The 2016 NFL free agency period has been one of high drama, full of surprising snubs and intriguing signings.
Here’s a quick rundown on some notable happenings:
BRONCOS PICKED APART
It’s not easy to keep a superbowl team together, as the Broncos are learning this offseason. They made the prudent decision to franchise tag linebacker Von Miller, keeping him from reaching the open market where a bidding war surely would have ensued for the young pass rusher coming off a Super Bowl MVP. This hamstrung them for the pursuit of other players, as defensive end Malik Jackson essentially won free agency with a 6-year, $90 million dollar deal from the Jaguars. Peyton Manning retired, but GM John Elway was unable to sign groomed heir apparent Brock Osweiler, who bolted to the Houston Texans. They also lost inside linebacker Danny Trevathan to the Bears. The Broncos still have a lot of talent, but this free agency period has not been kind to them, and their top ranked defense will miss both Jackson and Trevathan.
NO LOVE FOR AGING RB’S
Matt Forte, C.J. Anderson, and Arian Foster, each at one time considered a top running back in the NFL, were allowed to walk or were cut by their respective teams during this free agency period. Undoubtedly they’ll all latch on somewhere (Forte landed with the Jets, making that offense potentially potent if the can re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick), but it’s an indication of how teams are looking to go younger and cheaper at one of the most punishing positions in the game. With backs like Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliot likely available on Day 2 or later, it’s not hard to see why teams are letting respected, talented veterans go.
…What are the Browns doing? They’ve lost essentially three of their best players, including Travis Benjamin, Alex Mack, and Tashaun Gibson, talent they can ill-afford to lose. They finally did cut Johnny Manziel, proving even the Browns can see sense once in a while. But despite oodles of cap space, they have yet to make a splash in free agency, though rumors have said disgruntled 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is interested in playing in Cleveland. Wide receiver Josh Gordon may yet be reinstated, but he’ll have little help around him if he does. Counting on the draft seems like the Browns are pointedly ignoring their own draft record.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, running back Marshawn Lynch, and linebacker Jerod Mayo joined quarter back Peyton Manning and defensive back Charles Woodson in retiring this year, re-shaping the landscape of the NFL. Each are possible Hall of Famers (with Mayo a tier below the rest), each created needs for their respective teams that did not exist before they left. The Lions were forced to address the gaping hole at wide receiver, the Seahawks will probably kick the wheels on a veteran back-up for Thomas Rawls (who ended the season on IR), and the Broncos are looking at starting Mark Sanchez at quarterback if the season started tomorrow.