5 Big Stories in the NFL This Week
A blockbuster trade including the Cowboys’ division rival, the NY Giants, as well as big-time free agent signings around the league are grabbing the spotlight this week.
Here are 5 Big Stories in the NFL:
via Associated Press
BLOCKBUSTER TRADE: GIANTS SEND ODELL BECKHAM JR. TO CLEVELAND BROWNS
Holy smokes! Talk about a surprise move!!! The NY Giants traded superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for safety Jabrill Peppers as well as the Browns’ 1st round pick (#17 overall) and 3rd round pick (#95 overall) in April’s NFL Draft.
The OBJ trade overshadowed the trade announced earlier in the week which sent another mega-star wide receiver, Antonio Brown, from the Steelers to the Raiders in exchange for 3rd and 5th round draft picks.
OBJ is a mega talent, but his antics on the field as well as the sidelines have grown tiresome for Giants’ ownership. Still, the trade was a shock because OBJ was signed by the Giants to a massive 5-year, $98 million contract last season.
The Giants are obviously in rebuilding mode. Meanwhile, the Browns have gone from league-wide joke to the preseason favorite to win the AFC North. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is thrilled to add OBJ to a receiving corps which already features Jarvis Landry. OBJ and Landry are good friends and former college teammates at LSU.
JETS LAND LE’VEON BELL
Dynamic running back Le’Veon Bell, who sat out the 2018 season rather than play on the Steelers’ franchise tag, signed a free agent deal with the NY Jets. Bell’s 4-year, $52.5 million new contract includes $35 million guaranteed.
With the Jets, Bell will be taking handoffs from quarterback Sam Darnold who will benefit greatly from sharing the same offensive backfield with Bell. Bell is not just a great runner, he also is terrific at catching balls out of the backfield. Bell will be a potent new weapon for Darnold.
EARL THOMAS SIGNS WITH BALTIMORE RAVENS
Cowboys Nation may have been salivating over the chance to sign safety Earl Thomas in free agency and reunite him with defensive backs coach Kris Richard…
via Associated Press
but Thomas got a bigger offer from the Baltimore Ravens and inked a 4-year deal for $55 million that includes $32 million guaranteed.
The Cowboys really wanted to add Thomas’ veteran leadership and ball-hawking skills, but they weren’t willing to pay as much as the Ravens.
Safety remains an area where the Cowboys will consider upgrading this offseason, but several of the top free agents are already off-the-market. Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins, formerly of the NY Giants, signed the biggest contract offered to a safety so far this year: 6 years, $84 million from the Washington Redskins. And former Cardinals and Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu (aka “the Honey Badger”) signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for 3-years, $42 million.
Another high-profile safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (yes, he really goes by the nickname Ha Ha; his first name is actually Ha’Sean) signed a 1-year, $3.6 million deal with the Chicago Bears on Thursday.
AROUND THE NFC EAST
The Eagles have brought wide receiver DeSean Jackson back to Philly thanks to a trade with the Tampa Bay Bucs. Jackson is a speedy deep-threat who can still run like the wind even though he’s now 32 years old. He began his career in Philadelphia and was a big star for the Eagles before joining the Bucs in 2017.
If you’re a big fan of actor Bradley Cooper and actress Jennifer Lawrence, you probably saw their award-winning movie Silver Linings Playbook. In the film, Cooper’s character wears a #10 Eagles jersey. Yes, that was a DeSean Jackson jersey. Jackson will wear #10 again now that he’s back with the Eagles.
In bringing Jackson back to Philly, the Eagles signed him to a contract extension worth up to $27 million that runs through the 2021 season.
Meanwhile, the division rival NY Giants needed to add a playmaker to their receiving corps after trading Odell Beckham Jr.
The Giants announced Thursday that they’ve reached a deal with former Seahawks/Lions/Eagles receiver Golden Tate.
COWBOYS CONTINUE TO CONCENTRATE ON RE-SIGNING THEIR OWN FREE AGENTS
The Cowboys have not made a big splash through the first few days of free agency…
but they have re-signed some of their own players as well as brought in a veteran defensive lineman.
Wide receiver/punt returner Tavon Austin is staying in Dallas on a one-year deal. Austin is a speedy play-maker, but a groin injury sidelined him for 9 games in 2018. With Cole Beasley’s departure in free agency to Buffalo, Austin could have a bigger role as a slot receiver this coming season.
The Cowboys also have agreed to terms to bring back fullback Jamize Olawale and offensive tackle Cameron Fleming. Olawale doesn’t just block for Zeke Elliott as the fullback, he is also a terrific special teams player and led the Cowboys’ in special teams tackles last season. Olawale’s 3-year deal is worth a reported $5.4 million.
Keeping Fleming as the “swing” tackle is great news for the Cowboys. The “swing” is the backup to both the left tackle and right tackle positions. Fleming’s new deal is for two seasons. Last year, his first with the Cowboys, Fleming started 3 games when Tyron Smith was injured.
The Cowboys also added veteran free agent defensive lineman Christian Covington, a former Houston Texan. Covington will add depth to the defensive line. His new contract is for one season.