Happy New Year!
Yes, the 2015 league year began at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and the offseason is not only off and running -- it's off the rails. We're talking madness, people.
Stunning trades! Free-agency frenzy! It was an absolutely wild first day of the NFL's new year. Oh, and by the way: We're now exactly 50 days away from the 2015 NFL Draft.
Alright, let's get our bearings here and get some perspective on the insanity we just witnessed. Here is what I loved and loathed from Day 1:
1) LOVE: Seattle Seahawks giving Russell Wilson a dynamic new friend.
I still cannot get over the bombshell trade that Seahawks general manager John Schneider pulled off. It's flat-out incredible. Seattle sent two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and a first-round pick (No. 31 overall) to New Orleans in exchange for superstar tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-rounder.
Seattle's receivers are pedestrian. The offense needed help stretching the field; it needed a red-zone weapon. Insert Graham, the second-best receiving tight end in the NFL (behind only Rob Gronkowski). He's the perfect fit. It's a dream for Russell Wilson in the passing attack, a true mismatch nightmare to exploit.
The Seahawks have played in the past two Super Bowls, and they just got markedly better, acquiring a legit go-to weapon. Seattle is built around its ferocious defense, of course. And when it comes to the offense, opponents still must stop Marshawn Lynch and the ground game, first and foremost. But on top of all that, the team now has a guy who, in a "down year," logged 85 catches and 10 touchdowns.
It's an absolute coup.
2) LOATHE: New York Jets giving Darrelle Revis that contract.
OK, here's the thing: I give new general manager Mike Maccagnan credit for his aggressiveness -- especially in the wake of John Idzik's glacial GM tenure. Maccagnan traded for Brandon Marshall, giving the Jets a legit receiving corps, with the five-time Pro Bowler joining Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley. That was a fantastic move. And now he's brought back a fan favorite in Revis, two years after owner Woody Johnson mandated the star corner be traded because he valued green paper over Gang Green.
But that's my problem with this deal: the extensive amount of green paper involved.
Look, the Jets clearly upgraded their roster for 2015 by reacquiring No. 24. I voted him first-team All-Pro this past year. He's still great. But how much longer will this be the case? Revis turns 30 this summer. And the Jets just gave him $39 million in guarantees. He's due to make $48 million in the first three years of the contract. I'm sorry, but that's just absurd for the Jets, given the current makeup of the roster. Revis is a fine fit in new head coach Todd Bowles' defense, which will be an aggressive unit. But this team certainly wasn't one top-notch corner away from glory. The Jets need a quarterback. Or two. (Sorry; Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't get my juices flowing.) They need help at running back. They need to start getting younger on the offensive line.
Now, Revis deserves credit for capitalizing on his own talent and the league-wide demand at his position. He has worked the system brilliantly. But will he be happy when the Jets go 7-9 and finish last in the AFC East this year? In his first tour with Gang Green, Revis held out a few times for more money, eventually wearing out Johnson's patience. We all saw the contentious negotiations in the 2010 edition of "Hard Knocks." Could things go sour again?
The deal energizes the fan base and aids the defense. Both factors are important. But Revis just won a title in New England. He finally tasted the ultimate team success. How will he feel returning to a franchise that hasn't enjoyed a winning season since 2010? Revis will be happy checking his bank statement, but not the standings.
3) LOVE: St. Louis Rams getting valuable assets for Sam Bradford.
Great work, St. Louis. On the other hand ...
4) LOATHE: Chip Kelly falling for Sam Bradford.
By and large, I believe in Chip Kelly. I completely backed his dealing of LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso.Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond are upgrades at corner. And Kelly was right to not pay Jeremy Maclin crazy money (more on that in a bit ...). It's clear that the Eagles' third-year coach has decided to pay defensive players, trusting himself and his system to generate offense.
As I wrote in last month's column on Bradford, the oft-injured quarterback has become the NFL's version of Big Foot: I've heard rumors that he's a franchise quarterback, but I certainly haven't seen it with my own two eyes.
Yet Kelly deals for him? And trades Foles for him? And gives up a second-round pick for him? And Mark Sanchez, king of ill-fated decision-making in big spots, is a hit away from seeing the field? Suddenly, Philly's QB depth chart is Big Foot and Butt Fumble.
I'm at a loss. There is no logic behind this move. Unless this is part of some grand plan to get Marcus Mariota. But then, Kelly seemed to swat that down on Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, the Eagles agreed to terms with former Chargers running back Ryan Mathews on a three-year deal. But Mathews' injury history makes that a risky play.
For right now, my head hurts. And despite all the good Chip did with prior business moves, he's had a bad 24 hours.
5) LOVE: Miami Dolphins spending money wisely.
When it comes to Ndamukong Suh, though ... Well, he's a top-two defensive player in the NFL. He destroys opposing offenses and atones for shortcomings on his own defense. Miami's D -- and win total -- will spike with him on the roster. Suh, Reggie White and Peyton Manning are the three most dominant players in NFL free-agency history.
6) LOATHE: Kansas City Chiefs spending money poorly.
I get the Andy Reid connection (the coach drafted Maclin out of college in 2009). And Maclin went to Missouri. And sure, Kansas City's receivers didn't score a single touchdown last year, which is unfathomable. But this is the kind of contract that keeps the Chiefs behind the eight ball.
7) LOATHE: Chicago Bears spending money hazardously.
On Day 1 of free agency, the Bears nabbed the No. 1 player on my list of the riskiest free agents. Pernell McPhee has talent, but he hasn't proven to be an every down player. $40 million is a lot to pay for this type of uncertainty.
8) LOVE: Indianapolis Colts rounding into a true contender.
Frank Gore had a change of heart on the Eagles, opting instead to sign with Indianapolis. Philly's loss is Indy's gain. While Gore turns 32 in a couple months, he is still a strong north-south runner who will only be required to carry the ball 15 times a game with Andrew Luck and the Colts' passing attack. He instantly helps on the goal line and in short-yardage situations. And Gore is a true leader, one of the most respected players in the game today. Running the ball with consistency was a major issue in Indy, largely thanks to the follies of Trent Richardson. This is a huge upgrade.
9) LOATHE: San Francisco 49ers disintegrating into a pretender.
Jed York and Trent Baalke won a power struggle against Jim Harbaugh, but they lost one of the best coaches in football. That will plague this organization for years.