Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz weighs in on which signings he’s loved so far.
For NFL players, being a free agent is about getting broke off. Guys want to make the most money and try to sign with a contender, if the money is right. For NFL teams, free agency is about filling holes with above-average starters. Most importantly, it’s about value.
And value isn’t all monetary. Yes, teams have to pay a premium for a day one free agent, but there’s still value to be had for the teams.
These are my favorite value signings so far in 2019. And I have to say, the amount of value in the offensive line signings is staggering!
Tyrann Mathieu, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Deal: 3 years, $42 million
The Chiefs had one goal this offseason: Upgrade the secondary to complement the offense. Well, not even complement their offense, really. Just not lose them games.
Mathieu is a fantastic pickup toward that goal. He is a Swiss army knife for a defense. He can do it all from his safety position. He will play a deep safety, in the box, on the edges, and he’s a tackling machine. Just as importantly, he fills a leadership void on defense with Eric Berry and Justin Houston being released.
Lastly, the Chiefs got him for cheaper than Earl Thomas and Landon Collins, and he better suits what the Chiefs need from that position. It’s a great signing for the Chiefs.
Eric Weddle, S, Los Angeles Rams
Deal: 2 years, $10.5 million
This contract essentially breaks down to a one-year deal for just over $6 million. What a steal for the Rams when you look at their need at safety, the player they signed, and the rest of the market.
While Weddle is 34 years old, he’s still playing like a guy in his prime years. He was the anchor of the league’s best defense last season with the Ravens. The Rams have an outstanding defensive line and cornerbacks, but they lack at the safety position. Not anymore. Weddle will thrive in Wade Phillips’ system as he’s going to be allowed to move around and cause issues for opposing quarterbacks.
This was a big signing for the Rams.
John Brown and Cole Beasley, WR, Buffalo Bills
Deals: 3 years, $27 million (Brown); 4 years, $29 million (Beasley)
The Bills HAD to get weapons for Josh Allen, and they didn’t want to break the bank, as evidenced by being lukewarm about giving Antonio Brown extra money.
Enter John Brown and Cole Beasley.
Allen probably can’t overthrow Brown, who will be a deep threat he can rely on, while former Cowboys slot receiver Beasley never seemed to be appreciated enough. As Dak Prescott said in 2016, “Beasley is always open.”
The best part of these deals for the Bills is their structure. They can get out of the Beasley deal after one season for a small cap charge. Same with John Brown. If these signings don’t work out, they are gone.
Ty Nsekhe, OT, Buffalo Bills
Deal: 2 years, $14.5 million
Nsekhe gets the first year of this contract guaranteed and will be a fabulous bridge to the rookie I’m assuming Buffalo will draft to play tackle in the future. Nsekhe, whose career path has been unique, is a young 33-year-old. He’s only dressed in 56 NFL games, while starting just 16.
But, whenever he gets an opportunity to play, he’s excellent. He’s an outstanding pass blocker who uses his big frame to keep himself between the rusher and the quarterback. He moves well in the run game and is powerful. No surprise considering he’s 6’8 and 330 pounds. This is an excellent addition for the Bills, who needed offensive line help.
Matt Paradis, C, Carolina Panthers
Deal: 3 years, $27 million
This is less about the money, which isn’t top center money, and more about what he can replace with Ryan Kalil retiring. Kalil’s absence will be felt in the Carolina huddle. He was the backbone of that offense. He was able to help Cam Newton with protections and get the entire offensive line going in the right direction.
That’s what Paradis brings to the Panthers. He’s a Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman who was the center for Peyton Manning. That experience will be a boon for Newton and the rest of the offense.