By: Matt Morrison (@dynastyjerk)

Last week I finished talking about each notable free agent from each division. That wrapped up Phase One one of my off-season article series. Over the next two weeks, I will be transitioning into Phase Two where I talk about each team a little more in depth. This will also be a good time to recap a lot of the free agents who have signed new contracts. Speaking of new contracts and news, let me use the first half of this article to break down some breaking news since last Friday…

The News

Early Tuesday I thought that I had a major news story that I would be able to use to take up the entirety of this section. That news was the fact that Aaron Rodgers will be returning to the Packers for at least the 2022 season. I have heard rumors that a new contract of 4 years – 200 million dollars is being discussed. Of course, this is not a concrete, signed contract, but I think this will likely be close to the final deal. This would make Rodgers the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. It would also make owning him much more difficult in Dynasty Owner. Anyone who dedicates more than a third of their cap to a single player is asking for management troubles at other positions. Let’s wait and see the final contract, but expect a substantial increase if you have Rodgers on your Dynasty Owner roster.

This news was quickly overshadowed by news that Russell Wilson was being traded to the Denver Broncos.

(I should mention that this trade is technically official from Wilson’s end as he passed his physical and approved the trade. Now we just have to wait for the other players involved to pass their physicals, but that shouldn’t be a problem.)

At any rate, here is the trade…

  • Denver gets Russell Wilson and a 2022 4th round pick.
  • Seattle gets Shelby Harris, Drew Lock, Noah Fant, a 2022 1st round pick, 2022 2nd round pick, 2022 5th round pick, 2023 1st round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick.

In my opinion, Wilson immediately becomes a stronger fantasy asset with the Broncos. He has better offensive weapons than his past few years as well as a much easier division to play in (defensively at least). My opinion on Russ hasn’t changed all too much, but I am more optimistic for him.

Now for the bad…I see this as a major downgrade for Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Noah Fant. I don’t think it’s realistic that Drew Lock is the starting quarterback for the Seahawks the entire 2022 season, but the alternatives may actually be worse. It’s likely Seattle will use one of their newly acquired picks to draft a rookie quarterback. 

Noah Fant is a player who takes a massive hit with this trade. Not that I think this will affect Fant’s play on his own, but the lack of clarity from the quarterback position makes his fantasy outlook very dubious. I have a lot more to say about this trade, and I will talk about it much more over the next few months. For right now though, I think this sums up my initial thoughts.

A trio of tight ends were given a franchise tag this week. Mike Gesicki signed his tag on Tuesday. Unless a new deal is reached by July, Gesicki will make $10,931,000 for a single year. The same result happened for Dalton Schultz. Schultz was also given a tight end franchise tag which ends up being the same dollar amount as Gesicki, $10,931,000. David Njoku is the third TE to receive a franchise tag. All three tight ends will play under the same dollar amount in 2022. However, their levels of value and success will likely widely differ. If I had to rank them right now, I’d say Gesicki, Schultz and Njoku.

Other players “slapped” with a franchise tag include Davante Adams and Chris Godwin. Like Gesicki, this tag could very well just be a placeholder until a long term deal can be reached. If a new contract cannot be worked out between either of these players and their team, then each will cost Dynasty Owners more than the previous year. Adams will cost $20,145,000 for one year while Godwin will cost $19,180,000 for one year. The biggest news is that both top-level wide receivers will be returning to their teams in 2022.

Finally, Mike Williams signed a 3 year – $60,000,000 contract. This will equal $20,000,000 per year, and puts him right on track for what I expected him to make. Once again, I think the biggest takeaway from these tags and signings is that we have several big name players who have decided their future prior to Free Agency even opening. Big things are happening, and I expect them to only get bigger as we look ahead a few weeks.

Top Free Agents Remaining

In the second half of this article, I will list the Top 10 free agents who I am watching this off-season. What’s funny is that three of my Top 10 were signed on Tuesday of this week (Adams, Godwin and Williams). Therefore, I will remove those three from the list and start anew.

Top 10PlayerAgeStatus2021 SalaryMarket Value
1James Conner26UFA$1,750,000$6,500,000
2Allen Robinson28UFA$17,880,000$16,000,000
3JuJu Smith-Schuster25UFA$8,000,000$12,000,000
4Melvin Gordon28UFA$8,000,000$6,000,000
5Odell Beckham Jr29UFA$1,250,000$12,000,000
6D.J. Chark25UFA$1,111,807$11,000,000
7Ronald Jones26UFA$1,767,977$4,000,000
8Michael Gallup25UFA$880,995$12,000,000
9Leonard Fournette27UFA$3,250,000$7,000,000
10Robert Tonyan Jr.27UFA$3,384,000$8,000,000

I never thought that I would be writing this article with James Conner as my top watched free agent. Not that I don’t care about where Conner signs (I clearly do), but it surprised me that he is Number One. I suppose that’s what happens when your original top three players all sign contracts right before the franchise tag deadline.

There are plenty of great free agents still left to sign. What we do know is that none of the players on this list will receive a tag of any sort. The time for that has come and gone. The next news we will hear about any of them will likely be shortly after free agency opens. Remember that happens in the middle of next week (March 16th at 4pm ET)

This is one of my favorite football weeks of the year, and I hope you’re ready for a packed article next week. As always, thank you for reading. If there is any player that you want me to spend more time talking about, just message me on Twitter (@dynastyjerk) and let me know. I would appreciate it if you followed @Dynasty_Owner on Twitter as well as subscribed to Dynasty Owner on YouTube. Take care everyone and be safe.

TheJerk

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