NFL Free Agency – A Wider Angle View

Ever since I got home, it seems as if three hours cannot pass between new “reports” on where Kirk Cousins will play football next year and how much he will be paid to do so.  There are no quotes attributed to Cousins or his agent or any NFL GM, but this seems to be the “story du jour” for about every sports media outlet this week.

Surprisingly, Kirk Cousins is not even the best QB about to become a free agent in the middle of next week.  The best QB on the market will be Drew Brees – unless he and the Saints reach a deal in the next several days.  The simple fact is this:

  • Drew Brees will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when eligible.
  • Kirk Cousins might get to that level one of these days but is not nearly there at present.

The reason Drew Brees is “not interesting” as a storyline is that everyone expects that he and the Saints will reach an accommodation and he will finish his career in New Orleans.  That removes the “speculation factor” and makes story writing a lot less interesting.  I have no idea where Kirk Cousins will play next year except to say it will not be in Washington.  However, there are other players at other positions who will hit free agency next week besides Kirk Cousins and just for the sake of completeness, let me list two players at each position who ought to attract some attention from teams in the NFL.

Two running backs who will be free agents are Deion Lewis and Carlos Hyde.  I prefer Lewis slightly here but both of them can play.

Two tight ends who will be free agents are Jimmy Graham and Tyler Eifert.   Both of these guys have had injury problems in the past; Eifert has only been in 10 games in the past 2 seasons.  However, when healthy, both of them are very good.

Two wide receivers who will be free agents are Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson.  Watkins is a deep threat averaging about 16 yards per catch over his career; Robinson is coming off ACL surgery but was very productive before the injury with Blake Bortles throwing to him.  In 2015, he led the NFL in TD receptions!

Two offensive linemen who will be free agents are Nate Solder and Josh Sitton.  Solder will be 30 years old next year and has been with the Pats for 7 seasons; Sitton will be 32 next year and 2018 will be his 11th season in the NFL.  Both of these guys can play.

            Two defensive linemen who will be free agents are Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.  Ironically, both started their NFL careers with the Jets and both got crosswise with the team.  Both are still in their 20s and both are plenty talented on the field.

Two linebackers who will be free agents are Nigel Bradham and Zach Brown.  Both of these guys should be in demand around the league; I would give preference to Bradham because he is much better in pass coverage than Brown.

Two safeties who will be free agents are Morgan Burnett and Eric Reid.  Reid can play but some of his actions with regard to protests and social issues may make him a bit “scratchy” with some teams.  Burnett is serviceable but not spectacular.  This is not a good year to go searching for safeties on the free agent list.

Two cornerbacks who will be free agents are Malcom Butler and Kyle Fuller.  I have no idea what Butler did to get on Bill Belichick’s s[p]it list for the Super Bowl game but any GM looking to sign Butler will want to know what all that was about.  I also have no idea why the Bears let Kyle Fuller hit the free agent list; Fuller can play.

So, as you read the next tranche of speculation about Kirk Cousins and his new contract wherever, keep in mind that there are other competent free agents out there who are likely drawing significant attention from coaches and GMs…

The Seattle Seahawks traded Michael Bennett to the Philly Eagles yesterday for the equivalent of a ham sandwich.  Bennett is 32 years old and has been known as much for his off-field comments/actions as for his on-field performance over the past year or so.  Having said that, Bennett can still rush the passer, so it is a bit strange to see that all the Seahawks could get in return for him was an unproven WR and an exchange of low-round draft picks.  Reports say that the Seahawks are also going to trade Richard Sherman sometime soon.  Given that he ruptured his Achilles tendon around Thanksgiving of last season, the odds are that the Seahawks will only get a marginal return for him too.

If indeed Sherman leave Seattle during this offseason, that should mark an official end to the Legion of Boom Defense.  Cliff Averill and Kam Chancellor suffered neck injuries last year that might render them medically uncleared to play.  If those two guys plus Bennett and Sherman are gone, the Legion of Boom is likely to morph into the Legion of Bust.

In addition to these player personnel changes for the Seahawks, recall that the team also parted company with its offensive coordinator, its defensive coordinator and 5 other assistant coaches from last season.  But the turmoil in the Great Northwest is not limited to Seattle.  Out on the Palouse in Pullman, Mike Leach is the overseer of the Washington State Cougars football operation.  Since the end of last season, Washington State has lost its defensive coordinator and four other position coaches to other jobs at other NCAA schools.  In addition, the strength coach left the Cougars to take a similar job with the Chicago Bears.  Nevertheless, like Pete Carroll in Seattle, Mike Leach hangs in there as the head guy in Pullman, WA.   Is there something in the water in that part of the world…?

Finally, here is a comment from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot that sheds light on the costs of hosting the Olympics:

“What more do you need to know about the profligate spending required of an Olympic host nation than that the cost of building the Pyeongchang sliding center – home to luge, skeleton and bobsled – was $110 million.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………