While it has only been a little over a month since the Super Bowl, it already seems like we have a lot of catching up to do in the world of the NFL. Now more than ever, it appears that for whatever reason, teams are far less timid than they once were about trading players and taking on cap penalties. Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a series of trades including players for picks and even players for players.
Now, coming to a theater near you... Free agency frenzy!
The NFL has been calling it a frenzy for a few years now, and while it sounds rather corny, the name is accurate. Over the next few days, expect a whirlwind of signings – so many so that Adam Schefter and Ian Rappaport’s twitter fingers won’t even be able to keep up. Luckily, for your purposes, on this page will be a running list of each signing and my reactions while looking through a fantasy lens. I will also break down any trades that occur. The list will read most recent to oldest, top to bottom, while I will continue to update the list as best as I can throughout the offseason.
Remember to breathe and don’t blink too slowly or too often. Just try to keep up!
QB Nick Foles signs with Jaguars (4-years, $88 million)
Aside from the Antonio Brown trade, this was the move that we all had been waiting for. The Jaguars didn’t exactly do a good job keeping their cards close to their chest, but so long as they were willing to pay up, they didn’t have to keep any secrets. I’m firmly in the camp that Foles is overrated, however he will be a significant upgrade over Blake Bortles . Foles makes the Jaguars a contender once again, and in today’s NFL, that is worth a blank check in my eyes.
Redskins acquire QB Case Keenum from Broncos for a 6th (2020) and 7th (2020) round pick
This one is a bit of old news, but I felt it as a good starting point for our segment.
In any event, the Redskins won this deal; no bones about it. Sure, Keenum isn’t likely to bring them to the promised land, but the fact of the matter is that they at worst got themselves an incredible backup for barely any draft capital, while they will only be paying him a mere $3 million. In the best case scenario, Keenum channels his 2017 form and gives the Skins a chance at winning the division crown. There is actually no downside in this move for them, unless of course the sixth rounder they gave up ends up being the next Tom Brady .
RB Latavius Murray signs with Saints (4-years, $14.5 million)
This spells the end for Murray in Minnesota and for Mark Ingram in New Orleans. It also signals the ascension of Alvin Kamara to the clear number one back for the Saints, while Murray will provide change of pace and spell reps for the young and talented back. Both will have legitimate fantasy value next season.
RB Frank Gore signs with Bills (1-year, $2 million)
I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, the Bills are the only team in the league that is consistently looking to get more mileage in their backfield each season. With this move, they continue their trend of being the only team in the league with an all 30-and-up backfield, bucking every modern convention. It hasn’t really worked out for them so far, but looking at Frank Gore in a vacuum, he somehow still has some gas left in the tank. In spurts, he will be a good spell for LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory . Don’t bank on any fantasy relevancy from him, however.
RB Mike Davis signs with Bears (2-years, $6 million)
While Davis isn’t anything special in terms of talent, this addition just furthers the narrative that Jordan Howard may be on his way out. I wouldn’t bank on Davis even seeing significant snaps in the scenario of Howard leaving, as they likely would draft their own guy to pair with Tarik Cohen , but just understand that adding another back to the depth chart this early is just not a good sign for Howard.
RB Carlos Hyde signs with Chiefs (1-year, $2.8 million)
I really like this spot for Hyde, as he is still a complete back with plenty left in the tank. Let’s not forget that he was a top-10 fantasy running back throughout the first half of last season and that in his last year with the Niners he caught 59 passes. He’ll join Damien Williams and Darryl Williams in the Chiefs backfield stable, offering whatever is needed, including third-down capabilities.
WR John Brown signs with Bills (3-years, $27 million)
I’m surprised at the money that Brown actually got here considering his limitations on playing in certain environments (sickle-cell). With that being said though, there is no doubt that when on the field, he and Josh Allen will have a hell of a time. Brown is one of the fastest receivers in the league, while Allen has maybe the strongest arm I have ever seen. Pairing Brown with Robert Foster – another deep threat – and having Zay Jones handle the slot and underneath stuff, actually gives the Bills a formidable receiving corps going forward.
WR Cole Beasley signs with Bills (4-years, $29 million)
Considering the presence of Zay Jones , this move was rather surprising. In any event, the Bills seem smartly committed to building around their young quarterback and have proven it through spending nearly $60 million on wide receivers over the last 20 minutes. Beasley’s skill-set speaks for itself – he’s a wizard in the slot and is one of the league’s best route runners. He’ll offer Josh Allen an always-open target and the special teams coach a reliable punt return option.
WR Josh Bellamy signs with Jets (2-years, $7 million)
Bellamy is overpaid here, but that is mainly because coach Adam Gase loves the guy from his days in Chicago. The understanding is that Bellamy will be a reserve receiver and the team’s special teams ace going forward. I can’t imagine too much fantasy value to come fromt this.
WR Devin Funchess signs with Colts (1-year, $13 million)
This price is a bit steep on the surface, but the Colts have a ton of money to spend and for just one year, this is more of a “prove it” deal. My expectations are that Andrew Luck will get the best out of Devin Funchess because he typically gets the best out of all of his receivers, but moreover, Funchess will bring a diversified skill-set and archetype to Indy’s receiving corps – something that they have needed for years now. By that I mean, Luck will finally have a tall and physical wideout he can throw to, while he also can use Funchess either on the inside or outside of the formation. I’m really interested in Funchess’ fantasy stock going forward, because at a fair price, I’m certainly ready to invest.
WR Adam Humphries signs with Titans (contracts details undisclosed)
Humphries is the second of two Buccaneers receivers to be purged (more on that later) on Monday, as the Titans saw him as an upgrade in the slot over Tajae Sharpe . While often underrated, Humphries should provide Marcus Mariota with yet another talented option over the middle, as he joins Jonnu Smith and Delanie Walker as well. Humphries may have some interesting fantasy value headed into next season for those in PPR formats.
Eagles acquire WR DeSean Jackson , 7th (2019) round pick from Buccaneers for a 6th (2019) round pick.
It was no secret that Jackson was on the block, however it never crossed my mind that his former team, the Eagles, would be in play. Essentially this move plays as a cap dump for the Bucs, while the Eagles managed to restructure DJax to a 3-year, $27 million deal. The Buccaneers can now comfortably move on from the veteran and the Eagles just got that much scarier. It appears to be a win for both parties.
WR Jamison Crowder signs with Jets (3-years, $28.5 million)
Almost $10 million a year is a lot of money to pay a receiver who has never done any of the following: 1) caught 70 passes in a season, 2) registered over 900 yards in a season, 3) caught eight touchdowns in a season. On top of this, he missed seven games last season due to injury and put up his worst statistical lines to date. With all of that being said, the Jets had a lot of money to spend, needed help getting Sam Darnold a reliable short-area target, and got themselves a really talented player when completely healthy. If you want to look really positively, Crowder will be playing with the most talented quarterback in his career thus far… I’m curious to see how the Jets plan on using both Crowder and Enunwa on the field at the same time.
WR Danny Amendola signs with Lions (1-year, $4.5 million)
The Patriots of the Midway is how these Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn Lions are currently being rebranded, as they add another former Belichick staple. As for his fit with Detroit, I actually rather like it. Amendola will quickly become a favorite of Matthew Stafford , while the presence of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones should give him plenty of 1v1 looks over the middle. So long as he can monitor his concussion issues, this signing should pay off well for both parties involved.
Raiders acquire WR Antonio Brown from Steelers for 3rd (2019) and 5th (2019) round picks.
This has been the biggest move of the offseason thus far and there really isn’t much argument. Brown has been the league’s best receiver since Calvin Johnson retired and the fact that the Raiders only had to give up a 3rd and a 5th for him really boggles the mind. If you look at what they have done over the last six months at the wide receiver spot alone, they managed to turn Amari Cooper , a 3rd, and a 5th, into Antonio Brown and a 1st round pick. I don’t even think you can pull that off in Madden.
Looking at this from AB’s perspective, obviously this move will be a blow to his fantasy prospects, as leaving Pittsburgh’s high-flying, vertical offense… and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger … can’t be good for anyone. The good news is for Derek Carr , who will no longer have any excuse to make a living throwing 35 banana routes and three-yard outs. We will have a chance to see 2016 Carr once again!
TE Tyler Kroft signs with Bills (3-years, $18 million)
$6 million a year seems quite rich for Kroft, however in 2017, he did prove to be a sneaky good red zone threat with seven receiving touchdowns. The Bills are likely hoping that Kroft and his 6-foot-6 frame can return to that type of form this season and beyond so that newly anointed franchise quarterback Josh Allen has a target that he can be eye level with. I’m not banking on Kroft too much early on in the season, however he may develop into an interesting streaming option in fantasy leagues and DFS.
