Free agency officially opened for NFL teams on March 17 when the new league year began.
The New England Patriots, clearly not satisfied with a disappointing 7-9 campaign last year, have signed several big names and re-signed a few more in an unprecedented spending spree for the typically stingy franchise.
Those moves caused the Patriots Super Bowl odds to jump from +4000 to +3000 at FanDuel Sportsbook in just one day this week. New England now has the same odds as Miami at +350 to win the AFC East as both teams chase Buffalo (-155). The Pats are now +1400 to win the AFC.
In this article, we break down how the moves NFL teams have made – and could still make – will impact their odds in the NFL futures market.
When in doubt, sign everyone
New England Patriots
Key Additions: WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, DB Jalen Mills, TE Hunter Henry, TE Jonnu Smith, DT Davon Godchaux, DT Henry Anderson, LB Matthew Judon, LB Kyle Van Noy, OT Trent Brown, C Ted Karras, DE Montravius Adams
Key Re-signings: QB Cam Newton, DB Justin Bethel, DE Deatrich Wise, C David Andrews, K Nick Folk
Analysis: Bill Belichick and the front office clearly believe in Cam Newton, so they re-signed the veteran and brought in some weapons to surround him. With two capable and versatile TEs, the Pats should establish a smashmouth offense that will help complement a vastly improved defense. Remember, they will get star LB Dont’a Hightower back this season after he opted out last year. Now LB Kyle Van Noy, OT Trent Brown and center Ted Karras are back in Foxborough and the Krafts could even spend more in pursuit of an early-down RB.
Washington Football Team
Key Additions: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, DB William Jackson, WR Curtis Samuel, LB David Mayo, C Tyler Larsen
Key Re-signings: OG Brandon Scherff (franchise tag), OT David Sharpe, RB Lamar Miller, K Dustin Hopkins
Analysis: Fitzpatrick will engage in another heated competition for a starting gig after Washington brought back Taylor Heinicke. Ron Rivera’s club is just a couple of pieces away from returning to the NFL playoffs and should add some help at linebacker, with Raiders LB Nicholas Morrow on their radar. Former Bengals DB William Jackson adds depth to an excellent young secondary and Miller is a veteran presence to work with young RB Antonio Gibson. And Curtis Samuel reunites with Rivera and former Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin to add another weapon for the old gunslinger.
Key Additions: QB Andy Dalton, OL German Ifedi
Key Re-signings: WR Allen Robinson (franchise tag), DE Mario Edwards, K Cairo Santos
Analysis: Springing $10 million for Dalton did little to move the needle for oddsmakers in terms of backing the Bears. This franchise has struggled to inspire its players or fanbase lately and tagging elite WR Allen Robinson while paying a veteran like Dalton could backfire from a morale standpoint. The Bears reportedly made a couple of substantial offers for Seahawks QB Russell Wilson before settling on Dalton. They’re still shopping WR Anthony Miller and should look to replace him with another receiving option.
Key Additions: QB Carson Wentz
Analysis: So far the Colts have only acquired Wentz to fill the void after Philip Rivers retired. But they have over $32 million in cap space and should be major players in free agency. Chargers LB Melvin Ingram would be a huge addition and Jadeveon Clowney is a tantalizing talent. They already have an elite offensive line, but could upgrade at WR with T.Y. Hilton aging, and should also be in the market for a pass rusher. But it seems the Colts will prioritize re-signing linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, as well as LB Darius Leonard rather than looking for outside help.
Los Angeles Rams
Key Additions: Traded for QB Matthew Stafford
Key Re-signings: LB Leonard Floyd
Analysis: Even if they stand pat throughout free agency, the Rams will remain a title contender after adding Stafford and bringing back Floyd to a defense that allowed the fewest yards per game (292.9) by a wide margin. In order to make those moves possible, GM Les Snead is going to have to get creative and the Rams are hoping Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will be willing to restructure their contracts to compete for a title now.
Tinkering title contenders
Kansas City Chiefs
Key Additions: OG Joe Thuney, OG Kyle Long
Key Re-signings: DE Taco Charlton, WR Byron Pringle
Analysis: After letting go of LT Eric Fisher and RT Mitchell Schwartz, the Chiefs signed former Patriots mainstay Thuney to settle the interior part of their offensive line. Then, former Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long came out of retirement to sign a one-year deal worth $5 million and the Chiefs still have $24 million in cap space to pursue more help protecting Patrick Mahomes. The superstar is on a friendly contract in terms of flexibility under the cap and Travis Kelce and Chris Jones were willing to restructure their contracts to load up even more for another Super Bowl run.
