Now that NFL free agency has has calmed down we can look at who actually fits into their new homes. Despite how the free agency formula is supposed to unfold, players this year have seen far less money then in the past. There have been far more contracts that I like this year then in years past and very few teams broke the bank on anyone.
For this list I have tried to stay away from players I have talked about in the past and tried to focus on the signings that are not as obvious.
Five NFL Free Agent Signings I Love
Jared Cook – Oakland (Las Vegas?) Raiders – Tight End – 2 Year(s)/$10,600,000
Jared Cook finally began to get consistent starts at the end of the year in Green Bay last season and he showed out. He came through in the clutch for the Packers (if you have not heard) and even though it was his only season with Aaron Rodgers, fans saw what Cook was capable of doing when he has a quality QB. Derek Carr is going to love throwing to him too.
Cook might not historically be a great red zone target like tight ends typically can be, but he has the ability to make great athletic plays any where on the field, giving Oakland another player with big play ability. They already have two on the outsides in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cook’s contract also only has one year guaranteed so if the Raiders feel like he is not the right fit, then they can move on from him next season.
Dontari Poe – Atlanta Falcons – Nose Tackle – 1 Year(s)/$8,000,000
I have always been a huge supporter of Poe since he stepped into the league as a first rounder in 2012. For being 6’3″, and about 350 lbs he is a great athlete. The Falcons should now find it easier to get to the passer and stop the run. Their defence is young and Poe will be a great addition up the middle.
Poe and Grady Jarrett are both very good tackles and cannot both be double teamed. The pressure from the inside will also hopefully help the falcons pass defence that was so poor a year ago. Poe has a great aggression and a second effort ability that allows him to make big tackles from a position of disadvantage. If the Falcons defence improves again this year, I could see Poe getting a bigger long term deal for next season.
Tony Jefferson – Baltimore Ravens – Safety – 4 Year(s)/$36,000,000
It is no secret that the Ravens have been looking for help in the secondary since their Super Bowl victory in 2013. They may have fixed it this offseason. Jefferson is the biggest addition to a revamped secondary and he brings everything that the Ravens love. He can both cover and blitz, adding another dimension to the Ravens hybrid defence. The Ravens now have the option to use Eric Weddle more in coverage, taking pressure off the cornerbacks that have historically been Baltimore’s achilles heel.
Four years may seem like a lot for Jefferson but he is still very young. At 25 Jefferson has already played four seasons in the NFL and it looks like he is just entering his prime. Going undrafted in 2013, Jefferson plays with a constant chip on his shoulder, just the way the Ravens encourage. If Jefferson continues to improve, this deal will be well worth it in the long run.
A.J Bouye – Cornerback – Jacksonville Jaguars – 5 Year(s)/67,500,000
Like this year, the Jags went out and made a huge splash in free agency last season and they still finished fourth last in the league. This year it is a bit different. Jacksonville got exactly who they wanted in the 2016 draft, when they took Jalen Ramsey 4th overall. They have now found him a partner and Bouye is a good one.
Bouye had a breakout year in 2016 as the best corner on the leagues number one defence. Per Pro Football focus, Bouye allowed only 50.5 percent of passes thrown his way and held opposing QBs to a 58.5 passer rating against him. Even if it is a small sample size, it was a consistent year for Bouye and that is what Jacksonville wants. The money screams “number one corner” but he does not have to feel pressure because he has help with Ramsey and the additions of Barry Church and last year, Tashaun Gipson. Bouye may look overpaid but this is the money he rightfully earned. Look out for this defense in 2017.
Chris Baker – Defensive Tackle – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 3 Year(s)/15,750,000
If not for the Patriots crazy run this year, the Buccaneers would have won free agency. The contract given to Chris Baker might have been their best move. Baker is a great defender against both run and pass and at an annual average value of 5.25 million dollars, is my best bargain of 2017. Not to mention he is now paired with one of the best defensive tackles in the league; Gerald McCoy. The two will give offensive lines fits.
Baker sent out a tweet just before free agency started saying “what makes you think I won’t be elite?”. This was directed at Pro Football Focus after they wrote “Baker will never be an elite talent”. This will just be #motivation for the 29 year old Baker. The Bucs defence was less than stellar last year and Baker brings the fire and quality to help this defence take it’s next step forward.
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