One of the best parts of the NFL is the flow of players during free agency. With the salary cap being a big factor, talent ebbs and flows around the league. Now that the dust has settled a little bit, let’s take a closer look and see who were the four biggest losers of NFL free agency.
New England Patriots
It is very seldom that you hear the word loser associated with the New England Patriots in any manner, however, the Patriots are considered to be one of the biggest losers in the 2020 NFL free agency. New England has lost Tom Brady who played for their organization for the past 20 seasons and amassed 74,571 yards, 541 touchdown passes and a completion percentage of 63.8%. Not to mention, in that time period, Brady has appeared in nine Super Bowls, capturing six Super Bowl victories with the Patriots. The Patriots also lost defensive tackle Danny Shelton, linebacker Jamie Collins (both of whom signed with the Detroit Lions) and linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Shelton reached career-bests with 61 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble last season while Collins had 81 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles.
The bigger issue here is losing Brady. The Patriots still haven’t found a replacement and it looks like their plan – as of now – is to go into next season with Jarrett Stidham as their starting quarterback. That’s a huge step down from Brady.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams have been really hit hard by numerous losses, predominantly on the defensive side of the football. Clay Matthews was released by the Rams in a move that saved them $5 million, the team also lost outside linebacker, Dante Fowler Jr. and inside linebacker Cory Littleton. That trio combined for 21 sacks last year, which will be hard to overcome. Beyond those losses in the front seven, the Rams also lost cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.
The biggest subtraction might be the loss of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips helped this unit overachieve. How good will they be in 2020 without him?
The Houston Texans shockingly traded away DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, which was a shockingly bizarre move. Instead of signing someone like Devonta Freeman on the cheap, the Texans instead traded one of the best receivers in the game along with a 2020 fourth-round draft pick for David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. Johnson was one of the Cardinals worst contracts on the books and had been relegated to a backup role last season behind Kenyan Drake. Many felt Johnson might get released outright. It’s unclear why the Texans think this makes them a better team right now.
Another bad move by them was letting defensive tackle walk as D. J. Reader signed a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals reportedly worth up to $53 million. As a result, Reader is currently the highest paid nose tackle in the NFL. Reader had 52 tackles and two and a half sacks last season in Houston. Linebacker, Barkevious Mingo was also lost as he signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears worth $1.187 million. Mingo was a key piece in the deal that sent Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks in 2019.
At this point into the 2020 NFL free agency, the Chicago Bears have made some questionable moves which includes trading for quarterback, Nick Foles. The Bears have acquired Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a compensatory fourth-round draft pick, which ends up being the 140th pick overall. The Bears will have to take on Foles’ salary, which has a base value of $50 million. The team also went out and signed tight end 33-year-old Jimmy Graham at two years for $16 million after the Green Bay Packers cut him.
While the Bears did make some good moves like signing Robert Quinn, the truth is the Graham contract is a waste of money and the team probably could have signed Cam Newton to a more team-friendly deal, been better next season and not had to give up a fourth-round pick.