The bulk of the NFL’s wild free agency period has come and gone. Many fans have plenty to look forward to, as plenty of teams signed on or traded for shiny new players to bolster their rosters. This is a list of some of the most significant signings so you can make sense of the chaotic off season and be prepared as the NFL draft approaches.
Five moves in NFL free agency that made massive headlines:
1. Odell Beckham Jr.
Wide receiver traded from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns
Beckham’s shocking move from New York to Cleveland signals big things for the NFL. The Browns are officially ready to make noise with exciting playmakers positioned on both sides of the ball, while the Giants are in full rebuild mode after dealing what many call a generational talent for a haul of draft picks.
2. Antonio Brown
Wide receiver, traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders
After a full season of Brown’s antics, Pittsburgh was clearly anxious to move on. The 30-year-old landed in Oakland, where he has the potential to elevate the entire offense and accelerate the roster-building of the Raiders as they gear up to move to Las Vegas. The Steelers should still contend with the youthful Juju Smith-Schuster ready to emerge as the new No. 1 wide receiver.
3. Le’Veon Bell
Running back, signed with the New York Jets
After sitting out all of the Steelers’ 2018 season, Bell looked to take his talents elsewhere and parlay his abilities into a massive contract. He was rewarded by the Jets, who spent big this offseason to put pieces around second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. Bell instantly improves the offense as a touches workhorse and effective pass-catcher.
4. Nick Foles
Quarterback, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars
Foles made a name for himself on a dreamlike Super Bowl run in 2018 and subsequent playoff success this past season. He turned all of that into a starting job with Jacksonville, who will look to rebound and make the playoffs again with emphasis on a strong defense and run game. Foles will be a big upgrade from inconsistent Blake Bortles, who is leaving Jacksonville to back up Jared Goff in Los Angeles.
5. CJ Mosley
Linebacker, signed with the New York Jets
Another expensive Jets signing made headlines early in free agency. Mosley left Charm City for the Big Apple, and in doing so, he instantly improves the defensive side of the ball and fills a big need on the inside for Gang Green. Mosley’s youth and talent should be a huge benefit to New York for years to come.
Five moves in NFL free agency that make a non-contender interesting:
1. Dee Ford
Pass-rusher, traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the San Francisco 49ers
Dee Ford broke out for the Chiefs in 2018 with 13 sacks. He was franchise-tagged and promptly traded to the 49ers, who quickly extended him for big money. Ford fills a massive need for an edge rusher for the 49ers, whose defense lacked proper closers and sufficient quarterback pressure. Ford will immediately boost this squad for a run at the playoffs with the now-healthy Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.
2. Landon Collins
Safety, signed with the Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins signed young, talented safety Landon Collins to bolster a defense that was putting on plenty of strong performances early last year. The injury bug unfortunately caught up with the team, and 2018 was a lost season in the end. Collins, paired with a proper solution to the Redskins’ quarterback conundrum, could be a big step towards a playoff berth.
3. Olivier Vernon
Pass-rusher, traded from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns
Amidst the outburst of headlines surrounding Odell Beckham Jr., another trade between Cleveland and New York got lost between the cracks. Olivier Vernon adds 51 sacks worth of experience to an already interesting Cleveland defensive line, and will make an ideal No. 2 pass-rushing option behind the immensely talented defensive end Myles Garrett. The Browns are ready to make noise in 2019.
4. Za’Darius Smith
Linebacker, signed with the Green Bay Packers
Inside linebacker Za’Darius Smith represents Green Bay’s investment in its defensive front seven, something that has been lacking from the team in recent years. With Aaron Rodgers not getting any younger, it is clear the Packers have a rapidly shrinking window to make significant postseason noise with one of the NFL’s most talented quarterbacks ever. Smith’s addition to the defense is a strong step in the right direction.
5. Trent Brown
Offensive tackle, signed with the Oakland Raiders
Trent Brown parlayed a successful season for the Super Bowl champs in New England into a massive contract. Jon Gruden brought Smith in to help keep Derek Carr upright and improve an offensive line with holes aplenty. Smith’s signing paired with a multitude of offensive improvements should make Oakland fun to watch and more competitive as they gear up to move to Las Vegas.
Five moves in NFL free agency that shore up a contender’s roster:
1. Earl Thomas
Safety, signed with the Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens stopped the bleeding on defense after numerous veterans left, signing the incredibly talented Earl Thomas to shore up their secondary. Thomas brings years of experience from the Seattle Seahawks’ famous secondary, the “Legion of Boom,” and should keep Baltimore’s defense in a good place as quarterback Lamar Jackson takes the reins for his first full season.
2. Tyrann Mathieu
Safety, signed with the Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs made improvements to their leaky secondary by signing the talented Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year contract. Nicknamed “The Honey Badger,” the safety boasts versatility and ball skills that will be an invaluable asset for a defense lacking big names.
3. Eric Weddle
Safety, signed with the Los Angeles Rams
Eager not to relinquish their title as unofficial off-season champions, the Rams were aggressive in signing more veterans to the defensive side of the ball. The recent Baltimore castoff is still as talented as ever at the safety position, and will help improve a Los Angeles secondary that can be prone to giving up big plays.
4. Teddy Bridgewater
Quarterback, re-signed with the New Orleans Saints
The former Vikings starter at quarterback has a shot to be the heir to the great Drew Brees in New Orleans with an extension from the Saints. He has postseason-caliber play as part of his upside. In the meantime, he will provide one of the best backup options in the league as Brees looks to make a big run at another Super Bowl before retiring.
5. Michael Bennett
Pass-rusher, traded from the Philadelphia Eagles to the New England Patriots
In a classic Patriots move, Michael Bennett bolsters a defensive line lacking play-makers and big names. New England is known for getting a lot of production out of its older players, and Bennett fills a pass-rusher-shaped void after New England lost the youthful Trey Flowers to free agency.
Five moves in NFL free agency that will mean a lot come fantasy football draft season:
1. Mark Ingram
Running back, signed with the Baltimore Ravens
After boosting his stock as part of a deadly backfield duo in New Orleans alongside Alvin Kamara, Ingram takes his talents to Baltimore for a crack at the lead back role. He is likely to parlay a 20+ carry workload in multiple weeks, and if he holds up, he’ll provide strong RB2 value.
2. Tevin Coleman
Running back, signed with the San Francisco 49ers
Back to his old coach and coordinator Kyle Shanahan, Coleman bolsters a crowded San Francisco backfield. He will likely split time with Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon, in which case he could be a solid flex option with explosive upside due to his big-play abilities and familiarity with Shanahan’s schemes.
3. Desean Jackson
Wide receiver, traded from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Philadelphia Eagles
He started 2018 hot, producing highlight-reel touchdowns before quickly cooling off and becoming more or less forgotten. He was traded to his old stomping grounds in Philly, where he should provide big-play upside and serve as a downfield threat for the talented quarterback Carson Wentz. He’ll be a big-play threat WR3, and his presence will boost Wentz’s value in the process.
4. John Brown
Wide receiver, signed with the Buffalo Bills
Another speedy downfield threat, Brown seems like a perfect match to the cannon-armed quarterback Josh Allen. He should haul in a few big touchdown passes but may struggle to attain much consistent value outside of that. Allen, on the other hand, has top-12 upside value now, pairing an already dominant rushing ability with a new potent deep threat to help him put up juicy QB1 numbers.
5. Devin Funchess
Wide receiver, signed with the Indianapolis Colts
Funchess steps in as Andrew Luck’s No. 2 option. While he may lack some consistency in 2019, his large stature should give him plenty of red-zone looks in a potent offense. He will be a WR3/flex option in the coming year.