NFL Free Agency Buzz – Day 1

Just over a month after the Patriots upended the Falcons in one of the more dramatic Super Bowls in NFL history, the 2017 league year is already set to begin at 4PM EST Thursday. That’s when teams will be able to sign free agents, but the legal tampering period for prospective teams and players to begin discussions started Tuesday. As you’d expect, there’s already significant chatter about who’s going where, so in an effort to stay up to speed with the dominoes set to fall, here’s a roundup of the early reports and the impacts such activity might have on the fantasy landscape:

+ According to multiple reports, the Bears are expected to make a strong push for quarterback Mike Glennon. Although Bears fans have been yearning for anyone but Jay Cutler to lead their offense, the prospect of replacing him with someone who’s attempted 11 passes over the past two seasons is a classic case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. Furthermore, after the former Bears front office signed Cutler to an absurd seven-year, $126 million contract back in 2014, NFL Network reports the new regime is anticipated to award Glennon more than $14 million per season. Gulp.

To his credit, Glennon’s basic statistics (4,100 yards, 30 touchdowns, 15 interceptions) aren’t too shabby, and he boasts decent experience having started 18 of his 19 games played prior to Jameis Winston’s arrival in Tampa. However, when diving deeper, the 2013 third-rounder’s career 6.51 yards per attempt leaves much to be desired. For further reference, that mark would’ve ranked fifth-worst among qualified quarterbacks last season. All in all, this mooted marriage reeks of the Brock Osweiler deal from last offseason, when a quarterback-needy team desperately overpaid to roll the dice on a backup that showed glimpses in a small sample size.

While the presence of Jordan Howard should give Glennon the support of a strong running game in Chicago, there’s also the not-so-small matter of not knowing who his No. 1 receiver will be, as Alshon Jeffery is a free agent as well. If Cameron Meredith, Eddie Royal and a healthy-again (again) Kevin White are Glennon’s top options entering next season, then that too would represent the Bears betting on potential rather than proven production in their passing game.

+ Whereas Glennon is on the way out of Tampa Bay, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that wideout DeSean Jackson could be on the way in. With 34-year-old Vincent Jackson being a free agent, the Bucs are in need of someone to line up opposite star Mike Evans, and Jackson would seem to fit the bill perfectly. At 30 years old, Jackson is ideally a No. 2 option at this point in his career, and his blend of speed and shiftiness would figure to complement the physically imposing Evans’ skill set to a tee.

After coach Dirk Koetter’s offense allowed the quick-footed Adam Humphries to emerge as one of Jameis Winston’s favorite targets through screens and underneath routes last season, the electric Jackson would only figure to make more hay from similar assignments. Even so, Jackson’s calling card remains his ability to beat defenders over the top, which is why fantasy owners should be most excited about this possibility. Even at his advanced age, Jackson led the league in yards per reception (17.9) last season, and only two players averaged more yards at the time of catch (12.8) than him. Enter Winston, whose 5,231 passing yards at the time of catch rank fourth since he entered the league, and consider that the Buccaneers’ three NFC South foes all finished in the bottom five in pass defense last year, and Jackson-to-Tampa increasingly appears to be a move with home-run potential.

+ Although the Redskins placed their franchise tag on him for the second straight year – marking the first time that’s ever been done to a quarterback – Kirk Cousins’ future with the team remains subject of much speculation, and Tuesday’s forecast from NFL Network’s Mike Silver that the signal-caller will “more likely than not” end up with the 49ers only adds to that. Whether a Cousins move comes to fruition obviously remains to be seen, but it would certainly represent one of the biggest transactions this offseason.

Currently slated to play this season on a one-year deal worth nearly $24 million, Cousins has thrown for over 9,000 yards and accounted for 54 touchdowns versus 23 interceptions since becoming Washington’s full-time starting quarterback in 2015. Despite that production, the Redskins have been reluctant to commit long-term to Cousins, who entered the league as a fourth-round pick in 2012. At that time, Washington’s offensive coordinator was now-San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan. Given that the 49ers have precisely zero quarterbacks on their roster at the moment, it’s easy to see why Cousins has been linked with moving west to join Shanahan, who is fresh off ushering Matt Ryan into the realm of MVP quarterbacks while serving as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator this past season. Admittedly, the Falcons’ offensive personnel is light years better than the 49ers’ right now, but considering both of Cousins’ top-two wideouts in Washington, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, are free agents, his supporting cast there could take a hit too.

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