Ellie Kinney, asst. sports editor
Biggest winner: New England Patriots
The Patriots are the clear winners of free agency, and it’s not even close. While most teams go through rebuilding periods every so often, the Patriots always find a way to stay in Super Bowl contention. Head coach Bill Belichick’s reaction to the team’s mediocre 7-9 season was to spend $159.6 million in guaranteed money on a hefty lineup of free agents; this is very uncharacteristic for the Patriots, who are better known for turning underrated players into superstars within their system, but it certainly fits with Belichick’s knack for doing the unexpected.
New England’s greatest need coming into the offseason was more offensive weapons, and Belichick certainly made that happen. After a season with an almost nonexistent tight end threat, the Patriots signed not just one of the best tight ends available in free agency, but both of them: former Tennessee Titan Jonnu Smith and former Los Angeles Charger Hunter Henry. In addition, the signing of former Las Vegas Raider Nelson Agholor gives the Patriots a much-needed deep threat at wide receiver. We will have to wait and see if the Patriots stick with Cam Newton as quarterback, but one thing is certain: Newton has a lot more talent to work with now, and that could make all the difference.
Chris Benis, asst. sports editor
Biggest winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coming off an unlikely (and well deserved) Super Bowl title, the Buccaneers wasted no time in locking up basically all of their starters for the foreseeable future. The Buccaneers are the first NFL team since the league introduced the salary cap in 1994 to bring back all 22 starters following their Super Bowl victory. Tom Brady was extended through 2022, while the quarterback himself thinks he may play an NFL season at the age of 46— well, if anyone can do it, it’s him. Tampa Bay also re-signed Rob Gronkowski on a one year, $8 million deal, as well as wide receiver Chris Godwin (franchise tag), outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette, and kicker Ryan Succop. In addition, troubled yet talented wide receiver Antonio Brown may also return, so expect to see Tampa Bay in the postseason for years to come.
Ben Barrett, sports intern
Biggest Winner: New York Giants
Starting with the offense, the Giants signed wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who has proven to be a top receiver in the league and a major deep threat. While Daniel Jones struggles in almost every aspect as a quarterback, he actually ranks among the top ten deep ball passers in the league, so he and Golladay could be in for a big year. While the Giants did agree to pay him a staggering $72 million over four years, a wide receiver of Golladay’s caliber is worth every penny. The Giants also signed John Ross, one of the fastest receivers in the league, to a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million as well as veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph to a two-year deal worth $12 million. Rudolph’s experience in the league, his blocking and his terrific pass -catching ability will greatly benefit this Giants offense.
On the defensive side, the Giants also made some major signings. They re-signed star defensive lineman Leonard Williams to a three-year deal worth up to $63 million. Re-signing him was a smart decision as he has not only proven himself to be a talented player but also he is familiar with their system and can be a strong leader on and off the field for their defense. The Giants also signed cornerback Adoree' Jackson to a three-year deal worth up to $39 million, who will complement cornerback James Bradberry, safety Jabrill Peppers and safety Xavier McKinney for a strong secondary. To top off their defensive signings, the Giants and linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo agreed to a one-year contract worth up to $2.5 million. Odenigbo was one of the few bright spots on a very disappointing Vikings defense last season. He was the top pass rusher on the team with 10.5 sacks the last two seasons and 15 quarterback hits last season alone.
Miles Thomas, sports editor
Biggest Winner: The Washington Football Team
This is going to be a fun team to watch next season. Following a division title and playoff berth last season, the Football Team faced uncertainty at the quarterback position. They solved this issue temporarily by signing veteran journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one year deal worth $10 million to lead the team’s offense this upcoming season. Fitzpatrick, now with his ninth team, gives Washington a steady veteran to bridge the team while they transition to find their future franchise quarterback at a relatively low price. His leadership in the locker room and gunslinger style of play, often leading to magic moments, will no doubt excite Washington fans and get his new teammates fired up, especially the team’s pass catchers. The team also signed wide receiver Curtis Samuel, who spent time last season as one of the Carolina Panthers top targets last season, putting up 851 yards receiving and three touchdowns. He joins fellow wide receiver Terry McLaurin, the Washington Football Team’s top offensive player last season and versatile running back Antonio Gibson in what could be one of the most fun offenses to watch in the NFL next season.
Free agent cornerback William Jackson was also signed by the team to a three year, $42 million deal to join what was already a top tier defense last season, ranking 6th in scoring defense last season. While Washington may not have made the most exciting moves, nor is the team likely to win the Super Bowl next season, they seem to be heading in the right direction following years of disappointment.
This is the opinion of the sports section. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to email@example.com.