The league year officially started at 3 p.m. (CT) Wednesday, and plenty of moves – including trades and free agency signings – have occurred in the time since.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal took a look across the league and delved into 2019 free agency takeaways, starting with the blockbuster trade that sent Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., to Cleveland.
View photos of Vikings DT Shamar Stephen. He enters his sixth NFL season in 2019 and rejoins the Vikings after spending the 2018 season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Rosenthal said that “an era ends” in Kansas City with the release of safety Eric Berry and signing of Tyrann Mathieu and that it will be interesting to see how the Chiefs roster changes play out. He wrote the following of the 2019 AFC runner-up:
After shedding Berry, Justin Houston and Dee Ford this week, the Chiefs defense is going to have a dramatically different identity in 2019.
Also among his observations was that “bargain shopping has already begun,” reminding fans that teams can still make moves in the second, third and fourth waves of free agency. He pointed to a pair of running backs – Adrian Peterson and Tevin Coleman – signing with Washington and San Francisco, respectively, as well as linebacker K.J. Wright opting to re-sign with the Seahawks.
Rosenthal said “the quiet teams begin to make their moves” at this point.
Only 12 of our top-50 free agents remained available by day’s end, but the majority of the free-agent transactions for the offseason are still to come. The next few days could include surprising trades, and we should definitely see an uptick in action from some of the quieter teams of the week, such as the Patriots, Steelers and Colts.
Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard rewarded cornerback Pierre Desir with a strong three-year contract on Wednesday. The Patriots are bringing back role players Jason McCourty, John Simon and Phillip Dorsett. These are the types of moves that will continue over the next week, transactions that aren’t great for press conferences but will surely figure into which teams are still playing next January.
Greenway responds to Barr’s return to Vikings
Former Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway spent three seasons with Barr, whom Minnesota drafted in 2014, before retiring.
Now Greenway, who still resides in the Twin Cities with his family, is happy that his friend and former teammate will be staying in Purple.
Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press spoke with Greenway about Barr’s decision to return to Minnesota, despite the report that he had been offered a deal with the Jets.
“It says a lot for anyone to have that perspective that whoever pays me the most money isn’t necessarily where I want to be,” Greenway told Tomasson. “And you know that you’re getting a motivated player that wants to come and win a championship and do it for the right reasons.”
According to Tomasson, Greenway has kept in touch with Barr and is “hopeful” that the linebacker will remain with the Vikings for his entire career, in the same way Greenway did.
“For Vikings fans, you get to cheer for somebody that you emotionally have been tied with for five seasons, that has done an amazing job, and you just want to continue to build on that, and hopefully he’s one of us for a long time,” he said.
Greenway, a two-time Pro Bowler who also was named the Vikings Man of the Year three times (2014-16) for his community work off the field, said he has another “selfish” reason for wanting Barr to stick around.
“I want him in our community [with] the impact he can make,” Greenway told Tomasson of Barr, who is active with his Raise the Barr Foundation. “I’m hopeful he can play out his whole career here.”
Take a look at photos of Vikings LB Anthony Barr from the 2018 season. As the first player drafted under head coach Mike Zimmer, Barr has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons.
CBS Sports compares draft prospects to NFL WRs
The start of free agency signals the upcoming NFL Draft, which will kick off on April 25 in Nashville.
CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso opined that this year’s wide receiver class is the most talented since “the epic 2014 group that featured new Browns receiver Beckham, his teammate Jarvis Landry, Mike Evans, Davante Adams, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins and a handful of other valuable pass catchers.”
Trapasso looked at his top wideouts in the 2019 class and compared each one to an NFL receiver. He wrote:
It’s important to remember NFL comparisons for draftees don’t intend to guarantee a prospect will have the exact same career as his professional counterpart. In this series, I'll go through the top prospects at every position and give NFL comparisons – some current players, some former. These comparisons are not based on size. They’re almost solely stylistic.
Trapasso’s top-ranked receiver is Mississippi’s A.J. Brown, whom he compared to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
[Like] the young Steelers star, Brown should land as a big (athletic) slot option in the NFL, no longer a part-time gadget or novelty item. Brown has 4.49 speed [in the 40-yard dash] but specializes after the catch, when he instantly morphs into a running back. He’s also reliable in contested-catch situations. Brown is the most NFL-ready receiver in this class.
Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler was compared to former receiver Plaxico Burress, who played from 2000-12.
The former Iowa State star is a load to bring down after the catch, has experience running a variety of routes, and is bendier than you’d expect for his enormous frame.
Click here to see the rest of Trapasso’s comparisons.