NFL Free Agency Recap & Mock Draft

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Tom Brady is hoping to prove that he can win without New England Head Coach Bill Belichick. He will have some good help with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

It seems like all sports have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but luckily for sports fans, the NFL kept its offseason going. Due to the virus, Players were not allowed to meet with teams in person this year, and scouts were pulled off the road. During this offseason, a few big-time players switched teams and some of the all-time greats began a new legacy with new franchises. The Neerysde brings you some of the winners and losers of the free agency along with some of the big-time signings. 

QB Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The six-time Super Bowl champion signed a two-year $50 million contract fully guaranteed with the Bucs. The quarterback’s choice on where he would sign this offseason was the biggest question coming into free agency this year. Brady was on the open market for the first time in his twenty-year career, as he always took pay cuts to stay with the New England Patriots. Brady made his decision a mystery to all until he announced he would be signing with the Bucs on Friday, March 20 and free agency started on Wednesday, March 18.  He will be replacing Jameis Winston in Bruce Arian’s fast-paced, run-and-gun offense. Brady is going to be going from the slower-paced,  Patriots’ offense to the Bucs’ high-speed vertical offense. This could take Brady some time getting used to, but he has many weapons to help him. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans both ranked in the top five for receiving yards in the 2019-20 season. The Bucs also have a decent offensive line and up-and-coming running back Ronald Jones. This is a good signing for the Buccaneers as they will get a proven quarterback who does not turn the ball over much, knows how to manage the game, and will be able to mentor the younger players. This is a great spot for Brady as he is on a competing team and he can prove that he does not need Belichick to win. 

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Byron Jones will try and help the Dolphins win more games next season. He will be playing alongside star corner Xavien Howard.

CB Byron Jones to the Miami Dolphins 

Cornerback Byron Jones signed with the Miami Dolphins on a five-year, $82.5 million contracts. That includes $57 million guaranteed and $40 million over the first two seasons. Jones, the former Dallas Cowboy, is now the highest-paid cornerback of all time, and the Dolphins will have the two highest-paid cornerbacks in the league this year with Jones and Xavien Howard. Jones will be a great fit on the Dolphins as he can play both corner and safety. The 27-year-old does not get many interceptions because he plays very conservative, not taking many risks. Jones is a perfect fit alongside Pro-Bowler Howard, who likes to take risks and get interceptions. Howard made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and was Second-Team All-Pro in 2018. He struggled with injuries in 2019 which hurt his play. This is a great fit for the Dolphins as they don’t need to worry about cornerback anymore, and Jones adds much-needed star power to the rebuilding Dolphins.

DE Robert Quinn to the Chicago Bears 

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Robert Quinn will make a nasty pass rush duo with Kahlil Mack in Chicago. Hopefully he can help the Bears make the playoffs next season.

Another Dallas defector, the defensive end signed with the Bears on a $70 million dollar contract that lasts five years. While on the Cowboys a season ago, Quinn racked up 11.5 sacks. He was a dominant force off the edge as he is extremely fast. He will pair up well along with superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack. The Bears needed more pass rush on the opposite side of Mack as Leonard Floyd was not providing the defensive pressure Chicago wanted. This is a great signing for Quinn and the Bears as they both get a better chance to win a championship and compete.

LB Kyle Van Noy to the Miami Dolphins 

The former Patriots linebacker signed a four-year, $51 million contract.  He is a hybrid linebacker who can rush the passer, run stop, and play coverage. Van Noy is reuniting with his former defensive coordinator in New England, Brian Flores, now head coach of the Dolphins. Van Noy had career highs in sacks and tackles last season with the Patriots. He will provide much-needed pass-rushing help for Miami. 

Winners and Losers

So who were the biggest winners and losers? 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a great free-agent signing by snatching up Tom Brady (QB), who many consider being the GOAT (greatest of all time). The Bucs almost made it to the playoffs last year with the interception machine Jameis Winston at QB. Head Coach Bruce Arians now have himself a Hall-of-Famer under center. The Bucs also re-signed Shaq Barret (OLB), who had a great season last year, along with Ndamukong Suh (DL). Jason Pierre Paul (OLB) is also coming back to Tampa Bay. This team can look to make a deep playoff run next year. 

