NFL basketcase in $250m gamble; Brady’s big call a ‘game-changer’: Free Agency Frenzy

Home » NFL basketcase in $250m gamble; Brady’s big call a ‘game-changer’: Free Agency Frenzy
NFL basketcase in $250m gamble; Brady’s big call a ‘game-changer’: Free Agency Frenzy

Ladies and gentlemen, start your signings: NFL free agency is here.

The league’s calendar officially flips to 2022 beginning on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT) and there will be a bevy of big-name players on the move.

Not that the action will wait: starting Wednesday, the NFL’s legal tampering period allows teams to begin discussing contracts with free agents. Deals can be hashed out fully — but not made official until Thursday at 7am (AEDT).

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Last year, the New England Patriots went on a million spending spree; this year, the Indianapolis Colts arrive to free agency with almost $70 millon ($A97m) in cap space and plenty of positions to fill.

But it is the Jacksonville Jaguars who have made the biggest splash — signing five players for a combined $181 million ($A251m), with the details of Brandon Scherff’s deal to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady and Joe Burrow have received big boosts to their championship hopes.

Here are the key storylines and latest updates to come out of the free agency period.

JAGUARS MAKE $251 MILLION SPLASH

The Jaguars’ spree continues.

Wide-receiver Zay Jones is the latest to join the Jaguars after signing on to a three-year deal worth up to $30 million ($A42m) with a $24 million ($A33m) base.

Ex-Giants tight end Evan Engram is set to join Jacksonville, marking the team’s fifth signing of the day.

The 27-year-old, a divisive presence during his drop- and injury-filled Giants career, will get a one-year, $9 million ($A13m) deal with incentives that could make it a full $10 million ($A14m).

Egnram’s deal is dwarfed by the likes of Christian Kirk’s four-year, $84 million ($A117m) deal, but gives Trevor Lawrence another option — and the second-year QB will see a lot more of them with an upgraded offensive line that added ex-Jet Folorunso Fatukasi and Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff on Tuesday.

Christian Kirk is a big-name addition. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Scherff, who played the past two seasons on the franchise tag with Washington, earned his fifth Pro Bowl nod in 2021.

Staying on the field has been an issue for Scherff, who has missed 24 games with injuries since entering the league as the No. 5 pick in the 2015 draft.

Should Scherff stay healthy, he’ll be an integral part of keeping QB Trevor Lawrence upright and throwing bombs. The rookie was sacked 32 times, a number Jacksonville hopes Scherff can help drastically reduce in 2022.

New coach Doug Pederson’s squad wasn’t done with Scherff, however, with Jacksonville adding to its defence, as well.

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Brandon Scherff is joining the Jags. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Former Jets tackleFatukasi also intends to sign with the Jags, The Post’s Brian Costello confirmed. He’ll take home $30 million ($A42m) over three years, with $20 million ($A28m) guaranteed.

Jacksonville also threw a three-year, $45 million ($A63m) deal to linebacker Foye Oluokun, per NFL Network. The contract reportedly includes a $28 million ($A39m) signing bonus and a ceiling of $46.5 million ($A65m).

BENGALS MAKE BIG MOVES TO PROTECT BURROW

After signing Alex Cappa to open free agency, Cincinnati is bringing centre Ted Karras into the fold on a reported three-year, $18 million ($A25m) deal.

A third-generation NFLer (he’s the league’s third Ted Karras and is the great nephew of Hall of Famer Alex Karras), the 28-year-old was a favourite of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who personally tried to recruit him to stay, per the Providence Journal.

New England reportedly offered Karras three years at $13 million ($A18m), but the Illinois product took more money to help protect Joe Burrow with the Bengals.

The Bengals needed to get protection for Burrow. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The rising third-year QB — fresh off leading Cincinnati to a Super Bowl 2021 appearance — will now also have the benefit of throwing passes behind guard Alex Cappa, who secured a reported four-year $40 million ($A56m) deal.

Burrow’s gain is another of Tom Brady’s losses. The recently un-retired Buccaneers quarterback will enter his 23rd NFL season without Cappa or Ali Marpet, who retired last week.

It was not all bad news for Brady though.

KEY BUCS RETURN AFTER BRADY BOOST

The Buccaneers can have their cake and eat it, too.

Tampa Bay opted to franchise tag receiver Chris Godwin over cornerback Carlton Davis, but prioritised re-signing the 25-year-old. Consider the mission accomplished. Davis will be sticking in Tampa on a reported three-year, $45 million ($A63m) deal.

Davis, who had four interceptions last season, was The Post’s ninth-ranked free agent this winter.

It’s the latest move in a busy few days for the Bucs, who saw Tom Brady unretire and centre Ryan Jensen return on a three-year deal. Several pieces are in place for another Super Bowl run on both sides of the ball, especially with Davis back in the fold.

Carlton Davis is staying put. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

JETS SECURE NEW NO. 1 TIGHT END

C.J. Uzomah — fresh off a Super bowl appearance with the Bengals — comes to Gang Green on a three-year, $24 million ($A33m) deal.

