NFL Free Agency 2024 Opens

‘Word on the Street’

NFL Free Agency 2024

Frank Coyle/ Head scout

The official start of NFL Free Agency period begins today at 4 pm with a few clubs expected to release more veterans to get under the new salary cap. The ‘legal’ tampering opened Monday midday and the player rush began with NFL clubs prepared to make huge offers to new free agents. The new $30+ million-dollar increase added to up a $255.4 million salary cap per team which made most club instant bidders on the open market.

The premier positions took the focus especially the QB market after the 2023 season saw 60+ starters at the position and raised the bar again at the game’s most important position. QB Kirk Cousin’s was again a huge winner in the open market with an incredible 4-year $180 million deal with the Falcons. His presence makes the Falcons dangerous in the NFC South with a young talented group of playmakers and a solid offensive line around him. Their defense will demand the focus of most future signings and many of the premier draft selections in April.

Most of the early FA movement at the QB spot has been the extensive change at the #2 role, following a season with multiple injuries and rotation at the position. The Browns actually made the playoffs last season, relying on the strong performance of backup Joe Flacco who signed late in the 2023 season after his release from the Jets. He stepped up big and delivered multiple 300-yard passing performances. He was the Browns 5th starter as they continue to stabilize offensively after a year of multiple injuries and erratic performances. Flacco is a FA and will not resign with the Browns. They have already signed vet Jameis Winston for their deep QB room.

The Browns’ blockbuster deal for QB DeShaun Watson three years ago is still highly questioned after his second season in Cleveland on a trade which costed three #1 selections and a whopping #230 million contract. He enters training camp hoping to justify the enormous bounty the Browns relinquished.

In addition to Cousins with a new contract, Baker Mayfield re-signed with the Bucs for $100M on a three-year deal. He directed the Bucs to the playoffs after coming off the QB scrap hill and not re-signed in Carolina last offseason. Veteran Russell Wilson was released by the Broncos after two horrible seasons in Denver, leaving a ton of dead money on their salary cap books. He signed with the Steelers where he will compete with young Kenny Pickett who the starting job.

Backup QBs moved quickly prior to the official opening with clubs determined to land veteran backups who can hold the fort during any interruptions of the long 18-week NFL schedule. The 2023 The NFL Draft will also see the QB movement dominate the early action with the top 3 selections expected to be young passers and possibly 5-6 chosen in the first round.  The trade market will also be a factor in the domino effect at the position. The Bears’ hold two #1 picks, the first and #9 overall which makes Justin Fields expendable this offseason. His mediocre three-year early career will probably end in Chicago. Most clubs move on from incumbents when #1 overall pick allows them to add a top prospect to begin a new era. Fields may not command more than a 3rd round selection or possibly later with conditions. He was an expensive trade with the Giants to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft which cost two #1 picks plus a few middle round throw-ins.

The 2024 NFL Free Agency bell rings in minutes with many deals agreed upon over the past 48 hours. The upcoming player movement will change the landscape of NFL rosters for the season.

The impact of new additions will play a huge role in the makeup of the divisional races which bring many surprises annually in the ever-changing NFL.