The Week in NFL News - 3/26

A look at the most important stories of the week for each team and potential fantasy impact

AFC

Baltimore

The Ravens re-signed CB Jimmy Smith to a one-year deal with $3.5 million guaranteed

Why It Matters: The 31-year-old was allowed to test the free agent market and found that returning to the Ravens was his best option. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are the team’s top two corners, but Smith will still play basically a starter’s role with three corners often on the field.

Buffalo

The Bills re-signed WR Isaiah McKenzie

Why It Matters: McKenzie is more of a return game and manufactured touches contributor than core passing game piece, but the team liked him enough to bring him back. He'll compete with Robert Foster for snaps behind Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley.

Cincinnati

The Bengals signed S Vonn Bell (New Orleans) to a three-year, $18 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Bengals continue to make uncharacteristically bold moves in free agency. Bell will start next to Jessie Bates III in an excellent complementary combination and be a strong IDP option. The Saints reunited with Malcolm Jenkins earlier in free agency and he should take the snaps vacated by Bell.

Cleveland

The Browns signed S Andrew Sendejo (Minnesota) to a one-year, $2.25 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Sendejo could be a viable IDP option as the Browns are likely starting two new safeties this year after they also signed Karl Joseph, a former Raiders first-round pick, earlier in free agency. With a limited offseason, the deep middle could be a spot opposing pass offenses attack while the Browns new safeties get up to speed.

Denver

The Broncos signed RB Melvin Gordon III (Los Angeles Chargers) to a two-year, $16 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Denver soured on 2018 third-round pick Royce Freeman as the season went on last year, but they didn’t want to rely solely on Phillip Lindsay in the backfield. They decided to go the free agent route instead of spending another pick on a back. Gordon should be the top pass-catching back and goal-line back, so he should be a solid fantasy RB2 at worst, while Lindsay becomes a flex play, but he’s more 1B than a backup.

Houston

The Texans re-signed OT Roderick Johnson and signed DB Jaylen Watkins (Los Angeles Chargers)

Why It Matters: After an action-packed open to free agency, the Texans only made a few minor moves, but they could be important if injuries strike in the second or at offensive tackle. They saved a few bucks by not giving Johnson a restricted free agent tender and instead signing him to a one-year, $1.75 million dollar deal. He’s a solid swing tackle and will be a starter if 2019 first-rounder Tytus Howard misses time again this year. Watkins will be a backup at safety and in the slot.

Indianapolis

The Colts signed DT DeForest Buckner to a four-year, $84 million dollar extension

Why It Matters: The copious cap space freed up by Chris Ballard’s discipline allowed the team to trade for one of the truly elite interior defensive linemen and sign him to a top of the market extension just as he is hitting his prime.

Jacksonville

The Jaguars signed TE Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati)

Why It Matters: Eifert has lost a step but he can still be the #1 red zone option in a passing offense that should be improved under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. 2019 third-round pick Josh Oliver will be Eifert’s main competition for snaps and targets.

Kansas City

The Chiefs signed QB Jordan Ta’amu (XFL)

Why It Matters: Ta’amu failed to stick in the NFL the first time around, but after a stretch of strong play in the XFL, he landed in a good organization for quarterback development. He’ll try to push Kyle Shurmur for the third quarterback roster spot behind backup Chad Henne and Patrick Mahomes II.

Las Vegas

The Raiders signed WR Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia)

Why It Matters: Agholor signed a contract for the minimum, just over a million dollars, so he is far from entrenched in the Raiders plans. He could be as high as the team’s #3 receiver, although they should also draft a receiver or two in the first two days of the draft to challenge him and Zay Jones, Keelan Doss, and Marcell Ateman will also be pushing Agholor for a roster spot.

Raiders QB Marcus Mariota’s contract is a two-year, $17.6 million dollar deal that could be worth up to $47 million with incentives

Why It Matters: This contract clearly contemplates the possibility of Mariota taking over as the starter at some point in the next two years. Derek Carr would only carry a $2.5 million dollar cap hit if he is released next year, and there was a good amount of buzz that there would have been a trade market for him this year if Tom Brady had signed in Las Vegas.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers signed LB Nick Vigil (Cincinnati)

Why It Matters: Vigil was a mainstay in the Bengals defense and deeper IDP lineups, but he’ll have to compete with Kyzir White, Drue Tranquill, and Malik Jefferson for a role in the Chargers defense. The team is probably hoping one of the youngsters beats him, and they’ll have the advantage of some experience in the system, which is more important with no real offseason this year.

