Browns, 49ers, Giants among teams starting to retool at start of free agency
The second week of March was a crazy one for NFL fans.
The general managers are definitely more aggressive this offseason, completing a plethora of trades before the free agency period even began on Wednesday, March 14.
The excitement started in Seattle, with what appears to be the end of a dynasty.
The Seattle Seahawks’ defensive end Michael Bennett, along with a 2018 seventh-round draft pick, was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2018 fifth-round pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson.
The Seahawks have also released star cornerback Richard Sherman in order to save cap space.
Additionally, the team let go of star tight end Jimmy Graham, who will now be a free agent.
However, it is not all gloom for Seattle.
Running back Jonathan Stewart, who was cut by the Carolina Panthers, is reported to be visiting the Seahawks in hopes of getting a deal done.
With the end of one dynasty comes the start of another. The Los Angeles Rams, who have only recently moved to “The City of Angels,” have made huge defensive improvements in the short time they have had this offseason.
They have franchise-tagged safety Lamarcus Joyner, thus allowing their wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, to hit the free agent market.
The Rams have also signed veteran cornerback Sam Shields, who will add experience to their secondary.
The big news in Los Angeles is that top-tier cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib have also been traded to the Rams.
They only had to give up a 2018 fourth-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs for the All-Pro Peters and a 2018 sixth-round pick.
The Rams have also relinquished a 2018 fifth-round draft pick to the Denver Broncos in order to obtain Talib.
The Rams’ secondary is now looking like one of the best in the league, and their team should be the favorite to win the NFC West next season.
The Cleveland Browns, who have been the laughing stock of the NFL in recent years, seem to be doing all they can to put a competitive team out on the field next season.
They traded a 2018 fourth-round pick and 2019 seventh-round pick to acquire wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins.
The team then quickly turned around and traded for quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Buffalo Bills, with the Bills receiving the 65th overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.
Then, in the span of one day, the Browns also shipped out quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers for cornerback Damarious Randall.
This deal also includes the two teams swapping their 2018 fourth and fifth picks with each other. Cleveland clearly headlined the weekend’s flurry of activities.
There were also minor moves made around the league from other teams and players.
The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise-tagged their star running back Le’Veon Bell for the second season in a row.
Bell is due to be paid $14.5 million next season.
Sherman, after his release from Seattle, signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Eagles traded wide receiver Torrey Smith to the Panthers for cornerback Daryl Worley.
The Jacksonville Jaguars did not franchise-tag wide receiver Allen Robinson, who then agreed to a three-year deal worth $42 million with the Chicago Bears.
The Dallas Cowboys have franchise-tagged their starting defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who will be owed a reported $17.1 million next season.
Wide receiver Mike Evans has signed a new deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The deal is set to pay Evans $82.5 million over the course of five years, with $55 million in injury guarantees. This will make Evans the second highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL on an annual basis, only behind Antonio Brown of the Steelers.
The Tennessee Titans have released running back DeMarco Murray, who became one of the top-tier running back options in the ever-expanding free agent market.
Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward signed a three-year, $36 million contract extension, with $20 million of it guaranteed.
The New York Giants have obtained linebacker Alec Ogletree and a 2019 seventh-round pick from the Rams, in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round and sixth-round pick.
The Giants have also cut long time cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
This will save the Giants $6.5 million in cap space.
At the combine, there was a “belief” that offensive guard Andrew Norwell would also be going to the Giants.
Norwell signed the most expensive free agent per-year contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history with the Jaguars. He is eligible to receive $65 million over five years.
The start of the free agency period is always an exciting time. This year did not disappoint.