The Miami Dolphins also have to be on that list. This was expected as they had over 100 million dollars in cap space to work with. General Manager Chris Grier and Head Coach Brian Flores went after depth more than stars such as Shaq Lawson (OLB), Kyle Van Noy (OLB), Erik Flowers (T), and Emanual Ogbah (DL). These players will help fill out the team, but they also signed star corner Byron Jones. If they can get the right quarterback in the draft, they may be able to compete in the Tom Brady-less AFC east.  

The Chiefs also won this offseason. They won not by making many signings, but by keeping many of the players on their championship team. Over 90% of the Super Bowl team is coming back, which means they have a good chance of winning back-to-back Super Bowls. 

Some of the biggest losers in the free-agency period included the Carolina Panthers. They came into the offseason not knowing what to do with Cam Newton (QB). They ended up cutting him when they probably could have traded him for some value. They also made an awful trade as they sent  five-time Pro Bowler Trai Turner (G) to the Los Angeles Chargers for Russel Okung (T) straight up. They also lost James Bradberry (CB) and defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontarie Poe. The Panthers made one major signing which was Teddy Bridgewater (QB). Bridgewater is a decent quarterback but  is not leading a team like the Panthers to the Super Bowl anytime soon. He is turning 27 and only did great with the Saints last year because of his offensive weapons such as Micheal Thomas (WR) and Alvin Kamara (RB). The Panthers could have drafted a younger quarterback with more potential. 

The New England Patriots were also losers of the free-agency period. They, of course, lost their franchise QB for the last 20 years, currently have no bonafide replacement, and did not go aggressively after anyone else. Belichick kept some of his players but will have his hands full trying to compete next year in a suddenly very competitive AFC East. 

The Neersyde has also included a 2020 NFL mock draft of the first round:

  • Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB (LSU)

Joe Burrow had an exceptional season, winning the national championship, Heisman trophy, and having over 60 total touchdowns. The Bengals need a quarterback to jump start the rebuild, and he is the man to get the job done.

  • Washington Redskins – Chase Young,  DE (Ohio State)

For the Redskins bet player available would be the smartest choice at this point. Chase Young looks like the best pass-rushing prospect in a while. The football world saw what a player like Nick Bosa could do and that really helped Chase Youngs stock. He will fit great in any system.

  • Detroit Lions – Jeff Okudah , CB (Ohio State)

The Lions just traded away their franchise corner in Darius Slay and they were in need of another corner anyways. Okudah had a great season at Ohio State, and he will fit in great in Matt Patricia’s system. The Lions have had many thoughts of drafting a QB or trading down, but I think it is very important they keep their pick. 

  • New York Giants – Isaiah Simmons, LB (Clemson)

The Giants desperately need linebacking help. For the past couple of years (and especially last year) they had very underwhelming linebacker play. Simmons can play any position on the defensive side of the ball except defensive line, which makes him extremely versatile.  He will provide the swiss-army-knife-type player the Giants need to get the defense going. 

  • Miami Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB (Alabama)

All the moves the Dolphins have made indicate they will go with a first-round QB. Tagovailoa seems to be the best fit for the Dolphins. He is mobile, a great leader, accurate, clutch, and has a great arm. I think the best thing about him for the Dolphins is he doesn’t have to start right away and can learn from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tagovailoa has some health concerns (he dislocated his hip last year), but the Dolphins need to make the smartest pick. There have been thoughts of trading up, but it is very important the Dolphins do not. 

  • Los Angles Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB (Oregon)

The Chargers need a quarterback baldy since they let Philip Rivers walk in free agency. They are left with whomever Miami doesn’t take unless they trade up. Herbert had excellent seasons in Oregon with some so-so offenses. He is the type of quarterback the Chargers need, a guy who doesn’t get injured and has a big arm. The only problem with Hebert is that he is not much of a leader. 

  • Carolina Panthers – Derrick Brown, DT (Auburn)

The Panthers lost Dontarie Poe and Gerald McCoy this offseason, which were heavy losses for the defensive line. They need a player to try and fill the void, and Derrick Brown could be that player. He was a monster at Auburn, using his strength and size to get in the backfield. This isn’t the most flashy move, but is the needed one for the Panthers.  

