As NFL free agency moves into its second week of existence, the vast majority of premium football stars have already secured lucrative deals with various teams across the country. Meanwhile that second tier of less talented “squad” players continue to bounce around team visits, holding out hope for a big deal, but probably starting to realize that they may just have to settle for something less than spectacular on the payment front. Nevertheless, I have taken a look at most of the free agents that have been signed so far and here is my list of the 5 top free agency signings this year:
5. Hakeem Nicks – While his great play seemed to tail off in the last few years, the failure of the New York Giants has been the team as a whole, and therefore I cannot point the finger at Nicks. With his quarterback Eli Manning playing terribly and getting little support from a non-existent rushing attack, the Giants simply had a horrendous season. With the Indianapolis Colts, Nicks will get a fresh start with an incredible young QB in Andrew Luck. Additionally, he will be gifted the opportunity to learn from future Hall of Fame wide receiver Reggie Wayne in his twilight years. The Colts are going places and Nicks will certainly help with his physical presence!
4. Julius Peppers – Certainly no spring chicken at 34, many have forgotten just how dominating this player can be. An athletic freak, Peppers might well have 5 good years left in the tank. Another benefit in signing with the Green Bay Packers is that he won’t have to be the central playmaker in the defense that already stars Clay Matthews. This pair of sack masters will probably revamp the team’s defense and could help them get over the hump that is the San Francisco 49ers and become Super Bowl contenders once again.
3. Josh McCown – While not spectacular, the mature veteran quarterback is exactly what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need. While Mike Glennon showed some promise and smart decision-making last year, McCown is someone you can count on. As the Chicago Bears saw last season, this player was able to fill in and played exceptionally well and consistently made good throws. While he is already 34, McCown will be the perfect bridge player that will give the Bucs some time to groom Glennon or another potential starter down the road.
2. DeMarcus Ware – Teaming up with Von Miller and the Denver Broncos, Ware will now be part of one of the premier teams in the league. While Peyton Manning can keep up the score with nearly everyone, Ware will help make impact plays and sacks on the other side of the ball. He is on the wrong side of 30, and is coming off of his worst season statistically, but this defensive end will now have the opportunity to play for a legitimate contender and could just push them over the top!
1. Jairus Byrd – The New Orleans Saints were one of the few teams that actually gave the Seattle Seahawks a run for their money last year. They already had a pretty stingy defense, but Byrd is a safety that can make the big game-changing impact. His 22 interceptions since 2009 is right up there with the best defensive backs in the game, and he has a tendency to force fumbles as well. With creating turnovers being absolutely key to success in the NFL, Byrd is the word that will prove to be well worth all the money spent to secure this deal!