge rusher Kony Ealy, and re-upping with linebacker Dont’a Hightower are the types of moves that put New England a cut above everyone else in the league.
The “Finally-Something-to-Give-Your-Fans-to-be-Excited-About” Category
Detroit Lions: Yes, Bob Quinn overpaid for a left tackle and guard in Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang. But the market is what it is and the Lions are one of those teams that has to spend a little bit more in order to get the free agents they most covet. Detroit needs to protect their most prized possession, Matthew Stafford, and this offseason they’ve taken the initiative to do just that. Now, add a running back and fill in the many holes that exist on the defensive side of the ball through the draft and fans can feel like this team is finally behaving like a real NFL team.
The “We’re Not as Incompetent as You Think” Category
Cleveland Browns: Surprise, surprise! The Browns look like a team that has a plan this offseason. They have cap space aplenty and now they have more draft picks you can shake a stick at. The ultimate book on Cleveland’s 2017 offseason will be written when we see what players they choose with all these high draft picks or what package deal they can construct to trade for a quarterback (uh umm, Jimmy Garoppolo). However, so far so good.
Tony Romo: With his release from Big D inevitable, Romo has become a bit of a sympathetic figure. Who doesn’t like the wily, veteran quarterback who gets turned loose by the only franchise he’s ever known? It’s an easy story to root for. And Romo will likely end up with a playoff contender in Houston or Denver or Kansas City. But the longer Dallas doesn’t grant the vet his release, the more sympathy Romo will gather and the more petulant Jerry Jones will look.
Eagles Offense: Carson Wentz, please meet Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. You’ll get along just fine.
Offensive Linemen: It was an excellent year to be an offensive lineman. The upcoming NFL Draft is not chalk full of talent at those positions on the line so teams were willing to (and forced to) overspend. Congrats to guys like Russell Okung, Riley Reiff, Rick Wagner, and T.J. Lang.
Free Agency Losers
The “We ARE Completely and Totally as Incompetent as You Think” Category (maybe even more so than you ever thought)
Washington Redskins: From the Kirk Cousins situation and his apparent desire to no longer play in Washington to the front office debacle, Washington isn’t exactly presenting itself as a landing place for free agents. The loss of Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson don’t help either.
Kirk Cousins: Hard to view a guy who’s slated to make $24 million next season as anything less than fortunate. However, the nation’s capital doesn’t seem to be a very stable place right now (take that however you want). The ‘Skins lost Cousins’s top two receiving threats, Jackson and Garcon, in free agency; and now comes newest black eye with the total dysfunction in the front office with player personnel head Bruce Allen, former GM Scot McCloughan, and owner Dan Snyder. While the $24 million is nice, D.C. hardly seems like the place Cousins wants to collect it.
Running Backs: As the market for offensive lineman was rich, conversely, it was dry for running backs. Players with impressive resumes like Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and LeGarrette Blount cannot seem to find work. And it’s likely when they do, they won’t be greeted with the types of contracts players of this caliber have come to expect.
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