Tales From Beyond the Grave: Nightmare NFL Free Agency Scenarios
By: David Connors @DConBlitz
Read at Your Own Risk!!!
If you think this will be a happy tale of rainbows and sugar drops, you are sadly mistaken. If you want to read a cheerful outcome for your favorite NFL Free Agents then you may want to put this article down and read a different, more positive article. No? Alright, do not say I did not warn you?
The NFL Free Agency is approaching quickly, and the dominos are beginning to fall for player movement at key positions across the league. Veteran players are feeling the excitement of a new home, a new fan base, but what if it isn’t rainbows and sunshine at their destinations. What if the grass is not greener on the other side? This is the time of year where speculation runs rampant. What are the worst possible scenarios for some key names across the league? What is the worst possible outcome for these free agents? Pull up a seat to my campfire, snuggle your favorite teddy, and pull that snuggy a little closer as I tell the scariest potential outcomes for the NFL future.
Tom Brady is scheduled to hit the Free Agency Market at the age of 42 after a legendary career in New England. Where will Brady end up? One of the rumors is to the Los Angeles Chargers to prove he is not a system quarterback. However, that is where his story takes a grave turn. Tom Brady’s offensive line with the Patriots has dominated in pass protection. Since 2012, the Patriots pass protection grade has averaged a 74.6 according to Pro Football Focus with a grade in the top 5 six out those eight years. The Chargers on the other hand, have averaged a grade of just over 66 in pass protection and have only mustered a 61.7 since moving to Los Angeles in 2017. In 2019, the Chargers Offensive Line ranked 28th as a unit according to Pro Football Focus and 31st in Pass Protection. In fact, the offensive linemen who graded the best individually were still significantly below average. It’s not like Tom Brady is getting more elusive as he ventures into the twilight of his career. Although the Chargers have incredible skill position players, it could be a struggle for Brady to allow plays to develop in LA.
Tom Brady is the most disliked player by fans in the NFL according to a report by the Bleacher Report. The Chargers have struggled to fill Dignity Health Sports Park which only has a capacity of 27,000 fans which is far below the average capacity of the other 30 NFL stadiums (69,444). In 2020, the Chargers will move into SoFi Stadium with a projected capacity of over 70,000. When factoring how much the Chargers will struggle with Brady at the helm, it is frightening to think about how the Chargers will fill those seats. By week 5, there will only be one lonely fan shouting “Go, Chargers Go!!! Wait, where is everybody? I’m all alone...at least my glasses broke so I don’t have to watch this atrocity on the field...Wait! I don’t wear glasses!! Nooooooo!!!!
Scared now? Ready to put this article down? No? Well if that did not turn you away, this next one surely will.
The Thing Wearing Rivers Skin
Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have mutually decided to part ways at the end of the 2019 season. According to Vegas, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the best odds to be Rivers landing spot for the 2020 season. He has already moved his herd of children to the state of Florida. On the surface this seems ideal, but is it? The Buccaneers were much better in pass protection than the Chargers in 2019 with the 10th best Pro Football Focus grade. They also have incredible receivers featuring Mike Evans on the perimeter and Chris Godwin in the slot. Both teams ran the ball at a similar clip, 39% of the time. It seems the Buccaneers seem prepared to move away from Jameis Winston and his 30 interceptions, but is Rivers an upgrade? Sure Rivers throws an interception nearly 2% less per pass than Winston, but Winston has been asked to make more high difficulty throws than any other QB in the NFL since his debut in the NFL according to a Football Outsiders metric used to track it. The Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn utilizes a strong defense and a slow pace which led the Chargers running 76 fewer plays than the Buccaneers in 2019. So would Rivers be an improvement? Since 2017, Rivers Passing grade from Pro Football Focus significantly drops off towards the end of the season. In the last 7 weeks of 2019, Rivers has a passer grade of 62 which is over 11 points lower than his grade for the total year. The fact is Rivers wears down at the end of the season in Anthony Lynn’s slow pace offense. How will he hold up when not only is he asked to run more plays, but asked to make more difficult throws. Rivers may not have reached milestones like 30 TDs and 30 INT in one season, although he tried to keep up with 20 TDs and 20 INTs. What if Rivers not only matches Winston’s interception rate, but is worse because he just cannot make the throws Winston can anymore? Or he simply cannot hold up?
Jack the Buccaneers fan is woken up by Bruce Arians, “Jack, I had a bad dream.”
“What was your dream?”
“I can’t tell you”
“Because when I told you in my dream, the thing wearing Philip Rivers skin woke up.”
Jack feels paralyzed, he looks to his side as the blankets shift next to him...is that you Rivers...Winston?
Oh I bet you are terrified now! You want more? You must have a glutton for punishments very well.
Warning: Reading this next tale WILL cause loss of sleep...
The Reign Continues
This will be your final warning, even simply writing this into existence brings me unspeakable pain.
As mentioned in the previous story, nobody has made more throws of high difficulty than Jameis Winston since he debuted in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. What if the Buccaneers made a mistake bringing in Bruce Arians “no risk it no biscuit” offense to pair with a loose cannon like Winston? What if Winston needs a coach that is going to reign him in more. If Tom Brady were to leave the Patriots, Bill Belichick will need to fill his Quarterback position. Winston has a ton of talent. What if Belichick could be the Head Coach to unlock all of Winston’s full potential. I have heard the argument that Winston does not fit Belichick’s system, but it’s unbelievable that one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL could not adapt. What if the New England Patriots sign a young QB like Winston and continue their historic run. Another 15-20 years of this level of success. Belichick will be able to hand SuperBowl rings in the goody bags at his grandchildren’s birthday parties. Jameis Winston could be the Quarterback that takes the baton from Brady and runs the Patriots Dynasty into the future.
This is usually the part where I put a ghost story spin to the Free Agency Scenario, but a hypothetical world where the New England Patriots and Bill Belichik’s reign is not coming to a close, but only at its halfway point should be terrifying enough to give even the average NFL fan nightmares.
I warned you this article was not for the faint of heart.