  • Arizona Cardinals – Mekhi Becton, OT (Louisville)

The Cardinals got their star quarterback last year in Kyler Murray and now have a speedy receiver in Deandre Hopkins. Murray was running away from defenders last year and got sacked many times. Becton would help stop this as he has the highest ceiling of any offensive tackle in the draft. His only problem is he would probably need time to develop. The Cardinals have a tough decision between him, Tristan Wirfs, and Jedrick Wills, but Becton is the best choice for them. 

  • Jacksonville Jaguars – Henry Ruggs III, WR (Alabama)

The Jaguars had trouble with receivers this year. DJ Chark had a great season, but they didn’t really have any other stud receivers. Ruggs will fill that void and become a star for them. He has great speed – he ran a 4.27 ,and is a great route runner. Ruggs can also make some very good catches. He will provide some much-needed productivity for the Jaguars.

  • Cleveland Browns – Tristan Wirfs, OT (Iowa)

The Browns had awful tackle play last year. Even after signing Jack Conklin, they will need more help along the offensive line. Wirfs was exceptional in college and in the combine. He is a true physical specimen and will be great right away. This is exactly the pick the Browns need to begin their push toward the playoffs. 

  • New York Jets – Jedrick Wills, OT (Alabama)

The Jets had by far the worst offensive line last year. QB Sam Darnold had barely enough time to make good reads, and their running game could not get going. Wills can help with both of these problems as he provided great pass protection for the Crimson Tide. He was great athletically and can switch to both sides of the line. The Jets need to make the right pick and Wills is it. 

  • Las Vegas Raiders – CeeDee Lamb, WR (Oklahoma)

The Raiders lost Antonio Brown last season, and this cost them one of the best receiving threats in the game. They traded for Zay Jones at midseason last year, but he did not provide much production. CeeDee Lamb had one of the best seasons last year for a receiver. He is a great route runner, has steady hands, and is athletic. Lamb can have an Amari Cooper-type effect on the team if he can build some chemistry with QB Derek Carr. 

  • San Francisco 49ers (via Colts) – Jerry Jeudy, WR (Alabama)

The 49ers had a heartbreaking loss in the Super Bowl last year and then traded star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts this off-season for the 13th pick in the draft. They also lost Emmanuel Sanders to free agency and need to get another receiver to replace him. Jeudy is not the fastest or largest receiver in the draft, but he is a polished route runner and can make big plays in space. He will be the perfect fit alongside Deebo Samuel.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers – D’Andre Swift, RB (Georgia)

The Buccaneers just struck gold in getting Tom Brady. The Bucs have the receivers to help Brady, but they need a good running back. D’Andre Swift is the perfect fit for Bruce Arians’ offense. He is versatile and draws many comparisons to Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara. This may be a bit of a reach, but they need a good running back to bring them to the next level. 

  • Denver Broncos – CJ Henderson, CB (Florida)

The Broncos lost their franchise corner in Chris Harris, Jr. and need a young replacement. Henderson was exceptional at Florida last year. He was physical in coverage which made him lethal. He draws many comparisons to Desmond Trufant and will become the Bronco’s next defensive star. 

  • Atlanta Falcons – Javon Kinlaw, DT (South Carolina)

The Falcons’ defensive line play (and defensive play in general) has been very bad over the past few years. They’ve been losing many key pieces to injuries and free agency. It’s time they draft a young promising player like Kinlaw to boost the rebuild. He has a great transition between speed and strength. This is the right pick for the Falcons if they want to have a chance to complete. 

  • Dallas Cowboys – Xavier McKinney, S (Alabama)

The Cowboys lost a big part of their secondary this year in Byron Jones, who played corner and safety for them. They are still waiting for Xavier Woods to break out, and they need to pair someone alongside him. McKinney had a great season for the Crimson Tide and made some great plays. He can play free safety and allow them to move some other pieces around. This could be a tough choice for Jerry Jones, but McKinney is a good fit. 

