By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
Every few weeks during the regular season, and every month or so during the offseason, I chat with a group of fans from all around the NFL to ask them a question. This month’s edition focused on free agency as that is the hot topic of the month.
Fans often have a very different perspective regarding moves their team makes than the general media does. Fans look at their team with emotion and heart. The media, or more cynical fans, tend to focus more on statistics and grades given by random websites.
This is why I like to give a voice to the fans. We hear so much about what grade -insert any team name- got in free agency, but rarely how the fans feel. But the fans are smart. They understand cap requirements, contracts given, etc, but they add that extra level of emotion that I think is important.
This time I chatted with fans from two NFC West rivals, and an AFC team who surprised many in the NFL world during free agency. Let’s see how they felt about the moves their teams made, and what they thought their team’s biggest hits and misses were.
First let’s start with Derrick, our New England Patriots fan. As we all know, the moves that the Patriots made this free agency were surprising simply because they made them. Head Coach Bill Belichick isn’t known for making a splash during free agency, but with the disappointing season they had last year, Belichick was not going to be left out in the cold. Here is what Derrick had to say.
“Considering that the Patriots lacked in-depth at the WR and TE positions, addressing that concern was a huge hit for us. Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith give us so many creative ways to score especially in red-zone situations where we didn’t do so well last season.
Trading for Trent Brown on the OL was a very smart move to ensure QB protection as he did for us in the 2018 Super Bowl winning season.
Defensive free agents like Jalen Mills, Davon Godchaux, and the returning Kyle Van Noy really gives our defense the depth we needed. Returning free agent vets like James White, David Andrews, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise speak volumes and they still believe in the moves being made in New England.
I’m very optimistic about how this season plays out. I give the Patriots a solid A on how they handled free agency. The upcoming NFL draft should be interesting. I’ll address that in a future article.”
I can’t say I disagree with Derrick here. I was rather impressed with the moves made by the Patriots. It will be interesting to see how the pieces fit together.
Now for our NFC West rivals. Now neither of the teams these fans represent made the biggest news in free agency, both teams seemed pretty focused on where they were going to spend the little money they had. Let’s start in the pacific northwest.
As we know, there was a lot of drama earlier this year surrounding Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and whether or not he’d be traded. Wilson had asked for, actually demanded, help on the offensive line, so the Seattle front office had their work cut out for them. As it looks like Wilson is staying put, MommyUnit, our Seattle Seahawks fan echoed the thoughts of many Seattle fans…the front office did their job.
“The Seahawks org has done what it needed to address obvious needs. If it will be enough to match the moves in the NFC West remains to be seen.
The Seahawks needed to get stronger on the O-line and arguably they did that with the acquisition of Gabe Jackson, the re-signing of Ethan Pocic, and line depth with Jordan Simmons and Cedric Ogbuehi. Chris Carson returns and on a very fair contract so with Penny, we have our RB position sorted.
The best move was to get Carlos Dunlap back under contract since he was a difference-maker for our pass rush. Re-signing Benson Mayowa and picking up Kerry Hyder takes care of immediate needs. Al Woods comes back to fill the hole created when Jarren Reed was let go for cap purposes. We have depth now so I can’t fault these moves.
All in all, other than waiting to see inevitable restructure moves, it’s been a predictable and successful offseason. Not splashy but solid. Now, let’s figure out a way to get KJ Wright back and I’d call it great.”
“Our other NFC West team started making news over a month ago with the trade of their quarterback. The LA Rams traded Jared Goff for the Detroit Lions franchise QB Matthew Stafford. In my opinion, this trade righted two wrongs. It fixed the cap struggle the Rams were having with Goff’s contract, and it gave Stafford, a highly respected QB in the league, a chance to compete at the highest levels.
Our Rams fan, Derek, is very excited about the moves made and where his team is headed, and to be honest, he should be.
“This one is easy. The LA Rams free agency played out almost exactly as expected. The LA Rams were tight against this year’s lower cap yet were well prepared and were able to restructure some contracts without having to make major cuts.
S John Johnson III and OLB Leonard Floyd were the Rams’ top FAs. The Rams being able to retain Floyd was a huge get. Rams fandom is wishing the best of luck to JJIII and CB Troy Hill with the Browns. Does the trade for Stafford count? Because obviously, that’s our biggest hit.
Next would be retaining Floyd (no disrespect to RFA CB D Williams). The biggest miss may surprise people. The Rams lost their longtime long snapper, Jake McQuaide. An underrated player who never had a bad snap in 9 years with the Rams, now reunited with Coach Bones and Greg Z in Dallas.
The most surprising and perhaps polarizing move? Signing DeSean Jackson. McVay and Stafford needed the deep threat and Jackson fits the bill. But his contract cost a lot more than many Rams fans expected based on his age and injury history.
Rams still need to address the C position but between the late stages of free agency and the draft (yes we DO have picks), there’s more to come. The Rams seem poised for another deep playoff run.”
I hope to add a few more fan opinions on this free agency in the future, but these three show exactly what I was talking about before. Fans are smart. They understand most of the ins and outs of the game and the business. Yet their excitement is the most important part of free agency.
While we all know the chess match of free agency isn’t done yet (is it ever done?), it was a fun start to the new NFL season.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG