The NFL is a crazy, wonderful thing. In the first week of the 2014 free agency period, teams handed out over $1 billion in contract money to free agent players. In this effort to strengthen their teams, general managers were battling against one another to get their guy to sign on the dotted line, with some teams, such as the Denver Broncos, being much more active than others.
However, spending money in March does not guarantee you success next February, as many teams have found out the hard way. Despite this, the free agency frenzy does affect the NFL outrights for next season, as fans take a high-profile signing as a cause for optimism. The increased salary cap has allowed teams to go out and try to get players to take them to the next level.
The Biggest Names
Michael Bennett: Seattle Seahawks
One of the most important players on the Super Bowl winning defense, defensive end Michael Bennett was re-signed by the Seahawks to a longer term deal. He will be a key part of maintaining Seattle’s defensive dominance.
Greg Hardy: Carolina Panthers
Similarly, the Panthers are building an extremely good defense, of which Hardy played a key part. Bringing him back was important, especially as Carolina’s offense seems to be crumbling in free agency.
Darrelle Revis: New England Patriots
Famous for locking down opposing receivers on ‘Revis Island’, the cornerback had an anticlimactic season for Tampa. However, signing with the Pats gives him an immediate chance of a Super Bowl, and he can still play at an extremely high level.
Golden Tate: Detroit Lions
An underrated receiver, Tate played an important role in Seattle’s incredible season. Tate offers more than just catching as a receiver; he is an extremely good blocker and a deadly punt returner.
Jared Veldheer: Arizona Cardinals
Many have criticized the Raiders for allowing left tackle Veldheer to leave. What is Oakland’s loss is definitely Arizona’s gain, with Veldheer filling a huge need on the offensive line.
Eric Decker: New York Jets
A part of the (almost) all-conquering Denver Broncos offense last season, Decker will find life tougher as a number one receiver in New York. No quarterback is Peyton Manning, however; the Jets’ QB situation is pretty awful, and defenses should be able to scheme against Decker.
Aqib Talib & DeMarcus Ware: Denver Broncos
The Broncos are in ‘win now mode’, adding two extremely good, experienced players at positions of need. With Talib playing corner and Ware rushing the passer, Denver’s defense may hold up more next season.
Jairus Byrd: New Orleans Saints
With adding Byrd to their set of safeties alongside young star Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints are copying the blueprint that brought the Seahawks so much success. One thing is for sure, this duo comes pretty close to rivaling Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.