NFL teams keep the dollars flowing to free agents

  • FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2014, file photo, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens linebackers C.J. Mosley (57) and Terrell Suggs (55) during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore. With unrestricted free agent linebackers C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith headed elsewhere after the release last week of safety Eric Weddle, the Ravens lost four key contributors while adding much-needed salary cap space. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) Patrick Semansky

  • FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2018, file photo, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr chases the action during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. The Vikings are keeping the heart of their defense intact with a hefty commitment to linebacker Anthony Barr, who changed his mind after an initial agreement to join the New York Jets. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini, File) Winslow Townson

  • FILE - In this Dec. 30, 2018, file photo, Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith gestures in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Baltimore. The Green Bay Packers agreed to 183 million worth of contracts Tuesday, March 12, 2019, with edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. The signings should improve a defense that ranked 18th in the NFL in 2018 and add some more protection for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File) Nick Wass

  • FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2018, file photo, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (11) is tackled by Los Angeles Rams defensive back Lamarcus Joyner during the first half in an NFL football game in Los Angeles. The Oakland Raiders have agreed to a four-year contract with free agent safety Lamarcus Joyner. A person familiar with the deal said Tuesday, March 12, 2019, on condition of anonymity, that Joyner will sign the contract after the start of the new league year. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the move can't be finalized until Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) Jae C. Hong

Associated Press
Published: 3/12/2019 7:15:03 PM

On the second day of spending before the first real day of free agency, the dollars kept flowing.

The money flowed out of New Jersey, with the Jets agreeing Tuesday to contracts with three players: wide receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy, and linebacker C.J. Mosley. The team also will re-sign cornerback Darryl Roberts.

It streamed out of Green Bay, with the Packers getting deals with edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos and offensive lineman Billy Turner. The Packers also cut veteran linebacker Nick Perry.

And it poured out of Oakland once more when the Raiders kept their vault open and agreed to a four-year contract with safety Lamarcus Joyner. The Raiders previously made big moves on offense by trading for receiver Antonio Brown and agreeing to a deal with tackle Trent Brown.

The NFL’s official start to the 2019 business year is Wednesday. Yes, there will be free agents remaining to be grabbed, perhaps even the biggest star in this crop, running back Le’Veon Bell.

But given the “legal tampering” freedom the league now allows for two days, well, let Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta describe the mayhem.

“Unfortunately for us, the market is irrational at times and we can’t be held responsible for what other teams want to pay,” DeCosta said. “All we can do is try to negotiate in good faith with agents and the players.”

All of the deals Monday and Tuesday were confirmed by people familiar with them, but who spoke anonymously because they are not official.


The Jets had more than $82.5 million to spend in free agency, and they are spending it. Indeed, they thought they also had an agreement with Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, but he opted instead to return to Minnesota.

Not that the Jets fell short in adding talent. The 26-year-old Mosley is a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker who will get a reported five years and $85 million, including a whopping $51 million guaranteed. Mosley has had at least 100 tackles in every season but 2016, when he missed two games with an injury and finished with 92. He will be a centerpiece of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ unit.

In dire need of receivers for second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, New York is adding Crowder, 26, as a playmaking slot receiver. Crowder, whose deal reportedly is for three years and $28.5 million, had 221 catches for 2,628 yards and 14 touchdowns in four seasons with Washington. He was limited to nine games last season because of an ankle injury.

Bellamy has 76 career catches for 999 yards and five touchdowns, and is also a special teams contributor. He spent the last five years with Chicago.


The defensive signings should improve a unit that ranked 18th in the NFL in 2018. Za’Darius Smith is getting the biggest deal: $66 million over four years with $34.5 million in the first two years, according to his agency, SportsTrust Advisors. Smith, 26, led the Baltimore Ravens with 8½ sacks last season – including three in one game against Tennessee – and has 18 in his 58-game career.

Preston Smith agreed to a $52 million, four-year contract with $16 million guaranteed. For Amos, it is a $37 million, four-year contract. Amos, 25, started all 16 games for the NFC North-rival Chicago Bears last season and had two interceptions.

Turner gets a $28 million, four-year contract.


Joyner becomes the first major addition on defense in Oakland. He played last season on a franchise tag for the Rams, earning $11.3 million. But Los Angeles signed Eric Weddle last week to be Joyner’s replacement.

The 28-year-old Joyner was originally a second-round pick by the Rams in 2014 and played 67 games over five seasons with the franchise. He has four interceptions and 25 passes defensed in his career.


It’s been a difficult two days for the Ravens. Za’Darius Smith, Mosley, Weddle and long-time star Terrell Suggs (Cardinals) all departed from their top-ranked defense.

“We see good young players leave us every year,” DeCosta said. “We’ve tried to adjust over time, but I think now is a great opportunity for us to become financially responsible, to get control over the salary cap to understand the concept of right player, right price.”

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