NFL

Eight biggest surprises thus far in NFL free agency

Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks talking smack
Rachel Wold
Written by Rachel Wold

Lots of moving trucks have taken off to new destinations since NFL free agency kicked off on March 9. It did not take but a few hours for some of the better free agent prospects to gets whisked away by new teams. Yet, some higher-caliber free agents remain untouched.

A significant number of trades have also occurred. One of them sent one of the league’s most dynamic wide receivers to the Super Bowl champions.

Meanwhile, some non-free agents have been doing an excellent job of distracting the news media. There could be an interesting new running back joining the Oakland Raiders. Off the field, a young Dallas Cowboys star looks to be taking his partying habits a tad too far.

We are covering all of this and more as we discuss eight of the biggest surprises that have taken place so far during NFL free agency.

Marshawn Lynch comes out of hiding 

Murmurings of Beastmode coming out of retirement have been flooding news headlines after the running back spent a quiet 2016 season away from the game. He was recently spotted wearing Oakland Raiders gear and reportedly asking the Seahawks for a release.

The latest rumors indicate that Lynch wants to play with the Raiders and the Raiders only. For this to happen, the Seahawks would have to either release or trade Lynch. The running back grew up in the Oakland area and played college football at Berkeley. He has had one year to rest up and would be a tremendous addition to a Raiders offense that recently lost Latavius Murray to the Minnesota Vikings.

But a bit of a plot twist here is that Lynch has not discussed returning to the league with his agent. The agent did say that he would be talking with Lynch this week, and he did confirm Beastmode misses playing football.

There should be plenty more to this story as the days tick by.

Cleveland continues to embarrass itself by trading for Brock Osweiler

Why? Haven’t Browns fans had enough misery over the past couple of decades when it comes to their quarterbacks?

Apparently not, because the powers at be in Cleveland shockingly decided to trade for Osweiler and his $16 million salary in 2017. Osweiler was the biggest free agency dud signing of 2016. He was bad to the bone on so many levels in Houston, completing 59 percent of his passes while throwing only 15 touchdowns with 16 interceptions.

The only upside here is the Browns also received a 2018 second-round pick from the Texans. Cleveland could potentially shop out Osweiler in yet another trade. But what team would want him and his ridiculous salary?

The Browns currently have pick No. 1 and No. 12 in the upcoming NFL Draft, so a rookie quarterback could be in the plans. But as it stands now, Osweiler will compete with second-year quarterback Cody Kessler for the starting job over the summer. Swell.

Why is Tony Romo is still a Cowboy?

Prior to the beginning of free agency, Romo’s days as a Dallas Cowboy seemed very numbered. Now a couple of weeks in, Romo is still employed by Dallas.

Owner Jerry Jones reported in January that trading Romo would be a top priority in free agency. More recent news came about suggesting that the Cowboys would release Romo so he could pursue free agency on his own. Romo reportedly revealed that his choice team would be the Denver Broncos. But the Broncos seemingly appear to be content with their younger quarterbacks.

Regarding trade talks, Romo has been tied to both the Broncos and Houston Texans. When the Texans traded away Osweiler, it was speculated they might be freeing up some budget cap to bring in Romo. But nothing seems to be happening on that front either.

To date, Romo still remains Dak Prescott’s backup. He also carries a whopping $19.6 million in dead salary cap. Where he will land, or if he will even play in 2017, remains a mystery.

Teams prefer lower-caliber quarterbacks over Colin Kaepernick

Matt Schaub

A growing number of B and C-class free agent quarterbacks have already found new homes. But no teams seem to be interested in the elephant in the room, Colin Kaepernick.

Kap opted out of his final year with the San Francisco 49ers to explore free agency. But, not much seems to be happening, if anything at all. Instead, a damaging report surfaced with a league official calling Kaepernick an “embarrassment to football.” This took place during the NFL Scouting Combine.

All the while, other lower-profile quarterbacks have been on the move.

