By MADDIE TOPLIFF
Football may just be a source of entertainment for those of us at home, but it is also a full-time job for the some over 1500 players, coaches, and other personnel in the National Football League, a high-performing business above all other functions. And although the biggest, most expensive game of the season was almost two whole months ago, this business never rests. Springtime calls for altered rosters, especially before the rookies show up for the NFL draft at the end of April. This is free agency time.
Tag, you’re it
A handful of notable free agents will stay put for the season, having been franchise-tagged by their organization. The tag binds the player to the team for one year and is usually used as an interim retaining tactic in order to see if a player is worth another long-term deal the following year.
-Robbie Gould: placekicker for the San Francisco 49ers; $5 million
-Grady Jarrett: defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons; $15.21 million
-Dee Ford: offensive linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs; $15.4 million
-Jadeveon Clowney: offensive linebacker/defensive end for the Houston Texas; $16 million
-Frank Clark: defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks; $17.13 million
-DeMarcus Lawrence: defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys; $20.5 million
Brown’s headed out of town
After much speculation, seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown made his exit from the Pittsburgh Steelers and signed with the Cali-based Oakland Raiders at the beginning of this month. Brown made clear his intentions to leave his former team in a series of tweets trailing as far back as September, but the Raiders didn’t release an official statement until March 14, the first day of free agency. In exchange, Pittsburgh will receive the Raiders’ third and fifth round draft picks. Throwback: Brown was drafted in the 6th round to the Steelers in 2010.
ICYMI: Antonio Brown also spent part of the off-season being featured in The Masked Singer, a new singing competition that broadcast its first season on Fox where celebrities dress up in fun costumes and try to out-sing each other. Brown chose a hippo costume and did his best with Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” but was the first to be unmasked and kicked off the show. We all have our hobbies, right?
Le’Veon moves on
Despite a successful 2017 season, Le’Veon Bell rode the bench in Pittsburgh all of 2018 because of a contract dispute, failing to sign a franchise-tagging tender before the eligibility deadline in November. It was not the tailback’s initial plan to sit out the entire season, but after learning that the Steelers could still franchise tag him regardless of playing time, that became his move. But after the season concluded, that new contract never came. What did surface, however, were multiple reports of what actually went down in PA, from general front-office confusion to rumored rifts with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Regardless, Bell will no longer be a Steeler and will dawn green and white as a New York Jet next season, signing a four-year, $52.5 million deal.
Clay says “okay” to hometown LA
The formally tenured Packer playmaker Clay Matthews will be returning to his roots as a Los Angeles Ram this season. Matthews suited up for the University of Southern California in college and now will return to the same arens–the Coliseum for home games. And the Rams’ training facility? That’s just a short 13-mile drive away from his former high school. Matthews, coming off of a poor season performance, is confident that the move will give him the gumption needed to embody the dominating defensive force the fans expect. Matthews’ contract with the National Football Conference champions is two years in length.
“Bye, Eagles, bye”
Quarterback Nick Foles is moving from the east coast to the southeast coast, trading in his Philadelphia Eagles wings for Jacksonville Jaguar turquoise. After the Eagles failed to franchise-tag Foles after the postseason, the Jags reportedly swooped in with a hefty $88 million deal, with over $50 million guaranteed. They were willing to pay the big bucks for a QB after releasing Blake Bortles out of his three-year $54 million deal, choosing to opt for Foles’ consistency instead. Bortles will join Clay Matthews in Los Angeles as a Ram. In Jacksonville, Foles will be reunited with his former quarterback coach the Jags’ current offensive coordinator John Defilippo, who helped Foles coast to his–no big deal–Super Bowl MVP title two seasons ago. With each passing year, the Jags are looking less and less like the punchline to every NFL joke.
Cobb’s new job
Randall Cobb, the former Packers wide receiver, was bursting with gratitude in his farewell Instagram post that gave thanks to the team, fans and the state of Wisconsin for eight years of support. Cobb signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys after a rough season in Green Bay; he battled not only a hamstring injury but also a concussion late in the season. Although news of Cobb’s departure is heartbreaking to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, the organization’s extra money may allow the Packers to beef up their offensive line.
Parkey packs his bags: a personal matter
What’s that sound? It’s not a football bouncing off the uprights at Soldier Field anymore, that’s for sure. At the end of February, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy confirmed a rumor that the organization would be releasing placekicker Cody Parkey on March 13 from the team. Parkey missed seven field goals and failed to convert three extra-point attempts during the 2018 season. The most notable miss was the would-have-been game winner against the Eagles in the wild card round of the playoffs, the Bears’ first playoff appearance in eight years. The miss was coined as the “double doink” because it bounced off the uprights not one, but–you guessed it–twice. Parkey didn’t blame anyone but himself, but shared those sentiments a little more publicly than the team would have liked, adding fuel to the…well…fired. This offseason, Parkey will be looking to sign with his sixth squad overall. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts after going undrafted, but was traded to the Eagles before the start to the 2014 season. From there, he spent one season each in Cleveland, Miami and Chicago.
Suh will go to who?
Any fans of the NFC north know the name Ndamukong Suh, the defensive tackle that made watching his most well-known former team–the Detroit Lions–worth it. Since being drafted by the Lions in 2010, Suh has played for the Lions, Dolphins and most recently the Rams. Although Suh pulled average numbers in the 2018 season for the Rams, he did make a postseason impact and did manage to dish out 36 individual tackles. That’s why it’s a little surprising that the talk of his future has been so quiet. It is most likely that he will depart from LA, but his destination is unclear. Maybe Kansas City?
But remaining free agents like Suh still have time to cut a deal. Restricted free agents can sign until Apr. 20, unrestricted free agents and transition players until July 23 or the first scheduled day of training camp, and franchise players until Nov. 13 (cough, LeVeon, cough).