The NFL free agent frenzy has slowed after last week’s chaos and many teams improved themselves greatly while others were not as lucky. Let’s take a closer look at some of the teams who “lost” in free agency.
This might have been the worst offseason in franchise history. In fact, I would argue that the team has been so damaged by this year’s offseason moves that it might take them years to get out of the hole that they buried themselves in. Head Coach Bill O’Brien has assumed the role of General Manager and has made two of the worst trades not only in franchise history, but arguably NFL history! His latest deal was trading star WR DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick for RB David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
Two things came to light immediately after the trade was announced: Hopkins was planning on asking the Texans for a huge raise (close to $18-20 million per season) and the relationship between O’Brien and Hopkins had grown to the point that the two men could not stand each other. That said, the Texans needed to find a way to make that relationship work. Hopkins is a top three overall WR in the NFL who is in his prime, while RB David Johnson is 28 years old and might only have 1-2 good seasons left in the tank. This also lowers the fantasy value of star QB Deshaun Watson. It’s obvious that O’Brien wants to build his team around the legs of David Johnson and not the arm of Watson. Another dubious call to say the least.
To replace Hopkins, O’Brien decided to give 30-year old Randall Cobb a 3-year, $27million dollar contact. Cobb is a solid slot receiver who did a decent job last season for the Cowboys, but I am not sure that any other team in the league was going to overpay him. The Texans acted out of desperation in signing Cobb which is always dangerous.
To make things worse (if that is possible), the Texans did not resign run stuffing DT D.J. Reader and let him go to the Bengals for 4 years, $53 million, which is a fair deal given a player of his stature. Now, the vaunted Texans defensive line has a gaping hole in the middle, as Reader will be extremely difficult to replace.
If Bill O’Brien still has his job come next March I will be the most shocked person in the sports industry.
My early season prediction is that Bears General Manager Ryan Pace will be fired before the end of the 2020 season. His offseason moves have been so bad that at some point the Bears faithful will jettison him out of town.
His big move of free agency was bringing in DE Robert Quinn. Pace gave Quinn a five-year deal for $70 million with $30 million guaranteed to help solidify his defense. Here’s what I hate about this deal—Quinn is an exceptional defensive player in a 4-3 scheme. However, the Bears play a 3-4 which does not suit Quinn’s skill set at all. Unless the Bears plan to change their entire defensive scheme in the offseason, then Quinn will not be used properly.
Pace’s next move was equally troubling. The Green Bay Packers could not wait to get rid of TE Jimmy Graham who had a disappointing 2019 campaign (447 yards/3 TDs). Graham was expected to sign a one-year deal elsewhere, hoping to have a chance to compete for a starting job. Then out of nowhere, Pace decided to give Graham a two-year deal worth $16 million with $9 million guaranteed! He did this with Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen already on the team and tight end not being a position of weakness.
Finally, in what might be his worst move to date, he traded a fourth-round pick to get Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars must have thought that Christmas came in March, because no other team in the NFL was going to give them anything for Foles. What makes things even more perplexing is that Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are both available in free agency. Either player would have been a more exciting and better fit than Foles. Additionally, I could argue that Foles is not clearly better than incumbent starter, Mitch Trubisky.
It’s going to be a long, long season in Chicago.
New York Jets
New General Manager Joe Douglas has a very interesting situation on his hands. The Jets spent a ton of money on free agents last offseason to no great avail, and now he needs to see what he has in 2020 before he jumps back into the market. Another problem that he has is that there is a long-standing rumor that free agents have zero interest in playing for head coach Adam Gase.
Recently, the Jets just lost their top wide receiver, Robby Anderson, who signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Carolina Panthers. There were rumors that Anderson wanted $14 million per season, but he obviously took a discount to play for his old college coach, Matt Rhule. Now, I would be surprised if the Jets don’t spend the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on either Oklahoma WR Ceedee Lamb or Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy.
To make up for losing Anderson, the Jest gave Breshad Perriman a one-year deal for $8 million. Outside of the last three games of 2019, Perriman’s career has been a monumental disappointment. It seems strange that the Jets would have passed on Anderson who was only marginally more expensive than Perriman, but then again the Jets are known for making poor personnel decisions.
Outside of Perriman, the only other moves of major note for the Jets were the fixes to their offensive line. They re-signed G Alex Lewis to a three-year deal. Also, they signed OL George Fant from the Seahawks to an absurdly overpriced deal (3-years, $30 millions) and C Connor McGovern from the Broncos to a similar overpriced deal (3-years, $27 million). Protecting QB Sam Darnold is obviously an important need, but neither Fant nor McGovern were top players at their position, and the move just showed the Jets’ desperation in free agency.
This is a pivotal year for Adam Gase; if he can’t win with what he has around him in 2020, he might not be around in 2021.
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