The Bills signed Jacob Hollister to a one-year contract worth a little over 1.1 million with just $137,500 guaranteed. He’ll be reunited with Josh Allen after the two played together at Wyoming. While that previous chemistry is promising for his ability to contribute, Hollister’s contract indicates that he’s not a sure thing to make the team. The Bills could still trade for Zach Ertz, but failing that, it looks like Dawson Knox is in line to be the most valuable fantasy tight end on the Bills roster. Knox will have to take a step forward in his development and stay healthy to be relevant in fantasy leagues, but he did catch touchdowns in three of the last six regular season games and two of three playoff games.
Good news for Joe Burrow as the team signed Riley Reiff (1/$5.5M). He’ll hold down the right tackle position while the team hopes 2019 first round pick Jonah Williams becomes a stalwart left tackle… the Bengals released team all-time great DT Geno Atkins. The move will save them 9.5 million. Atkins’ protege Larry Ogunjobi (1/$6.2M) will replace him on the defensive line after they signed him away from Cleveland earlier in free agency.
The Browns made another savvy move when they signed Anthony Walker (1/$3.5M) to a very cheap deal for a starting quality off-ball linebacker. Cleveland doesn’t have anyone that is truly entrenched as a starter at linebacker, so Walker should have a shot to win a starting job, if not a three-down linebacker job...Cody Parkey was brought back on a one-year deal to be the team’s kicker again in 2021.
Justin Simmons (4/$61M) signed a long-term deal instead of playing under the franchise tag for the second straight year. Combined with a quick signing of Kyle Fuller (1/$9.5M) after the Bears made him a cap cut, a reasonable deal to bring Kareem Jackson (1/$5M) back, and the signing of Ronald Darby earlier this month, the Broncos secondary is in very good shape with continuity at safety and new talent at corner. Fuller will be reunited with Vic Fangio after the two experienced success together in Chicago… New general manager George Paton said the team will bring in competition for starting quarterback Drew Lock, but they won’t “force it”, which seems to signal that they won’t try to make an aggressive move up in the first round for one of the top four prospect at the position. We are close enough to the draft that we shouldn’t read too much into the comments, but it’s clear that Lock isn’t exactly cemented in as the team’s long term answer.
16 women have now filed civil lawsuits against Deshaun Watson. The league and Houston Police Department are both looking into the allegations. In recent years, the NFL has waited until legal proceedings run their course to dispense punishment, but they may make an exception because of the amount of coverage these lawsuits have gotten. Whether via a holdout to get his ticket out of Houston or a league suspension, Watson is looking less likely to play Week 1 (and beyond) every day… The team obtained Ryan Finley from the Bengals for a pick bump from the seventh to sixth round, the latest sign that they too don’t expect Watson to either be on the team, or be available for the whole season… Phillip Lindsay (1/$3.25M) quickly chose the Texans when he was released from Denver, a curious move considering the presence of David Johnson and Mark Ingram II in the backfield. Lindsay might have the most juice of any back on the roster, but this has the look of an ugly for fantasy committee backfield in a limited offense… Houston’s secondary should be upgraded by the addition of Desmond King (1/$3M) in the slot. He can also help on returns and has been a playmaking defender when he has gotten the chance to play.
The Colts brought back two big 2020 contributors. Xavier Rhodes (1/$6.5M) had a successful year in his first campaign as one of their starting outside corners and will keep the secondary intact. T.Y. Hilton (1/$10M) turned down other offers to stay with the Colts. He’ll lower the ceiling of Michael Pittman Jr and Parris Campbell, but help Carson Wentz, especially on extended plays, and probably easily outproduce his 2020 numbers.
CJ Beathard (2/$5M) is coming to Jacksonville to back up Trevor Lawrence, a clear sign that Gardner Minshew is available via trade. Beathard’s old team, San Francisco, has been linked to Minshew in a move to give Jimmy Garoppolo competition.
