With the first round of the NFL’s free agency in the bag, each team has a fairly good grasp of how their roster will shape up next season.
I think most people would agree that it has been one of the most exhilarating NFL free agencies in recent memory with some incredible moves by big names.
Some teams had cash to burn and others struggled to retain key talent and it’s fair to say that many teams look drastically different to how they did last season.
With this in mind, the upcoming season could prove to be incredibly unpredictable and one of the most exciting seasons we’ve seen in decades.
Here’s who we think performed best in this free agency period…
New Orleans Saints Free Agency
While drama surrounded where Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would land, the Saints ensured no such thing took place in New Orleans and resigned Drew Brees on a two-year $50 million contract.
The Saints also retained defensive tackle David Onyemata and, at secondary, former Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins signed a four-year $32 million contract.
While they let quarterback Teddy Bridgewater walk, they have thrown their commitment behind 29-year-old Taysom Hill as Brees’ successor by slapping a first-round tender on the restricted free agent.
Let’s not forget the Saints also added some veteran playoff experience in wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders who is fresh off a Super Bowl appearance and should make a valuable and reliable target for Brees.
With Brees at the helm, the Saints are sure to make a playoff appearance and they have used their free agency to firm up their position as a Super Bowl contender once more.
Buffalo Bills Free Agency
The Bills put in a promising performance last season, challenging a lacklustre New England Patriots for the AFC East crown.
As Josh Allen settled into his quarterback role in his second year, the Bills had a top ten defence which proved problematic for opponents.
With Tom Brady’s departure, the AFC East is now wide open and as such, how the Bills moved in free agency was pretty telling.
The Bills made sure to strengthen their defence into a potentially elite unit by signing former All-Pro CB Josh Norman and veteran pass rusher Mario Addison.
By adding a star wide-receiver in Stefon Diggs, Josh Allen should be filled with confidence as he now has a genuinely elite target who enables him to improve on his performance last year.
Look for the Bills to build on their playoff appearance of last season.
Miami Dolphins Free Agency
The Bills aren’t the only ones with their eye on the AFC East crown this season.
A former defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl winning New England Patriots, Brian Flores has committed heavily to improving the Dolphins defence this off-season.
By signing Patriot linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who is coming off a season best 6.5 sacks, and additional pass rushers in the form of Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson, Miami’s defensive line is looking impressive.
This investment should help them apply pressure to opponents’ quarterbacks which was one of their biggest weaknesses last season.
In the secondary, they splashed out on 27-year-old Byron Jones at corner to improve their pass defence which they could afford to do as they had the most cash to spend in the league.
Jones signed a contract worth $82.5 million over five years while Ereck Flowers also fetched a nice price, penning a three-year $30 million contract.
Another Patriot reuniting with Flores is centre Ted Karras on a one-year contract.
Aside from running back Jordan Howard, the offence remains largely unchanged but let’s not forget the Dolphins still have three first-round draft picks to help on that front.
Cleveland Browns Free Agency
One of the biggest headlines this NFL offseason has been the landing spot of tight end Austin Hooper.
The Browns didn’t hesitate to make Hooper the highest paid tight end in the NFL with a four-year $44 million contract.
Hooper will be another weapon in Baker Mayfield’s arsenal and, even though it’s a high price to pay, he should drastically improve their passing game.
But the Browns didn’t just add a star tight end – they added the most players of any team in the league.
Most importantly, they added depth to seven different positions, giving Cleveland some injections of talent and experience in areas that needed it.
The Browns firmed up their offensive line by signing offensive tackle Jack Conklin, who was the best on the market, to a three-year $42 million contract ensuring Mayfield has the time to throw to his new weapon.
By adding veteran backup Case Keenum, they’ve also shored up the quarterback room and Keenum could give Mayfield some much-needed guidance.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agency
By acquiring Tom Brady, arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time with six Super Bowl rings and two decades under his belt, the Bucs undoubtedly win free agency.
Even if you think Brady may have past his best and even if he doesn’t match Jameis Winston’s 30 touchdowns, you can guarantee he won’t throw 33 interceptions.
And it’s not just his skill, it’s what signing a quarterback with that legacy means – it automatically attracts more talent and injects confidence into the locker room.
Signing Tom Brady on a two-year $50 million deal could prove to be a game-changer for the Bucs and the entire league and its fandom are dying to see what happens next year.
Even without any other impressive signings, just the fact they’ve nabbed Brady who will have targets including Mike Evans and Chris Godwin makes this deal the most impressive this offseason.
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