Well, my last article was over a week ago now and you know why, because March Madness has decided to transfer over to the NFL as well. The past week has been mental with all the trades and free agency moves that I have re-wrote this piece about four times now. Instead of going through every single move that has taken place, I have narrowed the moves down to ones that actually matter and I can talk about their impact on the teams involved. Why not start with the most perfect franchise ever, the Patriots.
Crisis in Foxboro?
It is without a doubt that the Patriots have been one of the best teams of all time over the past few seasons, to say the least. Brady, Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, the list of some of the world class players they’ve had over the years seems to never end. However, it seems they are having a mini clear-out ahead of the 2018-19 season. In the past week and a bit they have lost wide receiver Danny Amendola to the Dolphins, their best running back Dion Lewis to the Titans, one of the best offensive tackles in the game, Nate Solder, to the Giants and to round it off, they lost cornerback Malcolm Butler to the Titans.
Butler was always going to leave after this season, Bill’s ego got the best of him at the Superbowl and he benched the best defensive player they had on their roster whilst they were being destroyed by a backup quarterback. Butler is the reason Brady has five rings and not four, and with him gone the Patriots have a massive gap to fill. Solder was and still is a fantastic OT and will also be a big loss to them. Amendola is one of the best in the business and someone who Brady could always rely on, same with Lewis, he was their best running back for a reason.
However, do these losses mean anything to the Patriots? No, not at all. Over the years Brady has lost countless world-class talents. In offense, he has lost the likes of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, LeGarrette Blount (twice). In defense, he has lost the likes of Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones, Aqib Talib, Patrick Chung and Jamie Collins. Brady is used to losing key players and he doesn’t complain about it either. He gets on with his work and takes them to another Superbowl. Losing these four players doesn’t mean the dynasty at New England has crumbled and they won’t be the same dominant force. Expect to see them win their division and possibly the Superbowl.
Are The Bears Becoming A Force?
Chicago haven’t set the league alight for quite some time, however, they have definitely made some steps in the right direction to be a surprising dark horse this season. I am not saying they will walk to the Superbowl, but the moves they have already made are quite impressive and they could make the postseason quite comfortably. They managed to keep their star cornerback in Kyle Fuller as he signed a new four-year deal with them. They also made some huge moves offensively, bringing in Superbowl winning tight end Trey Burton from the Eagles on a four-year contract. Alongside the Burton deal, they managed to get highly rated wide receiver Allen Robinson from the Jags, on a three-year contract.
Now, they obviously aren’t the biggest of moves but they are very solid moves. Burton was fantastic for Philly, and that’s coming from a Philly fan himself. I’m sad to see the back of Burton and some of the other talents we have lost because of cap space. Robinson was one of the best players to be in free agency this off-season and him to sign for Chicago means they must be making the right moves. With a few more decent additions, they could be a dark horse. However, they do have the Vikings to go through, who I’ll get into later on.
Browns Make More Moves
After my last NFL piece, highlighting the great work from the Browns front office in their trades, they have decided to join the free agency train and bring in a few decent additions. After trading with the Bills for QB Tyrod Taylor, everyone was predicting them to draft running back Saquon Barkley at the number 1 spot. However, they have thrown a curveball and now signed running back Carlos Hyde from the 49ers.
This has now got everyone predicting Sam Darnold as their number 1 pick again, but it hasn’t appeared to anyone that they could draft Barkley at number 1 and then pick up Darnold at number 4. Anyway, they have now switched the focus to defense and the trenches by signing cornerback T.J. Carrie from the Raiders and OT Chris Hubbard from Pittsburgh. These have signed lengthy contracts that give out the feeling that the Browns are making some serious long-term moves. It seems they have given up on the quick fix approach of the past few seasons and have really sat down and thought about the next 4-5 years.
Jets And Colts Trade Picks, While Arizona Watch On In A Panic
In other news, the Jets made a huge move in the draft as they traded with the Colts for their number 3 pick. The Jets sent over a bag of picks including a number 6 pick in the first round. This is a perfect trade for both sides, the Colts need a big number of players in all positions so having a bag of picks suits them perfectly, the Jets need a QB. Putting them at number 3 allows them to secure their 1st choice QB.
However, I wasn’t expecting the Jets to make this move, I was expecting Arizona to make this move. They desperately need a QB, especially with the division they are in, all of the teams have franchise QBs. They signed Sam Bradford to a one-year contract but he has a massive knee injury problem and won’t be a solution. If they don’t move up and draft a good QB, they are in deep trouble for the next few seasons. Next season, the draft doesn’t have a lot of QB talent and free agency is quite short of good QB’s.
Other Big Moves
One team that has made some impressive moves this offseason is Minnesota. The Vikings have managed to somehow offload quarterbacks Case Keenum, who has gone to Denver, and Teddy Bridgewater, who has landed at the Jets. They ended up replacing him with the most sought-after free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins. This is a fantastic move by Minnesota who can easily make it far in the postseason. With how they performed last season and adding Cousins into that equation they may even make it to the Superbowl if other teams fail to make similar moves.
In other quick news, Jimmy Graham has landed at the Packers, which is a good move for Green Bay, however, they won’t be a force this season. I just can’t see them being that good of a team to put a good run on and give teams on the up like the Vikings a run for their money. The Rams have also lost a couple of key pieces, with wide receiver Sammy Watkins landing in Kansas and cornerback Trumaine Johnson heading to New York, specifically with the Jets.