With free agency signings slowing down and interest shifting to the NFL Draft on April 29th, now is the perfect time to look back on the craze that was the first few weeks of NFL free agency. Today we’ll be taking a look at which teams missed the mark, and which teams made major improvements.
Winner: At the top of the list, it has to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have brought back just about every starter from their 2021 Super Bowl winning roster, aside from Antonio Brown. The Bucs have yet to sign any players who didn’t play for them last year, but with re-signing guys like Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski and extending Tom Brady’s contract, that doesn’t matter. Look for the Buccaneers to make another deep run in the playoffs in the 2021-22 season.
Loser: The Chicago Bears. Coming into this year’s free agency period, everyone knew that the Bears’ number one priority was to bring in a franchise quarterback. Rumors circulated for what felt like years that the Bears were on the verge of trading for Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson. Instead, the Bears brought in Andy Dalton, heartbreak city for Bears fans across the world. To go from Russell Wilson to Andy Dalton in seconds isn’t a good feeling. Turns out the Seahawks turned down three first round draft picks, a third rounder and two starters in exchange for Wilson. Aside from Dalton, the Bears released Kyle Fuller, a pro-bowl cornerback. Fuller later signed with the Denver Broncos to a 1-year, $9.5 million deal. One positive for Bears’ fans to take away from free agency is keeping Allen Robinson, a great wide receiver for new quarterback Andy Dalton to throw to.
Winner: The Washington Football Team. After last year’s first round exit in the playoffs, Washington’s first move of free agency was letting go of their veteran starting quarterback, Alex Smith. Only 10 days later, Ryan Fitzpatrick was signed to play for his ninth team, agreeing to a 1-year, $10 million deal. Washington didn’t stop there, signing Curtis Samuel to go alongside Terry Mclaurin. Samuel, coming off a career high in receiving and rushing yards, brings a much needed boost to the team at wide receiver. On the defensive side of the ball, Washington signed cornerback William Jackson III.
Loser: The Las Vegas Raiders. After nine games in 2020, the Raiders sat at 6-3. Keeping that pace would have guaranteed them a playoff spot, but they ended the season at 8-8. Instead of adding to their lack-luster defense, the Raiders signed former Cardinals’ running back Kenyan Drake. This signing is definitely one of the most confusing of free agency, as it makes no sense, since they already have a Top 10 running back in Josh Jacobs. The Raiders also let Nelson Agholor walk in free agency, and to replace him, Las Vegas signed two mediocre wide receivers at the back end of their careers, John Brown and Willie Snead. To add to the demoralizing off-season, the Raiders traded 3 of their 5 starting offensive lineman, resulting in a third round pick and two fifth round picks. Lastly, on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders let go of safety Lamarcus Joyner, who they paid $27 million to be the worst-graded slot defender in the 2-year span he was with the team.