The first wave of free agency is well behind us, as are the second and third waves, really. At this point in the process, fringe starters make up most of the pool and aren’t going to land huge deals from this point forward.
For the most part, early signees signed lucrative contracts, some more eye-popping than others. However, there were also a bunch of bargains. Some teams were able to land key players like Terrelle Pryor at small price tags, which not only helps their cap situation this season, but for years to come.
Here are some of the biggest bargains of free agency thus far.
CB Prince Amukamara, Bears
For the second straight year, Amukamara will play out a one-year deal. It worked for him last season, and it’ll likely work again in 2017. The former first-round pick can be a borderline No. 1 cornerback for the Bears despite making only $7 million next season.
The Bears were desperate for secondary help, and even if he stays for only one season, it’ll be a worthwhile addition. He’ll once again put injury concerns aside and prove he can stay healthy in Chicago, which is what prevented him from landing a long-term deal last offseason.
In the event that he gets hurt again, the Bears can move on. He’ll had only a small impact on the cap this season, especially with the Bears having plenty of cap space.
DT Dontari Poe, Falcons
Poe had a down year in 2016, and the Falcons know that. It’s part of the reason he didn’t come off the board on Day 1 of free agency, despite making several visits in the following days.
At $8 million, Poe is just the 13th-highest paid defensive tackle in the league, despite having potential that surpasses most players at his position. Just three years ago, he had six sacks for the Cheifs, and 4.5 the year before that.
Next to Grady Jarrett and playing alongside Vic Beasley, Poe should see additional opportunities to rush the passer – something Jarrett thrived at doing late in the season, as we all saw in the Super Bowl.
This was a smart one-year bargain for the Falcons.
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OLB Jabaal Sheard, Colts
The pass-rusher market was blown way out of the water this offseason with Jason Pierre-Paul, Nick Perry and Chandler Jones all landing massive contracts. One player who did not was Sheard, who signed a three-year, $25.5 million deal with the Colts.
I’m not suggesting Sheard is on the level of those three players, because he’s not. However, for the price, he’s worth the low risk thanks to the potentially high reward he brings. His deal is half the size of Perry’s despite his potential to eclipse 10 sacks in 2017.
In 2015, he had eight for the Patriots, and from 2011-12, he had 15.5 combined. The potential to be a double-digit sack guy is there, he just needs the right fit, which the Colts are.
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DE Julius Peppers, Panthers
Peppers may be 37 years old, but his production has hardly fallen off in recent years. He’s had at least seven sacks in each of the past nine seasons, including 18 total since the start of 2015.
No, he may not be the dominant pass rusher he used to be, but he doesn’t miss games, and his impact on a per-snap basis is among the best in the NFL. Returning to the 4-3 should help Peppers’ pass-rushing ability, too, as he’ll be surrounded by good talent including Kawann Short and Mario Addison.
The Panthers were among the best in the league when it came to sacks last season, and for just $3.5 million, they got even better.
TE Martellus Bennett, Packers
Bennett revived his career in New England, as so many players do, proving he can be a top tight end in the NFL. He cashed in during free agency, but not the way some expected. He was still relatively cheap for the Packers.
At $21 million for three years, Bennett is the 12th-highest-paid tight end in the NFL. He got only $6.3 million guaranteed, which allows the Packers to get out of the contract after just one season without much penalty at all.
That’s not to say they will but considering he's a 30-year-old tight end with past questions about his work ethic, Green Bay did a good job to protect itself in the near future.
WR Terrelle Pryor, Redskins
The Browns tried to re-sign Pryor. They couldn’t. They wanted him on a long-term deal. He didn’t want that.
Enter the Redskins, who gave him $6 million for one year – a tiny amount for a player with immeasurable potential and the ability to be a No. 1 wideout right now. Pryor eases the pain of losing both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon and will pair nicely with Josh Doctson – assuming he's healthy.
This may wind up being a one-year rental for the Redskins, especially if he shows out and puts up huge numbers, but it’s a smart move for a team in desperate need of a dynamic receiver. Pryor’s payday will come next offseason.
WR Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
The Eagles got an absolute bargain with Jeffery. They landed him with a one-year, $9.5 million deal after he made just shy of $14.6 million on the franchise tag last season. Yes, it’s for only one year, but for a player who’s had durability and character concerns in the past, it’s the ideal scenario.
If he plays well in the first half of the season, the Eagles can begin negotiating a new long-term deal, preventing him from hitting the open market again. If he flakes, it’s only a $9.5 million mistake for one season. That’s far easier to swallow than a four-year, $50 million mistake would be.
He can be the No. 1 receiver Carson Wentz desperately needs.