2023 Free Agency: 5 Most Impactful Moves Via Signings, Trades on Day 2
The free agency frenzy moved from the trenches to the skill positions on Tuesday, with an emphasis on cornerbacks with outstanding resumes.
That includes former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, and All-Pros James Bradberry and Patrick Peterson. Guys they sometimes have to cover – tight end Darren Waller and wide receivers Allen Lazard and Jakobi Meyers – also were on the move in the most impactful deals of Day 2 of the legal tampering period.
They might not be the biggest stars in the league, but they can be major factors for their new clubs – and damage the ones they left.
5 Most Impactful Moves
1. Raiders Trade Waller to Giants
This was a puzzling trade considering the Las Vegas Raiders added quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and he works so well with tight ends. Darren Waller is a piece the Giants lacked and, right now, is the best target Daniel Jones has in the receiving corps. Oddly, the third-round choice New York sent to Las Vegas, No. 100 overall, is what it picked up from Kansas City for its 2021 first-round selection, Kadarius Toney. Waller has appeared in just 20 games in the past two seasons due to injuries, however.
2. Eagles Re-Sign Bradberry
This was a must re-signing for the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost stud defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, linebacker T.J. Edwards and safety Marcus Epps on Monday. Sure, James Bradberry had the holding penalty that set up the winning field goal for the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII, but the 2022 All-Pro is one of the best cover men in the NFL. Bradberry gets a three-year, $38 million contract. He could earn another $6 million in incentives, and the way he has performed the past two years, first with the New York Giants and then with Philly, makes that easily reachable.
3. Jets Sign Aaron Rodgers’ Trusted Target
This is more about who might be following Lazard from Green Bay to New Jersey. Don’t think we need to mention who we mean. Allen Lazard, who gets $44 million over four years, won’t be the No. 1 wideout for the New York Jets, not with Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson on hand. But he’s not only a favorite target of that quarterback who might be changing green jerseys but also one of his best friends. Lazard also gives the Jets a third-down specialist they needed, while the Green Bay Packers will not have his reliability to help presumed starting QB Jordan Love.
4. Raiders Add Meyers to Receiving Room
Maybe Jakobi Meyers can ease the memory of his infamous lateral that wound up in the arms of Chandler Jones for a devastating New England Patriots loss in Las Vegas last season. Meyers left New England for a three-year, $33 million deal, and will support Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, and reunite with his former offensive coordinator, Raiders coach Josh McDaniels. The biggest impact here, however, will be in Foxboro, where the already undermanned receiving group has been further weakened.
5. Cowboys, Steelers Add CB Leadership
This is as much about adding veteran leadership as it is acquiring talent. Neither Stephon Gilmore nor Patrick Peterson is in his prime, but they join young secondaries in Dallas and Pittsburgh, and can teach a few tricks of the trade. The Dallas Cowboys sent a fifth-round draft pick to the Indianapolis Colts for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year. Gilmore, 32, joins his fourth team in as many years to mentor the likes of Trevon Diggs.
Peterson, 32, does the same for the Pittsburgh Steelers, getting a one-year, $7.15 million contract. He could wind up at safety alongside star Minkah Fitzpatrick, and he should be a stabilizing influence for a defense that improved last season.
Barry Wilner was a sportswriter for the Associated Press for 46 years. He has covered virtually every major sporting event, including 14 Olympics, nine World Cups, 34 Super Bowls, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup Finals, and has written 75 books. Follow him on Twitter @Wilner88.
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Controversial Holding Penalty Costs Eagles in Super Bowl LVII
Super Bowl LVII was a close, competitive game that ended with the Kansas City Chiefs pulling out a 38-35 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the game wasn’t without controversy.
Eagles cornerback James Bradberry was called for defensive holding against Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a crucial third-and-8 play at the Eagles’ 15-yard line with 1:54 remaining in the game. Patrick Mahomes had thrown the ball over Smith-Schuster’s head in the end zone, but the penalty gave the Chiefs an automatic first down and allowed them to run the clock down to 11 seconds before Harrison Butker kicked the winning field goal.
After the game, referee Carl Cheffers told pool reporter Lindsay Jones the call was made because the jersey tug by Bradberry restricted Smith-Schuster from releasing to the outside. For his part, Bradberry admitted it was the right call, though he was hoping he’d get away with it.
“It was holding,” Bradberry said. “I tugged his jersey. I was hoping they would let it slide.”
In Bradberry’s defense, the Chiefs had scored touchdowns on similar route concepts in their previous two possessions when Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore got wide open near the end zone.
It was the second consecutive game the Chiefs benefitted from a call on their final drive. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, it was Joseph Ossai’s late hit that put Kansas City in range to kick a winning field goal.
While some Eagles fans believe their team got the short end of the stick, Dean Blandino, former NFL vice president of officiating and an analyst for The 33rd Team, said the officials made the right call.
“There’s a jersey grab. People will complain because it’s such a big situation,” Blandino said. “But it’s the correct call.”
Eric Mangini, former NFL head coach and an analyst for The 33rd Team, said after the game, “You call the game the way you see the game. If he felt that was a strong enough hold, which you can make a case either way, then I think you make that call.”
Former NFL cornerback Samari Rolle, an analyst for The 33rd Team, also agrees that the referees got the call right.
“No doubt about it,” said Rolle. “He does tug him, and you’ve gotta say, ‘Let them play, it’s the Super Bowl.’ As a defensive back, you do want them to play, but at the same time, that’s Patrick Mahomes. He’s league MVP, second time winning MVP, so he’s going to get that call.”
Rolle might prefer a more physical game, but as he explained, that’s life in the NFL.
“It sucks that’s how the game had to end,” Rolle said. “But playing cornerback isn’t easy, man, and that [play] is one of the reasons right there.”
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