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  • Writer's pictureElijah Southwick

What to Watch For in NFL Free Agency

The NFL’s legal tampering window will open on Monday, March 11. That’s code for Day 1 of NFL free agency, as veterans whose contracts expire at the start of the new league year are free to negotiate with teams all across the league. It’s one of the more intriguing free agency periods in recent memory, with big name players hitting the market at several positions. Many teams have unanswered questions when it comes to their quarterback situations, and with the 2024 NFL Draft right around the corner at the end of April, things should start heating up fast across the league.

Let’s take a look at some of the top headlines ahead of free agency.

Champion Chiefs Seek to Retain Jones, Trade Sneed

The newly-minted Chiefs dynasty had little time to celebrate before getting back to business. Kansas City boasts the top defensive line free agent and the top defensive back free agent on the market. 

The Chiefs have already placed the franchise tag on CB L’Jarius Sneed and are reportedly open to trading him if they can’t reach a long-term deal. The Chiefs have given Sneed permission to seek a trade, and there will no doubt be high demand for the two-time Super Bowl champ. Sneed allowed zero touchdowns in coverage last year and anchored one of the league’s best secondaries. He was one of the biggest All-Pro snubs of the season, and his elevated play in the playoffs proved he deserved that recognition.

Chiefs DT Chris Jones, who did receive first team All-Pro honors, is arguably the top free agent in the league across all positions. For those who are wondering why the Chiefs tagged Sneed and not Jones, one of the franchise’s best defensive players in its history, Jones has made it clear he wants to be back with the team in pursuit of a three-peat. But the timeline for the deal between Jones and the Chiefs remains to be seen.

Kirk Cousins Headlines Quarterback Carousel

Free agent QB Kirk Cousins is the clear top available signal-caller on the market. Cousins has spent the last six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in 2023. Cousins is no stranger to the free agent market as he has operated on short-term contracts for the majority of career as opposed to seeking multi-year contracts.

The Atlanta Falcons have emerged as the betting favorite to land Cousins’ services in free agency. The Falcons have been heavily linked to Bears QB Justin Fields as well this offseason and the team also holds the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL Draft. If Cousins lands in Atlanta, he’ll be joining an organization that just hired former Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as its head coach. The Falcons have picked TE Kyle Pitts, WR Drake London and RB Bijan Robinson all within the top 10 overall selections in each of the past three drafts. They would no doubt become an instant playoff contender in the weak NFC South division with Cousins under center.

If Cousins does leave Minnesota, the Vikings would themselves become an extremely attractive landing spot for whoever becomes their new quarterback. Justin Fields, Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield or a potential rookie could all be on the Vikings radar if they fail to retain Cousins.

Historic Running Back Class Hits Open Market

The running back position seems to evolve every year in the modern NFL. Contract values, offensive schemes, and incoming supply at the position via the NFL Draft affect the position’s market every year. This year, the list of available free agent running backs is potentially the best there’s ever been. Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, Tony Pollard and D’Andre Swift top the list. That’s not to mention other available players like A.J. Dillon, Antonio Gibson, Devin Singletary and Zack Moss.

Teams like the Ravens and Cowboys have been rumored to be interested in landing one of the top available running backs. The 2024 draft class is considered weak at the running back position, which could boost demand. While the position has been devalued over the past few years, there’s no doubt that when players like Barkley, Henry and Jacobs are performing at a high level, they’re game changers in their offenses.

Elijah Southwick is the lead sports content writer for Degen Magazine. His work has appeared in several news and sports publications

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