NFL free agency is a time where teams can get substantially better, signing top tier players that have been let go from their former teams because the team is either restructuring financially or the player seemingly is not worth the value they were signed for originally. This happened last year with Joe Haden when he was let go by a Browns team who was bringing in a ton of young talent and it wasn’t financially viable to keep him any longer. There are countless stories every year of players being released and making a big splash on a new team. In recent memory Robert Woods comes to mind. In Buffalo, he played third fiddle to Sammie Watkins and Charles Clay, and ironically got better when he went to a more stacked Rams team by 160 yards and 4 tds. Which teams have bumped up their stock going after the first round of free agency? Let’s take a look.
LA Rams +1.5 Wins
The LA Rams have been on the rise ever since they canned Jeff Fisher and his tired coaching philosophies. Last year they signed Robert Woods, and Sammie Watkins. You know what they say, one mans trash is Sean Mcvay’s treasure. This season, with one of the best offenses in the game, they turned to their defense which ranked 19th in yards allowed and 12th in points against. Not awful numbers, but that definitely leaves room for improvemnt.They made a splash signing two top tier cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. These player, while slightly volitile have anchored good defenses for years. I’m positive Wade Phillups will be able to work some of his magic on them and make the Rams defense something to fear in 2018.
Cleveland Browns +5 Wins
The Cleveland Browns were a dumpster fire last year. If you were to look up QB mismanagement, Hue Jackson’s picture would be staring you right in the face. After benching Deshone Kizer in multiple games, toying with his confidence, there seemed to be no hope for this team to get a win. This year they have been heavy free agency players. Beefing up their running game with Carlos Hyde was a curious move with the first pick in hand and Saquon Barkley seemingly a generational talent, but maybe they are just trying to hedge all their bets. They traded for Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor as well, two players who are consistent and also seemingly haven’t reached their ceilings playing for their former teams. With a bevy of draft picks at their disposal, and rising talent on defense, expect this team to get atleast 5 more wins in 2018. Which will be a major improvement for the Browns considering they have totaled 1 in two seasons.
New England Patriots +.5 Wins
It’s hard to gauge where the Patriots could improve from a regular season record standpoint and they have been to the last 2 Super Bowls, but their defense was porous last year and they had decisions to make on big contracts due to Malcom Butler,Nate Soldier and Dion Lewis. They also let Danny Amendola walk in free agency. After letting those players go and signing Jeremy Hill and edge defender Adrian Clayborn along with Matt Tobin from the Seahawks, Jason Mcourty from the Browns. It’s tough to say how much this team was helped by these signings, an edge rusher was definitely a big need for the Patriots but losing three great players is a big cost. Something tells me Bellichick will figure it out though.
Seattle Seahawks -2 Wins
The legion of boom is dead. When this defense was originally constructed with young players from the draft it was not a huge financial burden, but time changes all things, and the sum of these players talents was not producing to the level of which their contracts dictated. Thus, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett are gone. Thus 2 staples that led the legion of boom are no longer there and the injuries along with the ages of their other star defensive players brings it to question whether this defense will be just a glimpse of what it used to be. Only Russell Wilson can save them now.
With free agency still going on, which other dominos will fall, and which teams will be deemed the ultimate winners? We just will have to wait and see.