The dust is settling on a typically fast and furious start to NFL free agency.

While the new league year is still in its infancy, most of the major players on the open market have found new homes or opted to stay put.

A string of blockbuster trades have also changed the landscape of the league.

Here we look at the winners and losers from free agency.


WINNER: Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have been aggressive in addressing their needs in response to a disappointing 7-9 season in 2019, with the signing of Philip Rivers and the acquisition of DeForest Buckner in a trade from the San Francisco 49ers the headline moves.

Rivers comes across from the Los Angeles Chargers following 16 seasons with that franchise. He threw 591 times last season and was intercepted on 20 of those attempts.

A Colts running game led by the dynamic Marlon Mack that finished seventh in the NFL last year along with a bruising offensive line should ensure Rivers does not have to chance his arm as much in Indianapolis.

Rivers also has great familiarity with Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni from his time as the Chargers quarterback coach. The fit could hardly be better.

The Colts gave up a first-round pick (13th overall) to land defensive tackle Buckner and then pay him $21million a year. If he delivers the same kind of performances he produced for San Francisco – he had 28.5 sacks and 74 quarterback hits in four seasons for the 49ers – the Colts defense will be significantly improved in 2020.

LOSER: Houston Texans

The NFL universe is collectively still trying to wrap its head around the Texans' decision to trade DeAndre Hopkins, one of the league's premier receivers, and a late-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for just a second-round pick and running back David Johnson.

Hopkins' departure means quarterback Deshaun Watson loses his most reliable weapon in the passing game. Johnson's arrival hardly upgrades the running attack, as he was an afterthought for the Cardinals last year.

Houston also lost defensive tackle D.J. Reader, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, and overpaid for veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb, giving him a three-year deal worth $27m.

Head coach Bill O'Brien's presence as the de-facto general manager looks more ludicrous by the day.

WINNER: Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater's career appeared in jeopardy when he suffered a gruesome knee injury prior to the start of the 2016 season.

However, after making an emotional return to the field for the Minnesota Vikings, he has revived his career with the New Orleans Saints – going 5-0 during Drew Brees' spell on the sideline last season – and his comeback story reached his peak when he received a reported three-year, $63m deal from the Carolina Panthers to be their starting quarterback.

Expectations will be low with the Panthers in rebuild mode under Matt Rhule. Bridgewater, though, still has arguably the league's best running back in Christian McCaffrey and worked with Carolina offensive coordinator Joe Brady in his time in New Orleans.

Don't be surprised if he lives up to a deal some believed was too rich for the former first-round pick.

LOSER: Nick Foles

The author of the most remarkable comeback story in recent league history will get another chance to earn a starting job after a short-lived spell with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

However, in being dealt to the Chicago Bears, Foles is not landing in a situation where he can succeed.

The Bears took a step back on both sides of the ball last year and on offense Foles will find limited options at the offensive skill positions beyond Allen Robinson.

Chicago overpaid a declining tight end in Jimmy Graham who is unlikely to help the Bears improve their production on offense.

Even if he eventually takes the quarterback job from Mitchell Trubisky, Foles will have an uphill battle to guide the Bears to supremacy in a division also featuring Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins.

WINNER: Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have not yet managed to reach a long-term deal with quarterback Dak Prescott, instead using the franchise tag on him, and lost cornerback Byron Jones, who signed with the Miami Dolphins.

Defensive tackle Maliek Collins and pass rusher Robert Quinn were further departures, but the Cowboys were able to sign wide receiver Amari Cooper to a lucrative five-year deal and replaced Collins with a superior player in Gerald McCoy. HaHa Clinton-Dix's signing gives the Cowboys a reliable starter at safety, too.

The Cowboys still have a strong roster with which to contend in the NFC, and they should be in the mix for years to come if they can eventually come to a more concrete arrangement with Prescott.

LOSER: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs' signing of Brady from the Patriots was unsurprisingly met with tremendous excitement from the Tampa Bay fanbase, while there have been reports of free agents showing desire to sign with them following the six-time Super Bowl-champion's arrival.

