Free Agency Recap — AFC South: Sights Set on the NFL Draft
Over the next week, we’re going to discuss the early returns for each NFL team in the free agency period. But first, a couple of notes about the structure and theme of these free agency recaps:
- We’ll do these free agency recaps four teams at a time, grouped by division
- These are early returns on the action that we saw between the start of the legal tampering period on March 13 and the end of the day on March 29.
- There will be no arbitrary “grades” assigned.
- If your favorite team didn’t get the love you expected, just know that I’m not sorry.
- Let’s have some fun and talk some football.
I’ll always hold a soft spot in my heart for Jeff Saturday and the Colts for the way they allowed the Texans to snake them in the final seconds of Week 18 so the Bears could land the No. 1 pick.
- DE Samson Ebukam (3 years, $27 million)
- K Matt Gay (4 years, $22.5 million)
- DE Tyquan Lewis (1 year, $3.35 million)
- LB E.J. Speed (2 years, $8 million)
- WR Ashton Dulin (2 years, $7.2 million)
- QB Gardner Minshew (1 year, $3.5 million)
The Colts have a new head coach in Shane Steichen and will have a new quarterback next month after the NFL Draft. So, not surprising that they were frugal in free agency this month. Samson Ebukam was the big-ticket item for the Colts this free agency period and not much else.
The Jaguars were one of my favorite stories in 2022.
- TE Evan Ingram (franchise tag)
- DL Roy Robertson-Harris (3 years, $30 million)
- S Andrew Wingard (3 years, $9.6 million)
- QB C.J. Beathard (2 years, $6.5 million)
- CB Tre Herndon (1 year, $2.6 million)
Jacksonville did a nice job of keeping their guys but weren’t very active on the free agent market. However, they do get wide receiver Calvin Ridley back from suspension, which is almost like a free agent signing, right?
I’ll always hold a soft spot in my heart for Lovie Smith and the Texans for snaking the Colts in the final seconds of Week 18 so the Bears could land the No. 1 pick.
- WR Robert Woods (2 years, $17 million)
- DB Jimmie Ward (2 years, $13 million)
- S M.J. Stewart (2 years, $7.5 million)
- DT Sheldon Rankins (1 year, $10.5 million)
- QB Case Keenum (2 years, $6.25 million)
- TE Dalton Schultz (1 year, $9 million)
Houston has the No. 2 pick in the draft next month as they search for their next franchise QB after Deshaun Watson was shopped out to Cleveland last offseason. DeMeco Ryans was a phenomenal hire for Cal McNair and the Texans.
However, spending was light in free agency for Houston. Robert Woods replaces the traded Brandin Cooks on a two-year deal worth $17 million. DeMeco Ryans also brought one of his guys from San Fran with him in Jimmie Ward.
The Titans are a hot mess as their window in the AFC South has come crashing closed.
- OT Andre Dillard (3 years, $29 million)
- DL Arden Key (3 years, $21 million)
- LB Luke Gifford (2 years, $5 million)
The Titans have repeatedly said that Ryan Tannehill is their guy in 2023. They’ve also been shopping Derrick Henry (with no luck) and did almost nothing in free agency. Arden Key is a nice addition, although they overpaid a bit for him. It’s thin times ahead for the Titans after a few years near the top of the AFC South.