2017 NFL Free Agency: Mike Glennon to the Bears and the Biggest Signings So Far

by Kevin Roberts
on March 9, 2017

The 2017 NFL Free Agency period might not officially start until most of the big names fall, but there have already been some trades, cuts and signings that have the wheels in motion.

The impending release of long-time Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Tony Romo should shake things up starting Thursday, while the market still seem to be being set for several big names such as Alshon Jeffery, A.J. Bouye and many others.

All we know for sure is what has gone down so far. And in a small amount of time, we can assure you it’s a considerable amount.

Crazier than the big moves that have been made thus far, of course, is what those moves tell us what teams will or won’t be doing from this point forward.

Let’s recap the biggest NFL free agent signings, cuts and trades that have happened over the past two days to get you caught up for what should be a bumpy ride going forward:

Bears Replace Jay Cutler With Mike Glennon

Mike Glennon isn’t really seen by many as the answer for anyone, but at least for now it seems like the Bears will see if he can’t prove his skeptics wrong. Per reports, the Bears have brought on the former Buccaneers backup passer to replace former starter, Jay Cutler:

Chicago certainly overpaid here, as Glennon hasn’t played meaningful snaps since 2014 and even when he was on the field he didn’t scream “franchise passer”. Glennon has good size, a strong arm and some potential, but the Bears are likely swinging and missing with the 27-year old product.

Of course, this does two things for Chicago. It officially allows them to release Jay Cutler, which ends an era of losing and erratic, turnover-laden play, while it also gives the Bears a (hopefully) passable option under center. It also should save the Bears from reaching for a quarterback in round one, but drafting another passer at some point in the 2017 NFL Draft still seems like a must.

Patriots Steal Stephon Gilmore From Bills

Okay, Mike Glennon to the Bears wasn’t the biggest free agency move, but it was at least the one that raised our eyebrows the highest. The best move of all may be New England’s theft of stud corner Stephon Gilmore from – you guessed it – divisional foe, Buffalo:

Gilmore has some streakiness to him, but is a superstar talent that has plenty of fantastic years ahead of him. This move not only locks down one side of the defense for the Pats, but also leaves the door open for numerous discussions when it comes to the future of Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan with the team.

Regardless of what else comes of this, this is a huge – and uncharacteristic – signing for the Pats. New England rarely goes after elite (and expensive) talent, but they sold out to keep the Bills from getting their top corner back. It’s going to be scary to see how much better New England’s defense gets from here.

Buccaneers Get Deep Threat WR With DeSean Jackson

One of the hotter names on the open market this month, former Redskins burner DeSean Jackson finally has a new home. D-Jax had discussed possibly returning to Philadelphia, but ultimately opted to team up with Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay:

This is a huge signing for the Buccaneers, who already seemed to be a team on the rise after threatening for a playoff spot just last year. D-Jax opens up this offense completely, potentially making the Bucs a Super Bowl sleeper going into 2017.

Jaguars Beef Up D-Line With Calais Campbell

The Jaguars have made quick work in enhancing their already stout defense, with the addition of veteran defensive line monster Calais Campbell going down on Wednesday:

A long-time menace for the Arizona Cardinals, the 30-year old Campbell chased the cash and an improving atmosphere in Florida. The Jaguars once again struggled in 2016, but boast one of the more talent-laden defensive units in the NFL. With Campbell shoring up one side of Jacksonville’s line up front, they’re officially on watch as a 2017 playoff threat.

Tony Jefferson Heading to Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore’s strong defense got a little stronger this week, as they agreed to terms with rising safety, Tony Jefferson:

The Ravens continue to get faster and more versatile on defense, having just brought in Eric Weddle a season ago. Jefferson gives the team youth and run support at safety, while the 25-year old Jefferson still brings serious upside to the table, as well.

The domino effect resides in Arizona, where the Cardinals are suddenly short some very key defensive pieces.

