Happy New Year! Today is the first day of the NFL year and Free Agency has officially opened up, although most of the big signings have been released. The big news was Kirk Cousins going to the Minnesota Vikings for 3 years and $84 million, but that is no surprise to anyone since he was the biggest quarterback name on the market. What is a surprise is that the contract is fully guaranteed. Is this a sign of things to come? If it is, it has been a long time coming. The NFL was the only professional sports league not to have fully guaranteed contracts, which enabled franchises to treat their players like pieces of meat and throw them out when they were done with them. This could set an amazing precedent, especially for a guy like Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, guys that will surely sign $100-$150 million deals in the future. They’ll now have the power to get a fully guaranteed contract. This could change the way NFL football works. Now teams will not be able to cut and get rid of players so easily since they’ll still be on the hook for the rest of that contract. In my opinion, the days of the $100 million contract will be over. Now you’ll see contracts range in the area of shorter years and around the $60-$100 million range. This way teams will not get hamstrung by a contract for years and years if a guy gets injured. The way contracts currently work is, if a guy signs a contract for 5 years and $100 million but only $40 million is guaranteed, the only number that matters is the guaranteed number. The team can cut a guy 2 years into his 5-year deal and only be on the hook for the $40 guaranteed. This has been a long time coming for NFL players, and to think that Kirk Cousins is the one that is going change it is mind-blowing.
The rest of Free Agency is going to be something. According to reports, Case Keenum is going to Denver, where John Elway continues his string of bringing in bad QBs that have had a couple good games. Sam Bradford continues his Yoda like mastery of NFL teams. He is going to sign with Arizona for one year and $15 million dollars, bringing his total on-field earnings to $129 million. That my friends is the modern day Jesse James!
In other Free Agent news not involving quarterbacks, the Titans are signing Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis. As I read earlier today signing guys Bill Belichick didn’t want to pay for is always a risky move, here is hoping it pans out. Avery Williamson is signing with the New York Jets, the former standout linebacker from the Titans, to go on the other side of the ball from newly inked QB Teddy Bridgewater, who is getting a one year deal in his return from a horrific knee injury that has kept him out the last two years. In a move no one can explain, the Browns have just agreed to terms with Carlos Hyde, a veteran running back from San Francisco for 3 years and $15 million. Not really sure about this one. I think now all signs point to them taking a QB number one overall. According to Adam Schefter, former Chiefs CB Terrance Mitchell intends to sign a 3 year $12 million deal with the Browns today, which is a good move by them.
There are a few big names still out there on the market that I would like the Browns to take a run at, namely Tyrann Mathieu and Ndamukong Suh. The “Honey Badger” would be a welcome addition to the defensive backfield and Suh would bring a much needed mentality change to the defense as a whole, especially the defensive line. The biggest announcement for the Browns came today, with Joe Thomas, the perennial Pro Bowl LT choosing to retire. Joe is a lock for the Hall of Fame in my opinion. It’s unfortunate that he’s retiring with the memory of his last season being 0-16.
I really do like that the Free Agency period is before the draft. It helps the veterans get and keep jobs, because we all know that you do not win with rookies, you win with veterans. Teams had very few holes to fill with FA when Free Agency was after the draft because they filled them all or most of them with the draft. This allows teams to be prepared for the draft and know exactly what their needs are before drafting rookies to fill them.
Mock Draft 2.0 will come just before the draft after FA has shaken out. I’m also planning on an article from the Browns draft party in the muni lot to get the instant reaction from average everyday fans, which I think is going to be a lot of fun. Plus a few other interesting ideas I have been working on.