48 hours since the 2016 NFL free agency began, and I need a moment to breathe. If anyone is reading this… I need food, water, and sleep. For the love of God, could the Raiders hold off for a minute on making moves so I can take a little cat-nap?
As I mentioned in my previous article, NFL Free Agency is, to me, the most wonderful time of the year. Move over Santa, because Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans have something sweet brewing down South.
So far, the 2016 NFL Free Agency has not disappointed. The theme this year is that a few teams are throwing money on anything that moves.
Now for the opinion part of this article. Here’s the question: Who are the big winners so far in the 2016 NFL Free Agency?
Yes, friends, I even did a ranking system for this. How did I rank them, you ask? I based it off of what I think these new signings will have as an impact on their new team. I hope you enjoy it.
#3 – Houston Texans
I’m sure there are folks out there who are upset that the Texans aren’t ranked higher. The Texans won the AFC South last season on a pipe dream, with a good defense, a rotation of bench player running backs, a breakout wide receiver (that I drafted by the way, I’m a fantasy guru) and a dumpster quarterback in Brian Hoyer. In two day’s time, the Texans sign the best quarterback available in “the Brock Lobster” Brock Osweiler. Brockstar, as we all know, made a name for himself last year as the backup quarterback for the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. He played in 7 games, and was benched in one of those due to a plethora of interceptions to end his season. If Brock can continue to play as well as he did last year, this is an awesome signing. The question is, will he continue to play like he did last year? The Texans shelled out 72 million dollars over 4 years for this guy, and from my perspective, we haven’t seen enough of him to be confident in handing that money out. The other transaction that puts the Texans on this chart is the signing of running back Lamar Miller while releasing running back Arian Foster. Foster is a hell of a talent, but he’s near 30 (the elderly-age mark for running backs), and loaded with injuries. If the Texans wanted to win in the playoffs, they needed a running back they could rely on. Miller is just that. Lamar Miller is the kind of player where you know what you’re going to get. Signing for 4 years for over 26 million dollars, Miller is good for 1000 yards a year and overall a quality signing. Along with offensive lineman additions Jeff Allen and Tony Bergstrom, can these guys bring the Texans over the AFC South hump? I don’t know, I can’t predict the future.
#2 – New York Giants
Stunned at the Super Bowl as much as the rest of us, Eli Manning quietly had a career year this past season. Elite Eli kept his team in almost every game, but the Giants disaster of a defense helped the Giants get a shabby 6 – 10 record. Naturally, all three signings have been made on the defensive side of the ball. The number 1 cornerback available, Janoris Jenkins, joins the team for 5 years on a 62.5 million dollar contract. Good signing here, Prince Amukamara is likely gone, as he’s significantly worse than Jenkins and wants a similar contract. New York Jets star defensive tackle Damon Harrison signed with the Giants for 5 years on a total of 46.25 million dollars, which strengthens the Giants defensive line. And finally, Olivier Vernon, Dolphins defensive end, joins the squad on a record-setting 85 million dollars over 5 years. People hate this last signing, but I think it’s a good pick up. Vernon is underrated, and had the 3rd best percentage of rushing the quarterback last season. But if you’re looking at the money, this is a silly amount of money going to guy who isn’t guaranteed to be a game-changing player. As far as rushers go, Vernon isn’t as nice as Von Miller or J.J. Watt, and I’m not even sure I’d rank him directly below those two. Time will tell on this signing, but for now, I’m just amazed at the loads of cash Vernon has now. The Giants held onto their impressive offense, kept their schemes the same, and added a few key defensive signings: expect a playoff push from these guys next year.
#1 – Oakland Raiders
Oakland is doing things right. Two years ago, I never thought I’d say that. Oakland is signing game changers, while at the same time building through the draft. The core is already there, and it showed in an upswing of a season. Huge additions such as linebacker Bruce Irvin, cornerback Sean Smith, and offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele should only boost the young core on the Raiders (guys like Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, and Amari Cooper). For the past few years, the Raiders have earned my respect. They’ve had money to blow for a while, and last year everyone thought they would sign Suh to his ridiculous contract. Yet, they held on strong, and brought in some smaller but equally as important additions in the year. They waited until the team grew on its own and established its talented core, and then struck gold. Bravo, Oakland. Seriously, if two of these three guys pan out for the Raiders, they have an immediate chance at winning their division. Yeah, I mean the Super Bowl Denver Broncos division. Deal with it.
I know what you’re thinking…
“Hey Carson, why not mention Jacksonville? They’re going to have an awesome offense, and just improved on defense! I think you’re a terrible writer, and I’m disappointed in your work.”
… Well, reader, if that’s what you think, go ahead and join the other people I’ve left not feeling satisfied. Here’s why Jacksonville missed the cut. Chris Ivory, good signing. Malik Jackson, good signing (although he got way too much money in my opinion). Where did they improve? Bortles will have offensive weapons, but no line to protect him. T.J. Yeldon had a promising first year, and turning his work into a committee job might back fire on his progression (read above about building through the draft). Malik Jackson will eat up the middle at defensive tackle, but they have a defense filled with liabilities, and will have to build at more areas before I consider them spooky.
My biggest issue here is that Terrell Owens hasn’t tried to make a comeback so far, but maybe next week that will be my topic. Stay tuned.