Even though free agency seemed to begin a week ago, and didn’t start till Tuesday, this column is going up now. Why? Well, because the NFL is ridiculous. Stuff just happens. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Guys have gotten franchised tagged, signed, traded, and everything else.
I’m going to start with where we were a week ago, and make our way up to today.
Justin Houston (Salary: $13.195 million):
The Chiefs decided to hold until next year to try and lock up Houston long term, which was a smart move by them. Even with his huge season in 2014, the Chiefs want to see a year like that again out of him. The reluctancy is understandable. However, Houston wasn’t fond if it, and wanted big-time money this year. It’s a common thing, but with Houston threatening to hold out, the Chiefs could find themselves in some trouble.
Houston is a ferocious defender. Close to unblockable, he had 22 sacks last year. He was the main part of the stout Kansas City defense, and should continue the fierce play this coming season. He’ll have to prove himself though.
Demaryius Thomas (Salary: $12.823 million):
This was another tagging I was bothered by. Now that Peyton Manning is officially coming back, why couldn’t you convince Thomas to stay long term, using Manning’s return as leverage? Now, with this upcoming year most likely being Manning’s last, Thomas will probably leave due to it, no matter how this upcoming year pans out.
Thomas is a great receiver, and with a quarterback like Peyton Manning, his stats and effectiveness is even better. He’s a consistent wide receiver too, and can go down the field and catch deep balls. Thomas is a great red zone receiver, with 25 TD catches the past two years. He’ll make a lot of money next offseason, but I have serious doubt that the money will be coming from the Broncos.
Dez Bryant (Salary: $12.823 million):
Now this one makes sense. With the Cowboys not totally trusting Bryant yet, the tag kept him another year, giving him the opportunity to prove himself on the field again. Where the Cowboys’ issues with Bryant come in is off the field, where reports have cops showing up at his house quite a bit. His locker room spirit also seems to be in question by Dallas, giving the Cowboys more of a reason to tag him.
We know that Bryant is a pure talent on the field, and that’s he is one of the best receivers in the league. This was all about the off the field questions that exist. And in this day and age with the NFL, that’s probably pretty important.
Jason Pierre Paul (Salary: $14.823 million):
Yet another tag I don’t agree with. First, that cap hit this year is crazy high. I don’t think he’s worth that per year in a long term deal. Yes, he had 16 sacks last year, but it hasn’t been consistent throughout his career.
Perhaps the Giants wanted one more solid year out of him before the lock him up long term. He’s no doubt a great talent, and his best year’s are probably ahead of him, but the cap hit is huge, and I’m not sure he’d get that per year in along term deal.
Now, whatever he gets next offseason, he’ll make a ton of money. But, it’ll be spread out through incentives and bonuses, rather than in a yearly sum. I also expect the Giants to re-sign him. They’ve prided themselves on having a good defensive line over the years. Paul will make that a reality, as he has for the past couple years.
Stephen Gostkowski (Salary: $4.56 million):
This is hilarious to me. Just pay the guy $3 million a year and be done with it!
Now we’re going to look at the bigger-named free agent signings. The GMs throughout the league look kinda like this.
Who?: Mark Ingram
Where to where?: Resigned with Saints
Contract: Four years, $16 million
With the Saints being the most cap strapped team in the league, locking up anyone would be a challenge. Fortunately, the team was able to get Mark Ingram inked on a long term contract. Ingram isn’t worth a ton a money, as he hasn’t had a ton of playing time, but his role will be expanded this coming season. With Pierre Thomas gone, Ingram should see many more touches. Ingram’s cap hit is small, but with an increase in production, he could rise it up further.
Who?: Randall Cobb
Where to where?: Resigned with Packers
Contract: Four years, $40 million
Randall Cobb is one of the better young wide receivers in the game, and boy, was he a hot commodity around the league. Cobb reportedly turned down the Raiders’ offer, which was worth lots more than the offer he eventually took with Green Bay. However, Cobb is smart, and wanted to win more than anything. Though $40 million sounds like a lot for Cobb, he’s still developing, and will only get better. He has one of the best quarterbacks in the league throwing to him, and is surrounded by other weapons. He and the Packers will be fine.
