(Lamar Miller photo courtesy of the Miami Dolphins)
(Alex Mack photo courtesy of the Cleveland Browns)
Talk of Fame Network
A week into free agency, and the big money has already been spent. The five- and six-year contracts have been signed and the millions of dollars in guaranteed money have been committed.
So who got the best deals?
In this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll, we ask our listeners and readers to identify the best free agent signing this offseason, and we offer up six very expensive choices, including one player who commanded $52.5 million in guaranteed money. Here are your options:
Malik Jackson, DE, Jacksonville. The Jaguars signed Jackson to the richest free-agency contract this offseason, giving him a six-year deal for $90 million with $42 million guaranteed. He was a member of the supporting cast at Denver, contributing five sacks to the Broncos’ league-leading total. He has 14 career sacks and has started 24 games in his first four NFL seasons. The Jaguars have not been to the playoffs since 2007 and are now expecting Jackson to jump start a defense that finished 24th in the NFL a year ago.
(Malik Jackson photo courtesy of Eric Bakke/Denver Broncos)
Alex Mack, C, Atlanta. The Falcons signed Mack to a five-year, $45-million contract with $28.5 million guaranteed. Ten players who signed in the opening 24 hours of free agency received contracts that guaranteed at least $20 million. Mack was the only one of the 10 who had been to a Pro Bowl — and he’s gone to three in his seven seasons. He’ll keep the inside pass rush off quarterback Matt Ryan.
Lamar Miller, HB, Houston. The best running back in free agency. The Texans signed Miller to a four-year, $26-million contract, with $14 million guaranteed. After watching injuries interrupt and shorten each of Arian Foster’s last three seasons, the Texans decided to go in another direction with a younger (25) runner in Miller. He’s a low mileage back with only 638 career carries but rushed for 1,099 yards in 2014 and has eight TDs rushing each of the last two seasons.
Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston. The best quarterback in free agency. The Texans signed Osweiler to a four-year, $72-million contract, with $37 million guaranteed. Never has so much been paid for so little. Osweiler has started seven games and thrown only 305 passes in his four-year NFL career. But he arrived in Denver as a second-round draft pick and won five of his seven starts with the Super Bowl champions last season with a 300-yuard game against Oakland. And he doesn’t turn 26 until next November.
Olivier Vernon, DE, NY Giants. The best pass rusher in free agency. The Giants signed Vernon to a five-year, $85-million contract with $52.5 million guaranteed. That seems a bit steep for a player coming off a 7 ½-sack season. But the Giants were desperate for some quick fixes, having finished last in the NFL in defense in 2016 and 30th in sacks with just 23. Vernon on one side and Jason Pierre-Paul on the other should provide the Giants a pass rush in stereo.
(Olivier Vernon photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins)
Eric Weddle, S, Baltimore. The Ravens signed Weddle to a four-year, $26-million contract, with $13 million guaranteed. One of the most proven commodities in free agency, Weddle was an eight-year starter in San Diego and a three-time Pro Bowler. He had a 100-tackle season in 2008 and a seven-interception season in 2011 to lead the league. He gives the Baltimore defense the presence at safety it has lacked since the departure of Ed Reed.
(Eric Weddle photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)