NFL Free Agency 2018: Examining Impact of Biggest Reported Deals

NFL Free Agency 2018: Examining Impact of Biggest Reported Deals

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The 2018 NFL free agency market opens Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, yet thanks to the transparency of an aptly titled window over two days called the legal-tampering period, we already have a good idea about some of the top deals set to go official. 

Granted, funny developments over the course of the window have changed the outcome of reported deals in the past—but anomalies are anomalies for a reason. 

For the most part, none of the reported deals will change or shock once they start rolling live at 4 p.m. as a bevy of scheduled tweets and posts from reporters all go live at once, creating an avalanche of we-already-knew-that news. 

Yes, it’s a bit of an odd time for the NFL. The nice thing about it? We can look at some of the biggest reported moves and break down the impact, so let’s do so below. 


Allen Robinson Heads North 

It was a little odd to hear the Jacksonville Jaguars wouldn’t fight harder to retain No. 1 wideout Allen Robinson. 

Though he’s coming off an injury that held him out of 15 games a year ago, wideouts with 14-touchdown seasons to their name who are all of 24 years old don’t generally escape to the open market and get to choose where they play next. 

Robinson did just that, though, selecting a deal with the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson: 

This is a huge development in a variety of ways. For one, it gives the Bears a legit No. 1 receiver across from a returning-from-injury Cameron Meredith. He not only also teams with high-upside tight end Adam Shaheen, he joins another free-agent signing, Trey Burton, reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s a great way for the Bears to do their best to ensure young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky succeeds. It also helps the team better compete in the NFC North and likely put more points on the board while better complementing an already-strong defense. 

From a league-wide perspective, Robinson is one of the first dominoes we needed to see fall so others like Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Matthews and even Jordy Nelson can start finding new homes. It will be interesting to see if Robinson set the monetary value or if other teams view the deal as a bad team overpaying for talent. 

Either way, the Bears get a win. 


Dion Lewis Cashes In 

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

For a “dying” position going the way of the rotational back, former New England Patriots back Dion Lewis is about to cash in on a huge contract in free agency. 

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Lewis will put ink to paper on a deal with the Tennessee Titans, catapulting him into the top 10 of his positional chart: 

Lewis is the ideal versatile back in today’s NFL thanks to his ability as a receiver. While mired in the New England’s odd committee approach last year, he ran for 896 yards and six scores on an average of five yards per carry and also caught 32 of his 36 targets, gaining another 214 yards and three touchdowns. 

Based on the inconsistent usage, which includes a quiet workload in the recent Super Bowl loss, it seemed obvious Lewis was on his way out of Foxborough. Landing with the Titans, though, is one of the more interesting places on the potential suitors list. 

There, Lewis will spell workhorse running back Derrick Henry, who rumbled for 744 yards and five scores on a 4.2 per-carry average a season ago, making DeMarco Murray an easy cut decision.

It not only gives the Titans one of the better backfield tandems in the NFL, it could help the Titans outright dominate the AFC South considering the team also reportedly has a deal in place for elite defensive back Malcolm Butler, according to Rapoport.

Like Robinson at wideout, we can expect another flurry of signings at running back with names like Rex Burkhead, Adrian Peterson and countless others still sitting on the market. Lewis’ deal is gigantic, though, which will encourage agents to be aggressive with teams, so where the market settles on positional value now is hard to say. 


Kirk Cousins Changes the Game 

It sounded like a fairy tale at the time—the idea Kirk Cousins would be the first player to receive a fully-guaranteed deal instead of a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or a superstar at another position was too good to be true.

Yet here we are. 

According to Schefter, the former Washington Redskins quarterback and franchise-tag mainstay has an $84 million deal that is fully guaranteed from the Minnesota Vikings. Maybe nobody had a more potent reaction to the deal than Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin:

This is obviously a huge development for the Vikings, as they only got a few games out of Sam Bradford last year, and while Case Keenum had a career year thanks to an incredible job by the coaching staff, it wasn’t a guarantee he could do it again. 

Cousins comes to town as a 65.5 percent career passer with at least 25 touchdown passes in each of his past three seasons and better balances the offense, not to mention the team’s chances in the NFC North. 

The real focus, though, is on the fact it’s a fully-guaranteed deal. Cousins fought through a pair of franchise tags and might have received a third in Washington had the franchise not traded for Alex Smith. Now we’re left to wondering if other free agents will start asking for guaranteed deals in exchange for fewer years. 

Many deals are checking in at the three-year mark right now, which leaves the door open for more guaranteed money. Whether Cousins is a trendsetter or an anomaly remains to be seen. 

Breaking Sports News

via Bleacher Report – Front Page

March 14, 2018 at 11:53AM


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