Tired and WIRED: A breakdown of the most high-profile NFL Free Agency scenarios
Next week, March Madness finally gets underway. And no, we're not talking about some silly basketball tournament. We're talkin' NFL Free Agency, folks.
Apologies for disparaging the tourney. We didn't really mean that and we're very excited for it. But for the first three days of next week, the NFL will be in its rightful spot in the sports world: king. This year promises to be more chaotic than it's ever been, with a number of high-profile quarterbacks potentially on the move. One of them you may have heard of (his name rhymes with Dom Grady).
Chances are, that certain someone ends up staying put in New England, thus letting all the air out of the once exciting free agency balloon. But if he does sign elsewhere, shit could hit the fan. Before any of that happens, we decided to break down all the potentially big scenarios, from a "TIRED" and "WIRED" angle.
One note: Dak Prescott, Derrick Henry and Drew Brees will not be in our breakdown since it's almost pointless to come up with any scenarios for them other than staying right where the are (Dallas, Tennessee and New Orleans). OK, let's roll.
Melvin Gordon, running back
If there was any doubt the L.A. Chargers were done with Gordon, it was removed on Friday when the franchise signed Austin Ekeler to a four-year, $24.5 million contract. Gordon will indeed test the market and based on his past production he should have plenty of suitors.
TIRED: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins
Both Florida franchises are in need of a running back, but are either ready to contend just yet? We know the Dolphins aren't, even if they get Tua Tagovailoa and also hit on their four other picks in the first two rounds. The Bucs looked like a playoff team at times last year while also looking like a pile of trash, which just about sums up everyone's feeling on Jameis Winston, who they might let walk in free agency. However you feel about Famous Jameis, Tampa letting him go would mean they are either going after Philip Rivers or they'll be taking their new QB in the draft, in which case they won't be competing next season. Gordon seems to be looking for the big contract, so if Tampa or Miami throw it at him he'll probably jump. But if he wants to win a championship we have a better idea.
WIRED: Houston Texans
As long as Deshaun Watson is under center, the Texans' time is now. Adding Gordon on that offense would do wonders for No. 4, who lost Lamar Miller for all of 2019. Carlos Hyde is a nice back, but not one who is going to give you much in the passing game (10 catches last year). Gordon has caught 40+ balls in each of the last four seasons, in addition to rushing for eight or more touchdowns each time. He can do it all, which could be just what Watson needed to put their offense over the top.
Kenyan Drake, running back
As Drake proved in his limited time in Arizona last season, the Alabama product is a top tier back in the league. Like Gordon, he can do everything the modern NFL running back does. In eight games with the Cardinals, Drake had 28 catches for 171 yards and carried the ball 123 times for 643 yards and eight touchdowns. It's extremely puzzling to remember he was a backup his first three years in Miami (nice job, Adam Gase!). Now, he's going to get paid like the top-10 back he is.
TIRED: Arizona Cardinals
Personally, I'd love to see Drake stay in Arizona and continue to grow alongside Kyler Murray. But the fun in free agency is chaos, so the more player movement the better.
WIRED: Detroit Lions
Should the words WIRED and Lions be in the same sentence? Probably not. But hear me out: Matthew Stafford has a few good years left, and it's next year or bust for head coach Matt Patricia, who has gone 9-22-1 in his first two seasons in Detroit. If they don't put together a winning year in 2020, he gone, and the Lions will likely have to start over for a billionth time, meaning they'll probably trade Stafford. If they do go for it next year, Drake would be a nice signing. The running back position in Detroit has been a revolving door for Stafford's entire career (Joique Bell anyone?). Lions can stop that carousel by picking up Drake, who will catch roughly a billion checkdowns from Stafford.
Teddy Bridgewater, quarterback
The Teddy Two Gloves debate is a fascinating one. On one side of the aisle, you have people with two functioning eyes that believe he should be a lifetime backup. On the other side, you have people who point to a thing that should absolutely be taken into account when evaluating quarterbacks: wins. Bridgewater is 22-12 as a starter, including a perfect 5-0 run last year in New Orleans. In his second full season in Minnesota, he was a botched Blair Walsh chip shot away from leading his team to the Divisional round of the playoffs. Like Jimmy Garoppolo, all Teddy does is win, win, win no matter what. Also like Jimmy G, Teddy could very well end up looking like garbage when and if he ever plays in a truly massive game.
