The 2017 NFL Free Agency frenzy is upon us, and as always, SportSmasher.com has had our finger on the pulse of the rumor mill. Let’s get you caught up on all the free agency rumors as they break. This is a live blog, which will be updated regularly, so visit often and refresh regularly for additional information.
– 2017 is not a good offseason to need a quarterback in the NFL, the draft class is very weak at the position, while the options available in free agency are extremely limited. Teams that are in rebuilding mode in 2017 do not want to overpay for a starting quarterback, they would rather wait, and attempt to acquire a potential star quarterback at the top of the 2018 NFL Draft such as USC’s Sam Darnold or UCLA’s Josh Rosen who will both have much higher grades than any quarterback in the 2017 draft class.
– For example, the Buffalo Bills did not want to keep starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor at the beginning of this offseason, and were planning on moving forward without him. However, the Bills exhausted any and all other options, and realized that Taylor was far better than any of the alternatives so they worked out a restructured contract to keep him in Buffalo. While the details of Taylor’s restructured contract have not yet been made public, Tyrod Taylor should not feel too secure in Buffalo, because if a quarterback who the Bills perceived as an upgrade became available the Bills would look to move on.
– The Dallas Cowboys will officially release Tony Romo, and when they do, it is pretty much set in stone that he will join the Denver Broncos. Romo sees himself in a similar situation that Peyton Manning was in, when he went to a talent rich Broncos team towards the end of his career, and won a Super Bowl. The Texans are apparently still in the mix, but that is highly unlikely, John Elway has even recently hinted that a deal will get done. If Romo does indeed end up in Denver, Paxton Lynch will remain as the QB of the future and Romo’s understudy, while the Broncos will look to trade incumbent starter Trevor Siemian. UPDATE: Tony Romo now may be traded instead of released.
– The Houston Texans have traded Brock Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns and had to throw in a 2018 second round pick for the Browns to take Osweiler off their hands. Many are speculating that this move clears the way for Tony Romo to be traded to the Texans.
– Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon, who spent the last two seasons sitting behind Jameis Winston on the bench, is about to get a huge payday to become a starter. How big of a payday? The Buccaneers apparently offered him $14-$15 million per season to remain with the team, which would have been the highest salary ever for a backup quarterback, and Glennon turned it down because he wants to be the starter. While several teams are highly interested in Glennon, it seems like the Chicago Bears will be the landing spot, there is mutual interest between Glennon and the Bears and they are talking numbers. UPDATE: The deal is done, Mike Glennon has signed with the Chicago Bears, on a three year deal worth $45 million dollars. The Bears have found their quarterback.
– The wide receiver market was set by the New York Giants signing veteran Brandon Marshall, to a two-year deal worth $12 million, which is a total steal. Marshall took less money to remain in New York, because he did not want to relocate his family again, and enjoys the media work he has been doing over the last few seasons as a member of the New York Jets with an eye on his post-football career. The Giants have long needed a big target like Brandon Marshall, while the Giants have had talent at wide receiver like Odell Beckham Jr and Sterling Sheppard, the 6’4 Marshall will be a huge asset for Eli Manning in the red zone. ‘
– The San Francisco 49ers signed wide receiver Pierre Garcon to a front loaded contract which will pay him $16 million dollars in 2017, my first reaction was that this was a horrible contract for the 49ers because the 31-year-old Garcon is not as productive as he once was, but I have softened that stance because of Garcon’s familiarity with new head coach Kyle Shanahan. Garcon and Shanahan are friends, from their time together in Washington, and Garcon knows the offense which Shanahan will implement in San Fran. Garcon is also close friends with quarterback Kirk Cousins, and is rumored to be trying to influence Cousins to force a trade to San Francisco, because as we know Cousins is unhappy with the Redskins and wants to play for his former coordinator Shanahan with the 49ers.
– DeSean Jackson will sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today. Why were the Bucs after Jackson? Because the Buccaneers were the only team in the NFL without a single pass play of 50 yards or more last season. DeSean Jackson had four receptions of 50 yards or longer in 2016. The addition of DeSean Jackson will make the passing game a lot easier for Jameis Winston, last season opposing defenses did not have to worry about the deep ball at all when facing the Buccaneers, now the field will open up as teams have to worry about Jackson taking the top off of their defense.
– Veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who has played for Cincinnati Bengals since 2006, signed a massive three year contact for $36 million with $15 guaranteed to join the Los Angeles Rams. I am really happy for Andrew Whitworth, he has played in the league for a long time and is one of the NFL’s good guys, so to see him get one final big payday at 35-years-old is nice. The Rams needed to reinforce the offensive line, they have to figure out what they have in Jared Goff who struggles as a rookie, and adding Whitworth will upgrade Goff’s protection in a major way.
– The Redskins gave 33-year-old tight end Vernon Davis a three year $15 million dollar contract to resign, which seems excessive for a backup tight end who’s best football is behind him. Davis has a history of quitting on bad teams, and with all of the talent the Redskins are losing, they may struggle over the length of Davis’ new contract.
