NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Brady to the Bucs, Rivers to Indy and the rest of the moves

The beginning of the legal tampering period brought a flurry of moves with potentially significant Fantasy impacts. The CBS Fantasy team has you covered, including Heath Cummings’ updated projections for nearly every offense impacted and special podcasts with Adam Aizer, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard to break down all of the blockbuster moves so far.

There have been minor moves, as well, including the Falcons trading for Hayden Hurst to replace Austin Hooper, who agreed with the Browns on a free agent contract that made him the highest-paid tight end in the league. We’re rounding up our reactions to everything in one place, including the smaller news you need to know about:

49ers tender Breida, re-structure McKinnon

Hold the Raheem Mostert hype, as San Francisco appears committed to a running back rotation again in 2020 after ensuring both Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon will be back. Tevin Coleman is still under contract, though he could be released with no dead money to San Francisco and nearly $5 million in potential cap savings. The 49ers also re-signed Jeff Wilson back on March 5. Kyle Shanahan is again loading up on running backs. 

TB heads to TB

Multiple reports have Tom Brady joining Tampa Bay Wednesday, though we’re waiting on an official announcement. Brady’s arm strength and willingness to stand in the pocket have been in question in recent years, but so too were Carson Palmer’s before he linked up with Bruce Arians in Arizona for a successful late-career resurgence. It’s a fascinating fit, because Brady will run an offensive system that likes to push the ball vertically — Jameis Winston’s average throw depth was second-highest in the league in 2019, while Brady’s was below average. 

Will Brady suddenly start pushing the ball downfield more at 43 years old given the upgrade in weapons? For Mike Evans’ sake, let’s hope so. 

Jordan Howard joins Dolphins

Still just 25 and with an average rushing season through four years of 224 carries, 974 yards and 7.5 touchdowns at a 4.3 yards per carry, any perception of Howard as an over-the-hill plodder is probably unwarranted. He’s certainly an early-down grinder, but his signing in Miami could lead to a solid workload, as Heath notes in his projections for the Dolphins.

Jason Witten to Raiders, Blake Jarwin re-ups with Cowboys

Since rejoining the coaching ranks, Jon Gruden has made it a habit of acquiring older players, perhaps making up for lost time by grabbing guys he always wanted to coach. Witten is the latest, and he’ll presumably play behind or alongside 2019 breakout Darren Waller, who suddenly has plenty of competition after Hunter Renfrow’s late-season emergence cut into his short-area targets. 

Meanwhile, Blake Jarwin re-signed for three years with $9.25 million guaranteed, plenty of money to ensure he’ll get his shot to be the top tight end in Dallas. Jarwin has been highly efficient as a reserve, posting 8.7 yards per target on 58 career catches.

Rivers to sign with Colts

Philip Rivers looks likely to land in a long-rumored destination, Indianapolis. The Colts didn’t have a single player who caught 50 balls last year, and their depth chart is far from settled at skill positions, but this should be a boost to the whole offense, notably T.Y. Hilton and possibly also Jack Doyle and Nyheim Hines, among others. 

Panthers agree with Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton out

After announcing Cam Newton could seek a trade, Carolina reached agreement with Bridgewater, reportedly to be their new starting quarterback. Bridgewater is an accurate quarterback and was very comfortable throwing underneath in his five starts with New Orleans in 2019. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks last season, Bridgewater’s average throw depth was lowest at 6.2 yards. That is great news for Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, who racked up receptions working with Kyle Allen last season. 

Drew Brees returns to Saints

Brees signed a two-year pact, but at this stage of his career, it’s expected to be structured such that if he decides he’s done after 2020, that can happen. Brees’ return keeps Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara squarely in the first round, and likely ensures the Saints offense will continue to run through those two superstars. 

Marcus Mariota joins Raiders

The Raiders still have Derek Carr under contract, but they could save over $13 million by releasing him, while eating nearly $8 million in dead money. Assuming Carr is back, Mariota appears headed for a backup role, but it’s possible he could compete to start. Las Vegas may also add a quarterback in the draft. 

