Woohoo! First blog post of the new year...in March. I blame the Coronavirus. But, for all the havoc the disease has wrecked upon our world, one realm that remains unfazed is the NFL, where trades and free agent signings have been occurring at an all-time high. I have always wondered why we don’t see more trades in the NFL, and why the trades that do go down always seem to be so horribly one-sided. Well, the trades remain one-sided, but at least there are more of them! And free agency this year...my word, you’d think the world was ending with the way teams are throwing their cash around (wink). So, with my customary monologue out of the way, why don’t we jump in and take a look at some of the more notable transactions thus far in the NFL offseason?
Texans trade DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals for three crayons and a box of milk
Simpsons references aside, the actual return for Hopkins (and a 2020 fourth-round pick) was running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder. You don't need me to tell you this is a bad deal for the Texans, but I will anyways. What’s most shocking about it to me is that the Texans are a good team and made a few moves last year (like trading for Kenny Stills and Laremy Tunsil) that signaled that they were going for it with young star Deshaun Watson at the helm. This trade seems to be a 180, as they are trading away their best player and getting a minimal return. Sure, Johnson was once the top fantasy player in the league, but he has dealt with injuries over the past few years and as a result he has been a below-average running back. The picks are also funny, as the trend in the NFL over the past decade has been to receive a first-round pick for your star receiver. However, the Texans only got a second and fourth-rounder even though they traded away one of their own picks. The optics of this aren’t great for Houston, as they have definitely weakened their team.
But hey, great move for the Cardinals. They are giving their young quarterback Kyler Murray one of the premiere targets in the game with Hopkins, and with ol’ Larry Fitzgerald approaching retirement (probably), this is a good move for the future.
Broncos sign Melvin Gordon to a 2yr/$16 million deal (and a few other things)
Gordon hilariously held out last offseason and missed four games last year only to post terrible numbers with the Chargers, effectively resetting his market value. However, the Broncos must’ve seen something they really liked, as they quickly inked Gordon to a new contract this offseason despite having undrafted stud Philil Lindsay at running back. Gordon has always been a below-average rusher, but his ability to catch out the backfield and his nose for touchdowns has kept his value high. Still, a puzzling move by the Broncos.
That’s not all for Denver, however. They appear to be moving into win-now mode, as in addition to signing Gordon they went out and got a few other good players. They traded for Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, a standout at the position, and traded with Jacksonville for safety A.J. Buoye, who’s played a few really good seasons in Florida. Do they perhaps see an opening to be the second-best team in the AFC West now that the Chargers suck? Or maybe they’re readying themselves for when the playoffs expand to 14 teams...
Tom Brady signs 2yr/$50 million deal with the Buccaneers
Undoubtedly the biggest (and most shocking) news of the offseason, Brady’s decision to take his talents to (across the state from) South Beach is...interesting. The Buccs are not a very good team, though there is an argument to be made that they are not that far from contention. For starters, their defense actually posted the fifth-best DVOA last season, which is just a fancy way of saying they were pretty good. And on offense, it’s clear Jameis Winston’s 35 turnovers didn’t help. However, Tampa features some good players on offense, with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at wide receiver, Ronald Jones at running back and O.J. Howard at tight end. Throw in a good coach in Bruce Arians and you can see the outline of a 9-7 team with Brady. Still, this move does not make them serious contenders, and they will not become the first NFL team ever to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Todd Gurley signs 1 yr/$6 million contract with the Falcons
This move is the definition of low-risk, high-reward. Paying a measly $6 million for the 2017 NFC Offensive Player of the Year seems like a bargain. We all know Gurley’s troubles by now: had that knee injury and never fully returned to being his old self despite maintaining that he was healthy, then got practically benched last season. Still, there’s no denying his talent, and after releasing Devonte Freeman (their starting running back), the Falcons could use a good rusher. Maybe this homecoming (Gurley played college ball at U of Georgia) will jumpstart Gurley’s career.
Lions trade Darius Slay to the Eagles for 2020 third and fifth-round picks
Finally, the Eagles addressed their need at cornerback. Other than wide receiver, this was by far one of Philly’s biggest weaknesses last year, so it’s good to see them acquiring one of the top corners in the game, and at a relatively-cheap price. For the Lions, they had been planning on trading Slay for awhile, and the move does at least save them cap space while providing a little draft capital.
Panthers sign Teddy Bridgewater to a 3 yr/$63 million deal
Woah, didn’t see this coming. I’ve always been a believer in Teddy B, but $21 million per year seems a little steep. Furthermore, this move effectively ends Cam Newton’s time in Carolina, which is saddening for me but possibly exciting for others. Bridgewater is a decent quarterback who is capable of leading good teams, but sticking him on a subpar team where he is expected to lead might be expecting a little too much.
Colts sign Philip Rivers to a one year, $25 million deal
We know the Chargers were moving on from Rivers, and honestly I think he found a great home in Indy. I think he would have fit even better in Tampa Bay with air-oriented coach Bruce Arians, but going to a good team that simply needs a quarterback is a smart move. With this, Rivers has positioned himself to get back to the playoffs, something he did very infrequently in San Diego (and L.A. for a few years). The Colts are better than people think, and with a good all-around team led by an excellent coach in Franck Reich and a Hall of Fame quarterback in Rivers (AND in a division where the defending-champ Texans are sinking), they have a good chance to reach the playoffs.
49ers trade DeForest Buckner to Colts for 2020 first-round pick
More Colts stuff here. Indy certainly needs help along their defensive front, and bringing in Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner will be a big help. They did pay a steep price, however, as they gave up the 13th overall pick in this year’s loaded Draft and promptly signed Buckner to a four year, $84 million contract.
For the 49ers, there is a plan in place, as just a few days before trading Buckner they signed defensive lineman Arik Armstead to a five year, $85 million deal. San Francisco could not afford to keep both linemen, and they would not have received nearly as much in a trade for Armstead as they did for Buckner. Now, they can address their need at wide receiver after Emmanuel Sanders was signed by the Saints, as this year’s Draft features a number of top receivers.
Vikings trade Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Bills for 2020 first, fifth, and sixth-round picks and 2021 fourth-round pick
One of the first dominoes to fall this offseason, the Bills, fresh off a 10-6 season and another playoff appearance, went into win-now mode by trading for one of the league’s premiere wide receivers in Diggs. They gave up quite a lot of Draft picks, but pairing Diggs with quarterback Josh Allen and breakout wide receiver John Brown should make the Bills that much better. F
On the Vikings’ side, them trading Diggs was only a matter of time. Diggs had publicly shown his frustration with the organization at multiple times last season, and even after the season continued to appear unhappy in Minnesota. Though they lose their excellent one-two punch with Diggs and Adam Thielen, the Vikings got a boatload (get it?) of picks in return and could even use the first-rounder to draft Diggs’ replacement.
Titans sign Ryan Tannehill to a 4 yr/$118 million contract
Hey, I love Tannehill and I think he did a great job leading the Titans last year. However, he is 33 years old, and for much of his career has been an average quarterback. Nevermind the length of the deal (which will take him to age 37 - yikes!), but to pay him $29.5 million a year?! That’s more than any other quarterback has gotten this offseason, and we’re talking about a group that features three future Hall of Famers in Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady. I know he quickly became a fan-favorite in Tennessee, but this is a case of rose-colored glasses.