Wild NFL offseason
By Jackson Posnik
Free Agent Signings
Free agency, having begun Tuesday at four, there are multiple reports of players planning to sign, or leave their teams. With big name free agents like Ndamukong Suh and lesser known players like Mike Iupati all hitting the market, lets take some time to look over what is happening in the NFL.
The biggest name in NFL Free Agency, Ndamukong Suh. Suh left his former team the Detroit Lions in favor of of the Miami Dolphins for a six year 114 million dollar contract. Suh is guaranteed 60 million and was the main reason the Lions were ranked the NFL’s number one run defense. The four time pro bowler will vastly improve the Dolphins run defense and become the richest defensive player in football.
Revis Island is going back to New York. Darrelle Revis signed with the Jets for five years and 70 million dollars. Widely considered the best cornerback in the league, Revis capitalized on his final opportunity to get paid, preferring more money over the chance of winning another Super Bowl. Revis nows becomes the highest paid cornerback in football history, and paired with another excellent veteran Antonio Cromartie, the Jets now have a formidable secondary.
Another big free agency move was Byron Maxwell, who signed with Philadelphia Eagles. His deal will be six years for 63 million dollars with 25 million guaranteed. Maxwell goes from a top ranked pass defense in Seattle to the second worst in the league in Philadelphia. Maxwell has never been a number one cornerback and will look to prove he is deserves the 63 million, that many believe he is not close to worth.
The most talented wide receiver on the market Jeremy Maclin, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on a five year 22.5 million dollar deal. Maclin, coming of the best season of his career, decided to go back and join his first coach Andy Reid in Kansas City rather than staying with Philadelphia and signing for less money. This move will really help the Chiefs who had no receiving touchdowns last year. Maclin himself had ten touchdowns himself! Maclin will as he did last year look to prove he is worth the money he is being paid having only had his first 1,000 yard season.
The top running back in all of football, DeMarco Murray signed with the Philadelphia Eagles for a whopping 42 million dollars over five years. Coming off the best season of his career and one of the best seasons any running back has ever had, Murray will look to replicate last years statistics. Murray will most likely not have as large a workload as he did last season, and with Ryan Mathews, on most other teams a starter, also signing with the Eagles, Murray will share more touches, but save his long term health.
The best tight end on the market, Julius Thomas, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years and 46 million dollars. Thomas, formerly a Denver Bronco will bring a winning mentality and leadership to the young, rebuilding Jaguars. Thomas opted to be paid instead of stay with the better team this free agency and will now be paid handsomely. It will be interesting to see if Thomas wants out of Jacksonville before his five years is up but for now he can get used to enjoying the sunshine instead of mile high.
Longtime veteran Andre Johnson signed with the Indianapolis Colts on a three year, 21 million dollar deal. Johnson finally left Houston after being their number one receiver for the last twelve seasons. Johnson now 33, is no longer a number one having lost a step, but will provide Indy, another talented wide receiver which they desperately need. This could along with the signing of Frank Gore really put Indianapolis over the hump, as they now have a revamped offense with a defense that never really lacked.
Another lead running back on the market, veteran Frank Gore, signed with the Indianapolis Colts for three years and 12 million dollars. Gore was reportedly to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles, but apparently got cold feet, and signed with the Colts. At age 31 Gore is approaching the age where running backs production drop off at a large amount, but Frank Gore has defied Father Time before and can maybe do it again this year. The Colts desperately need a running game and this could be the man that gets the job done and pushes them over the edge, from playoff team to contender.
Antonio Cromartie went back to the Jets on a four year, 32 million dollar deal. Many analysts said Cromartie had lost his ability before the beginning of last season and Cromartie set out to prove them wrong. And boy did he ever. Being on the same team as Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson, Cromartie often looked to be the better of the two, no small feat. Cromartie will once again be paired with Darrelle Revis forming a lethal one, two at the cornerback. It looks like the Jets will have a scary defense again.
The Chicago Bears and talented linebacker Pernell McPhee agreed to a five year deal for an unknown amount. As the Bears change from a 4-3 to a 3-4, they look to McPhee to be as he said a “violent” player that will disrupt the quarterback and provide pressure. McPhee had a career high in sacks last season despite only playing about half of Baltimore’s snaps and will to expand upon that this season.
Another former Raven, Torrey Smith, signed a five year deal worth 40 million, and 22 million guaranteed, with the San Francisco 49ers. Smith will be reunited with his former teammate, Anquan Boldin, in a what will be a very different 49er team next season. Smith will provide Colin Kaepernick with a top deep threat. Although inconsistent Smith has great potential and maybe playing along Boldin will bring it out.
