NFL Free Agency Winners and Losers: New NFL Contenders Emerge During the Offseason

NFL Free Agency Winners and Losers: New NFL Contenders Emerge During the Offseason

Theo Asher

NFL free agency began a couple of weeks ago, and the league has already been shaken up dramatically. In this article, we will go through some of the biggest splashes of free agency season so far and some big winners of free agency.

It’s hunting season for NFL general managers, and wide receivers have had the highest prices on their heads so far. 

The first big-name WR to be snagged off the free agent market was six-time pro bowler Brandon Marshall, who was signed by the New York Giants for two years/$12 million. I think this signing bodes well for both sides. Marshall has a golden opportunity to rebound from a putrid 2016 season, with a veteran QB in Eli Manning. As the second or third receiver in the depth chart, Marshall will have less pressure on himself to produce big numbers but will also be a fine option when superstar Odell Beckham Jr. is covered tightly.

A move I have somewhat less confidence in is the Philadelphia Eagles’ acquisition of Alshon Jeffery. Don’t get me wrong, with some of the best hand-eye coordination in the league and fantastic 2013 and 2014 seasons, the man can play football. What worries me is the fragility of this entire situation. In three of the past four seasons he has suffered a hamstring injury in some capacity, ranging from moderate to season-ending. He was also suspended for performance-enhancing drugs for four games last season. If Jeffery suffers another serious injury or gets caught for PEDs again, the potential of this signing is eradicated.

A team that has had a surprisingly excellent offseason thus far is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yup, you heard that right­ – the team that went 3-13 last season is rallying for a major comeback. Specifically, the Jaguars have made huge moves on the defensive front. Defensive end Calais Campbell was a fantastic grab. A two-time pro bowler and All-Pro selection, for years Campbell was the anchor for an Arizona Cardinals defense that consistently ranked as one of the best in the league in limiting offenses to low-point totals. Additionally, the Jags added two young ballhawks to their secondary, A.J. Bouye (ranked as the fifth overall free agent by NFL.com) and Barry Church.

The team with the best offseason, however, has been the team with the best regular and postseason – the New England Patriots. The Pats, who pulled off a miracle in Super Bowl LI, showed us again how they have the NFL in the palm of their hand with a monster haul of players in the offseason. Brandin Cooks was not a free agent, but the Patriots pulled one of the finest swindles of the offseason when they seized him from New Orleans. Cooks is one of the best young WR’s in the game, and his presence will have an immediate impact on the team’s quest for a sixth super bowl trophy in 2017. Cooks, although relatively short in size, is everything you want in a #1 WR: secure hands, lightning speed and says little off the field. 

The Patriots also made some great moves on the defensive side of the ball. Stephon Gilmore, a 2016 Pro Bowler and former sprinter at the University of South Carolina, was the premier shutdown option at cornerback along with Bouye. Signing Gilmore fills the hole left by the departing Logan Ryan, and it keeps the Patriots as one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Along with the critical re-signing of All-Pro linebacker Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots continue to show why they are the best team in the league on all levels of the playing field.