Who?: Devin McCourty
Where to where?: Re-signed with Patriots
Contract: Five years, $47.5 million
Locking up McCourty was the Patriots No.1 priority this offseason, and they did just that. McCourty, in my opinion, is one of the best safeties in the game, and he’s getting paid like one. New England has had great secondaries in the past, and McCourty will solidify that for the next few years. McCourty is also a veteran, and with young guys possibly coming in, his voice will be greatly appreciated.
Who?: Mark Sanchez and Byron Maxwell
Where to where?: Sanchez: Resigned, Maxwell: From Seattle
Contracts: Sanchez: Two years, $16 million, Maxwell: Six years, $63 million
I walked into Geometry class on Monday, and had a friend immediately ask: “What the h@!! are the Eagles doing?”
Great question. Some of it’s been answered, but I still have my doubts.
We’ll start at the quarterback position, which is the most important position in the league. It’s quite clear that Mark Sanchez’s best days are behind him. While with the Jets, he was very good before the team collapsed, which led to his own. After playing a bit last year due to Nick Foles’ injury, the Eagles decided to give him $16 million, which turns out to be $8 million a year (!!!!).
That’s a ton of money for a backup. Sorry, but at this point, Sanchez is a backup. A desperate team would start him. The money that Sanchez is earning is decent starter money.
See later for thoughts on the Sam Bradford trade.
The part of the Eagles’ so called “splash” (whatever) was signing Byron Maxwell. Maxwell got a ton of money, with $25 million of it being guaranteed.
Though part of the Legion Of Boom in Seattle, Maxwell is no sure thing. He’s had some great games, shutting down tight ends and bigger wide receivers. Though, he was torched in the Super Bowl against New England, giving up multiple big plays.
Philadelphia definitely needed secondary help. Maxwell is great fit, but I’m not totally sure he’ll be worth the money.
Who?: Ndamukong Suh
Where to where?: Detroit to Miami
Contract: Six years, $114 million
The biggest name in free agency went off the board Sunday morning. This was honestly a shocker to me, though the move makes sense now. The Dolphins weren’t one of the names we had heard floating around before the signing. The Giants, Lions, Bears, and Raiders were the main teams that had been named in the chase.
The money is insane, but isn’t unexpected. The contract is the largest ever given to a non-QB player. The guaranteed money is ridiculous. $60 million is a ton. I think he’s worth it, but time will tell.
His fit in Miami is perfect. The Dolphins already had a big-time pass rusher in Cameron Wake, and adding Suh will create havoc on an opposing offensive line. Besides the line though, the defense is shaky, and needs more help.
The problem with the signing and the money is that Suh plays defensive tackle. That’s not a huge impact position. That’s why many people believe the Dolphins overpaid. Suh will make the defense overall better, but questions with this team remain on the other side. Suh isn’t someone who will carry a team to the playoffs, due to his position. Ryan Tannehill has shown flashes, but not enough for the Dolphins to lock him up.
Miami made a huge splash with this signing, but more questions linger with this team, not having to do with Suh.
Who?: Brandon Flowers
Where to where?: Resigned with San Diego
Contract: Four years, $36 million
Flowers has been through a lot the past couple seasons, and has finally caught his big break. After having a decent season, the Chargers had to lock him up. Why? Because their secondary has been a disaster over the past couple years, and Flowers is one of the better cornerbacks they’ve ever had.
The money is a lot. $9 million is hefty for a guy like Flowers. He isn’t a bad player, but could certainly use some improvement. Again, this was more about having someone even close to good in the secondary for San Diego, and they overpaid for it. If Flowers had gone anywhere else, I’m not sure he would have even gotten close to that amount.
Who?: Pernell McPhee
Where to where?: Ravens to Bears
Contract: Five years, $40 million
It’s a tad concerning that a guy who I didn’t about till this year just got $40 million. Not that McPhee is a bad player, but he hasn’t had the consistency I like to see. 2014 was his first big year of his career, and it came at the right time.
