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NFL free agency notebook: Russell Wilson headed to Pittsburgh

Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) before the game against the New England Patriots at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After two underwhelming seasons with the Denver Broncos, quarterback Russell Wilson will get a fresh start with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a one-year deal, multiple media outlets reported late Sunday night.

The contract is worth $1.2 million, the veteran’s minimum, per the reports.

Wilson, 35, is still under contract until the new league year begins on Wednesday, but Denver granted him permission to meet with other teams after telling him last week that it planned on releasing him.

In 30 games (all starts) with the Broncos, Wilson compiled an 11-19 record while completing 63.3 percent of his passes for 6,594 yards. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection threw for 42 touchdowns against 19 interceptions. Denver will be paying $37.8 million of Wilson’s salary while he plays for the Steelers.

–The buzz that Wilson generated carried into Monday, when a frenzy of moves were made, including the Atlanta Falcons’ decision to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year deal.

“Excited for (Cousins) agreeing to a 4 year deal with the (Falcons),” Cousins’ agent, Mike McCartney, wrote in a post on X. ESPN then reported that the contract was worth $180 million, with $100 million guaranteed.

Cousins, 35, heads to his third NFL team. He has thrown for 39,471 yards with 270 TDs and 110 interceptions in 150 career games (145 starts) over 12 seasons with the Washington Commanders (2012-17) and the Minnesota Vikings (2018-23).

–Star running back Saquon Barkley is switching allegiances in the NFC East, agreeing to a three-year, $37.75 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, according to multiple media reports.

Barkley’s contract could be valued as high as $46.75 million and features $26 million fully guaranteed at signing, per ESPN.

In six seasons with the New York Giants, the 27-year-old Barkley amassed 5,211 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns in 74 games (all starts). He added 2,100 yards and 12 TDs on 288 catches.

As a countermove, the Giants reportedly agreed to a three-year, $16.5 million deal with Devin Singletary. They also reportedly added to their offensive line, bringing in guard Jon Runyan on a three-year deal worth $30 million.

On the defensive side, multiple reports indicated that the Giants acquired edge rusher Brian Burns in a trade with the Carolina Panthers. Burns, a two-time Pro Bowler, will be signing a five-year deal with the Giants worth up to $150 million, per the reports. He will get $87.5 million guaranteed.

–Free agent running back Austin Ekeler agreed to a two-year contract with the Commanders, according to multiple media reports.

NFL Network and The Athletic reported the deal to be worth up to $11.43 million.

Ekeler, 28, will be reuniting with Washington running backs coach and run game coordinator Anthony Lynn, who was head coach of the Chargers from 2017-20. Ekeler has spent all seven seasons of his NFL career with Los Angeles (2017-23), rushing for 628 yards and five touchdowns across 14 games (all starts) in 2023.

–The Green Bay Packers also bolstered their backfield, bringing in running back Josh Jacobs on a four-year deal, according to multiple media reports.

NFL Network reported Jacobs’ deal to be worth $48 million. The 26-year-old led the NFL in rushing in 2022 with 1,653 yards before settling for 805 last season.

Jacobs’ arrival reportedly led to the release of fellow running back Aaron Jones. Jones, 29, had 656 yards and found the end zone twice on the ground a season ago. He also had 30 receptions for 233 yards and a score. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari was also released after 11 seasons with the Packers.

ESPN reported that Green Bay also agreed to a four-year deal worth up to $68 million with safety Xavier McKinney. Jacobs and McKinney were teammates at Alabama.

–Wideout Michael Pittman Jr. is staying with the Indianapolis Colts, with Bleacher Report and NFL Network reporting that he agreed to a three-year, $71.5 million contract.

Pittman, 26, hauled in 109 catches for 1,152 yards — both career highs — in 2023. He had four TDs despite having little time to build rapport with rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who was limited to just four games due to a shoulder injury.

–The Bengals could be heading into the 2024 campaign with a new-look offense, as multiple reports indicated that wide receiver Tee Higgins requested a trade before it was later reported that Cincinnati had released running back Joe Mixon.

Higgins had been hit with the franchise tag, but he was growing frustrated with the team because of a lack of effort to sign him to a contract extension, per the reports.

–With Ekeler on his way to Washington, the Chargers reportedly agreed to terms with running back Gus Edwards. Financial details of the two-year contract were not released.

–Running back D’Andre Swift is also on the move, agreeing to a three-year deal, $24 million with the Chicago Bears, according to multiple media reports.

–Kicker Greg Zuerlein reportedly will be returning to the New York Jets for a third season, agreeing to a two-year, $8.4 million deal.

–Just one day after trading former first-round pick Mac Jones to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New England Patriots are reportedly adding to their depth under center by way of a reunion with quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal, but NFL Network reported that incentives could bump the contract up to $12 million.

–In addition to the splash it made by agreeing to a deal with Barkley, Philadelphia also went out and reportedly signed left guard Landon Dickerson to a four-year extension worth $84 million. The deal includes $50 million guaranteed.

–Defensive tackle Christian Wilkins will get a four-year, $110 million contract from the Las Vegas Raiders, according to NFL Network. Wilkins spent the first five seasons of his career in Miami, but the Dolphins opted not to use the franchise tag on him.

Miami did, however, reportedly bring back left tackle Terron Armstead, and former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jordyn Brooks agreed to a three-year deal with the Dolphins worth $30 million, per reports.

–With the end of the Derrick Henry era likely on the horizon, the Tennessee Titans agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with running back Tony Pollard, according to multiple media reports.

–Field Level Media

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