Miami

The Dolphins re-signed S Adrian Colbert

Why It Matters: The team let stalwart safety Reshad Jones go earlier in the offseason, leaving a hole next to converted corner Eric Rowe. Colbert was actually a starter for San Francisco to open 2018 before getting hurt. He was released last year and later added to the Seattle practice squad before the Dolphins poached him. He could be a cheap but productive IDP option this season, but will surely be tested often by opposing quarterbacks.

New England

The Patriots signed QB Brian Hoyer

Why It Matters: Continuity is very important in this season without an offseason, and Hoyer knows Josh McDaniels system well. He couldn’t beat out Jarrett Stidham for a roster spot last year, so expect him to backup Stidham, assuming the Patriots don’t make any other moves at quarterback.

The Patriots released PK Stephen Gostkowski

Why It Matters: Gostkowski was a core member of the Patriots dynasty and leaves as the team’s all-time leading scorer. He could be signed before or during the season by a team with kicker issues. The Patriots don’t have a kicker on the roster and could address the position in the draft.

New York Jets

The Jets signed CB Pierre Desir (Indianapolis) to a one-year contract

Why It Matters: Desir immediately plugs in as a starter in one of the weakest cornerback groups in the league. He will likely have to opposing #1 receivers a good amount of the time and could be an important factor in 2020 DFS lineup setting processes. The Colts released Desir last week to save almost seven million dollars in cap space. Desir said he was playing hurt in 2019, so he could be one of the best bargains of free agency if he returns to the 2018 form that got him a three-year, $22.5 million dollar extension last year.

The Jets signed OL Greg Van Roten (Carolina)

Why It Matters: The Jets are almost completely rebuilding their offensive line this offseason. Van Roten joins George Fant and Connor McGovern as new acquisitions who should start, although Van Roten will only have a clear path to a starting job if Brian Winters is released. Van Roten was a starter for Carolina for 27 games over the last two years.

The Jets exercised their 2020 option to retain TE Ryan Griffin

Why It Matters: Griffin was a strong contributor last year and could keep Chris Herndon’s fantasy stock in check. The Jets have one of the weakest outside wide receiver groups in the league and could run a lot of two tight end sets this year, but it will be difficult for Griffin or Herndon to have consistent value.

The Jets re-signed EDGE Jordan Jenkins to a one-year, $5 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Jets brought back their best edge rusher, which really just underscores how little threat this defense will pose to opposing passers comfort level in the pocket. He’ll be worth rostering in deeper sack heavy IDP leagues.

The Jets signed WR Breshad Perriman (Tampa Bay) to a one-year deal with $6 million guaranteed

Why It Matters: Perriman didn’t find a team willing to commit to him long term, but he landed in a good fantasy spot with little competition for downfield targets. He’ll play the exact same role as Robby Anderson and should be relevant in 2020 leagues, assuming he and Sam Darnold can develop chemistry with little to no offseason ramp up time.

The Jets LB Patrick Onwuasor (Baltimore)

Why It Matters: The Jets have maybe the most crowded inside linebacker depth chart in the league. Onwuasor’s former teammate CJ Mosley and 2019 preseason injury casualty Avery Williamson are the presumptive starters, but in addition to Onwuasor, the team also has James Burgess Jr, Neville Hewitt, and Blake Cashman in the mix to play if the starters aren’t healthy come Week 1.

Pittsburgh

The Steelers signed TE Eric Ebron (Indianapolis) to a two-year, $12 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Ebron will share time with Vance McDonald and probably have more tactical value for the Steelers pass offense than fantasy value. McDonald has had trouble staying healthy at times, as has Ebron, so one could emerge via injury.

Tennessee

The Titans signed OL Ty Sambrailo (Atlanta)

Why It Matters: The Falcons gave up on Sambrailo only one year into the three-year deal he signed last offseason. He’ll compete with David Quessenberry to be the swing tackle backing up Taylor Lewan and Dennis Kelly, highlighting the importance of that duo staying healthy in 2020.

NFC

Arizona

The Cardinals re-signed QB Brett Hundley to a one-year contract

Why It Matters: Hundley’s year of experience in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense tipped the scales in favor of him as Kyler Murray’s backup over a potentially better option that would have needed more time to get familiar with the system.

Atlanta

The Falcons signed RB Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams) to a one-year, $5 million dollar contract

Why It Matters: This move should please the fanbase that cheered on Gurley as a member of the Georgia Bulldogs and it’s certainly an upgrade from 2019 Devonta Freeman. Gurley’s value is similar to last year with a week-to-week knee flare-up risk, and the Falcons could still be looking to take a running back on the second day of the draft as a long-term solution.

