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Silverman: NFL's Legal Tampering Period Kicks Off Free Agency Frenzy

Cousins, Keenum Among Players Reportedly Already On Move

Steve Silverman
March 13, 2018 - 1:39 pm
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The NFL is all about spinning things in its favor and creating an excellent public image.

That’s why it’s surprising that the NFL calls the current period before the start of the 2018 league year exactly what it is – the "legal tampering period."

“Tampering” is not exactly a word that allows one to conjure up pure thoughts. Normally, the word "tampering" is associated with a jury or some other criminal activity. The NFL does not usually have this kind of truth in advertising.

The start of the league year means that free agents will be changing uniforms, and the manipulations have already begun. Quarterback Case Keenum seems likely to leave Minnesota and sign with the Denver Broncos.

MORE: Reports: Giants Lose G Weston Richburg, LB Devon Kennard In Free Agency

The Chicago Bears are about to sign wide receiver Allen Robinson, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Miami Dolphins are going to cut disruptive defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Legal tampering means that NFL teams can talk to impending free agents and do everything but sign a new deal. That can occur as early as 4 p.m. Wednesday, and all indications are that there will be plenty of action.

Quick fixes in free agency are few and far between. Over the long haul, the best way to build or improve a team is to draft talented players, coach them well and keep them on the team.

The Giants made some of the best moves in recent memory two years ago when they signed Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins. The Giants had one of the worst defenses in the league in 2015, and those three players helped the club improve dramatically and become a playoff team in 2016.

The benefit, however, was rather short-lived, as they were awful again in 2017.

Still, every team in the league – with the possible exception of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles – has a need to improve during the offseason. And even though the Eagles are currently at the top of the heap, general manager Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson know that standing pat is not the answer because their competition is going to get better.

MORE: Keidel: Giants Must Protect Themselves From Odell Beckham Jr.'s Troubling Behavior

The Giants are about $20 million under the new $177 million salary cap, while the Jets have more than $92 million in cap space available. It’s time for both teams to go to work.

The Kansas City Chiefs are making big moves by cutting defensive lineman Tamba Hali and defensive back Ron Parker. This comes after the team voided the contract of linebacker Derrick Johnson and released ex-Jet Darrelle Revis.

The Chiefs are bringing in Sammy Watkins to upgrade their receiving crew, and while he has upper-echelon talent, he has yet to live up to his potential because of injuries and other factors. If coach Andy Reid can get the most out of Watkins, the Chiefs will finally have their superstar receiver.

The Jets were hoping to land quarterback Kirk Cousins, but he is reportedly planning to sign a three-year, $84 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings

Gang Green was hoping that the Drew Brees factor would come into play with Minnesota. Brees had not signed a new contract with the New Orleans Saints as free agency was about to begin, and while both the quarterback and the team professed their love for one another, it seemed Brees would hit the open market.

But that changed when Brees signed a two-year, $50 million deal with the Saints on Tuesday morning. The 39-year-old Brees is not a long-term answer for the Saints, but his accuracy and intelligence set him apart. If the Vikings had been able to sign him, he probably would have been the better quarterback for the 2018 season over Cousins or anyone else.

Cousins has never lacked for confidence, even though the Redskins never gave him the respect that he felt he earned in Washington. The Redskins could be right about Cousins, but the feeling here is that the team had a blind spot where the quarterback is concerned and could come to regret not keeping him when it had a chance.

Barring a last-second change of heart by Cousins, the Jets will likely have to bring back Josh McCown. That's not all bad. McCown is a far less risky option than Teddy Bridgewater, who is attempting to come back from a brutal knee injury that kept him out of action for all but a few plays over the past two seasons.

Even if Bridgewater can come back, he lacks big-time arm strength, and his mobility will be somewhat limited. He is a major question mark.

It'll be an interesting next few days. Let the signings begin.

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