- Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for ESPN.com.
In the real world, it’s usually better to get your holiday shopping done as early as possible. In the NFL, the opposite might be true. You don’t want to wait until the last possible second to sign somebody to your roster, but smart organizations often take it easy during the opening days of free agency before pouncing later in the offseason.
For those teams, it’s not just about whom you sign. When you sign a player matters, too. Organizations like the Rams and Ravens focus on the
” target=”_new”>compensatory pick formula, which allows them to get draft picks in return for the players they lose in free agency. By waiting until after the compensatory pick deadline, teams can sign players without needing to forgo their free midround selections. If getting an extra fifth- or sixth-rounder doesn’t sound exciting or valuable, consider that the Patriots once turned a sixth-round compensatory pick into Tom Brady.
With the compensatory pick formula deadline and the draft both passed, we’ll see teams begin to pick through what’s still a surprisingly notable class of remaining free agents. The Saints were first to the punch, signing star safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year deal. By waiting until May 3 to confirm the deal, the Saints were able to bring the former LSU star home without impacting the comp formula.
Here, I’ll look at 10 matches of remaining free agents and new homes and explain why a deal might make sense for both sides. I’ll leave out re-signings to keep things interesting, so while I think tight end Rob Gronkowski will re-up with the Buccaneers, I don’t think you need me to describe what the fit between those two might look like. I also won’t include trades, so nothing on quarterbacks Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo. There are still plenty of well-known players to talk about, though, and I’ll begin with the one of the many prominent wide receivers still looking for a new team.
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