The first week of NFL free agency has come and gone. Big names moved to different places, changing the landscape of the NFL drastically. Multiple teams made moves necessary to make themselves better. Here are all the teams who got better the most.
Offense, offense, offense. Watching the Bears offense last year was a nightmare, slowing down the development of franchise QB Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky played very well considering the lack of weapons available to him, so the Bears came into this offseason prioritizing offense. They awarded talented, yet injured WR Allen Robinson with a three-year deal (possibly after seeing former WR Alshon Jeffrey being successful after signing with the Eagles) and also acquired versatile TE Trey Burton. He was the one who threw the touchdown pass to Nick Foles in Super Bowl 52 in the famous “Philly Special”. Having those two around should make Trubisky quite happy on Sundays. Also, don’t discredit the firing of John Fox and arrival of Matt Nagy at HC. I think Fox’s old-school type of coaching doesn’t fit where the NFL is going. Think of it like the transition the Rams went through after firing Jeff Fisher and moving to Sean McVay.
The Browns, who have been the laughingstock of the league for what feels like eternity, made a flurry of moves to make them better next year. Big time additions (that weren’t expected) like Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, and Demarious Randall make this team better without even stepping onto the field. Landry provides another weapon behind Josh Gordon, Taylor is an immediate upgrade to anything the Browns have thrown out there at QB the past 20 years and will serve as a bridge to whoever the Browns feel is there QB of the future, and Randall improves the depth in the secondary significantly. The Browns also did a significant job of bringing in depth players as well. Carlos Hyde will be a nice change-of-pace back to pair with pass-catcher Duke Johnson. Pair those additions with the incoming arrivals of a franchise QB and possibly the best prospect in the draft, and the Browns can really make some unexpected noise this season.
San Francisco 49ers
Keeping franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the fold with a lucrative contract extension was huge. This allowed the 49ers to focus on adding pieces around him to make him a better player. They were able to do that by making multiple moves. Prying Richard Sherman from the division rival Seattle Seahawks will help shore up a defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in DVOA. Once he recovers from his Achilles injury, he should take back his spot among the NFL’s elite CB’s. Weston Richburg, the most highly regarded C in free agency should help to shore up the OL, though I feel some more work could be done by GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan in the later waves of FA and the draft. Also, RB Jerick McKinnon provides a dual-threat option in the backfield was the surprise of free agency how he was one of the most sought after players on the open market. I consider him to be a Swiss-army knife that will be used very creatively in Shanahan’s offense.
Say what you want about Kirk Cousins, but I think he is a better option at QB than anybody the Vikings had on their roster a season ago. Case Keenum was a product of the system, if Teddy Bridgewater was to come back it would be too late for any contention with the roster they have, and Sam Bradford is Sam Bradford. Cousins gives the Vikings the best chance to win right now. He’s thrown for 4,000 yards and 20 TD’s in each of the last three seasons in an offense that was awful and a defense that was too inconsistent. The Vikings give Cousins more options than he’s ever had before in Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook (post-injury). The defense Minnesota boasts is also far superior to that of the Redskins. The addition of Sheldon Richardson to the defense makes the Vikings D-Line one of the best in the NFL. The Vikings got much better here.
New York Jets
Not landing Kirk Cousins was quite possibly the best move to happen in franchise history. The Jets bounced back in a big way. They went to plan B for the QB, giving Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater one-year deals, immediately making it one of the steadiest positions on the team. After adding the two, they then secured the option of one of the top three QB’s in the draft by trading up to the #3 pick in the NFL draft (boxing out the Buffalo Bills from jumping ahead of them). So in this scenario they get their future QB, a leader to support and teach him, and possibly a lottery ticket if Bridgewater can come back and play the way he did pre-injury. They then used the money to shore up the many holes of the team in Trumaine Johnson, Avery Williamson, Isaiah Crowell, and Spencer Long. They also brought back underrated CB Morris Claiborne. All should fit in very nicely and round out many of the holes this team had. This team has gotten drastically better in free agency.