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    [2021] Top 10 NFLHC Free Agents: Analysis

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    A couple of weeks ago, prior to the free agency period article, I wrote an article on this year's top 10 free agents as can be found here.



    Now that all have been signed, I'll review my prediction and the player's actual destination, and what that means for the landscape of NFLHC.



    1. QB Thomas Wheeler 6-1 208 6 Florida State [Pocket] 93  

    Former Team: :chiefs: Kansas City Chiefs

    Predicted New Team: :redskins: Washington Redskins

    Actual New Team: :titans: Tennessee Titans






    Wheeler joins his 3rd team after 2 years playing for the Giants and 4 for the Chiefs. Wheeler has been a very up-and-down QB throughout his career but was still highly coveted in free agency. He is said to have chosen the Titans over the next closest suitor, the Buffalo Bills, because their offer had "just the right amount of money per year for a star QB."


    The contract: 3 years, $64.5 million, $45 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    The Titans should become immediate contenders in the AFC. The AFC is notoriously not a great conference, but with the Titans now likely on the upswing they'll reside in the conference's toughest division along with last year's #1 seed Jacksonville Jaguars (who got better themselves!) and the Indianapolis Colts. With lots of young talent on this Titans squad the projections for this team are skyhigh, with many pundits picking this team to the Super Bowl. I think it'll take Wheeler the first year of his contract to gel before the Titans become real contenders to win it all.



    2. DE Ron Rice 6-6 275 5 Michigan [Blitz] 93

    Former Team: :panthers: Carolina Panthers

    Predicted New Team: :jaguars: Jacksonville Jaguars

    Actual New Team: :jaguars: Jacksonville Jaguars




    One of my few correct predictions! Rice was the Jaguars' clearest target and joins the Jags after 5 years playing in Carolina. The bidding was mainly between the Patriots, Jaguars, and Chiefs, with the latter two the clearest two competitors. With both offering similar contracts, Rice ended up choosing Jacksonville as he reportedly wanted to continue playing for a winning team, and didn't believe that the Chiefs would be contenders this year after losing Thomas Wheeler. Rice ended up signing by far the largest contract for a DE, and defensive player, in NFLHC history.


    The contract: 5 years, $77 million, $71 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    Last year's AFC #1 seed gets even better, and they could use the help with the Titans likely to be much better next year and the Texans improving with Alex Leshoure at the helm. The Jags and their strange trick play offense also added Gary Faneca via trade, so this team is looking utterly ridiculous for 2021 at present moment. After a disappointing playoff showing in their second ever playoff appearance (they're 0-2 all-time with both losses coming against Oakland), Jags GM Soluna was clearly looking to improve the team to try to bring the first ever playoff victory and perhaps Lombardi Trophy to Jacksonville in 2021.



    3. SS R.C. Rone 6-1 204 7 Oklahoma State [Zone Coverage] 94

    Former Team: :falcons: Atlanta Falcons

    Predicted New Team: :chiefs: Kansas City Chiefs

    Actual New Team: :bengals: Cincinnati Bengals




    The Falcons reportedly tried to hold on to Rone, but their cap space was far too limiting and they fell out of the bidding early. The two highest bidders early ended up being the Titans and Redskins. Rone was reportedly ready to sign with Washington on his visit there but received an offer from the Bengals soon before he was going to sign on the dotted line. He took a visit to Cincinnati, loved it, (and the money they offered him), and Cincinnati got their upgrade to Calvin Celestin.


    The contract: 3 years, $51 million, $51 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    Well, the Bengals did end up losing some of their talent, but they managed to bring in the same amount of players in the 90s OVR that they started with going into the offseason. Depending on how strong the AFC North ends up being this year, the Bengals could be possible contenders to win their division, but with the offense likely taking a step back following some other losses I think this team will struggle a bit. Rone might be better help towards a Bengals playoff berth in year 2 or 3 of this contract depending on how the team ends up bringing in reinforcements.



    4. OT Blake Pile 6-5 311 5 USC [Run Blocking] 93

    Former Team: :bengals: Cincinnati Bengals

    Predicted New Team: :bengals: Cincinnati Bengals

    Actual New Team: :bengals: Cincinnati Bengals




    I figured the Bengals would make Pile their priority among the players lost, and that ended up being the case as Pile ended up returning to the Jungle. The Redskins and Chargers were also in on the bidding reportedly, but Pile is said to have felt that neither of those teams were closer to winning a Super Bowl than Cincinnati and he didn't want to uproot his family for no reason, as his main goal is winning a Super Bowl ring.


