NFL Free Agency: Everything you Need to Know
Top Stories (So Far)
NFL Free Agency 2021 officially kicks off today at 4PM. There's some big names still on the market & a bunch of teams who need to clear cap space in order to get busy. We should be getting a lot of stories in the next few days, but let's start with what's taken place so far. Check out our NFL Franchise Tags article to see who wasn't able to test their free agency market due to being tagged by their teams.
Trent Williams gets the BAG
Trent Williams just became the highest paid offensive lineman of all time overnight. The previously best available free agent is now locked in with the San Francisco 49ers for the next 6 years. His deal is 6 years, $138 million. He's getting $55.1 million guaranteed, which includes a $30.1 million signing bonus. Trent Williams cashed out & rightfully so. We know how important left tackles are to their teams so it isn't surprising that a left tackle is now the highest paid lineman ever. What's surprising is that the 49ers went with a 6 year deal for a 32 year old. Williams hasn't shown any signs of regression just yet so I understand it; the man is a star of course, but it's quite an expensive commitment from San Francisco.
Patriots Spend Big
LB Matt Judon - 4yr/$56M
DB Jalen Mills - 4yr/$24M
TE Jonnu Smith - 4yr/$50M
WR Nelson Agholor - 2yr/$26M
DE Henry Anderson - 2yr/$7M
TE Hunter Henry - 3yr/$37.5M
WR Kendrick Bourne - 3yr/$22.5M
The Patriots have signed away $240M in guarantees so far this free agency. It's the second most ever and they're not done yet... New England loaded up with weapons for Cam Newton after re-signing him & they seem fairly confident in him as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they add a QB in the draft and see how Cam does this season. Cam had his bad moments last year which have surely been broadcasted in a negative light, but he did do some good and bringing them to a 7-9 record without a defense or reliable offensive weapons is still an accomplishment. It's interesting that they went & signed two great Tight Ends after drafting two Tight Ends last off-season. They also picked up two Receivers, so it's clear they are desperate to give Cam a fair shot this year. Now, with some weapons added and the defense coming back to its own, maybe the Patriots can make some noise in the AFC East.
Broncos Pick Up Von Miller's Option
This was a very expensive decision for the Denver Broncos ($18M in 2021), but a smart move for the as the team is trying to keep their elite defense intact. With a top 10 defense staying together, the Broncos can now focus on the offensive side of the ball. It's worth noting that Miller was facing some legal issues, so it's possible that they don't even have him to start the season.
Top Re-signings (So Far)
49ers re-sign LT Trent Williams - 6yr/$138M
Packers re-sign RB Aaron Jones - 4yr/$48M
Lions re-sign OLB Romeo Okwara - 3yr/$39M
Bucs re-sign OLB Shaq Barrett - 4yr/$72M
Saints re-sign QB Jameis Winston - 1yr/$12M
Bucs re-sign TE Gronk - 1yr/$10M
49ers re-sign CB Jason Verrett - 1yr/$5.5M
Ravens re-sign OLB Tyus Bowser - 4yr/$27M
Patriots re-sign QB Cam Newton - 1yr/$5.1M (with incentives)
Top Signings (So Far)
Ravens sign G Kevin Zeitler - 3yr/$22M
Chargers sign C Corey Linsley - 5yr/$62.5M
Cardinals sign WR AJ Green - 1yr/$8.5M
Panthers sign G Pat Eiflein - 3yr/$13.5M
Jets sign WR Corey Davis - 3yr/$37.5M
Jets sign DE Carl Lawson - 3yr/$45M
Jaguars sign SS Rayshawn Jenkins - 4yr/$35M
Jaguars sign CB Shaquill Griffen - 3yr/$44.5M
Raiders sign DE Yannick Ngakoue - 2yr/$26M
Bears sign QB Andy Dalton - 1yr/$10M
Washington Football Team signs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick - 1yr/$10M
Washington Football Team signs CB William Jackson - 3yr/$42M
Rams sign OLB Leonard Floyd - 4yr/$64M
Browns sign SS John Johnson - 3yr/$33M
Titans sign OLB Bud Dupree - 5yr/$85M
Broncos sign CB Ronald Darby - 3yr/$30M
7 Patriots signings as previously mentioned
Second Tier Signings
Jaguars sign WR/KR Jamal Agnew - 3yr/$21M, DL Roy Robertson-Harris - 3yr/$24.4M, S Rudy Ford - 2yr/$4.2M, RB Carlos Hyde - 2yr/$6M, WR Phillip Dorsett - Undisclosed
Texans sign WR/KR Andre Roberts - 2yr/$5.95M, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill - 1yr/$3.25M, DT Maliek Collins - 1yr/unknown, S Terrance Brooks - 1yr/$2M
Jets sign LB Jarred Davis - 1yr/$7M
Giants sign RB Devontae Booker - 2yr/$5.5M
WR Kenny Golladay
I think the Giants should make a move for Golladay to help Daniel Jones & their offense. If they aren’t sold on him, another team is creeping in to become a top suitor; The Miami Dolphins.
