NFL free agency is always a frenzy to watch, but this year the action came well before it was supposed to happen. Though the free agency signing period was set to begin on Tuesday, March 10, many players were already in principle agreements with teams days prior to this date. All in all, the moves made around the NFL free agency period this year proved to be some of the most exciting the league has ever seen.
The icebreaker to all of this action was not even a signing, it was a big trade between the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles. On Tuesday, March 3, the Eagles decided to send yearly all-pro running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso, a former player for Eagles head coach Chip Kelly at the University of Oregon. Kelly is known for wanting former college players of his back on his NFL team, and this is a big trade to prove that sentiment. In Buffalo, McCoy has already agreed to an extension that will keep him with the Bills for five years.
Though this is the only former Oregon player reacquired thus far, the Eagles made a splash in free agency as well, and a couple of days before the free agency period even began. On Sunday, March 8, the team agreed to sign cornerback Byron Maxwell, and quarterback Mark Sanchez will return with a two-year deal in place. The team traded their other quarterback, Nick Foles, to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for quarterback Sam Bradford.
The team also signed veteran running back Frank Gore, or so they thought. After announcing his intention to sign with the team on March 8, Gore got cold feet, and shied away from the team. He will be signing with the Colts instead.
Even better for the Eagles, they were able to ink the best running back in all of football last year, DeMarco Murray. After being ignored by the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles made a push for the bruising back and agreed to a hefty deal.
One former Philadelphia Eagle that will be playing elsewhere next season is wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. On the same day, Maclin agreed to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs, returning to former Eagles head coach Andy Reid.
A few other notable signings include tight end Julius Thomas with the Jacksonville Jaguars, running back Shane Vereen with the New York Giants, and linebacker Pernell McPhee with the Chicago Bears. Additionally, the San Francisco 49ers will sign wide receiver Torrey Smith, the Colts will sign wide receiver Andre Johnson, and the Seattle Seahawks will sign cornerback Cary Williams.
Perhaps the biggest controversy surrounding this year’s free agency was where former Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh would land. After declaring his intention to leave the team and avoiding a franchise tag, Suh became a highly touted suitor for a big contract offer. That’s just what he got from the Miami Dolphins, where he will make $114 million, with $60 million guaranteed.
Another team that got involved in both the signing and trade market was the local New York Jets. The team was able to sign back cornerback Darrelle Revis, after many fans were furious with him for signing with divisional foe New England Patriots just a season ago.
Though the Jets constantly struggle at the wide receiver position, the team was able to receive star receiver, Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears for just a mid-round draft pick on Friday, March 6. However, it will be tough for Marshall to succeed with New York, a team where receivers have gone to die in the past, and the quarterback situation is uncertain. Accordingly, the team cut receiver/special teams player Percy Harvin.
Other trades that were made on March 10 included tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks from the New Orleans Saints, and defensive lineman Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions from the Baltimore Ravens.
Aside from all the trades and moves made, there were also a good amount of talented athletes who decided to stick with what they know rather than chase lucrative offers. Slot receiver Randall Cobb agreed with the Green Bay Packers on a four-year, $40 million offer, and the New Orleans Saints held onto running back Mark Ingram with a four-year deal of his own. The Houston Texans also kept their best cornerback, Kareem Jackson, with yet another four-year deal, taking one of the best defensive backs off the market.
For one of this year’s Super Bowl participants, the Seattle Seahawks, the team was relieved to find out that Marshawn Lynch would not retire and return to the NFL after clearing his mind on a trip to Turkey. The battling running back will return to the team on a two-year deal.
With all of these moves, the NFL will certainly seem different this upcoming one, as many players’ careers will flounder or flourish. Yet, there are still many players who are yet to decide on a team, and will shake this snowglobe of a league up even more.