Winners and Losers of NFL Free Agency 2020

Joseph Frescott, Sports Editor

With the NFL Draft right around the corner on April 23rd, this article will look at the winners and losers of NFL free agency prior to the draft.

Before addressing the winners and losers of free agency, at the time of writing this article, there are plenty of talented players left in free agency. DE’s Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffin remain unsigned, while controversial QB’s Cam Newton and Jameis Winston also remain without a team as of now.  


Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The most notable free agent of the 2020 offseason is arguably the greatest QB of all time, Tom Brady. After spending the first 20 seasons of his career in a Patriot uniform, many people assumed he would finish his illustrious career with the Patriots. However, on March 17th, before his official decision, he announced that his time in New England was over. With teams such as the Chargers and Colts in the mix to get the 42 year old veteran, on March 20th, Brady announced that he was taking his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This move shocked the league, and was a great move for both Brady and the Buccaneers. For Brady, the Patriots lacked offensive weapons that could support him and give him a chance at another title. With the relationships with coach Belichik and the front office shaky, he made a great decision by moving on and playing for a talented team with plenty of weapons. As for the Bucs, last season, the Bucs had a promising roster, with emerging stars such as Chris Godwin and Shaq Barrett proving that they are legitimate stars in this league. However, the poor QB play by Jameis Winston held them back greatly, and they only finished with a 7-9 record. Adding a future HOF to this roster filled with offensive threats will make them a fun team to watch. 

Other than the signing of Tom Brady, the Bucs made a few other solid moves that made them the clear cut winners of free agency. They used their franchise tag to resign their best defensive player, LB Shaquil Barrett. Barrett had a breakout season last year, having a career high 19.5 sacks and 1 Int. They also re-signed veterans OLB Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Ndamukong Suh, who can provide solid veteran leadership for the young defense. Overall, through this free agency, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have established themselves as a legitimate contender in the NFC next season. 

Arizona Cardinals

Before the Tom Brady signing, the first big move in free agency was the DeAndre Hopkins trade. Viewed as one of the best receivers in the league, DeAndre Hopkins had another solid season, having 104 receptions, 1,165 yards, and 7 TDs. For some reason, the Texans decided that it was time to move on from the 27 year old star wideout, and traded him to the Cardinals along with a 2020 4th round pick in exchange for a 2021 4th round pick, 2020 2nd round pick, and RB David Johnson. This trade was an absolute steal, as the Cardinals already had their starting RB in Kenyan Drake, so they essentially gave up an aging RB and a few high draft picks for a top 3 WR in the NFL. With this trade, the Cardinals are stacked with offensive weapons, so expect Kyler Murray to have a huge season next year. 

Besides the big time trade, the Cardinals also made some other key signings. Solidifying their O-line, they signed both RT Marcus Gilbert and G Max Garcia to 1 year deals. Defensively, they made some sneaky good defensive signings with DT Jordan Philips and OLB Devon Kennard agreeing to 3 year deals. With a young developing QB and young head coach, the Cardinals made some quality moves that have made them a great young team that has a promising future. 

Denver Broncos

Ever since the departure of QB Peyton Manning after Super Bowl 50, the Broncos have been average at best. Last season, they showed glimpses of greatness, as rookie QB Drew Lock led them to a 4-1 record in the last 5 games of the season. Finding their QB of the future in Drew Lock, Denver’s biggest needs going into this offseason were WR, OL, and DL. Saving WR for the draft (which is loaded with WR talent), the Broncos addressed their other needs, signing G Graham Glasgow to a 4 year deal, giving them a solid starter at OL. They went on to make some great trades, acquiring all-Pro CB AJ Bouye from the Jaguars for a 4th round pick and getting DL Jurell Casey from the Titans for a 7th round pick. Both players addressed positions of need for the Broncos, and they paid very little for both players. The Broncos biggest move came a few weeks later, when they signed Pro Bowl RB Melvin Gordon III to a 2 year deal. This move not only took away the RB from their division rival Chargers, it also gave the Broncos one of the scariest backfields in the league, as they now have two Pro Bowl caliber RBs. 

However, these great additions did not come without its losses, as the Broncos lost 3 starters: C Connor McGovern, CB Chris Harris jr., and DE Derke Wolfe all signed deals with other teams.  Despite this, Denver essentially replaced them through the trades and signing listed above. Because of this, the Broncos, like the Cardinals, are a promising young team that has the potential to be really good if they draft the right guys. 


Houston Texans

No one can question the fact that the Houston Texans have lost free agency thus far. As described in the Cardinals section, the Texans traded a top 3 receiver and got virtually nothing in return, besides two mid round picks and an overpriced, aging RB in David Johnson. Hopkins is an irreplaceable talent, and to trade him and get nothing in return like they did goes to show Bill O’Brien’s incompensticy as a GM. Other than this awful move, the Texans went on to overpay for WR Randall Cobb, a 30 year old slot receiver who had 55 catches last season. and S Eric Murray, who is an average starter at best. They even let a young, solid DT walk, as DJ Reader signed a 4 year deal with the Bengals. Unlike the teams described above, the Texans offseason has made them legitimately worse. Don’t be surprised if star QB Deshaun Watson requests a trade by the end of next season. 

Indianapolis Colts

Putting the Indianapolis Colts as a loser of free agency is a debatable decision on my part. However, despite making a couple of big name signings and trades, in my opinion, the moves they made did not make a lot of sense for their future. The first move they made was trading for DE DeForest Buckner. Even though Buckner is a great player, they gave up a 1st round pick for him, which is a lot considering he has 1 year left on his deal and will likely leave after this season. They went on to sign QB Philip Rivers to a 1 year $25 million deal. This deal gives them a legitimate starter at QB for this season, but does not address their long term future. The last big name signing they made was CB Xavier Rhodes. A former First Team All Pro, Rhodes is coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career. If he continues to play like he did last year, this signing will be a bad one. 

Following all of these questionable signings, they let their starting TE, pro bowler Eric Ebron, sign with the Steelers. In the end, when you look at the Colts roster, they do not have enough talent to compete for a Super Bowl this season. With this being said, all of the moves they made were 1 year deals, which reflects something of a team that wants to push for a title run. As stated earlier, the moves they made this offseason does not help their long term future, which can leave them in a difficult situation following next season. 

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills had a great season last year, making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. With a promising young QB in Josh Allen, the Bills look like they have a bright future ahead of them. However, this offseason, they haven’t made any moves that have helped them take that next step and become legitimate contenders. They started the offseason by addressing their need for a star WR, trading for Viking WR Stefon Diggs. Although Diggs is a great player, they gave up a lot for him, as they gave the Vikings 2020 1st, 5th, and 6th round picks and a 2021 4th rounder for the star WR. Although no one can deny Diggs talent, considering the draft is loaded at WR, the Bills could have drafted multiple young stud WR’s and addressed other needs with these picks instead of trading them for just Diggs. After trading for Diggs, they went on to force (and overpay for) a “Panthers defensive reunion”, as they signed CB Josh Norman, OLB Marrio Addison, OLB AJ Klein, and  DT Vernon Butler. Overall, the Bills did not get worse this offseason, but considering they overpaid for some talent, it remains to be seen whether these moves help them make the next step and become legitimate Super Bowl contenders next season.