Reviewing the flurry of signings, cuts, almost signings, and rumors that have been swirling around since the NFL’s “legal tampering” period kicked off Monday afternoon has led to some random thoughts.
First one is, its important to remember that this is legal tampering, not like paying off people to increase college entrance exam scores…. shame on you Aunt Becky, shame.
The two teams who’s moves I love thus far? The Green Bay Packers and the Buffalo Bills.
The fantasy football heads who don’t actually understand football will look at the Packers moves and whine that Green Bay hasn’t upgraded Aaron Rodger’s weapons. Well, they have, their defense is a weapon. A good defense effects length of field. It effects number of possessions. It effects your offense’s ability to stay in sync when they get on a roll.
I already felt the squad would be improved just by having Jaire Alexander and Joshua Jackson being second year players. If I were a Packers fan I’d be real excited by that corner combo. But to now add former Bear Adrian Amos to play centerfield for them, as well as bringing in a pair of bookend pass rushers from the DMV in former Raven Za’Darius Smith and Redskin Preston Smith?
The loss of Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Perry and Clay Matthews III (presumably) hurts. Hopefully Blake Martinez continues on his development arc.
The Bills moves I simply love. When your team clear lacks. Just lacks. The goal has got to be to raise the overall level of talent on your roster. NFL team building isn’t about getting the best 10 players. Its about having the best 53 man roster (or hell, best 63 man when you include practice squad guys, which good teams do). So when your team lacks talent across the board, are you better off spending big on 2 players, or spending your money on 10-15 veterans. Bring those guys into camp, inject some professionalism to your mini-camps, and training camp. See what sticks, and hope 7-8 of those guys make the team.
That’s what the Bills are doing, just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Even if they don’t all make the final roster, even if they’re not all pro-bowlers, having these vets around between now and September is a value to a team. Mitch Morse, Ty Neshke, Spencer Long, and Jon Feliciano added to the offensive line mix? Yeah, that’s good. Is it splashy? Not at all. Will it helps the Bills development? Hell yeah.
Cole Beasley, John Brown, Tyler Kroft, and Frank Gore added to the skill position mix? All nice moves. John Brown COULD be a 1,000 yard receiver with Josh Allen randomly throwing the ball up. All are improvements on whom they replace on the roster.
Toss in Kevin Johnson to the defensive backfield. The former first rounder didn’t live up to expectations in Houston, has was a first rounder for a reason.
The Titans added one of the top slot receivers available, if not THE top slot corner available in Adam Humphries. I like the addition of Cameron Wake to aid in the pass rush. Not at all sure about a 3 year, $23 million deal with $10 million guaranteed. Actually, I hate those figures for the Titans, but I like the addition with the retirement of outside backer Brian Orakpo. Bringing in former Ram guard Rodger Saffold, along with the other talent they already had on the line and giant Derrick Henry running behind it.
The 49ers have spent BIG to add some pieces to their defense. Kwon Alexander inked a HUGE deal for an inside backer, and word has recently broke that they’ll be sending a 2020 second rounder to Kansas City for edge rusher Dee Ford and giving him a big extension, along the lines of 5 years, $87.5 based upon reports. Does this mean that the 49ers won’t be looking to draft a Bosa? Will they look to pair the ends together? That’d certainly be a prolific duo, or will they look to trade down. More thoughts on that later.
The Raiders have made some big moves, inking Trent Brown, a giant hunk of man meat at left tackle. Bringing in safety LaMarcus Joyner. They sent out Kelechi Osemele, and of course they made the headliner deal for Steeler malcontent Antonio Brown. This all indicates that while in 2018 Jon Gruden was looking to tear the Raiders down, that its now 2019 and its Mike Mayock’s show, and he ain’t having any of that rebuild shit.
The Jets, in typical Jets fashion have made some splashy moves. Overall I’d say they’ve moved to upgrade their overall talent level, even with Anthony Barr’s change of heart. To still add Kelechi Osemele to the line, add Buster Skrine to a defensive backfield that needs a makeover at the corner position, bringing in a skilled Jamison Crowder to the slot position who could become Sam Darnold’s best friend, and solid former Bears receiver Josh Bellamy. All the while re-signing 2017 off season find Henry Anderson.
