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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Winners, losers from start of NFL free agency

The NFL free agency period has opened, with many players signing to new teams (Nathan Rich)

As players and fans settle down from the initial frenzy of the 2024 NFL free agency period, teams across the league have made significant moves to improve their rosters, while others have lost significant pieces. From blockbuster signings and big extensions, each franchise aims to address its needs and set the stage for success in the upcoming season. 

So far, the 2024 NFL free agency winners have been teams that have made significant moves to acquire big names early on. Conversely, the losers are those who have yet to make substantial upgrades and have lost vital talent without adequate replacements. As the offseason progresses, it remains to be seen how these moves will impact each team’s success in the upcoming season or what moves have yet to be made. Let’s look at the winners and losers of free agency thus far. 

Winners

The Atlanta Falcons 

Before free agency, Falcons fans have had a steady stream of optimism. Having already vital generational pieces like Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts makes the Falcons team one move away from being an immediate contender in the NFC South. The signing of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins puts the Falcons in a perfect situation to succeed this following year. 

Cousins, known for getting significant extensions and guaranteed money, has done it again with the Falcons securing a $100 million guaranteed deal. While the players in Atlanta are coming into their prime, plugging in Cousins to this young offense will immediately affect Atlanta. The Falcons also acquired Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney for $39 million, adding another weapon opposite Drake London and giving Cousins more players to work with in the offense. 

The Philadelphia Eagles

After a disappointing finish to last year’s season and the retirement of Eagles legend Jason Kelce, fans itched for improvements to the roster and more help for star quarterback Jalen Hurts. That is precisely what the front office did: it spent a lot of resources to pick up new, solidified great players in the NFL. 

The team’s most significant move comes from landing one of the best running backs in the league, Saquon Barkley, from the New York Giants. A fan favorite and two-time Pro Bowl player, Barkley has been outstanding for the Giants but will now play for their rivals, the Eagles, for a three-year deal worth $37.7 million. The standout player for the Detroit Lions defensive backs, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, will also return to the Eagles to join the already-stacked secondary, making them one of the fiercest defenses in the league.  

Losers

The Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings started free agency on the wrong foot. Unwilling to give Cousins the guaranteed money, they parted ways, and the Vikings have gone on to make questionable decisions to replace his absence. To fill the void and provide maybe a bridge quarterback before the draft, the Vikings signed Sam Darnold, the former third pick overall who has not lived up to his NFL expectations. 

The Vikings also lost their most elite pass rusher, Danielle Hunter. Hunter’s long career with the Vikings ended after the Houston Texans signed him, and his presence at the line is something any team would be remiss not to have. The Vikings also signed linebackers like Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkle to help buff up the defense. However, the Vikings free agency’s success will be determined by how they can find help for arguably the best wide receiver in the league, Justin Jefferson. How the Vikings plan on maintaining Jefferson after losing Cousins has yet to be seen. 

The Dallas Cowboys 

While it might be surprising to see “America’s Team” on the loser’s list, the Cowboys have had a rough start to free agency. On the first day, three players from the team left, running back Tony Pollard, defensive lineman Dorance Armstrong and center Tyler Biadasz, all signed deals with a new team. The only player the Cowboys have re-signed is their long-snapper Trent Seig

These departures and lack of signings represent a problem for the Cowboy’s free agency. The Cowboys have yet to make a significant move, and if they continue to move slowly, other teams will slowly take their talent. This comes to the chagrin of Cowboys superfan Skip Bayless, who was under the impression that the Cowboys were going “all in” on this season. 

Only time will tell how these moves genuinely pay off in the long run of NFL free agency. However, the early winners and losers have begun to emerge along with each team’s strategic challenges. The Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles have made bold moves to improve their rosters, securing key players. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys are still navigating the moves they want to make because of significant departures and the need to fill crucial gaps in their lineups. As the offseason progresses, the true impact of these moves will become more evident, revealing the winners and losers of free agency heading into next season.

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