The offensive line was a wreck for the Denver Broncos and it was probably the main reason that they missed out on the playoffs. However, they made a major improvement to their offensive line on the opening day of free agency as they signed former Cowboys guard Ronald Leary to a 4-year/$35 million contract. Leary has been a very reliable player for the Cowboys in recent years despite losing his job briefly to La’el Collins last season. Leary is a solid all-around guard as he is a powerful blocker in the running game as well as a good pass protector which is what the Broncos really need. Denver certainly has a ton of work left to do in free agency and in the draft. However, Leary is a very good option at either guard position and he will make a major impact for the Broncos right away.
It is a very good day to be a fullback in the NFL especially for Kyle Juszczyk as he became the highest paid fullback ever as he agreed to terms on a 4-year/$21 million deal with the Francisco 49ers. Juszczyk was a pro bowl selection last season with the Ravens and he is widely considered the best fullback in the NFL. However, the NFL has become such a passing league that fullbacks are basically becoming expendable. $5 million a year is a lot to pay a fullback since they typically don’t make much of an impact and Juszczyk probably isn’t worth that amount of money despite his versatility. He has 97 career catches in 4 seasons with Baltimore and that is a lot of catches for a fullback. Also, he is an excellent blocker which is expected of a fullback anyway. Juszczyk certainly gives the 49ers another threat on offense, but despite their big plans for him I still think this is just too much money to pay any fullback. This could be a really good signing for San Francisco, although we’ll have to see how much of an impact he makes.
The Buffalo Bills added yet another fullback to their roster on Wednesday as they signed Mike Tolbert to a 1-year/$1 million deal. Tolbert is a 3-time pro bowler and he was recently released by the Panthers. Tolbert might have gotten more money as a starting fullback on another team, but his familiarity with new Bills head coach Sean McDermott is probably why he signed with Buffalo. This is kind of a weird signing for Buffalo considering that they just signed Patrick DiMarco to be their starting fullback. However, the Bills will likely convert Tolbert to a running back and probably use him in short-yardage situations. $1 million isn’t much to pay him, yet I don’t believe that Tolbert will play much for the Bills. Overall, Tolbert could have had a better opportunity elsewhere and I’m not quite sure why Buffalo would even sign him if he’s not going to play much anyway. I could always be proven wrong, although this appears to be a bad signing right now.
The Buffalo Bills are clearly looking to boost their running game for next season as they signed former Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco to a 4-year/$8.5 million deal. DiMarco won’t provide much as a receiver and he only has 1 career carry in the NFL. However, DiMarco is a valuable player because of his blocking abilities. DiMarco is one of the top fullbacks in the NFL because of his ability to block linebackers and create holes in the running game. The Bills have great running back LeSean McCoy, but McCoy isn’t big enough to break tackles and get much extra yardage. That is why DiMarco is going to play a major role in the Bills running game. DiMarco is capable of creating running lanes so that McCoy can have the open space necessary to gain extra yards. DiMarco isn’t getting paid much, but this signing hurts Atlanta while it should make a big impact on the Bills offense.
The San Francisco 49ers made an unexpected move at the quarterback position as they signed Brian Hoyer to a 2-year deal worth around $6 million per season. Hoyer will reportedly get a chance to start for the 49ers next season, although the 49ers will likely still bring in some more quarterback competition. This move is so surprising since the 49ers were rumored to be nearing a trade for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. However, the signing of Hoyer likely rules out that possibility and it probably will mean Colin Kaepernick isn’t going to re-sign with the team. Although, don’t be surprised if the 49ers draft a quarterback like Mitch Trubisky or DeShone Kizer since the 49ers have the option to choose one of those players as they have the 2nd pick in the draft. Brian Hoyer does give the 49ers a decent temporary starting quarterback as he played really well for Chicago last season. That being said, I would be shocked if the 49ers don’t draft a quarterback in the 1st round because Hoyer is clearly not their starting quarterback of the future. Either way, I really like this signing for the 49ers since Hoyer gives the team a quality backup quarterback at least. Hoyer could also be a decent option as a “bridge” quarterback until their rookie quarterback is ready. Hoyer gives the 49ers at least some more options at the quarterback position until they can find their franchise quarterback.
Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall was just released by the New York Jets last week, but it turns out he won’t be leaving New York after all. Marshall signed a 2-year/$12 million contract with the Giants on Wednesday as he will be the team’s number 2 wide receiver. Marshall is getting older, but he is still a very good 2nd option for the Giants in the passing game. Marshall had a down season by his standards as he had 788 yards and 59 receptions, but there is no doubt that he makes the Giants offense much more dangerous. Odell Beckham Jr. is still the top target for the Giants, but Marshall gives them a very reliable player to take some off the pressure off Beckham. Also, this signing is a very good bargain since Marshall could be a number 1 target on another team, but $6 million isn’t much money to have to pay him. Eli Manning will be the first quality quarterback that Marshall has played with in his career, so expect Marshall’s numbers to skyrocket from last season. The Giants passing game was already very good, but with the duo of Marshall and Beckham Jr. then they will be even better next season.
The Jaguars are getting rid of yet another bust free agent signing from a couple of years ago as they released cornerback Davon House on Tuesday. House came to the Jaguars on a 4-year/$24.5 million contract despite only starting 14 games for the Packers in 4 seasons prior to free agency. House played relatively well as a starting cornerback for Jacksonville in 2015, but he was benched for most of the 2016 season after struggling early on. House probably won’t get another opportunity to be a starting cornerback in 2017. However, he could be a good bargain player for a team in need of cornerback depth. Jacksonville should have never made him basically their top starting cornerback in the first place. It was ultimately the right decision for the Jaguars to release him since it saved the team quite a bit of cap space and he wouldn’t have been a starter anyway.