Written by Jonathan Barker. Media by Ryan Dunn.
If you read my first article, you may have noticed none of my predictions came true. This is what makes NFL free agency so exciting because we never know what exactly is going to happen. So without further ado, let’s review some of the key events that have happened within the past month:
The issue of player safety is once again the news. Two young players (Jake Locker, 26 and Chris Borland, 24) retired for reasons due to injury. Although everyone knew these players had developed complications, it came as a shock to see these two players exit the league. What might be the biggest shock was the retirement of the 7-time pro bowl linebacker, Patrick Willis. At only age 30, Willis was considered by many to have plenty of football left in him (apparently not).
A few trades occurred that no one could have possibly predicted. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks.
The thought of Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Jimmy Graham all on the same offense legitimately scares me, as a Packers fan. As long as their defense stays in tact, the Seahawks will remain an elite team on both sides of the ball for the foreseeable future. Another shock was the Philadelphia Eagles trading running back LeSan McCoy for Bills’ linebacker Kiko Alonzo. This news quickly upset many Eagles’ fans after McCoy rushed for over 1,300 yards last season for Philadelphia.
But this was only the first part. Every football fan (including me) was at least mildly confused after the news broke that Eagles QB Nick Foles had been traded for former Rams QB Sam Bradford. Even though both quarterbacks are coming back from injury-plagued seasons, Bradford is a much bigger concern since his last NFL pass was thrown in 2013. As a former number one pick who has shown flashes of brilliance, I am optimistic that Bradford can make a difference for the Eagles but only if he can stay healthy. Eagles coach Chip Kelly must have some wild aspirations for the 2015 season after his off-season activity.
Free Agent Signings
The signing of league-leading rusher Demarco Murray finally calmed Eagles’ fans, while upsetting fans of division rival and Murray’s former team, the Dallas Cowboys. The 2014 Offensive Player of the Year signed a 5-year deal worth $42 Million. Note that the largest deal a running back received in Free Agency last year was Chris Johnson with 8 Million over 2 years. Quite a difference, huh? The biggest news of Free Agency was the Miami Dolphins’
signing of Ndamukong Suh. The deal was potentially worth $114 Million Dollars with $60 Million guaranteed, making Suh the highest paid defensive player in the league. Another developing story is Darrelle Revis’s return to the New York Jets. Although he was interested in returning to New England for a chance to win another Super Bowl, he chose to maximize his profits by returning to New York. Even without Rex Ryan, the Jets defense should still be taken seriously. What was most important to some teams was hanging onto their highly desired key players. The Denver Broncos placed the mandatory one-year franchise tag on Demarius Thomas cutting fellow wideout Wes Welker and allowing tight end Julius Thomas to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Green Bay Packers managed to convince
Randall Cobb to take a hometown discount, signing for a couple million less per year than other teams were offering. Although the Dallas Cowboys lost Demarco Murray, Dez Bryant will still be catching passes from Tony Romo after he was placed under the franchise tag. Overall, this was a very eventful off-season and the 2015 NFL Draft is still a few weeks away. Stay tuned for my thoughts and predictions on this year’s draft! What was most shocking transaction to you this off-season? Let me know in the comment section below!