NFL free agency: Day 1 tampering period winners (49ers, Patrick Mahomes) and losers (Bengals, Broncos)
The NFL’s biggest oxymoron, well, one of the biggest oxymorons, began on Monday with the start of a “legal intervention” period where teams can negotiate free agent deals before they’re signed at the league’s official start of the year on Wednesday. This, of course, creates a lot of intrigue in the NFL game of musical chairs and can change the forecast for the season in just a few hours.
The rest of the free agents have yet to bounce back and the draft has yet to take place, but here are some of the winners and losers on the first day of NFL free agents.
Nick Boza and Arik Armstead
How can someone block the 49ers for the upcoming season? Teams need to plan to keep Bosa and Armstead at bay, but now the 49ers have added Javon Hargrave to the mix.
The 49ers are going to create a lot of profitable situations for their new three-headed monster in the defensive line. Boza and Armstead are elite players in their own right. Now they have another real star to help them win on offense. Hargeve is another destroyer that will create even more opportunities for Bosa and Armstead.
Las Vegas Raiders
Hello! The Raiders have a veteran quarterback. Probably not the one Davante Adams was hoping for, but Jimmy Garoppolo gives them a chance to have a passable game in QB for the 2023 season.
Garoppolo’s contract still gives the Raiders the option to add a seventh-pick quarterback in the NFL Draft next month. Garoppolo can hold the fort while their next quarterback gets used to the NFL (assuming head coach Josh McDaniels wants to go that route).
The Raiders are the tentative winner, but they put themselves in a position to achieve stability in the most important position in the game.
Mahomes gets a stronger supporting cast after winning his second Super Bowl in five years. The Chiefs have signed former Jaguars forward Jawaan Taylor to a four-year contract that will presumably replace Orlando Brown Jr. as their option on the left tackle. Despite not yet playing a left tackle in the NFL, Taylor is positioned as Mahomes’ top choice as a passer. He’s a little more agile in passing defense than Brown, which should give Mahomes more time to find the guys in the first few seconds of the pass concept.
The NFL’s best offense just got better. Mahomes could throw to Air Bud and win an MVP with the offensive line talent that the Chiefs are accumulating.
Sam Darnold, congratulations. He plays for the most quarterback-friendly offense in the NFL, joining the San Francisco 49ers and Kyle Shanahan.
With Darnold signed to a one-year deal with the 49ers, he will (probably) not be their original starting option, but the 49ers have shown the importance of depth in QB over the next few seasons. Judging by their recent history, they needed someone who could come and lead the attack without too much trouble. There’s a long list of quarterbacks who can do this for Shanahan, and Darnold should capitalize on this system. If he plays well in case his number is called, he could find himself in a situation where he gets paid by another team next offseason. This makes him a winner.
Big boys, welcome to your bag season. Chris Lindstrom signed a five-year, $105 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons, Jawaan Taylor received money from the Kansas City Chiefs, and Laremy Tansil could once again be the highest paid hitter in the league.
The price of top-notch linemen is on the rise and these guys are cashing in on their rare skills. Orlando Brown Jr has probably lost his seat in the Chiefs, but the contracts these other linemen are getting will help him in the long run.
Defensive continuity is important, and the Bengals lost both of their starting guards last season when Jesse Bates III and Vonn Bell signed with the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
Bates and Bell led the Bengals in defensive snaps last season with a combined 2,041 snaps. Bates played 98.2% of available defensive snaps and Bell played 98.4%. They have promising young players like Duxton Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt poised to get game time in these places, but the loss of Bates and Bell leaves a big vacuum in the Bengals’ minor squad.
The Broncos had a chance to regain lost ground in the offseason, but a weak free agent class at the top hampered the top-tier talent they could add to their roster. However, they gave away a lot of money to linemen Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers to try and shore up their offensive line. Final contract numbers have yet to be released, but it looks like they’ve shelled out a lot of money for players who are, at best, slightly above average in their positions. This could help the Broncos offensive line become a more cohesive unit, but the line is still not a great unit.
Jets, Packers and frankly everyone
We sat and waited for Aaron Rodgers to become a member of the New York Jets, and nothing happened! Rogers is taking his time with this deal, holding the Jets and Packers hostage while they wait to see what the future Hall of Famer wants to do. Too much time and guesswork can be spent on Rogers deciding what he wants to do next with his career and his life. Free agency officially opens on Wednesday and we’re all just hoping that there will be a finish line here so we can move on and start figuring out what both of these teams will look like after this deal, if it ever happens.
The titans look like they’ll have some serious problems ahead if everything is in order. The team signed former first round draft pick Andre Dillard, who lost his job to Jordan Mailata, to start for them with a $30 million contract. Nate Davis left the Titans for the Chicago Bears, leaving the Titans with a thin offensive line. It’s not an ideal situation for Henry as he tries to make the most of the top nine in his career and have a couple more productive seasons.
However, it’s worth noting that the Titans have the 11th pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and could very well use that pick for an offensive lineman – it doesn’t look like they have a pick based on how their roster was built. .