What's going on, you guys! So, the 2020 NFL league year has begun. So far, it has been a. WILD. RIDE. I always simultaneously overestimate and underestimate the roller coaster that is NFL free agency. Sure, some of my predictions are a little out there, but the teams and players do something just as far out (or more,) but different. So, let's do a quick fire reaction and opinion on the biggest news so far:
Blockbuster Trades - I had just finished eating on my lunch break at work and thankfully so because my mouth dropped open when I read that DeAndre Hopkins is being traded to the Arizona Cardinals. I think Bill O'Brien is digging some deep holes with his trades. I will say that David Johnson is a wonderful player and man. I hope he regains his form as he was legitimately one of the three best running backs in the league a few years ago. He could be an amazing pickup, if he is given the true opportunity and he stays healthy. Hopkins is one of the best receivers in recent memory and is working on being one of the best of all time. I think the Cardinals robbed The Texans, but we'll see how it plays out. Speaking of receivers, Stefon Diggs was traded from Minnesota to Buffalo. Mostly a win-win for both teams. Although Buffalo gave up, like, five picks in total? Or four. Either way, the price is a bit steep. San Francisco signed Erik Armstead to a monster deal only to deal another piece of the defensive line, DeForest Buckner. Buckner has not been elite, but has been on the verge of breaking out for a few years. He was a good piece in a crowded room and now he has a chance to elevate his game as a center-piece of the defense.
All trades have ups and downs, but more and more teams are turning to trades that either make up for previous trades or dump salaries. The Texans didn't want to re-sign Hopkins next year (3 years left on his deal, but he is due for a higher salary) and they needed a running back. Plus, they have enough cap room to take on David Johnson's contract. The teams just did each other a favor. The Cardinals got a better deal though. The Colts were looking for pass rush and good interior defensive line play got one of the (potentially) better young players in the league and finally did something with the oodles of cap space they have. San Fran cleared some cap space after signing Armstead and can turn towards drafting some even younger talent (which they have done well for four or five years now.) Minnesota got a GREAT deal and still have a number one receiver on the roster. Buffalo probably could have eased it back a bit, but as long as they find some depth and competition on the offensive and defensive lines, this will be a smart trade. Jurrell Casey, one of the best interior defensive lineman in the league, was traded for a seventh round pick. SEVENTH. It was a salary dump though and they have good depth along with a rising star in Jeffrey Simmons. Denver picks up a perfect addition to their team. Good scheme fit, great talent, and a perfect compliment to the outside threat of an aging Von Miller and the young, Bradley Chubb.
Trades like this did not happen very often a few years ago. Or a little more than a few years, but the point is that teams are getting even less sentimental. They are worrying less and less about sticking with mistakes or huge contracts. It isn't greet for players, but exciting for fans and helps team building happen faster. Still, my mouth dropped three times. Hopkins and Casey are all-pros moving for chump change and Minnesota getting a King's ransom for Diggs. Crazy.
The big fish - Tom Brady is on the move! First Brady announced via social media that he would not return to the Patriots via social media. Then later that day, The Chargers were reported to have made a strong run at Brady, but they felt as if there were not in the running anymore. The speculation picked up about Brady to the only other logical team, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We didn't have to wait long to get the confirmation that Brady signed a multi-year deal for $30 million annually to join Bruce Arians and The Buccaneers. I feel like we may see some early struggles, especially with Brady trying to re-adapt to being more of a downfield thrower, but I like this pairing a lot. This move is going to be about as weird (and cool) as Brett Favre to the Jets! Side note, my prediction (although I'm not the first and only one to put that forth) of Jameis Winston to the Patriots is possible!!
Jadeveon Clowney - I don't think he should get one of these record breaking contracts, but he deserves a good deal because he can really help a team. It is surprising that he wasn't one of the first, slightly over paid guys off the table. I'm leaning towards Seattle or The New York Giants, but we'll see.
Da Bears - They overpaid for old man Robert Quinn (maybe it's a front loaded contract and isn't as bad as it looks?) and Jimmy Graham. I don't understand how he keeps getting $8 milllion or more a year at this point.
The Dolphins - They didn't make a whole bunch of a-lost additions (just one), but they used some of their oodles of cap space to bring in really talented players who will help immediately in smaller roles and may further develop into true difference-makers.
Tannehill - I like Tannehill, but I don't think he will be an effective, let alone really good, starter for the Titans or anyone, in two years. I just don't think he has it in him to consistently be a franchise QB. He was last year, but I don't think he
The Panthers - Come on, man!! I am a fan of Newton and just when I thought the team would do what I want (as if I matter) and keep Newton, they said screw it. They actually did him a little dirty. A little bit. They went and signed Teddy Bridgewater (which I predicted as a possibility in private) to a 3 year $63 million to be their starting quarterback. Then shortly after, they said they gave Newton and his agent team, "permission," to seek a trade. Newton clarified on social media (in a response to the team's post on Instagram) that he did not ask for a trade and wanted to remain in Carolina. Still, Bridgewater is solid and possibly (with the right plan) great and he has ties to the offensive coordinator. Newton has not been healthy or playing really well for 2-3 years now. He still has the talent and skill to play somewhat close to his 2015 levels, but I don't know if he will truly be able to capture the form. I think New England, San Diego, and Chicago are great options. Two of them need a starting quarterback and Chicago could use competition or an upgrade. It's a long shot, but I think Las Vegas would be interesting. If they flip Carr to someone such as New England, they could trade for (or wait it out and just sign) Newton and maybe have competition with Mariota. I'll root for Newton wherever he goes.
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