WR Juju Smith-Schuster
WR Curtis Samuel
WR Will Fuller
For all three wide receivers, it’s a tough market. Not many teams are willing to spend big on WR with the cap hit & being able to find efficient talent at the position in the draft for cheaper. Look out for the Ravens to make a move on one of these guys as they desperately need some help for their star QB Lamar Jackson.
CB Richard Sherman
Potential landing spots for Sherman could be the Cowboys, Raiders, or Jets.
CB Patrick Peterson
Our guy Hunter brought up a great point when discussing the Chiefs on our podcast which you can watch HERE. Any-who, the Chiefs should definitely go get Peterson to further improve their defense.
RB Chris Carson
RB Jamaal Williams
RB Kenyon Drake
The Patriots and Jets are both rumored to be in on the top running backs this year.
OLB Hassan Reddick
FS Anthony Harris
It'll be interesting to see which team ends up taking a stab at these two. They are both very good defensive players who can immediately make an impact on a good football team. We'll probably find out soon as they are on the top of the board in their positions.
The Patriots may have spent big money but was it really on the right positions? Signing Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith for a combined $36M guaranteed after drafting two tight ends in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft, even trading up for one, is an interesting move to say the least. I expected the Patriots to be in on the tight ends, I didn’t expect them to sign the top two.
Fitzmagic is back and likely the starter for the Washington Football Team on a one year, $10 million deal. He’s had an interesting career playing 14 years on 9 different teams & playing good enough to keep getting new contracts in new cities. I think he helps to sure up a questionable position on the team but he’s not the long-term solution. Look for Washington to still take a quarterback in the draft or possibly trade for a young one (Sam Darnold).
The top three wide receivers in this free agency are still unsigned. One player even texted an NFL reporter saying “The WR market is really bad right now.” Some of these guys may be looking at a one year deal until we see what the salary cap is for next season.
The Titans are completely tearing down their secondary and adding Bud Dupree coming off a major injury isn’t going to give them enough help. Titans need to start making moves & fast. As we discussed on the podcast last week, the Titans are pretty much letting any & everybody go & we don't understand it. They better get active. For a full recap on the key pieces that have walked away from Tennessee this year, click HERE. As you can see from Kevin Byard's recent tweet, the Titans' secondary room has gotten pretty lonely for him; he's the last man standing with Tennessee in terms of their secondary.
Pass Rushers got paid this offseason, as usual, but two that caught my attention were the Jets signing Carl Lawson, a perfect fit to their scheme who was previously with the Bengals, which then prompted his old team to sign Trey Hendrickson to a huge deal. Hendrickson did what he had to do by having a career year in the same season his contract expired with the Saints, but is he the player in his first three years or the player he was last season? The Bengals paid a lot to find out.
We'll be back to update you all after the next influx of free agency signings occurs. In the meantime, check out our article on the NFL Franchise Tags that were signed last week. You might see some names you were expecting to see here had they not gotten tagged by their teams.