By Zach Walker
With the 2016 NFL league year being hours old, the landscape has already changed. Lots of teams making moves to fill in gaps in their roster before the NFL Draft in late April. It’s only been a day, but there are clear winners, and some early sinkers to analyze and over-analyze. Free agency, for fans, is like watching poker on TV, when it’s someone else’s money and ass on the line, THEY know the best moves, and would be aggressive and cool in all the right spots, but that’s not how this works. It’s a give and take. Give up the chance at a win for a big payday, a chance to be a leader on a growing team, or just lose a lot and pick up the checks as they come. Where the fan gets to see how much their team spends on veterans, then uses the money to throw shade on them once age or injury catches the player by the toe, even though taking the payday is what EVERY SINGLE PERSON would do, if the shoe was sized for them.
Oakland Raiders: The true winners of the first leg of free agency are the Oakland Raiders. They re-signed their ace punter, Marquette King, to secure him and spend some of their big cap number. Bruce Irvin will be heading to Oakland, to add his own flavor of pass rushing spice to the special stuff of Khalil Mack. Irvin is a pure speed pass rusher, and should be well suited to mesh with Mack’s power. As of late Wednesday night, the big offensive lineman prize, Kelechi Osemele, wasn’t officially inked as an Oakland Raider, but the deal was agreed on. Five years for sixty million for him to come in and protect Derek Carr for the foreseeable future.
New York Giants: The Giants, well, they’re buying a better team, but it truly is better. They are bringing back Jason Pierre-Paul, on a show-me-you’re-back deal. Then pulled the best available free agent cornerback from the free agent pool in Janoris Jenkins. They paid him out the waszoo, same with their other prize catch, Olivier Vernon, but they needed it. Jenkins is on the brink of being an elite corner, but I’m not totally sold on Vernon. He’s got potential but the skins aren’t extremely prevalent. Maybe the duo of Vernon and Pierre-Paul can be something to turn around the Giants defense.
Houston Texans: Why build, when one can buy. That’s the free agency motto. Bill O’Brien didn’t wait around for April to get a quarterback, his team went out and grabbed the top gun, Brock Osweiler. But if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to need someone to hand the ball off to. On top of Brock, they grabbed Lamar Miller, a back that likes to get better as the carries and catches go up for him. The Texans are playing the game aggressively, with a shake-and-bake offensive backfield, but with the poor quarterback play and inconsistent availability from their former running back, Arian Foster, they needed some shake-up.
Detroit Lions: Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Haloti Ngata, but he’s getting up there, and didn’t get that same pressure we’ve all become accustomed to from him. He did take pressure away from his teammate, Ziggy Ansah, helping him become the NFC sack leader. A two year extension is good for the Lions, as long as the money was fair. The Lions, being the Lions, decided to pay a number two receiver, number one money, when every person knows that it’s clearly Golden Tate’s team now that the Lions’ Lion-ed Megatron. 17 million guaranteed, that’s hot for a guy who’s been a Robin his whole career.
Denver Broncos: Well, we won. That’s seems, from the outside, to be the philosophy from Denver. Now, I know, they couldn’t keep everyone, and they did hang on to Derek Wolfe, tender C.J. Anderson, and tag Von Miller. Sure, Malik Jackson was going to get more money than the Broncos could have offered, so him walking just itches their draft board a tad. But, letting Brock Osweiler go. That could be a sinking move. Osweiler was entrenched in the Broncos, and seemed to be suited to Gary Kubiak’s run happy system. So why would the Broncos move on from Brock? The more important thing to ask is, why in the hell would Osweiler stick with them?! We can all remember… Peyton hurt, in comes Brock, and he looks correct. The timing was a tad off, but that’s because the receivers had to play at 30 percent so that Peyton could try and heave a pass 12-yards, just to one-hop it at their feet. So, Brock is on a roll, plays the Broncos into the playoffs, then has the carpet RIPPED out from under him so that the Sheriff could ride off into the sunset, behind Wade Phillips defense making up for Peyton’s cap gun offense. Everyone knew Osweiler was the correct choice, but the powers that be chose the fairy tale ending. Good for Brock, bet on yourself, but keep your hands to yourself.
Indianapolis Colts: When the Colts didn’t cast Chuck Pagano aside, I thought it was a strange move. When they kept the dynamic duo of general manager Ryan Grigson and Pagano, I just felt so bad for Andrew Luck. There aren’t changes coming for Luck. His luck is draining. I question him signing that mega contract with the Colts. They’ve hung his ass out to dry since he became the face of that franchise. Of course, he will remain in Indy, and so will Dwayne Allen. He’s why I have the Colts as early losers. A four year deal, worth 29.4 million, for an h-back sized tight end with good blocking skill and hands that are spotty. I like Allen, think he is better than Fleener, but that’s money to a guy that’s a solid player, not upper echelon tight end. Sorry, Andy, you’re only one guy, and are facing an almost seemingly sabotaging GM, who’s “looking out for you”.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans had the room to take on the contract that DeMarco Murray signed last year to become an Eagle, and did a great job of being disruptive and a solid cancer. He’s going to a team that both needs him and will feature him. The pro is that Murray does everything extremely well, and has all the good running back traits and he’s probably the best blocking back in the game today, and that should ease Marcus Mariota in the pocket. The con is, maybe Murray’s best years are behind him. He’s not as old Fred Jackson or anything, but maybe the marriage of Murray and Dallas Offensive line was the dream matching, and Murray will play out his career trying to recapture that glory of 2014. I hope not, but it’s a maybe.
Philadelphia Eagles: No team starts a league year like Philly. They’re in burn the ex’s pictures and all the crap Chip Kelly left over mode. They’ve traded Kiko Alonzo and Byron Maxwell and their 13th overall pick to the Dolphins for their 8th pick. That’s a big cash dump on Miami, and dumping oft-injured players to boot. That’s a win Philadelphia, but I feel they could have gotten more out of the Dolphins. The DeMarco trade, not as big of a win, but another cash dump, so not bad. They re-signed Sam Bradford before the 9th, so they have that wrapped up. No, not quite. On Wednesday, Philly signed Chase Daniel and guaranteed him twelve million dollars. That’s a boat load on a back-up. But, hey, Philly loves to spend money on positions on offense that they signed the day before.