New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches during an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

NFL Free Agency is Off and Running

It was an active first day of NFL Free Agency Monday and it has continued on Tuesday. It didn’t take long for things to get rolling as numerous players were signed shortly after the legal tampering period opened. Quite a few teams have made headlines early on, but none more than the New England Patriots.

An Unusual Offseason for Belichick, Patriots

It’s rare for the Patriots, led by head coach and general manager Bill Belichick, to be big spenders in free agency. But thus far, the Patriots have not been afraid to make a splash. As of now, New England has signed several big-NFL ticket free agents including:

  • Tight end Hunter Henry (three-year $37.5 million)
  • Tight end Jonnu Smith (four-year $50 million)
  • Pass-rusher Matt Judon (four-year $56 million)
  • Wide receiver Nelson Agholor (two-year $26 million)
  • Wide receiver Kenrick Bourne (three-year $22.5 million)
  • Cornerback Jalen Mills (three-year, $24 million)
  • Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (two-year $16 million)

In just 24 hours, New England has spent over $200 million. The figure is well above their total combined spending from the last decade.

And many believe the Patriots are not done yet.

What other moves New England makes remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Bill Belichick and company are all in for 2021.

Other Top NFL Players Reach Deals

While it’s still early, plenty of top available free agents have agreed to terms with new teams. Among them, former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree signed a massive five-year $85 million deal with the Tennessee Titans Monday night.

Star guard and former Patriot Joe Thuney inked a five-year $80 million deal with the defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs. The move comes as a bit of a surprise just days after Kansas City released tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher. Those cuts created cap space which the Chiefs used to improve the interior of their offensive line with Thuney.

The wide receiver market has remained mostly stagnant early on, but a there have been a few guys to sign with teams. In addition to Agholor and Bourne, former Titans receiver Corey Davis signed a three-year $37 million deal with the New York Jets Monday evening. Plenty of top receivers remain despite the market shrinking after the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each franchise tagged stars Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin respectively.

Monday also saw a few offensive lineman ink deals. The group was headlined by former Green Bay Packers’ center Corey Linsley who signed a  five-year $62 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers.

It was a busy day for defensive lineman as well with several top players reaching deals including:

  • Trey Hendrickson with the Cincinnati Bengals (four-year $60 million)
  • Yannick Ngakoue with the Las Vegas Raiders (two-year $26 million)
  • Carl Lawson with the New York Jets (three-year $45 million)

Players Still on the Market, For Now

After a day and a half of free agency, the NFL wide receiver market stands out as the most open. Still available, Kenny Golladay, Juju Smith-Schuster and Curtis Samuel are expected to get big deals. However, with a decreased salary cap due to COVID-19, it’s likely receivers aren’t getting the offers they hoped for.

Also, some players are just content on being patient and taking time to enjoy the process.

Golladay is viewed across the league as the top receiver on the market. His price tag should be steep. Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, who joined Zach Cohen and myself on “The Pulse” Monday, reported the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants as favorites to land the former Lions star.

Another top free agent, 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams, remains on the board. The 33-year-old has been one of the best pass blockers in the league for years and will likely command upwards of $18 to $20 million a year. While nothing is confirmed, it appears a return to San Francisco is the favorite.

With plenty of top guys still available, free agency is just getting underway. And in an usual pandemic year with no scouting combine and reduced salary cap, it’s very possible it drags out for longer than ever before.

The NFL offseason is here and it’s just getting started.

About Will Levenson

Will Levenson is a Journalism and Sports Media major at UF. He produces daily shows for WRUF, including "Sport Scene with Steve Russell," "Harp on Sports," and "The Tailgate." In addition, Will provides weekly sports updates for WUFT News and radio Sportscenters for WRUF radio. Will has been a writer at ESPN Gainesville since September 2019.

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