NFL free agency: Kirk Cousins, Chris Jones and Derrick Henry among the biggest deals of 2024

By | March 17, 2024

The NFL was back with a bang this week as the 32 teams began shaping their rosters for the 2024 season.

Just over four weeks after the Kansas City Chiefs won their third Super Bowl in five years, the new league year officially kicked off.

It starts with the free agency period and this year has been a busy week with over 100 deals being completed. Russell Wilson’s move to Pittsburgh was the most high-profile, but here are more of the biggest deals.

Kirk Cousins ​​- Minnesota Vikings to Atlanta Falcons

Kirk Cousins ​​wears a Top 10 necklace after a Minnesota Vikings gameKirk Cousins ​​wears a Top 10 necklace after a Minnesota Vikings game

Kirk Cousins ​​poked fun at his new ‘bling’ image as he wore a Top 10 necklace last season, citing those who still doubt he’s an elite NFL quarterback

Kirk Cousins ​​had to bide his time before becoming one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. An afterthought to a draft pick by Washington in 2012, he didn’t become their starter until his fourth year.

After moving to Minnesota in 2018, he established himself as one of the NFL’s most consistent passers, albeit more functional than flashy. Yet the seemingly small-minded family man has also become an unlikely fan favorite in recent years.

Cousins ​​was the star of Netflix’s Quarterback series, which followed him, Patrick Mahomes and Marcus Mariota through the 2022 season. And after a big away win, Cousins ​​celebrated by going shirtless on the Vikings’ flight to house, dancing while covered in bling.

An injury ended his 2023 season, but the 35-year-old has now been lured to Atlanta with the biggest contract of his career: a four-year contract worth $180 million. He will lead a vibrant young offense as last year’s starter Desmond Ridder heads to Arizona.

Chris Jones – Re-signed by Kansas City Chiefs

While Patrick Mahomes once again produced when it mattered most for Kansas City, last season’s Super Bowl run was actually built on the Chiefs’ defense.

Chris Jones is the leader and plays in the team’s entire dynasty, and they recognized his importance by handing the 29-year-old a recording contract for a defensive tackle – $158.75m (£124.7m) over five years.

Saquon Barkley – New York Giants to Philadelphia Eagles

After their 2023 Super Bowl epic, Philadelphia was on track for a rematch with Kansas City before suffering a late-season slump.

Veteran center Jason Kelce then retired, but the Eagles have given themselves a boost by adding one of the NFL’s best running backs to a team that already has one of the league’s best offensive lines and running games.

Barkley, nicknamed “Saquad” because of the size of his thighs, was the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year and has shown signs of getting back to his best in recent seasons.

He’s been one of the Giants’ few playmakers over the last six years, so it was a surprise that they let him go when he was only 27. Barkley joins their division rivals on a three-year deal worth $37.8 million, while D’Andre Swift has. left Philly for Chicago.

“I’m quite positive, even if I’m a bit upset [the Eagles] I waited until I retired to take a step like that,” Kelce said on his podcast. “I knew I would miss an excellent season for the Eagles, but I get to watch it and celebrate it just like everyone else, so I’m excited about that.”

Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans to Baltimore Ravens

Derrick Henry plays for the Tennessee TitansDerrick Henry plays for the Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry has had the most rushing yards (9,502) and scored the most touchdowns (93) since 2016

Derrick Henry, a battering ram of a running back, has been the NFL’s best since entering the league in 2016 and was named the 2020 Offensive Player of the Year.

But Tennessee is in the midst of a rebuild and its running backs are expected to decline once they turn 30, as Henry did in January. However, Baltimore felt that the opportunity to sign a player who has been such a dominant force was too good to pass up.

“He’s kind of a unicorn,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “It’s a combination of speed, strength and durability. Those types of guys are rare.”

Henry joins a team that had the NFL’s best regular-season record and will let mobile quarterback Lamar Jackson, named Most Valuable Player for the second time, save his legs for when he really needs to work some magic.

After being given a two-year contract worth $16 million, Henry had a clear message for his doubters: “Tell them to keep watching.”

Calvin Ridley – Jacksonville Jaguars to Tennessee Titans

Tennessee’s rebuild saw the Titans bring back Tony Pollard from Dallas to replace Henry, while adding quarterback Mason Rudolph from Pittsburgh.

But their biggest deal was landing wide receiver Calvin Ridley, 29, from Jacksonville on a four-year contract worth $92.

Bobby Wagner – Seattle Seahawks to Washington Commanders

Another rebuilding team is Washington and they have added a defensive leader in 33-year-old linebacker Bobby Wagner, who led the league in tackles last season.

They brought in quarterback Marcus Mariota, so last season’s starter Sam Howell joins Seattle and is expected to draft another QB with the second overall pick. They also added pedigree to their offense with running back Austin Ekeler and tight end Zach Ertz.

Baker Mayfield – Re-signed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans celebrate while playing for the Tampa Bay BuccaneersBaker Mayfield and Mike Evans celebrate while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After playing for three teams in one year, Tampa Bay gave 28-year-old Baker Mayfield a chance to revive his career last season and he took advantage by leading them to the playoffs.

They rewarded the 2018 number one draft pick with a three-year contract worth $100 million and also re-signed star receiver Mike Evans.

Christian Wilkins – Miami Dolphins to Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas has bolstered their tough defense by signing tackle Christian Wilkins to a four-year, $110 million contract. They also brought in quarterback Gardner Minshew from Indianapolis, so they have Jimmy Garoppolo join the Los Angeles Rams.

The Green Bay Packers made a surprise move by signing Josh Jacobs from the Raiders and letting fellow running back Aaron Jones join division rival Minnesota, who also brought in quarterback Sam Darnold from San Francisco to help replace Kirk Cousins.

Quarterback merry-go-round

Last season showed the value of reliable coverage at quarterback, with more than 60 players being used as starters due to inconsistent form and injuries.

Teams have shuffled their packs ahead of the draft (April 25-27), bringing in guys to compete for the starting job or serve as backups, with some of the aforementioned players involved in a quarterback merry-go-round .

The Steelers have overhauled their quarterback roster, with Justin Fields joining Wilson in Pittsburgh from the Chicago Bears.

Other notable names moving include Jameis Winston to Cleveland, Joe Flacco to Indianapolis, Jacoby Brissett to New England, Mac Jones to Jacksonville, Drew Lock to the Giants and Tyrod Taylor to the Jets.

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