By: Ryan Cooley
New York Jets
The Jets are without a doubt the biggest winners of free agency so far. They have managed to snag two of the top five free agents on the market in Le’Veon Bell and CJ Mosely. They gave Mosely a huge, but well-deserved payday, five years/ $85,000,000. While they did not get much of a discount on Mosely, they did with Bell. Well, four years/ $52,500,000 is a discount if you consider Bell’s initial asking price of seventeen to eighteen million. Outside of the big names, Jamison Crowder was another notable signing. With Washington for his first four years, he had success when playing in the slot with Garcon and Jackson taking much of the defense’s attention. Expect Crowder to have somewhat of the same success since teams will need to put their focus on Bell.
New England Patriots
I know, I know, how can a team that has signed virtually no notable free agents be winning free agency. Well, free agency is not all about signing players, sometimes it is more about knowing when to let players walk, and no team is better at that then the New England Patriots. In the short amount of time teams have been able to negotiate and sign players to a new deal, the now ex-Patriots, Trent Brown and Trey Flowers have landed massive deals. Brown signed a four year/ $66,000,000 contract with the Raiders and is now the highest paid offensive lineman in the league. Flowers signed a five year/ $90,000,000 deal to play with his former defensive coordinator and now head coach Matt Patricia in Detriot. The beauty of the Patriots is that they have already replaced those two players with first-round pick Isiah Wynn coming back from injury and trading for DE Micheal Bennet.
The safety market has been a poor man’s game in the past with safeties not making close to the money that a pass rusher or CB would. That has all changed this year thanks to Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Earl Thomas. Collins got things kicked off when the Redskins made him the highest paid safety in NFL history with a six-year/ $84,000,000 deal. Next, Tyrann Mathieu signed with the desperate Chiefs defense on a three-year/ $42,000,000 contract. Finally, the Ravens filled Eric Weedles spot with Earl Thomas who signed a 4-year/ $55,000,000 contract. These players will be seen as the stepping stones for the respect safeties feel they deserve.
For a team that needs much help, the Bengals sure are not acting like it. The Bengals were ranked dead last this past season in total defense and twenty-sixth in total offense. So why is a team that bad, not doing anything about it? Well, cap space is surely not a problem, they started this offseason with nearly $43,000,000 in cap space, yet they feel the need not to use it. Perhaps they are waiting for quality/affordable players later in free agency, but for a team as desperate as the Bengals, one would think they would at least attempt to make some sort of splash for a big name.
Some may find this team in the losing category to be a little shocking, but you cannot deny the fact that the Redskins overpaid Landon Collins. Sure Collins is young and full of potential but was that not the same story with Josh Norman who was given a five-year/ $75,000,000 contract in 2016? Norman went from being an All-Pro to now in most eyes, not even a top-ten CB. The Redskins are notorious for giving players big money in free agency and it turning into a disaster. Exhibit A, Albert Haynesworth who is known as the biggest free agency bust in NFL history. Pair the Redskins history of signing free agents and the fact that Collins is far from a sure thing due to the fact he is not strong in coverage; it seems history may repeat itself.
The Steelers are a team that never go big in free agency, which was okay because they still had a Hall of Fame coach and QB, the best WR in the game, a top three RB, and even a top ten defense most years. Fast forward to the present, and the Steelers are a team in distress, they have now lost their star RB and WR, and they are coming off a season in which they had Super Bowl aspirations, but ultimately missed the playoffs. This is the season they needed to make some moves in free agency; now they still have the opportunity to do this, but as of right now, they are sitting on a team with nothing but question marks.