Carolina

The Panthers traded QB Kyle Allen to Washington for a fifth-round pick and signed QB PJ Walker (XFL)

Why It Matters: Walker played under head coach Matt Rhule at Temple and he was one of the best players in the XFL. The Panthers did well to recoup an early fifth-round pick for a quarterback who showed that while viable as a backup, he has fatal flaws that will keep him from ever becoming an entrenched starter. Walker will compete with 2019 third-round pick Will Grier (who Rhule gushed about in the past) to back up Teddy Bridgewater, assuming Carolina doesn’t take a quarterback at #7.

The Panthers signed LB Tahir Whitehead (Las Vegas) to a one-year, $2.5 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Whitehead immediately slots in as a potential starter next to Shaq Thompson. His main competition will be Jermaine Carter, but the Panthers could also invest an early pick in an off-ball linebacker. He could be a cheap source of points in deep IDP leagues.

The Panthers signed WR Robby Anderson (New York Jets) to a two-year, $20 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Panthers now have one of the best wide receiver trios in the league and all of Anderson, DJ Moore, and Curtis Samuel are either at or approaching their primes. Matt Rhule knows Anderson from their time together at Temple and this move signals more three-wide receiver sets that should try to leverage Teddy Bridgewater’s decision-making and short/intermediate range accuracy in an exciting development for Bridgewater’s 2QB/Superflex value.

The Panthers released QB Cam Newton

Why It Matters: Outside of the Chargers and Patriots, there aren’t any clear starting jobs for Newton, and both of those teams have given off signals that they are going forward with what they have at quarterback. Newton’s health is a question and he would need time to ramp up in a new system, so we’re unlikely to see him start Week 1. Both he and any number of teams will have to be looking ahead to how a marriage this year could pay dividends down the line.

Chicago

The Bears signed CB Artie Burns (Pittsburgh) and OL Germain Ifedi (Seattle)

Why It Matters: Failed first-round picks as reclamation project signings has been a great strategy for Bill Belichick and it looks like the Bears are emulating the Patriots with these moves. Burns never clicked under Mike Tomlin, but he could start opposite Kyle Fuller in this defense and become a target for opposing quarterbacks. Ifedi started a ton of games in Seattle after being a first-round pick at tackle, but it appears the Bears are looking at him as a guard to replace Kyle Long. The decision to make Jimmy Graham the top priority in free agency instead of a better starting cornerback or guard than Burns or Ifedi could come back to haunt Ryan Pace.

Dallas

The Cowboys signed S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (Chicago)

Why It Matters: Dallas lost Jeff Heath to Las Vegas in free agency, so Clinton-Dix will compete with Darian Thompson to start next to Xavier Woods. Clinton-Dix was excited to reunite with Mike McCarthy after the Packers traded him to Washington in 2018. Clinton-Dix started 16 games for the Bears last year. The Bears re-signed Deon Bush and added Jordan Lucas to compete for Clinton-Dix’s strong safety spot.

Cowboys C Travis Frederick announced his retirement

Why It Matters: Frederick was one of the best centers of this era, although the Cowboys can survive after having to be without him in 2018. They will hope for Joe Looney or Connor McGovern to decisively win the starting job in 2020, but Frederick will be missed and the position will suffer a big downgrade this season.

Detroit

The Lions signed DB Jayron Kearse (Minnesota)

Why It Matters: Kearse could play a big role as a third safety behind Tracy Walker and Duron Harmon, with competition for playing from 2019 third-rounder Will Harris. Kearse can also play slot corner if Justin Coleman goes down.

Green Bay

The Packers signed WR Devin Funchess (Indianapolis)

Why It Matters: The Packers got little consistent play or growth out of their receivers not named Davante Adams last year, except for possibly Allen Lazard. They should also be looking to upgrade the position in the draft, but for now consider a possible starter opposite Adams if he can beat out Lazard. The Colts had high hopes for him last year but his season was lost to a clavicle injury.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams unveiled a new logo

Why It Matters: In a quiet week for the team’s transactions this was the most newsworthy item. The new logo was widely panned and even Eric Dickerson is getting involved to persuade the team to take a different course.

Minnesota

The Vikings re-signed PK Dan Bailey to a three-year, $10 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: On a defense and running game based team, the kicker is more important, so the Vikings made sure to lock up Bailey, who has fared better than Brett Maher, the kicker who replaced him in Dallas and is now trying to win a job with the Jets.

The Vikings signed WR Tajae Sharpe (Tennessee)

Why It Matters: Sharpe will compete with Olabisi Johnson, who has the advantage of a year in the Vikings offense, to be the #2 receiver. In other words, look for the tight ends and Dalvin Cook to catch more passes this year.