The Bears can use anyone on that defense, and perhaps that’s what led to the large amount of money. It’s a lot, and McPhee has to prove to me he’s worth it. He’s a very good pass rusher, but is limited when it comes to other defensive skills.
Who?: Orlando Franklin
Where to where?: Denver to San Diego
Contract: Five years, $36.5 million
This could be the most underrated signing so far. Franklin is a great offensive guard, who’s run blocking is outstanding. The man was going to earn money this offseason, as he was coming off of his rookie contract.
The Chargers, after having a couple guys retire on their line, need Franklin bad. His run blocking, as said above, is great, and San Diego has had some good running games in the past. It’s the biggest move no one is talking about.
Who?: Harry Douglas
Where to where?: Falcons to Titans
Contract: Three years, money total not released
Though the details haven’t been released, this shift for Douglas seems to be about money. We don’t know how much the Titans offered him, but it had to be more than the Falcons, and he chased it. Douglas was a good third option in Atlanta, but his role should be expanded with Tennessee. Frustration will come as he’s moving to a young team, and he’s being thrown to by a young quarterback, whoever that may be.
Who?: Cary Williams
Where to where?: Philadelphia to Seattle
Contract: Three years, $18 million
Williams was a disaster in Philly, and I’m surprised he even got this money. He’s been known for his comments off the field, being very outspoken while not preforming on the field. Seattle though, needed a guy to replace Byron Maxwell, and Williams, somewhat, fits the mold. Cary can hit, like Maxwell, and is better in cover defense than in man. Whether Seattle overpaid remains to be seen.
Who?: Ed Dickson
Where to where?: Resigned with Carolina
With the money not available, it’s a little hard to judge this, but Dickson is a playmaker who can catch deep passes. That’s what the Panthers like to do. Given their limited receiving core, Cam Newton needs anyone he can to throw the ball to.
Who?: Bryan Bulaga
Where to where?: Resigned with Green Bay
Contract: Five years, $7 million a year (total money not available)
Bulaga is one of the best offensive lineman in the game, and the Packers resigning him is a huge key to their run game. Green Bay, with Eddie Lacy in the backfield, needs interior lineman for him to succeed. Bulaga does just that. The money is well spent with this one.
Who?: Shane Vereen
Where to where?: New England to the Giants
Contract: Three years, $12.35 million
Vereen was a huge part of the Patriots offense last season, and is a dynamic running back, which is something the Giants have lacked for many years. The signing effects the Patriots more than the Giants, as they lose their main guy. Perhaps the draft can provide them a replacement. Vereen should fit fine in New York. Again, the Giants have lacked someone like him forever.
Who?: Frank Gore, Trent Cole
Where to where?: Gore: San Francisco to Indianapolis, Cole: Philadelphia to Indianapolis
Contract: Gore: Three years, $12 million Cole: Two years, $16 million
Oh, good lord Frank Gore. Why? Why did you have to sign with Philly first? Why did you force me write and then delete 500 words about you, yourself, and your new team?
Frank Gore was supposed to be an Eagle, but then, with nothing being official, he backed out and went to the Colts instead. The money is significantly less then what Philly had offered, which is quite interesting.
Indy needed a running back desperately, and while Gore is aging and struggles to stay healthy, he’s better than Trent Richardson, who’s now gone. Remember that, Colts’ fans.
Trent Cole addresses another need at linebacker. The Colts defense prided on it’s secondary last year, and struggled covering the middle of the field. With Cole’s release from Philly, he’s a great pickup for the Colts. Honestly, I thought they got him on a bargain.
Who?: Mike Iupati, LaMarr Woodley
Where to where?: Iupati: San Francisco to Arizona, Woodley: Oakland to Arizona
Contract: Iupati: Five years, $40 million Woodley: One year, $870k (minimum)
The signing of Mike Iupati for the Cardinals is huge. Arizona missed on Jonathan Cooper in the draft two years ago, and now Iupati comes into to, replace him?
Maybe, that’s another conversation. Iputai is one of the best guards in the league, and man, is he getting paid like one. The money is hefty, but the Cardinals expect Iupati to preform. He’s the lineman the Cardinals haven’t had in some time.
