National Football League
NFL free agency by the numbers: Who won big during tampering period?
National Football League

NFL free agency by the numbers: Who won big during tampering period?

Updated Mar. 13, 2024 4:53 p.m. ET

It's money bag season in the NFL.

Free agency officially opened at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, but dozens upon dozens of players have already agreed to major deals since the legal tampering window opened on Monday. So, the start of free agency allows those players to put pen to paper on the big-money deals that have already been agreed to.

Of course, more deals can be reached and signed after Wednesday, as there are still several more notable free agents on the open market. 

But let's take a look at how much money was spent during the league's 52-hour legal tampering period.


Here is a by-the-numbers breakdown of the NFL's free agent tampering period.

2.4: Before the new league year began at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, NFL teams had dished out $2.4 billion in total contracts during the legal tampering period. The billions spent by teams came after the salary cap took a larger jump than expected, moving to $255.5 million for the 2024 season.

900.6: The 10 largest contracts agreed to in free agency added up to $900.6 million in total value. To clarify just how expensive that is, the 10 largest contracts in total value for the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs is $932.6 million, including L'Jairius Sneed's $19.8 million franchise tag. Patrick Mahomes' $450 million contract spikes that number. The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers' 10 largest contracts in terms of total value amounts to $850.1 million. 

180: The four-year, $180 million deal Kirk Cousins agreed to with the Atlanta Falcons was the largest contract of the legal tampering period. Cousins' contract reportedly includes $100 million in guaranteed money. Some other notable quarterback contracts agreed to during the legal tampering period include Gardner Minshew (two years, $25 million with Las Vegas Raiders) and Jacoby Brissett (one year, $8 million with New England Patriots). On the day before the start of the legal tampering period, Baker Mayfield agreed to a three-year, $100 million deal to stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFL QB free agency roundup ft. Baker Mayfield, Russell Wilson & Kirk Cousins

332: This offseason wasn't Cousins' first rodeo in free agency, becoming a rare established starting quarterback to hit free agency twice in his career. Following his stint in Washington, Cousins signed a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million contract to join the Minnesota Vikings in 2018. He signed a pair of fully guaranteed extensions during his six seasons in Minneapolis, giving him roughly $332 million in career earnings following his deal with Atlanta.

48: Josh Jacobs' surprise deal with the Green Bay Packers led the way for running back deals in the NFL's legal tampering period. He agreed to a four-year, $48 million deal to head to the Pack, which subsequently caused Green Bay to release Aaron Jones.

213.8: Jacobs' deal was just one of the many notable contracts agreed to by running backs so far in free agency, as there's been a little bit of a renaissance at the position after teams were reluctant to spend on them in 2023. Saquon Barkley agreed to the largest deal in teams of annual value, receiving a three-year,$37.75 million deal with $26 million guaranteed. Derrick Henry (two years, $16 million with Baltimore Ravens), Tony Pollard (three years, $24 million with Tennessee Titans) and D'Andre Swift (three years, $24 million with Chicago Bears) were just a few of the other notable running backs to agree to sizable deals with new teams.

39: The wide receiver market was in an unusual spot during the league's legal tampering window. Mike Evans and Michael Pittman Jr. agreed to deals to remain with their teams, while Tee Higgins was franchise-tagged. Calvin Ridley, viewed as the top receiver on the open market, didn't agree to a deal before 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. So, the three-year, $39 million contracts that Gabe Davis and Darnell Mooney agreed to were the richest in total value among wide receivers. The Jacksonville Jaguars added Davis, while Mooney agreed to a deal with the Falcons. 

Free Agency winners and head scratchers ft. Saquon Barkley & D'Andre Swift

100: The biggest contract for an offensive lineman surprisingly went to one who plays on the interior. The Carolina Panthers gave former Miami Dolphins guard Robert Hunt a five-year, $100 million deal with $63 million guaranteed as they seek to give Bryce Young more help. They also agreed to a deal with former Seattle Seahawks guard Damien Lewis, giving him a four-year, $53 million deal with $26.2 million guaranteed. Michael Onwenu's deal to remain with the Patriots is sandwiched between those moves, as he agreed to a three-year, $57 million pact with $38 million guaranteed. 

