NFL | Mar 21, 2024

2024 NFL Free Agency: Biggest Moves So Far

By Harry Bazley

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The 2024 NFL Draft is fast approaching and we'll soon have answers to some of our biggest questions... Where will Caleb Williams and Marvin Harrison Jr end up? And how will the next generation of rookies shake up the league?

But before we see all the fresh talent find their first roster spots, let’s take a look at the biggest free agency signings and trades that are already set to impact the 2024/25 season.

Calvin Ridley, WR - Tennessee Titans

  • Contract: 4 years, $92 million, $50 million fully guaranteed

After Mike Evans and Tee Higgins quickly received contract extensions from the Bucs and Bengals, Ridley became the top WR on the market.

The Titans witnessed Ridley put up 209 yards, and three touchdowns against their defense last season, so they know more than anyone what he is capable of. Now, he’ll be suiting up for them to face his old teammates in the AFC South.

Despite turning 30 this year, Ridley will be the ninth-highest paid wide receiver in the NFL, with the second highest contract guarantees behind only Tyreek Hill. He’ll be an integral piece of the Will Levis led offense, but will likely play a WR2 role with Deandre Hopkins in the limelight.

Saquon Barkley, RB - Philadelphia Eagles

  • Contract: 3 years, $37.75 million, $26 million total guarantees

The Eagles took a big hit to their running back room in the offseason, with three of their four stars from 2023 leaving the unit. But they didn’t have to go too far to find one player that can replace all three…

Saquon Barkley is making the move to Philly from division rivals, the New York Giants. Despite missing 3 games last season, No.26 still managed to log 1,242 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. He is without a doubt one of the most talented rushers in the league and will be a huge addition to the backfield as he lines up alongside dual-threat QB, Jalen Hurts.

He may not see the endzone as much as he’d like - with the ‘Tush Push’ remaining a legal play in the upcoming season - but he now has a far greater chance at playoff football now that he’s left Big Blue behind.

Derrick Henry, RB - Baltimore Ravens

  • Contract: 2 years, $16 million, $9 million total guarantees

Derrick Henry has been a force to be reckoned with since he entered the NFL in 2016. Since then he led the league in carries in 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2023 and also topped the leaderboard for rushing yards and touchdowns in 2019 and 2020. But with the Titans offensive line deteriorating over the last few seasons, it’s no surprise to see him making a move.

Now, Henry joins a Ravens team that led a dominant run game with Keaton Mitchell, Gus Edwards and of course, Lamar Jackson himself. This addition to the backfield provides a very reliable outlet for Baltimore that will only make Jackson more of a threat through the air and on the ground.

It may only be a 2 year contract, but it will likely become one of the most impactful moves of the year.

Kirk Cousins, QB - Atlanta Falcons

  • Contract: Four years, $180 million, $100 million total guarantees

After six years in Minnesota, Kirk Cousins is now headed to Atlanta on a four year deal with $100 million in guarantees. It’s the biggest price tag we’ve seen in the 2024 offseason, and the Falcons will be hoping that the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback will breathe new life into a struggling offense that put three consecutive 7-10 seasons on the board.

There’s plenty of talent on the roster, from skilled TE Kyle Pitts to the electric runner Bijan Robinson, but barring another big signing, Cousins' main guy will likely be WR Drake London.

Now that Arthur Smith has been officially dismissed from his position, Atlanta’s former Defensive Coordinator and new Head Coach, Raheem Morris will be calling the shots.

Josh Jacobs, RB - Green Bay Packers

  • Contract: 4 years, $48 million, $12.5 million total guarantees

With Aaron Jones departure from Green Bay leaving a huge gap in the Packers backfield, GM Brian Gutekunst went and picked up one of the most talented running backs in the league to fill his spot.

It’s been just one season since Jacobs led the NFL in rushing yards and earned a first-team All-Pro honors in 2022. Despite making the fewest appearances of any season in his career in 2023/24 - playing just 13 games - he still landed a huge contract with the Pack.

Following QB Jordan Love's explosion onto the scene last year, Jacobs will now provide a very solid run-game to back up this explosive air raid offense.