    The contract: 3 years, $55 million, $47 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    Pile's return will bring continue stability in a Bengals offense that probably needs it. With Joel King coming into the ever-important 3rd year as QB, he'll need all the help on offense he can get. I'm still not a fan of what Cincinnati is looking like at present moment, but bringing back Pile while signing Rone undoubtedly improves this team. Pile's contract is also humongous, but with little impact talent coming up for new contracts outside of Ron Thomas that's unlikely to affect the team in the near future.



    5. WR Rodney Montgomery 6-0 185 6 LSU [Target] 94

    Former Team: :bengals: Cincinnati Bengals

    Predicted New Team: :bills: Buffalo Bills

    Actual New Team: :chiefs: Kansas City Chiefs




    Montgomery's new team is the first one on this list that actually surprised me. The bidding was constrained to 4 main teams: the Bengals, Patriots, Chiefs, and surprise bidders (though not so surprising after trading Gary Faneca) the Seahawks. The bidding was close between the Patriots and Chiefs but Montgomery was mainly focused on the amount of money he'd receive in his new contract and chose a 4/56 offer from the Chiefs over a 4/55 offer from the Patriots.


    The contract: 4 years, $56 million, $50 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    Probably not that much. Since the team did lose Thomas Wheeler, Montgomery becomes this team's only non-specialist player in the 90s overall. And as a receiver, that's much less impactful for a team than having a QB in the 90s overall. The team will likely take a step back, but perhaps GM Nmize0 feels that Montgomery can help break in this team's new QB, whether that's incumbent backup Erasmus McCready or someone from the draft. If he's still as great as he is now in year 3 and 4 of this contract, this signing becomes more impactful, but for now Montgomery will likely be putting up stats on a losing team.



    6. OT Walter Adair 6-1 310 5 Army [Run Blocking] 93

    Former Team: :seahawks: Seattle Seahawks

    Predicted New Team: :redskins: Washington Redskins

    Actual New Team: :redskins: Washington Redskins




    Well, I've gotten #2, #4, and #6 right so far. The only two main bidders for Adair ended up being Washington and the Cardinals, though the Steelers reportedly did have an offer in that wasn't as close in total value. The Cardinals weren't willing to guarantee as much of his contract as the Redskins, so Adair ended up in Washington.


    The contract: 5 years, $68 million, $58 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    This is the first contract I'd say might be a bit steep, as 5 years seems like a bit of a risk for a guy who's never even seen a Pro Bowl. That said, similarly to Kansas City, this signing becomes the team's only non-specialist player in the 90s overall, which should help out ???? at QB in 2021. This team very well might be tanking again, though, so it could be a couple of seasons until this pays dividends and even then Adair could possibly be on the downswing. I don't hate it by any means, but Washington's lack of other impact free agent activity leaves this team in a position that isn't so great, in my opinion.



    7. ILB Zion Adakwa 6-2 224 4 Illinois [Mike] 89

    Former Team: :jets: New York Jets

    Predicted New Team: :redskins: Washington Redskins

    Actual New Team: :seahawks: Seattle Seahawks




    There were a lot of teams in on the bidding for Adakwa. The Jets reportedly tried bringing him back but didn't have the cap space to do so. Teams in on the Adakwa bidding included the Patriots, Jaguars, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Packers, and Seahawks, with the latter three being the main bidders. In the end, Adakwa was reportedly coaxed by former Jets teammates CB John Queen and WR Jim Umenyiora to sign in Seattle.


    The contract: 4 years, $46 million, $46 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    Seattle's in an interesting spot; after trading away star WR Gary Faneca and former first round draft pick CB Corey Quinn, Seattle has reloaded with draft picks while clearing cap space. They've spent a lot of it here, bringing in Adakwa to pair with Malcolm Douglas-Scott to form probably the league's most feared ILB duo. It's not going to be easy to run up the middle on Seattle with these two and Christian Okonkwo manning the middle. With that said, without a first rounder, Seattle's success still hinges on Jarius Jones and crew, and that will be harder without Faneca. I'm not sure I see this team improving quite yet, but it depends on how well their slew of mid-round picks pan out.



    8. WR Charlie Paul 5-9 163 5 Maryland [Target] 86

    Former Team: :jets: New York Jets

    Predicted New Team: :chargers: Los Angeles Chargers

    Actual New Team: :steelers: Pittsburgh Steelers




    Paul is the only free agent on the list to have received very few (just two) offers as his APY requirements scared most potential bidders who would have been interested off of the process. After trading away Anthony McCardell, the Steelers were in the market for a consistent player to line up next to Samuel Jolley, and Charlie Paul is a solid signing in that regard as he can slot right in as the #1 or #2 receiver depending on matchups.


