NFL free agency is like no other; it’s like those few days before Christmas when you’re excited and don’t know what to expect. This year, free agency is set to be a wild period with some savvy veterans hitting the market and teams that are on the cusp of contention undoubtedly ready to pounce to land their next superstar. There are probably over fifty moves that could classify as a shake up (I’m exaggerating, but you get the point) but there are ten moves I think could happen that would really shake up the impact. Let’s take a look.
- DeSean Jackson signs with the Patriots
Why oh why would the Patriots want to add a wide receiver to a group that is already extremely consistent and productive? Because the Patriots signing Jackson would give them an established deep threat that would really open up the passing game for Tom Brady. The Patriots have to know that tight end Rob Gronkowski’s health is always in question, so alleviating the pressure from him on offense would to a ton for him in terms of durability. Jackson would join a group that has Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell and possibly Michael Floyd (if the Pats resign him) If New England wants to really open up their offense, Jackson would be the guy to do it.
2. Eagles trade for Brandin Cooks
There have been rumors circulating for the past few days now about the availability of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks will be entering his 4th year in the league and will be turning 24 in the start of the season. So why would the Saints make him available? Over the course of the season, Cooks displayed frustration with his role in the Saints offense. Cooks is a speedy, dynamic playmaker who could virtually help any offense, but when you look at what the Eagles have at wide receiver, Cooks would be far and away the best on the team and would immediately help the core around Carson Wentz. General manager Howie Roseman knows a move needs to be made to get Carson Wentz playmakers and with the Eagles being strapped on salary cap space, Cooks would come cheap in the money department. It gets tricky with what the Eagles would have to give up. Over the weekend the Patriots apparently offered their 1st rounder in a deal, the Saints declined wanting more out of it. Currently, the Eagles have the 14th pick in the draft and with them needing to add to a wide receiver, they would be essentially “drafting” Cooks if they dealt the pick and a player or two in the deal. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as many teams are in on Cooks and Howie Roseman being known for wheeling and dealing.
3. Brandon Marshall signs with the Giants
Brandon Marshall, at 32, is still one of the best wide receivers in the game. Don’t let last year’s stats fool you; the Jets had horrible quarterback play and an injury plagued season. Marshall was granted his release and is now seeking a new home. Marshall currently runs a talk show in New York and has said he does not want to relocate his family further from the New York area, so logically, the Giants become prime candidate number one for his services. I believe the Giants should spend their free agency cash and draft picks in upgrading their offensive line, but if they were to land Marshall it would make their offense almost unstoppable. A wide receiver trio of Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepherd would cause nightmares for opposing defenses. The Giants could still add to the line in the draft, but adding Marshall seems like a no brainer to me if they get him at a reasonable price.
4. The Browns trade for Jimmy Garoppolo
The Patriots have made it known Jimmy Garoppolo is not available for a trade. I don’t buy it. That’s Bill Belichick’s way of driving up the price for the young signal caller, who was very impressive in two and a half games (injured in week 3) while Tom Brady served suspension. The Browns have a ton of assets at the moment and with this team not having been able to draft a quality quarterback in the last twenty some years, Garoppolo could be the one to finally fix that headache. Head coach Hue Jackson is very polished in grooming young quarterbacks. The Browns have the number one pick and, I assume, would take defensive end Myles Garrett to solidify their pass rush. They could easily deal the 12th pick, thanks to the Eagles trade a year ago, to land Garoppolo and use the rest of the draft to build around him.
5. Mike Glennon lands in Chicago
The Bears have finally moved on from Jay Cutler. Cutler was owed a lot of money and has been below average at best. The Bears actually have a nice, up-and-coming defense, with some solid offensive pieces, but their quarterback position needs to be answered. Of course, with the 3rd pick in the draft, the Bears could look at DeShaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky, but adding Glennon for a mid round pick could be just as effective. Glennon is a big quarterback at 6’6″ 232 and has a solid arm. With Glennon, the Bears could use the 3rd pick in the draft to either add a pass rusher or safety and continue building their defense. There is also the idea that if they were to lose Alshon Jeffery, they could shock everyone and grab John Ross, Corey Davis or Mike Williams at number 3 and give Glennon a young receiver to blossom with.
