Top Ten NFL Players Re-Signed Before Free Agency
Did Your NFL Team Re-Sign a Key Player Ahead of Free Agency's Start?
2014 NFL Off-Season
With a little over an hour to go until 4:01, it’s time for an update. It's already been a crazy one, people. Here, we’ll break down the top ten players who have been retained by their teams (both today and earlier in the month) prior to free agency’s official start. There are definitely fans around the league (myself included!) who are breathing sighs of relief that their boys appear here.
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1. Adam Vinatieri (K-Colts) - While it was initially thought that Vinatieri and Indianapolis wouldn’t be able to reach a deal before free agency, word came down at the 11th hour that the fifth-leading scorer in the NFL will continue wearing the horseshoe for another two years. This is a great move by the club, as Vinatieri is both beloved by fans and among the best kickers the league has ever seen.
2. Michael Bennett (DE/DT-Seahawks) - As mentioned in today's AM post, there had been quite a bit of hoopla about the possibility of pass-rushing specialist Bennett going to Chicago, where his brother Martellus plays TE (and the pass rush was nonexistent in 2013). However, the Seahawks were able to reach a 4-year deal with Bennett on Monday.
3. Jonathan Babineaux (DT-Falcons) - Retaining Babineaux, an underrated DT who has missed only 6 games in 9 seasons in the league, was a good move for Atlanta. The team direly needs to build-up its D-line and keeping this veteran on-board is a start. Babineaux can provide leadership to younger players they may add during the draft or during free agency.
4. Greg Hardy (DE-Panthers) - Carolina desperately needed to keep Hardy on its roster. They accomplished this by slapping the franchise tag on him, while continuing to work towards a long-term deal. Hardy was a 2013 Pro-Bowl pick who has exploded during the past two seasons, racking-up 26 sacks.
5. Sam Shields (CB-Packers) - Over the weekend, Shields was re-signed to a long-term, 4-year contract worth $39 million. The powers-that-be in Green Bay clearly felt this deal was warranted due to Shields’s emergence as an exceptional cover CB during the 2013 season. Shields’s marquise moment last season was a key interception against the Cowboys in Week 15.
6. Donald Butler (LB-Chargers) - Butler, a 25-year-old player who performed above average during 2013, signed a somewhat unique contract crafted by San Diego GM Tom Telesco and Co. If Butler can put-up the right numbers for the first 3 years of the contract, he will be rewarded with both cash and an additional 4 years of security with the club.
7. Jason Worilds (OLB-Steelers) - Pittsburgh struggled during the 2013 season, but Worilds had a breakout year, leading the team with 8 sacks. On March 4, the Steelers placed a transition tag (a rarely used option) on Worilds. This extends his contract by a year.
8. Joique Bell (RB-Lions) - Bell has been a serviceable RB in Detroit and it made sense for the team to sign him to a long-term deal. This afternoon, Bell signed a 3-year, $9.3 million contract, which may free up some additional cap space for the club in 2014. All in all, this is a winning situation for both Bell and the Lions organization.
9. Riley Cooper (WR-Eagles) - Cooper and young QB Nick Foles had excellent chemistry, especially during the second half of the 2013 season. It made sense for Philly to keep Cooper on the roster (he signed a 5-year deal at the end of February) as they strive for another play-off appearance in 2014.
10. Trumaine McBride (CB-Giants) - McBride isn’t one of this year’s big-name free agents, but he did play fairly well for New York last year, starting as many games in 2013 as he did during his full first six years in the league. The Giants have re-signed him to a two-year deal. This gives the coaching staff and the front office some breathing room, as they know McBride can produce if needed. However, I don’t look for them to stop shopping for another, high-profile CB.