Free Agency roundup
With the draft around 6 weeks away and most of the big names off the board in Free Agency, its a good time assess what teams have done and how that could affect them going into the draft.
Lets start at the QB position, where Kirk Cousins was the king piece in the free agency class. He wasn’t the first domino to fall in this position.
The signing that started all of the merry go round was Alex Smith to the Redskins. This made it obvious that Kirk Cousins was going to be finding a new home. Whilst I have nothing against Alex Smith, who was arguably one of the best performers last year at the position, he just doesn’t excite me. Nor will he excite the Redskins fans.
The Cleveland Browns went and traded for Tyrod Taylor from the Bills, who will come in straight away for at least one season, maybe 2 and install stability and less volatility that the previous god knows how many quarterbacks have done since RGIII went down way back in the stone age. The Browns gave up the first pick in the 3rd round and whilst many think that is quite an expensive price for Tyrod, they had the multitude of picks in this years draft anyway and i guarantee you if they only had 1 pick in each round, they would not have parted with pick 65 this year (DeShone Kizer went out the door to Green Bay, for what it’s worth).
Denver made their move fairly early on, and probably had to once they figured out that they were not going to be able to prize Kirk Cousins to them. They signed Case Keenum to a 2 year deal and will be interesting to see if he continues his good form from last year with the Vikings.
Talking of the Vikings, they got their man Kirk Cousins on a big whopper of a deal, more of which can be found here. Trevor Siemian was also brought in as a backup.
They continued the clearout with Teddy Bridgewater moving to the Jets and more surprisingly, Sam Bradford getting $20m for a one year deal with the Arizona Cardinals…
Let that sink in, $20m for a quarterback who played 1 full game last year and only has a full few seasons to his name, with his last being 2012 (did play 15 games in 2016). This guy, whilst i am not doubting he has the talent to be a starting NFL quarterback, just does not stay healthy. Arizona is probably one of the worst places for him to go behind an offensive line that gave up tied 3rd most sacks last year with 52. Bradford is going to get annihilated behind that line so Arizona also took to bringing in Mike Glennon on a 2 year deal.
Other QBs that moved home this free agency was AJ McCarron to the Bills, Chase Daniel moving to the Bears, Chad Henne to the Chiefs, Tom Savage to the Saints. There were a few QBs who resigned with their teams from last year;
Drew Brees resigned with the Saints and Josh McCown resigned with the Jets.
With the Jets just paying a kings ransom for trading up to #3, they are seemingly taking a Quarterback after missing out on Kirk Cousins with that pick. The wider picture though, its looking like a very good situation for the Browns, who could and probably will take a QB at #1, will still get the best non-QB player at #4. You could certainly see the first 3 picks all go at the QB position, with the Giants the only ones possibly either taking Quenton Nelson or a defensive player, or potentially trading with the Bills (apparently they want a hell of a lot to trade back from 2). Even if they traded with the Bills at 2, this puts the Browns in a great spot whatever happens.
Let’s look at the Browns in more detail;
In Free Agency, as well as Tyrod for a 3rd round pick, they added Jarvis Landry to an overpriced deal, added Carlos Hyde to the backfield (waving Isiah Crowell goodbye to the Jets) and added a few more pieces on defence and Chris Hubbard to the Offensive Line. They have 2 1st round picks (#1,#4) and 3 2nd round picks (#33,#35,#64)
They already have a good offensive line, a decent defence and it wouldn’t surprise me to not take Saquon Barkley and instead, if available, picking Chubb at #4 to partner Myles Garrett.
Buffalo were another team who have traded up in the draft (to #12) and are rumoured to trade up even higher, but with the Browns, Jets taking a QB, Giants unlikely to trade back unless you pay big time, they may also have to ask the Colts for a trade to get a shot at one of the main 4 QBs in this years first round.
It’s anyone’s guess which QB goes where in the draft, but Sam Darnold is my idea of the Browns #1 pick this year. Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield will all go in the top 10 for sure and you could probably see as many as 6 or 7 QBs go in the first round with Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph all looking for a 1st round draft pick.
Of all the QBs that moved (or re-signed) in this free agency, I think the best deal that was made were the Saints re-signing Brees to relatively low deal considering the pedigree, but he could hit a wall with no warning. Luckily they were a more run centric offence last year and let’s not forget, the Saints were 1 tackle from the Championship game.
I think we can only judge the Kirk Cousins move when we have hindsight on our side. That said, anything but at least 1 SuperBowl appearance in the 3 year contract window for the signalman will be deemed a failure.
From a Fantasy Football perspective, not too much has changed at the QB position. Kirk Cousins will probably go too high in drafts due to the coverage he has received this offseason. Tyrod Taylor will continue to be people’s deep sleeper/streamer candidate, as will Case Keenum, who could be sneakily good in Denver if the OL plays better and Elway gives him a full season. I think the ripple of effect will be more telling rather than the QBs themselves. I will cover this more in the Free Agency – WR review shortly but (spoiler alert!) you’d expect Denver’s WR or Thomas and Sanders to improve on last year with Keenum there and not the pile of garbage they had last year. I would expect Jarvis Landry to be a bit of a bust this year with Tyrod at the helm and going from being funnelled targets to being in a time share with Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman and David NJoku in a team where they don’t really throw the ball to start with.