The first few hours of the NFL’s legal tampering period were wild. While some teams overpaid to upgrade their rosters, others sat on their hands and did very little. Meanwhile, some of the top players on the market still remain unsigned. Who are the top five losers from Day 1 of NFL free agency?
NFL Free Agency Losers: Day 1
While the free agency floodgates don’t officially open until Wednesday afternoon, the bulk of the league is already agreeing to big deals. The Jacksonville Jaguars have shown no regard for the market by handing out inflated pacts, while the Green Bay Packers have done an excellent job of retaining their top talent. The Los Angeles Chargers continued to build their impressive defense, and the Cincinnati Bengals started to rework their weak offensive line.
But unlike the aforementioned aggressive spenders, some teams and talent have yet to make headlines — and that’s not a good look for fan bases hoping for some, um, hope.
While Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin threw his support behind Mason Rudolph ahead of free agency, the franchise went in a different direction on Day 1 of the tampering period. The Steelers agreed to a two-year deal with former Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Now, Rudolph is bumped back down to the No. 2 spot on the QB totem pole.
Sitting on nearly $70 million in cap space following the latest Carson Wentz trade, the Colts sat down and did very little on Day 1. They lost starting guard Mark Glowinski to the New York Giants, watched Trubisky sign with the Steelers, and reportedly were stonewalled by Houston Texans after asking to speak with controversial QB Deshaun Watson about his no-trade clause. But hey, at least they re-signed tight end Mo Alie-Cox.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have done little in free agency that reflects their adopted city. They’ve been snoozing on the open market while the rest of the AFC West prepares for war. Russell Wilson, J.C. Jackson, Khalil Mack, and others have been added to the division, while the Raiders lost Zay Jones to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Josh McDaniels and company have done little gambling thus far.
New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams and Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu seemed prime for huge paydays. Yet, those big deals didn’t come in the opening hours of the legal tampering period. While offensive linemen, wide receivers, tight ends, and linebackers got paid quickly, the safety group’s lone big signing was Quandre Diggs returning to Seattle on a three-year deal. Williams and Mathieu came into the week as two of the top 10 players on the market. They remain there, and it’s starting to get lonely.
Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu
It’s tough to be a loser in free agency when you haven’t even entered the league yet, but Alabama’s Evan Neal and NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu can bond over their plight. Both were billed as likely first overall picks, but after the Jaguars franchise-tagged Cam Robinson and spent ridiculous money on Brandon Scherff, the likelihood of either prospect being selected with the top pick is basically in the toilet. At least the Houston Texans need offensive line help, right?
Looking for our free agent winners?
NFL free agency is fun to think about in terms of winners and losers. We have absolutely no idea how the moves made in March will look in September, let alone two or three years down the road. All we can do is trust the process. A few teams have crushed the first day of the “legal tampering period.” Here’s our story on the 2022 NFL Free Agency Day 1 Winners.