Woodley has fallen off a cliff since leaving Pittsburgh, but changes of scenery do help. Woodley probably won’t start, but can come of the bench and provide a tackle or good play. He’s a nice addition, and it adds depth to an already very good defense.
Who?: Eric Winston, A.J. Hawk
Where to where?: Winston: Re-signed, Hawk: Green Bay to Cincinnati
Contract: Winston: Undisclosed Hawk: Two years, money not available.
These are two moves that kinda “wait-and-see” moves for Cincinnati. Hawk’s release from the Packers was quite shocking, as he’s their career leader in tackles. His performance though, fell last season, leading to the parting of ways.
Hawk comes in playing for a good defense. Depending on whether he starts, he can still play a decent role. He’s a run stopping linebacker, and the Bengals I’m sure would love to add another. The money, which isn’t available, would give us more clues about his upcoming role.
Winston is solid tackle, and has bounced around quite a bit. The money, whatever it may be, shouldn’t be a huge sum. Winston is solid, but isn’t anything special. With the Cardinals, he was quite sketchy at times, as was that whole offensive line.
Who?: Torrey Smith
Where to where?: Baltimore to San Francisco
Contract: Five years, $40 million
Torrey Smith has been one of my favorite players in the league since being drafted. He’s big, speedy, and can go down the field. Joe Flacco couldn’t have been a better quarterback for him coming into the league, and transitioning to Colin Kaepernick will lead to the same.
The 49ers have lacked a guy like Smith for sometime now. They’ve never had a deep threat, and with Michael Crabtree likely leaving, Smith suits as a nice replacement.
The money is a lot, but Smith should more than succeed in his offense. He’s shown his potential before. Smith’s game should only expand from here.
Who?: Owen Daniels
Where to where?: Baltimore to Denver
Contract: Three years, $12 million
This was a bargain in my book. Daniels has been very effective everywhere he’s been. He’s a great pass catcher who’s reliable in the red zone. It adds another target for Peyton Manning to throw to, and he’ll replace Julius Thomas (more on that later). The contract, as said above, is a bargain. Daniels does everything you want. It’s shame, due to his position, that he makes less than others.
Who?: Dan Williams
Where to where?: Arizona to Oakland
Williams was one of the best defensive lineman on the market this year. Arizona lost a key part of their defense with this signing. With the contract undisclosed, it’s possible Williams chased the money. Though, Williams is a solid defensive tackle. He’s still young, and is a great run stuffer.
Who?: Ryan Matthews
Where to where?: San Diego to Philadelphia
Contract: Three years, $12 million
After having four solid season with San Diego, Matthews bolted for Philly, where he’ll trio with DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles. Matthews is a speedy guy, who has great cuts. He’s reliable near the end zone too.
Who? : Brian Hoyer
Where to where?: Cleveland to Houston
Contract: Two years, $10 million
We knew Hoyer was leaving Cleveland. With their signing of Josh McCown, Hoyer was gone. Now, he finds himself in another dire QB situation. With Ryan Fitzpatrick gone, Houston will most likely have Hoyer be their starter. Seeing them take a QB in the draft is likely, but not someone who is a franchise type guy.
The contract is cheap, and average for a backup. That’s what Hoyer is. But if you’re Houston, what else are you going to do?
Who?: Jeremy Maclin
Where to where?: Philadelphia to Kansas City
Contract: Five years, $55 million
As a Chiefs fan, I couldn’t be more stoked about this signing. Maclin is exactly what we need, especially after last year’s horrendous preformance from our wide receivers. Maclin has speed, can go downfield, and preforms in the red zone. The Chiefs haven’t had someone like this in forever.
The thing that bugs me? The money. The contract is huge, and $11 million is a lot for Maclin, who has trouble staying healthy. Though, he may be worth that much to a Chiefs team that has no receivers. That’s why the total was so high.
Who?: Julius Thomas
Where to where?: Denver to Jacksonville
Contract: Five years, $46 million
With the signing of Owen Daniels, Thomas was definitely out in Denver. Many speculated that he would leave before. Thomas is a great talent. He’s big, and can out muscle guys at tight end. He goes downfield and catches balls too. Though, he won’t have Peyton Manning throwing to him anymore, and that’s where a possible production slip will occur. Though, Blake Bortles is in development, and having targets will help him. The money is worth it, especially for a team that had the money to spend.
