As the first football Sunday commences, it is no surprise that several front offices have made moves trying to put the finishing touches on their respective teams.
The past few weeks have been full of big trades, signings, and injuries, so here are all the moves fans may have missed in the lead up to week one.
- After much discourse, the Jacksonville Jaguars finally traded star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2021 second-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick. The Jags are officially going all-in on their rebuild this season, and it was best for all parties involved that this move was made. Minnesota was able to come away with a prized franchise piece, and they will be happy keeping Ngakoue in Minnesota for years to come.
- The Jags also sent safety Rodney Harrison to the Cleveland Browns for a 2021 fifth-round pick. As was evident in the Ngakoue trade, Jacksonville is completely tearing this team down, which has been apparent for years now. They still have some nice pieces in Gardner Minshew and D.J. Chark, but they will ultimately be competing for the number one overall pick in next year’s draft.
- One surprise trade that came out of nowhere was the Las Vegas Raiders sending rookie hybrid weapon Lynn Bowden Jr. and a sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for a fourth-round selection. Bowden was highly regarded coming out of college for his versatility, so it is interesting seeing him on the move so quickly.
- One of the most notable moves in the past week was the release of running back Leonard Fournette by the Jacksonville Jaguars. After being unable to shop him, they ultimately let him go in order to save some money down the line. He was quickly scooped up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, joining Tom Brady and Co. with a one-year prove-it contract. Fournette will join a crowded backfield consisting of Ronald Jones II, LeSean McCoy, and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Fournette will have to prove he is worthy of starting on a team that is primed for success.
- Legendary running back Adrian Peterson caught some attention when he was surprisingly cut by the Washington Football Team. Many thought he would retain his role there with the release of Derrius Guice earlier in the offseason. Peterson was signed soon after by the Detroit Lions, who are in the midst of some backfield injuries. Rookie D’Andre Swift has been limited in the past couple of practices with a hip injury, and Kerryon Johnson has proven to be injury-prone the past couple of seasons. This signing by the Lions will provide some stability in the backfield and will give the fans in Detroit another name to rave about.
- After spending all offseason as a free agent, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney agreed to sign with the Tennessee Titans on a one-year deal worth up to $15 million. Clowney was getting some buzz from other teams but could not get the money he wanted. Now, he finds himself on a solid Titans team that made the AFC Championship just a season ago.
- The last notable signing was the New York Giants bringing in cornerback Logan Ryan on a one-year deal. Ryan was also waiting on the open market for a while, but now has a new home in NY. He will slot in across from corner James Bradberry, another one of New York’s earlier signings.
- Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson recently signed a four-year, $156 million extension on top of the two remaining years on his previous deal. There is a potential opt-out for 2024, but, if all goes well with the franchise QB, he will be locked in Houston for the next six years until he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2026. This contract comes off the heels of the massive deal the Kansas City Chiefs gave Patrick Mahomes a few months ago, although some say Watson’s is more team-friendly. Only time will tell.
- Running back Joe Mixon and the Cincinnati Bengals have come to a contract agreement on a four-year deal worth $48 million. Mixon was entering the final year of his rookie deal, so it is a massive plus that the Bengals were able to retain him.
- Newly-acquired Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins signed an extension to keep him in Arizona for two more years. The contract is worth $54.5 million and includes $42.5 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history. Hopkins was already under contract for three more seasons, so this deal will keep him in AZ until 2025. Hopkins supposedly negotiated the contract on his own with no agent. The contract also included a no-trade and no-franchise tag clause.
- Two big cornerbacks also got record pay days. Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams worth $105 million with $71.2 million guaranteed. The deal makes him the highest paid corner in the league. This move came less than a week after the Buffalo Bills inked their lockdown corner Tre’Davious White to a four-year, $70 million extension. Both of these players have been proven commodities, so it is good that their teams are paying them as such.
- On Saturday, Saints running back Alvin Kamara has now signed a five-year, $75 million extension. This comes not long after possible trade rumors, but ultimately the Saints wanted to keep their guy for the future. Dalvin Cook of the Vikings has also signed an extension for five-years worth $63 million. Lastly, Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp finalized an extension for the next three years worth up to $48 million. Some big level contracts for some well-deserving players.
- Broncos pass rusher Von Miller went down with an ankle injury on the last play of Tuesday’s practice. His MRI showed he had suffered a season-ending tendon injury and will be expected to have surgery. This is a blow to a team that had high aspirations this season. Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock will have to make a bigger step forward if they want any chance at the postseason.
- There have also been a handful of players who have been held out or limited in practice ahead of the Sunday slate. Wide receivers Kenny Golladay (DET), Mike Evans (TB), DeVante Parker (MIA), and Courtland Sutton (DEN) have all been dealing with their own limitations. Eagles running back Miles Sanders is also dealing with a tweaked hamstring but will hopefully still give it a go against Washington. Hopefully, each player’s availability will become clearer as kickoff approaches.
As all of these moves showed, it is an exciting time to be a fan of the NFL. The Thursday night kickoff between the Texans and Chiefs was a success and should make everyone excited that football Sundays are here once again.