The Free Agency Frenzy may be far from over, but it will certainly slow down after the first day is in the books. The new league year officially started March 9 at 4 pm Eastern Standard Time, and a plethora of players inked new deals, most for new teams. In a day and age where money talks, it seems to be very rare for players to resign with current teams when more money is typically offered from the opposition.
So who made the biggest splash on day one? Who were the teams that got better and who were the teams that missed out?
Some teams scored big, some whiffed, and some got some good players but may have overpaid. Here is my analysis of a Thursday that was pretty much a whirlwind.
Loser: The Houston Texans
While the headline yesterday was that Houston traded QB Brock Osweiler and his bloated contract to the Cleveland Browns, there were some other major moves that will have a great impact on the Texans moving forward.
Defensive back A.J. Bouye is arguably a top 10 cornerback and was an integral part of a Houston defense that ranked first last season. Not only did he decide to chase bigger money and not resign with the Texans, but he went to a team that they play twice a season, the Jacksonville Jaguars. This move was great superseded by the Osweiler trade, but it is a huge loss for the Texans secondary.
The Texans also missed out on resigning S Quintin Demps, who signed a 3-year deal with the Chicago Bears worth $13.5 million. Demps led all Safties with six interceptions last season and was second among all NFL defenders. While Demps is on the latter half of his career (31), last year proved that he is probably worth a $4.5 million annual salary. Another big loss for the Texans.
Trading Osweiler and his huge contract was a smart move for the Texans organization to go in a new direction. All signs would indicate that they get Tony Romo, but if they don’t is Tom Savage gonna win this very talented team a Super Bowl? Will they go after someone in the Draft?
Time will tell but it was a very up and down day one in Houston.
Winner – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay signed free agent DeSean Jackson to a 3-year deal worth $35 million and $20 million in guarantees.
To me, this instantly makes the Buccaneers better. The wide receiver tandem of Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson is going to be lethal, and Jameis Winston should be ecstatic. Evans is a proven big, strong receiver that is the go to, featured number one. Jackson is a proven “blow the top off” deep threat that is going to force defenses to play honest and should open up the middle of the field for Evans, a slot receiver, tight end, and the play action.
The Buccaneers stole the booty and put the wind back in their sails, pun intended.
Loser – Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings had one of the worst offensive lines in the league last year and on day one of free agency they did nothing to change that. They let LT Matt Kalil go (which was probably a smart move considering how bad he was, and what the Panthers were willing to pay him), but signed former Lions RT Riley Reiff who had a similarly poor year. He was moved to RT tackle after Taylor Decker was taken in last years draft, and continued his mediocre play after being taken in the first round of the 2012 draft.
With a pretty weak offensive line class in this year’s upcoming draft and the release of Adrian Peterson, there is work to be done in Minnesota if they intend on competing in the NFC North.
Winner – Philadelphia Eagles
I had written in a previous article that the Eagles needed receiver help for their young quarterback. Well, they must have listened because they signed a true number one in Alshon Jeffery, and a speedy deep threat in Torrey Smith to pair with Jordan Matthews who is still on the roster.
The deals they signed these guys to is of great value as well. Jeffery gets a 1-year, $14 million deal, and Smith a 3-year, $15 million deal.
These are two great additions that will greatly help with the progression of quarterback Carson Wentz.
Loser – Cincinnati Bengals
While it was unlikely that the Bengals were going to be able to retain these guys due to the price tag (Zeitler is now the highest paid guard in the league) it still stings.
It’s safe to say that aside from a franchise quarterback, a sound offensive line is next in importance for an offense to be successful. The Bengals will now turn to past draft picks and the future draft picks and keep their fingers crossed.
There could be a shift coming in the state of Ohio…
Winner – Cleveland Browns
The Browns strengthened the offensive line position which we already indicated how important that is. They signed Zeitler from Cincinnati and locked down Joel Bitonio, and JC Tretter. They added Kenny Britt who had a solid season last year and should play well with a young and talented Corey Coleman on the other side.
As far as the Osweiler trade went, I may be one of the few that found it to be a good move for Cleveland. It reminded me of Kevin Costner in the movie Draft Day. Could turn into a “very good day!”
With $100 million in cap space, they had to do something with the money and so why not get another draft pick? Osweiler may never actually wear a Browns uniform, and they may end up just eating $16 million, but if it gets them Jimmy Garapollo or another player of extreme importance the front office will look genius.
Take a look at the next two years of draft stock that the Browns currently have.
The #Browns draft picks after the Osweiler trade:
2017: 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6
2018: 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7
— NFL GameDay (@NFLGameDay) March 9, 2017
One of those picks has to turn into to someone great, right? However, this is the Browns that were talking about.