The biggest recent news in the NFL involves Tom Brady signing with the Buccaneers. The QB spent two decades with the Patriots. Together they won more Super Bowls than any quarterback/team combo in NFL history. While Brady certainly is the league’s biggest star, other free-agent moves rival this one in terms of on-field impact.
The Cardinals add a major threat in the passing game
After rumors of a rift between DeAndre Hopkins and Houston Texans’ coach Bill O’Brien, the Texans shipped Hopkins out of town to the Arizona Cardinals. What made this move so remarkable is the compensation Arizona gave up.
The Texans received running back David Johnson, a second-round pick, and a fourth-round pick. To not get a first-round pick in return for a player of Hopkins’ caliber is almost laughable. Johnson is talented but has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. It’s also a swindle when you compare the number of assets Buffalo gave up to nab Stefon Diggs from Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals gave their young quarterback Kyler Murray an elite receiver in his prime. The NFC West had three teams that could contend for the division title in 2020. Now they may have a fourth.
The Saints re-sign Drew Brees
Brady isn’t the only gracefully aging quarterback to sign a new deal. The New Orleans Saints signed Drew Brees to a two-year, $50 million contract, reports Sports Illustrated.
Unlike Brady, Brees isn’t starting over in a new city with a new system. He’ll have plenty of continuity — along with Michael Thomas, one of the league’s best wide receivers — as he attempts to win his second title in New Orleans.
The Panthers say goodbye to Cam Newton
After a Super Bowl appearance, MVP award, and a great deal of frustration over the past few seasons, the Panthers released Cam Newton. The reason this could be a bigger move than Brady depends on Newton’s health. he could introduce quite a variable into the free-agent market.
If Newton can return at even a fraction of his former abilities, he may make a significant difference for a contender. A team like the Bears or Chargers, who already have talented pieces in place, may need a quarterback like Newton to push them over the top. If Newton’s injuries keep debilitating him, however, he won’t be much of a difference-maker.
Whatever happens with Newton, he’s certain to get an opportunity to start somewhere. The question is where and how effective can he be?
The Titans re-up Ryan Tannehill
After several mediocre seasons in Miami, Ryan Tannehill landed in Tennessee last season as the presumed backup to Marcus Mariota. Not only did Tannehill eventually replace Mariota, but he also led the team to an AFC championship appearance. The Titans signed Tannehill to a four-year, $118 million deal. This could outshine Brady for two reasons:
- The contract involves more years and more overall money than Brady’s deal. This is a no-brainer, of course, as Tannehill is much younger than the 43-year-old.
- The Titans were one of Brady’s rumored potential landing spots. There’s no way to know if they talked with Brady and who walked away first. But it’s quite possible the Titans evaluated the risk of signing an aging quarterback and opted for Tannehill instead.
Brady’s deal made waves for sure, but those four moves all have a chance to make a bigger impact on the NFL next season.