AFC

NFL Free Agency Period Highlights

NFL Free Agency, Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins

NFL Free Agency Winners & Losers

Although the official 2016 NFL off-season doesn’t start until today, the “tampering” period is in full swing and the NFL is already full of trades and NFL free agency signings.  The biggest players, in terms of trades, are clearly the Philadelphia Eagles as they continue to erase any signs of the Chip Kelly era. The Eagles started by signing Byron Maxwell to a 6-year, $63 million contract. That move sparked another one, when they lured RB DeMarco Murray away from their divisional rival, the Dallas Cowboys. Following that, the Eagles shipped both free agent acquisitions from a year ago out of town.  These moves during this year’s NFL free agency period should be considered positives for the team as they have gotten out from under two over inflated contracts for disappointing production.

Mario Williams

These moves were the “calm before the storm” that is the actual NFL free agency period. As the unofficial tampering period officially starts, we are already seeing a plethora of moves. One of the biggest players to hit free agency was DE Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills.  After compiling 38 sacks in three years with the team, he provided only three sacks this past season and had many questioning his effort at times. A player at this juncture of his career would make me hesitate until I know where his head is at, but the Miami Dolphins wasted no time making a splash and signing him to a 2 year deal worth $8M per season.  This is not an unlikely move by the Dolphins as they were the “winners” of free agency last offseason when they inked Ndamukong Suh to a 6 year $114M contract.  Unfortunately for the Dolphins, we have seen that making a splash in free agency doesn’t translate to a positive splash in the win column. Last season was no different for them.  One can only relate to the “Dream Team,” as referenced by Vince Young, when the Eagles made a slew of free agent acquisitions and seemed to be paper champions in 2011. Instead, they self destructed and finished that season 8-8.

Matt Forte

The Green Bay Packers are reportedly interested in running back, Matt Forte.

NFL Free agency does not make a champion, unless we are talking about Deion Sanders going from the champion 49ers to the champion Dallas Cowboys.  Simply changing teams to win a championship seems to be easier in other sports than it is in the NFL.A couple of players that might find themselves in that position are Matt Forte and Darrelle Revis.  Forte would be just another aging running back in a long list that chooses to join the Pats toward the end of his career in search of a championship.  I can’t say I blame him if that’s where he ends up.  Another dual-threat running back is exactly what the rest of the league wants to see Tom Brady equipped with.

Other Free Agency News

Other free agents with good matches are Malik Jackson, who would’ve been best served staying with the Broncos, but took the money to go to Jacksonville just as former Bronco Julius Thomas did a year ago.  Speaking of Jacksonville, Chris Ivory just agreed to a multi-year deal worth more than $6.5M per year. The only qualm I have with that decision is why they did not choose to splurge on Lamar Miller or Doug Martin who are widely considered the best talent at the position on the market.

Aside from the running back position, Mike Wallace was released by the Minnesota Vikings after a disappointing season that saw him tie or top career lows in receptions and receiving yards.  As a deep threat who can take the top off the defense, his production simply did not equal his contract. Minnesota wasn’t the best situation for him, though, as Teddy Bridgewater isn’t the type of quarterback to air the ball out.  I believe in the right system, with the right quarterback, Wallace can resemble somewhat of what he used to be back in his Pittsburgh days.  With his value as low as it is, I could see a team like the Steelers or the Cowboys making a reasonable offer for his services.

With free agency set to officially begin in 8 and a half hours, things are bound to get wild.  This is one of the most exciting days of the year in the NFL.  Thanks to the significant rise in the salary cap as well as the carry over of salary cap dollars from last year, virtually every team has money to spend (sorry Broncos, but that’s what you get for winning a Super Bowl) so there should be a flurry of action the minute the deadline officially hits.  Keep it locked here for updates of what’s going on as it happens throughout the coming days as teams prepare themselves for the upcoming draft.

 

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