TE Jason Witten unretires; re-signs with Cowboys (1-year, $2 million)
There have been some mixed reviews on this one, but for the life of me I can’t understand why. Tight End was going to be one of the Cowboys top priorities this offseason, and without a first round pick they were likely going to have to overpay for one that would make any serviceable impact in 2019. Instead, they get a future Hall of Famer, who caught nearly 70 passes in his most recent season with the team. Witten knows the offense and will reportedly not stand in the way of the development of the younger tight ends on the roster either. The Cowboys found a way to fill a need, with quality, on the cheap, and without sacrificing any draft capital. That is a huge accomplishment by the front office.
TE Dwayne Allen signs with Dolphins (2-years, $7 million)
Allen comes at a decent price, but joins a crowded TE room, including Nick O’Leary and sophomore Mike Gesicki . My expectation is that Allen will see a good amount of snaps, but will likely serve as the primary blocking tight end in this offense, while Gesicki will be the receiver, and O’Leary will play the H-back type of role. Everyone will have their place and reps, in theory at least.
C Mitch Morse signs with Bills (4-years, $44 million)
Morse was the best center on the market, and while the Bills should be happy with making a significant upgrade along their offensive line, you have to wonder why they would pay a veteran so much when there are several potentially great centers in this upcoming draft. Aside from that, like I said, the Bills got better today, and with a lot of money to spend, they should be more than fine with that.
OT Ja’Wuan James signs with Broncos (4-years, $52 million)
The Broncos are likely to lose Jared Veldheer this offseason, while Garret Bolles has been a massive disappointment so far in his career. Sure they may have overpaid for James here, but he’s an upgrade over both and gives them an ability to anchor their offensive line around a talented 26-year old. As it sits now, James is set to become the highest paid RT in NFL history, however there are rumors that he will kick over to the left side. My instincts are that they are not done rebuilding this line, whether it be through more free agent signings, or the draft, or both.
OT Trent Brown signs with Raiders (4-years, $66 million)
Brown is a massive human being. At 6-foot-8 and reported by some to be upwards of 380 lbs., his size cannot be understated. With that being said, according to Von Miller , Brown is the best lineman in the NFL right now because of his rare blend of giant’s blood and ninja-like athleticism. Well, he didn’t say exactly that, but in so many words he did. Point being, arguably the league’s best pass rusher thinks that Brown is amazing. On top of that, this past year he was the blind side protector for the greatest quarterback of all time and eventually was crowned a Super Bowl champion. From there, he now becomes the highest paid lineman in NFL history. It is amazing to think that just four years ago he was an afterthought, picked in the 7th round by the 49ers.
To me, making him the highest paid lineman ever is an overpay, even with the salary cap increasing this season, but as we saw last season with Nate Solder , you usually have to overpay to get the guys you really want. A select few are up in arms about the deal, particularly because of his historically average PFF (Pro Football Focus) grades, but the eye test and Brown’s resume will tell you that he is more than worth at least an elite LT’s contract. The Raiders are fine by me here.
Cardinals acquire OT Marcus Gilbert from Steelers for 6th (2019) round pick
It is no secret that the Cards need offensive line help, and in Gilbert, they are certainly getting it… Provided he can stay healthy. Over the last two seasons combined, Gilbert has missed a whopping 20 games, however in the games he has played, most consider him an impact player. By giving up just a sixth round pick, the Cards are making a low risk, high reward move – something every GM is trying to do.
OL Billy Turner signs with Packers (4-years, $28 million)
Turner is just one of several players that the Packers have added on Tuesday morning. He comes at a seemingly fair price – considering the going rate of serviceable offensive linemen over the last 48 hours – and he provides excellent versatility to an offensive line that is potentially going through an identity shift. Turner likely fits in as the starting right guard, however he can be a valuable swing tackle for Matt LaFleur as well.
Patriots acquire DE Michael Bennett , 7th (2020) round pick from Eagles for 5th (2020) round pick.
With Trey Flowers expected to leave the Super Bowl champs on a massive deal, Bennett is expected to step right in as a starting defensive end. My question is, how in the world the Pats managed to steal a guy with 17.5 sacks over the last two seasons for just a future 5th round pick?? Some things never change I guess… Despite being in his mid-30’s now, the expectation is that Bennett will provide the Patriots with high energy and at times unblockable production from multiple positions along the defensive line. And they’ll be on the hook for only $7.2 million! I’m still scratching my head about this from an Eagles perspective.
Browns acquire DE Olivier Vernon , 4th (2019) round pick from Giants for G Kevin Zeitler , 5th (2019) round pick.