Joe Mixon, RB - Bengals to Texans

  • Houston receives: Mixon
  • Cincinnati receives: 2024 Seventh-Round Pick

Joe Mixon has been Cincinnati's leading rusher for the last seven seasons, but now he’ll be running the ground game in Houston.

The reigning AFC South champions launched an explosive passing game with 2023/24 Offensive Rookie of the Year, C.J. Stroud, and a talented, young receiver room. Now they’re in the perfect spot to balance their offense, and provide more options with the threat of a dominant rusher in the backfield.

No Texans running back has hit 1000 rushing yards in the last seven seasons, but Mixon should break that trend. The 27-year-old logged 1,034 yards rushing and 376 yards receiving with 12 total touchdowns just last year. Despite being well into his NFL career, it’s clear that he shows no signs of slowing down.

Brian Burns, OLB - Panthers to Giants

  • New York receives: Burns
  • Carolina receives: 2024 Second-Round Pick (39th Overall), 2025 Fifth-Round Pick

Brian Burns has been a staple of the Panthers defense for 5 years since joining the roster for his rookie year in 2019. With this move to New York, Burns has become the second-highest paid edge rusher in the NFL behind Nick Bosa.

The trade may have come as a shock to Carolina fans but it helps replenish some much needed draft capital, following the moves that led them to draft Bryce Young with the 1st Overall Pick last year. The Giants new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen now has an electric duo of Burns and Kayvon Thibodeaux at his disposal.

Justin Fields, QB - Bears to Steelers

  • Pittsburgh receives: Fields
  • Chicago receives: 2025 Sixth-Round Pick (can become Fourth-Round Pick)

Although this may be a disappointing outcome given what Fields is capable of, the trade makes sense for Chicago. They now free up the space to pursue Caleb Williams with the No.1 Overall Pick in the 2024 Draft. Williams is touted to be a generational prospect and could have the ability to take the Bears down a very long road of success.

Fields arguably logged his best season last year, with 2,562 yards, 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, plus 657 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. But, despite his improvements, it’s clear that Fields still requires more guidance and development before becoming an elite NFL quarterback.

He will now serve as QB2 to Russell Wilson in Pittsburgh, which should do wonders for his progression. Not to mention, the Steelers now have by far the best back-up QB in the league and for a steal… Both Wilson and Fields combine for less than $4.5 million of the Steelers’ cap in the 2024 season.

Jerry Jeudy, WR - Broncos to Browns

  • Cleveland receives: Jeudy
  • Denver receives: 2024 Fifth-Round Pick, 2024 Sixth-Round Pick

Jeudy spent four seasons with the Broncos and consistently put up good numbers. Jeudy set career highs in the 2022 season, 972 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns and took a slight step down last season, with 758 yards and 2 scores. But with the QB troubles in Denver, there’s no doubt Jeudy struggled to achieve the heights he is capable of.

He now joins a wide receiver room in Cleveland featuring Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore. He may not see the lion's share of receptions or trips to the endzone, but he’ll provide Deshaun Watson with another deep-threat that should take some pressure off Cooper.

The Browns now hold a total of five picks in the 2024 draft, starting in the second round.

Keenan Allen, WR - Chargers to Bears

  • Chicago receives: Allen
  • Los Angeles receives: 2024 Fourth-Round Pick

With the Bears trading away to free up space for Caleb Williams, one thing was obvious - they would need to bolster their receiver unit… And their latest addition comes in the form of veteran WR Keenan Allen, picked up for just a 2024 fourth round pick.

Allen may be turning 32 years old, but he’s still more than capable of dominating secondaries. Last season, he missed four games with a heel injury, but still managed to log 108 receptions for 1,243 yards and 7 touchdowns. He is a six-time pro bowler and has averaged 97.6 receptions per season over the past seven years despite missing 14 games in that time.

Allen comes with a $23.1 million salary cap hit and will likely compete with D.J. Moore to become the top target in Chicago. Although the Bears may not yet have a complete offense, this is certainly good news for Caleb Williams as he’ll look to leave his mark on the league in his debut season.

(Header Image Credit: Vincent Carchietta - USA TODAY Sports)