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Last Sunday, we sent the first email of the 2020 season. And I wasn't sure what to expect in response. I knew everyone's email box was already full of Coronavirus messages. And I didn't know if anyone would want to talk about NFL News yet. So I was a little worried about sending the email.
You folks instantly answered any questions I had as you buried my email box with an avalanche of such kind replies. I thought I could maybe encourage you and instead, you guys encouraged me. Thanks so much. Y'all humble us.
I learned a few things. One, you folks are awesome. (I knew that already) Two, you overwhelmingly answered in our poll that you wanted to hear NFL Information from us. And three, this community is more than just Fantasy Football. (I knew that too). We're in this together.
For the "other" stuff, here's a quick video note from me with where I am right now.
And my ask of you: We're all dealing with something extra. Some more than others. So please show a little extra grace and kindness to your Neighbor. And Spoiler Alert: Everyone is your Neighbor.
And I know a great many of you are working from home. Morning Brew is an excellent resource and they have a nice guide to working from home. Check it out here.
The main thing is stick together. I've zero doubt we can beat this. But we have to do it together. Much love for y'all.
Ok, now to some football stuff that you guys said you were looking for. We've got some new features and podcasts and our Sigmund Bloom has a summary of the important things you need to know we'll attach at the bottom.
NFL Player Movement Tracker. Our Jason Wood has all the moves you need to know about all in one easy to see place.
Footballguys Audible Podcast. Our Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom are back with another episode of the Audible podcast with NFL News And Notes.
In This Episode: Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom go over the latest news and notes from around the NFL and the free agency frenzy at the start of the new league year. Topics Include - Tom Brady is now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philip Rivers signs with the Indianapolis Colts, Teddy Bridgewater is the new Carolina Panthers quarterback so where does Cam Newton go, plus more!
What Do The Patriots Have In Jarrett Stidham? We're adjusting to a world where Tom Brady's not in New England. Our Matt Waldman, who's also the author of the outstanding Rookie Scouting Portfolio, breaks down what he thinks the Patriots have in Stidham. If you want more of Matt's takes on this year's rookies (and you do), check out the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for tons more.
And to make sure you're up to date on a wild week of NFL News, our Sigmund Bloom has you covered below. If you'd like to read it on our site instead, click here.
Take a break and soak it up. We'll see you next week.
Featured Article: Sigmund Bloom's Free Agency News Roundup
FREE AGENCY NEWS ROUNDUP
A round up of news about all 32 teams moves in the first week of free agency
by Sigmund Bloom, March 19
The Ravens traded a fifth-round pick to Jacksonville for DL Calais Campbell and signed him to a two year, 27 million dollar extension. They also signed DL Michael Brockers (Los Angeles Rams) to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Ravens are still stinging from watching Derrick Henry run over their defense in the playoffs and they have added two stout defensive linemen to rectify the situation. The Jaguars are in complete rebuild mode and no one was willing to take on the 15 million dollar 2020 cap hit and give a pick of value. The Ravens lowered the hit by immediately signing Campbell to an extension. Brockers departure from the Rams leaves only Aaron Donald from the dominant 2018 defensive line.
The Bills traded the #22 pick, 2020 fifth and sixth round picks, and a 2021 fourth-round pick to Minnesota for WR Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick
Why It Matters: Diggs was inconsistent with the run-heavy Vikings, and will probably be inconsistent with Josh Allen’s hit and miss deep accuracy, but he will make the Bills offense very difficult to defend. The Bills gave up more for Diggs than the Cardinals did for DeAndre Hopkins, although Hopkins wants a new deal and Diggs is locked up for the next four years and he is a year and a half younger. The Bills should be considered the favorite in the AFC East.
The Bengals placed the franchise tag on WR AJ Green
Why It Matters: This was expected, but is surely disappointing for Green. The Bengals offense will add Joe Burrow with the #1 pick and get 2019 first-round OT Jonah Williams back, so this offense could be a strong producer of passing game fantasy value with the possibility of trailing game scripts and a ton of talent at the offensive skill positions. Green will still likely seek a long-term deal, but if the Bengals history is any indication they will not give it to him. There was some talk at the combine that Burrow wanted the Bengals to retain Green, and he should be happy to play with one of the best in the game for at least one year. Auden Tate loses some targets with news, but Tyler Boyd should actually be helped by Green’s presence.
