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Mazurek: Look at March in a new way

| Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March Madness is here, but it isn’t the NCAA variety. This is the March Madness of NFL free agency.

The past two weeks NFL teams around the league have been trying to improve their rosters, whether it be the search for a franchise quarterback, a top notch skill position player or a few defensive role players to put them over the edge.

With all of that in mind, here is a look at some of the winners and losers after a week of free agency starting with the winners.

New York Jets

The biggest winners from the first week of free agency are undoubtedly the Jets. First year general manager Michael Maccagnan has proven he is serious about taking the Jets back to an AFC championship game by signing cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and trading for wide receiver Brandon Marshall. First, Revis is the best cornerback in the game (sorry Richard Sherman), and he and Cromartie both played for the Jets defense that led the team to its second-consecutive AFC championship game in 2010. Though Fitzpatrick is not a top-tier quarterback by any means, he is an improvement over Geno Smith, and with a sparse quarterback free-agent pool, he is the best the Jets could have realistically hoped for. Technically Marshall wasn’t a free agent, but his coming to New York is still a major boon for the organization, especially considering they only had to give up a fifth-round pick for him. Things just may be looking up for New York.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts also had a sublime week on the free-agent market. Their acquisition of running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson now has Indianapolis as the odds on favorite to win Super Bowl 50. A consistent running back has been the missing piece for the Colts for two years now. The team tried to address this need last season by giving up a first-round pick for Trent Richardson, a move which didn’t pan out, but with Gore, they’ve found the right man for the job. Gore has been the model of consistency over the past few years with San Francisco, and his downhill rushing style and pass protection abilities are exactly what the Colts need. While it’s true he’s 31, with Andrew Luck and the passing game being the focal point of the Colts’ offense, Gore won’t be expected to carry too heavy a load. 

Speaking of the passing game, Johnson adds another top notch receiver to work the middle of the field while T.Y. Hilton runs deep routes. Johnson is experienced and can become a valuable leader for the Colts as they look to make it to their first Super Bowl since Peyton Manning left the team.

While there have been definite winners so far this offseason, there has also been a clear loser.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles came out of the blocks surprising people this offseason by trading their star running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso, who is coming off of an ACL injury. McCoy has been the motor of Chip Kelly’s offense the last two years and trading him for a recently injured — albeit very promising — inside linebacker is not something I agree with. Fans of the Eagles can rest a little more easily since they replaced McCoy with the rushing champion from last season, DeMarco Murray. Murray should be able to give Kelly the same production McCoy did, but the kicker of the whole situation is Alonso. If Alonso remains healthy he can be a huge asset and improve an already strong defense. However, the more likely outcome is Alonso comes back as an average linebacker, and while that’s all well and good, an average linebacker is not worth McCoy. In addition, the Eagles failed to keep their best receiver when Jeremy Maclin went to the Chiefs. This means Philadelphia will most likely have to shell out more money to keep the wide receiver position viable.

Yet another shock to Eagles fans came when the team traded starting quarterback, Nick Foles, for St. Louis’ starter, Sam Bradford. Bradford has a history of injuries, and it is unlikely he will be able to stay on the field for an entire season. Even when he is on the field, Bradford’s performance is nothing to write home about. Bradford has only one season in which he has higher than a 60% completion rate. With that in mind, it seems unnecessary to trade Bradford for Foles.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

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