(COVINGTON, La.) — With all the COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the world has been deprived of sports. However, many have tried to distract themselves from the pandemic by focusing on some of the only sports news there is: NFL free agency. Subtly, many big names have been passed along in a sea of moves.
The New Orleans Saints resigned quarterback Drew Brees, signed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and brought back safety Malcolm Jenkins who played for the Philadelphia Eagles for six years after being let go by the Saints in 2013. With Sean Payton saying that this upcoming season will be Brees’ final year, the Saints hope that these pieces will elevate them to a Super Bowl appearance.
Staying in the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Tom Brady, who spent twenty seasons and won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. With this signing, the Buccaneers had no need to resign 2015 first-overall pick quarterback Jameis Winston, who led the league in interceptions last year at 30 and remains a free agent. Winston was later picked up by the Saints, strengthening their quarterback room for a post-Brees season. The Atlanta Falcons signed running back Todd Gurley after he was cut by the Los Angeles Rams after given a large contract. The Carolina Panthers released quarterback Cam Newton, who had been with the team since 2011 and lifted the franchise to a Super Bowl appearance. The former MVP is still unsigned, yet rumors abound that he will sign with the Patriots or Steelers. The Panthers brought in former Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to replace Newton. Bridgewater started five games for the Saints last year when Brees was injured and went 5-0.
In the NFC North, the Chicago Bears traded for former Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. Foles bounced around many teams after first being drafted by the Eagles in 2012. He reunited with the Eagles in 2017 as a backup and took them on a playoff run after starting quarterback Carson Went was injured. Foles was signed to a four-year deal and $88 million contract by the Jacksonville Jaguars last offseason before trading him. The Bears said that there will be an open quarterback competition between Foles and 2016 second-overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky for who will win the starting job.
In the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals traded for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans for a mere second-round pick and running back David Johnson. Many have questioned this decision by Texans general manager Bill O’Brien, saying that the Texans did not get enough for Hopkins. The Seattle Seahawks signed long time Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. The San Francisco 49ers traded defensive tackle Deforest Buckner to the Colts for a first-round pick.
The NFC East did not have many big name signings. The Eagles signed corner Darius Slay and the Dallas Cowboys resigned wide receiver Amari Cooper, and the New York Giants signed cornerback James Bradberry and running back Dion Lewis.
In the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts signed veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers, who had been in the Chargers for 16 years and has started 224 straight games. The Texans brought in wide receiver Randall Cobb to help replace DeAndre Hopkins. The Tennessee Titans resigned quarterback Ryan Tannehill and franchise tagged running back Derrick Henry, who both guided the team to the AFC Championship Game last year. The Jacksonville Jaguars lost notable players on their defense such as AJ Bouye and Calais Campbell. One of their only accusations was former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert.
In the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed tight end Eric Ebron. The Baltimore Ravens traded for defensive end Calais Campbell. The Cleveland Browns acquired tight end Austin Hooper who spent his whole career with the Falcons. The Bengals signed Saints safety Vonn Bell and franchised tagged wide receiver AJ Green.
In the AFC West, the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs currently have a total of $177 in cap space, so it is probably safe to say that they will not be making any big moves going forward. The Las Vegas Raiders brought in long time Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and 2015 second-overall pick quarterback by the Titans in Marcus Mariota. The Los Angeles Chargers let go of Phillip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon. The Chargers have said that they would be content with Tyrod Taylor as the starting quarterback next year. Taylor was the backup to Rivers last year. The Denver Broncos signed Melvin Gordon and AJ Bouye.
Finally, in the AFC East, the New England Patriots lost Tom Brady, who was signed by the Buccaneers. The Patriots also lost defensive players in Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy. The Patriots have said that they would be confident in Jarrett Stidham at quarterback next season. They also brought in a lesser-known veteran quarterback, Brian Hoyer. The Buffalo Bills’ big move was trading for Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The Bills gave up a first, fourth, fifth, and sixth-round pick for Diggs. The Miami Dolphins signed linebacker Kyle Van Van Noy from the Patriots, cornerback Byron Jones from the Cowboys, and running back Jordan Howard from the Eagles. The Dolphins picked Alabama quarterback Tua Tagavailoa in the first round of the 2020 Draft.
Though there are many more signings that went unnoticed, these players are expected to make the most impact with their teams. President Donald Trump has said that he expects the NFL season to begin in September with fans in attendance. For the sake of NFL fans, hopefully he is correct.