Yet it is debatable whether Brady will improve the Bucs' offense, which led the league in passing yardage with Jameis Winston at the helm but was undermined by the former first-overall pick's tendency to commit crushing turnovers.

The 42-year-old has the velocity to excel on the downfield throws that are a pivotal part of Bruce Arians' passing attack, but Brady lacks Winston's ability to escape pressure that helped mask the deficiencies of the Bucs' offensive line.

If Tampa Bay cannot improve up front, it could be a painful few years in Florida for Brady. For all the buzz around his signing, the Bucs would have been better served investing in a more mobile free-agent quarterback and looking to the draft for a long-term answer.

Teddy Bridgewater is finalising a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers that will see him replace Cam Newton as the team’s starting quarterback, per widespread reports.

Newton, who has struggled in recent seasons with shoulder and foot injuries, has insisted the Panthers "forced" him into seeking a trade as he delivered an angry response to the team stating he had been made available.

Now, free agent Bridgewater – who had been linked with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – is poised to replace him.

Newton, the first overall pick in 2011, has had a nine-year run with the Panthers and took them to Super Bowl 50 in a year he was crowned the league MVP.

A basic framework for a deal is reportedly in place that will see Bridgewater earn around $20million-a-year, with the finishing touches set to be applied before the new league year begins on Wednesday.

Bridgewater has backed up Drew Brees for the New Orleans Saints over the last two seasons and bided his time waiting for the right starting opportunity.

He has successfully rebuilt his career following the devastating knee injury he suffered while at the Minnesota Vikings in 2016.

The 27-year-old went 5-0 as he stepped in for an injured Brees last season and will now lead the Panthers into a new era alongside recently appointed head coach Matt Rhule.

Also significant is the presence of new Panthers Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady, who worked closely with Bridgewater while he was an assistant with the Saints.

From post-game news conferences to next-day media availabilities, here are the 10 best Week 7 quotes from players and coaches around the NFL:

 

— Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy admitted his team should have had more balance: "I know we need to run the ball more. I'm not an idiot," Nagy told reporters. "I never go into a game saying, 'I want to throw the ball 54 times.' I'd love to go into a game saying, 'I'd like to run the ball 54 times,' but that hasn't happened."

— New Orleans Saints cornerback Eli Apple on Teddy Bridgewater's performance this season: "He's a real great quarterback. To me, he was making all the right passes and all the right decisions. He's our leader out there, and he was picking them apart. I'm just really proud of him, his story and where he came from."

— Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott when asked if he thinks the Bills are running the ball enough: "Well, we're going to do whatever it takes to win by game plan. I know when we've run it, we’ve had some good runs and I like some of the things we're doing."

— Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott did not care for the Philadelphia Eagles' comments last week: "Honestly, we don't give a f-*** what Doug Pederson says," Elliott told reporters, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

— The Eagles slumped to back-to-back losses with a dismal showing against the Cowboys, to the embarrassment of quarterback Carson Wentz: "Frustrated, a little embarrassed, they beat the crap out of us, we didn't show up and we've got to be better but I'm confident in this group," he told reporters.

— Despite getting a win on Sunday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones still has mixed feelings about coach Jason Garrett's hot-and-cold season: "I am looking for reasons. I'm looking for reasons to keep him," Jones said, via ProFootballTalk. "It's merited here. It's hard to get an effective coach."

— New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold set the Internet on fire with his off-the-cuff comment during "Monday Night Football" against the New England Patriots: "Seeing ghosts."

— Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was fined more than $14,000 for violating the NFL's uniform policy, and he was not happy about it: "$14k for some pants that are NOT gonna protect me from anything … this s*** is ridiculous," Beckham wrote via Instagram.

— Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews was disappointed by his performance in Week 7: "Obviously, didn't play great myself. I've got to be better, I will be better. Everyone has bad games. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and showing my true colours. I think everybody knows that last game wasn't my true colours."

— Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement on the passing of Hall of Famer Willie Brown: "It's a very sad day for the Raider Nation as a whole. … and for my family in particular. … Willie Brown was one of the greatest to ever play the game … but it was off the field and how he treated my mom for which I will forever be indebted to him … it was Willie who was her best friend … we loved and will miss you Willie…"

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