The Bengals signed DT DJ Reader (Houston) to a four-year, $53 million dollar deal and CB Trae Waynes to a three-year, $42 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Bengals are rarely if ever players for high dollar free agents, so these signings came as a surprise. Reader was one of the best defensive tackles on the market and will pair will aging stud Geno Atkins. Waynes never really lived up to his first-round pedigree but he will likely push Dre Kirkpatrick off of the roster. The Steelers and Titans were interested in Kirkpatrick when he hit free agency in 2017.
The Browns struck a four-year, $44 million dollar deal with TE Austin Hooper (Atlanta) .
Why It Matters: It’s not a move up for Hooper in fantasy terms, assuming the Browns don’t trade Odell Beckham Jr, and much more likely a move down from his ideal situation in Atlanta. David Njoku’s fifth-year option is almost certainly not going to be picked up and it’s fair to wonder if he will be dealt, although the team could also run two tight end as a primary set as the Vikings did under head coach Kevin Stefanski last year.. There’s already rampant speculation that Cleveland could package Njoku with a pick and send him to Washington for OT Trent Williams, but that could be unfounded. Hooper is a player whose numbers exceeded his “real” NFL impact, as he didn’t add value by making plays at the catch point or after the catch that were beyond the ability of most competent tight ends.
The Browns placed a second-round tender on RB Kareem Hunt.
Why It Matters: The Browns clearly want to keep Hunt for at least this year, as a second-round price is prohibitive for teams looking to poach him. This puts a cap on Nick Chubb’s passing game contributions, and dispels any notion that Cleveland wanted to move on from Hunt after his offseason run-in with the law.
The Browns signed OT Jack Conklin (Tennessee) to a three-year, $42 million dollar deal.
Why It Matters: The Titans decided not to pick up Conklin’s fifth-year option last offseason and they lost him after a very strong run-blocking performance and good health in 2019. The Browns are giving up on 2018 free agent signing Chris Hubbard as a right tackle, although they could try him at guard. His six plus million dollar salary for 2020 makes him a possible release. The addition of Conklin will help Nick Chubb the most, and if he can stay healthy over the course of the contract, it will be a good signing.
The Browns signed LB BJ Goodson (Green Bay) to a one-year deal
Why It Matters: Goodson started 20 games for the Giants in 2017 and 2018 and was a part-time player for the Packers last year. He could have IDP value in the Cleveland linebacker corps along with 2019 draft picks Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki.
The Broncos signed OL Graham Glasgow (Detroit) to a four-year, $44 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Broncos got a very good starter for a reasonable price to bolster their interior offensive line. Denver should also be in the market for another running back that can take advantage of the improvement to Mike Munchak’s unit.
The Broncos traded a seventh-round pick to Tennessee for DT Jurrell Casey
Why It Matters: Denver was in on DJ Reader but lost out to Cincinnati in a surprise development. Casey is due about 13 million a year over the remainder of his deal, which is reasonable even though he is turning 31 during the 2020 season because he continues to play at a very high level. Casey will replace Shelby Harris, who is seeking a big payday in free agency.
Why It Matters: Hopkins departure leaves a massive hole the Texans pass offense. Will Fuller V and Kenny Stills need to stay healthy, and new addition Randall Cobb will block Keke Coutee (who spent all year in Bill O’Brien’s doghouse) from the slot role. The team quietly re-signed TE Darren Fells, so more two tight end sets with Fells and one of Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, and Kahale Warring (in that order) could be in the works, and the team will certainly target wide receiver in this deep draft now that they have the #40 pick, a prime spot where value and need would intersect for them. Johnson should take over Carlos Hyde’s early down role and his fantasy value gets a big boost from where it was at the end of last season, when he was left for dead in dynasty leagues. The Texans didn’t seem to see Johnson as a liability despite his 10.2 million dollar salary.
The Texans re-signed CB Bradley Roby to a three-year, $36 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Texans stabilized one position in a secondary that has been an achilles heel for a while. Roby made good on his one year prove it deal and earned a strong deal. Houston is still mulling over a fifth-year option for 2019 acquisition Gareon Conley and hopes to develop 2019 second-round pick Lonnie Johnson to firm up the secondary.
The Texans signed S Eric Murray (Cleveland) to a three-year, $20.25 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Texans paid starter money to a part-time safety with possibly adequate slot corner skills and it wasn’t their worst move of the free agency period.
