NFL Free Agency, Day 3: Ravens bounce back as winners, Odell Beckham trade still hard to grasp – CBS Sports


The new league year is here — it’s 2019 in the NFL now officially. And the modern setup for free agency has changed how we view the start of free agency. No longer is it a sprint out of the gate with an insane level of news at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday; now it’s two full days of insanity followed by a bunch of announcements at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

We got all those and a little dash of excitement on the first day of the new league year, so let’s break down who won and who lost in the initial secondary wave of free agency. There’s more drama to unfold, of course, so if you want to stay abreast of everything, make sure and check out the Pick Six Podcast — our daily NFL show, subscribe right here and get it every morning! — as we break down every single signing while sprinkling in a dash of mirth.

Yell at me on Twitter @WillBrinson if you hate or love any of the calls below.

Winners

Baltimore Ravens 

After a rough start to free agency that saw their defense plundered, the Ravens had a nice rebound in the secondary market. It’s the best place to bounce back because the deals are better, including Baltimore’s contract for Mark Ingram, a reported three-year deal worth $15 million, which is a really nice bargain for Baltimore relative to the other running backs that signed this offseason. The Ravens needed a reliable option who can between the tackles and catch passes out of the backfield and Ingram is just that. He was chased out of New Orleans after the Saints signed Latavius Murray to pair with Alvin Kamara, and now he should get the lion’s share of carries in what remains a somewhat confusing offense.

Baltimore also made a big splash in the safety market, signing Earl Thomas to a four-year deal worth an impressive $55 million. To anyone who thought Earl wouldn’t earn his money on the market, you got faced. It’s not a crazy deal either: like many contracts, it could end up being a three-year deal and Thomas could be exactly what Eric Weddle was for the Ravens the last few years, a veteran safety with a secondary career renaissance. Thomas is a Hall of Famer with the cerebral ability to clean up mistakes on the back end and the playmaking, ball-hawking skills to give this defense a massive boost.

Tyrell Williams

The ex-Chargers wide receiver managed to find his way within the division as he landed with the Raiders. He’s not a winner because he switched teams necessarily, although he should see more targets in Oakland’s offense and being on the other side of Antonio Brown should mean a lot of chances at Derek Carr bombing the ball down the field his way.

What really makes him a winner, though, is that he got $44 million from Oakland. That is a ton for a guy who might be a little bit one-dimensional in terms of taking the the top off defenses. That’s a good quality, but is he a true WR2? We don’t know and the Raiders paid a lot to find out. The deal has $22 million guaranteed and can get as high as $47 million.

Donte Moncrief

A year after landing an overpriced, prove-it deal from the Jaguars (Devin Funchess was the winner of this year’s Moncrief Memorial Contract), Moncrief just found himself in the cushiest of landing spots thanks to him signing a one-year deal with the Steelers.

There isn’t a better place to land if you’re a wide receiver right now. Antonio Brown’s departure creates a vacancy on the field for the Steelers, and even though JuJu Smith-Schuster is the No. 1 in Pittsburgh now, he’s also going to spend much of his time in the slot, which could mean plenty of outside and red zone targets for a guy like Moncrief. This is a bit of a dagger for James Washington, last year’s draft darling, who didn’t bring a consistent set of hands to the table during the 2018 season.

Pittsburgh will be out to prove its passing attack can still thrive without AB, and I anticipate Ben Roethlisberger plays with a big chip on his shoulder. Anyone receiving some of those targets could be in line for a nice year.

Teddy Bridgewater

Previously it looked like Bridgewater was going to have a one-team market, and that would be as a backup behind Drew Brees with the Saints, thanks to teams bunkering up via trade. The Redskins landed Case Keenum and the Broncos landed Joe Flacco. Then Tyrod Taylor decided to sign and be Philip Rivers’ backup in Los Angeles and suddenly the Miami Dolphins were left without a plan at the quarterback position.

The result was Miami scrambling to check on Bridgewater’s interest in being their starter. Now Bridgewater has legitimate leverage in terms of trying to earn a bigger paycheck while also becoming the starter in Miami. Being the Dolphins’ top option isn’t the best thing in the world, but it’s better than not having the option to start. Bridgewater will at the very least land some additional cash as a result the market shift.

Losers

Dave Gettleman

We blasted the Giants here yesterday. The Giants have been blasted elsewhere on the site and all over the internet. But the comments from Gettleman, the Giants GM, in the wake of dealing Odell Beckham were stunning. The Giants’ social media team tried to obfuscate the whole “we traded one of the best wide receivers in football” thing with the tweet and subsequent release. Welcome to the spin zone. 

In his comments buried at the bottom of the article, Gettleman said that the Giants have a plan — you might just not be able to see it quite yet.

“You can win while you build a roster,” Gettleman said. “We do have a plan, and this is a part of it.”

What? How can trading Odell Beckham be part of the plan? The Giants’ plan was to maybe trade him last year — or maybe not — and then they ultimately ended up extending him. A year after extending him, they traded him. How on Earth is that a plan? It’s just throwing stuff against the wall and hoping it sticks.

There’s more buzz about the Giants wanting to become a running team, which would be great if this was 1978. Calling this is a plan is an insult to plans. 

Chiefs defense

Loved Kansas City picking up Tyrann Mathieu and love the Honey Badger getting a big deal on a Super Bowl contender. But the Chiefs have lost a lot of playmakers in the last 48 hours on defense. They cut Justin Houston previously. They just traded Dee Ford. And now they’ve lost Eric Berry and Steven Nelson from the secondary.

All of those moves freed up a ton of cap space — KC now has $33 million in space — and that might suggest their interest in potentially making a trade for a pass rusher or some other kind of defensive piece. But who are they trading for? It’s hard to imagine someone they could really go out and nab in a deal that would be a game-changing pass rusher. Maybe they swing a deal with the Browns for Emmanuel Ogbah? That’s the only name we’ve seen surface recently. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Sorry, but every time we have to talk about Blake Bortles and the contract Jacksonville gave him last year, it’s going to bring up the fact that they unnecessarily extended him a year ago. Did you hear?

They gave him a TOTALLY unnecessary $54 million contract extension last year and released him THIS offseason.

I love making unforced errors and then compounding those mistakes as much as the next dummy, but this one should have been obvious from the get-go for the Jags. They have Nick Foles now — it’s official! — and everything is happy and exciting. But the reality is this Bortles thing should be a red flag for the future of the position in Jacksonville, given the money they gave their new veteran quarterback.

Running backs

Sorry, but the position just isn’t pulling nearly as much money as anyone expected. The Le’Veon Bell deal might not be terrible, all things considered, once we move back from it a little bit, but it certainly wasn’t the market-busting contract we expected.

And then you see the deal for Ingram, which was very cheap, as well as the deal for Tevin Colemanjust $10 million over two years — and you realize that regardless of what we say about the value of running backs, they can’t pull monster deals. It’s borderline shocking that Adrian Peterson pried $8 million out of the Redskins on Wednesday. None of these running backs are getting paid. It might be a while again before a running back gets a huge deal in true free agency because of how the CBA and rookie contracts work.



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