NFL Free Agent Trades.The madness of week 1 “free agent frenzy” is done and dusted, as anticipated with many teams with cap room and dollars to spend it was a wild one.
The one thing that stands out the most is New England. Its no secret that with increasing free agency budgets, players coming off championships are easily lured away or even worse demand more dollars to stay. Take the Broncos for example, they went from champions to pretenders and are one more season away from completely rebuilding. Carolina fall in the same bracket.
Belichick and Brady have addressed the “new” NFL and added the pieces needed to immediately compete, and dumped the ones who demanded to open there new earned ceiling. They may have no draft weapons, but the Patriots have urged on the side of win now vs later. Perhaps learning a little from Kobe and the Lakers, aging superstars can’t rebuild teams, but they do win silverware. Besides they still dangle an attractive Jimmy G who they very well may trade to offset those draft issues. The longer they wait, the more demand they will receive… Perhaps to the Browns for number 1? How magic would there off season look then, just imagine?
Heres a snapshot of how each team has fared after week 1
The Skinny: The Cardinals locked up pass rusher Chandler Jones to a long-term deal, which was a smart move. But they also suffered some hits, losing defensive end Calais Campbell (Jaguars) and safeties Tony Jefferson(Ravens) and D.J. Swearinger (Redskins). They replaced Jefferson with veteran Antione Bethea, who might be a stopgap for a year or two. They also re-signed center A.Q. Shipley and added kicker Phil Dawson.
The Skinny: The Falcons didn’t do much, aside from adding Cowboys edge player Jack Crawford to help the pass rush. They also re-signed linebacker Courtney Upshaw and put a second-round tender on receiver Taylor Gabriel to keep him. Good teams usually don’t have to be active in free agency, and they weren’t.
The Skinny: The Ravens added a nice piece to their defense by signing Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson. He will team with Eric Weddle to give them a nice combo in the deep middle. They also re-signed nose tackle Brandon Williams, which was a priority, and added running back Danny Woodhead from the Chargers. Losing right tackle Ricky Wagner will hurt.
The Skinny: The smartest move the Bills made was to bring back quarterback Tyrod Taylor on a new deal. They must have looked around and saw the quarterback market, as well as the quarterbacks in the draft, and realized he was their best option. They also brought back pass rusher Lorenzo Alexander, which made sense. But they signed two fullbacks in Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert, which I don’t get, although they say Tolbert will be a backup running back, not a fullback. I like the additions of Packers safety Micah Hyde and Browns safety Jordan Poyer.
The Skinny: The Panthers were active in helping to bolster both lines and the deep middle. They put the franchise tag on defensive tackle Kawann Short, which was wise. They re-signed edge rushers Wes Horton, Charles Johnson and Mario Addison and added former Panthers star Julius Peppers. They added veteran safety Mike Adams and also signed Vikings tackle Matt Kalil to start on the left side. The knock on these moves is they added age, which is never a good thing. Kalil has to be better than what he was in Minnesota.
The Skinny: Chicago’s biggest decision came at the most important position on the field when the Bears cut Jay Cutler after signing Tampa Bay backup Mike Glennon to be their starter. That’s risky. Glennon flashed in his starts with Tampa Bay, but he is raw. The Bears have already said he will start. They then helped him by signing Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton, Titans receiver Kendall Wright and Dolphins tight end Dion Sims. On defense, they added corner Prince Amukamara from the Jaguars and safety Quintin Demps from the Texans. This will all hinge on whether Glennon can become a quality starter.
The Skinny: The Bengals re-signed three players, corner Dre Kirkpatrick, receiver Brandon LaFell and backup tackle Eric Winston. But they suffered two big hits on their offensive line, losing left tackle Andrew Whitworth to the Rams and guard Kevin Zeitler to the Browns. That will sting. They needed to keep at least one of them.
The Skinny: The Browns did a nice job of solidifying their offensive line by signing Packers center JC Tretter and Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler. They also extended their own guard, Joel Bitonio. That means a team weakness is now a strong point for the Browns offense. They added a second-round pick by trading to get quarterback Brock Osweiler from the Texans. They will likely dump him, which means they traded cap room for the pick. They also added receiver Kenny Britt from the Rams.
The Skinny: The Cowboys didn’t make many moves, but they did re-sign receivers Terrance Williams and Brice Butler. They were limited by cap room and were unable to land any pass rushers. They did lose guard Ronald Leary to the Broncos and tackle Doug Free announced his retirement. They also lost safeties Barry Church (Jaguars) and J.J. Wilcox (Bucs) and likely will lose corner Morris Claiborne. They did sign corner Nolan Carroll from the Eagles but also lost defensive lineman Jack Crawford and Terrell McClain. The Cowboys are also of course expected to release Tony Romo.