The Texans signed WR Randall Cobb (Dallas) to a three-year, $27 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Cobb got his career going in the right direction again with a strong year on a prove it from the Cowboys (who will recouping a bounty in compensatory picks) and should be one of Deshaun Watson’s primary targets. If Will Fuller V can’t stay healthy, Cobb could be in for a surprise fantasy campaign, although Cobb has had trouble staying off of the injury report in the past.
The Colts signed QB Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) to a one-year, $25 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: This makes too much for both parties. Jacoby Brissett seemed to underachieve more as the season went on, and while he will now vastly overpaid as a backup, the Colts could explore a trade to lower Brissett’s cap hit. Rivers inherits a better offensive line than he had in Los Angeles and he’ll be reunited with head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni from his Chargers days. This move helps the value of TY Hilton, Jack Doyle, and could lead to a breakout year for receiving back Nyheim Hines in the Austin Ekeler role.
The Colts re-signed OT Anthony Castonzo to a two-year, $33 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: This move was expected and it keeps the line intact around the mostly immobile new starting quarterback Philip Rivers. Castonzo has been one of the best (and at times only) quality performers on the Colts line since he was drafted in 2011.
The Colts traded the #13 pick to San Francisco for DL DeForest Buckner
Why It Matters: Scratch the Colts off of your list of teams looking to go quarterback in first round, although they do have the #34 and #44 picks if a top prospect falls and they want to jump back into the first round. The signing of Philip Rivers is only for one year and shouldn’t foreclose the possibility of the team getting their quarterback of the future, but that will be more difficult now. The move represents a push to maximize the one-year win now window with Rivers, but Buckner is a true war daddy who will anchor a defense that is strong at all three levels now and should be considered a top flight pick in best ball drafts.
The Jaguars traded DL Calais Campbell to Baltimore for a fifth-round pick
Why It Matters: Campbell is in the autumn of his career, but it is still surprising that he didn’t fetch more in draft value. The Jaguars are going into a full burn it down rebuild and will have some inexperienced players taking Campbell’s snaps in 2020 at the expense of their run defense.
The Jaguars traded QB Nick Foles to Chicago for a fourth-round pick
Why It Matters:Gardner Minshew will be the uncontested starting quarterback for the Jaguars. He’ll likely play from behind often and certainly have value in 2QB/Superflex leagues. Jay Gruden should breathe some life into the passing game as the new offensive coordinator. Former Steeler Josh Dobbs will serve as the backup quarterback.
The Jaguars used the franchise tag on DE Yannick Ngakoue
Why It Matters: Ngakoue has already said goodbye to the fans and the Jaguars appear to be in a complete rebuild, so this is more likely a precursor to a tag and trade than Jacksonville making Ngakoue a cornerstone of their team. The Eagles have been mentioned as a potential trade partner.
The Jaguars tendered restricted free agent WR Keelan Cole at the second-round level
Why It Matters: Jacksonville should have a pass-heavy offense and play from behind game scripts this year, which could create an opening for Cole to have a larger role, depending on how much Marqise Lee can contribute (or if he’s still on the roster). Cole had a breakout season as an undrafted rookie and started to build momentum late last season. The second round tender of 3.259 million indicates the Jaguars value him as at least a role player in three and four wide sets next year.
The Jaguars signed LB Joe Schobert (Cleveland) to a five-year, $53.75 million dollar deal with 22.5 million guaranteed.
Why It Matters: Schobert should be a top 10 IDP linebacker once again and perhaps even top 3 in tackle heavy leagues as the middle linebacker in a defense that will spend a lot of time on the field. Myles Jack should kick back to his more natural weakside position and 2019 third-round pick Quincy Williams is probably not a big part of the team’s future plans after fizzling out last year following Telvin Smith Sr’s surprise retirement.
The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on DL Chris Jones
Why It Matters: This was expected as the Chiefs will keep their interior defensive line war daddy one way or the other. He was injured late in the 2019 AFC Championship loss to the Patriots and missed three games last year, but continues to play at the highest level.
The Chiefs exercised RB Damien Williams 2020 option
Why It Matters: Williams was banged up last year and at times we wondered if he was falling into a full-blown committee with LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams, but he re-emerged late in the season and in the playoffs, making the call to pick up his $2.3 million dollar option a no brainer. Kansas City could use 2019 sixth-rounder Darwin Thompson a bit more this season and perhaps take another third-day developmental back, but this backfield still belongs to Williams.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The Chargers signed OT Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay) to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Chargers traded away left tackle Russell Okung for road grader Trai Turner earlier in the offseason. While Bulaga slots in at right tackle, which was a huge hole on the line, the team could use the #6 pick on an instant starter to replace Okung if they go forward with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback and push to be as competitive as possible during year one in a new stadium instead of taking their quarterback of the future. Bulaga looks like a value compared to other free agent offensive line contracts.