22.5: The tight end market hasn't been as robust after Dalton Schultz and Hunter Henry agreed to deals to remain with their teams ahead of free agency. Colby Parkinson's three-year, $22.5 million contract to leave the Seahawks for the Los Angeles Rams was the most expensive for a tight end during the legal tampering period. Most of that contract is guaranteed at $15.5 million. 

141: Brian Burns received a major payday as part of a trade, earning a five-year, $141 million deal with $87.5 million guaranteed from the New York Giants after being dealt from the Panthers. That contract earns him a lot more money than the $24 million franchise tag he received from the Panthers earlier in March, as his contract is tied for the third-largest in total value among defensive players.

72 for 49: In addition to Burns, edge rushers mostly made out pretty well during the league's legal tampering period. Jonathan Greenard earned a four-year, $72 million deal with $42 million guaranteed from the Minnesota Vikings following his 12.5-sack season with the Houston Texans. The Vikings and Texans essentially swapped edge rushers, though, as Houston gave former Minnesota star Danielle Hunter a two-year, $49 million deal to head south, with all but $1 million of it being guaranteed. 

Derrick Henry signs two-year, $16 million deal with the Ravens

51.1: Bryce Huff was one of the beneficiaries of teams willing to spend on edge rushers during the legal tampering period. The three-year, $51.1 million deal he received from the Philadelphia Eagles is not only the third-largest in total value among edge rushers, but it's also the richest contract for a non-quarterback who went undrafted. Tony Romo signed a pair of contracts that were larger in total value than Huff's when he was with the Dallas Cowboys

110: Christian Wilkins was the biggest winner in free agency among interior defensive linemen. His four-year, $110 million deal with the Raiders was the second-richest for a defensive player during the legal tampering period, earning $84.75 million guaranteed. The deal also makes Wilkins the league's third-highest-paid defensive tackle, trailing Aaron Donald and Chris JonesLeonard Williams also made out well in his deal to return to the Seahawks, agreeing to a three-year $64.5 million deal with $43.85 million guaranteed.

41: The Pittsburgh Steelers' decision to steal a top defensive player away from their biggest rival didn't come cheap. They agreed to a three-year, $41 million deal to add former Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen, making it the largest contract for an off-ball linebacker during the league's legal tampering period. 

LB Patrick Queen to sign a three-year, $41M deal with the Steelers

36: The cornerback market was left a bit dry as Jaylon Johnson and L'Jarius Sneed were each placed on the franchise tag, with the former agreeing to a long-term deal ahead of the legal tampering period. As a result, former Cincinnati Bengals standout Chidobe Awuzie was the biggest beneficiary among corners on the free-agent market, earning a three-year, $36 million deal with $22.98 guaranteed from the Tennessee Titans, joining former Bengals assistant Brian Callahan in Nashville.

68: Known for their tendency to not spend on outside free agents in recent years, the Packers reversed course this offseason, dishing out the largest deals at two separate positions as they look to take advantage of their current window. They agreed to sign Xavier McKinney to a four-year, $67 million deal with $23 million guaranteed, the richest among all safeties during the legal tampering period. 

8: In a heavy-spending offseason around the league, one player opted to leave some money on the table. Josh Uche reportedly turned down a two-year deal with $11 million in guaranteed money from an unnamed team to remain with the Patriots on a one-year deal worth $3 million with a maximum value of $8 million, NFL Media reported

231: Falcons owner Arthur Blank operated with a bit more of a blank check this offseason, at least compared to other owners. The $231 million the Falcons gave out in contracts during the legal tampering period was the most by any team. Cousins' contract is obviously the biggest reason for that. 


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