By Steve Silverman
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The NFL is in a special world than the one you and I reside in, therefore the phrase “league yr.”
That’s how the NFL notes the beginning of the 2017 season and the top of the 2016 season, and the brand new league yr begins March 9. Groups can begin signing free brokers to improve their rosters then, and whereas the consensus is that these basic managers who try and construct their groups by means of free company will fail, it’s time to readjust that considering.
Begin with the Giants, who final yr signed defensive finish Olivier Vernon, defensive deal with Damon Harrison and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. These three, together with second-yr security Landon Collins, have been liable for a defensive turnaround that helped the Giants turn out to be a playoff group after having the worst protection within the league the earlier season. Give defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo some credit score as nicely.
It wasn’t simply the Giants, both. The Oakland Raiders signed 4 key free brokers in linebacker Bruce Irvin, security Reggie Nelson, guard Kelechi Osemele and cornerback Sean Smith, they usually helped the Raiders problem the New England Patriots for the No. 1 slot within the AFC a lot of the season.
The Raiders ended up settling for a wild-card spot when quarterback Derek Carr was injured late within the season, however they returned to relevance in 2016 and will stay there for the foreseeable future.
This yr’s free agent class is robust and deep, however no one can merely take a look at the drafting board and make their gives. Groups can slap franchise tags on gamers, and that may impression offseason plans.
MORE: Silverman: QBs Ought to Not Go Earlier than Prime D-Linemen In This Yr’s Draft
The Pittsburgh Steelers will undoubtedly use that tag on operating again Le’Veon Bell if they will’t signal him to a brand new contract. The identical appears probably for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.
It’s not so easy, nevertheless, for Kansas Metropolis security Eric Berry, who was tagged by the Chiefs final yr and had a superb season for head coach Andy Reid. Berry has stated he gained’t play beneath the tag once more this season, and if the Chiefs can’t get his identify on a brand new contract, it might get ugly this summer time.
Right here’s my take a look at 10 extra free brokers who might transform influence gamers for the groups that signal them.
• Edge rusher Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals is within the prime of his profession and has hit double-digit sacks in three of his 5 earlier seasons. Jones, who turns 27 on Feb. 27,…