The Chargers signed DT Linval Joseph (Minnesota) to a two-year, $17 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Joseph should shore up the run defense and fill one of the few holes in an ascending defense. 2019 first-round pick Jerry Tillery will also be counted out to play a larger role and hopefully generate pass rush from the interior defensive line.
The Chargers signed CB Chris Harris Jr (Denver) to a two-year, $20 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Harris chose the Chargers from a group suitors in a softer than expected market in financial terms. He’ll join Casey Hayward and Desmond King in a trio of corners that will be among the best in the league, and force plenty of coverage sacks into the waiting jaws of the defensive line, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III. The Chargers should be a team defense worth drafting among the Top 6-8 in best ball leagues.
The Raiders signed LB Nick Kwiatkowski (Chicago) to a three-year, $21 million dollar deal with 13.5 million guaranteed, and LB Cory Littleton (Los Angeles Rams) to a three-year, $36 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Raiders immediately rebuilt their off ball linebacker group in the initial flurry of free agency news. Both should be everydown linebackers and everyweek starters in IDP leagues.
The Raiders signed CB Eli Apple (New Orleans)
Why It Matters: The Raiders didn’t land a big name like Darius Slay, Chris Harris Jr, or Byron Jones, but they did get a corner who should be adequate at worst opposite budding star and 2019 second-round pick Trayvon Mullen. Apple should be tested often by opposing quarterbacks and could have IDP value in leagues that require corners.
The Dolphins have signed OL Ereck Flowers (Washington) to a three year, 30 million dollar deal and OL Ted Karras (New England) to a one-year, $4 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Flowers was a failed tackle and former top 10 pick, but Washington made him into a quality guard last year and they may get a good compensatory pick for their troubles. The Dolphins offensive line rebuild is on and Flowers should especially help the running game, which the team addressed with the signing of Jordan Howard. Karras was a viable starter for the Patriots in a pinch last year and should also improve one of the league’s worst offensive lines in 2019.
The Dolphins made CB Byron Jones (Dallas) the highest paid corner in the league with a five-year, $82.5 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Miami was able to sign one of the marquee free agents of the 2020 crop in a sign that they are back as a top franchise. Jones will pair with Xavien Howard to be the best set of outside corners in the league. They should funnel targets inside against the Dolphins, which highlights players like Jamison Crowder, Ryan Griffin, Dawson Knox, Cole Beasley, and Julian Edelman in divisional matchups.
The Dolphins signed DE Shaq Lawson (Buffalo) to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Lawson was a bust of a first-round pick, but came on just in time to get paid in free agency. He should be the beneficiary of a tremendous outside corner duo that will create coverage sacks.
The Dolphins signed LB Kyle Van Noy (New England) to four-year, $51 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Patriots benefit in the comp pick harvest yet again by helping a player rehabilitate his career. Van Noy played under Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, so Miami should be poised to get the most out of his versatility. Van Noy should continue to be a startable IDP commodity.
The Patriots used the franchise tag on OL Joe Thuney
Why It Matters: Thuney signed his one-year contract, so the team can do a tag and trade if they desire. He is one of the best guards in the league, but the team has a lot of questions to keep the offense around him viable.
The Patriots re-signed DB Devin McCourty to a two-year, $23 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: New England lost their two of their three best linebackers in free agency, but kept their standout secondary intact. Their defense might not remain among the elite units, but it should still be one of the best against the pass.
NEW YORK JETS
The Jets signed OT George Fant (Seattle) to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal, and re-signed OL Alex Lewis to a three-year, $18.6 million dollar deal, and OL Conner McGovern (Denver)
Why It Matters: The Jets have to do a near complete offensive line rebuild and this was their best attempt at improving a poor unit. McGovern is the best signing and should be a quality interior starter, while Fant stands out as a possible overpay and weak spot for opposing pass rushers to attack.
The Steelers used the franchise tag on EDGE Bud Dupree
Why It Matters: The Steelers had no Plan B at outside linebacker opposite TJ Watt and had no choice but to franchise Dupree. They made additional moves including a conversion of TE Vance McDonald’s $5.5 million salary to a signing bonus and releasing EDGE Anthony Chickillo to create room to accommodate Dupree’s salary and a possible long-term deal, but they will otherwise be quiet in free agency, as usual.
