I give you a few notes as we review the early stages of free agency …
• The Patriots’ splurge of 2021 recalls their splurge of 2007 in a specific way: The initial biggest boom came with the addition of a highly versatile Ravens edge defender. Back then, it was Adalius Thomas. Now, it’s Matthew Judon. And the comparison, according to those in Baltimore, is very accurate. “It’s the same as Adalius,” said a team staff member, in what the Patriots are getting. The Ravens used it everywhere, and given that, and their love of soccer, that New England was drawn to it, it came as no surprise to anyone in their old home. And Judon’s drawbacks are similar to Thomas’s – he’s not a natural pass rusher, so you have to plan / pair him to get him to quarterback. In other words, keep it stagnant and it’s normal. Shake it up and you’ll get the most out of it.
• As for the other three Patriots signings, each would qualify as a good complementary piece, with tight end Jonnu Smith being the most obvious. Tennessee’s top brass saw Smith as the type of player who is good at everything, but really good at nothing and a little smaller for the position. Where he fits in in New England is the same way Judon does, as a guy who will be best used as a chess piece throughout the lineup. “He’s a competitive blocker on the line of scrimmage,” said a Tennessee staff member. “Good sole, effective in seams, over, crossers. He’s got stiff, not a parting route runner. “And for what it’s worth, he was well liked there too. Meanwhile, the expectations for DT Davon Godchaux and CB Jalen Mills should be what the money says – the hope is that can play specific roles well.
• In this morning’s MMQB column, we told you that the Chiefs simply couldn’t move forward with the investment in their tackles Eric Fisher and Mitch Schwartz. Given that both are coming back from injuries that are troublesome for the big men (Achilles for Fisher, back for Schwartz), it was not certain that either of them was ready for camp. But those cuts, plus a handful of restructurings, took the Chiefs from more than $ 20 million in the red to more than $ 20 million in the black, and Andy Reid & Co. wasted no time investing in protection again. by Patrick Mahomes signed Joe Thuney. In that, here’s a big clue: The former All-Pro Patriot has played five NFL seasons and started his 80 games as a professional. He played every snap from the 2016, ’17 and ’18 New England Super Bowl seasons, 99% of the snaps in ’19 and 97% of the snaps last year. For that, the Chiefs gave him a five-year, $ 80 million contract, with $ 32.5 million in the first two years, all fully guaranteed, and another $ 15.5 million for 2023 with full guarantee next March. Based on his track record, there is a decent chance that he will fulfill the contract, and that was not a small part of it for Kansas City.
• The signing of safety John Johnson in Cleveland is something I paid attention to, in part because there’s a reason LA let him go. The Rams just didn’t have room under the cap to hold him. The Browns love his versatility – he can play deep down the field, he can cover underneath, tackle and stop the run, and thus they can pair him with different types of safety at the rear of defense. It also makes sense for Kevin Stefanski to value the position, given that the team he came up with, the Vikings, always did. I’d also say the Browns aren’t finished on defense. Expect them to keep poking around for another pass rusher and maybe a corner.
• Speaking of the Vikings, it wasn’t a surprise to the team that Danielle Hunter has a problem with her contract. The five-year, $ 72 million extension he signed in 2018 was team-friendly even back then, and it was done just before Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack exploited the defensive player market. Minnesota has gone to great lengths to try to handle the situation, including convincing Yannick Ngakoue to take less after trading it for him last summer to make sure Hunter remains the highest paid guy at his position on the list. It will be interesting to see how they handle that situation from here.
• The Bucs’ overall focus this offseason continued with the return of Shaq Barrett with a four-year, $ 72 million contract that includes a $ 36 million guaranteed and an $ 18 million signing bonus. That sounds like a lot to sign, of course, but the importance of doing so is in mortgaging the ramifications of the cap. As a result, Barrett will have less than $ 6 million on the Bucs’ books, about a third of his 2020 cap. Wondering when the bills for these deals will be due? Looking at how Tampa Bay set up this deal and the deals for Tom Brady and Lavonte David, the reckoning is likely to come in 2023.
• The three-year, $ 39 Romeo Okwara Lions renewal is another one that should get your attention. Most new regimes try to figure out who to pay first and who to recruit first, because those can be signs of what they are looking for in players. And if that’s where the logic was for new coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes to go the extra mile to keep Okwara, it would make sense. As one Lions staff member told me, the 25-year-old is the type of player who “does everything right. Excellent character. “And now, if other Lions want to look for the kind of players Campbell and Holmes would be willing to reward, they have someone to point to. Okwara is as self-taught as he sounds, an undrafted former free agent who caught the eye of the former Detroit staff at joint Lions / Giants practices a few years ago, and the Lions decided to reclaim him when New York eliminated him late in camp.
• The same goes for Michael Davis in Los Angeles, with new Chargers coach Brandon Staley. Like Okwara, the 26-year-old is an undrafted former free agent and was seen as a potential steal for other teams in the free agent market. His record is not as clean as Okwara’s (he has a suspension for substance abuse on his resume), but his tape in 2020 shone, and he is believed to be an important piece in Staley’s defense, with Casey Hayward out.
• You’ll start to see more one-year deals and bridging deals soon, as salary cap space begins to run out across the league.
• But there should still be plenty of money left for the few high-level players still available: OT Trent Williams of the 49ers, WR Kenny Golladay of the Lions, Anthony Harris of the Vikings and TE Hunter Henry of the Chargers, among they.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.