    The contract: 1 year, $7.5 million, $7.5 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    This contract seems pretty low, but it is only a one year deal as most potentially interested teams were in on the Rodney Montgomery bidding, anyway. The Steelers are potential favorites for the AFC North crown next year, as either Paul Davenport or Rob Corp will try to lead this team to their first ever playoff berth in 2021. I think after their trade with the Bucs and this signing, they may be in position to go for it. With the Ravens having a question mark at QB with Reggie Watkins almost certainly holding out and Brett Fisher unproven, this may be Pittsburgh's time to strike for the crown.



    9. DE Steven Jordan 6-7 279 6 Iowa State [Contain] 86

    Former Team: :seahawks: Seattle Seahawks

    Predicted New Team: :vikings: Minnesota Vikings

    Actual New Team: :redskins: Washington Redskins




    Of the three free agents I predicted the 'Skins to sign, they only signed one. And then they went after one I figured they wouldn't. In fact, none of the three teams that ended up pursuing him were on my radar for him at all. The main suitors were Washington, the Browns, and the Cowboys, but Jordan wanted to cash in on his payday while he could and ends up in Washington.


    The contract: 4 years, $32 million, $18 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    This deal is relatively reasonable for Washington, as Jordan becomes easily cuttable in years 3 and 4 of the contract. As I mentioned before, I don't think that the Redskins are in much position to be competitive any time soon so I think the signing of Jordan will have a negligible impact on NFLHC as a whole, although he might be around by the time Washington is competitive again if he lives up to this contract. He might be a one-year wonder, though, so it's tough to say for certain. Maybe I'm pessimistic, but I'm leaning towards it being difficult for him to live up to his new deal.



    10. K Cliff Chamblin 6-4 191 6 LSU [Power] 97

    Former Team: :rams: Los Angeles Rams

    Predicted New Team: :bears: Chicago Bears

    Actual New Team: :cardinals: Arizona Cardinals




    The Cardinals have now made the two most impactful signings of a specialist in NFLHC history, as Cliff Chamblin joins Steve Noonan in Arizona's special teams unit. Chamblin made it clear he would sign with whichever team gave him the most money, and while reports were that the competition was mostly between the Browns, 49ers, and Bears at first, the Cardinals swooped in last second, giving Chamblin a 4-year deal and offering the most total money. That was enough to sell him.


    The contract: 4 years, $28 million, $21 million guaranteed


    This signing's impact on NFLHC in 2021:


    Even after adding Taylor Rodriguez, I don't quite see the Cardinals being competitive in 2021 as of yet. In that sense, this signing doesn't have much impact yet. By 2022 Arizona might be ready to start approaching a playoff berth, and Chamblin is likely to remain on the team for all four years of this contract, so there's that. However, the larger impact is on the Rams who now have a potential black hole at kicker, which could largely hurt a team that many thought was the best in NFLHC last season. We'll see what kind of moves LA makes at the position, but as of now this could definitely hurt.



    FA Winners and Losers:



    :jaguars: Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars got better by adding Ron Rice and losing no one of value, while among their direct competitors only the Titans really got better. Rice adds the pass rush element this team was sorely lacking last year and it's tough to see any huge holes on this team anymore.


    :titans: Tennessee Titans: They got their QB. It was going to be tough to add a QB to fill that fits with what seems to be this team's timeline in the draft, and in that sense bringing in Wheeler is huge.


    :redskins: Washington Redskins: I trashed their signings, but at the end of the day they still likely got better as a result of their deals and don't lose anyone who matters significantly to the team.




    :bengals: Cincinnati Bengals: They brought back Pile and brought in another impact free agent in Rone. Even though they lose Montgomery, Adrian Jankowski is good enough to be the team's #1 receiver moving forward. Someone else will have to be brought in to help out Joel King after they also lost Tony DeMarco, however, and bringing back Pile and bringing in Rone isn't enough to offset the total sum of their losses (and also, having to overpay Pile by a significant amount compared to what he probably could have been given during re-signings doesn't help).


    :jets: New York Jets: The team got worse (independently of trading) while the rest of the conference, for the most part, got better. That doesn't bode well for the team's continued success. However, their AFC East rivals failing to sign anyone any major free agents can be counted as a win.


    :colts: Indianapolis Colts: This team continues to stagnate in the AFC South, and with both of their direct rivals now getting significant upgrades while Indy can't improve due to cap constrains, they could be in trouble in 2021. A potential playoff miss for the first time in a while could be looming.





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