This free agency has been like no other, with the cap space decreasing for the second time ever since 1994 when it was introduced. The cap has gone from $198.2 million to $182.5 million resulting in many contract restructures, cutting of star players and trading away the big earners. Here is my list of the top 10 moves that has happened so far.
Disclaimer: This is my personal top 10 and the players I think will make the biggest impact for the team. Let me know if you disagree which is likely, and who you’d have chosen instead!
10. John Johnson III – Free Agent – Cleveland Browns
John Johnson was the best Safety on the board this free agency and for the Browns who like to show Cover 3 consistently on defence, is the perfect fit. With 8 interceptions since he was drafted, Johnson also brings experience of making it to a Super Bowl albeit they lost to the New England Patriots 13-3 in 2019. Signing a 3 year deal worth $33,750,000 with $24,000,000 of that guaranteed, Johnson is now one of the highest paid safeties in the league. Look out for him to build from his time at LA Rams and build on the Browns previous season success.
9. Curtis Samuel – Free Agent – Washington Football Team (WFT)
Not going to lie, I’m gutted that Samuel has left the Panthers. Samuel reached 1,000 scrimmage yards for the first time since being in the NFL. With 200 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns to add to his 851 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns, Samuel helped soften the blow of Christian McCaffrey being out for 13 games this season. With Terry Mclaurin and new QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, The WFT (It’s just too long to type every time) have some serious talent on their offence. WFT have got a dual threat stud in Samuel and I’m excited to watch him tear up the NFC East.
8. Trent Williams – Free Agent – San Francisco 49ers
Now the highest paid LT in history, Trent Williams went into the free agency only to be re-signed by the 49ers for an eye watering $138,060,000 spread over 6 years. Not allowing a sack in nine straight games last season he rightfully deserved his 8th pro bowl out of the 10 seasons he’s been active. With the 49ers now trading up to the 3rd pick of the 2021 draft there is a question mark whether Jimmy Garoppolo (Yes I had to search to check spelling) or a rookie QB will be leading the offence come the start of the season. Either way they won’t have to worry about being blindsided.
7. Carl Lawson – Free Agent – New York Jets
My mate is a massive Jets fan and wouldn’t let me do this without putting a Jets player in… On a serious note Carl Lawson is a great signing by new head coach Robert Saleh. Lawson is a fourth year edge rusher who is averaging 5 sacks a season. Showing glimpses of what he can do over the last couple of years with the Cincinnati Bengals, Lawson could develop into one of the best edge rushers in the league. Signing a 3 year deal worth up to $45,000,000 with $30,000,000 of that guaranteed, shows how serious the Jets are about getting him on board.
6. Kenny Golloday – Free Agent – New York Giants
A much needed addition to the Giants’ roster. Whoever Kenny Golloday’s agent is, he needs a pay rise and a big one at that. After missing 11 games last season Golloday is now the ninth highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Earning a staggering $72,000,000 over the next 5 years, seeing him comfortably through his prime. Although he missed the majority of last season he still managed 338 yards and 2 touchdowns off 32 targets. It’s clear to see that when fit, Golloday is definitely WR1 for a lot of teams and the Giants now have their man.
5. Haason Reddick – Free Agent – Carolina Panthers
If you asked me at the start of free agency who I wanted the Panthers to sign in free agency, Haason Reddick would’ve been my reply. Coming off the back of a stand out season with 12.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles, Reddick brings a wealth of strengths to the defence. Averaging 64 tackles a season Reddick is an ever-present threat to opposition offences, not missing a single game since being drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft. Panthers giving Reddick a $6,000,000 prove your worth, one season contract is also a great bit of business for both parties involved.
4. Carson Wentz – Trade – Indianapolis Colts
In exchange for their new franchise QB the colts gave the Philadelphia Eagles a 2021 third round pick and a conditional 2022 second round pick which depending on how well he and the team perform, may become a first. Along with Wentz comes a hefty contract averaging $24,600,000 over the next four years. If Wentz can find the promise he shown in his second year then the Colts are a real contender next season. Wentz guided the Eagles to the play offs but it was Nick Foles who reaped the rewards as Wentz got injured, going on to win the Super Bowl and get a statue in his honour. The more I look at this trade the more I like it. He’s been one of the best in the league before so why can’t he do it again?
3. Corey Linsley – Free Agent – Los Angeles Chargers
This signing by the Chargers in my opinion shows that they are ready to battle it out and reach the play offs after missing out the last two years. Paying Linsley a handsome $62,500,000 over 5 years the Chargers are not messing around. Only missing 7 games over the 10 years, Linsley will sure up their offensive line to protect QB Justin Herbert. Herbert looks to maintain his form after his phenomenal first season stepping in for Tyrod Taylor, going on to become rookie of the year.
2. Shaquil Barrett – Free Agent – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Brady effect is in full swing in Tampa. Coming off a Super Bowl win the Buccs are the first team in the salary cap era to retain all 22 starters. Shaquil Barrett has signed $17,000,000 a year contract for 4 years with Tampa Bay. Having franchise tagged Chris Godwin, Shaquil Barrett was free to find a new suitor at any price. Barrett could have easily gone and got a $20,000,000 a year contract with another team but chose to stay. Why? Tom Brady. There was nowhere else he could’ve gone that would’ve come close to having TB12 as your QB. The Buccs winning a Super Bowl the first year Brady signs for them is seriously impressive, and with all 22 starters back the Buccs are looking to run it back one more time.
1. Matthew Stafford – Trade – Los Angeles Rams
John Matthew Stafford finally has a Super Bowl potential winning team around him. After spending 12 years with the Detroit Lions and breaking records along his way. Fastest player in NFL history to reach 40,000 yards taking only 147 games as well as being in the top 20 of pass attempts, completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Stafford has joined the Rams with the Lions receiving Jared Goff, a 2021 third round pick, a 2022 first round pick and a 2023 first round pick. Now, while a lot of people are saying that the Lions have won the trade it is clear that the Rams have gone all in on a Super Bowl run. Stafford is a debatable future hall of famer and moving to the Rams has given him the best opportunity to win a Super Bowl, and prove he deserves a golden jacket.