2018 Free Agency has been around for more than a week, and many of the big-ticket talents have inked a new contract. Teams have scrambled to fill holes ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft via free agency with staggering amounts of money. Some of these moves will pan out, while others will result in cost cuts an offseason from now.
Here’s a look at Optimum Sports News’ Top-10 NFL Free Agency Moves Thus Far:
Free Agency Move No. 10 – QB Case Keenum to Denver
Last season, journeyman Case Keenum stepped in for not one but two injured quarterbacks in Minnesota and led the team to the playoffs. The surprise Vikings won one of the most stirring playoff victories in recent memory with their 29-24 last-second comeback over the New Orleans Saints. It was Keenum’s precision passing, in part, that got them there. Keenum signed a 2-year deal with the Denver Broncos for $36 million coming off a productive season that saw the veteran throw 22 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. Keenum protected the ball for Minnesota, something that Bronco quarterbacks did not do in 2017.
Free Agency Move No. 9 – DE Adrian Clayborn to New England
The New England Patriots have seen some notable players move on in free agency, including tackle Nate Solder, receiver Danny Amendola, running back Dion Lewis, and cornerback Malcolm Butler. They’ve been active in the trade market to fill some of those holes, but they’ve also address a major need in free agency with the addition of Adrian Clayborn. New England managed pressure on only 34.5 percent of drop backs last season, according to Pro Football Focus. So the addition of Clayborn boosts a weak pass rush. Clayborn had a six-sack game last season agains the Dallas Cowboys and finished with 10 sacks overall.
Free Agency Move No. 8 – CB Aaron Colvin to Houston
Aaron Colvin helped spur a surprising run by the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Colvin was part of an elite defense that carried a subpar offense to the AFC Championship Game. His signing buoys a team that expecting the return of JJ Watt and Deshaun Watson, among others. Colvin will be paired in the secondary with fellow cornerback Johnathan Joseph, as well as free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu, who joins the defensive backfield on a one-year deal from Arizona.
Free Agency Move No. 7 – DT Star Lotulelei to Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills have been one of the most active teams in the market thus far. The roster shakeup has included a number of trades, as well as the free agency signing of defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. After inking a 5-year, $50 million deal, Lotulelei will be paired with veteran Kyle Williams in the defensive interior. His presence should help Buffalo’s 29th-ranked rush defense. As a space eater, Lotulelei commands double-teams and should free up the Bills’ linebackers to make plays. Lotulelei played for Bills head coach Sean McDermott in Carolina, so he’s familiar with the team’s system.
Free Agency Move No. 6 – RB Dion Lewis to Tennessee
Dion Lewis was one of the most reliable weapons at the disposal of Tom Brady over the last several seasons. Tennessee’s free agency addition of Lewis fills the hole vacated by DeMarco Murray. His pairing with Derrick Henry affords the Titans with a dynamic one-two punch out of the backfield. Lewis should be an effective target in the short passing game for quarterback Marcus Mariota. Lewis tied for No. 1 in the league in yards after contact per carry last season (2.6 yards), and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in New England.
Free Agency Move No. 5 – WR Allen Robinson (and TE Try Burton) to Chicago
Yes, Allen Robinson is coming off ACL tear in Week 1 last season. But the 6-3 former Jacksonville Jaguar was one of the league’s top receivers from 2015 to 2016. His 18 red zone touchdowns were the most for a wideout during that time frame. He’s a great route runner and should fill the No. 1 receiver role for Chicago’s second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears furthered their commitment to their young quarterback with the signing of tight end Trey Burton from Philadelphia. Burton brings a valuable flexibility to the offense. The Bears also added speedy wide receiver Taylor Gabriel from Atlanta.
Free Agency Move No. 4 – Jacksonville’s additions
The Jacksonville Jaguars rode an opportunistic, elite defense to the AFC Championship Game last season, almost upsetting the New England Patriots along the way. Yes, the Jags lost a couple of key pieces, but they’ve filled multiple holes in free agency. The headline move in Jacksonville has been the addition of guard Andrew Norwell from Carolina. Norwell was a first-team All-Pro last season and the best linemen on the market. He furthers the team’s commitment to the run. The Jags also added red zone targets in tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul, as well as beefing up their receiver corps with the resigning of Marquis Lee and the signing of Donte Moncrief. They added to the secondary by inking cornerback D.J. Hayden from Detroit.
Free Agency Move No. 3 – Richard Sherman to San Francisco
Richard Sherman’s release from Seattle seemed like a shock to most, particularly Sherman and the fans. The 30-year-old veteran decided to stick it to his former team by signing with their rival, the San Francisco 49ers. Although he’s coming off a serious Achilles injury, Sherman should be ready for the start of training camp. He provides 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan with a veteran leader who perfectly fits the team’s defensive scheme. Sherman played for 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh in Seattle and he fills a major hole for San Francisco.
Free Agency Move No. 2 – Jimmy Graham to Green Bay
Last season was a lost one for the Green Bay Packers. The storied franchise dealt with injuries throughout, and entered free agency looking to help franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers bounce back. Although the team let one of Rodgers’ favorite targets (Jordy Nelson) go, the team brought in a major red zone weapon by signing Jimmy Graham. In 2017, Graham caught 15 of 24 red zone targets for Seattle, and 10 of those catches went for touchdowns. Graham helps fill the void left by Nelson’s departure, and pairing him with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb in the red zone gives Rodgers plenty of choices to choose from.
Free Agency Move No. 1 – Kirk Cousins to Minnesota
Kirk Cousins played the franchise-tag game, and won. Cousins signed a huge 3-year, $84 million deal to play in Minnesota, and the Vikings believe they’ve finally found their franchise quarterback. Although the team made a surprising run in the NFC last season, Minnesota’s quarterback situation was tenuous at best. By adding Cousins, they are gaining an excellent play-action quarterback who can make any throw on the field. Cousins is a versatile player who can be effective using West Coast routes, play-pass or run-pass option. The return of Dalvin Cook from an ACL injury will only help Cousins transition to the team. With an excellent defense and reliable wide receivers, Minnesota’s addition of Kirk Cousins sets them up as a potential challenger for Philadelphia’s Super Bowl crown.