Free Agency has once again been exciting, as many players have earned themselves big pay days after five-years of hard work. Some of the contracts handed out have been baffling, but this particular article will focus on the best contracts handed out so far. Here are the seven best-value free agency signings so far.
C J.C Tretter to the Cleveland Browns (Three-Year $16.75m deal)
The Cleveland Browns were clearly not impressed with last years offensive line, as they have spent huge money on improving it in free agency. Whilst the Kevin Zeitler contract has received most of the coverage, it was another signing that should be catching the headlines. J.C Tretter will earn just over $5 million per year, and this is an absolute bargain. Tretter is one of the best centers in football, and he was just unlucky to be replaced by an even better center in Corey Linsley during his time as a Packer. Tretter solidifies the middle of the line, and Isaiah Crowell could be the main beneficiary of this signing.
OLB John Simon to the Indianapolis Colts (Three-Year $13.75m deal)
John Simon was very productive in Indianapolis on a limited snap count, and the Colts are banking on him producing in Chuck Pagano’s scheme. Whilst Simon isn’t a guy who will get them double digit sacks, he is someone who will pressure, and someone who can also drop inside and be a run stopper. When you consider some of the obscene contracts that were handed out, the John Simon contract looks like a bargain. Houston didn’t need to keep him because they have a crazy amount of pass rushing depth, but this doesn’t mean that Simon was not a good player in Houston.
DT/DE Chris Baker to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Three-Year $15.75m deal)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a lot of cap room to work with, but I believe they have been very sensible thus far. They could have been tempted to fork out big bucks, but they have instead signed mid-level producers and tried to focus on finding core pieces in the draft. Chris Baker is a really good player, and in Mike Smith’s defence that really needed a big body up front, he could help take the Bucs defensive front to the next level. It is baffling to me that Washington didn’t want to bring him back, as their defence was bad last year, but he was a good performer for them. Tampa Bay probably got the bargain of free agency here.
DB Micah Hyde to the Buffalo Bills (Five-year $30 million deal)
The Buffalo Bills defence went from good to bad under Rex Ryan, but the Micah Hyde signing could see the Bills once again have a top five defence. He isn’t the most talented player in the world, but he is extremely versatile and when he is on the field, the offence don’t know what the defence is going to throw at them. Sean McDermott will design a lot of fun blitz packages, and Micah Hyde is the perfect type of weapon for him. Green Bay didn’t even offer him a contract, which is strange as their defence was trash in 2016. Hyde’s versatility is much needed in Dom Capers’ scheme, but Ted Thompson hasn’t known what he is doing for over half a decade now.
OT Ricky Wagner to the Detroit Lions (Five-year $47.5 million deal)
The Lions had to run a vanilla offence last year due to their mediocre offensive line, but the signing of Ricky Wagner means they can be a little more adventurous. Other than Lane Johnson and maybe Zach Strief, Wagner is the best right tackle in football, and he often doesn’t need extra help in pass protection. The Lions have structured his contract in such a way, that his cap hits in 2018 and 2019 are around $6 million, which is a very manageable figure. Some of the offensive tackle contracts have been horrific so far, so this Ricky Wagner contract might be the best contract of free agency so far.
LB Lawrence Timmons to the Miami Dolphins (Two-year $10 million deal)
The Dolphins linebacker corps was pretty makeshift in the 2016 season, so it made sense for them to add some quality there. Lawrence Timmons is a player who can play for all three downs, and he is a much more fierce run stopper than the likes of Koa Misi and Kiko Alonso. Timmons is a massive loss for the Steelers, and their lack of ambition in free agency could cost them once again. The Dolphins have made some bad signings in free agency. but this Timmons one neutralises their off-season, on the whole. Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke will be happy that he has a player who can play on every single down.
LB A.J Klein to the New Orleans Saints (Three-year $15 million deal)
The New Orleans Saints linebackers were very makeshift in 2016, so they had to finally add a long-term contributor at the position. AJ Klein is an excellent coverage player who just happened to be behind generational talent Luke Kuechly in Carolina. The Saints are done with first-round draft bust Stephone Anthony, so AJ Klein will come in and be the well rounded cover backer they have needed for a while. Dennis Allen’s defence is showing signs of life, and to add a player like Klein just increases the ceiling of the current crop of defensive players in New Orleans.