The biggest names of this year’s NFL free agency class have made their decisions. Some teams and players are winners. Here is a breakdown of the five biggest losers:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are clearly in the midst of a massive transition. The team is now without its two most proven skill position players. Antonio Brown has been traded to the Oakland Raiders, and Le'Veon Bell finally found his way out of town. Juju Smith-Schusterand James Conner better be ready to step up big-time next season.
Pittsburgh added a solid cornerback in Steven Nelson and re-signed linebacker Anthony Chickillo but they’ve done nothing else to improve the roster significantly. Now the Steelers are left to pick through the leftovers and patch roster holes that way.
The biggest disappointment of the offseason was definitely not getting any of the Raiders’ three first-round picks in exchange for Brown.
Like the Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens had to watch the Browns go out and improve immensely. Baltimore also watched C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith depart in free agency, and cut Eric Weddle. That’s a lot to lose from an outstanding defense.
Offensively, the Ravens also saw deep threat John Brown head to the Buffalo Bills, but that’s not an enormous loss.
The Ravens did go out and sign Earl Thomas to beef up the secondary, but to do so they had to hand him a four-year, $55 million deal with $32 million guaranteed.
That’s a ton of money for a 29-year-old coming off a broken leg.
On Wednesday, the Ravens also added veteran running back Mark Ingram to a three-year, $15 million deal. Ingram isn’t going to make Baltimore’s offense significantly better, as he’s 29 and rushed for just 645 yards and six touchdowns for the Saints in 2018.
The Ravens have, at best, stayed in neutral this offseason while the Browns raced past them. At worst, they’ve taken a step back on defense and not given quarterback Lamar Jackson much help on offense.
New York Giants
So, we need to talk about the New York Giants. What the hell is going on over there?
The Giants added Jabrill Peppers and Kevin Zeitler along with first- and third-round picks in separate trades for Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon. Both of those deals were, at best, a wash for New York.
Beckham is a rare, elite talent the Giants didn’t get equal value for and Vernon-for-Zeitler is basically an even deal. Meanwhile, New York also watched safety Landon Collins walk to a division rival in Washington.
New York’s roster is littered with holes and general manager Dave Gettleman hasn’t shown any evidence he has a grand vision for the franchise.
Le'Veon Bell clearly cost himself a ton of money by sitting out the 2018 season.
Not only did he miss out on the $14.55 million salary the Pittsburgh Steelers owed him on the franchise tag, but he also would have garnered more interest had he put up good numbers. Instead, he’s a question mark and the market for his services wasn’t as robust as expected.
Bell got a four-year, $52.5 million deal from the New York Jets with $35 million guaranteed. That’s not a bad deal at all, but he didn’t become the NFL’s highest-paid running back. The average annual value of his deal ($13.1 million) falls far below Todd Gurley’s ($14.5 million).
Consider this: the Steelers reportedly offered him a deal worth $70 million over five years with $33 million guaranteed. It would have paid him $45 million over the first three years. The Jets gave him more in guaranteed money, but less in overall cash.
The Washington Redskins made a big splash by signing Landon Collins to a six-year, $84 million deal with $26 million in guarantees. Based on the structure of the contract, he’s almost certain to collect all $32 million he’s due over the first two seasons.
Collins is a great player but that’s a ton of money for a safety and it could wind up being a bad deal in the long run.
Case Keenum arrived to play quarterback in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick. He might be an upgrade on Colt McCoy, but he’s nothing more than a journeyman.