The free agency flurry has died down. A week into the feeding frenzy, there are only a few truly useful players left on the market. With the majority of the money being spent and the biggest names once again under contract it’s time to look at which teams have come away from free agency better off.
Kirk Cousins takes the headlines for obvious reasons. His three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million deal was seen by many as a game-changer for future quarterback deals, but the annual average of $28 million is not too much more than other quarterbacks.
That signing of Cousins is already big enough for the Vikings to feel like they improved their team a lot, but the addition of Sheldon Richardson makes this free agency a boon for the Vikings. He brings an interior pass rush to a Vikings defense that was already deep and productive at all three levels. A defensive line of Danielle Hunter, Richardson, Linval Joseph, and Everson Griffen is almost unfair.
They may have only made two signings, but they are the kind of moves that can see an NFC championship appearance turn into a Super Bowl title.
San Francisco 49ers
The deal with Richard Sherman was the highlight for San Francisco, not just because they turned a former foe into a soldier in their red and gold army, but also because he is an All-Pro talent at a premium position that the 49ers lacked in. It was also an extremely team-friendly deal.
Along with Sherman the 49ers added linebacker depth with Jeremiah Attaochu coming over from the Chargers.
On offense, John Lynch inked a five-year, $47.5 million deal with center Weston Richburg and a four-year, $30 million deal with running back Jerick McKinnon. While the McKinnon deal surprised many, the Richburg one made perfect sense.
On his day Weston Richburg is one of the best run-blocking centers in the NFL. He also has the ability to make the kind of reach blocks that a lot of the classic Shanahan runs rely upon, while McKinnon’s skillset sets him up to be a threat on the ground as well as a useful piece of the passing offense.
New York Jets
The biggest move the Jets made was to trade up to the #3 spot in the draft. But behind that is a nice set of moves in free agency that took advantage of their remarkable cap space.
They had a remarkable lack of talent across the roster, but added Trumaine Johnson at corner on a massive five-year, $72.5 million deal. It is a lot of money for someone that isn’t in the elite group of corners in the NFL right now, but Johnson is very good and the Jets have more money than they can spend.
Along with Johnson they picked up Spencer Long and Isaiah Crowell. Much like the 49ers it is a center/running back pair that should work well with what they want to do, but unlike San Francisco it wasn’t expensive, coming at a total of just $40 million for the pair.
They also brought in safety nets at quarterback by bringing Josh McCown back after his career-year for the Jets in 2017 and Minnesota’s former quarterback of the future Teddy Bridgewater. Both are options to start in Week 1 of the new season, lifting some pressure from whoever they end up taking at #3.
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