The 29-year-old will provide second-year QB Zach Wilson with a big, reliable target. Uzomah is coming off a season in which he set new personal highs with 49 catches, 493 yards, and five TDs.

On Tuesday, GM Joe Douglas bolstered Wilson’s offensive line by adding Laken Tomlinson, and brought back the versatile Braxton Berrios.

C.J. Uzomah is off to New York. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

CHARGERS SECURE TOP FREE AGENCY PRIZE

J.C. Jackson got himself an electric deal.

The 26-year-old cornerback collected a five-year, $82.5 million deal from the Chargers on Tuesday, taking the top free-agent option on The Post’s list off the board.

Jackson racked up 17 interceptions over the past two seasons and led the NFL with 23 passes defended as a member of the New England Patriots.

He’ll immediately upgrades L.A.’s defence, which ranked among the worst in the AFC last season in points against.

J.C. Jackson is off to L.A. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

ALL EYES ON GALLUP IN DALLAS SHAKE-UP

The pressure is going to be on Michael Gallup in Dallas.

On Monday, the Cowboys made a five-year, $62.5 million ($A87m) investment in their receiver — not long after sending Amari Cooper and his $20 million base salary to Cleveland.

Now, with Cedrick Wilson headed to the Dolphins on a three-year, $22.8 million ($A32m) deal, the vaunted Cowboys receiving depth is a bit more shallow.

Gallup, the No. 2 receiver to CeeDee Lamb’s No. 1, tore his ACL in Week 17, putting his return for the 2022 season up in the air.

Wilson, meanwhile, becomes the No. 3 option behind Jaylen Waddle and Devante Parker in Miami, which also supplemented its offence with RB Chase Edmonds earlier on Tuesday. The Dolphins also added Teddy Bridgewater, a solid backup QB option behind Tua Tagovailoa.

PLENTY OF ATTENTION FOR CENTRES

A decent market for centres quickly shrank, with several opting to re-sign with their 2021 teams.

Ryan Jensen will continue to snap the ball to Tom Brady, agreeing to a three-year deal worth $39 million ($A54m) — $23 million guaranteed ($A32m) — on Tuesday. The 31-year-old was charged with just two sacks against last season, and Brady will be glad for the continued continuity: Jensen’s 4,518 snaps are the most among centres since 2018.

Ryan Jensen is staying in Tampa. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The Titans hung on to Ben Jones at the tune of two years and $14 million ($A19m). The 32-year-old started all 17 games last season and has been durable, missing just one start since 2014.

Brian Allen returned to the Super Bowl-winning Rams on a three-year deal worth a reported $24 million ($A33m) on Tuesday. He made 16 started in front of Matthew Stafford last season after missing all of 2020 and playing just nine games in 2019.

The top remaining centre on the market, Bradley Bozeman spent two of the previous three seasons at guard, slotting into the role with the Ravens after playing at left guard to start his NFL career. The 27-year-old has reportedly received plenty of interest from the Jets.

STEELERS FIND REPLACEMENT FOR ROETHLISBERGER

The expectation heading into free agency was Mitch Trubisky would get a shot at being a starter after backing up Josh Allen last season.

The Steelers — having lost franchise stalwart Ben Roethlisberger to retirement — are giving Trubisky a shot on a reported two-year deal.

The No. 2-overall pick in the 2017 draft went to the Bears with high expectations, but never panned out amid a revolving door of coaches in Chicago. He played last season in Buffalo on a one-year, $2.5 million ($A3.5m) deal behind Allen, but now gets another shot at starting in Pittsburgh.

Mitchell Trubisky will get a chance to start again in Pittsburgh, taking a two-year deal with the Steelers.

Mitchell Trubisky is joining the Steelers. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“I am beyond excited and blessed for the opportunity to be part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organisation,” Trubisky wrote in a text to ESPN.

“I have tremendous respect for the Rooney Family and Coach Tomlin. They have built one of the best rosters in football and I can’t wait to contribute and help this team continue their success.”

Trubisky is the clear front-runner heading into a Steelers camp that also has Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins on the QB depth chart.

LANDRY BECOMES A FREE AGENT

Add another name to the list of wide receivers who will be on the move this week: Jarvis Landry.

The wideout, a day after seeking permission for a trade out of Cleveland, was granted his release by the Brown on Tuesday.

Jarvis Landry is a free agent. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The receiving carousel continues to spin in Cleveland, which saw a disgruntled Odell Beckham Jr. leave mid-season en route to a Super Bowl win with the Rams, Landry on his way out of town, and former Cowboys pass-catcher Amari Cooper brought in.

Landry’s departure clears $15.1 million ($A21m) in cap space — all of which goes toward Cooper’s $20 million ($A28m) hit.

Per NFL Network, the Chiefs and Bills will be in the market for Landry’s services.

DOLPHINS SECURED BOOM RUNNING BACK

Former Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds scored a two-year, $12.6 million ($A17.5m) deal from the Dolphins which includes $6.1 million ($A8.5m) guaranteed.

Edmonds, in the final year of his rookie contract, posted a career-high 903 yards from scrimmage with Arizona and was a great complement to James Conner — earned himself a three-year extension from the Cardinals after 18 touchdowns in 2021.

