By Dylan Botelho, Staff Writer
Happy new year everyone! The new year of the NFL calendar of course. Kicking off with the opening of free agency, the NFL new year may actually be the most exciting of all.
Festivities don’t just stop after day one either, they continue week after week, until we get to the beginning of training camp and rosters begin to get finalized.
There were plenty of big names available to join new teams out on the open market this season, and we’ll be seeing a lot of familiar faces in unfamiliar locations.
Of all teams to take advantage of the high caliber talent and have a successful beginning to their offseason though, I doubt anyone would have predicted the Cleveland Browns to be somewhere on top that list. The Browns made a lot of moves, and made them in a hurry.
The Browns made two real big splashes at the start of free agency, but most weren’t through singings. They acquired a real quarterback, their first in a long time after trading for Bills quarterback, Tyrod Taylor and gave him an extra weapon to go alongside Josh Gordon and the eventual number one pick (Penn St. running back Saquon Barkley, probably) in the form of one of the league’s top wide receivers, Jarvis Landry. Landry’s 112 receptions put him atop the NFL in catches and his 9 receiving touchdowns was fourth last season. With a heavy important in their skill positions, the Browns offense will at least be able to keep them in games if their defense falters. Who knows, maybe Hue Jackson’s squad will win not one but four games this season.
Aside from the Browns, the rich got richer in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings found the one piece that eluded them last season, a real quarterback. They signed Kirk Cousins, the #1 prize in free agency this season, and locked him down for three years with a fully guaranteed $84 million contract. Boasting the league’s best defense last season, the Vikings will likely find themselves back as a top seed in the NFC with the addition of Cousins and the return of stud rookie running-back Dalvin Cook, who unfortunately tore his ACL not long into his first season.
The defending Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles improved even more on a defensive line that practically won the franchise their first Super Bowl. The Eagles signed former Seattle Seahawk’s defensive end Michael Bennett, making their already league best defensive line even that much further ahead than the rest of the league.
Speaking of Seattle Seahawks, the once fearsome and dominant Legion of Boom in Seattle is no more. Star cornerback Richard Sherman was released by the Seahawks at the start of free agency and quickly signed with the San Francisco 49ers, who after only a few short years at the bottom of the league, could find their way back to the Super Bowl soon. Only Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas remain from the L.O.B. in Seattle.
This was just the tip of the iceberg for what has happened mere weeks into NFL free agencies. As the season comes closer we’ll see even players sign and we’ll especially come across more shock trades that will leave fans on both sides asking what in the world just happened.