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NFL Free Agency 2016: Five winners from Day 1

While it’s dangerous to declare anyone having won or lost in the immediate aftermath one day into free agency, with no clue which deals wi


While it’s dangerous to declare anyone having won or lost in the immediate aftermath one day into free agency, with no clue which deals will actually turn out well or set a franchise back, we can tentatively speculate on what went down over a wild few hours both before and after the actual opening of the new NFL year.  Here are five who should be pleased with the start of free agency. You can also view our Five losers from Day 1 Malik Jackson / Olivier Vernon With a combined deal value of $170 million dollars it was a good year to be one of the top 2 Defensive Ends on the market. Jackson and Vernon were able to cash in handsomely with their deals from the Jags and the Giants respectively. Both guys will receive more than 10 times their career earnings to date in the coming year alone – astonishing figures given their production to date. Atlanta Falcons & Alex Mack The team that ‘wins’ free agency is never the team that spends the most money or makes the flashiest signings but the team that does the most to help their squad without overpaying the market. This year that could be Atlanta. The signing of former Browns Center, Alex Mack, is a fantastic signing for a squad that needed help on the offensive line. Mack is an All Pro talent who has previously thrived in Offensive Co-ordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system even with sub-par talent around him. For Mack, to go from an uncertain situation in Cleveland where he was surrounded by mediocre players, to an offense featuring the likes of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, must be like hitting the jackpot. The financials aren’t too shabby either – 5yrs, $42 million, $18 million guaranteed. Eli Manning / JJ Watt At times in previous seasons the frustrations for these guys were almost palpable – try as they might, the other side of the ball always let their team down. Their respective teams were this season extremely pro-active in getting help for the struggling opposite units this year. Perhaps sensing the scrutiny he is currently under Giants GM Jerry Reese changed the habit of a lifetime and went hard after some prize free agents to solidify the defense. Reese re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul and bolstered the ranks with DT Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins and the mega-deal mentioned above for DE Olivier Vernon. In Houston, GM Rick Smith got his targets as well, landing QB Brock Osweiler from the Broncos and RB Lamar Miller from the Dolphins – both players arguably the best available at their positions across free agency. Manning and Watt should be able to play with less weight on their shoulders next season with these additions. Oakland Raiders Following on from a promising season, Oakland again looked to make strides by continuing to increase their talent levels, this time while watching teams in their division largely losing talent. The Broncos have shed a lot of talent, having watched Peyton Manning, Malik Jackson and Brock Osweiler and Danny Trevathan walk out the door. Oakland signed CB Sean Smith from division rival Kansas City, who they also saw losing draft picks as punishment for tampering. In addition to Smith, the Raiders also signed one of the best Offensive Lineman available in Kelechi Osemele (if they play him at Guard). Lastly, pass rushing specialist Bruce Irvin will form a fearsome tandem with All Pro Khalil Mack in Jack Del Rio’s defense. Travis Benjamin Let’s make this simple. Phillip Rivers > Josh McCown, Austin Davis and Johnny Manziel. Benjamin just took a massive upgrade at the QB position and, also, let’s face it, whether in San Diego or Los Angeles, Southern California beats Cleveland Ohio any day of the year!

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NFL Free Agency 2016: Five winners from Day 1

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