NFL Free Agency Arrives

By Cameron Andrade

The NFL free agency period has begun. On March 15, the period for NFL teams to discuss contract negotiations and sign other free agent players began. 

The new 2023-24 NFL season started on March 13, with teams legally able to start negotiations with free agents. Teams then have to wait until March 15 at 4 p.m. to begin signing these players officially.

Many anticipated this free agency year to be big, with many questions about where certain players would go. However, most questions concern free agent quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his future. 

Fans did not have to wait long for Rodgers to announce his decision; the four-time MVP announced his intentions on The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday. 

“Since Friday, I made it clear that I intended to play, and I intended to play for the New York Jets,” said Rodgers. “I haven’t been holding anything up at this point; it’s been compensation that the Packers are trying to get for me, kind of digging their heels in; I think it is interesting to step back and look at the whole picture.”

The New York Jets and Green Bay Packers are negotiating for the 39-year-old quarterback as the football community waits for the two teams to agree. 

It was a good week for the quarterback’s during free agency – a surprise move to many was Jimmy Garoppolo to the Las Vegas Raiders. The former 49ers quarterback signed a three-year deal worth $67.5 million with $42 million of that in guaranteed money. Garoppolo reunites with his old head coach Josh McDaniels in Vegas. 

As the Raiders look to have their quarterback for the next few seasons, former Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Signed a four-year $150 million deal with the New Orleans Saints, New Orleans got the quarterback they’ve needed since Drew Brees’s retirement. Saints also retain wide receiver Michael Thomas to a one-year deal with $10 million. 

The New York Giants have been busy throughout the free agent period; the Giants decided to give Daniel Jones a contract worth $160 million over four years while deciding to put Saquon Barkley on the franchise tag. New York also finalized a trade to acquire Las Vegas Raiders tight end, Darren Waller. 

Jones’s contract flustered many in the NFL community about how a quarterback like Jones could be worth $40 million a year. After putting up a stat line of 15 touchdowns and just 3,200 passing yards, Jones originally wanted $45 million per year but would have to settle with $40 million per year with $82 million of it guaranteed

NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky showed his confusion on ESPNs Get Up after hearing the news. 

“I just called my sons in the 5th grade and told them to drop out of school and just go throw a ball,” said Orlovsky. “I cannot comprehend that; that is mind-boggling to me.”

The Chicago Bears came into free agency with the most cap space out of any team in the NFL. Their first move was a shocker to all as they traded the No.1 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers for the No. 9 pick, a 2024 first-round pick, two second-round picks, and Panthers star wide receiver DJ Moore. 

Following that trade, Chicago has used their cap space to bring in help on the defensive side of the ball. Since trading All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens mid-season last year, the Bears decided to bulk their linebacking core. 

They are signing Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to $72 million over four years and TJ Edwards for three years worth $19.5 million as the Bears try to solidify their presence on defense as they try to make a push at the NFC North with Aaron Rodgers looking to be heading out of Green Bay.

One team that might be under the radar during this free agency has been the Cleveland Browns, getting the best value out of players for their worth. They signed former Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill for three years for $21 million while signing edge rusher Obo Okoronkwo in another three-year deal worth $19 million.

The Dallas Cowboys are in the news almost all the time, as they made some significant additions to both offense and defense, but at the expense of one of their beloved players. The Cowboys franchise-tagged running back Tony Pollard meant the team would have to get rid of running back Ezekiel Elliot, releasing him as he now becomes a free agent. 

Dallas added firepower on both sides with some trades, and the Cowboys traded for Pro Bowl corner Stephon Gilmore. Along with adding receiver Brandin Cooks in a trade with the Houston Texans, the Cowboys look to be going all in for a Super Bowl.

As the new NFL season has just now begun, these days are just the beginning for teams to build their teams for a Super Bowl run with a long season ahead for everyone.

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