For all of you anxious to send the Cleveland Browns straight to the AFC title game to play the Raiders and skip the rest of the season, or possibly get an early order in for AFC East champion hats and t-shirts for the Jets, or maybe you think the Packers are a steal with a Super Bowl bet in Vegas, I have a cautionary tale.
The Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was only two seasons ago that the Jaguars — thinking they were close to contending — went hog wild in free agency, committing well over $100 million to Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye and Barry Church, trading for Brandon Albert and going from worst to first in the AFC South and then all the way to the AFC title game in New England, only to come up a win shy of the Super Bowl.
On the heels of that success, the Jags doubled down last offseason and spent another small fortune on Andrew Norwell, Donte Moncrief, D.J. Hayden and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
That got them right back to the bottom of their division, a 5-11 football team and one of the worst in the league, starting all over again.
Jacksonville is just the most recent example of what a mistake it is to think division, conference and Super Bowl titles can be bought through free agency or with blockbuster trades.
The teams you can count on almost always being in the hunt in January — New England, Seattle, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, etc. — have almost never been heavy shoppers in free agency.
Are the Browns a more talented football team than they were a week or two ago? Absolutely.
Are they a better team? That remains to be seen.
Rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens has never been a head coach at any level and last season was his first as a coordinator. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is coming off a disastrous one and done as the head coach in Arizona. Will OBJ and Kareem Hunt be new men in Cleveland or the same problems they were in New York and Kansas City?
John Dorsey has done a great job turning over the Cleveland roster, but whether he’s built a contender is still a huge question mark.
I will make this prediction though: I can’t say the Giants will end up winning the OBJ trade because I have no idea what they will do with the first- and third-rounders they acquired in next month's draft, but I do believe there is no way the Browns will win it.
Why? I can’t see a single reason to believe Beckham will be any happier, any better of a teammate or any less of a distraction than he was in New York.
Which brings us to the Jets. Le’Veon Bell didn’t just desert his teammates and throw away almost $15 million to pursue a better deal he was never going to get.
He has been suspended twice for substance abuse violations and tore ligaments in his right knee back in 2015.
He is also going from playing behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines to one of its more mediocre.
Kelechi Osemele and C.J. Mosley are really nice additions, but the Jets still face a serious chasm between them and the Patriots, and the Bell and Mosley contracts could haunt them in a year or two.
I get what the Raiders are trying to do, and I don’t mind giving up a three and a five for Antonio Brown, but his new contract makes no sense.
This is another player who absolutely threw his team under the bus for reasons that are still totally unclear, and there is every reason to believe he’ll do it again in Oakland the first time the spirit moves him.
The Packers are unlike the Browns, Jets and Raiders, who all took on one of the league’s biggest head cases. All the Packers did was overpay for Adrian Amos, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, who are all promising but not necessarily better than the players they’ll replace and have never produced up to the levels their new contracts should warrant.
All this hullabaloo is fun, but we should always remember it is quite often the teams that do the most in free agency that benefit the least.