By Matt Ambrose,
Sports Business Writer
4:00 PM on March 9th signaled the beginning of the new league year in the NFL. With that, it also meant the beginning of the free agency period, one of the most hectic times of the NFL offseason. In the days following, multiple transactions have begun to shape the outlook of the NFL landscape for the 2017 season. Let’s take a look at some of the notable free agency moves so far.
The Giants considerably upgraded their receiving corps by adding former New York Jet Brandon Marshall, signing him to a two year $12 million deal. Marshall had a down year last year, as it was only his third season in which he finished with less than 1,000 receiving yards. Two seasons ago, however, Marshall had perhaps his best year as a pro. In 2015, he hauled in 109 catches for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns. With the Giants, Marshall does not have to be the go-to guy on offense, as he can play second fiddle to Odell Beckham Jr. on offense. Sterling Shepard will be entering his second season in the NFL, and will be looking to build off his solid rookie campaign where he had 683 yards and 8 touchdowns.
With Marshall in the mix with Beckham and Shepard, the Giants offense will be tough to stop.
The Giants aren’t the only NFC East team to upgrade their receiving corps. The Eagles made a big splash by adding Alshon Jeffery, locking him up with a one year $14 million deal. Jeffery has spent his first five NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears, in which he amassed over 4,500 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns. Quarterback Carson Wentz all-of-a-sudden has plenty of weapons at his disposal, with Jeffery and fellow free agent signing Torrey Smith joining Jordan Matthews to make the Eagles offense a force to be reckoned with.
From receivers to running backs, it appears the Adrian Peterson era is over in Minnesota. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said in a statement yesterday that the future Hall of Famer will not return to the team next season. This ended the speculation that arose after the Vikings signed former Oakland Raider running back Latavius Murray last Thursday. Murray rushed for 788 yards last season and scored a career-high 12 touchdowns. Murray rushed for a career high 1,088 yards in 2015, just his second season in the league. With Murray replacing Peterson in Minnesota, one major question looms over free agency: Where will Adrian Peterson land?
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots made one of the first big splashes on free agency by signing former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five year $65 million contract. Gilmore was arguably the best cornerback available on the open market, and his signing backs up the consensus notion that the Patriots are dominating the offseason. Gilmore had 42 tackles and a career high five interceptions last season in Buffalo. His signing strengthens the secondary of the Super Bowl champions, however it has led to a disgruntled Malcolm Butler, who was rumored to be in negotiations with the New Orleans Saints.
Just over a week into the new league year, and the shifting of power in the NFL is already palpable.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 print edition.
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