The new league year has begun, and all the transactions we have heard about through the first few days of legal tampering can finally become official. It was also a day when the big trades that have been reported finally came to fruition. Russell Wilson was introduced in Denver as the newest member of the Broncos and Carson Wentz is scheduled to speak with Washington Commanders reporters tomorrow.
Deals are beginning to fly, and we had some of the top free agents come off the board Wednesday. There’s plenty of action yet to come, but let’s break down some winners and losers from Day 3 of NFL free agency.
Winner: Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders were probably the big winner from Wednesday. They agreed to terms with one of the best available pass-rushers, giving former Arizona Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $51 million, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. Jones may be 32-years-old, but he hasn’t looked like it. He notched 10.5 sacks in 2021 — making it the sixth season in seven years where he’s recorded double-digit sacks. The one season Jones didn’t, he played just five games. Pairing Jones with Maxx Crosby is going to be must-watch TV.
With Vegas striking the jackpot in Jones, some immediately wondered what would happen with Yannick Ngakoue. Fans didn’t have to wait long for an answer, as the Raiders shipped him to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin in a rare player-for-player trade. Tyler Sullivan of CBS Sports graded the trade an ‘A’ for the Raiders. Here’s what he had to say about Ya-Sin and the transaction:
“He’ll be 26-years-old by the start of next season and turned in a solid 2021 season in Indy. According to PFF, he allowed a reception percentage of just 56.5% while opposing quarterbacks had a 93.4 passer rating against him, which were the best totals of his career. He also logged seven pass breakups.
“For the Raiders, they upgraded at one of their pass-rushing spots and were able to add a young corner to their secondary, which should be looked at as a positive with this division continuing to add offensive firepower.”
Loser: Baker Mayfield
The Cleveland Browns are one of the four teams pitching Deshaun Watson, which means Baker Mayfield could be on the way out. Even if the Browns don’t land Watson, it’s still possible they move on from their starting quarterback.
The former No. 1 overall pick got into his feels on Tuesday night, posting what appeared to be a goodbye and thank you to the city of Cleveland. One of the first sentences read “this is not a message with hidden meaning,” but the message said a lot:
Things just got worse after that. Mayfield tweeted the message out at 10:03 p.m., and less than 20 minutes later, his former teammate, running back Duke Johnson, posted a gif of a train wreck on Twitter.
The next day, Wednesday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said he was told things have changed as of late, and that the Browns want what they consider to be “an adult” at that position. Yikes. The Browns may not be the “favorite” to land Watson per se, but it looks like a divorce is coming with Mayfield.
Winner: Von Miller
Von Miller was considered by many to be the top defensive free agent to hit the market this offseason, and he got paid like one. Wednesday, the former Super Bowl MVP agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills on a monster six-year deal worth $120 million that includes $51.345 million guaranteed, per CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says the deal is backloaded, with Miller averaging $17.5 million over the first four years.
Miller turns 33 later this month, but he showed last year he’s still an impact player and isn’t slowing down just yet. He helped the Los Angeles Rams win a Super Bowl last season, and is going to try to do the same for the Bills next year — as a very wealthy man.
Loser: New England Patriots
It’s certainly not time to panic in New England, but it appears not much is going on for the Patriots while they are leaking oil. Look at who they have lost or traded away thus far: cornerback J.C. Jackson, center Ted Karras, offensive guard Shaq Mason, running back Brandon Bolden and fullback Jakob Johnson. All the Pats have added are Mack Wilson in the Chase Winovich trade and cornerback Terrance Mitchell.
To make matters worse, right tackle Trent Brown is visiting the Seattle Seahawks Thursday. He told CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson that the Patriots are still in the mix, but him leaving would mark just yet another big loss. Losing key players and watching other teams in your conference and your division improve immediately is an unsettling feeling.
Winner: Washington Commanders
This is not a story that grabbed major headlines, but the Commanders had one of the weirder things happen with them in free agency.
Tuesday, it was reported the Bills had agreed to terms with Washington running back J.D. McKissic on a two-year, $7 million deal that had a max of $8 million. This was curious, as Washington said re-signing McKissic this offseason was a priority, per NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay, but Washington never made an offer to try to keep him, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.
So, what happened? According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Washington indeed did not offer McKissic a deal — until he agreed to leave for Buffalo. Once McKissic and his camp heard Washington was willing to match that offer, he decided to remain in D.C.
Turns out the Commanders don’t plan on being very “commanding” in free agency when it comes to the players they want to retain. They are lucky McKissic decided to return. Some players would take that lack of communication personally.
Loser: Carson Wentz’s first day of school picture