NFL free agency is in full swing, with many teams making moves to improve their rosters. Some teams have made a splash, while others have made some questionable decisions. We’ll take a look at which teams have made the right moves so far.
Winner: New England Patriots- What else is new? Just when you thought the defending champs couldn’t get any better, teams, for whatever reason, keep helping them out. New England has been uncharacteristically active during free agency, acquiring cornerback Stephon Gilmore, tight end Dwayne Allen, wide receiver Brandon Cooks, and pass rusher Kony Ealy. The Patriots could have done nothing this offseason and still been among the early favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Now, they’re looking to be downright scary (more so than usual, I mean).
Loser: New York Jets- After releasing Darrelle Revis and losing wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Giants, the Jets were in desperate need of a big offseason, especially when you consider the fact that they only won five games a year ago. To make matters worse, players they could have really used were scooped up by their division rivals, who didn’t even really need them. That’s right, the Patriots took players they didn’t need away from a team that actually needed them, which has to be a slap in the face to Jets fans. More than anything though, the Jets need a quarterback. Will they try for Tony Romo? Time will tell.
Winner: Green Bay Packers- The Packers are a good team, but something is holding them back from becoming a great one (evident by the shellacking they endured in the NFC Championship game). They just might have found that element in tight end Martellus Bennett. Bennett’s signing came as somewhat of a surprise to many, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessary. Bennett will provide a much- needed element to Green Bay’s passing game, which in the past, has lacked weapons not named Jordy Nelson. With Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, and Rob Gronkowski not there to share the position, look for Bennett to put up big numbers this season.
Loser: Cincinnati Bengals- The Bengals aren’t known for being active in free agency, and they’ve sometimes been known to let good homegrown talent walk. This offseason is certainly no exception. The Bengals parted ways with longtime left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who signed with the Los Angeles Rams for $36 million over three years. Whitworth has been one of the top tackles in the league for years, so losing him will be a huge blow. As if that weren’t enough, they also lost guard Kevin Zeitler to Cleveland (yes, Cleveland), who made him the highest paid guard in the NFL with an $11 million a year deal. This is not good news to say the least for an offensive line that was already shaky last year. The Bengals did manage to keep corner Dre Kirkpatrick, but replacing two key linemen next year will be a problem.
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tampa Bay already had a potent offense with quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans, but they improved their passing game further by bringing in Desean Jackson. Jackson is still one of the most dynamic players in the game, and will be another dangerous weapon for Winston to work with next season. The Bucs also signed hard- hitting safety J.J. Wilcox to help with the secondary. Tampa Bay was already a team on the rise, and they should be a sure-fire contender for the AFC South next season.
Loser: Washington Redskins- Don’t let the signings of Terrell Pryor and Stacy McGee fool you, this team is a mess right now. They fired their GM, they allowed their best weapon to walk, and their franchise quarterback wants a trade. We don’t yet know what the future holds for Cousins, but we do know his career in Washington is likely over. On top of that, many people are upset about the way they handled the situation with GM Scot McCloughan. ESPN’s Michael W. Smith said “If I were a fan, this team would be very close to being dead to me.” That might be the attitude among actual fans right now, and the organization needs to try to find a way to change it.