The Skinny: The Broncos needed help on their offensive line, so they gave Cowboys guard Ronald Leary a big deal. They also signed tackle Menelik Watson away from the Raiders while letting left tackle Russell Okung go to the Chargers. They signed former Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko to help the run defense, but they lost nose tackle Sylvester Williams to the Titans. They could still land Tony Romo when he’s released.
The Skinny: Their big-ticket player was Ravens tackle Ricky Wagner, who should upgrade the right tackle spot. The Lions then signed guard T.J. Lang to play next to him. That’s because they lost tackle Riley Reiff to the Vikings and guard Larry Warford to the Saints. So give them credit for replacing those two. They also signed Cardinals tight end Darren Fells. On defense, they signed Tampa Bay defensive tackle Akeem Spence to a three-year deal and gave Oakland corner D.J. Hayden, a former first-round pick, a one-year deal. They did the same with Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow.
Green Bay Packers
The Skinny: General manager Ted Thompson usually isn’t active and free agency, and this year was no different. He did re-sign edge rusher Nick Perry, which was the smart thing to do on a team that has had pass-rush issues. Then the Packers signed Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, which will be an upgrade from Jared Cook, who is leaving in free agency. They also added Rams tight end Lance Kendricks, giving them a nice 1-2 combination. They lost center/guard J.C. Tretter to the Browns and guard T.J. Lang to the Lions
The Skinny: The Texans didn’t do much at all because of cap limitations. They lost a good corner in A.J. Bouye to the Jaguars, which will hurt. They did trade Brock Osweiler to the Browns to free up cap room, but it cost them a second-round pick. Their entire free-agency grade will hinge on getting Tony Romo. If they don’t, this will be an F. If they do, it could be an A.
The Skinny: The Colts started slowly, but new general manager Chris Ballard was patient and landed two nice pass rushers in John Simon from the Texans and Jabaal Sheard from the Patriots. Improving the edge rush was a priority, and I like those two moves. They will both be immediate starters.
The Skinny: This is a team that came in with a lot of cap room, and the Jaguars decided to use it. They landed three new defensive starters in end Calais Campbell, corner A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church. They also traded to get starting tackle Branden Albert from Miami. They spent a lot, but they could be downright nasty on defense next season. They also added some special teams help in linebacker LeRentee McCray and Audie Cole.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Skinny: The Chiefs’ biggest move of the period came when they gave safety Eric Berry a long-term extension, which was the right move. He is a playmaker in their secondary. They also gave guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and safety/linebacker Daniel Sorensen contract extensions. Other than that they didn’t do much, since they were up against the cap, which is why they will lose Dontari Poe.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Skinny: Their best move was putting the franchise tag on pass rusher Melvin Ingram to prevent him from leaving. The Chargers also re-signed safety Jahleel Addae. They gave Broncos tackle Russell Okung a big contract, which is a questionable move based on the way he played last season.
Los Angeles Rams
The Skinny: The Rams put the franchise tag on corner Trumaine Johnsonwith the idea that he could still be traded. If not, he will be a quality starter. They then helped the offense by signing Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and Bills receiver Robert Woods. Whitworth is a quality left tackle, while Woods is a young receiver who can grow with Jared Goff.
The Skinny: The Dolphins made keeping their own a major priority. They re-signed receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Andre Branch and also gave safety Reshad Jones a contract extension. I like teams that take care of their own. They also traded to get tight end Julius Thomas from the Jaguars. Thomas played his best football in Denver when Dolphins coach Adam Gase was the team’s offensive coordinator. They signed Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons and also added Titans tight end Anthony Fasano, one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. Timmons has slowed some, but he will be an upgrade in Miami. They also traded a sixth-round pick to get pass rusher William Hayes (and a seventh-round pick) from the Rams. They had a nice start to free agency.
The Skinny: The Vikings had to upgrade the offensive line, and they did. They signed Lions tackle Riley Reiff and Panthers tackle Mike Remmers. While they may have overpaid for both, they are an upgrade over what they had the past few years. The line is no longer an issue.