Kap’s 49ers signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barklet. The Chicago Bears landed Mike Glennon. Former New York Jets’ quarterback Geno Smith is signing with the New York Giants. This led the Jets to bring veteran Josh McCown aboard. The Oakland Raiders inked E.J. Emanuel. Meanwhile, Mr. pick-six himself, Matt Schaub, recently secured two more seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

From an athletic, age and skill standpoint, Kaepernick should have been one of the first quarterbacks to fall off the free agent list. But it is becoming quite apparent that his anthem protest from last season, and the fallout from it, is something quarterback needy teams just don’t want to deal with.

Patriots steamrolling free agency

Dont'a Hightower

The Patriots have been on a roll since their dramatic overtime comeback victory in Super Bowl LI, dominating the offseason as well.

Headlining some of the Patriots’ moves so far was the trade for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Bill Belichick gave up picks No. 32 and 103 in exchange for Cooks and the New Orleans Saints’ pick No. 118.

The Patriots also traded for red zone threat, tight end Dwayne Allen, by merely giving up a fourth-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts. Also acquired on offense was running back Rex Burkhead, who should thrive on both special teams and as a situational rusher.

On the defensive side the Patriots traded a second-round pick to receive 25 year-old defensive end Kony Ealy and a third-round pick from the Carolina Panthers. They also signed former Baltimore Ravens defensive end Lawrence Guy and former Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Lastly, the Patriots managed to re-sign their 2012 first-round draft pick, linebacker D’onta Hightower.

As it stands, the Patriots also could potentially move cornerback Malcolm Butler and backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade. A first-round pick appears to be the minimum ransom required for Garoppolo. Although, the Patriots are downplaying any possible Garoppolo trade scenarios at this time.

Nobody wants Adrian Peterson

Peterson is newbie to free agency, this being his first time ever on the open market since being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings seventh overall in 2007.

He is 32 years old and looking to continue his career after tearing his MCL in Week 3 last year. In the past, Peterson has returned strong from injury. He also rushed for a league-high, 1,485 rushing yards in 2015 after serving nearly a year of suspension in 2014.

Clearly, Peterson has a knack for defying odds and rebounding from down seasons. But, will this the case for AP in 2017? He has a lot of mileage under his belt after averaging 265.9 touches and 1,369.2 yards per season.

This may be why teams are a bit leery to reach out. On the other hand, Peterson has not been shy about speaking up about where he would prefer to play in 2017. He also said he would like to play with an established quarterback.

Beggars cannot always be choosers, so we shall see what happens.

Ezekiel Elliott emerges as this year’s NFL party boy

It seems each off season a certain NFL player or two can’t help but creating a social media uproar after whooping it up in public.

This year’s player stealing the thunder from Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is Dallas’s Ezekiel Elliott. The now second-season running back has apparently taken partying to a new level that many folks are not comfortable with.

News headlines went wild after Elliott was recorded on the top of a building pulling down a woman’s top and exposing her breast during a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Film caught Elliott attempting to do it again for a second time when his hand was swatted away by the woman.

A women’s rights group quickly spoke up on Elliott’s behavior, which they referred to as “sexual assault.” The group also wants the NFL Commissioner to punish Elliott.

It was not a good look for Elliott who until recently was still under investigation by the NFL for an alleged domestic violence incident by his former girlfriend. He has since been reportedly cleared by the league.

Seahawks offer up some valuable trade bait

Richard Sherman

Seattle is potentially preparing to do some of its own moving and shaking by potentially offering some pretty slick trade bait.

The Seahawks said that they would consider trading All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, though only serious shoppers should try to make a deal.

So far, nothing has transpired. But, moving Sherman could prove to be beneficial in more ways than one to Seattle (more on that here.)

Big personality aside, Sherman is one of the best at his position. In his six seasons playing with the Seahawks, he has tallied 30 interceptions, two touchdowns, 342 combined tackles and defended 97 passes. Give this situation some time and a team needing a defensive back of Sherman’s caliber might just speak up.

About the author

Rachel Wold

Rachel Wold

Rachel is a football lover of both the NFL and Fantasy and creator of Fantasyfootballchick.com. When she is not vacationing in Miami or Vegas, she is an NFL writer at Sportsnaut and a fantasy contributor at eDraft.com. Rachel's articles are also featured on Yardbarker, MSN and Fox Sports.

Follow Rachel on Twitter @liveocgirl and chat with her anytime!