Despite the lack of live sports to feast upon during our self-imposed, or state government, quaratines, there has still been some excitement in the sports world. The National Football League has given us some good talking points, at least for a few days, regarding free agency and some of the moves from the 32 franchises.
The biggest move, and perhaps the most lopsided, occurred between the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans. The Texans traded their best wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, a top three player at his position, for pennies on the dollar. Houston, in return, got an injury-prone running back and a few draft picks, none of them a first rounder.
Houston’s trade was put under even closer review after Buffalo gave up a first -rounder, among other choices, for Minnesota’s Stephon Diggs. Diggs, while a good wide receiver in his own right, is an inferior talent to Hopkins, was worth a first round selection to the Bills. Yes, Houston had to improve their number of draft picks, but settling for a second-rounder at best for a talent like Hopkins made Arizona a huge winner early on in free agency and the new league year.
Young Cardinal quarterback Kyler Murray now has a top three receiver to throw to along with Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, who turned down retirement, has to be thrilled to see Hopkins alongside him in that Arizona offense. Clear A+ move for Arizona and a clear D- move for Houston.
The other big receiver trade, between Minnesota and Buffalo, it was a great move for both teams. Diggs, reportedly, did not want to play with Kirk Cousins again and wanted out of Minnesota. Buffalo needed a guy who can be a top receiver for young Josh Allen to throw to. Diggs’ worth is close to that 22nd overall pick, along with some lesser draft choices. The Vikings now have a lot more draft picks to build around Kirk Cousins and fix some holes on their defense.
However, the Vikings have also made a lot of cap-related moves and gutted part of their team which might not get fixed through the draft. Minnesota fans seem upset with most of their other moves, like extending Cousins to create more cap room this year, but I doubt it does anything for their playoff chances. Sorry.
The biggest quarterback move came when the unthinkable happened. This may have been more shocking than Joe Montana leaving San Francisco, Brett Farve leaving Green Bay or Peyton Manning leaving the Colts. After 20 years, Tom Brady is trading in his New England Patriots jersey for one featuring a pirate. Being a fan of this particular pirate-themed team, well, I’m completely overjoyed to see Tom Brady as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I wanted to be a Jameis Winston fan, but it was hard when the guy throws 30 interceptions in a seven-win season. Cut that number in half and Winston is a Pro Bowler with the other numbers he was able to put up. Brady might not have the physical tools of Winston, but if he can limit turnovers as he has his entire career, Tampa Bay might be a dark horse playoff team this year with what Brady will have around him.
As a side note, there were reports stating that Winston underwent LASIK surgery a couple of months ago. I hope this helps his ability on the field in some manner, the kid is talented, just way too turnover-prone to be a starter.
Looking at the four “area” NFL teams; Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, the teams have made some interesting moves and not all of them good.
The Bears have not done well in this free agency period. They signed Jimmy Graham at tight end, and Graham didn’t show much in Green Bay with a future hall of fame quarterback, so the combination of Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles won’t really do much for the tight end either. Foles was another bad decision by the Bears. Yes, they needed a guy to push Trubisky but Foles brings in a terrible contract and an inability to stay healthy. Also Foles has never played well outside of Philadelphia.
Chicago also signed defensive end Robert Quinn who will move to rush linebacker. Quinn has played in a 3-4 defense before and, as memory serves, failed to put up good numbers for the amount of money he made. Some players are made for a 4-3 defense and Quinn is one. Another bad move for the Bears.
The Chiefs have been quiet due to lack of cap space but it isn’t a big deal. They won the Super Bowl last year and shouldn’t have to make too many moves to improve their existing roster.
The Packers have made some solid moves to improve their roster this offseason. One of their biggest needs was an inside linebacker who can contain opponents’ run game, as I’m sure the Packer backers remember the NFC Championship game when the 49ers ran wild all over them. So Green Bay signed Christian Kirksey to shore up that run defense. If he can stay healthy, big if, Kirksey should be able to help the Packers run defense.
They also signed an offensive tackle in Rick Wagner. He should be able to play if one of their starters gets hurt as a backup. Never hurts to have more offensive linemen. Ever.
The Vikings released some aging veterans, Xavier Rhodes and Linval Joseph, and not have done much else outside of resigning Cousins and the Diggs trade. That trade should help the Vikings when it comes to the draft and the need to pick up better offensive tackles or a cornerback.
So there you have it. Those are a couple of the big moves and some of the more close to home glances. Will the NFL have their season start on time? Remains to be seen. If not, just play Madden 20.