Free agents in the NFL and the upcoming season



Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins carries the ball on a play.

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

Amid March Madness and baseball spring training, the NFL has been shaken up by the opening of the free agency. Last season in the NFL, we saw a team that did not win a single game, and a backup quarterback hold up the Lombardi trophy after beating one of the most dominant sports franchise in the past 20 years, the New England Patriots. So now the question is who will compete, and who will not?

Starting off with the worst team in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns have only won one game in the past two years and are looking to turn things around this year. Instead of just free agents, the Browns made multiple trades to bolster their roster in hopes of creating a team worthy of competing in the NFL.

They are focused on looking for high potential offensive weapons and experience on defense. First was acquiring the speedy wide-out Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins. Landry led the NFL in receptions last year with 112 and has eclipsed over 1,000 reception yards twice before. The 25-year-old has impressive stats and will also add explosiveness and speed to widen out the core that already contains the speedy Josh Gordon.

Then, the Browns continued looking to the sky to find a quarterback that will help the team add depth and skill to a position it has lacked in many years. The Browns have had over 27 starting quarterbacks in just 18 years, and what might be number 28 next season in Tyrod Taylor. The young quarterback comes from the Buffalo Bills who have not had flashy numbers with only 2,799 yards and 14 TD, but only four interceptions. The 28-year-old quarterback has much to improve upon, but still has starting quarterback capability, and can help the Browns turn around their failing team.

Finally, on offense, the Browns acquired RB Carlos Hyde from the San Francisco 49’ers. Hyde has shown talent in San Francisco. He has not put up all-star numbers, but averages 4.2 yards per carry. In the AFC North, the consistent running back numbers are important in getting wins. The Browns put in an offensive push to gain talent and succeeded.

On defense, they added a second-tier defensive back from Oakland named T.J. Carrie, Chris Smith an average defensive lineman and Chris Hubbard a strong offensive lineman. This team already made waves in free agency with nine picks in the upcoming draft and five picks in the first two rounds, they look to come out strong, young and aggressive and just maybe have a winning season.

Moving from the worst to the best, the NFC and AFC champions have not dropped a level in free agency. First, the New England Patriots have added talent to a roster that had super bowl winning talent already. After losing Dion Lewis, they added Jeremy Hill, who has had success in Cincinnati but was replaced by younger talent. They added pass rusher Adrian Clayborn from Atlanta, which will help them increase their chances of making it to the super bowl.

Meanwhile, the Eagles added defensive line talent and look to hold up the Lombardi trophy once more. Another improving competitive team is Minnesota, who added Kirk Cousins to a team that almost made it to the NFC championship game. Teams at the top look to compete once more and remain the best in the league.

Of course in free agency there are teams that have inspired new hope to their organization, but there are those that seem to have failed and must hit the reset button and look to rebuild and endure a bad season. The Indianapolis Colts had a lot of cap space to spend on free agency, but instead decided to wait and look for a different season to try and compete. This would mean that Jim Irsay is looking at the draft in order to find talent. The Baltimore Ravens have not acquired big name talent that will be needed to compete in the AFC North and thePittsburgh Steelers.

The Dolphins are a team that due to bad signings, had to release more players than they could acquire. Jarvis Landry, Ndamukong Suh and more were added to the free agency. While other teams have added talent, these teams are looking worse and are looking to rebuild after this year.

The NFL has a new wave of energy as the Browns, Bears, Chargers, Broncos and others are at the struggling top of the field, where as teams like Seattle, Green Bay and others have struggled in this offseason. No one knows where this season will go, but one thing is for sure and that’s new faces will rise, and some leaders will fall.