New England Replaces Martellus Bennett With Dwayne Allen Trade

The rich got richer on Wednesday, when Bill Belichick and co. made a trade for versatile Colts tight end, Dwayne Allen:

This is an interesting trade, as it gives the Pats depth behind Rob Gronkowski, while also filling the hole left by free agent Martellus Bennett. Bennett was pricing himself out of a possible return, while New England was heading into the 2017 NFL Draft with tight end high on their board.

Allen has shown in the past that he can be a very dangerous red-zone weapon, while his blocking ability will help get him on the field more than you’d expect. He’s also under team control for the next three seasons, having signed a new deal with the Colts just a year ago.

Tyrod Taylor Takes Less Money to Stay in Buffalo

It wasn’t earth-shattering news, but with reports long suggesting Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor could be on his way out of town, it was mildly surprising to hear he agreed to take less money to stay in town:

Taylor stays in an offense he’s thrived in, while denying constant rumors that had hard ties to the Cleveland Browns. Buffalo clearly isn’t enamored with Taylor, but there aren’t many other suitable replacements available in the league. Keeping Taylor at a reduced cost is a big win for a Bills team that may not be as far from competing for a playoff spot as some may think.

Rams Upgrade O-Line With Andrew Whitworth

Los Angeles continued its work on what has been a constantly under-performing offensive line, as they landed a potentially massive upgrade in tackle Andrew Whitworth:

Whitworth should shore up the pass protection for second-year passer Jared Goff, assuming the 35-year old can stay healthy and doesn’t suddenly see a dramatic decline in performance. That isn’t to be expected, of course, as the 11-year pro has been one of the league’s top offensive lineman, by all accounts.

Packers Stay Diligent, Retain Pass Rusher Nick Perry

Green Bay seemed content to let most of their free agents walk this year, but in a mildly surprising move, conservative GM Ted Thompson paid up to keep effective pass rusher Nick Perry in town:

It was certainly a gamble, as Perry waited until his contract year to show true promise, while his career for the most part had been riddled with injuries and erratic play. The Packers will hope a fat contract will keep Perry motivated, however, and that his 11-sack season from 2016 isn’t an anomaly.

Kenny Stills Sticking in South Beach

There had been a lot of chatter about Kenny Stills leaving Miami for big money and a more concrete role, but the speed wide receiver ultimately opted to stay in South Beach.

The two sides agreed to a new 4-year, $32 million deal following a productive 2016 campaign for Stills that included a whopping 9 touchdowns. Stills, just 24 years old, will be devoting his prime years to Adam Gase and the Dolphins as they try to dethrone the mighty Patriots in the AFC East.

Jags Upgrade at Safety With Barry Church

The writing had been on the wall that disappointing safety Jonathan Cyprien would be out the door as a free agent, and that line of thinking was confirmed this week when the Jaguars upgraded with stable safety, Barry Church.

The two sides agreed to a 4-year, $26 million deal to pull the balanced defensive back out of Dallas:

Church had been a mainstay for a mediocre Cowboys defense, where it was arguable that his strong run defense and pass coverage skills were being wasted. On a stacked Jacksonville defense, now Church could be the missing link for a team ready to shoot for a playoff spot.

Arizona Keeps Studly Pass Rusher Chandler Jones

The Cardinals made a big play on defense, making good on their franchise tag by locking up star pass rusher Chandler Jones to a new 5-year deal:

The deal is expected to be big, but it’s worth it for an Arizona defense that is already losing some big names to free agency. Jones was a high impact addition in a trade from New England ahead of last season, proving his worth with 11 sacks and 4 forced fumbles across a full 16-game season.

Brandon Marshall Stays in New York (With the Giants)

It’s old news by now, but it’s certainly no small move, as former Jets stud receiver Brandon Marshall joined the New York Giants this week. Marshall is regressing at age 33, but as a secondary option to the explosive Odell Beckham Jr., it’s quite arguable that he could still enjoy a solid 1-2 years in the Big Apple.

