By Brandon Boyer, Staff Writer
Published in print Mar. 24, 2015
The NFL free agency period has been the most entertaining and shocking line of news for two weeks in American sports. Free agents visiting here, there, and everywhere, has turned America’s favorite pastime into a year-round event as the NFL is once again on the forefront on the national sports conscious.
As exciting as the offseason suddenly became and how many victories, large and small, were won by teams, not everyone walked out smelling like roses. In fact, there has been a couple of teams who look like they’re currently held together only by an increasingly stretched out rubber band and some old gum (and no, I am not talking about Derrick Rose’s knees).
Out of all the moves made, both by teams and players, here are the five winners and losers from NFL free agency (so far):
Winner: Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have been nothing to sniff around since the early 1990s when they were run into the turf in four consecutive Super Bowls—wait, is that right? FOUR?!
That’s right. They’re the only team to have ever done that. Ever.
The only titles the Bills have are two from their time in the American Football League, where they won two consecutive titles in 1964 and 1965, a completely different league from today’s NFL.
This year, however, could prove to rectify all that. The Bills snagged Rex Ryan immediately from a free-falling Jets team and have immediately gone all in to splash the cash to make Buffalo look like a strong team on paper.
Adding running back LeSean McCoy from the Eagles, tight-end Charles Clay from the Dolphins, wide-receiver Percy Harvin from the Jets, and semi-competent quarterback Matt Cassel from the Vikings, the Bills look immediately fearsome on offense. Now, they just need Rex Ryan and Company to work some magic on defense and in the NFL Draft, and the Bills could make their first playoff run since they were on the wrong side of history when they lost the infamous Music City Miracle to close out their 1999 season.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
It must have been like Christmas morning for Andrew Luck when free agency first started. Luck received two big presents in running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson after seeing two broken offensive pieces hit the bricks in Trent Richardson and Reggie Wayne.
While Frank Gore and Andre Johnson are both older, 31 and 33 years old respectively, these are two massively talented players that could give the Colts the offensive edge that they missed this past season in the AFC Championship Game. Johnson has averaged 1,133 yards receiving in 12 seasons of experience. With just over 1,000 receptions, that is 13.4 yards per catch, which adds a whole lot of explosiveness to a wide receiving core that already has T.Y. Hilton. Gore has averaged well over 1,000 yards rushing in nine of his eleven seasons in the league and has only been more explosive since his 28th birthday.
Winner: Ndamukong Suh
Leaving the Detroit Lions , the league’s most fearsome defensive tackle has finally cashed in on the hype.
With a contract measuring out to six years, $114 million ($60 million of which is guaranteed money), Suh will finally have enough money to pay for all the fines he is bound to get while charging down and tearing apart every offensive line, running back and quarter back in the AFC East.
Loser: San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have had an absolutely horrid offseason. The team kicked out Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, who’s smiling his way into the hearts of the Blue Nation up in Michigan. Linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland both retired suddenly. Willis had a stellar career as a player and locker-room leader. Borland, likely a replacement for Willis, wanted a future outside of smashing heads against big guys for a living and no one can blame him. With all that has been found in research and what has happened to platers after they retire, it has been terrifying to see what happened when players stay in the league for too long. The team also lost Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree to free agency.
All was not completely lost however. The 49ers managed to make two solid signings in former Ravens wide receiver, Torrey Smith, and Lions running back, Reggie Bush.
There are a lot of holes to fill in the S.S. 49ers and they’re looking more like sending out an S.O.S. and capsizing than managing to recover and sailing smoothly through next fall.
Loser: Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders have more open cap space than most countries have in their annual GDP and they have managed to sign… Trent Richardson.
Richardson, who averaged a mediocre 3.1 yards a carry in 29 games for the Colts. That’s all that needs to be said, really.
Hopefully Oakland fans are getting plans to get all nice and cozy with the San Diego Chargers in that shared stadium in Carson, California in a few years time. Or have their passports up-to-date for when their beloved team is possibly shipped off to Europe.
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