This will be an unusual offseason in the NFL, given the falling salary cap and few opportunities to scout draft prospects. The full ramifications of these changes are not fully known yet, but here’s our initial guess with the legal manipulation window now open: This will be the free agency of dream teams. Whether it’s a team that aspires to become the Buccaneers, the Buccaneers try remain the Buccaneers or a latent superpower rising from a long slumber to reclaim its role as the mainstay of the championship.
Not all of this will be accomplished through free agency. Unlike other major professional sports leagues, you can’t build a team that way, but you can heighten the excitement surrounding the roster with free-agent acquisitions. And we’ve already seen quite a stir.
Here’s what we’ve seen so far, as well as our ratings on each firm.
Joe Thuney to the Chiefs
The Chiefs are reportedly in the mix for Trent Williams as well, which would be a great offseason if they managed to secure two top-tier offensive linemen to bolster their front. Everyone watched the Super Bowl and understands the limitations Patrick Mahomes will have if he is not given the time to be Superman. Thuney costs a lot of money, but when you find yourself in a window similar to the Chiefs now, it’s well worth the premium price. An encouraging sign: Thuney allowed just two sacks last season, despite blocking for a recovering Cam Newton and a nonexistent wide receiver corps that sometimes forced plays to drag on unnecessarily.
Grade: B +
Matt Judon to the Patriots
This felt like a series of victories for Bill Belichick. Not only does he pay well below market value for a great pass rusher who helped a similarly amoebic defense in Baltimore, but he also takes a key piece away from a conference opponent, who may have loved having Judon back at that. price (or around that price tag). Belichick was able to buy into the upper tier at an upper mid-tier price, which could quickly help him rebuild his defense.
Jalen Mills to the Patriots
Mills is an ideal player for Belichick, who comes from the Eagles, a team that played a very similar man / zone coverage division in 2020. Mills works on this defense because of its versatility. Last year alone, he played a high percentage of plays as box safety, but he was also a groove corner, wide corner, and free safety on a formidable number of tries.
Shaq Barrett re-signs with Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are in that glorious post-Super Bowl YOLO stage where an untouchable DJ can tap into their cash reserves and a horde of talented players all want to come play there. However, keeping Barrett was always going to be more difficult. Coming from a franchise tag, the negotiations could have gotten contentious, especially after the passing race gave Tampa Bay a Super Bowl. But instead, the Buccaneers do it with a relative steal: $ 18 million a season. That alone makes the signing good for Tampa.
Jonnu Smith to the Patriots
Cam Newton’s renewal was a tepid start to free agency, which is why the signing of Jonnu Smith was so fascinating. New England spends a lot of money ($ 12.5 million) on a pass-catching tight end who is demonic in space. Smith’s market was always going to be surprisingly high for the laity (the Titans are working to re-sign Anthony Firkser), which is why Tennessee had to let him go. The Patriots’ steep arrival in the free-agent market indicates that there is no time for rebuilding in New England. Smith will be a gift to Newton, or whoever is throwing passes.
Aaron Jones re-signs with Packers
Green Bay is a smart team that understands the importance of combining a running back position, especially on this particular offense. Jones may not be around forever and it may affect AJ Dillon’s development, but they make sure the position is well stocked and they are as versatile as possible in the red zone.
Kevin Zeitler to the Ravens
Zeitler is one of the most prolific inside blockers in football, which makes perfect sense that he would roll 95 toward Baltimore and help anchor the spot once held by the great Marshall Yanda. Zeitler has missed a game since 2015 and despite a collective scramble on the offensive line in 2020 with the Giants, he should be in place to maximize Baltimore’s downhill run game. An advantage for Baltimore: Zeitler does not change his compensatory selection formula because the Giants let him go. So they rescue a significant drop in capitalization and do not lose much in return.
Tyrell Williams to the lions
The Lions are soft tanks, which is an absolute must after Matt Patricia walked in and covered a brick house in dilapidated vinyl siding. They let go of Kenny Golladay and essentially inherited an empty locker at wide receiver. Williams comes in as Jared Goff’s only reliable receiving target other than tight end TJ Hockenson, after missing the entire 2020 season with a labrum tear.
GRADE: D +
Mark Ingram for Texans
The Texans are showing the type of market in which they will operate. At best, they will be a lifesaver for several veterans with soft markets elsewhere. At worst … well … Houston could be experiencing its worst case scenario right now. The bonus here? Ingram is a valuable veteran player and pillar who could help develop other talents in the role.
Cam Newton re-signs with the Patriots
I think almost everyone realizes how valuable it is to have Newton with a puny, incentive-laden contract like this one. It is an interesting couple in Foxboro; He seems to be legitimately in love with the idea of playing for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, which, as we all know, may be an acquired taste for some. Having Newton on a backup quarterback salary gives New England the flexibility to improve the rest of the offense while ensuring they have a good enough quarterback in case other options (a through the draft or through trade for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo) fail.
JJ Watt to the Cardinals
I wrote extensively about Watt’s signing the day he first announced it, but in short: It will be interesting to see what the Cardinals do with the rest of their free agency. For example, I think re-signing with Haason Reddick would make Watt’s signing even better, but did Watt’s signing automatically mean Reddick wouldn’t be back? Arizona’s aggressiveness at Watt shows they have something in the works for this offseason. If the longest and shortest thing is to allow the future Hall of Famer to crash on the opposite side of Chandler Jones, then the Cardinals still have it pretty good.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.