NFL Season Ends, But Also Just Began



The new league year begins on March 13, as players will start joining new teams. “It’s a lot of unknowns and a lot of guessing,” Browns CB Terrance Mitchell told me. “But when you find out where you’re going it’s [a good fit], you’re happy.”

Justin Ballou, Reporter

On Sunday, Feb. 3, the New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl in the last 18 years by defeating the LA Rams in a defensive-heavy game. Though the game was the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history, it was also the Patriots’ largest margin of victory in the Super Bowl out of all of their six wins. New England has now officially tied the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl championships. Avid football fans may be punching the walls given the NFL won’t kick off the 2019 season until September, however, the new league year is here. Here are two important dates and what to watch for throughout the NFL offseason.

NFL Scouting Combine: Feb. 26 – Mar. 4

The combine is arguably the most important prerequisite of the NFL Draft process–it provides scouts with all updated information about the players that will be entering the draft. The players get their height and hands measured, which are two of the most important physical statistics of the draft. The 40-yard-dash is always the most interesting part to watch, in my opinion, as the scouts get a good feel of how fast each player is. There’s also precision drills for each position group, showing how each individual can make decisions and change directions. These drills are also important, specifically for WRs, as the receivers show off their hand-eye coordination. My players to watch for in the NFL Combine and throughout the entire draft process are WR Deebo Samuel (South Carolina), WR Terry McLaurin (Ohio State) and DL Charles Omenihu (Texas).

Samuel’s draft stock has risen immensely since the Senior Bowl, as his highlights went viral on social media. There were videos of him breaking the ankles of CBs trying to defend him. The only knock I have on Samuel is his size; he’s 5’11, so will likely end up as a slot receiver at the next level. I expect Samuel to go late day two or early day three in the April draft.

McLaurin, in my opinion, is in a very similar situation. I never saw much of his highlights until the Senior Bowl, when many experts started raving about him on Twitter. McLaurin is 6’1, so he has better size than Samuel. I expect McLaurin to go on day two in April.

For Omenihu, many fans around Austin know him since he was a Longhorn. I watched him play a lot this year, and was always seemingly in the backfield causing a commotion. His physical stats are freakish; he’s a whopping 6’6 and 275 lbs. He’s also a versatile player that can play anywhere along the defensive line. I expect Omenihu to go late first round or early second round.

Catch the NFL Combine Feb. 26 through Mar. 6 on NFL Network.

NFL Free Agency: Begins Mar. 13

NFL free agency is always a roller coaster of a process, as many big-name players join new teams. This year, the majority of the high-profile players are on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest name around, as of now, is DL Demarcus Lawrence from the Cowboys, but I fully expect Dallas to put their franchise tag on him, keeping him in a Cowboys uniform.

LB K.J. Wright from the Seahawks is also a name to watch for; he was injured for the majority of the 2018 season, but has been consistent throughout his career. Teams can sign him for a small price, as he made under $7 million in 2018.

Safety Earl Thomas, also on the Seahawks, will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He’s been paired to the Cowboys, probably because he’s from Texas and went to U.T. He’s 30 years old, so likely has plenty of good football left in him. He was a huge part of Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII win in 2013.

Buccaneers’ DT Gerald McCoy reportedly wants out of Tampa, so he could quickly switch teams when the new league year officially begins. McCoy has participated in six straight Pro Bowls, and is also a three-time All-Pro. I expect him to be one of the first free agents to sign if he doesn’t re-sign with the Bucs.

The biggest name, in my opinion, to watch for throughout the offseason is LB C.J. Mosley from the Ravens. Baltimore can choose whether or not they want to put their franchise tag on him, but experts predict them not to, which would make him a free agent. Mosley had 105 tackles this year, and intercepted Browns QB Baker Mayfield in the fourth quarter of week 17, ultimately clinching the division and a home playoff game for the Ravens. Many teams will make a run at Mosley if the Ravens don’t put the tag on him.

The new league year begins on March 13, as teams will begin signing and dropping players. The Cardinals have first waiver priority, since they were the worst team in 2018. This means Arizona gets to pick if they want free agents before others do, depending on how much the player wants and how much they can pay him.

Both free agency and the draft are ways for the bottom-of-the-league teams to improve and to take a step in the right direction. Free agency specifically gives fans a better taste of what their favorite team will look like the following year, with new players coming and going by the minute.

Cleveland Browns CB Terrance Mitchell, who played a pivotal role in the Browns’ success this season, has given me insights via Instagram direct message on when he would return from his injury throughout the year. I contacted him about what free agency is like from a player’s perspective.

“It’s a lot of unknowns and a lot of guessing,” Mitchell said. “But when you find out where you’re going and it’s [a good fit], you’re happy.”