The NFL arms race continues

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Former All-Pro wide reciever Antonio Brown reached a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday (NYT).

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers shocked the NFL world on Friday by signing former All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown agreed to a one-year-deal with the team. He joins the laundry list of new faces that have been added to the Buccaneers’ roster, including Tom Brady and running back Leonard Fournette. 

Brown’s signing comes just days after the Kansas City Chiefs acquired Le’Veon Bell on a one-year deal of his own. The 2020 NFL Season is already an arms race between top contending teams, and the trade deadline is still a week away. Teams will have until Nov. 3 to make final deals to push for a deep playoff run. 

Making aggressive moves at the deadline and signing big-name free agents to flashy deals may seem reckless to some, but these actions are common on championship winning teams across all sports, not just football.

Kansas City Royals fans remember the bitter taste of defeat in game 7 of the 2014 World Series, but it showed just how close the team was to winning a championship. In that offseason, the Royals signed pitcher Edison Volquez and traded for pitcher Johnny Cueto and second baseman Ben Zobrist. All three of those players played integral roles in bringing The Commissioner’s Trophy back to Kansas City.

The Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV victory followed a similar blueprint. The Chiefs came up short by a coin toss in overtime against the Patriots in the 2018 season’s AFC Championship game. Yes, Patrick Mahomes threw for 5000+ yards and 50 touchdowns that season, but he had to in order to keep the Chiefs in games. The 2018 Chiefs defense performed among the worst in team history. To right the ship, Chiefs GM Brett Veach hired Steve Spagnuolo as the team’s new defensive coordinator and brought defensive end Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu into the locker room. The Chiefs went from the worst defense in 2018 to 17th ranked defense in 2019, and that proved enough to win a Super Bowl. 

Just because the Chiefs are the reigning champions does not mean the team slowed down for the 2020 season. Chiefs’ opponents figured out their best chance at stopping the Chiefs’ offense was to keep the ball away from Patrick Mahomes by running the ball and eating as much time as possible. The Chiefs addressed this issue when they invested their first-round draft pick into running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs originally added Edwards-Helaire to supplement Damien Williams in the backfield, but Williams opted out of the 2020 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Edwards-Helaire took nearly sole possession of the Chiefs’ rushing duties and after 6 weeks in the NFL has the second most rushing yards behind the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry. 

The Kansas City Chiefs most recent addition will add depth to an already effective rushing attack. Le’Veon Bell allows the Chiefs to switch out backfield personnel without sacrificing skill or ability. In addition to minimizing health risks, splitting touches at the running back position between two more-than-able backs elongates the effectiveness of running the ball deep into the fourth quarter of games. The Chiefs must have the ability to close games on the ground and signing Bell could turn Kansas City’s rushing attack from potent to lethal. 

After 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady packed his bags and moved to Tampa Bay to join head Coach Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers. Since then, the Bucs have signed a flurry of players to build a championship-ready team around Brady. The Buccaneers offense already featured three-time Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans and 2019 breakout receiver Chris Godwin, then added running back Leonard Fournette and Brady’s longtime teammate, tight end Rob Gronkowski. All these moves paint a clear picture: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all-in for a run at the Lombardi Trophy. Fans will watch closely to see if 43-year-old Tom Brady has enough gas in the tank to win his seventh NFL championship, but the Antonio Brown signing shows the Buccaneers certainly believe he does.

The Kansas City Chiefs are currently scheduled to play in Tampa Bay against Buccaneers in week 11 on Nov. 29.

egl9b4@mail.umkc.edu

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