Free Agency Winners And Losers After Day 1
Day 1 in NFL free agency has come and gone and it's time to evaluate the winners and losers.
Winners: Giants, Texans, and Raiders
The New York Giants are the clear winners of day 1 in free agency. Not only did they spend the most money, but they spent it accordingly.
The Giants couldn't stop the pass last year, so they brought in former Rams CB Janoris Jenkins. They couldn't stop the run last season, so they went and got former Jets DT Damon Harrison. They couldn't rush the passer, so they threw the checkbook at former Dolphins pass rusher Olivier Vernon. All of which help fill very important needs on this team and give defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo the players he needs to turn the Giants defense around.
What the Giants did on day one of free agency sets them up perfectly for the draft. By getting a pair of pass rushers in Vernon and Harrison, along with re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants are in a prime position to go after a linebacker in the upcoming NFL Draft. Reggie Ragland, Jaylon Smith, and Myles Jack (should he be there) will look to be the prime target now. But don't count them out of getting the best player available like they have so many times in the past.
The Giants also set themselves up pretty well for the rest of free agency as they look to build depth. Their biggest need may still be in the secondary, but don't be surprised if the Giants add depth on both sides of the ball the next month or so. With just over $26 million left to spend from their salary cap, they still have room to land another high profile player or two.
The Houston Texans had a great first day of free agency. They addressed two of their biggest needs on the offensive side of the ball by signing Brock Osweiler and former Dolphins RB Lamar Miller.
The Addition of Osweiler gives the Texans, what they believe, is a franchise quarterback. And they sure paid him like one (4-yr/$72 million). In 8 games last season, Osweiler had only one game in which he threw for more than 300 yards, and he needed 51 pass attempts to do it. Is this a gamble by the Texans? Absolutely. But it's a great gamble if you're the Texans, who have a playoff caliber team. The Texans can now consider their quarterback situation closed and focus on adding weapons around Osweiler. Which is exactly what their next move was in signing Lamar Miller.
Miller adds another weapon to that offense that they didn't have last year since Arian Foster was injured the majority of the season. Miller, who was heavily underutilized in Miami, will carry the work load on this Houston offense.
The Texans lacked a lot on the offensive side of the ball last year. Miller will now give them an elusive ball carrier that they need along with a passing option out of the backfield. If this move benefits anyone, it's prolific wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The Texans could possibly emerge as the favorites and once again claim the AFC South with the moves they've made on day one of free agency.
The Oakland Raiders had a fantastic first day of free agency as they addressed a number of needs and have set themselves up to sign a number of players in the coming days.
Kelechi Osemele was by far the biggest signing for this team. As Derek Carr gets better, it's important to keep him upright and Osemele can help do that. Osemele is a quick and nimble offensive lineman who can play both tackle and guard. Add him alongside Rodney Hudson who they signed last off-season, and this offensive line is starting to look tougher and stronger. The Osemele addition should help immensely in protecting Carr.
They also helped themselves on the opposite side of the ball as they signed former Seattle Seahawks LB/DE Bruce Irvin. Irvin will now be tandem with elite pass rusher Khalil Mack. Just this morning the Raiders finally agreed with former Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith to a 4-year/$40 million deal to solidify their secondary.
The Raiders did a fantastic job for the second straight year in free agency. They are now a real threat to win the AFC west.
Losers: Browns, Dolphins, and Broncos
Well, the Browns kept their namesake intact this off-season as they did nothing but lose players via free agency.
They lost C Alex Mack to the Atlanta Falcons, WR Travis Benjamin to the San Diego Chargers, TaShaun Gipson to the Jacksonville Jaguars and are most likely to lose Mitchell Schwartz in the coming days.
The Browns do have money to spend, but what players want to play there? Right now, not many. Don't expect the Browns to make a large splash this free agency. Their best chance to re-tool is through the draft and that starts with drafting a quarterback.
I don't know about you, but if I'm Hue Jackson, I want out of Cleveland already.
The Dolphins had a bit of an interesting off-season thus far, and you can sum it up with everything that happened in the last day.
The Dolphins biggest move was adding former Buffalo Bills DE/LB Mario Williams on a two-year/$17 million contract. Williams will replace Vernon who left for the Giants after Miami decided to pull the transition tag off of the young up-and-coming player. The Dolphins knew they couldn't match what other teams were going to give Vernon, so, by letting him go and removing the tag, the Dolphins will receive a compensatory pick in this years draft. Although they get a draft pick, the Dolphins get older in an area where they need to get younger. Cameron Wake, 34, is nearing the end of his deal and his career, and Mario Williams is in the same boat at the age of 31. Losing the 25-year-old Vernon could end up being a major hit to this defense.
Perhaps the biggest reason why the Dolphins are losers in free agency is that they lost Lamar Miller. Although they underutilized Miller, he was a valuable part of that offense. His big run capability opened up the offensive passing game, and gave QB Ryan Tannehill a little more time and confidence to throw. Losing Miller is a considerable loss for Miami.
Losing Brock Osweiler to the Houston Texans was a big blow to the Denver Broncos, but that's not the only reason why they are considered losers in free agency.
The Broncos lost a trio of key players thus far. DE/DT Malik Jackson took a mega-deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, while their best cover linebacker, Danny Trevathan agreed to a deal the the Chicago Bears, joining former Broncos head coach John Fox.
Those losses on defense are huge, but they don't compare to losing Brock Osweiler. Osweiler would've given the Broncos a decent quarterback to continue where Peyton Manning left them, but now they are in a bit of a situation. Not only do they have to replace key pieces on defense, but they have to find a quarterback. Currently their starting QB would be Trevor Siemian. If that's not enough to say they're in trouble, then there is something wrong.
There are three reasonable options where the Broncos can now look for a quarterback. Free agency is clearly one of them with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Robert Griffin III still available. Another option is trade. We've heard rumors that San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick may be available along with Cincinnati Bengals back-up A.J. McCarron, could that be an option?
The last possible way would be through the draft. Should Paxton Lynch be available in the first round, don't be surprised if the Broncos consider him heavily.
The Broncos have the possibility of going from Super Bowl champs, to missing the playoffs.
To those that say free agency means nothing, look at what the Jets and Jaguars did last season. Those two teams spent the most money out of all 32 NFL teams and they both improved their winning percentage from the previous season (Jets 4-12 to 10-6, Jaguars 3-13 to 5-11).
Who do you think will ultimately win free agency this year?