While no deals are made official until March 10, NFL free agency is kicking into high gear with some big deals being made, including Ndamukong Suh signing with the Miami Dolphins, Frank Gore joining the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots retaining safety Devin McCourty.
No Big Suh-Prise
It was always going to be between the Dolphins and the Lions for the services of Suh, one of the best defensive linemen in football over the last few years. He signed on a $114 million deal with a $60 million guarantee, keeping him in Miami for the next six seasons. With this deal Suh becomes the highest paid defensive player in the league, making $60 million through his first three seasons and averaging $19 million per year. The Lions offered him $17 million per season with $58 million guaranteed. Florida has no state income tax, which it made it very difficult for interested parties to match. He is the fifth non-QB to receive a $100 million deal.
Patriots Taking it Safe
The New England Patriots have often let secondary stars go when a big contract extension has come up, but maybe the success of last season compared to finishing short of the mark in the previous decade has changed the minds of the people making the decisions. Devin McCourty was on his way out of the club after five seasons, but Belichick eventually decided to retain him for obvious reasons. McCourty can play both safety and cornerback, has been a team captain for the past four years, and had plenty of offers from around the league. He was waiting for the Patriots to step up their offer, eventually getting a five-year deal worth $47.5 million with $28.5 million guaranteed, making him the second highest paid safety in the NFL.
Busy, Ambitious Eagles
The last time the Eagles went all-out in the free agency market didn’t end all that well. However, Chip Kelly made moves to clear space and start filling his team with players to his liking. Frank Gore might be the biggest name of those arriving following a 10-year run with the San Francisco 49ers. Despite his accolades and past numbers, being an aging running back never translates into a lot of money, meaning Gore signed a modest three-year deal worth $7.5 million with the first two years guaranteed. Gore has rushed for 1000 in the last four seasons and in eight of the last nine, making the Pro Bowl five times.
The Eagles also made an expensive move on the defensive side, bringing in Byron Maxwell, a Super Bowl champion with the Seahawks who has been in the league for the last four seasons. Maxwell will make $63 million over the next six seasons, $27 million of them guaranteed. He’ll be coming in for Cary Williams who has been released while the other starting corner from last season, Bradley Fletcher, is hitting free agency.
And some players are leaving Philly. Jeremy Maclin had a great comeback season in 2014 following an injury that kept him out of all of 2013. Maclin, the team’s leading receiver last season, will sign with the Kansas City Chiefs on a deal that will pay him a bit more than $10 million a season. This marks the second consecutive year in which the Eagles’ leading receiver leaves (DeSean Jackson last season). The Eagles tried to hold on to Maclin, but didn’t offer him the kind of money he was being offered elsewhere.