The first few days of NFL free agency have brought about some big moves and surprising decisions from players and teams alike. Here are the five biggest takeaways from the early action:
- The quarterback carousel is in full swing. Several high-profile quarterbacks have already found new homes, including Matthew Stafford (traded to the Los Angeles Rams), Carson Wentz (traded to the Indianapolis Colts), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (signed with the Washington Football Team). The movement at this crucial position is far from over, with many more quarterbacks still on the market.
- Teams are willing to spend big on offensive linemen. The first big contract of free agency went to offensive tackle Trent Williams, who signed a six-year, $138 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers. Other offensive linemen, such as Corey Linsley and Joe Thuney, also landed big contracts. It’s clear that teams are recognizing the value of having a strong offensive line.
- Wide receivers are in high demand. Several wide receivers have already signed big contracts, including Kenny Golladay (signed with the New York Giants), Corey Davis (signed with the New York Jets), and Curtis Samuel (signed with the Washington Football Team). With more talented receivers still available, it’s likely that the trend will continue.
- Teams are taking risks on players with injury histories. Some of the biggest contracts of free agency have gone to players with injury concerns, such as edge rusher Bud Dupree (signed with the Tennessee Titans) and wide receiver Will Fuller (signed with the Miami Dolphins). Teams are clearly willing to take risks on players with injury histories if they believe they can make an impact on the field.
- The salary cap crunch is affecting teams’ decisions. The reduced salary cap for the 2021 season is forcing many teams to make difficult decisions about which players to keep and which to let go. Some big-name players, such as J.J. Watt (signed with the Arizona Cardinals) and Kyle Van Noy (released by the Miami Dolphins), have already been affected by the cap crunch.
Overall, the early days of NFL free agency have been filled with surprises and big moves. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the offseason plays out as more players find new homes and teams continue to build their rosters for the upcoming season.