Free agency in the NFL is bizarre – countless game-changing players switch sides every March, far more than in English football, or even baseball.
But this year was particularly circus-like given the sheer amount of big stars who signed massive contracts, either for teams rebuilding or teams who think they’re only a couple of pieces shy of a Super Bowl. But not all contracts are good – some teams overpay for average players while some teams get absolute bargains for their bucks.
Here are the three worst deals and the three best deals of NFL free agency so far.
— Mark Ingram II (@MarkIngram22) March 15, 2019
Best: Mark Ingram – Baltimore Ravens
Ingram has had his workload shed considerably in recent years by the emergence of Alvin Kamara in the Saints backfield.
This means a couple of things – he was going to be undervalued and he’s got less wear-and-tear than someone else of his age and prominence.
The Ravens currently have a quarterback who can’t throw the ball, so it would be an understatement to call them a ‘run-first’ team, when they’re probably a run-only team. Ingram offers terrific upside in that department as his burst and power will suit the 12 personnel that the Ravens so often run.
Lamar Jackson hasn’t just got someone who he can hand the ball off to, he’s also got someone who can pass protect for him on the rare occasion he lets loose. All this for $15 million over three years? Incredible.
Best: Jordan Hicks – Arizona Cardinals
Jordan Hicks won a Super Bowl last year. He’s a big cog in the Philadelphia front seven and he comes with a championship mentality.
While the monetary terms in and of themselves are ridiculously cheap (just $20 million guaranteed over four years), when you compare his contract to that of others in his position – like Kwon Alexander – it’s possible this is the best deal in free agency this year.
Alexander is coming off a torn ACL and is nowhere near the player that Hicks is.
Man… what a crazy week it’s been! Just wanted to take time to say thank you to all who have supported me and my family the last four years in Philly. It was truly an honor… https://t.co/FM8MNjzYOB
— Jordan Hicks (@JordanHicks) March 16, 2019
Best: Odell Beckham – Cleveland Browns
It really didn’t matter how much the Browns paid for Odell Beckham, because his attitude will change the entire organisation.
They gave up some picks for him, granted, but they avoided a large part of his cash bonus, which New York spent last year and now they have him on a five-year-deal that more closely resembles a top tier receiver getting an extension than it does him picking up an overpriced blockbuster deal.
He gets to go from a team who will be bottom of their division to a team about to win their division for the first time in god knows how long, while looking like a star in the process.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 13, 2019
Worst: Za’Darius Smith – Green Bay Packers
Smith came from Baltimore off the back of a very good showing in 2018. But the entire defence had a solid year and this lends to scheming.
The Ravens have a defensive identity – something Green Bay simply don’t have – nor do they have the complementary attacking defensive mindset from their coordinators to suit Smith.
He’s now 27 and will be getting approximately $34 million over the next two years, despite doing very little in his first three years as a pro.
Blessings ✍🏾 pic.twitter.com/afuYQv5Sn2
— Za'Darius Smith (@TheRealZSmith) March 15, 2019
Worst: Kareem Jackson – Denver Broncos
He’s a corner, and he’s 31 next month. That should already be ringing alarm bells.
He gets about $11 million per year over the next two seasons guaranteed and that’s too much for anyone his age, let alone someone who genuinely had an indifferent couple of years prior to 2018.
Not to mention Jackson has had just a single season where he recorded more than three picks. He hasn’t gotten more than two since 2014, either.
— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) March 15, 2019
Worst: Ju’Wuan James – Denver Broncos
Can someone please take the budgets away from John Elway? Please?