Everything That Happened Before Free Agency Week

A look at an action-packed pre-free agency period and fantasy impact from the news




RB Chris Ivory signed a two-year, 5.5 million dollar deal with 3.25 million guaranteed.

Why It Matters: Ivory will spell LeSean McCoy perhaps take some goal line carries from him a la Mike Gillislee, but he is not a real threat to McCoy’s workload. The Bills could draft a back on the third day, but they are unlikely to spend a top 100 pick on a back after making this investment.

QB Tyrod Taylor was traded to the Browns in exchange for the #65 pick in the 2018 draft.

Why It Matters: The Bills under Sean McDermott never seemed to be sold on Taylor as their starter, and now his era as the Buffalo starter is over despite leading them back to the playoffs for the first time in this millenium. The Bills should be players in free agency for a starter such as Sam Bradford or Case Keenum, and their two first-round picks make them strong candidates to move up into the top five for a quarterback.


QB AJ McCarron won his grievance against the Bengals and will be an unrestricted free agent.

Why It Matters: McCarron should get Mike Glennon money on the open market (at least) and presents an option for teams like the Cardinals and Jets for the short term, and maybe the long term if they don’t land a quarterback in the first round of the draft. McCarron to the Browns was considered likely after the interest his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson (another former Bengals OC Ken Zampese is the team’s quarterback coach) showed in him, but the Browns went in another direction to Tyrod Taylor via trade.

The Bengals received four compensatory picks in the 2018 draft, including a third and fifth.

Why It Matters: The Bengals lost two offensive line cornerstones in 2017 free agency - OT Andrew Whitworth, now with the Rams and OG Kevin Zeitler, now with the Browns. Their offense suffered for it, but at least now the team can use the extra shots at long-term contributors they earned for their losses.


The Browns traded QB DeShone Kizer to the Packers for CB Demarious Randall.

Why It Matters: With the Browns trading for Tyrod Taylor and almost certain to take a quarterback in the first round, Kizer was unnecessary. Like current Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley, Kizer has a high ceiling, but needs to tighten up his game. He could get another chance to start after his rookie deal and allows the team to move on from Hundley in 2019, if not earlier with his trade value evaporated. Randall made some big plays, but gave up more than he made. The Packers cupboard is bare at corner, but they must have decided that he had no place in their defense. The Browns are planning on putting Randall at his college position of safety.

The Browns acquired QB Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo in exchange for the #65 pick in the 2018 draft.

Why It Matters: Taylor has a terrific offensive line and got a big upgrade in passcatchers with the move. He’ll have some fantasy value to begin the season, although he could be replaced by a first-round pick before the end of the season. The Browns still have five of the top 64 picks, so they won’t miss this pick, but it is a high price for a quarterback the Bills might have been releasing soon if they couldn’t find a trade partner.

The Browns acquired WR Jarvis Landry from Miami in exchange for the #123 pick in the 2018 draft and a 2019 seventh-round pick.

Why It Matters: The Dolphins had to take whatever they could get for Landry with their cap situation, and the Browns were one of the only teams with the draft capital and cap room to make a deal work. Landry is going to probably take a big hit in fantasy value with a likely drop in receptions and quarterback quality, especially in light of the move to add Tyrod Taylor. He could regain value if the team hits on a quarterback pick in the draft with quick development.

The Browns traded DT Danny Shelton and 2018 fifth-round pick to the Patriots for a 2019 third-round pick.

Why It Matters: The Browns love 2017 third-round pick Larry Ogunjobi and otherwise feel good about their depth chart at defensive tackle. Shelton made them one of the best run-stopping teams in the league, but he contributed little in passing situations. The Browns recouped very little for yet another underwhelming pick. They have only five players from their 2014 and 2015 drafts on the roster.


ESPN beat writer Jeff Legwold wrote that the Broncos “seem intent” on making Devontae Booker the #1 running back in the 2018 season.

Why It Matters: CJ Anderson is probably out in Denver, although the team could still have Saquon Barkley fall into their laps if there’s an early run on quarterbacks. Booker was very high on John Elway’s board in 2016 and his value could take a big leap on speculative opportunity very soon.