While I still believe in the talent of Olivier Vernon , this was a huge win for the Giants. Sure they are taking on a lot of salary from Zeitler, but his presence will now fortify an offensive line that was one of the worst in the league last season. From the Browns perspective, they add a once high-level edge presence – filling a need – while shedding some salary along the line, as they have Zeitler’s replacement already on the roster.
DE Trey Flowers signs with Lions (5-years, $85 million)
After just four years in the league, Flowers has gone out and quickly joined the second tier of NFL pass rushers in terms of production and now in terms of salary. It came as no surprise that the Patriots were quick to pass on the potential of signing him long term – even at just 25 years of age – and came as even less of a shock when the Lions and his former coach Matt Patricia came knocking on his door before the “legal tampering” was even a few hours old. Flowers will join a quickly improving Lions defense in 2019 as the team’s premier edge talent, now that Ziggy Ansah is likely gone in free agency.
DL Sheldon Richardson signs with Browns (3-years, $36 million)
While his sack production has decreased over the last few years, Richardson joins the Browns as still a very disruptive interior presence. Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic notes that Richardson actually accounted for 10 “sacks created” (an ESPN stat) in 2018, meaning that his size and speed combo coming from the inside allows others to get to the quarterback easier. With the attention he commands, expect both Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon to see more 1v1 opportunities than they have ever had in their careers… How in the world is this guy still only 28 years old??
DT Malik Jackson signs with Eagles (3-years, $30 million)
When this deal first broke, the details were misreported and people were going bonkers. The thought of Jackson going to Philly for about $3.5 million per year was appalling. Eventually, it would come out that Jackson is actually gonna be getting around $10 million per year and everyone calmed down… Regardless, this is a quality move for Philly, as they needed some firepower up front after losing Michael Bennett for essentially nothing. Jackson doesn’t bring the same versatility of Bennett, but his interior pressure is still more than viable at this point in his career. If you look at his tape towards the end of last season, you will see what I am talking about.
OLB Terrell Suggs to sign with Cardinals (contract details undisclosed)
Sure Suggs is now 36 years old, but with seven sacks in 2018, you can’t tell me that he’s washed up. Until the contract details are disclosed, I can’t give a definitive reaction on this deal. What I will say though is that I really fear the idea of a team that has Terrell Suggs coming off of one edge and Chandler Jones off the other. Yikes!
OLB Preston Smith signs with Packers (4-years, $52 million)
The Packers have struggled to get edge pressure over the last few years, and in Smith, they may have just solved that problem. Sure he is coming off of a down year, but he’s still just 26 years old and has already posted two separate seasons of eight sacks in his career. He didn’t re-up with the Redskins because of the exorbitant amount of money that they were ready to fork up to Landon Collins , so it’s not like they thought he was a washed up player or anything. The Packers did well here.
OLB Za'Darius Smith signs with Packers (contract details undisclosed)
Still no details on what Smith is getting, but regardless, the Packers and their fans should be very happy. They went from having one of the league’s worst pass rushes last season to adding two edge players that combined for more pressures than their entire defense in 2018. Za’darius Smith brings 8.5 sacks with him from last season, while Preston Smith brings 4.0.
LB Anthony Barr changes his mind and re-signs with the Vikings
Also in another stunning turn of events, Barr decides to change his name to DeAndre Jordan!
In all seriousness though, this is a terrible look for his brand, but the heart wants what it wants. There are still no details on his new contract with the Vikings, but who knows… He may change his mind again.
As for the Jets, they still have plenty of money to play with, however there are no other players on the market with Barr’s hybrid skill-set. They likely will need to sign two players to cover what one Barr could bring to the table.
LB C.J. Mosley signs with Jets (5-years, $85 million)
As predicted correctly last night, the Jets weren’t done adding linebackers after Anthony Barr (even though he changed his mind) and C.J. Mosley was still firmly on their radar. Yes the price is steep, but there is no question that Mosley is one of the best middle linebackers in football. He’s also only 26 years old and will pair with Jamal Adams as a defensive captain for the next decade of Jets football. It is tough to put a price on that really, however the Jets and Mosley figured $85 million was a good place to start.
LB Jordan Hicks signs with Cardinals (4-years, $36 million)
When healthy, Hicks is a rock solid contributor who plays with consistency and tenacity from the middle linebacker position. He also is an elite cover linebacker, however he hasn’t exactly been the same in that department since he tore his achilles in 2017. My only real hangup on this deal is that Hicks has missed 19 games over the last four years, but if he can stay healthy, this contract will be more than a bargain for Arizona.
