The New York Giants needed some major help at the running back position and it appears that they have found their new starter as they signed former Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart to a 2-year/$6.9 million deal. Stewart is about to be 31 years old, so he isn’t very young for a running back. Also, he averaged a career-worst 3.4 yards per carry last season for the Panthers and that is obviously a major cause for concern. However, Stewart can still be a productive running back in the NFL despite his age and he is certainly an upgrade over what the Giants had at the position last season. He probably won’t make a huge difference in the running game for New York, but he can at least provide some more stability at the running back position. This is a good signing for the Giants as it is a step in the right direction to try and improve the running back position.
The Tennessee Titans have found a new running back to replace the recently released DeMarco Murray as the team signed former Patriots running back Dion Lewis to a 4-year/$20 million contract. Lewis was the most effective running back for New England last season as he had 896 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. However, he also provided quite a bit of value in the passing game as he had 32 receptions and 3 receiving touchdowns last season. Lewis certainly won’t be the starting running back for Tennessee as Derrick Henry will be the early-down back for the Titans. However, Lewis is a terrific fit for the Titans mostly because of his pass-catching abilities. Henry isn’t really known as a pass-catcher and Lewis can be very valuable in that role as a 3rd-down back for the team. Lewis has also proven that he can be very reliable running the ball as he averaged 5 yards per carry last season with the Patriots. Lewis will primarily be used on 3rd downs, but he will also be valuable running the ball as he can take a lot of the pressure off of Henry. Lewis just adds another dangerous weapon to the Titans offense and he will be a perfect fit for the Titans as he is a very capable pass-catcher.
The Baltimore Ravens needed some major help at the wide receiver position and they continued adding some depth to the position by signing former Cardinals receiver John Brown to a 1-year/$5 million deal. Brown proved that he can be a very good wide receiver in 2015 for Arizona when he had 1,003 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. However, the last 2 years he wasn’t nearly as productive for Arizona and he only had 299 receiving yards last season. Brown missed 6 games last season due to injury which is a major reason why he didn’t have a productive season. Brown isn’t a good 1st or 2nd wide receiver, but he could certainly be a reliable slot receiver for the Ravens. Brown is a good deep threat as well and that will be dangerous with Joe Flacco having a very strong arm. The Ravens still have to find a good number 1 wide receiver, but adding Brown will give the Ravens some better depth at the position for the 2018 season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars added some much needed depth to their wide receiver group as they signed former Colts receiver Donte Moncrief to a 1-year/$7 million contract. Moncrief had a big role in the Colts offense during the 2015 season, but the last 2 seasons he hasn’t been very productive for Indianapolis. Moncrief only had 391 yards and 2 touchdowns for the Colts last season, although some of that could be attributed to injuries and poor quarterback play. However, Moncrief should have a bigger role next season in the Jaguars offense as they needed some help at the wide receiver position. Marqise Lee figures to the be the team’s number 1 receiver, but Moncrief gives the Jaguars a big receiver and a decent 2nd option in the passing game. Moncrief hasn’t quite lived up to his potential, but maybe he will be more successful with an expanded role in Jacksonville. It feels like the Jaguars overpaid for a player that hasn’t had a very productive NFL career so far, but at least it is only a 1-year deal which lessens the risk. We’ll see how much Moncrief improves the Jaguars passing game, but at least it gives them some more depth at the position after the departure of Allen Robinson.
Muhammad Wilkerson was once considered one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL. However, character issues and a lack of effort really derailed his career with the Jets and that is what led to his release prior to the start of free agency. Wilkerson now has a new team though as he signed a 1-year/$5 million contract with the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday. Wilkerson was arguably the best pass rusher available in free agency mostly because he is a terrific pass rusher especially considering that he is 315 pounds. There is no questioning that he has the talent to be an elite defensive end, but a lack of effort has been an issue for him in recent years. If Green Bay can motivate him to provide a more consistent effort then this could be the best signing of free agency. The Packers are only paying him $5 million which isn’t much considering his talent and it is only a 1-year deal, so there isn’t much risk to this signing. The Packers already had a couple of really good pass rushers with Nick Perry and Clay Matthews. However, if Wilkerson can play like he did in 2015 when he had 12 sacks then the Packers could have the best pass rush of any team in the NFL. We’ll see if Wilkerson can provide a consistent level of production for Green Bay, but even if he doesn’t then the Packers still should have a good starting defensive end. There is really no risk to this deal and there is potential for the Packers to get a very high reward which is why this is a terrific signing.
It’s no secret that the Baltimore Ravens are in desperate need of some wide receiver help this offseason. They began to address their issue at that position on Tuesday as they signed former Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant to a 4-year/$29 million contract. Grant had by far the best season of his career in 2017 for the Redskins as he had 573 yards and 4 touchdowns. Grant never was given much of an opportunity for playing time in Washington and he figures to have a much bigger role with the Ravens. Grant isn’t a bad 3rd receiver, but he will likely be the Ravens 2nd receiver based on just how much he is getting paid. It is insane that a guy who doesn’t even have 1,000 career receiving yards is being given a contract that will pay him over $7 million per year. I get that Baltimore needs some wide receiver depth and Grant should provide some quality depth. However, they paid way too much for him considering his lack of experience at the NFL level. We’ll see if Grant can be a productive wide receiver in an expanded role, but it doesn’t appear that they are getting good value with this signing.
The Cleveland Browns once again are making big moves to try and make their team more competitive as they signed former Steelers offensive tackle Chris Hubbard to a 5-year/$37.5 million deal. Hubbard has been a backup for most of his career, but he has some starting experience as he made 14 starts for Pittsburgh the past 2 seasons. He can play the guard position if he needs to, but he will likely be an upgrade at the right tackle position for Cleveland. Hubbard played really well last season for Pittsburgh as he started 10 games for the injured Marcus Gilbert at right tackle. However, Hubbard played very well which is why he is receiving such a lucrative contract in free agency. We’ll see how well Hubbard plays now that he is a full-time starter for the first time in his career, but if he plays like he did last season then he will be worth the price.