NFL free agency hasn’t even officially started yet, but a bunch of stuff went down on Monday as the NFL tampering period kicked off the offseason. It wasn’t complete bedlam (that will come later), but for those who love this time of year it was very intriguing.
Some very recognizable players were released. A quarterback known for anchoring one of the top offenses in the league surprisingly made it to free agency and is getting some calls. A huge trade went down that will reverberate through the draft.
But what does it all mean? That’s what we’ll be taking a look at here as we highlight the most notable developments from Monday around the NFL.
Bills announce intentions for draft with monster trade
The Buffalo Bills have already committed to making a huge change at quarterback, having traded away Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns last week. After that move, there were reports that Buffalo was going to trade up for a top passer in this year’s draft.
On Monday, they made another huge move that all but solidifies this rumor as pure fact. The Bills traded left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals. In the trade, they swapped the No. 21 overall pick for Cincinnati’s first-round pick at No. 12 overall. This now gives Buffalo the No. 12 and No. 22 overall picks, not to mention a whole heck of a lot more in Rounds 2 and 3 (No. 53, No. 56, No. 65 and No. 96 overall).
Buffalo now has the ammunition and the desire to move up to almost any spot in the top 10 for the quarterback it desires.
Could the Saints lose Drew Brees?
This has been a question that seemed ridiculous for most of the offseason. After all, Brees and the Saints are like peas and carrots. They just go together. Furthermore, both sides have expressed interest in continuing their relationship going forward.
But New Orleans didn’t lock up Brees with a new contract before the tampering period, and now he’s receiving interest from teams in need of a quarterback. One of those teams came very close to making it to Super Bowl LII last year, beating Brees and the Saints in the process (more on that here).
On one hand, this could amount to a whole lot of nothing. Brees and the Saints could have an agreement that he will not sign until after other players (like Jimmy Graham) are brought on board, fitting his contract into any shape that’s needed for New Orleans to compete at the highest level. On the other hand, the Saints are absolutely playing with fire here, because once offers start to fly around, anything’s possible.
Bucs working to secure their young core
Having already paid star wide receiver Mike Evans in a huge way last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned their eyes on another young player who’s come on very strong in recent years.
Former undrafted tight end Cameron Brate entered the league in 2014 out of Harvard and was cut multiple times before finally making an impact. The past two years, he’s definitely done that, catching 105 passes for 1,251 yards and 14 touchdowns from 2016-17. In fact, only Jimmy Graham has caught more touchdowns from the tight end position the past two seasons.
Hoping to see more of that in the future, the Bucs locked up Brate on a six-year deal worth up to $41 million, with $18 million guaranteed. Now with two of Jameis Winston’s favorite weapons secured for the foreseeable future, Tampa Bay must focus on protection and facilitating a running game. Sitting pretty at No. 7 overall in Round 1 of the upcoming draft, they could land another impact player to help in a big way there.
Packers seriously getting aggressive?
In years past, whenever a report emerged suggesting that Ted Thompson was going to get aggressive in free agency those in the know just laughed. Thompson was one of the most conservative general managers out there, and he hardly ever made any noise in free agency.
Well, now he’s no longer the head of the Green Bay Packers personnel department. That honor belongs to Brian Gutekunst. And based on numerous reports, he’s itching to make a splash.
In particular, the Packers have been linked to a few of the hottest offensive weapons in this year’s free-agency crop. Tight end Jimmy Graham is a reported target, and you don’t have to be a football genius to see how he and Aaron Rodgers could make some sweet music together. Wide receivers Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins have also been mentioned as targets, per NFL.com, and one of those guys playing with Davante Adams is a fantasy come to life.
The Packers really need to upgrade their defense, too. That said, it’s nice to see that this team might finally be getting serious about adding top-end talent in free agency.
Dolphins signal a full-blown rebuilding project
It’s time to admit the truth about the Miami Dolphins. This team is in no way, shape or form going to contend during the 2018 NFL season.
First the Dolphins traded away receiver Jarvis Landry last week — by far their best option in the passing game. Then on Monday, the Dolphins pulled off two more roster moves, getting rid of two of their most productive defenders, Ndamukong Suh (due to excessive cost) and linebacker Lawrence Timmons.
This is a team that was already a dumpster fire last year, even with those players. Now you’re looking at a team that may or may not have a rookie quarterback competing with Ryan Tannehill for the starting job this summer, and a ton of holes to fill elsewhere on the roster.
We’re not saying Miami will be a complete dumpster fire next season. But anyone expecting this team to contend for a playoff spot should re-evaluate the situation.
Chiefs continue purging veterans in favor of youth movement
The Kansas City Chiefs were rumored to be headed toward a huge veteran purge this offseason as the franchise attempts to get younger, especially on defense. Well, it’s safe to say that rumor had some juice behind it, because this team has cut some of its top veterans already.
Recently, longtime staring linebacker Derrick Johnson was released after 13 stellar seasons with the club that drafted him way back in 2005. Then on Monday, Kansas City released veteran safety Ron Parker, who started 64 games the past five seasons.
Additionally, veteran linebacker Tamba Hali was also released. All he’s done since being selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Chiefs is rack up the second-most sacks in franchise history (89.5).
Combined with the trade that sent Alex Smith to Washington, Kansas City is going to look a whole lot different in 2018, and beyond.
Waiting for the shoe to drop
Of course, the biggest domino that has to fall this year is Kirk Cousins. Where will he go?
The Vikings have been rumored as the team that will land Cousins, but now Minnesota is showing interest in Brees. Cousins himself may have tipped us all off on where he’s set his sights, thanks to a couple of tags included in a farewell letter to Washington. Then there’s always the possibility that a sister who lives in Phoenix could influence Cousins to play for the Cardinals. And don’t forget about the Denver Broncos, who have been low-key recruiting Cousins hard since the season ended.
When Cousins signs, then other quarterbacks will start signing with new teams. But right now, we’re all just waiting. And at this point, it seems like we could be waiting a while longer.