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NFL free-agency: Kirk Cousins, Chris Jones and Derrick Henry among biggest 2024 deals

March 17th, 2024

The NFL was back with a bang this week as its 32 teams started shaping their rosters for the 2024 season.

Just over four weeks after the Kansas City Chiefs won their third Super Bowl in five years, the new league year officially got under way.

It begins with the free agency period and this year it was a busy week, with more than 100 deals being agreed. Russell Wilson’s move to Pittsburgh was the most high-profile, but here are more of the biggest deals.

Kirk CousinsMinnesota Vikings to Atlanta Falcons

Kirk Cousins wearing a Top 10 chain after a Minnesota Vikings gameKirk Cousins wearing a Top 10 chain after a Minnesota Vikings game

Kirk Cousins has poked fun at his new ‘bling’ image, wearing a Top 10 chain last season in reference to those who still doubt whether he is an elite NFL quarterback

Kirk Cousins has had to bide his time before becoming one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. An afterthought of a draft pick by Washington in 2012, he did not become their starter until his fourth year.

After moving to Minnesota in 2018, he established himself as one of the NFL’s most consistent passers, albeit more functional than flashy. Yet over the last couple of years, the seemingly strait-laced family man has also become an unlikely fans’ favourite.

Cousins was the star of the Quarterback series on Netflix, which followed him, Patrick Mahomes and Marcus Mariota during the 2022 season. And after a big away win, Cousins celebrated by going shirtless on the Vikings’ flight home, dancing while covered in bling.

Injury ended his 2023 season but the 35-year-old has now been lured to Atlanta with the biggest contract of his career – a four-year deal worth $180m (£141m). He will lead a vibrant young offence while last year’s starter Desmond Ridder is heading to Arizona.

Chris Jones – re-signed by Kansas City Chiefs

While Patrick Mahomes again produced when it matters most for Kansas City, last season’s Super Bowl run was actually built on the Chiefs’ defence.

Chris Jones is its leader, playing throughout the team’s dynasty, and they recognised his importance by handing the 29-year-old a record deal for a defensive tackle – $158.75m (£124.7m) over five years.

Saquon BarkleyNew York Giants to Philadelphia Eagles

After their Super Bowl epic in 2023, Philadelphia were on course for a rematch with Kansas City before suffering a late-season slump.

Veteran centre Jason Kelce then retired but the Eagles have given themselves a boost by adding one of the NFL’s best running backs to a team that already tends to have one of the league’s best offensive lines and running games.

Nicknamed ‘Saquad’ for the size of his thighs, Barkley was 2018’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and has shown signs of getting back to his best over the last couple of seasons.

He’s been one of the Giants’ few playmakers over the last six years so it was a surprise they let him go when he’s still only 27. Barkley joins their divisional rivals on a three-year, $37.8m deal, while D’Andre Swift has left Philly for Chicago.

“I’m pretty positive, even though a little bit upset [the Eagles] waited until I retired to make a move like this,” Kelce said on his podcast. “I knew I was going to miss an outstanding season for the Eagles, but I get to watch it and celebrate it just like everybody else, so I’m excited for that.”

Derrick HenryTennessee Titans to Baltimore Ravens

Derrick Henry playing for the Tennessee TitansDerrick Henry playing for the Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry has had the most rushing yards (9,502) and scored the most total touchdowns (93) since 2016

A battering ram of a running back, Derrick Henry has been the NFL’s best since coming into the league in 2016, being named 2020’s Offensive Player of the Year.

But Tennessee are in the midst of a rebuild and running backs are thought to be in decline once they turn 30, as Henry did in January. Baltimore, though, felt the opportunity to sign a player who has been such a dominant force was too good to pass up.

“He’s kind of a unicorn,” said Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta. “It’s a combination of speed, power, durability. Those kind of guys are rare.”

Henry joins a team that had the NFL’s best record in the regular season and will allow mobile quarterback Lamar Jackson, named Most Valuable Player for a second time, to save his legs for when he really needs to conjure some magic.

After arriving on a two-year, $16m contract, Henry had a clear message for his doubters: “Tell them to keep watching”.

Calvin RidleyJacksonville Jaguars to Tennessee Titans

That Tennessee rebuild has seen the Titans sign running back Tony Pollard from Dallas to replace Henry, while adding quarterback Mason Rudolph from Pittsburgh.

But their biggest deal was bringing in wide receiver Calvin Ridley, 29, from Jacksonville on a four-year, $92 contract.

Bobby WagnerSeattle Seahawks to Washington Commanders

Another team in a rebuild is Washington and they have added a defensive leader in 33-year-old linebacker Bobby Wagner, who led the league for tackles last season.

They brought in quarterback Marcus Mariota so let last season’s starter Sam Howell join Seattle, and are expected to draft another QB with the second overall pick. They have also added pedigree to their offence with running back Austin Ekeler and tight end Zach Ertz.

Baker Mayfield – re-signed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans celebrate while playing for the Tampa Bay BuccaneersBaker Mayfield and Mike Evans celebrate while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After playing for three teams in a year, Tampa Bay gave Baker Mayfield, 28, a chance to revive his career last season and he took advantage by leading them to the play-offs.

They have rewarded 2018’s number one draft pick with a three-year contract worth $100m and re-signed star receiver Mike Evans too.

Christian WilkinsMiami Dolphins to Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas have bolstered their hard-nosed defence by signing tackle Christian Wilkins on a four-year, $110m deal. They have also brought in quarterback Gardner Minshew from Indianapolis so let Jimmy Garoppolo join the Los Angeles Rams.

The Green Bay Packers made a surprise move by signing Josh Jacobs from the Raiders and letting fellow running back Aaron Jones join divisional rivals Minnesota, who have also brought in quarterback Sam Darnold from San Francisco to help replace Kirk Cousins.

Quarterback merry-go-round

Last season showed the value in having reliable cover at quarterback, with more than 60 used as starters due to inconsistent form and injuries.

Teams have been shuffling their pack before the draft (25-27 April), bringing in guys to compete for the starters’ job or serve as back-ups, with some of those mentioned above involved in a quarterback merry-go-round.

The Steelers have overhauled their quarterback roster, with Justin Fields joining Wilson in Pittsburgh from the Chicago Bears.

Other notable names on the move are Jameis Winston to Cleveland, Joe Flacco to Indianapolis, Jacoby Brissett to New England, Mac Jones to Jacksonville, Drew Lock to the Giants and Tyrod Taylor to the Jets.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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