LB Thomas Davis signs with Chargers (contract details undisclosed)
With the likely loss of Kyle Emanuel this offseason, the Chargers were certainly in the market for some linebacker help. While Davis is no longer a spring chicken, he brings leadership, wisdom, talent, and toughness to an already pretty stacked defense. 2019 will be his 16th year in the league, as he continues to add to his Hall of Fame resume.
LB Kwon Alexander signs with 49ers (4-years, $54 million)
When he is on the field, few are better than Alexander, however my concern is that the guy has missed 18 games over the last four seasons. The old football adage goes “the best ability is availability.” Even for the elite linebackers in this league, that can be easier said than done – just ask Sean Lee … This is certainly a gamble for the Niners.
CB Kareem Jackson signs with Broncos (3-years, $33 million)
Jackson is exactly the type of DB that the Broncos love to have – versatile and nasty. His price is a bit steep if you are considering him a safety, but his more likely position of cornerback makes him a relative bargain. Either way, the Broncos should get the most out of Jackson early on, as they tend to do that with their defensive backs.
CB Buster Skrine signs with Bears (3-years, $16.5 million)
Skrine is a fiesty slot corner who really struggled during his time with the Jets. Too often he was caught up in physical battles that saw him flagged more than almost any other corner in the league. Plugged into the Bears more aggressive and more talented defense, there is a chance that the attention will be taken off of Skrine and he may be able to get away with a lot more. I like his personality and style fit with this defense, and they got him at a fair price.
CB Justin Coleman signs with Lions (4-years, $36 million)
In a surprising move, Coleman is going to become the league’s highest paid slot corner. Not that you can’t make the argument that he deserves the honor, but he’s just not exactly the guy that comes to mind when you ponder the league’s best nickelback. In any event, in a league that increasingly forces you to play with five or more DB’s at any given moment, it is no surprise that a defensive minded team would put a priority on signing him. Over the last two seasons, Coleman has deflected 19 passes and taken two interceptions to the house. Matt Patricia will find creative ways to deploy him.
S Eric Weddle signs with Rams (2-years, $10.5 million)
Going into this free agency frenzy, it was unclear what the market would be for safeties, especially considering how quickly teams were just throwing Pro Bowlers to the curb. Seeing now that the safety economy is booming, I wouldn’t be surprised if an accomplished veteran such Weddle is kicking himself for signing so quickly at such a bargain. In retrospect though, Weddle made it pretty clear that he knew the second he became a free agent that he wanted to play for the Rams. Now he’s on a clear Super Bowl contender and at this point in his career, that is really what it is all about.
S Tyrann Mathieu signs with Chiefs (3-years, $42 million)
The Honey Badger is a risk taker, a playmaker, and an undersized defensive back with a versatile skill-set. He will likely do most of his work in the slot, which I like for him, but what I like even more is that he will not be relied upon to be the best safety on the field anymore. With Eric Berry backing him up, deeper downfield on most plays, Mathieu can take more risks and play more freely, which is what he does best. The price is certainly steep for a guy with an up-and-down career thus far, but this may just be the best scenario possible for him.
S Landon Collins signs with Redskins (6-years, $84 million)
To me, this is the head scratcher of the offseason thus far. I know that Landon Collins is a great locker room leader and a fierce competitor up at the line of scrimmage, but I really don’t understand how any NFL team could consider him – a notorious liability in coverage – as a $14 million a year defensive back, especially in a league that is increasingly moving more and more to passing, pace, and space. It appears that in lieu of going all out for a potential franchise quarterback like Nick Foles , the Redskins were content on overpaying for an archetype that was going out of style at the same time DVD’s were.
S Lamarcus Joyner signs with Raiders (contract details undisclosed)
Still no details on this one, but provided it is under $8 million per year, I’ll be on board. The Raiders were initially thought to be tanking 2019, however in the matter of a few hours, they have acquired several high-priced veterans and even a future Hall of Famer. My outlook on them going forward has certainly changed.
K Jonathan Brown signs with 49ers (2-years, $1.08 million)
Not much is known about Brown, except that he is a good athlete, as he used to play for Louisville’s soccer team just a few years ago. In his only real NFL action, Brown made 5-of-5 field goals in last year’s preseason with the Bengals. Brown is slated to take over for Robbie Gould this season.
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