Key Additions: WR Emmanuel Sanders, QB Mitchell Trubisky
Key Re-signings: OT Daryl Williams, OG Jon Feliciano, LB Matt Milano
Analysis: The Bills first priority this offseason seems to be protecting their MVP candidate after Josh Allen set a franchise record with 50 total TDs last season. They added veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders to provide some consistency opposite target monster Stefon Diggs, and more stability over injury-prone speedster John Brown – who has moved on to the Raiders. The Bills have to stay flexible so they can offer Allen an extension worthy of his potential, so a high-priced acquisition like Jadeveon Clowney might be out of the question. But perhaps they can swing a trade for Eagles TE Zach Ertz to add another element to their prolific offense.
Key Additions: QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Malcolm Brown, OT Isaiah Wilson, DT Adam Butler, LB Benardrick McKinney, WR Will Fuller
Key Re-signings: None yet
Analysis: Depth seems to be the priority for Miami with Brissett coming on to back up Tua Tagovailoa and Brown adding yet another name to the Dolphins crowded backfield. McKinney will be asked to help fill the void with Kyle Van Noy moving on. Brian Flores got something back from his old coach with former Patriots DT Adam Butler joining a stacked defensive line. Fuller is the big acquisition for an injury-prone corps of receivers that left Tua with very little to work with in his rookie campaign.
Key Additions: DE Takkarist McKinley, S John Johnson
Analysis: The Browns missed out on J.J. Watt, but still signed an excellent pass rusher to work opposite Myles Garrett. Johnson is an underrated pick-up from the Rams as a safety who can provide some stability in a young secondary. The Browns elite rushing attack could become even more unstoppable if they address weaknesses on the offensive line this offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Additions: None yet
Key Re-signings: WR Chris Godwin, LB Shaq Barrett, LB Lavonte David, TE Rob Gronkowski
Analysis: Tom Brady took a paycut so the Bucs could retain their talent and they made it a priority to lock up two of the best linebackers in the game. Tampa still has some money to target offensive linemen that will keep their 44-year-old QB upright. Bucs GM Jason Licht still has $8.5 million to work with and should be able to acquire at least one veteran who is willing to chase a ring.
Key Additions: DE J.J. Watt, WR AJ Green
Key Re-signings: OT Kelvin Beachum
Analysis: Even after adding Watt and re-signing DE Markus Golden, the Cardinals are the biggest underdogs in the loaded NFC West. But they might be undervalued outside of their division and could push the Over on their regular season win total. Kenyan Drake is gone and Chase Edmonds might need a partner in the backfield for Kliff Kingsbury to run his uptempo offense. Kyler Murray should have a huge year and we’ll see if AJ Green can stay healthy and re-discover some of his mojo.
San Francisco 49ers
Key Re-signings: OT Trent Williams, FB Kyle Juszczyk, LB Samson Ebukam, DB Emmanuel Mosley, DB Jason Verrett
Analysis: Some of the 49ers biggest additions this season will simply be studs like Nick Bosa, George Kittle, and Raheem Mostert returning from significant injuries. Jimmy Garoppolo’s future is still a bit uncertain and he could be on the move if the 49ers are able to swing a trade for Deshaun Watson. Adding an elite QB would clearly put this franchise back into the realm of elite contenders, especially after they retained one of the best tackles in the game in Trent Williams.
New Orleans Saints
Key Re-signings: QB Jameis Winston, RB Ty Montgomery, OL James Hurst, S Marcus Williams
Analysis: While they signed Winston to a one-year extension, there is still hope among Saints fans that the team will make a play for Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson following the retirement of Drew Brees. In order to get under the salary cap, the Saints let go of Trey Hendrickson, Emmanuel Sanders, Kwon Alexander, Malcom Brown, Janoris Jenkins, Josh Hill, and punter Thomas Morstead to clear some $35 million. They can split up the cap hit from Brees’ retirement over two years and OT Terron Armstead was one of several players to restructure their contract to save some $52 million in space. Now the Saints can look for help at CB and replace some of those pieces at lower cost.
Looking to make a splash?
Key Additions: OT Ty Nsekhe
Key Re-signings: QB Dak Prescott, DB CJ Goodwin, DB Jourdan Lewis
Analysis: The Cowboys are always willing to spend, but the front office now has its hands tied after giving Dak Prescott a 4-year, $160 million deal. They had $18 million remaining and spent a small portion to add depth at tackle by signing former Bills lineman Ty Nsekhe. Instead of pursuing a big name like Patrick Peterson, Jerry Jones and his staff settled on re-signing Goodwin and Lewis, who gets $8 million guaranteed on a three-year deal.