NFL Free Agency Opens with High-Profile Players on the Move

David Schwab

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:03 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2018 6:03 PM UTC

March 14 marks the start of the new business year in the NFL and also the opening of free agency. The list of players with expiring contracts is long and deep with talent, so there should be some blockbuster deals right out of the gate.

NFL betting futures could also be impacted as contending teams look to add the one or two pieces that could mean the difference between a short stay in the playoffs and a Super Bowl title. Cap space is also a factor with a few teams sitting on a stockpile of cash to close these deals.

Teams at the other end of the spectrum may be looking to clear cap space by jettisoning some of the overpriced contracts that no longer fit their financial plans. This could add to the list of prominent names looking for a new team to play for in 2018.

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ESPN plans 4.5-hr afternoon block of NFL #FreeAgency coverage on Wed. Phone calls will be taken on-set. @wingoz & @WendiNix_ESPN will host. https://t.co/xmvp6IQI89 pic.twitter.com/4PdTSR6tLZ

— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) March 12, 2018
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Top 2018 Free Agents: Quarterbacks

The name at the top of every free agent list was quarterback Kirk Cousins. He could never come to terms on a long-term deal in Washington, so the Redskins decided to trade with Kansas City for veteran Alex Smith. Some of the top online sportsbooks posted betting odds for which team would eventually sign Cousins with teams such as Denver, Minnesota and the New York Jets at the top of the list. It looks like Cousins will be under center for the Vikings next season after agreeing to terms on a highly lucrative guaranteed contract.

Another high-profile quarterback that could have been in play was Drew Brees, but the 39-year old gunslinger has reportedly worked out the terms of a two-year deal to stay in New Orleans

With the Vikings moving in a different direction at the quarterback position, both Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater were set to hit the open market along with another Minnesota signal-caller, Sam Bradford. Denver knew it was fading in the race to land Cousins, so it appears that Keenum will be able to parlay his 2017 success into a hefty contract with the Broncos as their new starting quarterback.

Top 2018 Free Agents: Other Offensive Skill Positions

Tight end Jimmy Graham’s three-year stint in Seattle appears to be coming to an end after spending the first five years of his NFL career in New Orleans. The Saints have already expressed interest in bringing him back to the Big Easy after watching their production at that position drop off at that position.

Dion Lewis is expected to test the free-agent market at running back after spending his last three seasons in New England. He has proved himself to be a versatile player who can run and catch the ball out of the backfield. While he is not the biggest free agent at his position, he can be a great addition for the right team.

Other skill position players expected to hit the open market of note include wide receivers Allen Robinson, Albert Wilson and Donte Moncrief along with running back Jerick McKinnon. Early reports from several sources state that Robinson will sign with the Chicago Bears and Wilson with the Miami Dolphins.

Top 2018 Free Agents: Defense

One of the biggest names on this side of the ball is defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. The defensive makeover in Seattle is in full swing with a number of high-profile defensive players on the move such as Richard Sherman (49ers) and Michael Bennett (Eagles). Richardson is another player who should continue to flourish in the right situation.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson spent the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams under the franchise tag. Many NFL experts describe Johnson as the best cover corner in this year’s free agent class. A few more names to add to the list would be cornerback Malcolm Butler, safeties Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro, and defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

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