NFL Free Agency: Weekend Recap

NFL Free Agency: Weekend Recap

This article is part of our NFL Free Agency series.

Nothing quite compares to the big news from Friday, when Deshaun Watson shocked the world with his choice of Cleveland over New Orleans and Atlanta. Still, the first weekend of the 2022 league year featured a number of impact moves, including a trade that sent Robert Woods from the Rams to the Titans.

After signing TE Austin Hooper on Friday and trading for Woods on Friday, the Titans suddenly have some pass-catching depth behind A.J. Brown, who was the only show in town last year with Julio Jones (recently released) unable to get his hamstring right.

Jones, warts and all, is one of the more appealing WR options remaining for needy teams, along with Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, Will Fuller and Cole Beasley. It will likely be Landry with the largest contract of that group, and rightfully so, but he won't match the three-year, $46.5 million contract Robinson recently got from the Rams.

As a side note, we can see how a lot of these transactions are connected, e.g., the Browns released Hooper and Landry in part to free up cap space for Watson, and the Rams dealt Woods to Tennessee shortly after signing Robinson. (And now I wonder if the Woods trade reopens the door for OBJ to re-sign in Los Angeles).

Anyway, let's take a look at the biggest moves from this weekend, starting with the Woods trade... 

WR Robert Woods to the Titans for a 2023 sixth-round pick

This is essentially a salary dump, with Woods under contract for the next four years and currently rehabbing from an ACL tear suffered in mid-November. He's more likely than not to be ready for Week 1, though history shows it's no guarantee, with former teammate Beckham being a notable example just last year (and his ACL tear occurred a few weeks earlier in the season than Woods'... of course Beckham also has a much uglier medical record overall).

Anyway, this trade combined with the Hooper signing gives the Titans two legit possession targets alongside Brown, while Nick Westbrook-Ikhine likely would be the No. 3 receiver if the season started today. Westbrook-Ikhine had a few nice games last year, finishing with 48-476-4 on 57 targets (8.4 YPT), but nobody will be surprised if the Titans make another move (or draft pick) to take or compete for the No. 3 job.

At tight end, Tennessee has Geoff Swaim and Ryan Izzo behind Hooper, who may or may not be a good enough blocker to be cleared for every-down work in the Titans offense. He does stand at least some change to reclaim fantasy utility as a low-grade TE1, but not if he's coming off the field in favor of Swaim, Izzo or a rookie on a semi-regular basis.

     

RB Rashaad Penny re-signs with the Seahawks on a one-year contract.

Penny reportedly signed a one-year, $5.75 million contract (plus $750k in incentives), which is far more than anyone could've imagined four months ago. It's somewhere between starter and backup money in RB terms, and his workload may in part depend on the health of Chris Carson's neck (though I mentioned Carson as a possible cap casualty in my NFC West offseason preview).

The Seahawks have been positive, with Pete Carroll saying he expects Carson back for training camp, but other reports suggest there's at least some chance the neck injury ends up a career-ender. If not, the Seahawks could have a talented backfield duo, though neither is particularly good in the passing game (and DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer aren't all that great either).

If Carson is out, on the other hand, Seattle would make more sense as a potential destination for the top rookie running backs. It's a bit of a frustrating roster at the moment, with talented pass catchers (DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Noah Fant) held back by the dreadful QB duo of Drew Lock and Jacob Eason. TBD if the Seahawks go for a vet, a rookie or both.

        

RB Cordarrelle Patterson re-signs with the Falcons on a two-year contract.

This just makes too much sense, with Arthur Smith being the first coach to really get something out of Patterson on offense. Granted, the production and big plays largely were concentrated in the first half of the season, though it's hard to say how much of that was Patterson slipping vs. the offense being undermanned vs. inevitable regression from a hot streak.

The Falcons still have Mike Davis, at least for now, and they added Damien Williams earlier in the week. If nothing else, Williams is a threat to Patterson's receiving volume, something that almost completely dried up in the latter portion of 2021. Davis may still be a cap casualty, but there's also a pretty good chance Atlanta adds a back in the draft, perhaps even early on. You do worry it'll just be a terrible offense, with too much pressure on a declining Matt Ryan and an ascending Kyle Pitts.

Remember, Calvin Ridley is suspended for the whole season, while Russell Gage recently signed with the division-rival Falcons. Is it too late to move Patterson back to wide receiver?

   

TE Gerald Everett signs a two-year contract with the Chargers.

Everett reportedly gets $8 million of his $12 million contract guaranteed, plus another $1.5 million available via incentives. From a valuation standpoint, it's about the same as the one-year, $6 million deal he signed with Seattle last offseason.

Everett is decent at getting open and good after the catch, but he's not much of a blocker and seems to make too many stupid mistakes. He did catch Russell Wilson's attention in the second half of last season, and ultimately finished with career highs of 478 yards and four touchdowns.

While I'm no Everett fan, he'll at least get most of the playing time on clear passing downs, perhaps shutting the door on whatever slim chance there was of a Donald Parham breakout. It's also possible the 28-year-old version of Everett proves a modest upgrade on the 34-year-old version of Jared Cook, who remains a free agent at this point. 

     

Other Things of Interest:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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