The Broncos traded CB Aqib Talib to the Rams for a fifth-round pick.

Why It Matters: Talib was in the beginning of his decline phase and the Broncos are trying to open cap room for a quarterback move in free agency. The Broncos have a big hole to fill at corner now behind Chris Harris Jr and Bradley Roby.


The Texans received three compensatory picks in the 2018 draft, including a third.

Why It Matters: The Texans have a ton of cap room and they have extra ammunition in the draft to make up for trading their first and second-round picks. Perhaps they would prefer less cap room, no compensatory third, and still having AJ Bouye on the roster anchoring their secondary as a #1 corner.


The Jaguars signed QB Blake Bortles to a three-year, 54 million dollar extension with 26.5 million guaranteed.

Why It Matters: Bortles was probably on his way to his 19 million dollar fifth-year option being guaranteed for injury, so the Jaguars really just committed 6-7 million in 2019 in exchange for lessening Bortles cap hit in 2018 and having a reasonable salary for a starting quarterback on the books if he continues his late season momentum from 2017. This doesn’t preclude the team drafting a quarterback or making a move in free agency to give Bortles competition.

The Jaguars decided to not tag WR Allen Robinson with a franchise or a transition tag.

Why It Matters: The team might have looked at how close they were to a Super Bowl without Robinson last year and decided that he wasn’t essential with the development 2017 rookies Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook. Robinson will find a strong market for his services, with Chicago, San Francisco, and Cleveland having the cap room to pay him what he wants and Carolina and Baltimore coveting him, but having less money to throw at the 24-year-old.

Kansas City

The Chiefs traded QB Alex Smith to Washington for CB Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick.

Why It Matters: The team is comfortable with Patrick Mahomes as their starter after seeing his year one development, The offense shouldn’t take a big hit going from Smith to Mahomes, although he’ll have his share of new starter errors. Still, we shouldn’t downgrade Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, or Travis Kelce on this news. Fuller gives the team a very good player at one of their biggest vulnerabilities last year - slot corner.

The Chiefs traded CB Marcus Peters and a 2018 sixth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2018 fourth and a 2019 second.

Why It Matters: Peters wasn’t traded because of his play, and the team got a very small return for one of the best corners in the game still playing under a rookie contract. There were only two other teams in on Peters, so the off-field issues that made the Chiefs want to move on from Peters obviously turned off most other teams, and this was probably the best deal they could get. The team signed David Amerson, but still have a question mark at the other outside corner position (with Amerson’s play a question mark in and of itself).


The Dolphins traded WR Jarvis Landry to the Browns for the #123 pick in the 2018 draft and a 2019 seventh-round pick.

Why It Matters: Going all the way back to last offseason, the Dolphins never seemed serious about signing Landry to a second contract, which made the idea of paying him 16 million dollars for 2018 seem even more absurd. They were able to find a trade partner, although they recouped less than the compensatory third a big ticket free agent usually brings the following year. They do get the fourth round pick this year. Leonte Carroo and Jakeem Grant will be picking up the snaps vacated by Landry, with Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker getting more targets. Whoever the Dolphins play at tight end will have a chance to play a sizable role in the passing game too.

The Dolphins acquired EDGE Robert Quinn from the Rams for a fourth-round pick.

Why It Matters: The team has Cameron Wake and 2017 first-round pick Charles Harris at defensive, in addition to overpaid 2017 free agent Andre Branch, but still felt compelled to trade for Quinn, who will move back to defensive end, helping his IDP fantasy value. The Dolphins were one of the most cap-challenged teams heading into free agency, and this move didn’t help.

The Dolphins are planning on releasing DT Ndamukong Suh.

Why It Matters: Suh’s deal always seemed unworkable in the later years, and even though the Dolphins were able to trade Jarvis Landry and get his franchise tag salary off of the books, they appear to be set on parting ways with Suh. One of the best defensive tackles in the league will be on the market and the Dolphins can’t possibly replace his impact on defense.

New England

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the expectation is the TE Rob Gronkowski will be back for the 2018 season.

