Player movement from the first few weeks of free agency
It seems like every year the NFL free agency period gets crazier and crazier. It’s more common than ever before for big-name stars to sign with a new team (just look back at Tom Brady last year).
The trend has continued into this year and is even being accelerated by the lower salary cap that is forcing teams to get creative with their contacts and signings. Let’s take a look at what the 2021 free agency period has brought us so far.
The first superstar move came when DE J.J. Watt signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals at the beginning of the month. Watt was a first-time free agent after playing his entire career with Houston Texans. Watt was highly sought after being a three-time defensive player of the year, a five-time pro-bowler and 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year. Other teams rumored to be looking at him were the Packers, Steelers, Browns and Bills. The Cardinals also picked up veteran WR, AJ Green and kicker, Matt Prater, who holds the NFL record for the longest field goal.
As always, quarterbacks are big news, and there has been plenty of quarterback movement. ‘Big’ Ben Roethlisberger resigned with his Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger’s deal was for just one year. Andy Dalton, who was the backup in Dallas, was signed by the Bears, taking the starting job from Mitch Trubisky. Meanwhile, Trubisky will be backing up, but not for the Bears. Instead, he will be behind Josh Allen after being signed on by the Bills.
There’s a lot of teams that have a messy QB situation after free agency where it isn’t clear who the starter is. The Washington Football Team signed Taylor Heinicke shortly after the season end. More recently they signed Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins. Speaking of the Dolphins, they still have a firsrt-round pick, Tua Tagovailoa, at QB. However, they also signed Jacoby Brissett. Then there’s the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston. He’s planning on sitting out the season if he isn’t traded, so the Texans picked up Tyrod Taylor from the Chargers.
The Patriots made waves with their huge amount of free-agent signings. In just two days, the Patriots spent $137.5 million in guaranteed money. To start, the Patriots resigned Cam Newton at quarterback. They signed two new targets for Newton, tight ends, Hunter Henry from the Chargers and Jonnu Smith from the Titans. Another pair of targets for Cam comes from WR, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. The defensive side was also beefed up. They signed linebackers, Kyle Van Noy, Matthew Judon and Raekwon McMillan, defensive lineman, Carl Davis, Henry Anderson, Deatrich Wise Jr., Davon Godchaux and Montravius Adams, along with defensive backs, Jalen Mills, Justin Bethel and Cody Davis. It is definitely one of the craziest free agency spending sprees in NFL history.
There have been a lot of other notable signings outside of quarterbacks and the Patriots. Here are quick rundowns of a few.
WR Kenny Golladay and TE Kyle Rudolph were signed by the Giants from the Lions and Vikings respectively. This will set up the Giants with one of the best-receiving cores in the NFL.
CB Patrick Peterson was picked up by the Vikings to help out their young defensive backs.
Three solid veteran wide receivers, Will Fuller, Desean Jackson and Emmanuel Sanders each got signed by new teams. Fuller will be playing for the Dolphins after leaving the chaotic situation in Houston. Jackson will be going to the Rams. He will be a nice deep threat for Matthew Stafford, the Rams’ new QB. Sanders will be going to the Bills, adding to the already strong roster.
Trent Williams became the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL after he signed a new deal with the 49ers. Pro-bowler and former Chicago Bear, Kyle Long, has come out of retirement to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
RB Aaron Jones was resigned by the Packers, WR Juju Smith-Schuster was resigned by the Steelers and RB Chris Carson was resigned by the Seahawks.
Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson were franchise tagged by the Buccaneers and Bear respectively.