29 Observations from NFL Free Agency

Seeing Tom Brady in a Bucs jersey is going to be so weird

1. Brady to Tampa makes sense on paper – two outstanding WRs (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin), good TE (OJ Howard, Cameron Brate), and a solid offensive line, a really good defense, and a quarterback guru for a head coach (Bruce Arians).

2. Logistically though, this move is crazy. Tampa is one of the league’s smallest markets and annually is at the bottom of the league in attendance, their uniforms are hideous (though apparently new ones are coming) and there is a pirate ship in the endzone.

3. It’s likely that Bruce Arians gives Brady a little bit of flexibility and freedom and the ability to have some say in the offense, something that never would have happened with Bill Belichick.

4. It’s just crazy to think, that after 20 years, Brady was ready to move on. If he had so many issues with his coach, why now? Why not 10 years ago? Why not after the Eagles loss?

5. I have no idea where the Patriots go from here. It won’t be Jarrett Stidham. Andy Dalton and Jacoby Brissett are probably the two “best” options for 2020 and I would imagine drafting a QB (Jacob Eason, Jake Fromm) is a strong possibility.

6. Bucs have the NFL’s second longest playoff drought (12 years – 2007) and the last time time they won a playoff game was Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003.

More fun facts about TB in TB

Equally weird will be Philip Rivers in a Colts uniform

7. Rivers to the Colts always made sense due to his connections to head coach Frank Reich (worked with Rivers from 2013-2015) and OC Nick Sirianni (worked with Rivers from 2013-2017). Is he an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett? Yes, probably. Is he any good though? I don’t think so, probably not.

8. The offensive line for the Colts is significantly better than the Chargers but the weapons from top to bottom are worse with Indy and Rivers is 38 years old and showed major regression in 2019.

9. Nothing will surprise me with these moves. Both teams could honestly be good enough to contend for the Super Bowl, or at the very least get to the playoffs. Or both QBs could flop at their ages and this could be a total disaster for both the Bucs and Colts.

A trade so bad, Madden said no

10. Someone tried to trade DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson in Madden this week and the system rejected the trade. Unfortunately for the Texans, Madden and real life are two separate things.

11. Texans GM Bill O’Brien made a move that significantly depleted Texans head coach Bill O’Brien’s roster, and will hamper the abilities of Texans offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to call plays.

12. DeAndre Hopkins is a top 2 WR in football (with Michael Thomas). He was traded for nothing.

13. Yes, nothing. David Johnson is washed and you can’t convince me otherwise. He hasn’t been good since 2016. Sure, he’s shown flashes and random ability at times. But he was so bad in 2019 that he was benched for Kenyan Drake. KENYAN DRAKE!

14. Standing ovation to the Cardinals for going for it! Kyler Murray enters year 2 with a receiving trio of Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk. This offense, coached by guru Kliff Kingsbury, will be really scary.

15. Texans and QB Deshaun Watson will enter the season with a trio of Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and newly signed Randall Cobb.

16. The biggest issue for the Texans (besides not having any draft picks) is their need for a running back. No joke, acquiring David Johnson is cool, but he can’t stay healthy and hasn’t been great so signing or drafting some type of insurance would be wise.

17. It’s truly amazing that in the last 7 months, the Texans have traded Jadeveon Clowney and DeAndre Hopkins and still don’t have a first round pick in 2020 OR 2021! They traded two firsts last August first Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills.

18. Whoever owns the Texans, please fire Bill O’Brien…

Can you Digg It?

19. WR Stefon Diggs often expressed frustration in Minnesota and he was traded to Buffalo. The package the Vikings received from the Bills is exactly what the Texans should have got for Hopkins. Vikes get a plethora of draft picks, including a 2020 first rounder.

20. Diggs goes to a team in desperate need for an alpha WR. John Brown and Cole Beasley were big upgrades in 2019, but Diggs is exactly what strong-armed QB Josh Allen needed to help take the next step.

21. Bills playoff win drought is the third longest in the NFL – 24 years, last winning in the 1995 Wild Card round. The acquisition of Diggs and the signing of multiple defensive role players, puts them in position to overcome that this season.

Happy Reunions

22. When general managers and coaches move on to new settings, they often like to have familiar faces around them

  • Buffalo Panthers – signed Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, and Josh Norman. All three played defense for Bills coach Sean McDermott, when he was previously the Panthers defensive coordinator.
  • Detroit Patriots – signed Jamie Collins, Duran Harmon, and Danny Shelton. All three played defense for Lions coach Matt Patricia, who was previously the Patriots defensive coordinator. Also, Lions GM Bob Quinn previously worked in New England.
  • Las Vegas Cowboys – Jason Witten is a Raider. That’s really weird. Also Raiders are DT Maliek Collins and safety Jeff Heath, who both reunite with former Cowboys DC and current Raiders DL coach Rod Marinelli.

QB Shuffle

23. I like Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina. He has familiarity with new OC Joe Brady and is the perfect type of quarterback for new coach Matt Rhule – a careful, and somewhat conservative quarterback. He’s actually quite the opposite of Cam Newton, who constantly takes risks with both his arms and his legs. RB Christian McCaffery might catch 120 passes and WRs DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel should both see their stocks rise.

24. Nick Foles to the Bears makes sense given his familiarity with coach Matt Nagy, who was the Chiefs OC when Foles played one year there. The problem is, he likely won’t push Mitchell Trubisky the way he needs to be pushed. Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, even Marcus Mariota all would have been better signings.

Random thoughts

25. Austin Hooper to the Browns is a nice move. If Baker Mayfield can’t elevate an offense with Hooper, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Nick Chubb, then simply put the Browns need to move on and get another new QB in 2021.

26. Amari Cooper had to return to the Cowboys as much as the the Cowboys needed him to return. And the overpay was necessary. Dak Prescott was bad in 2018, before Cooper came on board. Cooper has had an extremely productive 1.5 years and the fit in Dallas was the best for him both short and long term.

27. Colts could have used the #13 pick in the draft on a QB. Or they could have taken a shot at a young player who may or may not be good. Or, they can do what they logically did and turn that pick into a sure thing in DeForest Buckner. Colts defense got significantly better with this addition.

28. By claiming Tyrod Taylor will be the starter at QB, the Chargers are daring teams behind them to move up and draft a quarterback. There’s zero doubt, LA will draft one of Tua Tagovailoa (need to trade up), Justin Herbert (might need to trade up), or Jordan Love. Whomever is the Chargers QB, will have an improved offensive line with Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga.

29. Do the Miami Dolphins have the best cornerback duo in football with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones? They just might. And they share a division with Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and whoever starts for the Patriots. Look out for Miami, making a quick turnaround.

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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