Bell, Foles play offense, but defense could rule free agency
NEW YORK (AP) — Nick Foles is headed to Jacksonville, Landon Collins to Washington and Trent Brown to Oakland.
The big-money offers for NFL free agents began Monday, two days before they can sign contracts. Foles brings a Super Bowl pedigree to quarterbacking the Jaguars, and Brown has a championship ring as he moves to the Raiders’ offensive line at left tackle. Safety Collins heads a few hours south from the New Jersey Meadowlands, where he could haunt his former team twice a year.
All of Monday’s deals were confirmed by people with knowledge of the agreements who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because nothing can be official until Wednesday.
Foles has agreed to sign a four-year, $88 million contract with the Jaguars. The deal includes $50.125 million guaranteed and could be worth up to $102 million with incentives as he replaces Blake Bortles, who threw 103 touchdown passes in five seasons but was known more for inaccuracy and inconsistency that led to Jacksonville’s offensive instability. Bortles is expected to be released this week before a $1 million roster bonus comes due Sunday.
The Redskins agreed to sign the 25-year-old Collins to a six-year, $84 million deal with $45 million guaranteed. He led the Giants with 96 tackles last season, and his 437 since entering the NFL in 2015 are the most among safeties in that time, but the Giants opted not to give him the franchise tag. Collins fills one of Washington’s biggest needs on a defense that ranked 17th in the league last season.
Brown was a real find for New England before last season, and his payday will come with the Raiders after agreeing to a four-year deal worth $66 million. He will receive $36.75 million guaranteed in the richest contract ever for an offensive lineman.
According to Pro Football Focus, Raiders tackles allowed 30 sacks in pass protection last season, most in the NFL, while Brown gave up just three in 580 pass blocking snaps.
— DeSean Jackson is close to returning to Philadelphia. The Eagles have agreed to acquire the wide receiver from Tampa Bay along with a 2020 seventh-round draft pick for a sixth-round pick this year. The deal is contingent upon Jackson agreeing to a new contract. Five years ago, then-Eagles coach Chip Kelly released the three-time Pro Bowl pick following his best season.
The Eagles also have agreed on a three-year contract with defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who spent the past three seasons with the Jaguars after playing his first four with Denver, earning one Super Bowl ring. The 28-year-old Jackson had 18 sacks in Jacksonville, including 3½ last season.
The Eagles also announced nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters has agreed to a new, one-year deal to return for his 16th NFL season and 11th in Philadelphia.
— Seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs is leaving the Baltimore Ravens. The 36-year-old Suggs has played all 16 of his seasons in Baltimore and said at the end of the 2018 season he wanted to spend his entire career with the Ravens. That won’t happen.
— Kansas City reached agreement with safety Tyrann Mathieu on a $42 million, three-year deal. The 26-year-old Mathieu was selected by Arizona in the third round of the 2013 draft after a standout career at LSU. He showed glimpses of his ball-hawking, playmaking abilities with the Cardinals, earning a Pro Bowl selection during the 2015 season, but also dealt with his share of injuries.
He tore ligaments in his left knee in 2013 and in his right knee in late 2015.
Mathieu signed a $7 million deal with Houston last season and wound up starting all 16 games. He tied his career high with 89 tackles, added three sacks and had a pair of interceptions.
— Buffalo have agreed to sign tight end Tyler Kroft, running back Frank Gore, cornerback Kevin Johnson and center Mitch Morse.
Kroft agreed to a three-year contract that has a potential value of $21 million. He spent his first four years with Cincinnati.
Gore agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract. He is the NFL’s active leader in yards rushing and returns for a 15th season after spending last year with Miami. The 35-year-old will join 30-year-old LeSean McCoy in forming what would be the NFL’s oldest — and most historically productive — running back tandem.
Johnson agreed to sign with Buffalo after being cut by the Texans. He will compete for the starting job opposite Tre’Davious White. The 26-year-old Johnson was selected by Houston in the first round of the 2015 draft but never played to expectations because of injuries.
Morse ought to help stabilize the Bills’ offensive line. He spent his first four seasons in Kansas City, where he started 49 games.
The biggest name in free agency remains Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who sat out the 2018 season. Some of the standouts on defense received franchise tags: edge rushers Demarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark and Dee Ford, tackle Grady Jarrett.
Other top guys sure to draw interest soon are New England’s Trey Flowers, probably the top edge threat available; veteran safety Earl Thomas; linebackers C.J. Mosley, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Anthony Barr; and defensive back LeMarcus Joyner.
Teams with younger rosters or in a rebuild mode might look for veteran leadership. Forget how Thomas’ stint ended with Seattle; he could be a foundation piece for a retooling team.
Plenty of other veterans have been cut and are on the market, including Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, Browns linebacker Jamie Collins, and safety Tashaun Gipson.
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