Biggest Winners (So Far) in NFL Free Agency for 2018

TAMPA, APR 04, 2018 – Just when you thought things have subsided, as you look at your datebook and notice basketball’s NCAA Final Four had come to an end (Congrats to Notre Dame and Villanova on their dynamic victories)… or found yourself ready to stand up for an upcoming seventh-inning stretch and sing in your off-key best (but mostly horrible in tone) “Take Me Out To The Ballgame”… it hits you square in the face yet again…

The Patriots traded their one-year-hit-wonder in Wide Receiver Brandon Cooks and a fourth-round draft pick to the Rams for Los Angeles’ first round pick (#23) and a later sixth-round pick.

Yes ladies and gentlemen… Football has a way of ALWAYS getting back in the headlines… so even though April has just been turned to on your home or office calendar, it reminds you America’s Defacto National Pastime is always there to gain your full and rapt notice.

NFL’s Free Agency period, which started waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back on the 12th of March (the ‘legal tampering period’) and then officially engaged on the 14th has been quite flashy and spectacular in 2018… yes, even historic.  In case you’ve been living in a cave in Afghanistan and haven’t been paying attention (and if you have, then we may need to send the authorities your way for other reasons…), I give you “Captain Jack’s Winners for 2018… So Far”:

Author’s Note – If a player stayed with his team from 2017, then he isn’t counted.  Granted, Drew Brees re-signing with the Saints for $50M, or for that matter, Josh McCown inking a new deal with the Jets for $10M is quite a coup for them, but it really didn’t change the dynamic for their team.  End Note.

Honorable Mention – Richard Sherman CB Forty Niners (3years, $27M), Sam Bradford QB Cardinals (1year, $20M).  Not bad for an oft-injured quarterback in Bradford who continues to put an astronomical amount of Benjamins in the bank, while Sherman gets a nice deal to play for a division rival, thereby ‘sticking it’ to his former team in Seattle… IF he gets on the field following his debilitating Achilles and bone spur injuries from last year.

5. Albert Wilson (3years, $24M) and Danny Amendola (2years, $12M), Wide Receivers, Miami Dolphins – I’m sure you’re asking yourself… “Whaaaaaa….???” But hear me out.  The Dolphins do quite well having fleeced the Browns for two draft picks in trading Jarvis Landry to Cleveland, and rebuild their wide receiver corps.  Wilson leaves the Chiefs and their iffy quarterback situation (second-year expected phenom Patrick Mahomes II takes over from departed Alex Smith, traded to the Redskins – and due to the trade, was not eligible for this listing) and goes to another iffy quarterback situation, this time in Miami.  Who WILL start for the Dolphins? Ryan Tannehill? Brock Osweiler? David Fales? 2018’s First Round Draft Pick should one slip or Miami trades up?  We shall see… but Wilson is going home to Florida’s sunshine and no state income tax.  As for Amendola, he also benefits from the tax situation, has all of the Sunshine State to find his next “HOTTT” girlfriend following his split with model Olivia Culpo, and likely gets to catch the winning touchdown passes for the Fins when they beat the Patriots at least once a year, sticking it to ‘The Hoodie’ himself.

4. Jordy Nelson (2years, $14.2M), Wide Receiver, Oakland Raiders – Probably one of the most sure-handed and team-oriented receivers in the game, Nelson was quite upset when low-balled by the Packers in his contract quest, so he heads to California’s much warmer Bay area climate from the frozen tundra of Lambeau field.  Nelson had built a great rapport with Aaron Rodgers in Wisconsin, but should do quite nicely in the future with Derek Carr, the AFC Pro-Bowl winning and pigskin slinging leader for the Raiders.  Oakland gets a gifted wide receiver in Nelson, having jettisoned Michael Crabtree and his (alleged) bad locker-room attitude and gold-chain swinging bling fest prior to an anticipated “Crabtree VS Talib III” tussle.  The ‘Pay Per View’ event … or at least NFL Sunday Ticket event… won’t occur this year due to Crabs leaving for the Ravens prior to the Raiders’ scheduled matchup with the Rams, Talib’s new team… which brings us to…

3. Ndamukong Suh (1year, $14M), Defensive Tackle, Los Angeles Rams – Suh lands in LaLa Land after a stint in Miami where he received his guaranteed $60M from the Dolphins for three years of work (his original contract was 6years, $114M in 2015) so he isn’t really hurting to make any payments for ANYTHING.  However, the MAIN REASON Suh makes this list is because he will be a free agent once again next year, but he’ll be playing on a team which should be a favorite to win the NFC this year after bolstering its roster with new additions in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib at bookend corners, with team holdovers in Defensive Player of the Year and line-mate Aaron Donald, and high-performance offensive players in running back Todd Gurley and quarterback Jared Goff.  Am I forgetting anyone… oh yeah, that speedster Brandon Cooks.  Suh, along with Donald, will be getting PAAAAAAAAID from some team in a year’s time even if it isn’t the Rams, and may possibly be sporting new rings if all goes well for them.

2. Case Keenum (2years, $36M), Quarterback, Denver Broncos – It isn’t ALWAYS about the money, as sometimes you want to play for a team that actually DESIRES your services.  The Broncos went out and got a quarterback who came within one game of going to the Super Bowl this past year, as Keenum took the Vikings to a #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs at 13-3, having won 12 games following an injury to Sam Bradford after their Monday Night opener.   Keenum never got any respect from Coach Mike Zimmer, who kept reporters guessing as to who would or could play weekly for the Norsemen – would it be Keenum? Bradford? Bridgewater? Jimmy the Hot Dog Vender? All he did was WIN for them (prior to their NFC Championship Game blowout by the Eagles), including authoring the ‘Minnesota Miracle’ in their Divisional round victory over the Saints on the last play of regulation.  Keenum, a lifelong fan of John Elway, will get to wear the Orange and Blue of Denver… and will be Mile-High with glee playing for a team who can rebuild and possibly get back to winning a wide-open AFC West in 2018.

1. Kirk Cousins (3years, $84M), Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings – And yet sometimes it IS about the money, as Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins made a mutual decision that two-years playing on the ‘Franchise Tag’ for the team was enough.  Washington made it quite clear that Cousins was on his way out following their trade for Alex Smith, so then the question of the free-agent period rang throughout North America – where would Kirk Cousins wind up?  Arizona? New York Jets? Denver? Cousins was a very capable quarterback coming out from Michigan State, but was merely an afterthought when drafted behind Robert Griffin III (RGIII) in 2012.  Following Griffin’s injuries, Cousins showed Skins’ fans how skilled he was, especially during the now famous “YOU LIKE THAAAAT?!?!?!” performance where his three second-half touchdowns propelled Washington to a win over the Bucs in late October 2015. Playing for the Vikings, who along with Rams and possibly the Eagles should be favored to win the NFC, Cousins can take his money ($82.5M FULLY GUARANTEED) and buy several lake-side mansions amongst the Minnesota and Michigan portions of the Great Lakes.  Yes, you can come home again, so take that and blow it out of the Vikings’ Gjallarhorn if you don’t think Cousins is ecstatic!!!

Jay “Captain Jack” Levy, BCP Contributor