Just when we thought things were quieting down in the NFL after a frenetic first week of free agency, business picked up in a big way Monday and Tuesday. The Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots made a blockbuster trade involving Chandler Jones, while former San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle found a new home. The Baltimore Ravens had a busy day, signing Weddle and Mike Wallace as they try to reload with veterans.
In addition, the Miami Dolphins struck out on C.J. Anderson, the Seattle Seahawks addressed their offensive line problems and the Jacksonville Jaguars also did some remodeling up front. Let's take a look at the winners and losers from a busy two days of free agency.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals pulled off the biggest surprise of the offseason so far, acquiring Chandler Jones from the New England Patriots. Jones is a stud pass rusher (12.5 sacks last year) and will give the Cardinals some much-needed juice on their defensive line. The next question is whether Arizona will be able to hammer out an extension with Jones, whose rookie contract expires after 2016.
New England Patriots: Yes, the Patriots make the "winners" column despite trading away their best defensive player. It's a big loss, to be sure, but New England avoids taking on a massive cap hit when Jones hits free agency in a year, and get an interesting reclamation project in offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper. Later in the day, the Patriots signed Chris Long to help fill the gap left by Jones.
Baltimore Ravens: After letting Torrey Smith walk in free agency last year, the Ravens badly needed a deep speedster in their wideout corps. They found one Tuesday, signing Mike Wallace to a two-year contract worth $11.5 million. Wallace hasn't been particularly effective the past two years and has a reputation as a malcontent, but Joe Flacco is the best quarterback he's played with since Ben Roethlisberger. Perhaps offensive coordinator Marc Trestman can get some use out of him, assuming his struggles were due to poor offensive fits and not his declining talent. Either way, Wallace is a much-needed gamble for the Ravens.
The Ravens made another move to shore up their secondary, bringing in Eric Weddle on a four-year, $26 million deal. Weddle is getting up there in years, but he remains a quality safety and should help out a Ravens team that is looking to reload after a lost 2015 season.
Jonathan Cooper: Cooper was considered one of the best guards in the 2013 NFL Draft, being taken No. 7 overall by Arizona. However, a broken leg wiped out his rookie year and he's never been the same since, getting benched at several points. A change of scenery is a win for Cooper and he should have every chance to win a starting job at guard, a position that was a black hole for the Patriots last year.
Matt Moore: Backup quarterback is a good gig if you can get it, and Moore has enjoyed a steady run as Ryan Tannehill's wingman. The 31-year-old has thrown just 11 passes in the past three years, but Moore is collecting good paychecks for his troubles. He got another good paycheck on Tuesday, signing a two-year, $3.5 million contract to stay with the Miami Dolphins. Not bad for a clipboard holder.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins nearly swiped C.J. Anderson from the Denver Broncos, giving the restricted free agent an offer sheet. However, Denver matched the offer on Tuesday, leaving the Dolphins with nothing for their efforts. The coaching staff is high on second-year running back Jay Ajayi, but the pursuit of Anderson means they weren't fully content with the running back position. With the market quickly drying up, Miami may now need to turn to the draft, unless it's comfortable handing the keys to Ajayi in the backfield.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are close to losing left tackle Russell Okung, adding another question mark to an already shaky offensive line. They made some minor signings Tuesday, bringing in Bradley Sowell and J'Marcus Webb. The signings indicate that Seattle is planning to move on from Okung, who struggled with injuries but was otherwise their most reliable lineman. If they can't re-sign Okung (or make a move for Donald Penn) the draft may be their best chance to find a starter on Russell Wilson's blind side.
Luke Joeckel: The Jacksonville Jaguars signed left tackle Kelvin Beachum away from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday. Although Beachum is recovering from an ACL tear and not expected to be ready for the start of the season, the move is hardly a ringing endorsement for Luke Joeckel, who struggled on the blind side since being the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2013. Jacksonville is adding competition at the position, which means Joeckel's starting job is no longer a sure thing heading into training camp.
Martellus Bennett: The Chicago Bears made a move to keep one of their biggest success stories from last year, re-signing tight end Zach Miller to a two-year deal. It's a further sign that Bennett, who's fallen out of favor with the coaching staff, is on his way out in Chicago. A trade remains the most likely scenario, although cutting Bennett would save the Bears $5.185 million (per Over The Cap).
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