This was not the right year to need a tackle in free agency. It was a great year to need a wide receiver, especially if high-risk, high-reward playmakers get you up in the morning.
Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor should inject a jolt of energy into the passing attacks of the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. The long-term contracts each player anticipated didn't materialize, so the NFC East teams took advantage.
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Jeffery wound up accepting a one-year deal worth $9.5 million from the Eagles (plus incentives), turning down more money in a long-term offer from the Minnesota Vikings, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Jeffery's injury history and PED suspension likely scared teams away, allowing the Eagles to buy low on a player who knows he must produce to get the contract he wants. More than 15 receivers make more in average salary than Jeffery will collect in 2017, and inferior players from this free agency crop, like Kenny Britt and Pierre Garcon, will out-earn Jeffery next season.
If Jeffery starts hauling down vertical strikes like a modern-day Harold Carmichael, the Eagles will be more than happy to re-sign him to a massive deal before any other team can negotiate. If Jeffery only turns out to be so-so, Philadelphia still upgraded Carson Wentz's supporting cast for less money than Tavon Austin or Allen Hurns earn on average.
The NFL is the ultimate short-term league, and the contracts reflect that more than ever. That's why Jeffery and a few other one-year deals make my list of the best free-agent contracts -- from the teams' perspectives -- in 2017.
NOTE: All contract figures cited in this piece are according to numbers filed to the NFL Players Association and the NFL.
Terrelle Pryor, Redskins wide receiver: Pryor, like Jeffery, expected more out of free agency. He reportedly turned down a competitive multi-year deal from the Browns, only to find out Cleveland was the best offer he'd get. By the time Pryor saw the writing on the wall, the Browns had moved on to Britt.
Perhaps it's for the best for both sides. Due $6 million on a one-year contract, Pryor is joining a team that threw for nearly 5,000 yards last season and just lost its top two receivers. There should be plenty of 6-yard Kirk Cousins passes for Pryor to make magic with after the catch. In an offseason gone wrong for the Redskins, signing Pryor for Markus Wheaton money is a coup.
Brandon Williams, Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle: The biggest contracts in free agency went to young, ascending players like Williams, new Browns guard Kevin Zeitler and new Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. If teams are going to take a chance at the top of the market, they should take it on players just hitting their prime.
Then again, the Ravens aren't taking much of a chance here. The Ravens know who Williams is and what he does well: disrupting opposing running games like few others. While he hardly came at a bargain price, I wanted to include Williams here as a symbol for the free agents who stayed home and were paid huge bucks. Packers pass rusher Nick Perry is another player who fits in the category of homegrown draft picks made good, getting $39 million in the first three years of his deal. No deal that big is safe, but re-signing your own quality starters mitigates the risk somewhat.
John Simon, Indianapolis Colts linebacker: Simon brings versatility, toughness and the potential to exceed his contract value after signing a three-year, $13 million pact with the Colts. Simon's no-frills upgrade to the roster could be a great sign of things to come under new general manager Chris Ballard.
DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver: For $8 million per year in this market, you could sign a Kenny: Britt or Stills. For the low, low price of just $3 million more per season, the Bucs got one of the most proven deep threats in the NFL. Jackson and former teammate Garcon signed essentially the same contract, and there's no question which player worries defenses more.
The key here is that the Bucs avoided guarantees past Year 2. By then, Mike Evans will be one of the highest-paid receivers in football, and D-Jax will have helped Jameis Winston make the playoffs. Bucs GM Jason Licht also deserves credit for one of the rare defensive line deals that looks like a value, signing former Redskins defensive end Chris Baker for only $9 million guaranteed.
Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers defensive end: Free agency can be a hotbed for ageism. No team was willing to pay defensive end Charles Johnson more than $3 million last season because he turned 30, but the Panthers veteran turned in another excellent season as a starter. His new teammate Julius Peppers could be this year's version of Johnson after signing a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Peppers may only give the team 500 snaps, but those 500 snaps will make an impact. The contract is worth it just for the Panthers fans who kept their old No. 90 jerseys.
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers tight end: If Marty B had known he wasn't getting any guaranteed money past 2017, would he have found common ground with the Patriots and stayed in New England? Bill Belichick didn't wait around to find out, trading for Dwayne Allen, so the Packers and Aaron Rodgers will benefit. Bennett could see all three years of his $21 million deal despite his age (30); that's how reasonable this contract looks in this climate. Consider that Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham is due the same amount of money over that span and received more than double Bennett's guaranteed money. That Gresham contract probably belongs on my other list.