Top 5: Most Impactful Free Agents
What signings have been the best thus far?
The NFL offseason has been a whirlwind up to this point. There have been trades, big signings, unexpected moves, head-scratching decisions, huge fireworks…well maybe not that last one, but it has been an exciting offseason so far. The free agency has been particularly exciting with many players acquiring new contracts, some in familiar places and some in new places.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the five free-agent signings that will make the most impact in the upcoming 2016 season.
Up first we have Alex Mack signing a 5 year, $45 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
Mack has been a Pro Bowl level center for nearly his entire career (three Pro Bowl selections and one second-team All-Pro selection). He was clearly the best center, and arguably the best offensive lineman, available in free agency this year. Mack is both an excellent run and pass blocker which fills a big team need for Atlanta. The run blocking will improve even further and the pass blocking, which was at times just bad, will improve greatly. That will give Matt Ryan more time to showcase his ability as a franchise quarterback, which will ultimately lead to more success for the Falcons.
Next up on the list we have Matt Forte, who signed a 3 year, $12 million contract with the New York Jets. Forte has played eight seasons in the NFL, and over that time span he has proven to be one of the most dependable and versatile running backs in the league. In his time with the Bears, Forte racked up five 1,000-yard rushing seasons (including nearly having a sixth last year). He is also a fantastic receiver out of the backfield and has shown the ability to effectively pass block. This is a huge addition to the Jets offense, which has been searching for explosiveness and consistency for some time now. Forte brings another weapon to the team and one that can be relied upon. Although he is 30, Forte has enough versatility and tools in his bag to extend his career well past the usual running back.
The first defensive player on the list, another player who will make a big impact in the upcoming season is safety Eric Weddle. Weddle signed a 4 year, $29 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens after spending his entire career with the Chargers. Weddle is an extremely good playmaker in the secondary and a well-respected leader, both on and off the field. This will bring the Ravens some much needed leadership and shore up the play in the secondary of their defense. Weddle is has been a first-team All-Pro selection twice and a second-team All-Pro selection three times. This shows just how effective, durable, and reliable he has been throughout his career. Though he has entered his thirties, he has continued to demonstrate all the qualities that have made him an elite safety for years. The Ravens scored big with this signing.
Another safety shows up on the list here in Tashaun Gipson. Gipson scored a 5 year, $36 million contract with the
Jacksonville Jaguars, which continues the trend of impact players leaving Cleveland (sorry, Browns fans). Gipson has led the AFC in interceptions twice and has shown the potential to be an elite-level safety. His value and impact are increased even further, though, by being the best free safety coach Gus Bradley has had in Jacksonville. What that will allow them to do is let strong safety Jonathan Cyprien play mostly in the box, where he is at his best. This will improve the defense as a whole for the Jaguars, who desperately need improvement on that side of the ball.
Last but certainly not least, the list is rounded out by interior linebacker Danny Trevathan. After winning a Super Bowl ring with Denver this past season, Trevathan cashed in and signed a 4 year, $24.5 million contract with the Chicago Bears. Trevathan brings proven success to a position that Chicago struggled to find any last season, and that will bolster the defense. He is a solid middle linebacker who can cover and tackle well, to go along with the instincts required to succeed at the position. Along with several other defensive free-agent signings, Trevathan should bring much more talent to the defense, something that Chicago fans are certainly excited about.