NFL Free Agency

NFL free agency 2024 winners, losers from Day 1: Eagles, Falcons stand out

Saquon Barkley, Kirk Cousins and Brian Burns were some of the big names on the move Monday.

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Talk about starting with a bang.

Day one of the 2024 NFL free agency period wasted no time seeing big names on the move.

It started late Sunday night when Russell Wilson announced his decision to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is expectedly a one-year, team-friendly deal since the Denver Broncos are paying the majority of his $38 million salary.

Early Monday -- with no deals official until Wednesday -- saw Christian Wilkins join the Las Vegas Raiders, Josh Jacobs depart Sin City for the Green Bay Packers, Kirk Cousins move to the Atlanta Falcons and Saquon Barkley spurn the New York Giants for the Philadelphia Eagles, among other intriguing moves.

With more deals possibly trickling in late Monday, let's delve into some winners and losers from the opening day of NFL free agency:

WINNER: Philadelphia Eagles

If there's one thing about Howie Roseman, it's that the Eagles general manager means business. After a dismal end to 2023 despite a 10-1 start, Philadelphia went to work swiftly by agreeing to deals with running back Barkley and defensive end Bryce Huff from the New York Jets. The team also extended guard Landon Dickerson, edge Brandon Graham and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam.

Team building in any sport, especially with large squads, is all about upgrading on the margins where possible. So far, the Eagles have checked that box on paper. Now it's up to Nick Sirianni and Co. to optimize the talent on the field.

LOSER: Atlanta Falcons

Cousins is a great quarterback. He has plenty of experience and can be a solid QB1 for a contending team. But paying a soon-to-be 36-year-old a reported $180 million, with $100 million guaranteed, over four years coming off a torn Achilles feels like a mistake brewing.

The Falcons were close to making the playoffs last season despite having a clear hole at quarterback. They have plenty of young talent with high potential on both sides of the ball, with new head coach Raheem Morris also looking promising. But, knowing the context surrounding Cousins, opting for that profile at quarterback might not be the right infusion of talent.

WINNER: Washington Commanders

The Commanders hired Adam Peters from the San Francisco 49ers to help build a stable team after numerous years of disappointment. Day one is off to a propitious start, with running back Austin Ekeler, edge Dorance Armstrong, center Tyler Biadasz and linebacker Frankie Luvu all agreeing to deals. Veteran tight end Zach Ertz was another name prior to Monday.

Armstrong and Biadasz were lured over from the Dallas Cowboys, Luvu is an underrated grab from the Carolina Panthers and Ekeler from the Los Angeles Chargers is a dual-threat upgrade over Antonio Gibson. How Washington addresses the QB position is the chief aspect, though.

LOSER: New York Giants

The Giants took plenty of flack on Monday. That continues here. They lost two stars in Barkley -- let alone to a divisional rival -- and safety Xavier McKinney to the Green Bay Packers, players that move them down the needle. Devin Singletary, formerly of the Houston Texans, agreed to a deal but is far from an upgrade over Barkley.

New York brought in two offensive linemen in Jermaine Eluemunor and Jon Runyan to better protect an often-rushed Daniel Jones, but how the QB recovers from a torn ACL is key.

Brian Burns was the big fish, reportedly being acquired in a trade with the Panthers. The Giants gave up 2024 second- and fifth-round picks while reportedly signing the soon-to-be 26-year-old to a five-year, $150 million deal with $87.5 million guaranteed. Burns definitely can reach higher levels as he hits his prime, but his production might not even matter to the Giants if the team still can't compete. Basically, he'd be the defensive version of Barkley.

WINNER: Running backs

It's safe to say running backs were valued in the 2024 class. Eight players in the position found new homes on robust reported deals, and they'll be focal points for their new teams.

  • Saquon Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles: 3 years, $37.75 million but could be worth $46.75 million
  • Josh Jacobs, Green Bay Packers: 4 years, $48 million
  • Austin Ekeler, Washington Commanders: 2 years, $11.43 million
  • Tony Pollard, Tennessee Titans: 3 years, $24 million
  • D’Andre Swift, Chicago Bears: 3 years, $24 million
  • Devin Singletary, New York Giants: 3 years, $16.5 million but could be worth up to $19.5 million
  • Gus Edwards, Los Angeles Chargers: 2 years, $6.5 million
  • Antonio Gibson, New England Patriots: 3 years, $11.25 million
NFL free agency hits its unofficial beginning as the franchise tag period gets underway.
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