New England Patriots
The Skinny: The Patriots, with a ton of cap room, were active to start the period, which surprised some. They made their biggest move by signing Bills corner Stephon Gilmore to a major deal. That could lead to a trade of Malcolm Butler down the road. Then they re-signed defensive tackle Alan Branch and safety Duron Harmon. They also made three trades. They traded to get pass rusher Kony Ealy from the Panthers by dropping down eight spots in the draft, then traded to get Colts tight end Dwayne Allen and finally sent their first-round pick this year to get Saints receiver Brandin Cooks. That’s a major haul for the Patriots if they all play to expectations, but they don’t have a pick in the draft until the third round now.
New Orleans Saints
The Skinny: The Saints were very active and landed a starting guard in Larry Warford from the Lions, a starting middle linebacker in A.J. Klein from the Panthers and re-signed defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Then, after signing away receiver Ted Ginn Jr. from the Panthers, they shipped receiver Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots for a first-round pick. They will almost certainly use both of their first-round picks on defense. It was a good first few days for the Saints.
New York Giants
The Skinny: A year after spending big in free agency to help their defense, the Giants weren’t as big spenders this time around but they still landed a few players who can help. It started with veteran receiver Brandon Marshall, who will be a nice addition outside with Odell Beckham Jr. They also added Vikings tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison. Their best move was to put the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul.
New York Jets
The Skinny: The Jets mostly spent the first few days watching. Their only signings of note were re-signing guard/tackle Ben Ijalana and special-teams player Josh Martin and signing Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum to replace Ryan Clady. That’s not much. This is a team that is going in the wrong direction and clearly is ready for a major rebuild. They let go of Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis and others. It’s going to be a long year if you are a Jets fan.
The Skinny: After being big players a year ago, the Raiders didn’t do much this time around in free agency. They did sign tackle Marshall Newhouse from the Giants, but he is likely a backup at right tackle. They lost defensive tackle Stacy McGee, which is a bit of a hit, and it appears they will let running back Latavius Murray walk.
The Skinny: The Eagles made landing help for Carson Wentz a priority, which is why they signed receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. They will help the passing game, and Jeffery only got a one-year deal (while Smith’s deal is for so little guaranteed money it’s essentially a year-to-year commitment). They also re-signed guard Stefan Wisniewski and added Titans guard Chance Warmack. They lost corner Nolan Carroll and nose tackle Bennie Logan.
The Skinny: The Steelers are another team that rarely jumps into the free-agency pool. They did put the franchise tag on running back Le’Veon Bell, which will keep him from moving. That was smart. They also extended star receiver Antonio Brown. That’s what they do. They also re-signed veteran James Harrison to a two-year deal. As far as adding outside players, they didn’t. That’s OK — if you can keep the core group and continue to win.
San Francisco 49ers
The Skinny: New general manager John Lynch had a clear plan to help upgrade the roster by signing a slew of offensive players. The 49ers added receiver Pierre Garcon (Redskins) and Marquise Goodwin (Bills) to go with quarterbacks Brian Hoyer (Bears) and Matt Barkley (Bears). They also paid fullback Kyle Juszczyk $5 million a year to be their fullback, which is insane. They spent a lot on that side of the ball, but did they really get much better? They added linebacker Malcolm Smith and tackle Earl Mitchell to the defense.
The Skinny: The Seahawks didn’t do a lot. But they usually don’t. They might jump in on some lesser guys, but the only addition of note so far is guard/tackle Luke Joeckel, and he is coming off a major knee injury in Jacksonville. They need to get some more line help.
Tampa Bay Buccaners
The Skinny: The Buccaneers wanted to get bigger up front on defense and faster outside on offense. Adding Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker will help with the first part, while DeSean Jackson, another Redskins player, will give them a deep threat outside in the passing game. They also brought back end William Gholston, a good run player, and running back Jacquizz Rodgers, which they needed to do with the uncertainty surrounding Doug Martin.
The Skinny: The Titans had to try and upgrade their secondary, so they signed Patriots corner Logan Ryan and Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien, who is coming off his best season. They will help the back end, which needed it. They also added nose tackle Sylvester Williams from the Broncos, but lost tight end Anthony Fasano to the Dolphins.
The Skinny: With the firing of general manager Scot McCloughan, there is so much uncertainty surrounding this team. The Redskins did get quarterback Kirk Cousins to sign his franchise tag deal, so he will be back for a year. They lost receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, which will hurt, but they brought back tight end Vernon Davis. They also signed Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor. They let defensive lineman Chris Baker leave and replaced him with Stacy McGee from the Raiders and Terrell McClain from the Cowboys. They also added safety D.J. Swearinger from the Cardinals.