I’m taking crazy pills, otherwise this NFL Free Agency nonsense is truly scripted reality television. Its just too much to be real, right? Mega deals are fueling the drama, leaving us with tons of non-football football to devour.
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After handing out franchise tags last week and opening free agency this week, the NFL offseason motors right along. Yet that’s being too kind, because this car is super expensive and hurling down the freeway at 200 miles per hour, literally hoping it smashes into things for the spectacle of it. What was once a chatty group of school girls discussing swaps of their favorite hair accessories has morphed into a full fledged wet t-shirt competition during a pep rally with the entire school in attendance. NFL Free Agency is the greatest show on earth, or something to that effect.
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Although a couple of big names still remain in limbo, we have had a slew of gargantuan transactions fueling major turnover and a new realm of crazy that most of us didn’t realize existed in the NFL. The biggest quarterback names are not all gone yet, but most have been claimed. Did anyone learn anything from last offseason and the Russell Wilson debacle? Apparently not.
NFL Free Agency Dives Head First Into Crazy
Todd Salem: No Place Like Home
I’m quite intrigued by the deals that are done, because my guy is back! Daniel Jones re-signed with the New York Giants on a huge deal. He didn’t reset the market, but he sure earned a heck of a lot of money off one solid, if unspectacular season. Let’s hope he continues to improve because even a repeat of his 2022 probably doesn’t deserve the contract he just got. The Giants are banking on an improved roster around him leading to more from Jones himself, and it’s not a bad gamble. It is a gamble though.
New Orleans signed Derek Carr, which feels like a treading water move. As does Carr’s old team moving to Jimmy Garoppolo. Is either team markedly better behind center now than they were a season ago? I don’t buy it. Perhaps even the slightest improvement at the QB position for the Saints could lead to a division title in the moribund NFC South, in which case the move is worth it. But there is still work to be done.
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We thought Carolina could be in the market for one of those veteran passers and be in the mix for that division title. Instead, the Panthers made a huge move to trade up to the number one pick in the draft and take their franchise QB of the future between any of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, or Anthony Richardson. Or, heck, maybe they love Will Levis most of all, and he goes first now. We knew someone was going to trade with Chicago for the first pick. I’m slightly surprised it ended up being Carolina. The Panthers have some really talented players, though are one fewer after sending DJ Moore to Chicago. It felt like a roster that was close if it could get a ready-made option at quarterback, a la the Jets.
New York could have tried to trade up to land one of the top prospects in the draft. Instead, the Jets went all-in on trading for Aaron Rodgers. The Panthers weren’t going to get Rodgers, but Carolina now pulls a hard reset instead, and the Jets should be a playoff contender. It is always fascinating to see how teams feel about their own situation in terms of being one piece away, on the precipice, nowhere close, etc. Carolina decided to go young, while New York pushes its chips into the pot.
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Many other big names on the market also got scooped up. Miami traded for Jalen Ramsey; San Francisco signed Javon Hargrave; Chicago added Tremaine Edmunds. The only other domino still to fall is Lamar Jackson… which could take awhile.
It feels like Baltimore is waiting for another team to settle on an acceptable contract with Jackson, only to match and bring him back. If that is not what’s happening, the Ravens really did overplay their hand. Sure, they will get first-round draft compensation if another team signs Jackson out of the non-exclusive tag, but losing a franchise quarterback is kind of the opposite of a plan. Where would this team even go from there? I feel the same about the Jets. What was the Plan B?
Dan Salem: Is This Real, Or Fantasy?
So much of this NFL Free Agency media nonsense feels totally scripted and too well planned to be organic. While not exclusively referring to the Aaron Rodgers saga, I am fully referring to the Aaron Rodgers saga. Some teams, ahem Jets, love the drama and while claiming to want none of it, consistently seek it out. Same goes for some players, ahem Aaron Rodgers. No one will debate that the New York Giants and Daniel Jones are the literal opposite of drama. Closing a deal on time speaks to this and hopefully Jones keeps his play in that “above average” range where we praise him, rather than criticize based on his paycheck. Adding Darren Waller goes a long way toward ensuring Jones remains a star.
Carr is also a no drama player, so he went about things his own way and landed on a Saints team that truly needs him… as a stopgap player for a team hitting a soft reset. That’s what amuses me most about the NFL Free Agency nonsense. We speculate that QB needy teams must want every available quarterback, yet fail to consider if they are in win-now mode or soft-reset mode. Rodgers is good enough to lead a win-now team and would never play for a soft-reset team. Carr is the opposite at this point in his career. Jimmy Garoppolo is sitting in Carr’s boat too, because of his injury history.
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Carolina chose to draft its quarterback, rather than transition with a veteran. Andy Dalton doesn’t count, because he’s simply insurance. With the right rookie quarterback, that team has enough talent to become win-now really quickly. But I agree that they were not a win-now team this coming season. Baltimore appears to be win-now, yet I’m not sure they think that of themselves. How can you improve the team, if no one is sure Jackson is the quarterback? With both sides holding out, there’s nowhere to go but down into the weeds of discontent. Considering Baltimore remains behind Cincinnati even with Jackson as their quarterback, perhaps they choose the soft reset route and let Ryan Tannehill play out the season under center.
Ironically, the Jets are both a win-now team who immediately benefits from a veteran quarterback, but also a team who can theoretically draft a rookie quarterback to lead their stacked roster. New York is young. They just added Allen Lazard to an already talented wide receiver room. Since Zach Wilson hasn’t become the talented young quarterback the Jets hoped, they simply need a new one. The Aaron Rodgers trade could all be ruse. Perhaps New York trades Rodgers to Carolina in order to move up to the first pick in the draft. Joe Douglas has yet to come out on the short end of a deal since taking over in New York, so I expect more fireworks. Since all of NFL Free Agency is a big show, I’m preparing myself for a circus sized song and dance to come.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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