NFL Free Agency: Who Won and Who Didn't
March 9th, 2017 was the beginning of the NFL League’s new year and it, also, was the beginning of free agency. It is a time when all teams feel like they are on even playing ground. It is a time when teams go shopping and over pay for marquis players. It is a time when teams on paper become champions or at least close the gap between themselves and whichever team they are chasing. It is a time to improve your team.
Some teams will spend big in free agency and some teams will avoid free agency. In the end, did your team improve during this period. This is my first annual break down of free agency and I will be assigning awards to teams or players. So, let’s look at the winners and the losers of free agency.
Free Agency Loser
Colin Kaepernick was once a promising young quarterback. He led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl in 2012. It was a close lose to the Baltimore Ravens. Since that time his career has taken a complete 180 degree turn for the worst. He opted out of his contract with the 49ers this year to test the free agency market and possibly get a fresh start somewhere else. Here we are a few weeks into free agency and the market is cold for this quarterback. Is it his performance over the last two years or is it because he chose to take a stand (pun intended) for something that he believes in and he used the NFL as his platform? Has Kaepernick been black listed from teams or are owners and coaches skeptical towards his recent performances. All I know is there are four teams that currently need a starting quarterback, and there are four or five teams that need a backup quarterback which could replace an aged veteran at some point in the near future. I do believe Kaepernick is an athletic quarterback who is among the better free agent options that are still available this year. Kaepernick gambled on free agency and he has lost.
Free Agency Loser
Brock Osweiler was poised to take over a Super Bowl winning team last year, and once the season ended he chose to take a chance on free agency. In 2015, Osweiler helped lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl Title after he took over for an injured Peyton Manning and started 8 games. He played well most of the time and fit their system well. When Manning became healthy, the Broncos reinserted Manning back into the lineup as their starting quarterback just as the playoffs were beginning. Brock went back to the bench and watched a struggling Manning lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory. Osweiler started 8 games in 2015 and he had 170 completions for 1967 yards with 10 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions and a QB rating of 77.4. Manning started 10 games in 2015 and he threw for 198 completions for 2249 yards with 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions with a QB rating of 47.2. Osweiler did out play Manning that year, but, lacked the experience that Manning possesses. Osweiler possibly filling jilted chose to go into free agency and the Texans rewarded him with a huge payday in 2016. He stepped in last year on a Texans team that had Super Bowl aspirations and became their uncontested starter. He struggled to play well and never really gained control of the team. In 2016, Osweiler started in 15 games and threw for 301 completions for 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions while having a QB rating of 72.2. In time, he was benched, and at the end of the season the Texans traded him to the Browns for practically nothing. What it did for the Texans was it freed up much needed cap space. Now the Browns have been shopping him and rumor is that they may just release him placing him in the unemployment line. This is why he has lost this free agency.
Strangest Free Agency Move
The Browns and the Texans has one of the strangest free agency moves in recent history. Hell, maybe it is the strangest move of all time. So, the Texans traded their one time starting quarterback Brock Osweiler, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, and a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns send their fourth-round pick in this year’s draft to the Houston Texans. Now Cleveland needs a starting quarterback, but, they are not interested in Brock Osweiler competing for that spot. In fact, Cleveland is contemplating on just releasing Osweiler. So why even do this trade? Strange!
Best Free Agency Bargain
Brandon Marshall saw his production drop in 2016. He finished the year with 59 receptions, 788 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Did his production suffer from his skill set beginning to diminish or did his performance drop due to the inconsistent quarterback play the Jets received from their quarterbacks? I think it might be a combination of the two. The Giants signed Marshall to a contract that was worth 11 Million Dollars and 2 million of that money is guaranteed. Pro Football Focus rated his play worthy of a contract of approximately 16 million dollars with approximately 5 million guaranteed. Marshall gets a bonified Hall of Fame quarterback throwing to him on Sundays. He also will be opposite of Odell Beckham Jr. which should take some of the attention off his game. He should see his fair share of Red Zone targets due to his size. Based on the money the Giants gave and the possibility of his production to increase dramatically, this is my best free agency bargain.
Free Agency Winner
The Super Bowl Champions wasted no time during free agency. They acquired the following players: Dwayne Allen (TE) via a trade with the Colts, they signed Stephon Gilmore (CB) formerly of the Bills, Re-signed Don’t’a Hightower (ILB), acquired Brandin Cooks (WR) via trade with the Saints, re-signed Alan Branch (DT), acquired Kony Ealy (DE) via a trade with the Panthers, signed Rex Burkhead (RB), and signed Lawrence Guy (DL) formerly of the Ravens. Cooks adds another threat on offense that will give Brady a deep threat that they have not enjoyed since Moss retired. Pairing Gilmore with Butler, if he stays, gives the Patriots a duo of all pro corners. Ealy adds to their pass rush defense and should fit nicely with their defensive scheme. Retaining their leader in Hightower and adding to the depth of the team has this team poised to repeat as Super Bowl Champions next season. The rich got richer and they are the winners of free agency this year.
By R8er Dave