NFL free agency 2020: Winners and losers from Day 2 of the legal tampering period


We are two days through the NFL’s legal tampering period and it feels like we have been through an entire offseason. There have been big trades agreed to, big signings agreed to and Tom Brady made it known that he will be leaving the New England Patriots. What still remains to be seen, however, is where he decides to play in 2020 (CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports he’s expected to choose the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

There was plenty of movement on Monday — DeAndre Hopkins was added to the Arizona Cardinals in a deal that everyone except Bill O’Brien thought was unfair, the Buffalo Bills traded for Stefon Diggs and the Indianapolis Colts sent away their first-round pick for DeForest Buckner. My colleague Tyler Sullivan wrote an excellent breakdown of what went down on Monday; definitely check it out here.

Tuesday was another eventful day, as the worst team in the league made some big signings, the Colts agreed to a one-year deal with a veteran quarterback and another veteran signal caller was kicked to the curb in a tough way. Let’s take a look at Tuesday’s winners and losers from Day 2 of the legal tampering period.

Winners

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fan base

For the first time since probably 2003, when they won Super Bowl XXXVII, all the eyes of the NFL world have turned to the Buccaneers. Somehow, someway, arguably the greatest player of all time reportedly wants to sign with the Buccaneers? Scrap the six Super Bowls Brady won with one team over the past 20 years, he wants to go to the team that hasn’t been to the playoffs in over a decade. Credit to head coach Bruce Arians, he wanted Brady and it appears as though he will get him. Buccaneers fans have to be excited to be signing one of the best quarterbacks of all time — and one that supposedly is motivated to prove he can find success outside of Foxborough. 

Tom Brady is officially leaving the Patriots — you read that right. What does it all mean? Where does he go next? Will Brinson and the Pick Six Podcast Superfriends are here to break it all down; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness.

Indianapolis Colts

While Philip Rivers finished fourth in the NFL in passing yards last season, he also finished third in the NFL with 20 interceptions and had an 88.5 passer rating. His touchdown percentage of 3.9 was his lowest since becoming the Los Angeles Chargers’ starting quarterback in 2006, and his adjusted net yards gained per pass attempt (7.1) was his lowest since 2012. Not everyone is going to love this move, but the Colts wanted to acquire Rivers and they did. You have to give them credit for that. Rivers will be reunited with Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who spent five seasons as an offensive assistant with the Chargers, and Colts head coach Frank Reich, who was the offensive coordinator for two seasons with the Chargers — spending three total years with Rivers in San Diego. 

The Bengals have some serious work to do this offseason if they want to improve in 2020, and head coach Zac Taylor got started on Tuesday. First, they reportedly made former Houston Texans defensive lineman D.J. Reader the highest-paid nose tackle in the NFL with a four-year, $53 million contract. The 6-foot-3, 347-pound defensive lineman turns 26 in July, and has the potential to become one of the best nose tackles in the NFL. The Bengals have had one of the worst defenses in the NFL over the past few years and had the worst rush defense in the league last season, allowing an average of 148.9 rushing yards per game. Adding Reader should help clog some of those lanes up front. Additionally, the Bengals reportedly agreed to terms with former Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes. The No. 11 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft helped the Vikings’ defense become one of the league’s most formidable units over the past several years. In 74 regular season games (53 starts) with the Vikings, Waynes tallied 247 tackles, seven interceptions and 24 passes defensed. In 2019, Waynes helped Minnesota’s defense finished fifth in the NFL in scoring and second in red zone efficiency. Cincinnati is making moves to shore up the defense, and both of these are good signings.

Las Vegas Raiders

I really liked that the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota to put pressure on Derek Carr on Monday, but I also liked what they did on Tuesday. Signing Maliek Collins, Jason Witten and Jeff Heath from the Dallas Cowboys aren’t three moves that are going to take you to the Super Bowl, but they are good moves nonetheless. Collins is a starting interior lineman, Witten is a proven leader and Heath is a borderline starter at worst, and a great special teamer. The Raiders got better in 2019 and they will get better in 2020. 

Tennessee Titans

The Titans appear to be going all out in 2020. They re-signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill, franchise tagged running back Derrick Henry and on Tuesday, added a big piece to their defense by agreeing to terms with Vic Beasley. Despite the fact that the Titans made it all the way to the AFC Championship game, they struggled to get to the quarterback. While Harold Landry put up a career-high nine sacks, veteran Cameron Wake accounted for just 2.5 while Kamalei Correa accounted for five. Beasley should have a chance to start immediately opposite of Landry, and head coach Mike Vrabel will try to turn them into a dynamic pass-rushing duo. Beasley hasn’t been able to match his production from his incredible 2016, 15.5-sack season, but he’s an upgrade and still has the potential to develop into a star. A change of scenery could do wonders for him.

Losers

New England Patriots fans

You should have heard some of the comments on Boston sports radio. Fans were calling this the darkest day in Boston sports history and some were ready to turn on Bill Belichick for good. I don’t necessarily agree with those sentiments, but it definitely is a sad day for Patriots fans. Brady was their star for the past two decades, but now he would rather finish his career with a franchise like the Buccaneers? The reason I have “New England Patriots fans” listed as losers instead of the team is because it remains to be seen how Belichick and Robert Kraft react to this development. Are they going to roll with Jarrett Stidham? Will they sign a free agent like Jameis Winston? Or will they draft a quarterback? This might end up being the best decision for both Brady and the Patriots, but that depends on how New England handles the quarterback situation this offseason. 

Carolina Panthers

Moving on from quarterback Cam Newton doesn’t necessarily make the Panthers a loser, but how they handled the situation does. On Tuesday, the team announced that Newton would be allowed to explore possible trade options. That wording makes it sound like Newton wanted out, which was not the case, and he made sure to let the public know that with a comment on Instagram

“Stop with the word play,” Newton said in a social media reply to the Panthers announcement. “I never asked for it!! There is no dodging this one. I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys!! Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this. You forced me into this!!”

Former Panthers and current Seattle Seahawks tight end Greg Olsen responded to Newton’s comment by saying, “sounds familiar,” making it seem as though he did not want to leave Carolina either. By the end of the offseason, Newton, Olsen and Luke Kuechly will no longer be Panthers. Teddy Bridgewater is not a bad addition. I just think the new coaching staff underestimated the fan base’s loyalty to their stars, and some supporters are personally offended by this purge. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

I like Joe Schobert, and would be interested in him if I was a general manager looking for a linebacker. But I would not want to make him the third-highest paid outside linebacker in the NFL in terms of average annual salary. Schobert and Jacksonville reportedly agreed to a five-year, $53.75 million contract, which is a ton of money. That deal isn’t the main reason the Jaguars are a loser, however. Jacksonville seems content with carrying both Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew into 2020 and letting them battle it out for the starting job. With the Colts looking for a quarterback, they should have at least picked up the phone to gauge Indy’s interest in Foles. Reich turned Foles into a Super Bowl MVP a few years ago as an offensive coordinator in Philly, you don’t think he would at least consider Foles now that he is a head coach looking for a quarterback in Indy? He might have taken that big contract off of your hands. Instead, they run the risk of paying Foles while he sits on the bench. 





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