In a world with a shortage of sports due to the coronavirus, NFL free agency gave avid sports fans something to get excited about. From the moment that the legal tampering period began on March 16, there was an extensive amount of moves being announced.
There were a few teams that decided to be aggressive to begin free agency, spending a boatload of money to improve their rosters. At the same time, there were also a few trades that took place that left people scratching their heads or applauding their favorite teams.
As we saw with the Cleveland Browns in 2019, having a successful offseason doesn’t always equate to success on the field. With that being said, here are the five biggest winners in the first week of NFL free agency in no particular order.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints entered the offseason needing to re-sign Drew Brees and add more pieces around him on offense. After deciding to return for his 20th season, Brees signed a new contract with the Saints at the beginning of free agency.
Also, to address the offense, New Orleans was able to ink a deal with Emmanuel Sanders, giving Brees a No. 2 option alongside Michael Thomas. On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints reunited with Malcolm Jenkins after the Philadelphia Eagles parted ways with him.
With the window to win another Super Bowl with Brees gradually closing, the Saints did a remarkable job bettering the roster for 2020. There’s no doubt that New Orleans is going to be a contender in the NFC South yet again next season.
The Arizona Cardinals are entering their second season under Kliff Kingsbury after his offense showed promise with Kyler Murray in 2019. Following the first week of free agency, it’s safe to say the Cardinals offense will be even better in 2020.
On the first day of the legal tampering period, the Cardinals somehow acquired DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans in a baffling trade. While sending David Johnson to Houston in the trade, Arizona also placed the transition tag on Kenyan Drake.
In addition, the Cardinals were able to bolster their defense by adding Jordan Phillips, De’Vondre Campbell, and Devon Kennard. Even though they are in the tough NFC West, there’s a chance that Arizona could be a playoff team in 2020.
The Miami Dolphins began the offseason with over $90 million in cap space and 14 draft picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. Provided that, the Dolphins were expected to be the most active team this offseason.
There’s no doubt that Miami didn’t shy away from spending money on proven players to continue shaping the roster. Of the free agents that the Dolphins signed, the most notable names are Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, and Shaq Lawson.
Plus, Miami was able to finalize a team-friendly deal with Jordan Howard to address the running back position. With nearly a month until the NFL Draft, the Dolphins have had a flurry of successful moves in free agency.
Los Angeles Chargers
A team that went under the radar in the first week of free agency was the Los Angeles Chargers. Despite moving on from Philip Rivers, the Chargers re-signed Austin Ekeler and negotiated a deal with Bryan Bulaga to strengthen their offensive line.
On the other hand, Los Angeles made a couple of impressive signings on defense, completing deals with Linval Joseph and Chris Harris Jr. The best part was that the Chargers were able to get bargains on Joseph and Harris, inking both of them to two-year, $17 million contracts.
Even though the Chargers didn’t sign a free-agent quarterback, they did a phenomenal job address the other holes on the roster. With a successful first week of free agency, Los Angeles can turn their attention to the upcoming draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Of course, the marquee storyline in free agency was where Tom Brady was going to decide to play next season. In a sudden turn of events, Brady chose to leave the New England Patriots and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
By signing Brady, the Buccaneers are expected to be contenders next season and Tampa Bay is now a preferred destination in free agency. Besides the astonishing move to land Brady, the Buccaneers also retained Shaquill Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul on defense.
As the Buccaneers enter their second season under Bruce Arians, it’s apparent they are desperate to contend immediately in 2020. While other teams attempted to lure Brady from the Patriots, Tampa Bay won the lottery by signing the greatest quarterback of all-time.