TIRED: New Orleans Saints
There is a zero percent chance that Drew Brees isn't coming back for one more run, and everything Sean Payton and the Saints have said about Taysom Hill would lead you to believe they think he is Brees' successor. That doesn't mean they don't want Bridgewater back, but chances are another team will pay him a lot more money for more years, not to mention the fact he'd have to wait until Brees leaves, then beat out Hill for the job.
WIRED: Any team he can start on immediately (New England Patriots!)
Here are the teams that might need a new starter but are not in position to draft one of the top tier QB prospects: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts and .... drumroll .... the New England Patriots!! It'd be fascinating to see Bridgewater start anywhere, because he is a former franchise quarterback who had the position ripped away from him thanks to a gruesome practice injury. But no landing spot would be as fascinating as New England. First off, it would mean Tom Brady had left, and second, there's a good chance Bridgewater thrives in the Patriots system, thus confirming he is starter material. The social media and talk-show debating over Teddy would be off the charts. Inject it into my veins.
Dante Fowler Jr., linebacker
It never worked out in Jacksonville for Fowler, but it did work out in L.A., where he had a career-high 11.5 sacks last season, his second with the Rams. Now it's time to get paaiiiiid.
TIRED: L.A. Rams, New York Jets, New York Giants
The Rams would be dumb to let him go, but if another GM throws a ton of money at him Fowler is going to take it. Please, do not let it be the Giants or Jets. How many times do the New York teams overpay for free agents who will either A. not live up to potential/N.Y.'s high standards, or B. just flat out bust. He would make sense for the Jets and make their defense truly elite, however. As for the Giants, why bother, they're going to suck again anyway (Giants fan here). Let him go to a ready-to-win contender.
WIRED: Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans
Speaking of ready-to-win teams, here's two. Seattle should probably focus more on the offensive side of the ball to give Russell Wilson the best opportunity to win another ring while he's still in his prime, but if Jadeveon Clowney walks, they'll need to replace him. The Texans, who traded Clowney to the Seahawks, could use help at the defensive end position as well. J.J. Watt is obviously in his final years, but could continue to produce with a player like Fowler on the opposite side.
Philip Rivers, quarterback
It was a sad ending for Rivers and the Chargers. No Super Bowls, just one AFC Championship appearance, and only one playoff appearance in his last six seasons. I fear an even sadder ending for the 38-year-old wherever he goes next, considering he can't really get the ball down field like he used to. But there is one team he could potentially make one more run on.
TIRED: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This seems to be the most logical destinations for Phil the Thrill, who "permanently" moved to Florida in January to be closer to his family. That would either indicate he's retiring, as people often do to Florida, or planning on signing with a Florida team. Unless he wants to compete with Tua Tagovailoa (or another top-10 QB pick) in Miami, that leaves Tampa Bay, where he could thrive for a season or two with coach Bruce Arians and a strong receiving core that includes Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Don't hate it, but there's an even better option.
WIRED: Indianapolis Colts
If Rivers goes to Tampa, he's going to have to fight for a wild card to get into the playoffs, because the Saints will more than likely win the division again. In the AFC South, 9-7 could get the job done. The Colts have the O-line to keep him upright, a No. 1 deep threat in T.Y. Hilton and two great backs in Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines, who caught 44 balls last year and would give Rivers the safety blanket he no longer has in Austin Ekeler. The problem he'll eventually run into in the AFC Playoffs is the Chiefs or Ravens. In other words, Rivers should just retire.
Jameis Winston, quarterback
If Rivers does end up in Tampa, that would obviously mean the Bucs let their former No. 1 overall pick walk. After Famous Jameis joined the 30-30 club, it seems like that's inevitable, unless they use the franchise tag on him. If not, his free agency will be one of the most fascinating to follow.