Kansas City Chiefs
Mike Remmers (1/$3.5M) will be back after starting ten games for the team at right tackle last year. He could be in line to start again if the team wants to keep new acquisitions Joe Thuney and Kyle Long at guard.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are gambling on 2019 UDFA Andre James (3/$12.5M) to replace Rodney Hudson, who was sent to the Cardinals for a third round pick earlier this month. James has played 116 offensive snaps so far in his career, but he is expected to start at center this year… Marcus Mariota accepted a pay cut down to 3.5 million for his 2021 salary to stay with Raiders instead of getting released. He’ll back up Derek Carr, who appears to be solidified in his status compared to when the Raiders signed Mariota last year.
The Isaiah Wilson experiment ended quickly as he was released this week before ever having a chance to make an impression on the team. His guarantees voided when he was suspended last year, so the Dolphins won’t be on the hook for any money as a result of their failed trade.
New England Patriots
David Andrews (4/$19M) was brought back on a huge bargain deal in contrast to some of the contracts Bill Belichick handed out earlier in free agency. He’ll continue to be the cornerstone of the line and allow Ted Karras, who the team signed away from Miami earlier in free agency, to be high quality depth on the interior offensive line instead of being a stopgap at center like he was when Andrews 2019 was ruined by blood clots in his lungs… James White (1/$2.5M) also chose to come back to the Patriots instead of looking for greener pastures elsewhere. His fantasy value dried up last year, but he still has a lot of real football value in the locker room in the passing offense. Many expected him to be reunited with Tom Brady in Tampa.
New York Jets
The Jets continued to bring in talent at multiple positions to use up their copious cap room. Lamarcus Joyner (1/$4.5M) immediately becomes the team’s best slot corner and he can also play safety. Sheldon Rankins (2/$17M) will help revitalize the pass rush from the interior defensive line. Dan Feeney (1/$3.5M) will at worst give the team experienced depth on the interior offensive line, and he could allow them to move on from one of Alex Lewis or Greg Van Roten at guard. Tevin Coleman (1/$2M) was signed in a reunion with offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur, who came over from San Francisco with Robert Saleh. If Coleman can stay healthy, he might lead the backfield in touches, pending what the Jets do in the draft. Ty Johnson and Lamical Perine were the team’s top backs before the Coleman signing.
Juju Smith-Schuster (1/$8M) ended up coming back to the Steelers after he couldn’t find the long-term deal he was in search of in his first foray into free agency. The Chiefs and Ravens were pursuing him on one-year deals, but Smith-Schuster chose continuity and familiarity with the Steelers. That hurts James Washington’s opportunity this year, but helps the offense… Steven Nelson was released in a cap cut move, perhaps in part to accommodate Smith-Schuster’s contract. The team will look to James Pierre or Justin Layne to replace him, which could create a sore spot in the secondary… Eric Ebron will be with the team in 2021 after restructuring his deal to free up 3.9 million in cap space. Like the rest of the passing game targets, his ceiling comes down with the Smith-Schuster signing.
Josh Reynolds signed a one-year deal to replace Corey Davis, who left for the Jets earlier in free agency. He should get the biggest opportunity of his career to date, and he’ll be facing defenses more concerned with stopping Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown...Kevin Johnson was signed to fill the outside corner spot opposite fellow new signing Janoris Jenkins. The team overhauled their cornerback depth chart, but should still be one of the most vulnerable in the league at the position.
The Cardinals signed Malcolm Butler to likely fill the starting corner spot vacated by Patrick Peterson. With Butler and Robert Alford filling two of three primary corner spots, the Cardinals should be a secondary that we will target when setting lineups during the season.
Mike Davis (2/$5.5M) was brought in on a very modest deal for a back who was starting quality last year in place of Christian McCaffrey and should be the starter for the Falcons unless they spend an early pick on a back in the draft. New head coach Arthur Smith should put some effort into rebuilding the running back, and Davis has a chance to be the main beneficiary this year.