Why It Matters: Gronkowski had indicated he was open to retirement and the news cycle went eerily silent about his future for a while. The Patriots haven’t made any moves that show they expect Gronkowski to retire, so we should draft him and value in him dynasty leagues as if he’ll play next year, but this could become a regular offseason storyline in upcoming years.

The Patriots acquired DT Danny Shelton and 2018 fifth-round pick from the Browns for a 2019 third-round pick.

Why It Matters: The Patriots love getting value out of other team’s disappointing first-round picks and need a lot of help stopping the run, so the move makes sense for them. The third-round pick is likely to be late in the round, so the team essentially gave up between one and two rounds of draft position on the third day to add Shelton.

New York Jets

WR Robby Anderson was arrested for the second consecutive offseason, this time for charges including resisting arrest and threatening harm to the family of a public servant, but the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta reported that the team isn’t ready to give up on him.

Why It Matters: Anderson was a rising fantasy star with Josh McCown, although there’s no guarantee McCown is back and we can’t know what kind of quarterback play Anderson will benefit or suffer from in 2018. Still, it seems safe to draft him in the mid-late rounds of early best ball leagues.


Head coach Jon Gruden said WR Amari Cooper will be the “focal point” of the offense and that he expects RB Marshawn Lynch to be a “big part” of the team.

Why It Matters: Gruden has shaken up the coaching staff, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going to shake up the offense, although there was a rumor that he liked free agent back Doug Martin. Cooper should be available at a discount in early drafts after his immensely disappointing 2017, and the Raiders should be in a lot of high-scoring games with a depleted secondary. Lynch is almost an afterthought in fantasy leagues, but he looked as much like his old self as one could have hoped last year and Gruden has expressed an old school mentality that fits Lynch’s game.


The Steelers used the franchise tag on RB Le’Veon Bell.

Why It Matters: Bell has admitted that he will play under the tag even if he won’t come to camp or play in the preseason. Look for a repeat of 2017. Bell deserves to go in the top 3-5 of drafts.


The Titans released RB Demarco Murray.

Why It Matters: All systems are go for Derrick Henry under the new regime, but the Titans should also draft or sign a pass-catching back to complement him. Still, if the new offense under Matt LaFleur just gets back to mediocre, Henry might deliver first-round fantasy value at a second-round (or even third-round) price.




The Cardinals received three compensatory picks in the 2018 draft, including a third and a fourth.

Why It Matters: This eases the pain of losing Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson, but only a little. The Cardinals are about to end full-blown rebuilding mode, so the players chosen by these picks could be future starters.

WR Larry Fitzgerald announced that he would play in the 2018 season.

Why It Matters: Fitzgerald has been delivering WR1 value in the mid rounds the last three years, but that could change with Carson Palmer’s departure. We’ll be watching the Cardinals moves in the free agent market for a starting quarterback before adjusting his value.


The Panthers traded CB Daryl Worley to the Eagles for WR Torrey Smith.

Why It Matters: Smith will fill the role Ted Ginn Jr vacated last year as a deep threat. He should have more fantasy value than he did in Philadelphia, but will still only be a deep matchup play in DFS and probably go undrafted in redraft leagues.


The transition tag was used on CB Kyle Fuller.

Why It Matters: Fuller is one of the best corners available in the free agent market after putting together a good fourth season, so the Bears could get an offer that they will have to match to keep him. They could have franchised him for two million dollars more and not had to worry about matching an offer, but they must believe that he won’t get an offer above what they are willing to pay.


The Cowboys received four compensatory picks in the 2018 draft, including a fourth and two fifths.

Why It Matters: Dallas lost both of their starting corners and a starting guard in free agency last year. These picks will give them some reprieve and a chance to restock at wide receiver and in the secondary.

The Cowboys used the franchise tag on DE Demarcus Lawrence.

Why It Matters: It’s possible that no one earned more money last year than Larwence, who had two back surgeries and more missed games than sacks entering the 2017 season. The Cowboys couldn’t afford to let him go after being their best pass rusher by far last season, but he might not get a long term deal this year because of his limited track record of success.


The Lions used the franchise tag on DE Ezekiel Ansah.

Why It Matters: Ansah’s production dropped off last year, but he would still have been one of the best defensive ends available in free agency. The Lions still have some flexibility under the cap after tagging Ansah, so this was a no brainer for them despite his spotty durability record.

