The NFL Old Order is Rapidly Fading
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
It’s a year of change – unparalleled change – all around the NFL. Money is being hurled all over the place, key players are switching teams, front offices and coaching staffs are being reshuffled, and several teams are cleaning house up and down their rosters.
As Dylan warns us, it isn’t a good time for teams to be standing pat or to be presided over by old school slow-to-adjust front offices and coaching staffs. Flexibility, versatility, creativity: without these qualities, a team isn’t likely to be competitive in this watershed season.
I earlier focused on three teams who were significantly remaking their rosters this offseason: the Rams, the Vikings and the Bears. The Packers will face these new-look operations five times during the regular season.
The turnover doesn’t stop there, however. In the NFC North, Detroit hasn’t sat the offseason out either. The latest number of free agent signings: Bears, 15; Lions, 13; Vikings, 7; Packers, 4.
While it might seem in Wisconsin that free agency has run its course, some teams remain active. The Raiders and new coach Jon Gruden, are now at 19 signings (including re-signings and trades) during this offseason. And they’ve just been caught by the New York Jets. Here’s a couple more teams a-changin’.
You’ll hardly recognize the 2018 Seattle Seahawks. You know Russell Wilson got traded during this offseason, right? Yes, it’s true: the Texas Rangers assigned his MLB rights to the New York Yankees.
The Legion of Boom is now the legion of gloom, as defensive backs Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, and DeShawn Shead, along with defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson have all flown the coop. Defensive end Cliff Avril and safety Kam Chancellor both have career-threatening neck injuries. The future of safety Earl Thomas in Seattle is also reportedly in doubt.
On offense, running back Thomas Rawls, who was supposed to make fans forget about Marshawn Lynch, is now with the Jets. Tight end Jimmy Graham is with Green Bay and rising star receiver Paul Richardson has joined the Redskins.
Green Bay East!
The winless Browns? In addition to having the most 2018 draft choices, along with Green Bay, they’ve already had a busy offseason: new players include quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton, cornerbacks E.J. Gaines and T.J. Carrie, receiver Jarvis Landry, running back Carlos Hyde, tight end Darren Falls and defensive end Chris Smith.
Cleveland is becoming the Packers’ alumni association: on their roster are cornerback Damarious Randall, center J.C. Tretter and receiver Jeff Janis, and the Browns’ front office is now occupied by three former Packers execs.
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’
Free Agency Grades
For what it’s worth, on March 30 ESPN handed out free agency grades for all 32 NFL teams as of that date. All by themselves with an “A” were the Minnesota Vikings, followed by the Bills, Rams, Steelers and Buccaneers, all at B+. The Bears came in at a healthy B.
At C+, the Packers were in a five-way tie for 25th place. The only teams below them were the Falcons, Dolphins and Colts.
The slow ones now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’…