The Titans signed QB Ryan Tannehill to a four-year extension with $61 million guaranteed
Why It Matters: Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson decided on continuity over making a shift to Tom Brady, who they both knew from their time together in New England. Tannehill played at a very high level in 2019 and will be underrated in fantasy drafts after only Lamar Jackson was more productive than him down the stretch.
The Titans placed the franchise tag on RB Derrick Henry
Why It Matters: Perhaps no other team would be willing to franchise a running back, but the Titans are uniquely built to maximize Henry’s talents and importance in the game plan. He should be a first-round pick in 2020 drafts.
The Titans re-signed OL Dennis Kelly to a three-year, $21 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Kelly is at least an adequate starter and he has served admirably for the team since they acquired him for Dorial Green-Beckham in 2016. He’ll replace Jack Conklin, who was too expensive for the team to keep after they signed Ryan Tannehill and franchise tagged Derrick Henry.
The Titans signed EDGE Vic Beasley Jr (Atlanta) to a one-year, $9.5 dollar deal
Why It Matters: Beasley will team up with Harold Landry as the top pass rush threats for a team that projects as a division winner if they can overtake the Texans, who lost their top receiver in a trade, unless the Colts get a big boost from the addition of Philip Rivers.
Why It Matters:Kyler Murray gets a true #1 wide receiver and Kliff Kingsbury can fully activate his offense with Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and Larry Fitzgerald with hopeful contributions from the 2019 wide receiver draft trio of Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson. Hopkins remains a top five fantasy receiver and Murray might be the biggest winner of the 2020 offseason in fantasy football. The Cardinals had already moved on from David Johnson, so the fact that he was included in a trade as an asset instead of a liability because of his eight figure salary is a win for GM Steve Keim.
The Cardinals applied the transition tag to RB Kenyan Drake
Why It Matters: Drake was a league winner in Weeks 15 and 16 last year and he’ll continue to be a high ceiling weekly RB2 at worst even with Chase Edmonds probably playing a role in the backfield. This Arizona offense will give defenses headaches when they spread out the field but still have a home run threat in the backfield.
Arizona signed DT Jordan Phillips (Buffalo) to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Phillips is a good run-stuffer who can also get clean-up sacks when Chandler Jones flushes the quarterback out of the pocket. The Bills replaced Phillips with underwhelming former Panthers first round pick Vernon Butler and will not get a compensatory pick after helping him rejuvenate his career.
The Cardinals signed LB Devon Kennard (Detroit) and LB De’Vondre Campbell (Atlanta)
Why It Matters: The Cardinals shored up a suspect off-ball linebacker corps in the space of two offseasons. Kennard will prove some pass rush punch and Campbell will round out the trio with Jordan Hicks, who played in 16 games after signing with Arizona last year following an injury-riddled run with Philadelphia.
Why It Matters: The Falcons are moving on from some key names of the era which culminated in one of the most memorable Super Bowl losses in the history of the NFL. Freeman still has some value as a no huddle back and backfield depth with good receiving skills and Trufant landed on his feet with a new contract to replace Darius Slay. Atlanta needs to make a move at corner, but for now project to start Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield.
The Falcons traded a second and fifth round pick to Baltimore for TE Hayden Hurst and a fourth-round pick
Why It Matters: If you liked Austin Hooper for his situation, then Hurst should be on your late-round target list in 2020 drafts. He immediately becomes the top receiving tight end in Atlanta after Hooper was allowed to leave in free agency. Eric DeCosta pulled a rabbit out of a hat getting a second round pick for Hurst two years into a rookie contract that has seen more games missed due to injury than touchdowns.
The Falcons signed EDGE Dante Fowler Jr (Los Angeles Rams) to a three-year, $48 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Falcons missed out on Fowler in 2015 when he went third overall and settled Vic Beasley Jr at #8, who signed with the Titans this week. Fowler could be designated as a defensive end, increasing his IDP value, and he reunites with his college coach Dan Quinn.
The Panthers are signing QB Teddy Bridgewater (New Orleans) to a three-year, $63 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: This doesn’t preclude the Panthers from taking a quarterback at #7 or moving up to one, but it will make them more competitive this year, going counter to a true “burn it down” rebuild in the mold of the 2019 Dolphins (who still only ended up with the #5 pick after rallying in the second half of the year under the leadership of Ryan Fitzpatrick). Bridgewater helps DJ Moore and will preserve the value of Christian McCaffrey (assuming he doesn’t get traded), but unless Curtis Samuel gets a huge dose of screens, crossing patterns, and quick slants, he will suffer because the deep ball is not a strength for Bridgewater. The Panthers can move on from Bridgewater without a huge cap hit next year if he doesn’t rise to the occasion. Cam Newton will be traded or released soon as the Panthers enter a new era under owner David Tepper and head coach Matt Rhule.
