Happy new league year: NFL free agency

By Sterling Pingree

  • The Raiders trading for Antonio Brown and signing LT Trent Brown to the largest contract an offensive lineman has ever signed makes me think that Al Davis faked his own death. Davis would have LOVED the AB situation in Pittsburgh so much that he would have insisted on giving them another pick or upgraded the ones he gave them. Antonio Brown is a perfect Al Davis Raider: controversial, outspoken, bit of a rebel and fast as hell.

Trent Brown is such a classic overpay that his picture should be on the cover of some sort of free agency do’s and don’ts manual (that clearly doesn’t exist, but if the league was really dedicated to parity they would publish it like Jerry Maguire’s mission statement). Brown is a former 7th round pick who has had exactly one good season in the NFL and that was under the “line whisperer” Dante Scarnecchia. The Raiders will regret the Trent Brown signing, the only question is do they ultimately regret it more or less than the Antonio Brown deal? There is a wide array of outcomes for Antonio, Trent’s future isn’t as volatile but the chances of him recreating what he did last year in New England seems far fetched.

  • I’m actually moderately impressed by what the Jets have done. The Jets had a ton of cap money and it’s no surprise that they have spent it, the surprise is that they have spent it pretty intelligently, in spite of the fact that they’ve handed out monster contracts like Oprah hands out Omaha Steaks. (I clearly don’t know what Oprah hands out, I don’t think I’m her audience. Does she still have a show or just a network?) Jameson Crowder was someone I thought the Patriots might take a look at; very good run after the catch slot receiver, doesn’t make as much sense on the Jets because receiver is one area where they should actually be okay but the thinking is that if they want Sam Darnold to be a success they are going to load him up with weapons, I get it. Speaking of which, Le’Veon Bell has finally found a “home” (quotations mine). Bell couldn’t have played his hand worse, the consensus is that he got some really bad Intel when he decided to sit out the entirety of the 2018 season and now he’s a Jet. Not such a good idea now, is it? CJ Mosley is a good signing, would have looked better with Anthony Barr next to him, but a solid move. Perhaps the one I like the most was the trade with Oakland that landed the Jets G Kelechi Osemele. Osemele at 29 years old, is one of the stronger men in the league and is a classic “change of scenery” candidate. The Jets distributed their cash well adding pieces to each area of the team; they overpaid for everybody except Osemele but still they improved in several areas.
  • The Detroit Lions are officially Patriots Mid-west branch, signing Danny Amendola, Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman to go along with LeGarrette Blount, head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn. As a Patriots fan I am sad to see Flowers leave, I get it (I was wrong in my predictions column, but to be fair to me, Ford, Lawrence, Clowney and Jarrett hadn’t been franchised yet) the contract was ridiculous and you can’t begrudge the guy for signing it. I was surprised that Flowers signed that quickly, just 4 hours after the legal tampering period began but it appeared that the teams that had cap space weren’t going to mess around. As a fan, I am glad that Flowers went outside of the conference and thankfully the Dolphins are in some sort of a coma and have taken this entire week off. I guess Miami is the only team that waited for the new league year to start before they got to work on building next year’s team. Maybe that’s why Bill Belichick was spending all of that time on a boat swimming this week, it was to confuse some of the feeble minded teams into missing the legal tampering. (By the way, I love the fact that there is such a thing as legal tampering.)

Bright side for Patriots fans about Amendola and Flowers signing in Detroit? Atleast we have something to root for on Thanksgiving now! Blount, Flowers, Dola and HC Matty P? Sign me up, on Turkey day, I’m a Lions guy now!

  • No surprise that they Patriots would be quiet in the first few days of free agency, especially after making the Michael Bennett trade last Friday. I like the three moves from Wednesday: bringing back old friend Brandon Bolden, re-signing both Jason McCourty and John Simon. (I predicted McCourty would be back and even said that the team would grab Simon, how’s that for a prediction!?!? Now I just need Stephen Gostkowski, Albert McClellan and Ryan Allen to come back and it will start to make up for getting it wrong with Trey Flowers. Did I mention there were like 6 elite pass rushers on the market when I wrote that? They hadn’t been franchised yet! Again, not my fault. Just so we’re clear.) I’m holding out hope that the Patriots will be able to nab Justin Houston or Golden Tate. My courage isn’t great on either, less belief in landing Houston than Tate, but my worry in both cases in the Colts. The Colts have been pretty quiet until they re-signed Pierre Desir Wednesday for 3-years, $25 million, but they still have more than $80 million in salary cap room for this season. I could see both Tate and Houston being good fits in Indy and GM Chris Ballard is playing the same waiting game that the Patriots are but they have more chips to play if the two were to go head to head on talent.
  • I’ll end with the Cleveland Browns. I’m impressed. I didn’t think that I would be, but adding Odell Beckham Jr and Olivier Vernon are steps in the right direction. John Dorsey might be a bigger star in Cleveland right now than Lebron James was the second time he came back to the Cavaliers. Who would have thought a week ago that it would be the Browns not the Giants that would generate more buzz this fall when they come to Gillette Stadium to play the Patriots?

Not me, buddy boy!

Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Like us on Facebook, Drive Show Maine and follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine.