It’s only been about 44 days since Super Bowl 50, and it has become depressing. This has been one of the most boring starts to the NFL off season with the NFL draft just a month away. No major trades. No superstar on the brink of changing the NFL landscape. Nothing! You may have tried everything from watching NFL replays to joining sports groups on Facebook to ease the pain. Or even tried to submerge yourself in basketball, but when the trending topic in the NBA is LeBron unfollowing the Cavs Twitter page, you know it’s been a really boring season. Much of that can be attributed to Steph Curry and the Warriors tearing through the league, but nothing can measure up to the enigma that is the Football season! Though the free agency period started nearly two weeks ago, one can decide to allow the initial wave to subside before deciding on who made out with the best/worst hauls thus far. With that in mind, here’s a gander at the winners and losers of free agency:
Adding an aging Sean Smith to the secondary and a potential game-changer in Bruce Irvin to a quietly improved Raiders team may not be the flashiest of signings, but it definitely is a move in the right direction. Pairing Bruce Irvin with All- Pro DE/OLB Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith should give the Raiders one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Signing guard Kelechi Osemele away from the Ravens should allow Derek Carr to sleep a little easier at night as well.
AFC South (On paper)
For the second consecutive year, at least one team from the AFC has reached deep down in their wallets to make it rain during the initial wave of free agency (Indianapolis Colts in 2015). This time around, there are two teams trying their luck in this year’s free agency sweepstakes in the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. After coming up short in the playoffs, the Texans were in dire need of an upgrade at the quarterback and running back positions. Enter Brock Osweiler (Broncos) and Lamar Miller (Dolphins) with hopes of staying atop the AFC South standings for seasons to come. While Osweiler has a mere 7 career starts to his name, he has shown enough to supplant the underachieving and inconsistent Brian Hoyer. Miller should ease the pain of cutting long-time workhorse Arian Foster after one too many injury-riddled seasons.
In Jacksonville, Gus Bradley has had his work cut out for him during his 1st two season, but his fortunes may turn for the better after the moves made in the past two weeks. In the first few days, the Jags were able to acquire promising DT Malik Jackson from the defending champion Denver Broncos, stole a competent cornerback Prince Amukamara from the NY Giants, and snatched reliable short yardage back in Chris Ivory from the NY Jets. You can not assume that these acquisitions will rescue them from the dungeon of the AFC South (or AFC in general), but it definitely is a step in the right direction.
A wise man once said, “When it rain it pours”, and nothing can be more true for the Browns early this offseason. Gone are impact players such as WR Travis Benjamin, All-Pro Center Alex Mack, troubled QB Johnny Manziel, and emerging safety Tashaun Gibson. In return, they got a lousy two sticks of Big Red and an Arizona Sweet Tea. Not even an Arnold Palmer Half and Half. The Browns organization seems to be on the brink of another depressing season for the Dawg Pound.
This one is very simple. Win the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning retires. Promising DT Malik Jackson signs with Jacksonville, solid starter Danny Travathan heads to Chicago, and they were hours away from losing starting running back C.J. Anderson to Miami. And who did they bring in? Mr. Butt Fumble himself, Mark Sanchez!
The Dolphins are routinely inept when it comes to making personnel decisions, and this offseason is no different. The Miami Dolphins essentially swapped a promising young talent in Olivier Vernon for an aging Mario Williams (15 tackles, 5 sacks in 2015), then moved down in the first round of next month’s draft to scoop up a pair of “One hit wonders” in cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonzo. To make matters a little worse, they allowed vastly improving running back Lamar Miller to sign with the Texans with hopes of signing away Denver’s C.J. Anderson. That didn’t come to fruition as Anderson’s offer was matched by the Broncos 5 days later. Losing their best cornerback Brent Grimes hurts a lot too, but he’s not worth the drama that comes with his astonishingly loquacious wife.