We are one week into the 2021 free agency signing period and the NFL hierarchy of divisions has seen some decent shakeup.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed from last offseason is that the Rams are still a member of the NFL’s toughest division. In Bleacher Report’s latest ranking of the league’s eight divisions, the NFC West is still at the top, edging out the AFC North which also got a lot better thanks to Cleveland’s notable free agency additions.
Here’s what author Maurice Moton had to say about the NFC West staking claim as the NFL’s most-competitive division:
“From top to bottom, the NFC West has the toughest competition. In 2020, two of the four teams clinched playoff berths. One squad made multiple offseason splashes and looks primed for a significant leap next season. The worst club of this bunch had terrible luck with injuries last year. Any one of these teams could win the division.”
“In January, the Los Angeles Rams agreed to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Lions for Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-rounder. Now, head coach Sean McVay has a signal-caller who has some mobility with the capacity to make off-script plays. In the backfield, we should expect second-year player Cam Akers to develop in a featured role.”
“The Rams lost defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who became the head coach of the Chargers. New play-caller Raheem Morris will have three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and two-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey to keep the unit strong.”
It’s hard to argue with Moton’s list. No matter what any other team-division has done this past week, the NFC West was able to keep pace by not losing a ton of talent while the Cardinals added their fair share of star power in J.J. Watt and Rodney Hudson.
While the Rams lost a pair of defensive starters in Troy Hill and John Johnson III, the likes of Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and the re-signing of Leonard Floyd keeps them right in the thick of the power-struggle in the NFL’s toughest division.
Now for today’s links.
Rams, DeSean Jackson agree to one-year deal (TheRams.com)
See what ESPN’s Matt Bowen says Matthew Stafford will bring to the offense (TheRams.com)
Where will DeSean Jackson fit in the offense? (The Rams Wire)
The Rams are signing DeSean Jackson (NFL.com)
The Bears are likely to keep Akiem Hicks (Pro Football Talk)
Bill Barnwell discusses the worst free-agent signings from last week (ESPN)
Six overrated and six underrated free agent signings (EPSN+)
Biggest moves and non-moves from last week (NFL.com)
Grading every team’s free agency moves (CBS Sports)
Ranking the NFL’s divisions following the first week of free agency (Bleacher Report)