Weekly Five – Free Agency Preview, Trade Talk, NFL 2K!
This week on the Weekly Five, I’ll be previewing the chaotic week in front of us known as free agency, discussing the latest trade to go down, and going over the announcement of 2K Sports’ return to football. Enjoy!
1. Free Agency Preview – Offense
Arguably the biggest potential free agent domino in recent years is Tom Brady, with the Raiders, Titans and 49ers among potential suitors (to name a few). It’s been entertaining to watch the world overreact to every little thing involving TB12 this offseason, especially his interactions at the Syracuse-UNC basketball game. I’ve always been on the train that he’ll be back in New England, but we aren’t sure how aggressive the Pats will be in adding weapons… and that could be where the domino falls.
Prescott, Brees and Tannehill are unlikely to hit the open market… but what about Jameis Winston? It’s tough to see any other team in the league paying him what he’ll command, and yet the Bucs have made it clear they want to move on. Whether or not Jameis will accept less money (or a backup job) will be the biggest impact on his career thus far.
I’ll skim over running backs because they don’t matter and shouldn’t get paid big bucks, but Derrick Henry definitely earned his share this year. We can only hope that Tennessee is the one to bring him back, as he’s far and away best suited there. Robby Anderson is getting close to an extension and AJ Green has been tagged, leaving Amari Cooper as the main man in the WR market. Unfortunately for Dallas (and Amari), he’ll likely have to walk, and their offense could see some major regression without him opening things up for Dak. The Broncos and Bills could be teams to watch here.
Several oft-injured tight ends in Hunter Henry, Eric Ebron and Tyler Eifert lead the pack behind Austin Hooper, who is likely to get some serious cash as a result. $10 million per year is certainly in the picture. This is also a stellar offensive line class, with Jack Conklin and Brian Bulaga being among the top names; we’ll see if the DJ Humphries extension resets the market.
2. Free Agency Preview – Defense
With the Jags tagging Yannick Ngakoue, things become real interesting in the edge rusher market. Unless he’s traded, Jadeveon Clowney becomes the hot name and will be the one to reset the market. After being traded to Seattle, it’s difficult to see them letting him walk so soon after, especially after the run they made this season… but perhaps they look to go in a different direction. Guys like Shaq Barrett and Bud Dupree had fun rebound seasons and are more pure pass rushers, but could potentially be buyer beware. The edge market is thin which could result in huge deals for them, but after just one season of quality production from both, their worth is yet to be determined.
Chris Jones may also find a new home with big contracts looming for KC. Talks between Leonard Williams and the Giants have made for a very interesting IDL market. Gerald McCoy and Shelby Harris are solid contributors as well. Cory Littleton leads a pretty shallow linebacker class, but vets like Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Danny Trevathan still provide solid production.
Byron Jones is the leader of the pack in the secondary; another top name who could fall victim to Jerry Jones’ antics. There will be a large market for both him and Chris Harris Jr, whose future in Denver looks bleak. Speaking of the Broncos, Justin Simmons is a free agent as well, and as a fan, I sincerely hope he’s back. It’s not often you let an All-Pro caliber safety walk free.
3. Offensive Line Shakeup
The Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers swapped offensive linemen recently in a head-scratching move for one side. The Chargers added guard Trai Turner in a straight swap for tackle Russell Okung. This is an interesting directional move for the Panthers. If they’re committing to a rebuild, why give up your 27 year old stud right guard in the prime of his career, for a 31 year old Okung coming off an injury and blood clot-riddled campaign, who will likely only last one season on the team?
They’re both on equally big deals, so financially it isn’t lopsided, but this is a steal for LA pretty clearly. They’ll be able to grab one of the top four tackles with the seventh pick… while Carolina continues to suffer for draft capital. It’s surely only a matter of time before Cam and/or CMC exit Charlotte.
4. Josh Norman’s New Home
Speaking of former Panthers, cornerback Josh Norman found his latest home with the Buffalo Bills, signing a one year deal worth up to $8 million. He was among the worst-rated corners in the league among those who qualified in 2019, but hey… Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane.
We’ll see how long Norman lasts there, but the Bills have had a need opposite Tre’ White, with Levi Wallace being up and down last season. Norman provides another veteran presence to a fun Bills defense that lost Lorenzo Alexander to retirement. I still like the options available at EDGE with the Buffalo’s first round pick to continue to fill out this dominant unit.
5. The Return of NFL 2K?
On Tuesday, 2K Sports announced it was beginning development on “non-simulation football video games”, the first of which to be released in 2021. As a fan of NBA 2K and the immersion it brings, I’m thrilled that the company is rejoining the ring, although as a simulation sports fan the “non-sim” part was a bit of a letdown. After all, we know and love the franchise and career modes from NFL 2K5, but it seems we won’t be getting any more Chris Berman breakdowns this time.
I’d expect more of an NFL Blitz/NBA Jam type deal, which is fun but not a true competition for Madden. We’ll all still play the crap out of whatever 2K gives us, let’s be honest.