  • Miami Dolphins (Via Steelers) – Andrew Thomas, OT (Georgia)

The Dolphins got their quarterback at five and they need to protect him. They have a big problem at tackle and addressed the guard position during free agency. Thomas was a great three-year starter for the Bulldogs. He is not flashy, strong, or scary athletic, but he is patient and has good fundamentals. Thomas is the day one starter that the Dolphins need along their line. 

  • Las Vegas Raiders (Via Chicago) – Grant Delpit, S (LSU)

The Raiders had some safety problems last year and have to match up against Hunter Henry, Noah Fant, and Travis Kelce each year. Delpit is versatile and can play in the box and in coverage. This pick allows Johnathan Abram to play in the box more next year. This would be the smart pick for the Raiders’ front office. 

  • Jacksonville Jaguars (Via Los Angles Rams) – Josh Jones, OT (Houston)

The Jaguars addressed revenue, but they also need to address the offensive line. Jones had a decent season and went under the radar until the Senior Bowl. He played great against some of the top college pass rushers in that game. 

  • Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR (LSU)

The Eagles had awful receiver play last season, mostly due to injuries, and got most of their production from their running backs and tight ends. Philly’s strategy should be to draft the top receiver available. This is one of the best receiver draft classes of all time, and in last year’s draft, Jefferson would probably be rated as the top receiver.  

  • Minnesota Vikings (Via Buffalo) – Jeff Gladney, CB (TCU)

The Vikings had anything but good corner play last year. Their star corner, Xavier Rhodes, had one of the worst seasons last year for a corner. Gladney is NFL ready and plays big even with his short stature. 

  • New England Patriots – K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB (LSU)

The Patriots lost Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy to free agency, so they need to add some pass rushers. Chaisson had a great season for the Tigers. He also fits the Bill Belichick style of defense. 

  • New Orleans Saints – Jordan Love, QB (Utah State)

Drew Brees’ time is running out, nd the Saints need to find a replacement. Taysom Hill is 30, and his time is running out, too. Love is a big, mobile playmaker at the quarterback position. If Love doesn’t get taken earlier, then he is the solution to the post-Brees era. 

  • Minnesota Vikings – A.J Epenesa, DE (Iowa)

The Vikings lost Everson Griffin this offseason and need a replacement. Epenesa is strong and quick, and uses his frame to his advantage. He would also be a perfect complement to Minnesota’s current DE Danielle Hunter. 

  • Miami Dolphins (Via Houston) – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE (Penn State)

The Dolphins could take a running back, but that position can most likely wait. Miami can still stock up on their defensive line. Gross-Matos fits the Dolphins hybrid system well. He also has a chance to learn behind Kyle Van Noy.

  • Seattle Seahawks – Jeremy Chinn, DB, Southern Illinois

The Seahawks always make weird reaches that end up working out. Jeremy Chinn would be no exception, but the Seahawks need safety help. Chin is extremely athletic and very versatile. He fits what the Seahawks need. 

  • Baltimore Ravens – Patrick Queen, MLB (LSU)

The Ravens need linebacking help ever since they lost CJ Mosley. Queen is a fast linebacker that can help fill the void. This is the perfect option for the Ravens at 28.

  • Tennessee Titans – Kristian Fulton, CB (LSU)

The Titans lost Logan Ryan during the free agency period, and they need a quick replacement. Fulton played great at Ohio State and will pair well alongside Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler. 

  • Green Bay Packers – Denzel Mims, WR (Baylor)

Even with Devin Funchess and DeVante Adams, the Packers still need wide receiver help. Mims is a speedy deep threat that Aaron Rodgers needs to succeed. He can learn a lot from Rodgers and Adams. 

  • San Francisco 49ers – Ceasar Ruiz, C (Michigan)

The 49ers have had some trouble on the offensive line over the past few years and they need to fix it. Ruiz is a big but agile center, which will allow him to flourish in the 49ers run-heavy offense. The 49ers will be tempted to go with a cornerback here, but it is very necessary to take a lineman. 

  • Kansas City Cheifs – Kenneth Murray, LB (Oklahoma)

Murray is a great run stopper that the Chiefs have been missing. He can also play some coverage, and the Chiefs have had very poor linebacker play the last few seasons.