TIRED: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts
If he does come back to the Bucs, it will be because of the tag, meaning he can prove himself and earn a contract from them next year, or fail miserably again and most likely become a backup elsewhere. Would much rather see a team take a chance on him this offseason and hand him the keys to the franchise and then wait and see if shit hits the fan. Colts are a great option for him with that O-line, but I'd rather see Winston in a much more chaotic situation like ....
WIRED: Las Vegas Raiders, Chicago Bears
Oh hell yes. I don't really need to make an argument for Vegas. Jameis in the black and silver with Gruden screaming at him on the sideline? Sign me and everyone else up. Chicago would be hilarious too. The city has stanned for Jay Cutler and Mitch Trubisky for the last decade. Winston might finally send them all over the edge.
A.J. Green, wide receiver
Green is looking for a long-term deal from the team that drafted him, but has also said he wouldn't hold out if hit with the $18 million franchise tag. If the Bengals end up taking Joe Burrow, you'd think they'd want him to have a top wideout like Green to ease his NFL transition.
TIRED: Cincinnati Bengals
If Burrow makes the jump quickly, these two could prove to be quite a tandem. But all I can think about is how the Bengals wasted Ochocinco's prime and how they've essentially done the same with Green. Get this man to a contender ASAP.
WIRED: New England Patriots
It'd be a move that every other fanbase would hate, but it'd be great for the final act of Green's career. It would also be contingent on Brady staying put. But we'll get to that later.
Like Green's situations, all signs point to Cooper remaining in Dallas, but that's far from a done deal with the Dak Prescott situation. Jerry Jones is going to fight to keep everybody, but it wouldn't shock anyone if they can't come to an agreement with him.
TIRED: Dallas Cowboys
Everything staying status quo in Dallas (Dak and Amari staying) would stink. I want it to completely implode in Jerry's face.
WIRED: New York Jets
Sounds like the Jets are going to lose Robby Anderson, who daggered them by saying he dreamt he was on the same team as Tom Brady on ESPN on Wednesday. Ouch. To replace him, the Jets should go after Cooper, who'd be just what Sam Darnold needs to stop seeing ghosts and start throwing more posts (sorry about this).
Clowney looked like his former South Carolina self during his short time in Seattle, so good that Seattle is going to do everything it can to bring him back. He seemed to enjoy his time there and could sign at a discount if he'd like to contend for Super Bowls for the next few years. Or he could command a $20 million per year contract on the open market. Decisions, decisions.
TIRED: Seattle Seahawks
This actually wouldn't be tired given he only played a few games with them and it would also be the smartest move. But, like I said with Winston, it'd just be more fun to see him explore free agency and see what he can get.
WIRED: New York Giants
I realize I said before how dumb it would be for the Giants to sign Fowler since they're going to suck again next year, but I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't love them getting Clowney. Markus Golden had a nice season last year, but Clowney is a completely different dude coming off the edge. If they signed him and drafted Isaiah Simmons, all of a sudden the defense is much improved.
Ryan Tannehill and Tom Brady
Who would have thought Brady and Tannehill's career would be so intertwined ? That's now the case after Tannehill (Derrick Henry) essentially ended Brady's career in New England, if Brady leaves. And if that happens, Brady might go steal Tannehill's job in Tennessee! Absurd to think about after Tannehill was left for dead when he left Miami. Lot of dominoes fell to get to this point.
TIRED: They both stay put
This would suck, but it would be good for Tannehill, who seemed to be the perfect fit for the Titans, AKA guy who hands the ball to Henry and makes a couple of high-percentage throws a game. Brady could fill that role nicely too, however.
WIRED: Brady leaving New England
This is what the entire "this is going to be a CRAZY NFL offseason!" viewpoint hinges on. If Brady stays in NE, the fun is over. Don't care what else happens. Brady HAS to go to another team for the free agency period to deliver. Chargers, Raiders, Bucs, Titans, Niners, I don't care where it is, it'll be so wild to see him in another jersey and to see if he has anything left.