NFL free agency is in full swing. Let’s go up-tempo with some quick-hit thoughts on where some teams and players stand at this point in the offseason.
A word of caution for those claiming victory for the Giants
Some national media pundits are tripping over themselves in efforts to praise the Giants for their flurry of early free agent moves. The team re-signed defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and added former Ram Janoris Jenkins.
They also signed former Jets run stuffer Damon Harrison, and one of the market’s top pass-rushers in former Dolphin Olivier Vernon. GM Jerry Reese has not drafted well recently and needed to add these players to the current core of Odell Beckham Jr. and an aging Eli Manning.
Teams that spend big in free agency do so to atone for mistakes made through the draft and the Giants are no different. Their 2008 and 2012 championship teams were built largely through the draft.
In defense of the Brock Osweiler contract
Most think Houston was foolish to hand Brock Osweiler $72 million for their starting quarterback job. Maybe they were, but it’s not as if the move wasn’t calculated. They reached the playoffs last season largely because Andrew Luck was banged up and the Colts had a down year.
But the Texans do have a playoff-caliber defense, a burgeoning young receiver talent in DeAndre Hopkins, and they also made an underrated move signing Lamar Miller. They’re a potential playoff team that needed a quarterback.
Brian Hoyer was horrendous in the playoffs last year so they couldn’t go back to him. There’s also major risk in drafting a quarterback in the first or second round, so why not invest available cap space in a signal-caller that someone else developed.
It’s also not as if the Texans were bidding against themselves for Osweiler, who likely had multiple suitors interested in his services. It is crazy to think about a relative unknown receiving a $72 million contract.
This deal is more a reflection of the NFL’s current state of the quarterback position as opposed to the Houston Texans’ sanity.
The Rams’ biggest free agent loss might not be who you think
Losing Janoris Jenkins to the Giants stings.
But the Rams retained franchise tag player Trumaine Johnson and if E.J. Gaines returns to full health after a foot injury robbed him of his second season, they’ll be fine at corner. (They also signed veteran Coty Sensabaugh as insurance and can address their corner depth in the middle rounds if need be.)
Jenkins’ departure and the releases of longstanding vets Chris Long and James Laurinaitis grabbed more headlines, but the Rams’ biggest offseason loss was arguably Rodney McLeod, now with the Eagles.
Finding quality free safeties these days is a massive challenge and while McLeod was polarizing among Rams fans, he had developed into a solid starter. Gregg Williams just lost his center fielder in a scheme that utilizes a ton of single-high looks.
Williams is outstanding at getting the most out of his players, but the draft isn’t exactly lush with free safety prospects to replace McLeod.
Not only that, but Jeff Fisher and Les Snead have proven they can’t draft offensive players outside of Todd Gurley, so having to invest another pick on defense only cripples the Rams’ odds of succeeding next season.
The biggest reason why Manziel will have a difficult time finding work
Johnny Manziel has a history of off-field issues that date back to his playing days at Texas A&M. He seems entitled, arrogant, and isn’t willing to put in the necessary work to succeed at quarterback in the NFL.
The Dallas Police Department also announced in February it was opening a domestic violence investigation for a claim involving Manziel’s ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley.
Even despite Manziel’s reputation and potential criminal activity, the biggest reason he’ll have a hard time finding work is his talent. He’s simply not worth a roll of the dice. He won the Heisman and won some games in college, but his skill set doesn’t transition to the NFL.
NFL quarterbacks need to understand protection capabilities, hot routes, route adjustments for receivers, what coverage the defense is in, and if their progression is based on man or zone looks.
They must do these things while throwing accurate passes with 260-pound defensive ends bearing down on them into tight windows against corners that run a 4.5 40-yard dash.
Manziel can’t roll out of bed and be great in the NFL. He has to want it. So while his off-field actions are of major concern for NFL franchises, the reality is more teams would be interested in taking the gamble if he were worth it on the field. He’s not.
-$72 million for a largely unproven Osweiler be justified. $32.5 million to Mohamed bleeping Sanu is insane. He’ll put up numbers because he’s playing opposite Julio Jones, but you can find Mohamed Sanu’s in the middle rounds.
-The Bears have quietly had a nice offseason. They’ve re-built their linebacker corps by adding Danny Trevathan and underrated Jerrell Freeman, plus big-bodied DL Akiem Hicks to soak up blockers in front of the new LBs.
-I think RGIII’s best fit is San Francisco with Chip Kelly. The quarterback is essentially a point guard in Kelly’s system, getting the ball out quickly and accurately to the right receiver based on what is seen in the defense. RGIII’s best years came in Art Briles’ system at Baylor and when the Redskins built their offense to model Briles’ system. I don’t know about RGIII’s leadership abilities but he makes sense in Kelly’s offense.
-If I’m Denver, a fourth-round pick is worth seeing if Colin Kaepernick can rediscover his confidence. I’d rather roll the dice on Kaepernick’s raw talent then watch Mark Sanchez inevitably fail.