Andrew Dawson, Staff Writer |
The NFL 2021 free agency is upon us and teams are making an aggressive push to sign players that will hopefully improve their rosters. Several big-name free agents switched teams, changing the complexion of the league.
Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots won the free agency battle after spending more than 268 million dollars. The Patriots had their first losing season in 19 years after having a 7-9 record this past season. Belichick outspent the rest of the league to ensure that wouldn’t happen again. The Patriots two biggest acquisitions were Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Henry signed a 3-year deal worth 37 million dollars and Smith signed a 4-year deal worth 50 million dollars. This was an important move for the Patriots because they are known for having a lethal two-tight-end formation and both these young players help improve that position.
New England didn’t stop there and continued to make moves that would improve their offense. They signed wide receiver Nelson Agholor to a two-year contract worth 22 million dollars, re-signed quarterback Cam Newton and acquired offensive tackle Trent Brown via a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders. All of these moves are important because they make the Patriots more dynamic and explosive on offense. Last season, the Patriots struggled on offense, only averaging 20.4 points per game which was the fifth-worst in the entire league. The Patriots are hoping that these free agents will help improve their roster and bring them to the playoffs in the 2021 season.
Another team that did well in free agency was the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins missed the playoffs last season by only one game, and they are hoping the acquisitions they made will help bring them to the playoffs next season. They signed star wide receiver Will Fuller to a 1-year deal worth over 10 million dollars. Fuller is a productive wide receiver that will take pressure off the Dolphin’s young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. They also signed cornerback Justin Coleman which helps give them a strong secondary. Coleman will play alongside Xavien Howard who is considered one of the best young cornerbacks in the entire league. The Dolphins also have a valuable 6th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft which will grant them a talented player. While the Dolphins may be a young team, they are poised for the 2021 playoffs.
Free agency can make or break a team, including the Chicago Bears. The Bears publicly stated that they were going to make a trade for all-pro quarterback Russell Wilson. They promised their fans they would acquire Wilson because they were offering a trade the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t refuse. The Bears have one of the best defenses in the league and they are only a quarterback away from being a Super Bowl-caliber team. Wilson would help the Bears reach the next level and become a real Super Bowl threat. However, the Bears didn’t reach an agreement with the Seahawks and ended up signing Andy Dalton to be their starting quarterback. While Dalton is a slight improvement for the Bears, fans were promised one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The Bears also upset their fans by releasing star cornerback Kyle Fuller which puts a hole in their great defense.
The Houston Texans are also one of the teams that had an unimpressive free agency. The Texans’ current quarterback is Deshaun Watson, and he is considered one of the best young players in the NFL. However, Watson has been unhappy with the Texans organization and requested a trade back in January, according to NFL reporter Adam Schefter. Watson is still under contract and they don’t want to part ways with the talented signal caller. To make matters worse, the Texans didn’t sign key free agents that would improve their offense and make Watson happy. If they signed more offensive players than Watson may have reconsidered. Instead, they didn’t resign their best receiver, Fuller, and they didn’t improve their offensive line. The only noteworthy move the Texans made was trading for offensive lineman Marcus Cannon.
While free agency is wrapping up, there are still unanswered questions around the league. The San Francisco 49ers acquired the third overall pick in this year’s draft via a trade with the Dolphins. The 49ers already have quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo under contract for the upcoming season but they may be looking to draft his predecessor in the 2021 NFL Draft.