The NFL free agency period opened this week with a few oohs and aahs. But what have been the biggest surprises so far?
Here are 10 to start.
(contract details courtesy of Spotrac)
10. The Ryan Fitzpatrick-Jets contract standoff
Fitzpatrick had a career year in his first season with the Jets, throwing for 3,905 yards and 33 touchdowns. But New York is not about to overpay for a 33-year-old quarterback. The Jets have assigned a value to Fitzpatrick in the range of $7 million to $8 million per year, but he is reportedly seeking twice that amount, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini.
9. The Eagles’ quarterback situation
The Eagles already had a starting quarterback (Sam Bradford) but they’ve created a quarterback controversy by signing Kansas City Chiefs backup Chase Daniel. New Eagles head coach Doug Pederson says Bradford is still the No. 1 quarterback, but you could make the case for Daniel being the starter. Of the Eagles’ 2016 cap dollars, $17.5 million is going to the quarterback position.
8. The Jaguars overpaid for a running back
The Jaguars shelled out big money in free agency, maybe too much. Ex-Jets running back Chris Ivory is now one of the eight highest paid players at his position with an annual average salary of $6.4 million. Did Jacksonville really need to spend that much when it already had T.J. Yeldon?
7. The Raiders’ approach to free agency
The Raiders came away with the top free-agent offensive lineman (Kelechi Osemele), the top free-agent cornerback (Sean Smith) and a promising pass-rusher (Bruce Irvin). Two years ago, general manager Reggie McKenzie was bringing in free agents at the tail-end of their careers, but now he’s paying top dollar for players in their prime.
6. The Broncos’ losses
The Broncos lost two starting quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler), their leading tackler (Danny Trevathan) and their top free agent (Malik Jackson) all in one week. It’s possible running back C.J. Anderson leaves too if the Broncos don’t match the Miami Dolphins’ offer sheet.
5. The Browns’ approach to free agency
The Browns let four starters (Alex Mack, Tashaun Gipson, Mitchell Schwartz, Travis Benjamin) leave via free agency. Meanwhile, the new front office of Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta have acquired not one free agent for Cleveland.
4. The Giants’ spending
The Giants spent nearly $200 million on three players (Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison) that weren’t even the top players at their position on their previous teams. New York had the worst defensive unit in the NFL last season, but $200 million?
3. Doug Martin’s contract value
Martin’s five-year, $35.75 million deal with the Buccaneers is one of the four biggest contracts in football for a running back. Only Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Jonathan Stewart have bigger deals. But Tampa Bay is paying for the player Martin was in 2015, his comeback year after two injury-riddled seasons in 2013 and 2014.
2. Olivier Vernon’s guaranteed money
The Giants paid Vernon the richest contract for a defensive end in NFL history: five years, $85 million, with a bigger guarantee ($52.5 million) than J.J. Watt got from the Houston Texans two years ago. To put it into perspective, Watt had already won Defensive Player of the Year once and gone to the Pro Bowl twice before getting paid. Vernon hasn’t done any of those.
1. Brock Osweiler’s average annual salary
Even more surprising than Osweiler picking the Texans over the Super-Bowl winning Broncos is that Houston is going to pay him $18 million per year. That’s more than Matthew Stafford, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and Andrew Luck, some of the best in the business at playing quarterback in the NFL. Osweiler has nothing on them, but the Texans are paying him like he does.