Guard Mike Iupati signed with the Arizona Cardinals for 40 million over five years, with 22.5 million guaranteed. Considered the best guard available this offseason, the three time pro bowler will keep his talents in the NFC West but like many 49ers players jumped ship.
The Patriots re-signed pro bowl safety Devin McCourty to a five year deal worth 47.5 million dollars, with 28.5 million guaranteed. The Patriots were able to keep one of the best safeties in the league and one of the team’s young defensive leaders. Although McCourty drew interest from other teams’ he ultimately decided to return to the Super Bowl Champions.
QB Brian Hoyer decided to sign with the Texans on a two year, 10.5 million dollar deal. After having an impressive start to last season and leading the Cleveland Browns too surprising first half success, Hoyer appeared to lose all the poise and accuracy he displayed and was replaced by Johnny Manziel. The Texans are big on Ryan Mallett, so Hoyer will have a QB battle on his hands but it will be interesting to see if he can bounce back.
Randall Cobb elected to re sign with the Packers on a four year, 40 million dollar contract. Statistically, the best slot receiver in football last season, Cobb will look to continue helping Aaron Rodgers win his second Super Bowl.
Josh McCown formerly the quarterback of the Buccaneers signed a three year deal worth 14 million dollars with the Cleveland Browns. Last season McCown injured his thumb early on and never really gained traction as the Tampa Bay starter, and like Hoyer who he will possibly replace, McCown will have a QB battle with Johnny Manziel. It will be interesting to see if McCown can try and reach the numbers he set as the Bears backup two years ago, or if he will fall into relative obscurity again.
Running back Ryan Mathews signed a three year deal worth 11.5 million dollars with the Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly’s experiment continues bringing in the injury prone, Mathews, though when healthy has been a quality starter. Mathews will be newly acquired DeMarco Murray’s back up, but this could work out for Mathews, who may finally be able to stay healthy for an entire season.
Physical cornerback Brandon Browner reached a deal with the New Orleans Saints worth 18 million over three years. After declaring he would not take a pay cut, Browner ceased communication with his former team the Patriots, and began looking for teams that would pay. New Orleans rang and for good reason. Browner is a good number two cornerback and provides a toughness and edge to the defensive side.
Along with the signings of free agency came a series of trades, which for often seemed lopsided for a single team. The trades were even bigger than the free agent signings so lets get to them.
The New Orleans Saints traded Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth round pick to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for center Max Unger and a first round pick. Many football analysts say the Seahawks won this trade by a wide margin, considering Graham is the second best tight end in the league, but Unger is among the best centers in the league, so maybe this was not such a lopsided trade. Expect Seattle to have a more potent passing game next season as a result.
Another trade this offseason was a more bizarre one, with the Philadelphia Eagles trading QB Nick Foles, a fourth round pick, and a 2016 second round pick in exchange for QB Sam Bradford and a fifth round pick of the St. Louis Rams. This was an odd trade to make for the Eagles. Although Nick Foles missed much of last season with a broken collarbone when healthy Foles has performed. Bradford has missed the last two seasons with a tear and re tear of his ACL, and even when healthy hasn’t been on the same level as Foles. Also the Eagles gave up a better pick. Overall just a weird move by Chip Kelly.
Another major trade was the Chicago Bears trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall and a seventh round pick to the New York Jets for a fifth round pick. On the surface this trade looks insane if you’re the Bears considering Marshall is one of the best receivers in the league. But Marshall has had chemistry issues throughout his career, and it looks as though Chicago was just trying to move on and was happy to get anything for Marshall.
The earliest known trade of the offseason once again involved the Eagles, trading running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills for young linebacker Kiko Alonso. This was an unexpected move and both teams could potentially end up winners. LeSean McCoy is one the best running backs in the league, but he is 26 and approaching drop off age. He is also getting paid a substantial amount, so the Eagles traded him for the much more salary friendly Kiko Alonso. Before tearing his ACL this offseason Alonso was one of the best linebackers in the league even as a rookie. The Eagles got a potentially franchise linebacker and a great salary dump, and the Bills got a great running back.
The last major trade of the off season so far was the Detroit Lions trading a fourth and fifth round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and a seventh round pick. The Lions immediately addressed the loss of Ndamukong Suh by going out and getting another talented player with a difficult to spell name Ngata. Although this trade doesn’t make lots of sense for the Ravens, it was great for the Lions.