Prime NFL free agency is in the books, with the majority of elite players already having found new teams. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the best deals on the market thus far.
Raiders sign edge Yannick Ngakoue to 2-year, $26 million contract ($21 million guaranteed)
With 18 forced fumbles in five NFL seasons, Ngakoue ranks second in the NFL during that span. He’s also recorded at least eight sacks in all five of his pro campaigns and has the playmaking ability to become a perennial All-Pro moving forward. He still hasn’t even turned 26. It’s ridiculous that he’s only the 27th-highest-paid edge defender in the NFL.
Dolphins sign WR Will Fuller V to 1-year, $10.6 million contract ($10 million guaranteed)
One of the league’s fastest players was on pace for a breakout 1,000-yard season before his 2020 campaign was derailed late by a PED-related suspension. He says that was for a prescription he was unaware was banned, though, and there’s little reason to believe he can’t get back on track with DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki hogging defensive attention in 2021. Fuller led the league in yards per target in 2020, but is still just the league’s 25th-highest-paid receiver on a deal with no strings attached beyond this season for Miami.
Panthers sign edge Haason Reddick to 1-year, $8 million contract ($6 million guaranteed)
We’re talking about a 26-year-old former No. 13 overall pick who put up 7.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits, and six forced fumbles of the 2020 regular season. Sure, he was basically seen as a bust before that stretch, but there’s a very good chance he’s found his groove and it’s absolutely worth an $8 million expenditure in order to find out. The ceiling is very high and the financial risk is very low.
Bengals sign CB Chidobe Awuzie to 3-year, $21.5 million contract ($7.5 million guaranteed)
That guarantee is the most shocking aspect of this deal. It’s practically a one-year contract worth less than $10 million for an extremely talented, No. 1-caliber corner who’s just 25 years old. He’ll replace William Jackson III, who has been a little better to this point, but is three years older than Awuzie and slated to earn nearly twice as much green from the Washington Football Team.
Chargers sign TE Jared Cook to 1-year, $6 million contract ($4.5 million guaranteed)
Rather than pay more than $12 million per year to the fragile Hunter Henry, the Chargers smartly bring in a more reliable and accomplished tight end for half the price with no commitment beyond 2021. Cook might not have a lot of time left in this league, but he was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and 2019, and he scored 16 touchdowns the last two seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He also dropped just two passes in 2020, while hitting the 500-yard mark for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons. The 33-year-old should be a stellar, cheap safety valve for young Bolts quarterback and reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert.