Every year, there are a handful of teams that spend significantly more than the rest of the NFL as free agency begins. The Jacksonville Jaguars are almost always among them, as are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and sometimes the Cleveland Browns.
However, spending big doesn’t always result in an increase in wins. Just look at the Jaguars last year -- they spent the most cash in the NFL and went from 5-11 to 3-13. They, like many other teams, hope their fortunes will be different this time around.
Here are the 10 biggest spenders of free agency so far, excluding players who were re-signed by the same team. This only accounts for outside free agents.
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New England Patriots: $82 million
The Patriots were probably the most active team during the first week or so of free agency, making three key trades early on. Yet they were still active in signing outside free agents. The Patriots surprised everyone and signed cornerback Stephon Gilmore (pictured) to a $65 million deal, replacing Logan Ryan, who left for Tennessee.
In addition to Gilmore, Bill Belichick also landed running back Rex Burkhead and defensive lineman Lawrence Guy. They both offer their own types of versatility with Burkhead playing both offense and special teams, while Guy can play all along the defensive line. It’s been a busy offseason for New England, and Belichick likely isn’t done yet.
Tennessee Titans: $84 million
The Titans entered free agency needing to improve their defense. Well, they wasted no time doing so, signing a handful of players to fill holes on that side of the ball. Safety Johnathan Cyprien (pictured) and former Patriots corner Logan Ryan were the headliners of the group, figuring to come in as key starters in 2017.
Sylvester Williams landed a $17.5 million deal from Tennessee and will be an important run stopper in the middle of the defense. Overall, it was a good haul for the Titans, but they have yet to make a notable addition at wide receiver. It’s likely they’ll go that route early in the draft.
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Los Angeles Rams: $86 million
The Rams made a splash right off the bat by signing veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth (pictured) to a $33.75 million deal. Robert Woods followed quickly thereafter, as did quarterback Aaron Murray.
Los Angeles went quiet for a few days after their initial signings, but they were far from done. Former Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster signed a two-year deal, followed by one-year contracts for Lance Dunbar and Connor Barwin. Overall, the Rams did get better, but the signing of Woods was questionable, mainly because they gave him $34 million.
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Minnesota Vikings: $92 million
The Vikings needed two offensive tackles with Matt Kalil and Andre Smith both moving on in free agency. They responded to their departures by landing Riley Reiff (pictured) and Mike Remmers. Reiff played right tackle last season, but with Remmers coming over, he’ll likely slide back over to the left side.
In addition to signing those two tackles, the Vikings also added former Packers bust Datone Jones to a one-year, $3.75 million deal. He’ll be more of a role player in Minnesota, but as a low-risk, high-reward option, he was a smart signing.
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Carolina Panthers: $96 million
This was an offseason of reunions for the Panthers, bringing back Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn after brief stints elsewhere. Both will be key role players on defense, joining Kawann Short, Charles Johnson and Mario Addison – all of whom were re-signed.
Where the Panthers’ free-agency haul got a bit questionable was with the signing of Matt Kalil (pictured) to a $55.5 million deal. The veteran left tackle is coming off of hip surgery and has seen his play decline of late, which is what made this lucrative long-term deal so surprising. Perhaps he’ll prove everyone wrong, rebound from the injury and play like a Pro Bowler. Anything short of that would be somewhat of a disappointment.
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Detroit Lions: $100 million
On the first day of free agency, the Lions watched their top free agents, Larry Warford and Riley Reiff, walk out the door. Not long thereafter, the Lions replaced both. They signed Ricky Wagner (pictured) to a five-year, $47.5 million deal just a few days before signing T.J. Lang to a three-year, $28.5 million contract.
Both will be starters right away next season, and when healthy, they’re two of the best at their respective positions. You could even say the Lions upgraded at both spots while also saving money. Detroit also added a few players on defense in D.J. Hayden, Akeem Spence and Cornelius Washington. Overall, it’s been a solid offseason for Detroit.
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Cleveland Browns: $109 million
Cleveland entered the new league year with the most cap space of any team, but they didn’t go out and buy the most expensive skill-position players. Instead, the Browns addressed the offensive line, which was abysmal last season. They signed three players: guard Kevin Zeitler (pictured), center J.C. Tretter and receiver Kenny Britt.
Those three cost the Browns $109.25 million alone, though they’ll all be Day 1 starters for Cleveland. If they don’t sign another free agent until after the draft, their haul thus far will be enough. Cleveland has done a good job managing the cap and its roster this offseason.
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Chicago Bears: $116 million
The headliner of Chicago’s free-agency class, believe it or not, is quarterback Mike Glennon (pictured). The Bears gave him $45 million for three years, a signing that garnered criticism from some. They attempted to surround him with talent on offense after losing Alshon Jeffery, signing Kendall Wright, Dion Sims and Markus Wheaton.
Defensively, the Bears improved at cornerback by landing Prince Amukamara with a one-year, $7 million deal. He’ll pair with fellow free-agent addition Marcus Cooper, giving Chicago some much-needed depth at that position. The Bears still have $16.7 million in cap space, so they may not be done yet, but they’ve added a handful of starters on each side of the ball.
San Francisco 49ers: $148 million
First-year GM John Lynch joined the 49ers with a great deal of money at his disposal. The 49ers were among the teams with the most cap space, and he used it from the get-go.
The 49ers have signed 13 players this offseason, the biggest being Pierre Garcon (pictured) at $47.5 million. Kyle Juszczyk’s record-setting $21-million contract for a fullback added to the growing list of expensive additions, giving Kyle Shanahan a Swiss army knife in the backfield.
The 49ers still need a starting quarterback despite signing both Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley and could use a handful of playmakers on defense despite signing former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith to a $26.5 million deal.
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Jacksonville Jaguars: $168 million
For the second straight year, the Jaguars have spent more than any other team. The offseason isn’t over yet, but they appear poised to retain that “title.” The biggest reason they sit atop the list is because of cornerback A.J. Bouye’s (pictured) massive contract, which was the largest for a player who changed teams.
Pair his $67.5 million deal with Calais Campbell’s $60 million and Barry Church’s $26 million, and it’s easy to see how the Jaguars spent so much in free agency. Hopefully this time around the signings will add a few wins, not two losses as they did this past season.