On Andre Johnson’s release from the Texans and signing with the Colts
This had been coming for days. I mean, c’mon. First, it was that he had been fed up over the pats couple years with the direction of the team. Then, he had asked for a trade. After the act of non-doing from the front office, Johnson asked for a release, and it was granted.
The Colts then signed Johnson to a three year, $21 million contract. It fills a need for Indianapolis, and gives Andrew Luck a big time target. The money came in right where I thought it would. Something with a low money total due to age. Johnson has gas in the tank left. No question. This is a great signing by Indy, and will probably be a tad underrated.
On Darrelle Revis’ declined option and his signing with the Jets…
It was clear that the Patriots would decline Revis’ option, as it was worth way more than what the Patriots would pay for. With declining it though, they knew the risk of him being on the open market.
We know in the past that Revis chases money. He always has. We also know, as my Dad pointed out to me, that Revis is the best businessman in the NFL. He’s really smart, and probably wouldn’t need an agent if the rules were different.
When the option was declined, rumored swirled about where Revis would end up. The Jets were brought up a lot, and it eventually happened. Tuesday night, the Jets and Revis agreed to a five year, $70 million contract, with $40 million guaranteed.
That’s a ton of money, and the Jets didn’t really seem opposed to it. He’s one of the best cornerbacks in the game. Whether he gets back Revis Island remains to be seen, but the Jets are paying him like. Revis follows the latest trend of start athletes, as he’s “returning home”, following the LeBron James path.
There was no way that the Patriots would pay Revis that, especially after giving Devin McCourty his big deal. Revis leaving definitely leaves New England with a hole, which will most likely be fixed in the upcoming draft.
On the retirement of Patrick Willis…. And all the other crazy early retirements…
The first official day of free agency was absolutely insane. We had trades, retirements, and not a whole lot signings. It was quite ridiculous, and it’s why this column has been postponed for a couple days.
As for the retirements, Patrick Willis, Cortland Finnegan, Jake Locker, and Jason Worilds all retirement. All of those guys are under 32 years old. 32!
Willis’ retirement was the biggest shocker. No one saw it coming, giving he was still in his prime. Willis was one of the best linebackers in the league. His play on the field and presence in the locker room was key to this 49ers team. It only made their offseason worse.
As for his reasoning, injuries were his main reason, while a “religious awakening” was another cause. In the 49ers case, you can’t tell him no that. Willis made a decision for himself and the rest of his life, and you can’t punish or judge him for that.
Cortland Finnegan’s retirement was another big shocker, as he was a free agent. He’s been around the league though, and wasn’t likely to get a monster contract. Unfortunately, Finnegan’s probably going to know for his fight with Andre Johnson on the field in 2010.
Jason Worilds’ retirement was also crazily unexpected. Being a free agent, Worilds was gonna get big money. His situation is similar to Willis, as he’ll work for a religious group. Again, if you’re a team, what are you going to do. It’s not like you can tell him no.
Worilds has made a good amount of money in the league, but had he stayed, he would have racked in at least $9 million.
Jake Locker simply had had too many injuries and concussions throughout his early career. It’s too bad for Locker, who was also a free agent. He, most likely, would have ended up as backup for a team this coming year.
On all the ridiculous trades…..
I mean really? Why did this have to happen when I wasn’t paying attention to the world of sports? When LeSean McCoy and Kiko Alonso got swapped for each other, I was in the hot tub, and got a text from a friend asking me if I saw the trade.
This time, I was riding my bike due to the insanely and surprisingly warm weather at my house this past week. The three trades I’m about to write about, happened in the 30 minutes I was gone on my bike ride. Talk about timing,
The first trade was probably the most shocking of them all.
Seahawks get: Jimmy Graham, 4th round pick
Saints get: Max Unger, 1st round pick
I couldn’t believe the Saints traded Jimmy Graham. If there’s one guy on that Saints roster that you wouldn’t think they would trade, it’d be him. He was their only franchise player, giving Drew Brees’ aging. While New Orleans didn’t have the greatest year last season, Graham was still their main piece.