The Giants… well, boy oh boy. Two trades with Cleveland. One I loved, one not as much. They let Landon Collins walk for nothing (well, he’ll eventually be a 3rd round compensatory pick, most likely). They replaced him with 14 year vet Antoine Bethea, as well as Jabrill Peppers who came over in the deal for some guy named Odell Beckham Jr.
They big addition for them was adding veteran guard Kevin Zeitler who came over for Olivier Vernon. His addition helps add another much needed piece to the offensive line puzzle. Adding a right tackle is still on the agenda, but the Giants have some picks to work with. That brings me to a thought on the next domino to fall following the trade of OBJ to Cleveland for a 2019 1st rounder, 2019 3rd rounder, and Jabrill Peppers.
Lets assume that the Giants recognize that they need to draft a QB this April. The assumption is that they were eyeing Haskins from Ohio State. IF Kyler Murray goes #1 to Arizona, there may be pressure on the Giants to move up from 6th to make sure they get their man. Having the 6th, and the 17th picks MAY be enough to move up to #2, especially now that the 49ers just got their edge rusher in Dee Ford. Could that all be lining up? Could they make a play to get to #1 and get Kyler Murray? Has that Murray to Zona talk all been a smoke screen to get someone to jump to 1?
On the face, the jettison of Beckham Jr. is not a good look for the Giants, but it does leave some interesting “where do we go from here” scenarios to think about. I do not like the trade for the Giants, but I will enjoy trying to play out the next few moves on this NFL off season chess board.
The Chiefs are interesting. One the on hand, we knew they were a poor defensive team. So why would they let guys like Dee Ford, and Justin Houston go? They can’t afford to let the talent they did have slip away, they need to add to what they have. That’s one way to see if. The other way, and the way Kansas City evidently views it is, we may as well blow this up, cause it ain’t working. So they’ve brought in a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. They’d brought over former Cowgirls linebacker Damien Wilson, and the Honey Badger Tyrann Mathieu. It’ll be interesting to see if Eric Berry is back. I find it difficult to fathom that they’ll invest just shy of $30 million into 2 safeties. Berry is due a big payday on Friday the 15th. I’d expect to find out that they’ve re-worked his deal, maybe an incentive laden deal with lots of NLTBE incentives, or that they’re releasing him.
They’ll also need to replace corner Steven Nelson who left for Pittsburgh.
Detroit has done a bit of toss stuff at the wall level moves…. and then also signed Trey Flowers to a HUGE contract. Flowers didn’t have the sack numbers of some of the other big names that were free agents this off season, or who got franchise tagged. But he’s also a stud against the run, only 26, has no injury or character red flags, and knows Matt Patricia’s system. Its a slam dunk deal for the Lions. After that they’ve made a few smaller moves that should pay dividends. Danny Amendola will be a nice slot compliment to Kenny Galladay, while Jesse James is an underrated tight end who could be the tight end they’ve been trying to draft, seemingly forever.
And then we’ve got the see-saw of the AFC North. While the Ravens appear to be never more, losing linebackers Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosely, and Za’Darius Smith, along with Eric Weddle, Michael Crabtree, and Joe Flacco, the Browns have added Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon to the defensive front seven, while adding Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham Jr to the skill positions. Coupled with the continued development of Nick Chubb, Baker Mayfield, and David Njoku makes the Browns a threat for the AFC overall, and are the clear cut favorite in the AFC North. A statement that pains my heart to make. At least the Cavaliers are god awful.
And while this is all going on, the Saints, the NFC’s de facto Superbowl representative have re-signed Teddy Bridgewater even though Miami was offering more (giving Dolphins fans even more reason to look at the Saint’s quarterback room and cry), and added Latavius Murray on a very reasonable deal to pair with Alvin Kamara as it appears Mark Ingram has priced himself out of New Orleans’ market.
Those are just some musings as the NFL free agent landscapes continues to develop as the 2019 league year officially begins on Wednesday.
- Written by Jason Sullivan
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