While March Madness usually tends to be about basketball, but that doesn’t mean the NFL was going to stay away from the spotlight.
NFL free agency kicked off with a bang, and the league has changed a lot over the course of two weeks. Here is where we stand as the dust begins to settle before the draft stirs it up again.
The NFC North goes off
Kirk Cousins was the biggest prize of free agency, and the Minnesota Vikings landed him. The contract is an all guaranteed $84 million over three years. The move brings a stability to the quarterback position that hasn’t been seen for a while.
The Vikings added Sheldon Richardson from Seattle and also brought in Trevor Siemian as the backup quarterback in a big shake-up of the quarterback room.
But all the moves bring expectations back to the team. In true Minnesota fashion, the Vikings will go 8-8 and miss the playoffs this year.
As for the Green Bay Packers, the biggest move came in the form of Jimmy Graham. The former Seahawks tight end adds another red zone target for Aaron Rodgers. However, Rodgers doesn’t use his tight ends too much, but Graham is a different player than other tight ends.
The Bears got much-needed weapons for Mitchell Trubisky, adding receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel along with tight end Trey Burton. All of a sudden, the Chicago offense has an arsenal of weapons.
As for the Detroit Lions, the search for a player to gain 100 yards rushing continues. The next candidate is LeGarrette Blount. But the former Eagle averaged just 47.9 yards per game last season, so a 100-yard game may be hard to come by.
The NFC West just got interesting
The Legion of Boom is dead. Richard Sherman is gone, as is Richardson. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril both have their futures up in the air. The Seahawks are likely to fall down the standings.
And Sherman made the division even more interesting by signing by with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, Russel Wilson will have to face his former teammate twice each year.
The 49ers also splashed on former Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon, set to become the starting back behind of Jimmy Garoppolo, who was briefly the highest paid quarterback before Cousins signed.
San Francisco looks set to battle the Los Angeles Rams, who added cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.
As for the Cardinals, they picked up Sam Bradford, so there is that.
Who are these Browns?
Of all the teams to make moves, the Cleveland Browns made a lot of good ones and got rid of some dead weight.
Tyrod Taylor is a good quarterback, which is something that the team hasn’t seen for a long time.
The addition of Jarvis Landry makes for a good complement to Josh Gordon. Carlos Hyde comes into the backfield with some experience. Offensive tackles Chris Hubbard and Donald Stephenson look to secure the front lines.
Don’t forget that Cleveland also has the first and fourth pick in the draft. This team could be different than the last two seasons, which brought a record of 1-31.
It was always going to be a downgrade leaving Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are close for Case Keenum (or Kessum if you are John Elway) in Denver.
Defending Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles added to their impressive defense with Michael Bennett.
The bad news for Packers fans, Rodgers will be without one of his favorite targets. Green Bay released Jordy Nelson, who was then picked up by the Raiders.