The Panthers made some small signings that could pay off big in the passing game. David Moore (2/$4.25M) is reunited with GM Scott Fitterer, who just came over from Seattle. Moore will be the #3 receiver in an offense that supported three fantasy options at the position last year, although that was with Christian McCaffrey injured for the most of the year. Dan Arnold (2/$6M) is a downfield receiving threat at tight end who could become fantasy relevant if he makes the position more viable in the passing game than Ian Thomas did.
The Bears had to release Kyle Fuller in a cap cut move, saving the team 11 million dollars, but costing them 9 million in dead cap. They’ll try Lions castoff Desmond Trufant in his place after the Bears signed him to a one-year deal… Damien Williams will be reunited with Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor after signing a one-year deal with the Bears. His presence will hurt the value of both David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen.
Keanu Neal (1/$5M) chose the Cowboys over the Jets. He is expected to split time between strong safety and weakside linebacker and should remain an IDP factor playing behind a light interior defensive line.
Breshad Perriman (1/$3M) was signed to fill the other wide receiver spot after both Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr left in free agency. He’ll start opposite Tyrell Williams in a passing game that should feature T.J. Hockenson… Randy Bullock was signed to replace Matt Prater, the Lions kicker since 2014. Prater signed with the Cardinals earlier in free agency.
Green Bay Packers
Kevin King (1/$5M) was brought back to play boundary corner despite his struggles in 2020. He’ll continue to have a target on his jersey for opposing quarterbacks until he proves he can turn it around.
Los Angeles Rams
Desean Jackson signed a one-year deal to give the Rams a deep threat they have lacked]after Brandin Cooks was traded to Houston last offseason. Jackson has only played eight games in the last two years, but the Rams might get more out of him if they manage his snaps to keep him on the field. Van Jefferson's role will be smaller as long as Jackson is healthy.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints lost a sixth-round pick in 2022 and they will have to pay a $700,000 fine for covid-19 violations last year.
New York Giants
The Giants made the two splashiest signings of the second week of free agency. Kenny Golladay (4/$72M) ended up getting the contract he wanted after all even though the first week of free agency gave him a chilly reception. We’ll see how well quarterback Daniel Jones and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett make use of the 50-50 ball monster on the outside… Adoree' Jackson (3/$39M) got a contract near the top of the cornerback market even though he was released by the Titans earlier this month. Jackson will give the Giants a better option opposite James Bradberry as it appears that they are making a push to compete for the division title this year… Kyle Rudolph might have to have foot surgery, but he and the team still made their deal official after the medical checks turned up the problem. Evan Engram’s outlook is still improved with the news that Rudolph is ailing. The team should have a lot of flexibility in offensive personnel sets between their top three receivers and a four deep group at tight end.
The Eagles made an impact signing when they got Anthony Harris (1/$5M) at a fraction of what the Vikings paid to franchise tag him last year. Harris will be a full-time player and remain a solid IDP option on his new team… Joe Flacco (1/$3.5M) was signed to back up Jalen Hurts. He reminded us that he doesn’t think it is his job to be a mentor to a younger player starting over him at his position.
San Francisco 49ers
K’Waun Williams was brought back on a one-year deal that completed a highwire act for the team after they entered free agency with their top five corners all available for the whole league to sign. Williams will man the slot corner and continue to be one of the more underrated performers in this defense.
Chris Carson (2/$10.4M) was re-signed on a very modest deal that would only be appropriate for a borderline starter at most other positions. His fantasy value is intact now that he’s staying in Seattle, and Rashaad Penny has returned to very late round flier status… Kerry Hyder Jr (3/$16.5M) and Benson Mayowa (2/$8.8M) signed mid-level deals as the Seahawks fill in their defensive end group without mid-2020 trade addition Carlos Dunlap. Hyder should be a starter in the base defense and possibly shift inside on passing downs and Mayowa will reprise his role as a productive edge rush specialist.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers effort to keep the 2020 Championship team together hit its peak this week when they signed left tackle Donovan Smith (2/$31.8M) to an extension that freed up money to bring back Ndamukong Suh (1/$9M), meaning that all 22 starters will be back for the 2021 season. The team is also still talking to Antonio Brown and Leonard Fournette about returning to Tampa.
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