New Orleans

The Saints signed WR Emmanuel Sanders to a two-year, $16 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: This was one of the most inspired moves of free agency, as the Saints added a seasoned veteran who should admirably fill the WR2 hole in their offense and get up to speed with Drew Brees in a minimal amount of time after he integrated into San Francisco’s offense seamlessly last year (including a huge game against the Saints). This boosts the whole offense, but especially Brees and Sanders himself, who was an up and down player for fantasy last year.

The Saints re-signed OL Andrus Peat to a five-year, $57.5 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Saints keep their offensive line intact and lock up Peat long term at a reasonable price for an above average starter. The offense will be as good or better as last year’s as the Saints push for another Super Bowl during Drew Brees run as their starter.

New York Giants

The Giants signed RB Dion Lewis (Tennessee)

Why It Matters: Head coach Joe Judge knows Lewis from their time together in New England, so he should have a good shot to displace Wayne Gallman as the backup to Saquon Barkley. Lewis seemed to lose burst and juice during his time in Tennessee and his best football is clearly behind him.

Philadelphia

The Eagles signed CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (Los Angeles Rams), S Will Parks (Denver) and LB Jatavis Brown (Los Angeles Chargers)

Why It Matters: None of these signings are splashy, but they will give the team more options and depth at positions of weakness. Parks will serve as the third safety, or potentially even start depending on the team’s plan for Jalen Mills. Brown was once a productive starter on the rise with the Chargers and could have a resurgence under Jim Schwartz. Robey-Coleman is an excellent slot corner and he gives the team more redundancy and protection against injuries in the defensive backfield.

San Francisco

The 49ers signed WR Travis Benjamin (Los Angeles Chargers)

Why It Matters: Benjamin isn’t as fast or impactful as he used to be, but he’ll push Richie James for the return jobs in an already crowded wide receiver group that should add a big name in the first round of the draft.

Seattle

The Seahawks traded a fifth-round pick to Washington for CB Quinton Dunbar

Why It Matters: The Seahawks got Washington’s best corner for a third-day pick in another offseason coup after they got Jadeveon Clowney for a third-round pick and two part-time linebackers last year. Dunbar should start and provide a big upgrade for a young secondary that had some peaks and valleys last year.

The Seahawks signed WR Phillip Dorsett

Why It Matters: Dorsett will serve as the #3 receiver and stretch the field on passing downs. His presence should help Greg Olsen and allow Tyler Lockett to play in the slot more often on third down. Dorsett doesn’t have standalone fantasy value, but he should help Russell Wilson and the pass offense, which could be more prominent this year.

Tampa Bay

The Buccaneers restructured TE Cameron Brate’s contract

Why It Matters: There was some speculation that Brate would be dealt or even released with a bloated salary for a marginal contributor, but the Bucs decided to keep him around. He could continue to be an obstacle to OJ Howard’s fantasy progression.

The Buccaneers signed OL Joe Haeg (Indianapolis) to a one-year $2.3 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Haeg was considered good enough to be a starter by some and should get a chance to do just that at right tackle for the Bucs, setting himself up for a larger payday next offseason. This was a very good under the radar move lost in the frenzy of reaction to Tom Brady coming to Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers re-signed DT Ndamukong Suh to a one-year, $8 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Bucs kept their titanic defensive tackle duo of Suh and Vita Vea together, which is bad news for opposing running games.

Washington

Washington traded a fifth round pick to Carolina for QB Kyle Allen

Why It Matters: Washington effectively traded their best corner for Allen when this is combined with the Quinton Dunbar trade. While Ron Rivera has some trust in Allen and Allen knows offensive coordinator Scott Turner’s scheme, the two players have disparate impacts on the game. This should close the door on Washington signing Cam Newton even though he also has a strong connection to Rivera.

Washington signed RB Peyton Barber and RB JD McKissic

Why It Matters: McKissic got about a million guaranteed and Barber only 600,000 on two-year deals, so McKissic has a better chance of making the team. McKissic also fills a needed role of receiving running back, while Barber’s hard-charging style makes him natural injury insurance for Derrius Guice. One of these backs or 2019 fourth-round pick Bryce Love is going to get released at final cutdowns.

Washington signed WR Cody Latimer

Why It Matters: Washington’s top three receivers last year were rookies and the longest tenured receiver, Trey Quinn, plays in the slot, so Latimer has a good chance to make the team, if not start. He’ll have little fantasy value, but it highlights how big a share of the targets should go to Terry McLaurin in 2020.


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