Bills acquire Stefon Diggs

If you’re aware of the stat yards per target, you might know anything over 10 is considered excellent. That means hitting 1,000 yards is quite the task if you’re not a 100-target receiver — Diggs posted 1,130 yards in 2019 while being targeted just 94 times. Though Minnesota relegated Diggs to a deep-threat role last year, he caught over 100 balls in 2018, and has a proven ability to do it all. Unfortunately for Fantasy managers, Buffalo isn’t a much better situation than Minnesota. While there should be more opportunity for Diggs to rack up targets at all depths, Josh Allen’s rushing and accuracy issues will keep Diggs’ numbers in check. 

Diggs moving on does immediately bump Adam Thielen’s 2020 projection. Here’s our analysts’ breakdown of the trade:

Texans ink Randall Cobb

After trading DeAndre Hopkins earlier Monday, Houston signed Cobb to a three-year deal with more than $18 million guaranteed. Not exactly a No. 1 at this stage in his career, Cobb joins a Houston pass-catching group that already had reasonable depth with Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee, but probably needs more of an alpha receiver. You know, someone like DeAndre Hopkins. 

Falcons release Devonta Freeman, acquire Hayden Hurst

The Falcons moved on from their longtime starting running back to free up some cap room, and Dave says the 28-year-old’s days as a start-worthy Fantasy running back are numbered. On Hurst, he notes: “Hurst will enter his third NFL season with his second NFL team at the age of 27 years old. The Falcons figure to plug him into Austin Hooper’s old role as a move tight end, and while he moves a little better than Hooper, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest he’ll crush it. He has three touchdowns over 43 career receptions despite playing 28 career games. It’ll take the Falcons treating Hurst like they did Hooper (7.5 targets per game in 2019) for there to be even a chance at a 700-yard season.” 

Bears sign Jimmy Graham, are active in quarterback market

The Bears added Jimmy Graham on a two-year deal, but the move seems unlikely to have a major Fantasy impact at this stage of his career, particularly as a flurry of moves have opened up potential 2020 breakouts like Hurst, Ian Thomas, Jonnu Smith and the recently-extended Blake Jarwin. 

Dave also notes: “The Bears are pretty clearly trying to get something done at quarterback. Monday started with them trying to lure Teddy Bridgewater, then that rumor fizzled as discussion around a trade involving Nick Foles or Andy Dalton gained steam. No matter how you slice it, there’s too much smoke around the franchise to believe Mitchell Trubisky will be their starter anytime soon. That’s a terrible look for a club that spent three draft picks to move up one spot to draft Trubisky — passing on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes in the process. For what it’s worth, Foles (65.8%) had a better completion rate in 2019 than Trubisky (63.2%) and Dalton (59.5%).”

Hopkins to Cardinals, David Johnson to Texans, Drake tagged

After tagging Drake, the Cardinals were able to unload Johnson’s salary by including a second-round pick, while the Texans traded their franchise centerpiece in a move that has reportedly stunned the locker room. 

Dak Prescott tagged, Amari Cooper re-signed

The Cowboys tagged Prescott, and after the ratification of the CBA last weekend, teams can now use only one tag, meaning they were limited in their options with Amari Cooper’s. But late Monday, they reached an agreement on a 5-year, $100 million deal to keep Cooper in Dallas. Heath’s updated Cowboys projections look at what this means for the Cowboys in 2020. 

Browns tender Kareem Hunt, agree with Hooper

Somewhat surprisingly, Cleveland has reached an agreement with Austin Hooper in a move that further bolsters a loaded skill position group. With Hunt also tendered, will there be enough targets to go around?

Derrick Henry tagged

After signing Ryan Tannehill to a multi-year deal Sunday, the Titans used the franchise tag on running back Derrick Henry on Monday, ensuring they will try to recapture their 2019 magic in 2020. Heath warns regression is incoming. 

A.J. Green tagged

The Bengals franchise tagged Green, and Jamey says his days as a prominent Fantasy weapon aren’t done yet. 

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