March 16 marked the first day of the free agency period in the NFL, which always brings with it some surprises.
In the first two days, several organizations made surprising moves that greatly changed the outlooks of their teams and saw several star players transitioning to new uniforms.
Tom Brady headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The biggest story headed into NFL free agency was Tom Brady’s status as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
After twenty seasons playing for the New England Patriots, the 43-year old said he wanted to control his own fate as a free agent this offseason and get a fresh start through a new team.
Brady announced on social media Tuesday morning that he would not be returning to the Patriots.
Rumors quickly circulated on Tuesday afternoon that the main two teams Brady was considering were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Chargers.
News broke early Tuesday evening that Brady had agreed to terms with Tampa Bay.
Los Angeles would have made sense as a landing spot for Brady, as they have parted ways with Phillip Rivers and are a talented team.
However, it is rumored that Brady wanted to stay on the East Coast due to family considerations.
Brady will be paired with an energetic head coach with Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay and will have better offensive weapons to throw to than he had in New England last year.
This includes most notably Mike Evans, a top-tier receiver in the league, as well as other wideouts Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman and talented tight-end O.J. Howard.
Brady’s goal seems to be to prove he can win a title away from New England and Bill Belichick.
Tampa Bay was a competitive team last year that went 7-9 and lost a ton of close games due to Jameis Winston’s severe turnover issues.
Brady is moving to a tougher division, as he will have to compete with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South, but the NFC may prove to be an easier conference to win in the next few years, as he will not have to face Lamar Jackson’s Ravens or Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs.
If Brady can continue to stay healthy there is no reason to believe he can not elevate the Buccaneers to at the very least a serious contender in the NFC.
Houston Texans trade DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for David Johnson, draft picks
The first day of free agency began with a complete head-scratcher of a trade, as the Houston Texans traded away arguably the best receiver in the NFL for a relatively miniscule return.
In exchange for the elite receiver the Texans received David Johnson, a 28 year-old running back, a 2020 second-round draft pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
This deal will be looked back on as laughable and reflects very poorly on Bill O’Brien’s role as being the team’s head coach and general manager.
This trade is proof that this mix almost never works and there needs to be a seperate general manager in the organization to provide accountability in the decision-making process.
There are rumors and speculation that O’Brien and Hopkins have had friction in their relationship as player and coach.
However, if O’Brien was not also the general manager there may have been more clarity and a lack of bias in the decision to trade away their star player.
In return for arguably the best receiver in the league, all the Texans received was an injury-prone running back that is years past his prime and two non-first-round draft picks.
This Hopkins deal is not the first head-scratcher trade O’Brien has executed in Houston.
His trade that sent Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle last year was equally underwhelming and puzzling.
The Hopkins deal looked bad from the beginning but looked even worse later in the day after another trade took place.
Minnesota Vikings trade Stefon Diggs to Buffalo Bills
Late on Monday evening, the Minnesota Vikings traded Stefon Diggs and a seventh- round draft pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, fifth-round pick, sixth-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
Diggs has been rumored to have wanted out of Minnesota for a long time.
Early in the 2019 season Diggs skipped practice and meetings and carried out distracting antics in the media.
The Vikings were able to find the best deal they could have realistically imagined for their mercuriale wide receiver, as unlike the Texans, they got a first-round pick in return.
It was a shame that the Vikings felt they had to move on from Diggs, as he is a top tier talent at the wide receiver position in the middle of his prime.
However, there is reason to believe that his negativity in the locker room and distracting antics had reached the point that this was necessary and inevitable.
Minnesota will be able to move on from his dramatic press conferences and cryptic tweets and shift their focus to the 2020 draft that is deep at the wide receiver position and for which they now hold 12 picks.
This deal exposed the Hopkins trade for how truly bad it was, as Minnesota got a much better return for a lesser-talented wide receiver.
Janssen can be reached at [email protected].