The theme of free agency so far has been teams spending big on player who fit their offense. Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz explains how the pieces all fit together.
The NFL league year starts Wednesday at 4pm. That’s when free agents can officially sign with their new teams and all the offseason trades can be technically completed. However, the news of potential signings is going wild on Tuesday, led by Kirk Cousins heading to Minnesota on the biggest fully guaranteed deal in NFL history. I’m going to break down these signings
A part of NFL free agency that never gets discussed is how teams fit these players into their scheme. It often feels like teams just sign players without thinking about how they fit into what that offense or defense does best. So far this offseason, it seems that teams are signing players that fit into their scheme.
Let’s start with the biggest prize in free agency, Kirk Cousins. Reports are that the Minnesota Vikings are signing Cousins to a three-year, $86 million fully guaranteed contract, a watershed moment in the history of NFL deals.
I’ve covered why Cousins to the Vikings is a perfect fit for the Vikings — all the weapons. I didn’t cover new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, previously the QB coach from the Eagles, and how Cousins is a fit with his system.
We have seen the Eagles offense meld to Carson Wentz and then again to Nick Foles. That’s so important. Most coaches are stubborn and refuse to change their scheme to their players. They’d rather the player adjust to their scheme. DeFilippo runs a West Coast offense, which centers on quick decisions and quick passes, with plenty of play action mixed in with it. Cousins is best at those concepts and should find success.
It’s an offense that shouldn’t force Cousins into bad decisions. It will limit his turnovers.
The BEST part of the Kirk Cousins deal is the fully guaranteed part. It’s about time this happened. I’m not sure many other positions could pull this off, but it’s great for many reasons. It gives the leverage to the player. No restructuring nonsense. No cutting someone before the end of a deal. Also, the shorter deal allows Cousins to hit free agency again at just 32!!! Cousin’s has played this so well. Congrats to him.
Perfect fits for the Jags and 49ers o-line upgrades
Two big names on the offensive line who signed today are Andrew Norwell and Weston Richburg. I mentioned scheme fit above and I think it’s most important on the offensive line. Norwell is an excellent fit in a power scheme. He’s an above average puller. Oh, and guess what Jacksonville is? A power run scheme. It’s a perfect match.
Next up is Richburg. He played 2016 hurt and then was shelved early in 2017 by the Giants. He’s a match made in heaven for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Richburg can move in space and reach defensive tackles in that outside zone scheme. He’s an old school lineman who lives for football, trains hard and plays physical. He can also be a field general for Jimmy Garoppolo.
This was a big day for the Bears.
The Bears signed WR Allen Robinson and TE Trey Burton to play with Mitchell Trubisky in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense. Think of them as a better all around wide receiver than Tyreek Hill and a Travis Kelce-type player at tight end.
We saw what those athletes did in Andy Reid’s (and Nagy’s) offense last season.
The Chiefs made their offense even more explosive.
The Chiefs added Sammy Watkins for a large contract that boils down to two years and $30 million guaranteed. Watkins made his way from Buffalo to Los Angeles last season. His numbers from 2017 don’t show the impact he had on the field.
Watkins is the Jeremy Maclin for Andy Reid and Pat Mahomes. Reid turned Tyreek Hill from a “gadget” player into a Pro Bowl receiver. I trust him to work his magic with Watkins. The Chiefs offense is Mahomes, Hill, Kelce, Watkins and Kareem Hunt. Explosion!
Ok, like usual, I went live on Periscope this afternoon, covering all of this in a more detail! Check it out.
The money is flying around in NFL free agency. Cousins, WRs, OL and more. Are these players scheme fits? Find out https://t.co/Ldz0TQeHVD
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) March 13, 2018