The NFL free agency frenzy has officially come and gone, and while there are still plenty of moves to be made, the noteworthy trades, signings, releases and tenders are all set in stone.
Free agency itself was as wild as ever, but the trade market was also far more active than usual. And as the result of both, a plethora of superstars have new homes heading into the 2018.
Here’s a look at 20 NFL players who will thrive with their new team.
20. Justin Pugh, OL, Arizona Cardinals
Behind Andrew Norwell, Nate Solder and one or two others, Justin Pugh was arguably the most talented offensive lineman available in free agency. The versatile Pugh proved himself to be a selfless team-first player with the Giants, shifting positions based on the team’s needs. He played both tackle and guard positions, and played relatively well at each. With some positional stability in Arizona, Pugh should excel so long as he can remain healthy.
Vinny Curry is heading to Tampa Bay following his release by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Curry is getting a 3-year deal worth up to $27 million, with $11.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
Curry was drafted by the Eagles in 2012 and had been with them his entire career. They were hoping he would take a pay cut, but instead he refused and hit the market as a free agent. Thanks to his deal with the Bucs, Curry will end up making what he was set to earn in Philly.
Curry has played in all 16 regular season games the past four seasons. He had 42 tackles playing in Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 defense in Philly with three sacks.
The Philadelphia Eagles may end up keeping defensive end Vinny Curry on their roster in 2018, but it sounds like it would have to be under a new contract.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported on Sunday that the Eagles are expected to release Curry, but he later amended the report to note that the team could keep the veteran on a restructured deal. The Eagles could also attempt to trade Curry.
The only caveat is the #Eagles are attempting to restructure and redo his deal. If that happens he could stay… will take a lot of work. https://t.co/O5EcFTgcAY
Update on the #Eagles and DE Vinny Curry after talking with a team official: They are currently in negotiations to try to keep Vinny Curry at a different salary. Teams are also interested in potential trading for him. It sounds like nothing is quite done yet.
The Eagles have a loaded defensive line with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, so they already have a lot of money committed to the position. Curry, a former second-round pick, is just 29, so you can understand why Philly would rather find a way to keep him.
Anything can happen in one single NFL game. Little-known players can have the game of their lives as they step up and play like a star. That’s true even in high-profile games like the Super Bowl. All you have to do is look at the list of MVPs for confirmation of that. You have your usual luminaries — Tom Brady has won the award four times, Eli Manning has claimed it twice, and Von Miller has his name on it as well. However, you can also spot lesser-known names like Dexter Jackson for Tampa Bay in 2003 and Malcolm Smith beating out everyone from the famed Legion of Boom to claim the honor in 2014 for the Seattle Seahawks. When the Patriots won the Super Bowl last season, it was James White with a huge game. In their victory over Seattle, Malcolm Butler stepped up with the play of the game.
Which under-the-radar players could take Super Bowl LII by storm? Here’s a look at ten candidates.
1) James White, RB, Patriots
White doesn’t get a ton of carries, but you’ll remember what he’s capable of if you watched last year’s Super Bowl. He’s the Patriots’ primary backfield receiving threat, and while he’s not going to get a ton of carries, only three Patriots had more receptions this season than White did. He’s already proven once that he’s capable of changing a playoff game. The Eagles will have to take care to ensure that he doesn’t do it to them as well.
NFL contracts are often a hot-button issue. People love to debate who’s making too much, too little, who deserves more and who is overpaid. Some athletes outplay their deals, while others cash in and fail to deliver. Teams obviously try hard to avoid the latter situation, but sometimes things don’t work out as hoped.
With all of that in mind, here’s a look at the worst contract on every NFL team.
Arizona Cardinals – Jermaine Gresham, tight end
The Cardinals put an emphasis on re-signing tight end Jermaine Gresham and as a result, may have drastically over-paid for him. He hasn’t had over 460 yards receiving since 2012, has seen his catch rate hover around 60% in each of the previous two seasons and hasn’t scored more than two touchdowns since 2014. Those are mediocre numbers at best for a player signed to a four-year, $28 million contract with $16.5 million guaranteed.
Atlanta Falcons – Brooks Reed, defensive end
Brooks Reed is not exactly a bad player — he’s a high-motor guy who plays a very defined role. Of course, when the Falcons signed him to a five-year, $22 million deal in 2015 they expected much more. Instead, what they’ve gotten for $9 million guaranteed is 42 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in 28 games.
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco, quarterback
When the Ravens signed Joe Flacco to a monstrous $120.6 million deal in 2013, many foresaw potential issues looming. However, at the time, Flacco was coming off of a magical postseason run that culminated with a Super Bowl XLVII victory. He had earned his money. But in 2016, facing a massive cap number, Baltimore was forced to extend Flacco with a three-year, $66.4 million deal. Now under contract through 2021, Flacco has cap hits above $24 million beginning next year and throughout the remainder of his deal, large dead cap numbers that render him uncuttable and guarantees that make him untradeable. Arguably, it’s the worst contract in the NFL.