The Lions listened to trade offers for TE Eric Ebron at the combine according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and gave him no assurances that he would be back with the team next season, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini.

Why It Matters: Ebron seemed to get it in the second half of last season, but it sounds like it was too little, too late for the Lions. The tight end market in free agency is always hot, so Ebron’s youth and athleticism should find him a new home, especially if the Lions make a strong big for free agent Trey Burton as rumored.

Green Bay

The Packers received four compensatory picks in the 2018 draft, including a fourth and two fifths.

Why It Matters: The Packers new general manager Brian Gutekunst is planning on being more aggressive in free agency than his predecessor Ted Thompson, and he’ll have more picks to be more aggressive about moving up in the draft if necessary. They are being compensated for losing TJ Lang and Micah Hyde among others.

Green Bay acquired QB DeShone Kizer from Cleveland for CB Demarious Randall

Why It Matters: Brett Hundley had a few moments while he was replacing Aaron Rodgers, but mostly struggled and showed his limitations. He won’t be a free agent until 2019, but the Packers saw an opportunity to unload a player that they must have soured on for a quarterback that they could develop as a backup.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said Ty Montgomery might become more of a hybrid WR/RB in 2018.

Why It Matters: With the Packers new general manager wanting to be more active in free agency and the team lacking cap room, they could ask Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to take pay cuts or just outright release them. Montgomery would be a good fit in Cobb’s role. His time of relevance in PPR leagues may not be over yet.

Los Angeles Rams

The Rams acquired CB Marcus Peters and a 2018 sixth-round pick from Kansas City for a 2018 fourth and a 2019 second.

Why It Matters: Peters is an outstanding fit in Wade Phillips defense and the Rams obviously think that his behind the scenes issues that got him ushered out of Kansas City are manageable. The NFC West’s best wide receivers, Doug Baldwin and Larry Fitzgerald, line up mainly in the slot, so their value isn’t affected much by this move, but the Rams fantasy defense is upgraded.

The Rams traded EDGE Robert Quinn to the Dolphins for a fourth-round pick.

Why It Matters: Quinn never got back to his early career form after back surgery and the team must have liked 2017 fourth-round pick Samson Ebukan. Quinn had some flashes of old last year, but Ebukan could be just as productive.

The Rams traded LB Alec Ogletree and a 2019 seventh to the Giants for 2018 fourth and sixth-round picks.

Why It Matters: Ogletree wasn’t a good fit in Wade Phillips defense, and he was overpaid at ten million a year. The Rams did well to get this much for him. Cory Littleton could be promoted to take Ogletree’s place or the team could look for a replacement in free agency like Avery Williamson.

The Rams acquired CB Aqib Talib from the Broncos for a fifth-round pick.

Why It Matters: Talib might not be a #1 any longer, but he will be a very strong #2 opposite Marcus Peters. The Rams also signed Sam Shields to play the slot, and if he is over his concussion issues, they might have the best trio of corners in the league.

The Rams used the franchise tag on S Lamarcus Joyner.

Why It Matters: Sammy Watkins is going to be allowed to test the market. While the Rams have expressed some desire to keep Watkins, Joyner had a lower tag number and he was a perfect fit in Wade Phillips defense after moving to safety. Watkins value should go up if he leaves Los Angeles.

New York Giants

The Giants acquired LB Alec Ogletree and a 2019 seventh to the Rams for 2018 fourth and sixth-round picks.

Why It Matters: Linebacker has been a sore spot for the Giants for years, and Ogletree will give them an athletic presence behind their strong and huge defensive tackle group. He’ll have outstanding IDP value.

A video with Odell Beckham and what might be illegal drugs surfaced.

Why It Matters: Beckham could face league discipline, and the Giants new regime is deciding whether to make him the highest paid non-quarterback in the league. This won’t help his negotiating position with them.


The Eagles traded WR Torrey Smith to Carolina for CB Daryl Worley.

Why It Matters: 2017 fourth-round pick Mack Hollins has a good shot to be a starter on the outside opposite Alshon Jeffery and he has the deep game to benefit from Carson Wentz’s play-extending ways. He shouldn’t be on any dynasty waiver wires.

