NFL free agency is in full swing and it's been pretty damn wild. Tom Brady left New England. DeAndre Hopkins is an Arizona Cardinal. Stefon Diggs is on the Bills. So on and so on the moves have been made and the NFL has been pretty much flipped upside down. Teams have struck big and teams have struck out. That's the way it goes and while flashy moves are fun now, you never really know how they're going to turn out when the guys start actually playing football in September. Just ask the Cleveland Browns.
With the first wave of free agency likely over, the Complex Sports team put together some winners and losers up until this point of free agency. Obviously, with big names like Jadeveon Clowney, Cam Newton, Chris Harris, and more still available, teams could flip their status in a moment. But as of right now, this is how we see it. Disagree? Let us know about it.
Winner: Cleveland Browns
The Browns love winning the offseason. I hope they can start winning some regular seasons soon, but today went a long way, I think. Not only did they help out their putrid offensive line with the addition of Jack Conklin, but they surprised everyone with their signing of TE Austin Hooper. With new head coach Kevin Stefanski constantly running two TE sets, this will be a big addition to the Browns offense, which is already loaded. The only question left: can Baker Mayfield bounce back? I’d count on it.
Loser: New England Patriots
The only thing bigger than the bombshell that was Tom Brady taking his talents to Tampa Bay is the ego of Bill Belichick. I get that it doesn’t make sense to invest heavily in a quarterback that will be 43 years old at the start of the season, but it doesn’t matter who Belichick brings in to replace Tommy. The Pats, who are forever in win-now mode as long as Belichick is the coach, just took a massive, massive step backward not showing the kind of respect that would’ve kept Brady in New England. The genius of the greatest coach will be tested like never before now that he doesn’t have the services of the greatest quarterback.
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Look, when you sign the GOAT, you win free agency. If the Buccaneers don’t sign anyone else, they’re still winners. That’s what happens when you sign Tom Brady. What an unreal signing for them. From a football standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. Bruce Arians is a QB guru and the Bucs have a stud WR duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Compare that to the WR group who Brady played with last season, and you can see that it’s a clear upgrade.
Loser: Houston Texans
JFC, what was Bill O’Brien thinking? The only people praising the trade of DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson’s awful contract, a second-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick next year are on the Texans payroll. Because justifying the trade of a certified stud at wide out because (reportedly) you didn’t want to pay him and needed to recoup draft picks after last year’s transactions reeks of either sheer incompetence or that something else was bubbling behind the scenes. Seriously, how does a team with a win-now mentality split up Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins and sell that to its fans with a straight face?
Winner: Arizona Cardinals
Describing the Cardinals acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins as anything but a steal means you’re smoking dust. For what amounts to a salary dump and a couple of draft picks (one in 2021), Arizona got arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL for Kyler Murray. Now the second-year signal caller gets to throw to two of the best pairs of hands in football history with Hopkins teaming up with Larry Fitzgerald (who, astoundingly, has more career tackles than drops). Arizona from the top rope.
Loser: New York Jets
The Jets have a million holes to fill, but they really needed to address their putrid offensive line and swung and missed badly on a number of targets. It would’ve been nice if New York could’ve pried Joseph Thuney from the Patriots, but he got tagged. The Broncos secured Graham Glasgow for four years. And Jack Conklin got paid by the Browns. Oof. Then they signed George Fant—who has never started all 16 games in a season and played more basketball than football in college—from the Seahawks to protect Sam Daronold’s blindside (for now, depending who the Jets draft with pick No. 11). New York also missed out on a potential target at corner when the Giants signed James Bradberry. Gang Green gonna Gang Green.
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
Before the Stefon Diggs trade we had the Vikings in the loser category because that situation was going downhill fast. And then the Vikings traded the disgruntled Diggs to Buffalo for an absolute haul. The Vikings got back a first round pick in the deal. The Texans didn’t when they traded DeAndre Hopkins earlier in the day. That’s all you need to know. Props to the Vikings for making the most out of a bad situation and flipping this.
Loser: Indianapolis Colts
Listen, if you think the Colts should be winners here, I don’t want to hear it. I can’t get over the fact that they traded a top-15 draft pick for a defensive tackle. Yes, DeForest Buckner is very good, but paying a DT $21 million a year and then signing Philip Rivers coming off his worst season is just a puzzling move. Maybe this will all work out for the Colts, but how could you not chase after one of the young QBs in the draft? Instead they gifted the Super Bowl runners-up with the 13th pick in a loaded draft. Way to go, Indy.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens continue to make really smart moves. Not only did they trade a 5th round pick for Calais Campbell, but they sent Hayden Hurst to Atlanta for a 2nd round pick. That’s just a damn robbery. I’m not sure why teams keep doing deals with the Ravens, because you’re not going to win that trade. Not to mention, they signed Michael Brockers away from the Rams, which is yet another boost on the defensive line for the Ravens. The rich get richer in Baltimore.
Loser: Chicago Bears
Bears fans seem to be going through it right now. They went from thinking they might end up with Cam Newton or maybe even Tom Brady to trading a fourth round pick for Nick Foles. Yes, Nick Foles has won a Super Bowl but that doesn't seem to be sustainable magic after he was unseated by Gardner Minshew last season. Now the Bears will have a QB competition between Mitch Trubisky and Foles. That's a tough one. On top of the Foles trade, the Bears also signed Jimmy Graham, who is now a shell of himself. On a better note, they signed edge rusher Robert Quinn, who should make the defense even better. But honestly, their offense might be downright terrible.