NFL Free-Agent Signings: Examining Effect of Biggest Deals Before Official Start

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13: Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after the NFC Divisional Playoff against the New Orleans Saints  at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It's an early Christmas for the top veterans set to test free agency. Although deals cannot become official until Wednesday, teams can reach agreements with players before the new league year. 

As expected, we're seeing eye-popping numbers for veterans on the hunt for new deals. Talents at premium positions will take home massive earnings if the arrangements hold over the next couple of days.

The expected acquisitions have more than a vacuum effect. Quarterback Nick Foles will reportedly ink a deal with a new team. What does that mean for other veteran signal-callers on the open market?

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr took 51 sacks last year, but there's help on the way. How different will the offensive line look in the upcoming season?

The Detroit Lions intend to acquire multiple former New England Patriot players—thanks to head coach Matt Patricia. Who's their biggest potential signing after Day 1 of the open negotiating period?


Jacksonville Jaguars Expect to Sign Nick Foles

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 13:  Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles drops back to pass during the NFC Divisional Playoff against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

This move isn't a surprise in NFL discussion circles. ESPN.com's Dan Graziano reported Foles was expected to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars a week before the legal tampering period. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the 30-year-old quarterback will sign a four-year, $88 million deal: 

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Live on @nflnetwork: @mikegarafolo on the phone, holding up writing on a notepad that says Nick Foles gets 4 years, $88 million from the #Jaguars. As real time as it gets!

Once the acquisition becomes official, quarterback Blake Bortles' tenure in Jacksonville will likely come to an end after five seasons, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

The #Jaguars are expected to release QB Blake Bortles when QB Nick Foles’ deal is official and signed, I’m told. Will be a few days. But Bortles will be free.

As one of the few teams with a need at quarterback, the Jaguars will have a former Super Bowl MVP throwing passes to an upstart wide receiver unit that includes Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, D.J. Chark and Marqise Lee—assuming he fully recovers from a significant knee injury. 

Despite releasing defensive tackle Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson, the Jaguars still have several playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, starting with standout cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Pass-rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue combined for 20 sacks last year. This team could bounce back from a 5-11 campaign with an improved offense, specifically in the passing game.

Foles' intended landing spot also shortens Teddy Bridgewater's destination list. Perhaps the Pro Bowl signal-caller re-signs with the New Orleans Saints. He may also garner interest from the Miami Dolphins, who are expected to move on from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, per Miami Herald's Armando Salguero.


Oakland Raiders Agree to Terms with Trent Brown

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The Raiders kicked off the negotiating window with a big-time agreement to pay tackle Trent Brown $66 million over four years; the reported deal includes $36.75 million in guarantees, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Former Patriots’ OT Trent Brown intends to sign a four-year, $66 million contract that includes $36.75 million guaranteed with the Oakland Raiders, per source, making him highest paid OL in NFL history.

Talented edge-rushers aren't specific to one side of the defense, but there's uncertainty concerning where Brown will line up. Schefter's tweet suggests Brown will take snaps on quarterback Derek Carr's blind side.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

New Raiders LT Trent Brown will take over Raiders’ left tackle job, and former first-round pick Kolton Miller is expected to slide over to righ tackle. Raiders making moves.

However, Vic Tafur of The Athletic doesn't see the personnel grouping the same way. "I believe the Raiders just gave Brown $36.75 million guaranteed to play right tackle," he wrote. "I know, that's not what everybody else is reporting. But, after talking to sources, I'm fairly convinced that my first instinct that Gruden plans to leave Kolton Miller at left tackle is correct." 

Brown lined up primarily at right tackle during his three-year stint with the San Francisco 49ers. It's not an unconventional idea to see him at the same position in Oakland, though he did start a full 16-game season on the left side with the Patriots in 2018.

Miller, the 15th overall pick from the 2018 draft, could have a chance to redeem himself after a rough first year on the blind side. If not, we'll see him shift to across the line to a role he filled during his sophomore and junior terms at UCLA.


Detroit Lions Agree to Terms with Trey Flowers

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Trey Flowers #98 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty I
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions came to an agreement with one of the top players on the market, per Schefter: 

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Patriots DE Trey Flowers intends to sign with Detroit, per source.

Defensive end Trey Flowers will reunite with Patricia, who served as the defensive coordinator with the Patriots between the 2012-17 seasons. The 25-year-old continued to blossom last year in New England, recording seven sacks, nine tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles in 15 games. 

In Detroit, Patricia will probably move Flowers across the defensive front as he did during their shared time with the Patriots. The fourth-year veteran can move inside for sub-packages, and he's a solid run-stopper capable of setting the edge.

The Lions extended defensive end Romeo Okwara's deal through the 2020 campaign. In 2018, he emerged as a pleasant surprise contributor to the pass rush with 7.5 sacks in 15 contests. Assuming Flowers and Okwara start on opposite ends, Ezekiel Ansah, who's an unrestricted free agent, will likely sign a deal elsewhere.