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2024 NFL Free Agency: Day 1 Winners and Losers

Monday marked the beginning of the free agency tampering period, and with it came many impactful moves across the league.

NFL free agency hasn’t officially begun, and yet it’s already on its way toward being over.

On the first day of legal tampering, the NFL went berserk with moves, ranging from a handful of key re-signings such as Grover Stewart and A.J. Epenesa, to major movement such as Kirk Cousins to the Atlanta Falcons and Christian Wilkins joining the Las Vegas Raiders.

But which teams, and players, won and lost? Who should be jubilant and who should be crushed? There are plenty of results to parse.

QB Kirk Cousins looks on during a practice

Cousins is reportedly being guaranteed $100 million to suit up for the Falcons, and could earn up to $160 million over the next four years.


Falcons QB Kirk Cousins

Cousins is going into his age-36 season. He’s coming off a torn Achilles which limited him to eight games last year. He’s won a single playoff game in his career and never been an All-Pro.

Yet, Cousins is maybe the GOAT at securing the bag. After getting a fully guaranteed, $84 million contract in free agency with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018, Cousins then got another $101 million over the past three seasons.

Now, Cousins inked a four-year, $180 million contract with the Falcons, including $100 million guaranteed. If he plays well, there’s a good chance he at least sees three years of that pact.

Kudos to agent Mike McCartney, who has continuously played the Cousins situation perfectly. A good player getting an unbelievable payday time and again.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman

Roseman might be the league’s best general manager, and he’s about to show why once more.

With the Philadelphia Eagles reportedly looking to move off edge rushers Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat, Roseman deftly signed Bryce Huff to a three-year, $51 million deal. Huff is coming off a 10-sack season with the New York Jets, and should slot in nicely opposite Nolan Smith.

With the draft capital received for the eventual trades of Reddick and Sweat, Philadelphia will be able to bolster the remainder of the defense, specifically down the middle.

Then Roseman added superstar back Saquon Barkley on a three-year, $37 million pact, stealing him from the New York Giants. While Barkley struggled in 2023 with only 3.9 yards per carry, he’s an elite backfield weapon to pair with quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Philadelphia needed a reset after collapsing down the stretch last season. Roseman is well on his way to providing just that.

[ 2024 NFL Free Agency: Latest News & Analysis ]

Green Bay Packers

Speaking of the Packers, they somehow also end up in the winner’s circle despite adding a high-priced running back.

General manager Brian Gutekunst swapped out veteran back Aaron Jones for Josh Jacobs, who got a four-year, $48 million deal. However, the contract really looks like one year and then a trio of team options, with only $12.5 million being guaranteed.

More importantly, Gutekunst nabbed safety Xavier McKinney on a four-year deal worth $76 million, filling the Packers’ biggest need. With McKinney on the back end, Green Bay has a secondary with a pair of upper-tier stars along with corner Jaire Alexander.

Finally, the release of left tackle David Bakhtiari is an unfortunate but needed move. The transaction saves Green Bay $21 million against the cap, while finally admitting the long road to recovery from a torn ACL isn’t working.

Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores

Flores should have more talent to work with on the Vikings’ defense next season.

Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores

Monday should have brought mixed emotions to the Twin Cities. But for Flores, it should have been ecstasy.

The Vikings watched as quarterback Kirk Cousins left a massive void under center, opting to sign with the Falcons. However, Minnesota also signed a slew of defensive stalwarts, including edge rushers Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel, and off-ball linebacker Blake Cashman.

While none of that trio will register with casual fans, all are terrific.

Greenard broke out with 12.5 sacks last season for the Houston Texans, making good on his potential from his collegiate days with the Florida Gators. Van Ginkel proved an integral part of the Miami Dolphins’ defensive turnaround, notching six sacks, 19 quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss and an interception. As for Cashman, he also comes from Houston after making 106 tackles along with two sacks.

If general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can find a quarterback in the draft, Minnesota stands to be competitive in 2024 and beyond with a well-rounded roster.


Miami Dolphins

Remember when the Dolphins were the AFC’s top seed, the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs were faltering and Tyreek Hill was in the MVP discussion? Good times.

Those times also seem like a lifetime ago.

After staggering to the finish line, the Dolphins were blown out in the wild-card round by Kansas City, and this month has seen a litany of losses including linebackers Jerome Baker and Andrew Van Ginkel, corner Xavien Howard, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, guard Robert Hunt, safety Brandon Jones and others.

With Miami likely also waiting into the 2024 season for the return of edge rushers Jaelen Phillips and Bradley Chubb, the Dolphins are in a bad state both from a cap and personnel perspective.

While the signing of linebacker Jordyn Brooks is a good one, it doesn’t cancel out the mass exodus from Miami over the past two weeks.

Jaguars GM Trent Baalke

The Jacksonville Jaguars were one of the most active teams at free agency’s outset. Oftentimes, being active gets confused for doing well.

In reality, Jacksonville had a mixed afternoon, but a curious path forward. The signing of center Mitch Morse on a two-year deal was excellent, but agreeing to terms with receiver Gabe Davis for three years and $39 million was dubious. Davis is a role player with consistency issues. Why pay him immediately with myriad options, including cheap rookies, available?

This is doubly true when the Jaguars are in dire need of secondary help. And, after cutting safety Rayshawn Jenkins and corner Darious Williams earlier in March, the apparent answers were signing safety Darnell Savage and well-traveled corner Ronald Darby.

In Savage’s case, he’s leaving the Green Bay Packers, who entered the offseason with their top priority being to improve at Savage’s position. As for Darby, he’s entering his age-30 season and about to play for his fifth team in six years.

The Jaguars always spend in free agency. And then they regret it.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott looks to pass

Prescott saw several of his teammates commit to sign elsewhere Monday.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Somehow, yes, Prescott is a loser on Monday. And not because he didn’t get an extension to give him $240 million over the next four years, but because his avenue to success is starting to narrow.

The Dallas Cowboys could have created myriad cap space by extending Prescott, who is entering the final year of his deal with a $59.4 million cap hit.

Instead, owner Jerry Jones did nothing in that regard, and then watched center Tyler Biadasz, running back Tony Pollard and edge rusher Dorance Armstrong all agree to terms elsewhere. The same is likely going to happen for left tackle Tyron Smith in short order.

With the rest of the NFC East in flux, the Cowboys could have shrunk Prescott’s cap number, retained a few key players and even added to the roster.

Instead, the Dallas team that was trounced in the wild-card round by the Packers is now weaker, and Prescott has to play for a new deal with a worsening hand.

Carolina Panthers … again

Imagine going 2–15, not having a first-round pick and then having a disastrous first day of free agency.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, that’s their reality.

Carolina started off the day under first-time general manager Dan Morgan by paying a good guard an obnoxious amount, giving Robert Hunt $100 million over five years.

Afterwards, Morgan allowed linebacker Frankie Luvu to leave on a three-year, $36 million contract with the Washington Commanders. While $12 million is a nice payday, it was also a number Carolina could have beaten or even exceeded if need be.

Then, there was the Brian Burns trade. While not wanting to give Burns the five-year, $150 million deal penned by the Giants is understandable, fetching only second- and fifth-round picks is rough.

In a vacuum, it’s a decent return when factoring in the money New York had to relinquish. But when the previous regime reportedly turned down a pair of first-round picks from the Los Angeles Rams last season for Burns? Pain.

It’s shaping up to be another long, painful year in Carolina.