– While we are discussing overpaid tight ends, Jermaine Gresham got four years and $28 million to remain with the Cardinals. $7 million a year for a serviceable tight end who caught 37 passes and two touchdowns in 2016 seems crazy.
– Wide receiver Torey Smith signed a three-year contract worth $15 million to join the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that desperately needed to upgrade their wide receiving corps for quarterback Carson Wentz, but I am not sure Smith is the upgrade the Eagles were looking for. Torrey Smith was misused in San Francisco over the past two seasons, he is really only great at tracking down deep passes, and the 49ers did not have a quarterback capable of throwing the deep ball. Carson Wentz has a cannon, he can launch the ball deep, so we will see if Smith still has the deep speed that made him successful early in his career with the Ravens.
– Wide receiver Robert Woods signed a five year contract worth $39 million with $15 million guaranteed to join the Los Angeles Rams, Woods is a California native who attended USC, so this is a homecoming for Woods. I have always thought Woods was a very talented possession receiver, he was not being used correctly in Buffalo, and I thought his skills would be better suited for a downfield passing team. The Rams have long needed an upgrade at wide receiver, and while he is not a number one target, Woods will be an excellent fit as a secondary option if the Rams can acquire a primary receiver for Jared Goff. The $39 million is a little pricey for a player who only has 12 touchdowns over four seasons.
– The New England Patriots signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore from the rival Buffalo Bills, apparently Bill Belichick has long coveted Gilmore, and was thinks he is a perfect fit in the Patriots defensive scheme. This move means that the Patriots will be letting cornerback Logan Ryan walk in free agency, and possibly inside linebacker Donta Hightower if his price gets too high, but was we know the Patriots do not rebuild…they reload.
– There is a rumor making the rounds that, after signing Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots are shopping former Super Bowl hero cornerback Malcolm Butler in a deal with the Saints in which the Patriots would acquire speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Patriots fans would hate to see Butler go, but a wide receiver with the speed and quickness of Cooks catching passes from Tom Brady would be scary, and the Patriots do need another top target in the passing game.
– The Patriots are not alone in the Brandin Cooks trade discussions, the Philadelphia Eagles are also involved, but the asking price is high. The Saints want an early draft pick and a high end defensive starter in return for Cooks.
– The Patriots also shipped a fourth round pick to the Indianapolis Colts, in exchange for a sixth round pick and tight end Dwayne Allen. This means the Patriots will officially let Martellus Bennett leave as a free agent. Dwayne Allen is a talented tight end, who has had injury issues throughout his career, and he became expendable in Indianapolis when Jack Doyle emerged as their top tight end in 2016. Why do you get the feeling that Dwayne Allen is going to make a big play to beat the Colts next season?
– There are whispers that the New York Jets are discussing a trade, which would send troubled but talented defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson to the Cincinnati Bengals, in exchange for backup quarterback A.J. McCarron. With his off the field issues, it just seems like Sheldon Richardson belongs with the Bengals, so from that standpoint his trade makes sense. A.J. McCarron would become the Jets starting quarterback, he would be a huge upgrade at the position, and I believe the last time the Jets had a quarterback from the Alabama Crimson Tide it was the most legendary player in the organization’s history Joe Namath.
– After rumors were running rampant that Kenny Britt was going to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles, Britt changed his mind, and took more money (four years $32.5 million) to join the Cleveland Browns. I am not sure why this deal makes sense for the Browns, why not give that contract to a younger and player who is currently on your roster, up-and-comer Terrelle Pryor who the Browns will likely lose now in free agency. I would much rather have Pryor than Britt, and although there are rumors the Browns will make another run at Pryor, I am not a Kenny Britt fan. Britt is extremely talented, but he also has a reputation for slacking, plus he comes with off field baggage that a young Browns team does not need.
– At the start of free agency, we heard that the New York Giants wanted to keep defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins and the Baltimore Ravens wanted to keep nose tackle Brandon Williams, but that does not seem to be the case any longer. The Giants were apparently disappointed with Hankins response to what they thought was a fair offer, and now have set their sights on Brandon Williams, while the Ravens in turn have been negotiating with Jonathan Hankins. Williams could end up plugging the hole Hankins leaves in New York, while Hankins could end up take the spot vacated by Williams in Baltimore. UPDATE: Brandon Williams has resigned with the Ravens.
– Hearing that Alshon Jeffery was expecting to get a large offer in the open market, but based on his injury history, he has not received the giant payday he had expected. When it once looked like Alshon Jeffery was leaving Chicago, he is now talking to the Bears about a reunion, which might happen unless his phone rings with the monster deal he hoped to get. UPDATE: Alshon Jeffery now rumored to be leaning towards signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. UPDATE: The deal is done, Alshon Jeffery signed a one year “prove it” deal for $12 million, meaning concerns about his injuries are legit hence no long term contract.
– There are rumors that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins called team owner Daniel Snyder, indicated that he was unhappy, and would like to be traded. Cousins was told he would not be traded.
