Day One Free Agency Recap: NFC
On a day when AFC teams seemed to be spending big money, NFC teams quietly made some moves. Not all of them were big, splash moves like in the AFC, but they were still significant.
First, the Atlanta Falcons were greeted with good news that Tony Gonzalez is planning on coming back for a 17th season. That would presumably be spent in Atlanta where he is comfortable and well liked, but he is a free agent so the Falcons won’t be able to sit on their laurels and assume he will come back to them. There was a report that the Falcons had also signed Brent Grimes to a one year deal to see how he returned from his Achilles injury but it turned out that D. Orlando Ledbetter simply misread a text message when he reported that it was a done deal. The Buccaneers are rumored to have interest in him, and I for one really want to see him back in Atlanta. The Falcons did manage to resign Sam Baker to a reported 6 year contract, however. His play really seemed to improve last season, and that is likely why the Falcons sought to retain him with such a long contract.
The Seahawks officially had their press conference for Percy Harvin and signed him to a shockingly affordable deal compared to what Mike Wallace got on the open market from the Miami Dolphins. Harvin’s deal is 6 years, $67 million with $14.5 million fully guaranteed with an additional $11 million guaranteed only for injury. In contrast to Mike Wallace’s 5 year, $60 million deal that suddenly seems reasonable.
The Vikings may have dealt Harvin away, but they did manage to keep Phil Loadholt and Jerome Felton, two key cogs in Adrian Peterson’s unbelievable season last year. Loadholt’s contract was reported to be four years, $25 million with a $7 million signing bonus, and Felton’s deal was 3 years, $7.5 million. The Vikes also retained safety Jamarca Sanford, offensive lineman Joe Berger, receiver Jerome Simpson, and linebacker Erin Henderson. They also released Antoine Winfield after they failed to agree on a restructured contract to lower his cap hit.
The Bears were another active team, acquiring Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod. Bennett’s contract is reportedly 4 years, $20 million and that is a great acquisition in my opinion. He is a big, athletic target that can block and make plays in the passing game that should help the Bears significantly. The Bushrod acquisition is one I’m not as fond of though. I think he is overrated as a tackle and many share those same thoughts. On top of that I think the Bears overpaid for him considerably by giving him a reported deal of 5 years, $35.965 million with $17.715 million guaranteed. I like what the Bears are trying to do by upgrading the left tackle spot that has been a huge problem for them in recent years, but I don’t think Bushrod is a franchise left tackle and they paid him like one. Personally, I’d be very surprised if he was with the Bears for this entire contract. I put the over under at 3 years of this deal.
The St. Louis Rams made a splash deal when they signed Jared Cook to a five year contract worth $35.1 million that could be worth up to $38.5 million with incentives according to ProFootballTalk.com. Additionally, the deal involves a whopping $19 million in guaranteed money. Cook has always had a lot of upside, but he has never really delivered the performance many believe he is capable of. Clearly Jeff Fisher (the coach of Tennessee when Cook was drafted there) believes in his ability and that likely had a lot to do with Cook coming to St. Louis. There is certainly a lot of intrigue now that Cook will be playing with Sam Bradford, but I’m still skeptical about whether he was worth all that money.
The Eagles were also relatively active on Day One of free agency. They finally released Nnamdi Asomugha, and they brought in Patrick Chung, Isaac Sapoaga, and James Casey. The Eagles have had well documented issues at the safety position for the last couple of years (really since they lost Brian Dawkins) so they are likely hoping that acquiring Chung will help solve those problems. The previously cut Cullen Jenkins left for the division rival New York Giants, so Sapoaga would seemingly replace him on the interior of their defensive line.