NFL free agent frenzy: Buying the necessities

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A new quarterback can quickly change the direction of a franchise, for better or for worse. This year, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers will be putting on a different uniform for the first time in their careers.

Tom Brady is headed to Tampa Bay to join Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers offense. Brady is accustomed to tailoring his game to the weapons around him. I expect more of the same with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. I predict that Brady will leave it all on the field one last time and throws for about 4,500 yards and better than 35 touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Bucs finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs.

Philip Rivers is the guy who worked for too long at his job and got way too comfortable. With a fresh start in Indy, he’ll be able to make one last push for that elusive Lombardi Trophy. The Colts also traded their first-round pick for star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to bolster their stout defense, and that will help Rivers win more close games than usual. Colts finish 10-6 and compete for a wildcard slot.

There are a couple more noteworthy signings. Teddy Bridgewater landed a starting gig in Carolina. Case Keenum goes to Cleveland and Marcus Mariota goes to Las Vegas. The last two are expected to be the backup, but don’t be surprised to see either of them on the field at some point next season. Ryan Tannehill, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott, the other big names on the market, stayed put.

Jameis Winston, Cam Newton and Joe Flacco are currently free agents. Winston’s ways would fit well in Pittsburgh. Newton may link up with his old head coach, Ron Rivera, and play for the Redskins. I like Flacco in Philly — Wentz is made of glass and Flacco would keep them competitive if Wentz went down.


Offseason winners

The Dolphins have been busy. They’ve added three key pieces to their defense by signing cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive end Shaq Lawson. They also added running back Jordan Howard and offensive tackle Ereck Flowers to stabilize their putrid run game — Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Dolphins in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns last season. Miami’s additions will help tremendously. Brian Flores and the Dolphins surprise some teams and finish 7-9.

Jerry Jones has his Cowboys locked and loaded once again. After signing Prescott and Amari Cooper again, he got busy with the defense. New signings Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe will anchor the defensive line. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will reunite with his old coach, Mike McCarthy, to solidify Dallas’ secondary, where he will provide much needed leadership and playmaking. The Cowboys also signed Greg Zuerlein, a.k.a “legatron”. Zuerlein is an elite kicker that can hit from 50 with ease. Cowboys improve to 10-6 in 2020.

A couple of playoff teams made improvements as well. The Saints finally signed a stud wide receiver to play opposite of Michael Thomas in Emmanuel Sanders — who should eat in this air-raid offense. The Eagles patched up their swiss cheese secondary by adding two cornerbacks, Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Doug Pederson will have the Eagles back in the playoffs.


Offseason Losers

There were a couple of signings that had fans wrinkling their eyebrows. As the fourth-best option on the Browns’ offense, Austin Hooper doesn’t deserve to be the highest-paid tight end. Also, the Broncos’ signing of running back Melvin Gordon was puzzling. They already have a crowded backfield with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. The Rams have had a disappointing offseason thus far. They failed to address their offensive line needs and released Todd Gurley. Suddenly, the Rams’ Super Bowl appearance in 2019 feels like a distant memory.

Edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney and running back Devonta Freeman are a couple of yet unsigned free agents to keep an eye on. Tennessee could be an ideal landing spot for Clowney. His swagger and play style fits Mike Vrabel’s team perfectly. I would love to see Freeman sign with Tampa Bay. His ability to run and catch would compliment Brady. Both of them are still impact players.

I haven’t been this excited for an NFL season in a long time. Let the revenge games begin!

Nico Alba covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].