With the new league year starting today at 4:00 p.m., current free agents were already committing to their new teams well ahead before the new year opened. It was like Christmas coming earlier before the actual day for NFL fans. This free agency period has been one of the more tougher ones to keep up with because of the different moves that were occurring at a fast pace.

Teams made big splashes through free agency as well as through trades. Then there are the teams that sat back and were either lightly involved or did not participate at all. Some teams only re-signed players while others went after available players.

With the first day of the free agency period, there were teams as well as individual players who can be put into the “win category” while others missed out on building their teams:

 

Winners

 

Chicago Bears

New Bears head coach Matt Nagy will have himself a brand new offense with plenty of weapons surround second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The new offensive playmakers arriving to the Windy City include:

  • WR Allen Robinson – 3 years/$42 mil
  • WR Taylor Gabriel – 4 years/$26 mil
  • TE Trey Burton – 4 years/$32 mil

The Bears also managed to bring in backup quarterback Chase Daniel and kicker Cody Parkey on cheaper deals. Defensive players, Sam Acho and Prince Amukamara were also re-signed by the Bears.

With an above average defense already, the Bears managed to strengthen their offense that lacked weapons for Trubisky as a rookie. The Bears offense should be a lot of fun to watch this season.

Grade: B+

 

Cleveland Browns

The Browns started their offseason moves early. They made impactful trades that help solidify areas in need of improvement. The free agency period was utilized very well by the Browns as well. Before the free agency period, they traded for three players:

  • QB Tyrod Taylor, from the Buffalo Bills
  • WR Jarvis Landry, from the Miami Dolphins
  • CB Damarious Randall, from the Green Bay Packers

They upgrade their quarterback situation from last season, pair a dangerous receiver with Josh Gordon and bring in secondary help. As far as free agency, they added more help on the defense to go with Randall and surround possibly starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor with help on the offense:

  • RB Carlos Hyde – 3 years/$15 mil
  • TE Darren Fells – 3 years/$12 mil
  • DE Chris Smith – 3 years/$14 mil
  • OT Chris Hubbard – 5 years/$37.5
  • OT Donald Stephenson – 1 year/$2.5 mil
  • CB Terrance Mitchell – 3 years/$12 mil
  • CB T.J. Carrie – 4 years/$31 mil

The Browns dominated the first day of free agency. After going 0-16 last season, they’ve put themselves in a position to improve from last season. While they had a field day, they are in a great position to dominate the draft if they make the right moves.

Even with this success, the Browns will take a massive loss with the retirement of All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas. That will be a problem the Browns will need to address.

Grade: B+

 

Jacksonville Jaguars 

One game away from taking a trip to Super Bowl LII, the Jaguars continued to get stronger through free agency. Even though they lost Allen Robinson to the Bears, Robinson did not play at all last season due to a torn ACL and the team went farther than expected. Marqise Lee, who played a big role in the passing game, was brought back on a four-year deal worth $38 million. The newest members of the Jaguars include:

  • OG Andrew Norwell – 5 years/$66.5 mil
  • WR Donte Moncrief – 1 year/$10 mil
  • CB D.J. Hayden – 3 years/$19 mil

The Jaguars also brought in tight end Niles Paul and secondary players win Cody Davis and Don Carey. The Jaguars have made a big commitment to the running game with Leonard Fournette by bringing in Norwell. Retaining Lee and getting Moncrief from the Indianapolis Colts brings in more depth at wide receiver.

Grade: B

 

New York Jets

The Jets were quiet and under-the-radar team during this frenzy. They’ve boosted themselves up in different ways to make them more competitive in the AFC East. With a mixture of both offensive and defensive free agent signings, the team made improvements:

  • QB Teddy Bridgewater – 1 year/$15 mil
  • RB Isaiah Crowell – 3 years/$12 mil
  • LB Avery Williamson – 3 years/$22.5 mil
  • CB Trumaine Johnson – 5 years/$72.5

Offensive lineman Spencer Long and secondary player Terrance Brooks were also signed by the Jets. Quarterback Josh McCown was also brought back on a one-year deal. McCown will go into training camp as the starter. Overall, the Jets bring in another veteran quarterback and fulfill their need at running back with Crowell who is arguably underrated but can provide a lot of value.

The addition of Williamson and Johnson to their defense is scary. Williamson walks into a 3-4 scheme that he excels at and Johnson can be considered one of the top corners in the league.

Grade: B

 

Kirk Cousins

The first player in NFL history to have a fully guaranteed contract. It’s plain out unbelievable. His last three seasons, he passed for over 4,000 yards and he’s taking that type of talent to a Minnesota Vikings team that could very well be a QB away from making the Super Bowl. There are three different ways that Cousins was named a big winner in free agency:

Three year/$84 mil: All of this money is guaranteed.

The Minnesota Offense: The Vikings offense will be getting Dalvin Cook back to go with Latavius Murray and their weapons on the outside with Stefon Diggs, Adam Theilan and Kyle Rudolph are dangerous enough. Cousins has a running game and true receivers that he can utilize each game.

The Minnesota Defense: Arguably the best defense in the league, Cousins won’t have to face this vicious and hard-hitting squad.

Grade: A

 

Losers

 

Arizona Cardinals

They gave Sam Bradford a one-year, $20 million deal and also gave quarterback bust from last season, Mike Glennon a two-year, $8 million deal. They spent a lot of money on quarterbacks that may not even play this year. With them holding 15th pick overall in this years’ draft, they should invest in trading up to get their potential franchise quarterback.

 

New England Patriots

Coming off their Super Bowl loss, the Patriots continued to keep losing in free agency. While they re-signed running back Rex Burkhead, they lost out on their leading rusher from last season, Dion Lewis to the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots will lose offensive tackle Nate Solder, who has protected Tom Brady’s blindside for many years, and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler will head to Tennessee and join Lewis.

Another big loss is wide receiver Danny Amendola who is not only leaving, but is leaving to join the division rival Miami Dolphins. Amendola played a very crucial role with the Patriots in the postseason.

While the Patriots could very well bring in players in the next coming days, losing these four players, all who have provided an impact one way or another will hurt the Patriots next season.

 

Washington Redskins

After trading for Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs, the Redskins extended a four-year, $94 million dollar contract to him, where $71 million is guaranteed. They traded for someone who has had more success than Kirk Cousins in recent years, but is older and has had weapons around him. Smith won’t have Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce or Kareem Hunt around him.

Instead, he’ll have an injury-prone Jordan Reed is valuable but only when he’s healthy and newly signed Paul Richardson, who agreed to a five-year, $40 million deal. Richardson is a speedy option who can make plays down the field, but Smith is not known for his vertical passes down the field. How they decide to utilize Richardson will be interesting. With $8 million dollars a year for Richardson, this will be a high risk/high reward deal for the Redskins’ front office.

 

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