Perhaps this is the start of a tear down for the Saints. With a bad offensive line, they couldn’t run the ball too well. Brees wasn’t playing well, and they didn’t have any real receivers to throw to. Plus, the defense sucked.
Grabbing Max Unger is a huge boost to the offensive line. Unger is one of the best centers in the league. He’s a great blocker, especially in the pass. Working with Russell Wilson the past three years gets you used to the passing game.
As they rebuild the line around Unger, you have to wonder what comes next. Could the Saints cut Brees soon, perhaps as soon as after next season? If he doesn’t preform, it’s very likely.
What’s above is crazy, but certainly possible. Franchise player is gone, aging QB, salary cap is a mess (which is part of the reason they traded Graham), and an ownership fiasco that would have been the biggest story over Super Bowl Week if it wasn’t for DeflateGate.
The team is most likely going to be sold soon, which opens a whole new conversation for another time.
As for Seattle, this is a huge addition to that offense. Russell Wilson made due with what he had last year, it wasn’t awful, but certainly wasn’t great. Adding Graham gives them a down the field threat, while also opening up the middle of the field. Wilson has never had a guy like Graham, and that’s scary, especially if you’re a fan of an NFC West rival (me).
Eagles get: Sam Bradford, 5th round pick
Rams get: Nick Foles, 4th round pick, 2nd round pick
Then this happened right after the Graham trade. Only adding to the madness.
It’s rare that we see starting QBs getting flipped for each other. It’s happened (trying not to bring up the Kyle Orton-Jay Cutler swap). But, with the two guys that got swapped in this one, it’s never happened. Nothing this monumental with QBs.
Since being drafted No.1 overall and signing his huge rookie deal, Sam Bradford has had one good year as a starter, and two years he’s sat out with torn ACLs. Not great for a guy the Rams paid $78 MILLION.
And now, he’s on a different team. A team that’s gonna pay someone $12 or $8 million to sit on the bench. That’s the dilemma the Eagles face. Bradford and Sanchez have starting QB salaries, yet neither them you can trust as your starter.
What’s shaping up in Philly is a training camp battle for the starting job, and possibly a last chance effort for Sam Bradford to save his career. So, if Chip Kelly thinks it’ll work, fine. He can think that, but guys that have power get cocky. Chip Kelly has power.
The Rams get Nick Foles, who I have loved since he came into the league. He’s a great talent and has a great arm, but has accuracy issues over the middle of the field and has had injury concerns. He’s still got time though, and hasn’t had the type of career-affecting injuries Bradford has had.
Adding to Foles’ possible success, the Rams have talent around him. That’s a now good team the Rams have. St. Louis may have to rely on the passing game a bit more, now that they have a good QB. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are both young studs, and finally have someone reliable at QB. Kenny Britt is a veteran receiver, but has to keep himself in check off the field.
The Rams defense was one of the best in the league last year, and is only getting better by the day through the offseason.
The picks that were moved in this trade are probably the more interesting side of it. St.Louis got a ton of picks, possibly to make up for the pick they used on Bradford in 2010. His value in this trade seemed larger than Foles, which is odd to me. Foles has the higher ceiling at this point, especially after what Bradford has been through.
Deciding the winner of a trade takes time, but for a immediate take on it, it looks as St.Louis has already won. Time will tell, as it always does.
Lions get: Haloti Ngata
Ravens get: 4th, 5th round pick
This trade was part of a money dump for the Ravens. Ngata had an $8.5 million cap hit this coming season, and the Ravens didn’t want to deal with it. After losing Ngata for the final four games of last year’s regular season, due to a PED suspension, it seemed Ngata days were limited.
The Lions are the perfect fit for Ngata. He’ll essentially replace Ndamukong Suh in that defense, being the big body in the middle of the line. After losing Suh, Ngata will seal up the hole.
Ngata is a good run stuffer, and provides chaos in the middle of the line. He’s not a sack master, but will stop the run and get tackles.
5,550 word column. Yea, my head almost exploded too.