NFL Free Agency: Wednesday Recap

NFL Free Agency: Wednesday Recap

This article is part of our NFL Free Agency series.

The 2022 league year commenced at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, ending a 52-hour window where teams could negotiate with impending free agents but couldn't officially sign them. One player, RB J.D. McKissic, even changed his mind at the last second, deciding to re-sign with the Commanders one day after he'd reportedly reached a verbal agreement with the Bills.

Apart from that, the biggest news items of the day include WR Julio Jones being released, WR Chris Godwin signing an extension, OLB Za'Darius Smith rejoining the Ravens and edge rusher Von Miller signing on for a title run in Buffalo. 

Elsewhere, the Dolphins signed RB Raheem Mostert, the Jets added TE Tyler Conklin (after reaching terms with TE C.J. Uzomah earlier this week) and the Bills signed first-round bust O.J. Howard as a reclamation project. 

On the defensive side, the big news besides Von/Za'Darius was a trade that sent DE Yannick Ngakoue to the Colts in exchange for CB Rock Ya-Sin. That move, combined with the Raiders' signing of pass rusher Chandler Jones, hints toward a 3-4 base defense in Las Vegas under new DC Patrick Graham (who directed 3-4 schemes in New York the past couple years).

Now, let's take a look at the fantasy fallout from the biggest moves of the day...

Titans release WR Julio Jones

The Titans take a big, fat L on last summer's Julio trade, getting 434 receiving yards and one touchdown at a cost of $15.3 million and a second-round pick. Their thinking was reasonable, but you'll lose more often than you win if you give up significant draft capital for an older guy with a big contract.

While the Titans don't have much cap space, even after saving $9.5 million with Jones' release, they do have a solid roster that doesn't have too many glaring holes apart from the lack of complementary pass catchers behind A.J. Brown. If the season was to start today, the Titans likely would start WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and TE Geoff Swaim, with WRs Racey McMath and Dez Fitzpatrick perhaps also in the mix.

Fortunately, the season doesn't start today, and if nothing else the Titans figure to add a low-cost veteran and a draft pick at WR/TE before Week 1. They also have options to free up additional cap space and make a run at someone like Allen Robinson or Jarvis Landry, either of whom could put up solid fantasy numbers in Tennessee, especially if the team failed to find a major upgrade on Swaim at TE.

As for Julio... a bunch of teams were interested in him last offseason, and a bunch figure to be interested now (at a much lower price). The Ravens and Niners were oft-mentioned as suitors last year, and the Bears could really use a big, veteran wideout to replace Mr. Robinson. Jones probably wouldn't love playing for the Bears at this point in his career, but that doesn't mean he's ready for the take-a-discount-to-chase-a-ring phase either (KC?).

   

Buccaneers sign WR Chris Godwin (to a three-year, $60 million contract)

The Bucs lost S Jordan Whitehead to the Jets and G Alex Cappa to the Bengals, in addition to star guard Ali Marpet opting for an early retirement. Still, they've done a good job keeping the band together, all things considered, with Godwin and CB Carlton Davis signing long-term contracts while Marpet was rapidly replaced in a trade for Patriots guard Shaq Mason.

The Bucs seemingly expect Godwin to be ready for Week 1, but the timing of his ACL tear (Dec. 19) means it's no sure thing, potentially making recent signing Russell Gage the No. 2 receiver at the start of the season. I'll probably target Gage in best-ball leagues more so than anywhere else, as he's a solid receiver in a top-notch offense but could have some quiet weeks as only Option C/D on a stacked team. The blow-up games may coincide with absences for Godwin or Mike Evans (the latter of whom seems undervalued at the moment, given Godwin's lengthy rehab ahead and the reality of Gage being an on-field downgrade from he who shall not be named).

   

Commanders re-sign RB J.D. McKissic (to a two-year, $7 million contract)

Reports suggest McKissic backed out of his verbal agreement with Buffalo after Washington agreed to match the Bills' contract offer. I can't blame the guy for wanting to stick with the familiar, but it is kind of boring for fantasy purposes, both in terms of McKissic's value and Antonio Gibson's.

Devin Singletary fans, on the other hand, can rejoice... at least until the Bills add someone else to compete for snaps. We did get at least one piece of info on Buffalo here, with the almost-signing suggesting the team is looking for a passing-down specialist rather than a bulldozer to work in tandem with Singletary. 

Devin the Dude is kind of an in-between guy — competent in the passing game, but nothing special, and a solid runner who relies on agility and balance over speed and power. You could make an argument for teaming him with a big back, but I think the Bills had it right on this one, preferring a pass-catching specialist for their spread-heavy offense.

None of it looks especially promising for Zack Moss, who barely played late in the season and throughout the playoffs. Then again, it's not like the Bills actually signed McKissic, so maybe Moss still has a shot at the No. 2 spot next year.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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