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Free Agency's Provocative Moves

Mill Woods

Posted on March 19, 2019 07:58

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Veteran NFL talent is moving around the country, as the 32 teams jockey for position. We know that good football talent does not guarantee success, but several of the big free agent signings so far are eye openers. Other moves have been quieter ones, but perhaps just as impactful.

On paper, the Jets and Raiders should be contenders next season! But paper is just paper, because: 1) new players have to gel with teammates; 2) the team's style of football matters; and 3) bad coaching can even tarnish good players. It appears that several teams are taking the plunge, deepening their talent pool. Here are some of the free agent signings I like - and some that I don't.

The Panthers and Falcons went after offensive linemen - an eyebrow raiser in a league where QBs, RBs receivers and defensive stars get 95% of the ink. Both the Falcons and Panthers needed substantial help. The short-yardage running game has been a problem for the Falcons, while the Panthers' big QB Cam Newton was taking too many hits.

The moves by the Forty Niners, Ravens and Jets to acquire star running backs can only be good news for those teams, because they did not posses runners nearly as talented as Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram and Le'Veon Bell. But those backs played for the Falcons, Saints and Steelers - three of the NFL's top five offenses - so only time will tell if they will put up the kinds of numbers they have had in the past.

The resurgent Browns made a big deal to land WR Odell Beckham. This, along with moves by the Ravens, almost guarantees that the Steelers and Bengals will be struggling within their own division. Still, there are questions. The Browns have to prove that their offensive and defensive schemes can really make full use of all that talent. S Earl Thomas may not blend as easily into the Ravens' defense as some experts think. And coaching will be under the microscope more than the performance of individual players.

The Bears took a flier on Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, who has waned in value, in my opinion. The Buccaneers rolled the dice on DE Shaquil Barrett, who I think is still an unproven talent.

The Raiders made headlines signing WR Antonio Brown - one the league's top three receivers - and WR Tyrell Williams - another top talent. OT Trent Brown should help make sure that the Raiders can get the ball to these playmakers.

I am not a fan of the Rams' signing of QB Blake Bortles and S Eric Weddle. I don't see Bortles as a decent backup QB, and I think Weddle is only a star because of the Ravens' defensive line which he played behind (admittedly, the Rams' line is also very good). Weddle is a proven performer, but so were several other free agent candidates at that position.

Among other contenders, the Saints did a respectable job of replacing Mark Ingram with RB Latavius Murray, and the Patriots kept things interesting by adding star DL Michael Bennett. I liked the Chiefs' signing DE Alex Okafor and S Tyrann Mathieu. 

So far, my top grades must go to the Raiders, Jets and Chiefs. 

 

 

 

 

 

Mill Woods

Posted on March 19, 2019 07:58

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Source: USA TODAY
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