Why It Matters: The Panthers let Bruce Irvin and Mario Addison move on in free agency, so it is Weatherly who could have a breakout year opposite rookie star Brian Burns. Weatherly was behind Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter in Minnesota but looked more than capable in limited duty. Boston will be the leader of the secondary after Eric Reid was released. He finally got a multi-year commitment after being a starter on one-year deals for three teams in the last three years.
The Panthers will either trade or release QB Cam Newton
Why It Matters: Newton has a lot of fantasy potential - if healthy - which is a question that teams probably can’t answer right now as his foot is still mending from surgery. He still has an outside chance to start if he ends up in New England, but chances are the 30-year-old will have to start from scratch. His fantasy value has bottomed out so this is a good time to ask his price in a trade in dynasty leagues if you’ve always coveted him.
The Bears signed TE Jimmy Graham (Green Bay) to a two-year, $16 million dollar deal with nine million guaranteed
Why It Matters: Graham looked washed up with Aaron Rodgers last year, so it’s difficult to imagine him having fantasy relevance with Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles this year. Tight end was a major sore spot in the Bears offense last year, but this feels like an overreaction.
Why It Matters: Quinn had a career resurgence with the Cowboys last year on the other side of the formation from Demarcus Lawrence and now he’ll get to corral quarterbacks who are trying to avoid Khalil Mack. The Bears pass rush should be improved with the upgrade from Floyd to Quinn. Quinn may go back to linebacker in IDP leagues, which will hurt his value.
The Bears traded a fourth-round pick to Jacksonville for QB Nick Foles
Why It Matters: That the Jaguars got any pick for Foles after signing him to a disaster of a contract in light of his cratering during his first year with the team is a miracle. Foles has a history with Matt Nagy during their time together in Kansas City and he should be considered the favorite to start Week 1 in a good development for Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and possibly Tarik Cohen.
The Cowboys have used the franchise tag on QB Dak Prescott
Why It Matters: The Cowboys still haven’t signed Prescott to a long-term deal, but they won’t let him test the market. Sooner or later he should become the highest paid quarterback in the game… for now.
The Cowboys have signed TE Blake Jarwin to a three-year, $24.25 million dollar deal with 9.25 million guaranteed
Why It Matters: With Jason Witten gone to Las Vegas, Jarwin should become the primary receiving tight end for the Cowboys. Randall Cobb is also gone to Houston, so Jarwin can become a fantasy TE1 without much of a stretch after he showed good ball skills and ability to get downfield last year in limited duty. He joins Hayden Hurst as two of the biggest winners at tight end during the free agency frenzy.
The Cowboys re-signed WR Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100 million dollar contract
Why It Matters: Dallas lost a second tag with the new CBA, but wouldn’t let Cooper get away. He reportedly turned down more money from Washington and will stay with Dak Prescott after his career bounced back when the Cowboys traded for him in 2018. He and Michael Gallup could get a boost in fantasy productivity since the Cowboys target tree has narrowed with the loss of Jason Witten and Randall Cobb in free agency.
The Lions have signed OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Philadelphia) to a five-year, $50 million dollar deal.
Why It Matters: Vaitai is best known for starting for the Super Bowl winning Eagles, but is more backup than starter if we are looking strictly at pass protection. He can be a quality run blocker, which meshes with the Lions offensive philosophy and should help Kerryon Johnson. Vaitai will replace Ricky Wagner, who was released and signed with Green Bay.
The Lions signed LB Jamie Collins Sr (New England) to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Collins reunites with Matt Patricia and should be a quality IDP option in a multi-faceted role in Patricia’s defense. The Patriots recoup another compensatory pick for improving a player’s profile after they were available for peanuts in free agency. The Lions let Devon Kennard go in a corresponding move.
The Lions signed CB Desmond Trufant (Atlanta) to a two-year, $21 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Detroit decided Trufant and picks was better than paying Darius Slay, who they traded to Philadelphia for a third and fifth round pick. Trufant was a solid member of the Falcons defense before they decided they wanted to go in another direction this offseason.