The move is an upgrade for the G-Men following the release of declining veteran slot man Victor Cruz. For a team that was already in the playoffs a season ago, this is a solid step forward to help make their offense a little more consistent.

Colts Make Jack Doyle the Main Man at Tight End

Indy made their choice at tight end in free agency, as they signed former backup pass-catcher Jack Doyle to a new three-year deal:

The Doyle signing led to the trading of the often injured Dwayne Allen, which opens the door to even bigger numbers for what figures to be Indy’s full-time starter at the position.

Panthers Boost O-Line With LT Matt Kalil

Brothers unite in Carolina, as former Vikings left tackle Matt Kalil has reportedly decided to join his brother Ryan on the Panthers:

Matt Kalil has had some back issues and wasn’t very consistent to start his career out of USC, but he’s a massive left tackle that still has the talent to win consistently in pass protection. It’s a nice story and it also fills a needs, as the Panthers still aren’t sure if Michael Oher (concussions) will even play again.

Chicago Still in on Alshon Jeffery

Alshon Jeffery, the top available wide receiver in free agency, remains on the market. So far the star receiver’s market has been quiet, but whispers suggest a return to Chicago is in the works.

There are rumors that the Bears have offered their star wide receiver $13 million per year, which would suggest the team would prefer him back at a discount. It will be interesting to see if an outside contender (Titans, Eagles, Redskins or perhaps the 49ers) will be willing to shell out the extra $1-2 million to pry him from the Windy City.

Kenny Britt Takes Terrelle Pryor’s Spot in Cleveland

Terrelle Pryor is another big name wide receiver that hasn’t garnered any serious traction yet, but he soon should with news that Kenny Britt figures to take his place in Cleveland:

This is a questionable move for Britt, who goes from one awful team to another, but he got paid and should have a locked in role with the rebuilding Browns.

The good news lies with Cleveland, as they get a player with a similar skill-set to Pryor and likely for far less. It’s not a given Pryor is headed out of town, but the addition of Britt certainly makes it look all the more likely.

49ers Land Brian Hoyer as Backup

San Francisco took its first steps toward figuring out their quarterback situation on Wednesday, when news broke that former Bears backup quarterback Brian Hoyer would be joining the team:

Hoyer’s new deal is that of a backup, with a $12 million deal that is incentive laden, should he become a productive starter for the team:

Hoyer is likely just step one in San Francisco’s rebuild, as a trade for Kirk Cousins or the drafting of a high profile rookie quarterback is probably next on the list.

Chiefs Decide to Let Nick Foles Walk

Kansas City has stood firmly behind Alex Smith as their starting quarterback for 2017, but they won’t be doing the same in regards to Nick Foles as the top passer behind him. Per reports, the Chiefs will not act on Foles’ team option, making him free to sign with the highest bidder:

Foles has some good play on tape, but flamed out with the Eagles and Rams before arriving in Kansas City as a backup last year. Foles is a more than capable clipboard holder and spot starter, but the days of anyone confusing him with a franchise passer are over. That being said, teams in desperate need of quarterback help like the 49ers and Browns could give him a look.

Eagles Drop Pass Rusher Connor Barwin

Per reports, the Eagles are moving on from star pass rusher, Connor Barwin:

Barwin was a stud with 14.5 sacks back in 2015, but hasn’t even matched that production in his past two seasons combined. Barwin was a cap casualty after not being an ideal fit for Philly’s 4-3 base defense, but the 30-year old is still in his prime.

Barwin can still be effective as an edge rusher in a 3-4 base defense. He no longer fit the Eagles’ plans and was costing too much money. He should be able to start fresh with a 3-4 scheme, with teams like the Patriots, Packers, Saints and several others potentially expressing interest if the price is right.

There is surely much more to come on Thursday and over the next week, but to this point, these are the biggest 2017 NFL Free Agency moves. Stay tuned!

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