The sports world is at a pause right now but not even the coronavirus can stop or even just slow down the NFL’s free agency period.
The NFL’s 2020 Free Agency officially started at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday although those who are familiar with the league know that as early as Monday, deals have already been agreed upon. Here’s we’ll take a look at the best moves-signings or trade, that have been agreed upon so far.
Out criteria here include trade value, financial value, team needs, and potential impact of the move. As we write this, I’m sure there are more moves that will be made or those that have already been made but as of March 19, 2020, these are the best free agency moves we’ve seen so far in the NFL:
1. Cardinals Acquire DeAndre Hopkins
The Houston Texans traded star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins plus a fourth-round draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson and a second-round pick. This is a huge steal for the Cardinals because not only are they getting an elite receiver to pair with Kyler Murray but they are dumping Johnson’s contract which has $16.2 in dead money.
Hopkins is one of the best wide receivers in the business. He is coming off three 1000-yard seasons, four Pro-Bowls, and three All-Pro appearances.
The Cardinals have an exciting quarterback in Kyler Murray and they have an offensive genius on the sidelines with Kliff Kingsbury. Hopkins still has three years left in his contract and two years before he can renegotiate. Damn, I think this is one of the more lopsided deals ever.
This is a clear winning move for Arizona because, in essence, they got one of the best offensive players in the game for a second-round pick. Not only that, but they also shed one of the worst running back contracts in the league and with Kenyan Drake placing the transition tag on Kenyan Drake, this is the best move we’ve seen so far in the free agency period. Arizona didn’t just save money, they took one step forward in 2020.
2. Saint Keep Drew Brees
Why fix something when it ain’t broke? That’s what the New Orleans Saints had in mind when they re-signed Drew Brees to a two-year deal worth $50M. Getting Brees at $25M was a bargain for the Saints because that’s way below his market value given that Ryan Tannehill signed a four-year $118M deal with the Tennessee Titans. With Brees back, the Titans are assured of continuity, something that the Patriots and Chargers can’t.
While it’s true that the last time Brees led the Saints to a Super Bowl title was 10 years ago, they have always been in the mix and that is evidenced by last season’s playoff run. With Brees back, their Super Bowl window remains open this season and despite missing five games due to injury last season, Brees is coming off a terrific year.
Signing Brees was also the right move for the Saints because he carried a $15.9M cap hit even if he didn’t play.
Getting him for $25M per annum gives New Orleans the financial flexibility as well. His age is a concern but this is just a two-year deal and I think he still has more than enough to play out this new deal. Brees’ return also gives the Saints the time to pick his replacement once he is ready tor retire.
3. Bucs Sign Tom Brady
There were rumors that Tom Brady would be leaving New England but only a handful believed that it would turn to reality. However, when Brady announced on social media that he was parting ways with the Patriots, everyone wondered where he would be going. And then we learned that TB was going to TB or Tom Brady to Tampa Bay for a one-year deal worth $30M.
TB ✖️ TB pic.twitter.com/oyzSdNn1ZE
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) March 20, 2020
The 20-year veteran is a six-time Super Bowl winner and has played in a record of nine Super Bowls. Brady is a three-time NFL MVP and three-time Super Bowl MVP and owns around 50 records in the league, including most wins by a quarterback at 219 and most playoff games won by a quarterback at 30. With his resume, the Bucs are getting not just a winner here but the winningest quarterback ever.
Although age is a factor and Brady is coming off a disappointing finish to the previous season, the Patriots had a very good start to their 2019 season and Brady didn’t look his age until he started to get hurt. Tampa Bay has the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard, weapons he didn’t have in New England last season. I think they are instant playoff contenders this season.
4. Carolina Inks Terry Bridgewater
The Carolina Panthers may be moving on from Cam Newton as they are signing Terry Bridgewater to a three-year deal worth a reported $63M. Bridgewater started his career with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 and became a Pro-Bowl selection in his second season. Injuries have prevented Bridgewater’s career from taking off and he has spent the previous two seasons backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans.
But when Brees got hurt in the middle of last season, Bridgewater filled the void and helped the Saints go 5-0 in five starts. In a total of nine appearances last season, Bridgewater passed for 1,384 yards with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions while completing 67.9% of his passes.
He will replace Newton who had an injury-riddled season last year and who the team said was given permission to seek for trade ( but which Newton denied on social media ).
Newton played just two games last season and back-up Kyle Allen did a decent job filling his shoes although Allen and the Panthers collapsed in the second half of the season. Signing Bridgewater to a three-year deal makes sense for the Panthers. The 27-year old is healthy and he has played under Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady who was with the Saints when Bridgewater arrived there in 2018.
5. Colts Get Philip Rivers
The Indianapolis Colts lost quarterback Drew Luck to a sudden retirement before last season. They turned to Jacoby Brissett last season and the latter led the Colts to a 5-2 start. However, Indianapolis finished with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs. With the franchise no longer sold of Brissett, they needed a new signal-caller this season and they got one even before the free agency period started.
— NFL (@NFL) March 17, 2020
The Colts signed Philip Rivers to a one-year deal worth $25M. Rivers played 16 seasons for the Los Angeles Chargers, including 14 as a starter. The 38-year old is an eight-time Pro-Bowler who was the NFL’s 2013 Comeback Player of the Year Winner. Rivers is 6th in the NFL’s All-Time passing list and while age isn’t on his side, the Colts believe that he still has at least a year left in his gas tank.
While Father Time isn’t on his side, he fits the blueprint better in Indianapolis. Rivers spent three years working with Colts’ head coach Frank Reich and five years with offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni. Indianapolis’s hulking offensive line will give him the kind of protection that he needs and he didn’t have with the Chargers. Adding Rivers will make the Colts’ offense revert back to the one they had before Luck retired. He is more accurate than Brissett which is one of the traits that Reich wants from his QB.