The NFL free agency period began at 4 p.m. with a flurry of moves that dominated the headlines. Along with multiple players inking new contracts, 10 players were moved in trades. With a flurry of new moves and many of the top available players already signed – who were the winners and losers so far in free agency?
In what was the most shocking move of the day, Seattle lands one of the league’s top tight ends who will be a huge asset for Russell Wilson. New Orleans did well in the trade, acquiring center Max Unger and Seattle’s first round draft pick (Seattle also acquired the Saints fourth rounder). Seattle lost cornerback Byron Maxwell, but replaced him with Cary Williams (though it is a downgrade). Additionally, Marshawn Lynch inked a two-year extension. The biggest goal for Seattle now will be negotiations with Russell Wilson, who will be next in line for an extension.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay hasn’t signed any outside free agents, but the reason why they are winners are because they were able to prevent two of their top players from walking in free agency – and they did so with deals that won’t break their backs. Bryan Bulaga, one of the league’s better right tackles, inked a five-year deal worth $35 million and Randall Cobb was kept for $40 million over four years. With Bulaga 26 and Cobb only 24, these deals ensure they wear green and yellow (no, just because you refer to it as “gold” doesn’t mean it is gold) for the primes of their careers.
New York Jets
While the Jets are nowhere near done, the team took a big step forward by bringing back a fan favorite, and one of the league’s top cornerbacks, in Darrelle Revis. The team also acquired Brandon Marshall in a trade with the Bears. Now, the team will need to figure out their quarterback situation.
What in the world in going on in Philadelphia? They made a good deal when they shipped off LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for Kiko Alonso, but since then, they agreed to a contract with Frank Gore (and then lost him when he signed with the Colts), overpaid for Byron Maxwell, had it’s head coach called a racist by Stephen A. Smith, made a really dumb trade with the Rams, exchanging Nick Foles for the oft-injured Sam Bradford, and watched as Jeremy Maclin skipped town and headed to Kansas City. It feels like the Eagles are playing a game of tennis, going back and forth while they decide whether they want to rebuild or gear up for and make the playoffs after just missing last year.
When you’re a historically losing team, they only real option you have when it comes to signing free agents is to overpay them. Jacksonville did that several times this offseason, issuing five-year deals to the unproven Jermey Parnell, Julius Thomas, and career backup Dan Skuta. Jacksonville is now hosting DeMarco Murray, but the team will more than likely have to pony up to sign him too.
San Francisco 49ers
There have been better days in San Francisco. It all started on Black Monday when the team fired Jim Harbaugh. New head coach Jim Tomsula mumbled his way through his introductory press conference. Patrick Willis shockingly retired, followed by a not so surprising retirement from Justin Smith. Mike Iupati signed with division rival Arizona. Torrey Smith was given $40 million. Frank Gore is gone (though given his age and high amount of career carries, this isn’t a bad thing) and the team explored trading Colin Kaepernick (nice try, San Francisco would have been forced to eat $10 million for doing so). Oh, and Blaine Gabbert was re-signed to a two-year deal. With every other team in the division improving their rosters today, it is safe to say the window of opportunity is closed in San Francisco. Update: the cherry on top, 49ers fullback Bruce Miller was just arrested for spousal battery.