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Thursday, June 27, 2019

NFL teams off to a fast start in early free agency

Matt Patricia

Monday marked the beginning of the early contact period in NFL free agency. While deals aren’t able to be officially signed until Wednesday, and players still have time to pull a DeAndre Jordan, we already have an idea of who is making improvements to their club.

Here’s a look at some of the teams off to fast starts regarding expected additions.

Detroit Lions

Just call them Patriots Midwest. Matt Patricia made it clear what he’s going for in 2019 by adding three former Patriots to his team in Detroit. The biggest addition was Trey Flowers, the top free agent pass rusher. He had 7.5 sacks during the regular season and two more in the postseason for the Pats. He comes at a hefty price of around $16-$17 million per season, which is right around what they were paying Ziggy Ansah on the franchise tag anyway. Another former Patricia player is signing on — cornerback Justin Coleman. He played for the Pats for two seasons and most recently spent time in Seattle. He’s getting big money — a 4-year, $36 million deal — for a nickel corner, but should help solidify the secondary. They also swooped in to land wide receiver Danny Amendola, who should be a welcomed addition to a depleted wide receiver corps. Add in tight end Jesse James from the Steelers, and you have yourself some nice improvement from 2018.

New York Jets

The Jets entered 2019 armed with cap space, and they’re wasting no time putting it to use. They have agreed to a deal with linebacker Anthony Barr, a former top-10 pick. Barr was exposed in coverage at times, but he can get to the quarterback and make plays. He had 55 tackles and 3 sacks in 13 games last season. The Jets are also giving Sam Darnold a weapon. They signed Jamison Crowder to a 3-year deal with $17 million guaranteed. A sure-handed receiver, Crowder had two solid seasons in Washington from 2016-2017 where he averaged 66.5 catches per season. The team also added special teamer Josh Bellamy from the Bears.

Beyond some of their free agency moves, the Jets have re-signed DB Darryl Roberts and acquired guard Kelechi Osemele in a trade.

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo isn’t exactly adding many household names, but they’re bringing in some new faces. They agreed to terms with center Mitch Morse, a reliable lineman from Kansas City. He’s getting a sizable deal — four years for $44.5 million. They’re taking a shot with tight end Tyler Kroft, a former third-round pick who had 7 touchdown catches for Cincinnati in 2017. They are bringing in former first-round pick Kevin Johnson, taking a gamble on him after he played just one game last season due to concussions. And after dealing with multiple injured running backs last season, Buffalo is bringing in a reliable back in Frank Gore. Despite turning 36 in May, Gore has only missed two games since 2011, both of which came last season due to a foot injury.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles are all-in on the Jacksons. They brought back wide receiver DeSean Jackson via a trade with Tampa Bay and signed him to a 3-year deal. Carson Wentz is already pumped about getting the deep threat on the team. Malik Jackson is getting a 3-year, $30 million deal. The 29-year-old defensive lineman had 32 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season with Jacksonville. Philly probably envisions him helping to make up for the loss of Michael Bennett.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders already made one of the biggest moves of the season by adding Antonio Brown in a trade. Then they made some big deals early in free agency. They agreed to a four-year, $66 million deal with Trent Brown. They plan to play him at left tackle and may move Kolton Miller to the right side. Brown is only a middle-of-the-road left tackle, but the Raiders were so bad there last season that they needed an upgrade and are getting it, though they have overpaid. They also are trying to improve their defense by signing former Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner. He’s getting a four-year deal and will play next to Karl Joseph. They still could have an even bigger move in store.

There are other teams that have caught our eye with some notable deals here and there.

The Indianapolis Colts gave wide receiver Devin Funchess a one-year deal. The former second-round pick saw his stats suffer due to Cam Newton’s shoulder injury, but should thrive catching passes from Andrew Luck. We like this move a lot.

The Kansas City Chiefs are making Tyrann Mathieu a highly-paid safety after winning a bidding war with the Texans. He’s an excellent player and should help their defense. They also have added Carlos Hyde for running back depth.

The Tennessee Titans signed Adam Humphries and re-signed Kenny Vaccaro. The Humphries addition is much-needed. Tennessee’s receivers struggled with drops last season. Humphries is sure-handed and should help Marcus Mariota immensely. He also can shine as a punt returner if they let him partake in that role.



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