6. Sheldon Richardson traded to the Titans
This one comes out of left field in sorts, but hear me out. The Titans have a ton of draft capital and their offense was very impressive a year ago with Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray and their young offensive line leading the way. The Titans need a receiver for Mariota, but their defense is really one, to two stars away from really making noise. Adding Sheldon Richardson, a strong and solid pass rusher to pair with Jurrell Casey for maybe a 3rd or 4th round pick as the Jets aim to shed salary and rebuild, would be the kind of move to put the Titans defense over. Factor in too that they have two first round picks where they could likely add a safety, corner and/or wide receiver and you’re looking at a Titans team that could push for the AFC South title in 2017 and beyond.
7. The 49ers trade for Kirk Cousins
New head coach Kyle Shanahan and new general manager John Lynch are taking over a 49ers team that, I believe, has some decent talent and are in good hands. Shanahan is the person behind Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense having a huge resurgence in 2016 in their run to the Super Bowl. With the Niners having the 2nd pick in the draft, they could look at quarterback, or they could use it to continue to add to their defense. I like the latter of the ideas better. A trade for Kirk Cousins would cost the Niners, but Cousins has the potential to flourish in Shanahan’s offense. This would be a fantastic move for San Fran to solidify the quarterback position with a solid veteran, while using their astronomical amount of cap space and draft picks to add ammunition to their offense and defense.
8. Dont’a Hightower signs with the Lions
Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots All-Star middle linebacker, has elected to test free agency and this could be one of the players on this list who could make an immediate impact. This is one of the first Hightower rumors out there and only speculation, but when you think about it, it makes sense. The Lions offense has been quite impressive with offensive coordinator Jim-Bob Cooter orchestrating a much more consistent attack with Matthew Stafford and company. Stafford was actually having an MVP caliber season this year, but his defense was up and down all year. The Lions have Ezekiel Ansah at pass rusher and Darius Slay Jr. at corner, both really effective players, however, adding someone like Hightower could really put the Lions defense in elite category. Former Patriots personnel man Bob Quinn, who is in Detroit, could play a factor in getting Hightower to join a young defense. I would love to see this move come to fruition as it would really give the Lions another dynamic playmaker on defense.
9. Adrian Peterson signs with the Cowboys
It’s not because I’m an Eagles fan and hate the Cowboys that I’m saying this, but this move does not make sense to me, however, it’s the Cowboys and they’re committed to spending to improve. With Ezekiel Elliot blowing the league up with an impressive rookie campaign, adding someone like Peterson might seem like a head scratcher, but when you think of Jerry Jones and his willingness to spend, it actually does make sense. Peterson played college ball at Oklahoma and he could play in a lesser role (seeing as he’s recovering from an ACL tear) in a backfield that would be sure to put up monster numbers. The Cowboys seem committed to having a strong run game to protect quarterback Dak Prescott and this move would almost make Dallas’ run game one of the best in history. There are plenty of other teams that could be in on Peterson, but if Jerry Jones wants a guy, Jerry Jones gets that guy.
10. Josh Gordon’s reinstatement is granted, and he signs with the Cardinals
This one is pure speculation, but Gordon filed for reinstatement with the league about a week ago. Josh Gordon, when he came into the league, had an immense amount of talent. He’ll only be 26 and with him battling marijuana use, he has not played since 2014. The Browns seem ready to move on from him so it makes the former stud receiver a possibility for really any of the other 31 teams. If Gordon is truly ready to make a return, the Cardinals make the most sense. He would join a team with Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, David Johnson, Chandler Jones, Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson; a very strong nucleus. Where I see this being effective is the fact that Fitzgerald could take Gordon under his wing for a year and watch over him and mentor him. Fitzgerald is an amazing leader on and off the field and for someone like Josh Gordon, he could use a teammate and environment like that. If Gordon found that 2013 and 2014 form, it would make the Cardinals passing attack absolutely lethal.
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