The Eagles traded a fifth-round pick to Seattle for DL Michael Bennett and a seventh-round pick.

Why It Matters: This has to be a culture-based move as Bennett was still providing a good impact for reasonable price tag. The Eagles already had the best and deepest group in the league on the defensive line, which makes this almost unfair to the rest of the league considering how little they had to pay to get him.

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that the Eagles are seeking more for QB Nick Foles via trade than the first and fourth-round picks they got for QB Sam Bradford.

Why It Matters: This sounds similar to the Patriots signals sent out about Jimmy Garoppolo’s availability at this time last year. Foles could be traded for a first and another early pick, but with a strong draft class and free agent market, we would expect him to play out the season with the Eagles and provide insurance for Carson Wentz’s recovery from multiple torn ligaments in his knee.

San Francisco

QB Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year, 137.5 million dollar deal.

Why It Matters: It sounds like a lot for a quarterback with a limited track record, but 15-20 million dollars is the price for just about any starting quarterback for a year of play, and that scale is only going up as the cap goes up. If the 49ers had waited until after Kirk Cousins signs his deal, they might not have gotten this done for less than 25 million dollars per year.

LB Reuben Foster was arrested for domestic violence and possessing an assault rifle after being arrested for marijuana possession in January.

Why It Matters: Foster was considered a steal after being the 49ers third-ranked player and falling to the end of the first round, but the reasons that he fell are becoming more apparent since the end of the season. He’ll surely face league discipline this offseason.

WR Marquise Goodwin signed a three-year, 20.3 million dollar extension.

Why It Matters: Goodwin was excellent with Jimmy Garoppolo last year and gives the team a legitimate deep threat who developed a lot more of the route tree in his first year with the team. He’s a good pick in the second half of best ball drafts.

CB Richard Sherman signed a three-year, 39 million dollar contract with a five million dollar signing bonus.

Why It Matters: After ending the 49ers bid at a Super Bowl run in 2014, he’s on board to help them make one in 2018. He’ll be the #1 corner and obviously Sherman knows his competition in the NFC West. He was supposed to visit other teams, but the 49ers didn’t let him leave town. His deal is basically a one-year prove it with lucrative options in the event that he comes all the way back from a torn achilles.


The Seahawks acquired a fifth-round pick from Philadelphia for DL Michael Bennett and a seventh-round pick.

Why It Matters: Combined with the release of Richard Sherman and unknown future of Kam Chancellor, the Legion of Boom is officially a thing of the past. Bennett provided a lot more value than a fifth-round pick and a relatively low six million dollar salary for 2018

The Seahawks released CB Richard Sherman.

Why It Matters: Sherman was coming off of a torn achilles and due 11 million dollars. The Seahawks are going to have to break in a new corner or two in 2018, and could actually become a positive matchup for fantasy passing games.

Tampa Bay

TE Cameron Brate was signed to a six-year, 41 million dollar deal with 18 million guaranteed.

Why It Matters: The Bucs passing game is going to be hard to decipher for weekly fantasy plays with two good receiving tight ends and three good receivers, but Brate’s chemistry with Jameis Winston in the red zone and his development with the team was too good to let go. The price seems steep, but middling tight ends Dion Sims and Jermaine Gresham both got double digit millions in guaranteed money last year and the cap is only going up.

WR Mike Evans signed a five-year extension worth 82.5 million dollars.

Why It Matters: The Buccaneers were never going to let Evans get to free agency, and if they waited until Odell Beckham signed a deal, Evans price might have gone up. His fantasy outlook is still plateauing with the Buccaneers carrying five good passcatchers between wide receiver and tight end.


QB Alex Smith was acquired from Kansas City for a third-round pick and CB Kendall Fuller.

Why It Matters: Washington apparently had clarity on letting Kirk Cousins walk and didn’t want to wait and compete in the free agent market or draft for a new starter. Smith should be a good fit in an offense that stresses the quarterback being an extension of the playcaller, but Josh Doctson is more of a contested ball receiver and Smith might not be comfortable throwing him 50/50 balls. Jamison Crowder is poised to benefit the most from this move.

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