A Fan Post By Member Hinky Dink:
So, it’s the offseason. Not much action on the NFL front, but free agency will officially begin on March 13th. This got me thinking, if I were a free agent, where would I hope to land? If I had the opportunity to play anywhere, where do I want to play? Is there a team that I’d be willing to play for, for less money just to be there?
I think there are six things that act like magnets for free agents (outside of money):
- Strong head coaching
- Solid quarterback
- Perennial playoff contender
- Storied franchise
I’ve decided to grade what I consider the top 5 desired teams for free agents, looking back over the past decade and project their future desirability:Embed from Getty Images
It’s hard to argue that the Patriots are possibly the most desirable team to play for. I mean, who wouldn’t want to win a Super Bowl? They’ve appeared in 5 of the past 10 SBs and won 3 of them. Here are their grades:
- Strong head coaching- A+ Hard to argue with the Hoodie’s ability to lead. Arguably the best there is.
- Solid quarterback- A+ Again, see above. Doesn’t get much better.
- Culture- A This one is hard from the outside looking in, but teamwork seems to be a strength. Belicheck’s “next man up” mantra seems to drive this team.
- Perennial playoff contender- A+ Results speak for themselves!
- Storied franchise- A Say what you want about the Patriots, but they have a dynasty and it’s lasted a long time. Young players grow up dreaming of playing for the Patriots.
- Intangibles- C This is where things get interesting. The Patriots have a history of let’s just say some shady practices. Deflate Gate, mysterious technical issues with field communication in Gillette Stadium, recording opposing team’s practices, etc. Not sure this is the most ethical team, but if you want some rings…!!
As far as the future, all good things must come to an end. Brady isn’t getting any younger and his arm isn’t getting any stronger. How long will BB stay around once Brady retires? If I’m a player, would I want to land there right now? Will I be cut or traded during my prime? Will I be mysteriously benched during the playoffs? Will the newest fill in the blank gate happen during my time?Embed from Getty Images
The Steelers have had a storied history. They have one of the largest fan bases in the country and around the world. When it comes to recognized teams, the Steelers are in the top of the rankings.
- Strong head coaching- B This is a mixed bag for me. I love his grit and hardnosed attitude, but I sometimes feel like the Steelers win in spite of him. They’ve had top flight QB, WR and RBs that have won some games, including playoff games, but I’m not sure the credit goes to Tomlin. The Steelers have definitely been stable at head coach though, and that should be appealing to free agents.
- Solid quarterback- A Not a fan of his, but the dude can ball. Hard to bring down and he can sling that ball. The QB position in Pittsburgh has been solid.
- Culture- F Wow, this all went downhill fast this past season. This locker room is a mess. Players calling out other players, me-first attitudes, degrading teammates in the media, etc. Is this part of the aforementioned mix bag at head coach? Has he lost that locker room?
- Perennial playoff contender- A Over the past 10 playoffs, they’ve appeared 6 times, and made it to the AFC Championship game twice.
- Storied franchise- A+ I mean, it’s the Steelers! A lot of history there and it’s a history of winning. 6 Super Bowls. The Rooney family is part of football.
- Intangibles- B Fan bases are important. Knowing that you are playing for a solid franchise with a positive fan base is a draw.
Again, like I mentioned in the locker room assessment above, this team may be on the fast track to train wreck. With the unhealthy locker room and an aging “will I retire this year” quarterback, a free agent should question whether the Steelers are a good destination.Embed from Getty Images
You can’t think football without thinking about the Green Bay Packers. They won the very 1st Super Bowl and the SB trophy is named after their SB winning coach!
- Strong head coaching- C The only reason this is a C is due to the unknown. There’s a lot of optimism there, he comes from a good coaching lineage and he’s young and creative.
- Solid quarterback- A+ Aaron Rodgers. This one’s a no brainer.
- Culture- B This is a franchise with a winning culture. There have been some questions about the locker room though. Was Mike McCarthy to blame for some of the discord? Is it solved now? Overall, winning solves everything and this team can win.
- Perennial playoff contender- A In the playoffs 8 of the last 10 years, with a Super Bowl win.
- Storied franchise- A Doesn’t get much better than this!
- Intangibles- A C’mon now. The Lambeau leap? The cheese heads? The fan ownership? This place is a destination.
I think the Packers can pull it together this year. If Matt Lafleur lives up to expectations, this team and this franchise will continue it’s winning ways. If I’m a free agent, I could see myself in Green Bay despite the crazy cold temperatures!Embed from Getty Images
The Dallas Cowboys. America’s team. Roger Staubach, the comeback kid!