The Packers signed OT Rick Wagner (Detroit) to a two-year, $11 million dollar deal and LB Christian Kirksey (Cleveland) to a two-year, $16 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Packers got at least a stop-gap right tackle to replace Bryan Bulaga and very good inside linebacker (when healthy) to replace Blake Martinez and neither will hurt their compensatory pick formula as both were released by their teams. Kirksey should still be considered a top flight IDP linebacker, albeit with a big injury risk.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
The Rams signed EDGE Leonard Floyd (Chicago) to a one-year deal worth $10 million dollars and DT A’Shawn Robinson (Detroit) to a two-year, $17 million dollar deal.
Why It Matters: The Rams lost a lot of key defenders this offseason, but at least they are making some acquisitions to fill holes. Floyd played under new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley when Staley was the outside linebacker coach in Chicago and he’ll be relied on to replace Dante Fowler Jr, who signed with Atlanta. Robinson will replace Michael Brockers in the base defense after Brockers signed with Baltimore.
The Rams re-signed OT Andrew Whitworth to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Whitworth’s play dropped off last year and retirement was a possibility but he decided to come back and play for the Rams, which is better than the cash-strapped team having to look to free agency for a left tackle.
The Rams released RB Todd Gurley
Why It Matters:Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown will presumably share the backfield, with 2018 sixth-round pick John Kelly still hanging around on the roster. The team could make a cheap move at running back in free agency or draft a back to help bolster the running game and fill the vacancy left by Gurley, who was going to have over ten million additional dollars guaranteed on his contract if the team kept him beyond Thursday.
The Vikings placed the franchise tag on S Anthony Harris
Why It Matters: Harris reportedly could be available via trade for a mid-round pick, so the Vikings aren’t wedded to him long-term, but if they trade him it will leave a hole in their secondary.
The Vikings signed QB Kirk Cousins to a two-year, $66 million extension
Why It Matters: The Vikings are committing to Cousins, which also ends any speculation of the Kyle Shanahan-Cousins possibilities in San Francisco down the line. Cousins fantasy value took a hit with the trade of Stefon Diggs and he was already limited by the Vikings run-first approach.
The Vikings traded WR Stefon Diggs and a 2020 seventh-round pick to Buffalo for
the #22 pick, 2020 fifth and sixth round picks, and a 2021 fourth-round pick
Why It Matters: Diggs hasn’t seemed happy in Minnesota for a while now. This is a big boost for Adam Thielen, and Irv Smith, who should be close to a full-time player as the second tight end in his second year. The Vikings will likely draft a wide receiver to replace Diggs from this historic class.
The Vikings signed DT Michael Pierce (Baltimore) to a three-year, $27 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Pierce is a top-end run stuffer and four years younger than Linval Joseph, who the team allowed to leave for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Vikings still have a few holes to fill in their strong defense, but signing Pierce helps stop the bleeding.
The Saints tendered QB Taysom Hill at the first-round level
Why It Matters: If you weren’t convinced that he figures into their long-term plans at quarterback, this should sway you. New Orleans wants to protect Hill by paying him over 4.6 million dollars this year, and he should back up Drew Brees in 2020. Hill should be rostered in all dynasty leagues with his running game contributions and likelihood of starting for the Saints in a year or two.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants used the franchise tag on DE Leonard Williams
Why It Matters: After trading a third-round pick for Williams last year and making free agent signings that would keep them from recouping a compensatory pick if he left in free agency, the Giants weren’t going to let Williams get away. He is better contributor as a run defender than a pass rusher, but he could make more strides in his second year with his new team under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
The Giants signed CB James Bradberry (Carolina), to a three-year, $45 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: The Panthers didn’t want to give their #1 corner top of the market money and don’t have an obvious replacement on the roster, signaling a rebuilding year. The Giants have a lot of youth at corner, but Bradberry will give them a credible #1 corner to face Amari Cooper, Terry McLaurin, and Alshon Jeffery. Bradberry remains a CB1 in IDP leagues.
The Giants signed LB Blake Martinez (Green Bay) to a three-year, $30 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Off-ball linebacker is a perpetual sore spot for the Giants, so Martinez immediately becomes their top player at the position. David Mayo and Ryan Connelly will also play roles at the position, but Martinez should be an IDP force playing behind a stout group of defensive tackles.