Edmonds’ era in the desert ends after four seasons with 1,511 rushing yards, another 921 receiving, and 14 touchdowns.

For Conner, it’s a reported $21 million extension that includes $13.5 million ($A19m) guaranteed, $16 million ($A22m) over the first two seasons and, per SI, can be worth up to $25.5 million ($A35m).

EVERY FREE AGENCY DEAL, BY TEAM ($USD)

Arizona Cardinals

RB James Conner (3 years, $21 million)

TE Zach Ertz (3 years, $31.65 million)

LB Dennis Gardeck (3 years, $12 million)

DL Michael Dogbe (1 year)

QB Colt McCoy (2 years, $7.5 million)

Atlanta Falcons

TBC

Baltimore Ravens

TBC

Buffalo Bills

Titans OG Rodger Saffold (1 year)

CB Siran Neal (3 years, $10.9 million)

Commanders DT Tim Settle (2 years)

Carolina Panthers

K Zane Gonzalez (2 years, $4.5 million)

Chicago Bears

Bengals DT Larry Ogunjobi (3 years, $40.5M)

Cincinnati Bengals

Buccaneers OG Alex Cappa (4 years, $40 million)

Patriots C Ted Karras (3 years, $18 million)

DT B.J. Hill (3 years, $30 million)

S Jessie Bates III (franchise tag)

Cleveland Browns

Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (via trade)

TE David Njoku (franchise tag)

Jaguars DT Taven Bryan (1 year, $5 million)

Dallas Cowboys

WR Michael Gallup (5 years, $62.5 million)

TE Dalton Schultz (franchise tag)

DE DeMarcus Lawrence (3 years, $40 million)

Denver Broncos

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (via trade)

Packers OG Ben Braden

Detroit Lions

QB Tim Boyle (1 year, $2 million)

WR Josh Reynolds (2 years, $6 million)

S Tracy Walker (3 years, $25 million)

S C.J. Moore (1 year, $1.75 million)

Green Bay Packers

WR Davante Adams (franchise tag)

LB De’Vondre Campbell (5 years, $50 million)

Houston Texans

WR Chris Conley (1 year, $2 million)

Titans OT Cedric Ogbuehi (1 year, $1.4 million)

LB Christian Kirksey (2 years, $10 million)

S Terrence Brooks (1 year, $2 million)

Indianapolis Colts

TE Mo-Alie Cox (3 years, $18 million)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Cardinals WR Christian Kirk (4 years, $84 million)

OT Cam Robinson (franchise tag)

Commanders OG Brandon Scherff

OG Tyler Shatley (2 years, $6.8 million)

Jets DT Foley Fatukasi (3 years, $30 million)

Falcons LB Foye Oluokun (3 years, $45 million)

Giants TE Evan Engram (1 year, $9 million)

Kansas City Chiefs

OT Orlando Brown Jr. (franchise tag)

Las Vegas Raiders

TBC

Los Angeles Chargers

WR Mike Williams (3 years, $60 million)

Bears OLB Khalil Mack (via trade)

Patriots J.C. Jackson (5 years, $82.5 million)

Los Angeles Rams

OT Joe Noteboom (3 years, $40 million)

C Brian Allen (3 years, $24 million)

Miami Dolphins

Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater (1 year)

Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds (2 years, $12.6 million)

Cowboys WR Ced Wilson (3 years, $22.8 million)

TE Mike Gesicki (franchise tag)

Minnesota Vikings

TBC

New England Patriots

QB Brian Hoyer (2 years, $4 million)

S Devin McCourty (1 year, $9 million)

ST Matthew Slater (1 year, $2.62 million)

OL James Ferentz

New Orleans Saints

TBC

New York Giants

TBC

New York Jets

WR Braxton Berrios (2 years, $12 million)

49ers OG Laken Tomlinson (3 years, $40 million)

Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (3 years, $24 million)

RB Tevin Coleman

S Lamarcus Joyner (1 year)

Philadelphia Eagles

Panthers DE/OLB Haason Reddick (3 years, $45 million)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Bills QB Mitchell Trubisky (2 years)

S Miles Killebrew (2 years, $4 million)

OT Chukwuma Okorafor (3 years, $29.25 million)

San Francisco 49ers

QB Nate Sudfeld (1 year, $2 million)

Seattle Seahawks

Broncos QB Drew Lock (via trade)

Broncos TE Noah Fant (via trade)

Broncos DL Shelby Harris (via trade)

CB Sidney Jones (1 year, $3.6 million)

S Quandre Diggs (3 years, $40 million)

TE Will Dissly (3 years, $24 million)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WR Chris Godwin (franchise tag)

C Ryan Jensen (3 years, $39 million)

CB Carlton Davis (3 years, $45 million)

Tennessee Titans

Seahawks OT Jamarco Jones (2 years, $5.75 million)

C Ben Jones (2 years, $14 million)

OLB Harold Landry (5 years, $87.5 million)

Washington Commanders

Colts QB Carson Wentz (via trade)

— with New York Post

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