– The New Orleans Saints have signed speedy wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr, which seems to indicate that Brandin Cooks will indeed be traded.
– Donta Hightower wants to return to the Patriots and the Patriots want him back, but the Tennessee Titans are expected to make him a huge contract offer. Hightower has indicated he will give the Patriots the right to match his best offer, but if the numbers are as big as those rumored, the Patriots are extremely unlikely to match.
– The Denver Broncos offensive line was atrocious last season, but the unit just got a major upgrade, when they signed former Cowboys offensive guard Ronald Leary. With all of the extensions that the Cowboys have given to offensive linemen in recent years, Ronald Leary was was the odd man out in Dallas, but he’s a good player who is much needed in Denver. Leary is also used to blocking for Tony Romo, and it sounds like he will be blocking for Romo again in Denver next season.
– A situation to keep tabs on: Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman’s contract expires after the 2017 season, and when the two sides met to discuss an extension, it quickly turned ugly. The two sides are rumored to be miles apart, and it’s going to get nasty, however the Falcons are not fielding trade offers for Freeman.
– Outside linebacker Nick Perry got a huge payday to resign with the Green Bay Packers, it’s a five year deal worth $60 million, with $18.5 million guaranteed.
– Defensive lineman Alan Branch will remain with the Patriots on a two-year $12 million deal, a nice contract, Branch was an underrated part of the Patriots defense.
– Cornerback A.J. Boyle was a breakout star for the Houston Texans last season, he is apparently on the verge of signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he should get a massive payday. UPDATE: Done deal, it’s a huge five year deal for Bouye is worth $67.5 million with $26 million fully guaranteed.
– Two time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell is leaving the Arizona Cardinals, and he and his wife are deciding between two offers, one from the Broncos and one from the Jaguars. UPDATE: Calais Campbe will sign a four year deal with the Jaguars that will average $13 million per year, he picked them over the Broncos, who were offering $11 million per year.
– The Bears have officially released Jay Cutler making him an unrestricted free agent.
– The Arizona Cardinals signed safety Antoine Bethea to a three year deal, which means incumbent starting safety and free agent Tony Jefferson will be signing elsewhere.
– Standout offensive guard Kevin Zeitler is staying in Ohio, but the 27-year-old is going from the Bengals to the Browns, his contract is expected to make him the highest paid guard in NFL history. Big day in the trenches for the Bengals who are rebuilding from the inside out. Confirmed it’s a five year $60 million dollar contract with $31.5 million guaranteed. Zeitler is a wealthy man.
– The Arizona Cardinals locked up their own franchised player, pass rusher Chandler Jones, on a mega deal worth $83 million over five years with $53 million guaranteed. It’s a lot of money, but Chandler Jones is well worth it, he’s one of the best pass rushers in the game and at just 27-years-old he will be in his prime throughout the length of the contract.
– The Kalil brothers are reunited in Carolina, as the Panthers signed offensive tackle Matt Kalil to a five year contract worth $55.5 million with $25 million guaranteed, a lot of money for a player coming off a serious hip injury which limited him to just two games in 2016. Matt’s brother Ryan Kalil, is of course the center of the Carolina Panthers offensive line, and of healthy adding Matt Kalil will be a huge upgrade to Cam Newton’s protection. However, if Matt Kalil cannot return to his pre-injury form, this contract could haunt the Panthers. Prior to the 2016 season, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft had never missed a game, but Kalil’s hip injury had the Minnesota Vikings questioning his football future.
– The Saints have signed former Lions guard Larry Warford to beef up their offensive line which was a huge priority for them this offseason, they know they need to protect Drew Brees, and although the numbers are not final rumors are that Warford got a healthy payday. You can argue that no position is having a better day than guard.
– The New York Giants signed tight end Rhett Ellison to a four year deal worth $18 million. Ellison is a big target (6’5 260lbs) who is an excellent blocker and red zone weapon. The Giants are adding size around the goal line.
– The Seattle Seahawks signed former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Luke Joeckel to a one year “prove it” contract worth $8 million. Joeckel was the second overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, but he was too slow to play tackle in the NFL, and got overpowered when the Jags moved him inside to guard. Joeckel clearly has some talent, so he is worth a flier, as the Seahawks must improve their atrocious offensive line.
– The Philadelphia Eagles have signed guard Chance Warmack, a player that I thought would be an All Pro when the Tennessee Titans drafted him 10th overall in 2013. This is another one year “prove it” contract for a once highly regarded prospect who has really struggled to adjust to the speed of the pros.
– The Lions are trying to strengthen their defensive line, they added defensive tackle Akeem Spence on a three year $10.5 million deal, and also added versatile defensive lineman Corneilius Washington.
The Redskins are a dumpster fire. Over the past 48 hours they became the first team in NFL history to lose two 1,000 yard receivers in the same offseason, fired GM Scot McCloughan then trashed him in the media, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is refusing to sign his franchise tender and wants to be traded due to the dysfunction. Nice work, Dan Snyder.