- Strong head coaching- D The Cowboys are known and loved for a lot of things. Their current head coach isn’t one of them!
- Solid quarterback- B- If I’m a free agent looking for a team with a QB that I know can put the team on his back, I question if Dak is that guy. He’s not bad, but he’s no Staubach!
- Culture- B I think I’d have to say the Cowboys have a pretty good culture. Gone are the TO days, but coaching leadership prevents this from being an A.
- Perennial playoff contender- C Meh…over the past 10 years it’s hard to say that the Cowboys will be in the playoffs. No serious current Super Bowl talk either. They do have 5 rings, though!
- Storied franchise- A+ It’s the Cowboys.
- Intangibles- B They have an amazing stadium with a ridiculous jumbotron. They are also known for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, and Jerry Jones. One is appealing and one not so much.
If I’m a free agent, I’m sort of in the middle of the road with the Cowboys. Their future is up in the air as far as success. As long as Jason Garrett is their coach I believe the team will under-perform. If Jerry Jones can get out of his own way, they could be successful. Are the pieces in place to make that happen? At least they have good cheerleaders!Embed from Getty Images
For some reason, the Broncos seem to be a destination for free agents. Maybe it’s the legalized weed that’s a draw, but as a Chief’s fan I can’t figure out why. With that said, I’ll try to be fair with these grades.
- Strong head coaching- D Um, no. The Broncos have had a revolving door at head coach. Somehow, each one seems to be worse than the previous one. That doesn’t bode well for Vic Fangio.
- Solid quarterback- D Um, no. Elway somehow does not have an eye for QB talent, with the exception of Peyton Manning.
- Culture- A I hate giving an A to anything Donkey related, but I have to give credit where it’s due. Even in the midst of poor coaching and fan outrage, the locker room seems to have maintained. They have a winning culture even when they’re not winning!
- Perennial playoff contender- A It’s not that long ago that the Broncos won a Super Bowl. They have a solid franchise that consistently sniffs the playoffs. They’ve made the playoffs 5 of the past 10 years and won 2 SBs.
- Storied franchise- A They have continued to be a well run organization. From the Orange Crush to the No Fly Zone, this is a winning football franchise.
- Intangibles- C Is John Elway the right guy for the job? He signed Manning which brought some interest by high profile free agents. Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Broncos after committing to the Chiefs, Wes Welker, TJ Ward, Aqib Talib, and DeMarcus Ware. Was Elway brilliant or lucky? What’s happening with the ownership in Denver? There seems to be some family disputes around the direction of the franchise.
The Broncos don’t have Manning anymore. They no longer have a No Fly Zone secondary. They have Joe Flacco at QB and an aging Von Miller. They don’t really have an identity on offense and coaching has been a revolving door. If I had to choose a landing spot as a free agent, Denver would not be it.
That’s my top 5 assessment, but can we do a 6th? If I’m a free agent, I want my agent calling 1 Arrowhead Drive and working out a contract. Please forgive my homerism, but here’s why:
- Strong head coaching- A+ Andy Reid is a high level coach. Players love him and he has a coaching tree that has infiltrated the NFL. They don’t get much better than Coach Reid.
- Solid quarterback- A+ MVP in his first year starting. Can put the team on his back and will them to win. He can make all the plays and he’ll only get better with experience.
- Culture- A This is a healthy team. It has a team first mentality, has great team leadership on both sides of the ball, and has a winning culture.
- Perennial playoff contender- B The Chiefs have made the playoffs 6 out of the past 10 years. Success in the playoffs has not been a strong suit however.
- Storied franchise- A The very roots of the NFL are built upon the Chiefs franchise. The name Lamar Hunt is synonymous with football.
- Intangibles- A+ The Chiefs are known to have one of the greatest fan bases around. Arrowhead Stadium is the loudest in the NFL, and that’s because of the fans, not the stadium. The players on the team seem to enjoy playing together and they have fun. From Twitter Fortnight banter between players to Tyreek manning the TV camera in the stadium, these boys know how to have a good time together! Oh, and I believe there might be some pretty good BBQ in Kansas City!
If I’m a free agent, this is where I want to be. To play for a team with a future Hall of Fame coach with an MVP quarterback and a fan base of this caliber would be a dream. The future for this franchise is pointing in the right direction and I believe multiple Super Bowls are on the horizon. I would want nothing more than to be a part of the team that brings the Lombardi trophy home to a fan base that deserves and appreciates it.