It’s officially free agency season in the NFL, and this year the league wasted no time as several big name players agreed to mammoth contracts almost as soon as the new league-year began. While some of those newly-inked deals have a chance to work out tremendously, there are more than a few of the big contracts that could become very expensive mistakes. With that in mind, here are the best and worst signings from the first week of free agency.
Chicago Bears Sign WR Allen Robinson
Armed with a promising young quarterback the Bears headed into free agency needing to upgrade one of the worst receiving groups in the league and did so in a big way by inking former Jaguars star Allen Robinson to a three-year, $42 million contract. Robinson, considered one of the NFL’s next elite receivers after a tremendous 2015 season, has suffered through bouts of ineffectiveness and injuries since that breakout campaign. But in a new offense that figures to make him a featured player, expect Robinson to get back on track toward stardom.
New Orleans Saints Re-Sign QB Drew Brees
Since signing with the Saints back in 2006, Drew Brees has become the face of the franchise and his impact on New Orleans can not be overstated. One of the most accurate quarterbacks in history, Brees has provided the Saints with top-level quarterback play for well over a decade and while a $50 million contract with $27 million guaranteed may seem like a lot for a 39-year-old, Brees has shown no sign of slowing down. The Saints did well to keep a franchise legend happy.
San Francisco 49ers Sign CB Richard Sherman
At first glance, the 49ers decision to sign a 29-year-old cornerback coming off a major injury to a three-year, $27 million contract seems like a curious decision. But upon closer inspection, the 49ers actually landed a bargain in this signing. Essentially, San Francisco signed Sherman to a one-year deal with the ability to release him with few penalties if he fails to play well. Considering Sherman was one of the best corners in the NFL just a couple seasons ago, this is a great low-risk, high-reward move for a franchise on the rise.
Jacksonville Jaguars Sign TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
The Jaguars continue to follow their yearly tradition of signing potential high-impact players in free agency this year with the pickups of offensive guard Andrew Norwell and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins in particular has a chance to be a truly great signing given the former second-round pick is just 25-years-old and coming off a season in which he appeared to be turning a corner in his development. The Jaguars have lacked a true receiving threat at the tight end position for years so this signing has the potential to really open up the offense and make an already great team even more dangerous.
Minnesota Vikings Sign QB Kirk Cousins
Don’t get me wrong here, Kirk Cousins is a fine quarterback, and undoubtedly an upgrade over the departed Case Keenum. However, a fully-guaranteed, $84 million contract for a guy that is at-best an above-average quarterback has all the hallmarks of a bad decision. Minnesota clearly believes Cousins is the quarterback that can get them to the Super Bowl, but if his steadily declining play over the past two seasons is any indication, Minnesota might regret such a big investment.
Kansas City Chiefs Sign WR Sammy Watkins
The second-best wide receiver on the market behind Robinson, Sammy Watkins somehow parlayed mediocre production over the last three years into the biggest wide receiver contract signed during free agency. The problem isn’t with Watkins’ talent — when healthy is among the most agile, explosive players in the league — the problem is that pesky health as well as concerns about him being a “diva” in the locker room. For a guy that is more potential than production at this point, and has major injury concerns, it was surprising to see Watkins land $48 million on the market.
Washington Redskins sign WR Paul Richardson
Another overpay at the wide receiver position, the Washington Redskins picked up Paul Richardson on a deal worth $40 million, despite the fact he has yet to even record 800 receiving yards in a single season, and lacks the upside to ever really be a No. 1 receiving option. As a deep threat Richardson is explosive, but by signing him to such a hefty contract the Redskins are going to expect more than just the occasional big play. Because of that, expect Washington to be rather disappointed in this investment.