Free Agent Frenzy, Day 1

The NFL’s new league season officially begins tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped the last week from being a busy time of wheeling and dealing. Below is a look at some of the biggest action from the first day of the legal negotiating period, as well as the fun leading up to it.

Cooper Heads to Cleveland

The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to ship wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns, part of a shake up for the passing game of both teams. Cooper and a ’22 Sixth Round pick went to Cleveland, which sent its Fifth and Sixth Round picks in return.

Cooper caught 292 passes for 3,893 yards and 27 touchdowns in three plus seasons in Dallas. He’s largely regarded as a Top 24 receiver and should easily slot in as the new No. 1 in Cleveland—for whoever ends up the quarterback. In a corresponding move, the Browns released veteran Jarvis Landry. That leaves Cooper leading a WR room that’s still thin with Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz and converted running back Demetric Felton listed on the depth chart. Likely the Browns aren’t done working on this group.

Dallas still has CeeDee Lamb as the No. 1 option, placed the Franchise Tag on tight end Dalton Schultz and re-signed free agent receiver Michael Gallup to a five-year, $62.5 million dollar contract. Gallup has 193 receptions for 2,902 yards and 15 touchdowns in four seasons. He’ll have an opportunity for a larger role with Cooper in Cleveland.

Dolphins Spend Big

The Miami Dolphins splashed out for a new receiver, new running back and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on Day one. Bridgewater—who started 14 games for the Broncos in 2021—is projected as a backup to Tua Tagovailoa, providing some veteran insurance and perhaps a push. Bridgewater’s deal is reported to be for one year.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins upgraded the weapons around Tua, adding former Cowboys receiver Cedric Wilson and former Cardinals’ running back Chase Edmonds. Wilson’s deal is for three years and $22.8 million. He caught 67 passes for 837 yards and eight touchdowns in three years, with most of that damage coming in 2021. He joins a receiver room that is led by Jaylen Waddle and includes DeVante Parker and Allen Hurns.

Edmonds, meanwhile, signed a two-year $12.6 million deal. The Dolphins’ run game struggled mightily in 2021, producing just 1,335 yards among four backs, led by Myles Gaskin with 612. Edmonds produced 592 yards on 116 carries, catching 43 passes for 311 yards. In his four years with the Cardinals, Edmonds has 1,551 yards and nine touchdowns, catching 128 passes for 921 yards. He’s never had more than the 116 carries he saw in 2021, meaning he’ll likely be part of a committee. The Dolphins still have Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and Gerrid Doaks on the roster, and likely aren’t done.

Jaguars Add Weapons

Seeking to give second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence some help, the Jaguars went on a spending spree of their own on day one, adding a pair of receivers, a tight end and guard Brandon Schreff. Schreff, who comes over from Washington, figures to bolster the line and help Lawrence and running backs Travis Etienne and James Robinson.

In the passing corps, the Jaguars signed former Cardinals’ receiver Christian Kirk to a huge deal for four-years, $84 million. Kirk caught 236 passes for 2,902 yards and 17 touchdowns in four years in Arizona. He figures to be a primary weapon for the Jaguars along with veteran Marvin Jones, third-year receiver Laviska Shenault and free agent signing Zay Jones, who joins the Jaguars after stints in Buffalo and Las Vegas.

The Jaguars also added veteran tight end Evan Engram on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million. Engram caught 262 passes for 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns in five seasons with the Giants, where durability and drops were often questions. He joins a tight end room that includes Dan Arnold, who joined the Jaguars from the Panthers via a mid-season trade. Arnold caught 28 passes for 324 yards in eight games in 2021. It’s unclear what the split will be at tight end, or how Engram and Arnold could impact each other’s fantasy value.

Cardinals Re-Sign Two Offensive Stars

The Cardinals saw Kirk and Edmonds leave but managed to re-sign veteran tight end Zach Ertz—who joined the team via trade last season—and running back James Conner, who led the team’s rushing attack. Ertz signed a three-year, $31.65 million deal. Ertz caught 56 passes for 574 yards and three touchdowns on 81 targets in 11 games for the Cardinals in 2021. He offers a big weapon in the passing game alongside receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore.

Conner also signed a three-year deal, for $21 million. Conner signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals last off-season after spending his career with the Steelers. He saw 202 carries for 752 yards, leading the team. He was also a touchdown machine, with 15 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns. He figures to head the rushing attack in 2022 as well, though the Cardinals may not be done adding to the position.

News and Notes:

  • Veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky signed a two-year deal with the Steelers. He figures to compete with Mason Rudolph for the starting position. In four years in Chicago, Trubisky went 29-21 as a starter, throwing for 10,609 yards and 64 touchdowns.
  • Isaiah McKenzie signed a two-year deal with the Bills. In three-plus seasons with Buffalo, McKenzie has 95 receptions for 893 yards and seven touchdowns in addition to being a valuable punt and kick returner.
  • The Jets re-signed Braxton Berrios to a two-year deal and added free agent tight end C.J. Uzomah on a three-year deal. The Jets also brought back veteran running back Tevin Coleman on a cap-friendly one-year deal.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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