Starting at noon today, NFL teams will be able to trade with unrestricted free agents, the start of the two-day trading window that serves as the official kickoff for NFL free agency. Technically, the deals can’t be done until Wednesday at 4 p.m., but we’re going to get a flurry of news today about where many of the biggest names in free agency are headed.
Of course, this flurry may pale in comparison to the metaphorical blizzard we’ve seen over the past week – a week that CBS Sports’ Will Brinson aptly called “maybe [the] craziest ever.” I’ll let him sum things up:
We’ve covered the impact of Ridley’s suspension, Rodgers’ return to the Packers, Wentz’s trade to COs and the impact of Wilson’s trade on Seattle and Denver’s offenses this week, and Adam Aizer , Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard and I hopped on an emergency episode of Fantasy football today Sunday night to react to the Brady news, which you can listen to below:
Of course, even this list is incomplete when we talk about the last week’s news around the NFL. Preparing for the start of free agency is always a busy time in the NFL news calendar, but this year has been especially busy. The next few days will also be wild, and we’ll cover it all for you along the way, but before free agency begins, let’s catch up on the headlines you need to know, starting with the impact of the UN’s Brady – retirement on Buccaneers attack:
Tom Brady returns to the Buccaneers
I wrote about what Brady’s return means on CBSSports.com, but here are the key things you need to know:
- The status quo reigns, meaning Brady should be considered a borderline top-five QB for Fantasy
- Mike Evans is the big winner and is again a top 12 limit WR
- Chris Godwin can be a WR1 again if he’s healthy, but coming off a torn ACL in December, it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for the start of the season. I consider it more of a low-end WR2 in the drafts at this point.
- If Rob Gronkowski is back, he’ll be on the edge of a tight top six.
- It’s a great situation for a running back, as shown by Leonard Fournette by ranking fourth in PPR points per game in 2021. Whether it will be Fournette who benefits again, as he is a free agent, remains to be seen. . If he returns, Fournette is a top-of-the-range RB2; if not, it will be one of the key situations to watch in free agency.
- There’s probably still room for another wide receiver to be relevant to Fantasy, although it’s someone like Tyler Johnson or Cyril Grayson, an as-yet-unknown free agent, or an unknowable draft pick. But there might be a sleeper worth targeting here.
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Kirk Cousins signs $35 million extension
It never really looked like Vikings were going to leave Cousins without an obvious upgrade readily available. That might put a ceiling on the quality of this team, but we don’t mind the stability from a Fantasy perspective – Cousins has been a top 12 QB two years in a row and has been good enough to maintain a high level production. by Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. Thielen’s best days are clearly behind him, but Jefferson only improved in year two and is a candidate to jump into the overall No. 1 WR lineup. Cousins won’t be the reason he won’t.
Deshaun Watson’s status becomes clearer
We learned on Friday that Watson will not face criminal charges for sexual assault allegations, which should lead Texans to start pursuing a business from him in earnest, according to reports. In my view, a suspension remains very likely for Watson in 2022, but that doesn’t seem likely to scare teams away at this point. The Browns, Eagles, Panthers, Saints, Seahawks and possibly several other teams will likely make offers for Watson, and that trade could drop in the coming days.
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Amari Cooper traded to the Browns
That’s… not good news for Cooper, who is coming off his worst season since 2017. The Browns had the league’s fifth-lowest pass rate in 2021, and they weren’t good at it anyway. , ranking 19th in yards per attempt, 18th in touchdown rate and 26th in passer rating. The Browns need an upgrade at wide receiver, and Cooper is definitely one, but it’s hard to get excited about him catching passes from Baker Mayfield at this point. If the Browns land Watson that would be a different story, but I won’t rank Cooper higher than the low-end WR2 lineup if Mayfield is his QB in 2022.
The Cowboys have re-signed Michael Gallup
Shortly after leaving Cooper, the Cowboys agreed to a five-year, $62.5 million deal with Gallup, a surprising show of confidence in the 26-year-old who lost a torn ACL in January. Gallup is a fine player with a 1,100-yard season under his belt in 2019, but he’s not someone you’ll want to target as a Fantasy starter, even with Cooper out, unless we have very good news about his recovery from his injury. I would expect him to be at least a month away from starting the season, if not longer, so Gallup will just be a bench reserve for me.
Cardinals re-signed Zach Ertz
I’m not particularly excited about this one, but the Cardinals made a three-year investment in Ertz with over $15 million guaranteed, so he should remain a solid part of their offense. His 17-game 11-game pace with the Cardinals was 87 catches, 887 yards and five touchdowns, which would be enough to make him a low-end starting option for Fantasy, but there probably aren’t many benefits beyond that at this point. . It’s a tight end to settle, not the one you make a priority in the draft.
The little news to know
- The Browns gave Jarvis Landry permission to seek a trade — In light of the Cooper acquisition, that’s not so surprising. It’s hard to say how much more the 29-year-old can contribute given the Browns’ struggles in the passing game as well as his own health issues, but if he lands in the right spot I’ll be interested.
- Bears waived Tarik Cohen — Cohen’s recovery from ACL surgery just didn’t go well, and I don’t expect to hear too much about it in the future. We’ll see where it ends.
- Patriots gave Jakobi Meyers a second-round bid — The Patriots look likely to bring back their No. 1 goal of 2021, but after some hype in the offseason, he was pretty lackluster. I don’t expect him to be the No. 1 WR again, but we’ll see what else the Patriots do in free agency.
- Bills re-sign Isaiah McKenzie – With Emmanuel Sanders out of the picture and Cole Beasley considered a candidate for release or trade, McKenzie is an intriguing sleeper for 2022 in the absence of any other moves. Gabriel Davis will be the top sleeper everyone is targeting, but McKenzie has 17 catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns in two games without Beasley the past two seasons. It will be a cheap opportunity to get some of that high power attack.