The new league year in the NFL began on Wednesday as the free agency period opened. Leading up to yesterday, teams were able to negotiate contracts with players during the “tampering” period, but were unable to officially sign them until 4 pm Wednesday.
Here are some of the big moves we saw take place.
1. Houston Texans sign quarterback Brock Osweiler
The Texans and Osweiler agreed to a four year, $72 million deal with $37 million in guaranteed money with a $12 million signing bonus.
It is easy to criticize the Texans over this move because $72 million is a pretty big figure for a guy who has only made seven starts in his four year career. However, Houston was pretty desperate for a quarterback after a five turnover performance from Brian Hoyer in the wild card round of the playoffs in January.
After a handful of seasons of poor quarterback play, the Texans hope that Osweiler can develop into a consistent signal caller. Osweiler went 5-2 in his seven starts with Denver last season including a 30-24 overtime win over the Patriots in his first start. He did a respectable job filling in for an injured Peyton Manning until week 17 when Manning returned and helped Denver win Super bowl 50.
Osweiler will join an offense that has a great weapon at receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. Yesterday the Texans also signed running back Lamar Miller, who ran for 1,099 yards in 2014 and was considered one of the top running backs in the free agent market.
The Texans have a nice defense and hope that these two additions can elevate their offense to the next level and lead Houston to an AFC South title for the second year in a row.
2. Giants go crazy and spend over $200 million in one day
The New York Giants sure were busy on Wednesday, signing four defensive players that they hope will help their defense make drastic improvements after finishing as the worst defense in the NFL last season.
The Giants signed defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to a new deal. The contract is for one year and $10.5 million with $8.5 million guaranteed.
Also staying in New York is defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison – except he will be switching jerseys from Jet green to Giant blue. His deal is for five years, $46.5 million with $24 million guaranteed.
Also signed to the Giants are cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive end Oliver Vernon. Jenkins’ deal is for five years, $62 million with $29 million guaranteed. Vernon’s deal will make him the richest defensive end in NFL history – five years, $85 million with $52.5 million guaranteed. The Giants snagged him after the Miami Dolphins removed the transition tag from Vernon.
3. Eagles try to erase history, trade away Chip’s guys
It’s as if the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia never happened. Not only is the head coach gone, but everyone that he brought in to the organization is gone as well.
The craziness started when the Eagles traded both LB Kiko Alonso and CB Byron Maxwell, and their #13 overall pick to the Miami Dolphins for the #8 overall pick in the draft. Maxwell did not live up to his six year, $60 million contract the Eagles signed him to last season, and Alonso has ACL issues that he has struggled with for his entire career. The Eagles traded Harrisburg native LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for Alonso, so the fact that they got rid of Alonso so quickly really is a head scratcher.
The Eagles also traded running back DeMarco Murray and their fourth round pick to the Tennessee Titans for the Titans’ fourth round pick. Murray did not play well in Chip Kelly’s system last season and was used less and less as the year went on. Murray was also apparently unhappy in Philly and maybe the Eagles did not want to deal with him, so this move makes a little more sense to me.
To make matters even more interesting, the Eagles signed quarterback Chase Daniels to a three year deal worth $21 million with $12 million guaranteed. Daniels has two career starts and is linked to new head coach Doug Pederson, but the Eagles came out and said that Daniels would get a chance at winning the starting quarterback job. This coming right after the Eagles signed quarterback Sam Bradford to a new two year, $36 million deal with $26 million guaranteed, so there are already trade rumors swirling around Bradford.
My head hurts from all of the scratching I’m doing.
However, they made some productive signings, bringing in safety Rodney McLeod and guard Brandon Brooks. Both signed five year deals and will be starters for Philly for the foreseeable future.
4. Raiders make numerous big splashes
The Oakland Raiders are quickly becoming one of the better rosters in the NFL. They improved several areas of their roster and already look poised to make a run at their first AFC West title since 2002.
The Raiders’ first signing was guard / tackle Kelechi Osemele, who signed a five year, $58.5 million deal with $25.4 million fully guaranteed. Osemele is a monster in the trenches and can play anywhere along the offensive line with the exception of center. He has had back problems in the past but is a solid pickup.
Oakland also improved on defense, landing cornerback Sean Smith and linebacker Bruce Irvin. Smith was considered one of the top cornerbacks on the market and was a part of possibly the best secondary in the NFL last year in Kansas City. Irvin will be a nice compliment to Khalil Mack and can play either middle linebacker or defensive end.
5. Jaguars boost depth at running back, safety and defensive tackle
The Jaguars made some big moves as well this week in what many are calling a “do or die season” for head coach Gus Bradley.
The team signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson to a six year, $90 million contract. Jackson will play on an already solid defensive line that many are comparing to the Seattle Seahawks of a few years ago when Bradley was a coach there. The Jags also boosted their defense by signing safety Tashaun Gibson to a five year, $35.5 million deal. Gibson is considered one of the more underrated safeties in the NFL. He struggled with injuries last season but should be a nice boost to Jacksonville’s secondary. He has 11 interceptions in the last two seasons.
On offense, the Jaguars bolstered their backfield by signing running back Chris Ivory to a five year, $35 million deal. Ivory can carry a team’s load and is a true workhorse, but Jacksonville will use him in a 1-2 punch with TJ Yeldon being the complementary back. Ivory has struggled with injuries in the past, so splitting the carries with Yeldon will only benefit him and keep him fresh.
More solid pickups – rapid fire style
- LB Danny Trevathan – Chicago Bears – four years, $24.5 million, $12 million guaranteed
- RB Matt Forte – New York Jets – three years, $12 million, $8 million guaranteed
- C Alex Mack – Atlanta Falcons – five years, $45 million
- RB Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – five year, $35 million
- T Mitchell Schwartz – Kansas City Chiefs – five years, $33 million
It is still early, but it appears that the big spending is mainly over. There are still moves and trades that will be made, but the majority of the action occurs on the first day of free agency. There are still several quality players out there and as time goes on they will get cheaper.
Hopefully you are satisfied with the moves your team has or has not made. If not, there is still plenty of time left.