The Eagles signed DT Javon Hargrave (Pittsburgh) to a three-year, $39 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Hargrave is a big-time disruptor on the interior and will pair with Fletcher Cox to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. He is the kind of player who rarely makes it to free agency, but the Steelers couldn’t afford to keep both him and Bud Dupree.
The Eagles traded a third and fifth-round pick to Detroit for CB Darius Slay and signed him to a three-year, $50 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Cornerback has been a problem area for the Eagles for a while, but now they have a true shutdown #1 corner to matchup with Amari Cooper, and Slay has a good history against the #1 receiver of their top rival. Slay has been rumored to be on the trade block for months. The Eagles were considered a possible destination for Byron Jones in free agency. After they lost out to Miami, this move became a lot more likely.
Why It Matters: Armstead broke out last year, so the choice between keeping him or keeping Buckner and having the #13 pick became easy. The 49ers did not sign a significant free agent, but this trade makes them a big winner of the free agency period as long as they don’t miss Buckner’s contributions too much. They’ll hope 2017 #3 overall pick Solomon Thomas gets on track in the same way Armstead did last year. If they don’t bring back Emmanuel Sanders, they could target a wide receiver at #13.
The 49ers re-signed DB Jimmie Ward to a three-year, $28.5 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Ward has been versatile and filled multiple spots in the secondary since they drafted him in the first round in 2014. The 49ers have kept their starting secondary together with this signing.
Why It Matters:Raheem Mostert finished the season atop the depth chart, but these moves keep the backfield crowded and keep open the possibility of a return to something more like a committee approach in 2020. Bourne will continue to play a role in the passing game that isn’t relevant for fantasy, but takes a slice of a smallish passing game pie.
The Seahawks made a second-round tender offer to TE Jacob Hollister
Why It Matters: The team signed Greg Olsen to a one-year contract after the Panthers released him at the open of the offseason, but this is a sign that they may still like Hollister as a long-term part of the passing game, because Hollister doesn’t contribute much as a blocker. No one will make him an offer with that cost, and the 3+ million dollar investment by the Seahawks for 2020 is not trivial.
The Seahawks signed OL BJ Finney (Pittsburgh) to a two-year, $8 million dollar deal and OT Brandon Shell (New York Jets) to a two-year, $11 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Finney is an excellent swing player on the interior offensive line who can keep the level of play up if the Seahawks suffer an injury. Shell is a bargain replacement for Germain Ifedi, who the team allowed to leave in free agency. The team didn’t make a big splash in free agency on the offensive side of the ball but these moves should shore up the line.
The Seahawks signed EDGE Bruce Irvin (Carolina)
Why It Matters: After trading Frank Clark last year and potentially whiffing on first-round pick LJ Collier, the Seahawks patched up the pass rush by trading for Jadeveon Clowney, who remains unsigned in free agency. They decided to reunite with 2012 first-round pick Irvin, who had a strong year with the Panthers playing opposite rookie Brian Burns.
The Buccaneers used the franchise tag on EDGE Shaq Barrett and re-signed DL Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year, $27 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Tampa is making a Super Bowl push now that they have signed Tom Brady. Pierre-Paul and Barrett are the teams two best pass rushers and they like their young secondary. Barrett became one of the most coveted free agents a year after signing a small one-year prove it deal with the Bucs.
The Buccaneers signed QB Tom Brady
Why It Matters:Jameis Winston’s tenure with the team is over. Brady is at the opposite end of the spectrum in style, a much safer passer who doesn’t take as many chances in the downfield passing game. Bruce Arians will have to alter his system to include more checkdowns and Chris Godwin will benefit more than Mike Evans. The Bucs need to sign a pass-blocking running back and perhaps make some improvements to their offensive line to fully commit to Brady. Brady won’t be drafted as a QB1 in typical leagues, but could bounce back a bit with better weapons this year.
Washington signed OL Wes Schweitzer (Atlanta) to a three-year, $13.5 million dollar deal and used the franchise tag on OL Brandon Scherff
Why It Matters: Washington lost Ereck Flowers in free agency, but Schweitzer has been a solid starter when needed for Atlanta in recent years and should be excellent depth at worst. Scherff has been a quality first round pick and the team did not want to let him test the market. Trent Williams remains with the team but could be traded soon and leave a huge hole.
Washington signed CB Kendall Fuller (Kansas City) a four-year, $40 million dollar deal
Why It Matters: Fuller was sent to Kansas City in the Alex Smith trade, but now returns to a much different organization than the one that traded him. He’ll play a big role in a secondary that doesn’t have much in the way of experience at his position.