The NFL season is only 33 days away and within the period between seasons, teams have one goal: to improve enough to win the Super Bowl. For every team, this comes down to their scouting, their drafting, their coaching and as well their signings. The free agency period is a strange time for NFL teams; it seems that in some way, shape or form all of the 32 teams are active, whether that’s trading away players, players retiring or signing other players. For teams such as the Dolphins, Jets, Saints and Browns, it can be seen that an all-guns-blazing strategy in free agency doesn’t work out. Rather, a more subtle and slower approach taken by teams such as the Patriots, Seahawks and Packers does lead to more success. The players in free agency are ones that are out of a contract, so with the 24/7 coverage of the NFL nowadays, these players are thrust into the spotlight, every fan wants to know who their team can pick up and whether they will help lead them to success.
With this being the way, players that perhaps were average starters or back ups, perhaps come off an injury or finished the season strong are now held up to be pivotal players these teams need to have in order to win, with analysts, pundits, commentators and die-hard fans having to find positives in every signing in order to justify it, and all the while just waiting for the season to come around to see whether their team made the right decision. Using Free Agency as a tool to improve your team is high risk and high reward. In this post, I will give my opinion on four offseason signings; two of which I believe can help their team improve by providing success and two of which I believe will be disasters for everyone involved with the signing.
Here we go my two favourite offseason signings were:
DeSean Jackson WR Washington Redskins to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Contract: 3 year $33.5 million
I love this signing for Tampa Bay. Jackson brings, as he has done his whole career, a scary, defensive-coordinator-worrying level of speed that will take the top off any defence in the league. He is now 30 years old but still in the prime of his career, shown by last season with the Redskins leading the league in yards per catch with 17.9. Buccaneers GM Jason Licht has done a great deal here for the Bucs offence last year because last year Mike Evans broke out as a superstar with career highs in catches and yards (96/1,321). By adding Jackson to an offence with Evans, Quarterback Jamies Winston will have a field day picking apart teams’ defences, knowing he can trust either of these guys down field. Jackson is the master of creating space for his fellow receivers because of his speed. The defences are so scared of it, they will have to double team now both him and Evans leading to breakout tight end Cameron Brate having single coverage and the Bucs offence going from stride to stride this year.
Martellus Bennett TE New England Patriots to Green Bay Packers
Contract: 3 year $21 million
Martellus Bennett last season achieved the pinnacle of every NFL player’s career. He won a Super Bowl ring. Bennett was part of the Super Bowl 51 champion New England Patriots where he played in the absence of an injured Rob Gronkowski, his stats being an impressive 55 catches, 701 yards and 7 touchdowns. He played very well to start the season but was held back with a foot injury later on down the stretch. But he came away with a ring and this season he has possibly the chance to repeat that feat as he signed with the Green Bay Packers. It’s not often players go from quarterbacks with as much talent as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers and don’t succeed. Bennett is a great signing for the Packers who struggled to finalise a deal with the previous tight end Jared Cook but in my eyes managed to get a much better player out of it than him in Benett. Bennett when healthy will bring a talent to the tight end position Packers fans haven’t seen since Jermichael Finley. Having Bennett alongside Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery will allow Aaron Rodgers to recreate the incredible form he showed down the stretch of last season for hopefully all of this upcoming one. This was a positive free agency move for the Packers looking to win a second Super Bowl under Rodgers and McCarthy.
Here are my two bad free agent signings:
Jamaal Charles RB Kansas City Chiefs to Denver Broncos
Contract: 1 year $3.75 million
If this was 2013, then I would praise the Broncos from here to high heaven for pulling off such a trade. Charles was one of the premier backs in the league, having come off 1,500-yard season the year earlier, and looking to a positive future. But it’s 2017 and Charles since has fallen fast; he had successive surgeries on his ACL, was replaced by Spencer Ware and Chanderick West and has only played 8 games since 2015. I don’t like this free agent signing for the Broncos because of the situation. Denver does have a lead back in CJ Anderson who is a good player but after that they have nobody. In the draft, they had the opportunity to take a multitude of running backs but Denver only decided to take one in the 6th round, De’Angelo Henderson from Coastal Carolina. This doesn’t fill me with confidence – I’m not holding high hopes for him to even play any snaps this year. As well as this, it’s a bad signing because Charles is a 30-year-old back, with a messy injury history who isn’t as productive as he once was, but has been brought in as an effective cover for Anderson late in the season. I see this becoming a costly signing for the Broncos when it comes down to the end of the season and they suddenly realise they have to turn to an old, past-his-prime, Charles to help with their playoff push. It will be then that they will realise they should have taken a running back much earlier in the draft and stayed away from Charles, whose lack of speed and burst will hold their offence captive down the stretch and be one of many reasons why the Broncos will miss the playoffs.
Riley Reiff T Detroit Lions to Minnesota Vikings
Contract: 5 year $58.75 million
If you want to make some money in this world, become a middling offensive lineman in the NFL. I can’t believe that the Vikings have paid this much money to a player that was plagued with issues on the left-hand side of the line with his years in Detroit. Their initial action was last year was to move Reiff to the right-hand side of the line when they drafted his replacement Taylor Decker at left tackle. If I couldn’t make it more obvious to you that this was a bad signing for the Vikings, here is the analysis given on NFL.com on their Free Agency Report: “The Vikings who just lost out on Ricky Wagner, signed Riley Reiff, per Ian Rapoport”. Now, when their analysis of a signing is saying that they lost out on a better player, that doesn’t fill me with confidence and it definitely won’t for Vikings fans. Reiff has managed to garner a large contract this offseason and already into training camp he has missed 4 straight practices with an undisclosed injury, so his durability will be a cause for concern for Minnesota. He was meant to be a saviour for this line and if he’s injured he can’t play, leaving their line in a much worse state. If I was a Vikings fan, I wouldn’t be filled with confidence by this signing because you’re being sold a player who was replaced by his old team, wasn’t your number one priority because he was middling to average in Detroit and is now injured.
I hope you enjoyed reading this! Much love x