FREE AGENCY WINNERS
Updated: Apr 23, 2021
Last week I discussed the free agency losers, a topic that had a few clear-cut candidates. This week’s selections are a less obvious bunch with them being more group focused, rather than individually based. I don’t have any true free agency winners for players that switched teams because no transaction this offseason that saw a player change teams had the significance to impact a playoff run from the acquisition of that player alone. However, what we did see were a couple of moves made by franchises that improved their odds of success and provided the foundation to have those odds increased.
Washington Football Team
The two big free agency acquisitions for the Washington Football Team this offseason were quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Curtis Samuel. These moves on an individual basis are not enough to consider the WFT serious contenders, but together, they address major needs of concern. As of right now, there is no quarterback of the future for the WFT after the failed experiment that was Dwayne Haskins, and while Taylor Heinicke is a nice story, there is no reason to expect him to slot in as the franchise guy. Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick, the ultimate bridge quarterback who is now playing for his 9th NFL franchise and entering his 17th season. Fitzpatrick is one of the easiest guys to root for because of his magnificent beard and his amazing nickname of “Fitzmagic”, but there is a reason he has moved around so much. Over his last three seasons, Fitzpatrick has played in 32 games, starting 27 of them and has thrown 50 TDs while having 48 turnovers. He is an old school stereotypical “gunslinger” quarterback, but he's certainly good enough to be an improvement over what the WFT has on the roster. Paired with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel, he has the opportunity to have two fantasy relevant wide receivers.
Samuel also fits the mold of not being someone who can attract the admiration of WFT fans on their own, but he does add another explosive element to this offense which is something to look forward to come Fall. Samuel has the potential to come in and be the #2 wide receiver option that can be placed all over the field in gadget plays in order to be more creative offensively. This team should be improved enough on offensive to ride the backs of their defense into a playoff berth.
Cam Newton-QB: New England Patriots
As someone who has their doubts about whether or not Cam Newton will be the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots come Week 1, this free agency period gave him some much needed help. The Patriots added tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, along with wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Last week, both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith were talked about as free agency losers, but the addition of potential weapons is always a win for the quarterback, especially one that looked as bad as Cam Newton did last season. The retirement of Julian Edelman took away the best receiving option he had last year, but these additions put the pieces in place to allow Newton to make plays. Yes, Newton needs to throw the ball better and force the ball downfield at a more effective rate, but adding pieces to the offense is going to make a big difference. Newton is still going to have the rushing upside he provided last year, rushing for almost 600 yards and 12 TDs, but he still has to throw the ball more effectively while getting the ball in the endzone with his arm. He can’t have another *checks notes*, 8 measly TDs! He started 15 games and threw only 8 TDs; that just can't happen again if Newton wants to stay the starting quarterback for the Patriots through the entire season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Super Bowl champions are a pretty clear winner of this offseason. They returned all 22 starters from the Super Bowl, a feat which no defending champion has ever done. The Tom Brady effect runs deep in Tampa, and his mild brainwashing has slowly taken over in convincing everyone to come back to take another run at a title. While I'm only slightly serious about the brainwashing, it does take that team and puts them in position to make another Super Bowl push. For a team that early on last year looked like they didn’t have everything together, they now get a full offseason this year to get into a rhythm in the hopes of carrying over that same success. There shouldn’t be much change in the fantasy outputs of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who ranked 14th and 16th in fantasy points per game respectively. However, the running back situation gets a little murkier with the addition of Giovanni Bernard, but then again, there is truly never clarity in a Bruce Arians’ backfield. Overall, this team will be fantasy relevant and will likely compete for another Super Bowl shot.
Daniel Jones-QB: New York Giants
There are no more excuses for Daniel Jones: plain and simple. The Giants spent big money to bring in highly sought-after wide receiver Kenny Golladay and also added key depth pieces in Kyle Rudolph and John Ross. These additions along with the already existing talent in the forms of Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, leaves no room for any poor play from Daniel Jones. To further empty the bag of excuses Jones can have for the upcoming season, Saquon Barkley is expected to be back and fully healthy for Week 1. The pressure is on Daniel Jones to produce wins for his team and put up big points for anyone who decides to draft him in fantasy. Jones has fantasy finishes of QB 23 and QB 24 in his two seasons, although he has only played in 27 games to this point. He needs to take the next step as a quarterback, and fantasy managers hope that step will be more like a Josh Allen-esque leap in Year 3. That leap probably won’t be coming this year for Jones, but there’s a definite possibility of a finish in the QB 10-14 range, which would place him firmly in the starting/streaming category. He has the talent, but the real question is can he put it all together with this stacked offense and take the next step to becoming an upper tier quarterback?
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, your free agency recap. The NFL draft begins with Round 1 next Thursday, April 29th, and with it will come an article discussing all the major picks and big time moves that were made. Thank you all for reading and as always, stay dreamin’!