NFL Free Agent Frenzy 2024: Analysis, Insights and Odds Updates

The words “Free Agent Frenzy” are not typically associated with the NFL. They can invoke excitement and intrigue in the NBA and certainly get folks in Canada riled up when used in conjunction with the NHL, but the NFL’s signing window is not frenzied most of the time. Well, most of the time is most of the time for a reason, as exceptions prove the rule, and this year, NFL fans were treated to one of those exceptions. A flurry of moves marked this year’s NFL free agency and the fallout is still being dissected. Major power, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, shifted across the board while teams either strengthened their fortunes through shrewd acquisitions or weakened them through inaction.

Today we’re going to dig into the marquee moves of the past week, analyze their implications and look at what those moves mean for the overall team odds. 

There’s a lot to cover so let’s not waste any more time and get to the moves!

Kirk Cousins to Atlanta

The big move that kicked everything off was Atlanta’s bold mega-signing of QB Kirk Cousins. A few weeks ago I thought that the Falcons would opt to trade for hometown boy Justin Fields but since that article went live, the chatter on Atlanta’s courting of Cousins rose to undeniable levels. The word mega may not even be big enough to describe the four-year, 180 Million dollar (100 Million guaranteed) pact. The deal will bring Cousins to age 40 but before you balk at that, keep in mind that before being injured in Week 8, Cousins had thrown for 2,331 yards, 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions, looking well on his way to a career year. Cousins will headline a team on the rise and with rookie sensation Bijan Robinson manning the backfield, he won’t have to scramble too much on his rehabbed Achilles. 

The Falcons have seen a major boost in odds since the move, currently sitting as favourites to win the NFC South with odds of -110 and now own the 12th-best odds to win Super Bowl LIX at +2500.

To Win Outright – Super Bowl LIX – ATL Falcons


Saquon Barkley to Philadelphia

In perhaps the most eye-catching move of free agency, Saquon Barkley left the Giants to join their hated rivals in Philadelphia. A crossing of battle lines that has inflamed football fans in New York, this move is akin to Auston Matthews signing with the Bruins or Habs. 

It’s a splashy move for the Eagles but one that comes with a degree of head scratching as you unfold it. Barkley at 27 still represents a powerful and dangerous running back threat and is a very useful pass catcher to boot, but paying him up to $46.75 million (with incentives) and $26 million guaranteed at signing seems odds considering the back he’s replacing; D’Andre Swift is coming off a season where he turned in 1049 yards on the ground and contributed 39 catches for another 214 yards. Swift, who signed with the Bears for 3 years, will be making nearly half of what Barkley is. 

All that said, Barkley does have the potential to return to his best form in a new system and that’s clearly what the Eagles are hoping for from this deal.

Barkley sees his odds of winning Offensive Player of the Year rise to +4000, tied with the likes of Josh Allen and Davante Adams, and the Eagles sit in 8th spot in outright odds at +1800.

Offensive Player of the Year – Saquon Barkley


Josh Jacobs to Green Bay

Any one of us would need some extremely good reasons to leave the Vegas heat for a small town in Wisconsin, and it seems Josh Jacobs had 48 Million of them. The Jacobs signing in Green Bay was perhaps the most surprising move of free agency and it’s the kind of bold signing the Packers were looking for after last season’s big stride forward. Jacobs is coming off a great year and is one year removed from a truly excellent one. In 2022 he led the NFL with 1,653 yards (4.9 yards per carry) along with 12 TDs, and was a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler. He leaves the Raiders as their third all-time leading rusher in franchise history with 5,545 rushing yards.

Now on to Green(er) Bay pastures, Jacobs joins a team on the rise and becomes the premiere back of the offence, replacing the departing Aaron Jones. As the Packers aim to take the next major step on the way to Super Bowl contention, the signing of Jacobs accelerates Green Bay’s fortunes in a major way.

The Packers now find themselves with the 5th best odds to claim the NFC Championship at +950 and trail only the Lions in the odds to win the NFC North at +240.

NFC North – Win – GB Packers


Derrick Henry to Baltimore

Derrick Henry’s tenure in Tennessee will mostly be regarded as a massive wasted opportunity. He’s coming off his 4th Pro Bowl season as a Titan and since being drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the former Heisman Trophy winner has totalled 9,502 yards and 90 touchdowns in the Music City, including rushing for 2,027 yards in 2020. You’d think having such a prolific back for so long would result in major playoff success, but Tennessee has managed only 3 playoff wins since drafting Henry and missed the postseason entirely 3 times in that span. It’s impossible to blame Henry for that lack of success as he’s always delivered the goods, the Titans simply never built a winning team around him and I would imagine fans in Tennessee feel quite bitter today.

In Baltimore, Henry joins a team that already boasts a tremendous rushing attack despite the carousel of Running backs in recent years. That is of course down to reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, but having Henry come in to solidify the position and hopefully open up even more freedom and opportunity for Jackson is hardly a bad thing. What is a bad thing, is the wealth of personnel losses the Ravens suffered in this window, that are currently being hidden by the Henry signing. The 2024/25 Baltimore Ravens will be without DL Patrick Queen, O-Lineman John Simpson, Safety Geno Stone and Cornerback Ronald Darby. All important contributors on defence during the last season that saw the Ravens claim the AFC’s best record at 13-4. Will these subtractions make for a worse Baltimore team next year? Or will the addition of Derrick Henry and reinforcements yet to come, allow the Ravens to continue to prosper at a high level? There are certainly more questions than answers at this point in the off-season.

Despite the uncertainty, the Ravens are favourites to win the AFC North at +110 and trail only the defending champs in AFC Championship odds at +375.

AFC Championship 2024/25 – BAL Ravens


Calvin Ridley to Tennessee

I’m sure Derrick Henry is plenty happy with the deal he landed in Baltimore, but there’s got to be a part of him that’s at least a little letdown that as he departs Tennessee, things are looking up. The newly King Henry-less Titans already boasted a promising second-year QB in Will Levis, a still great DeAndre Hopkins and are now adding WR Calvin Ridley to compliment them. Where the heck were those kinda moves during Henry’s prime? Oh well, what’s done is done.

The Titans are staking serious money in Ridley, agreeing to a four-year, $92 million deal with $50 million guaranteed. The deal basically gives Tennessee two number 1 receivers in Ridley (76 catches, 1,016 yards, 8 TDs) and DeAndre Hopkins (75 catches, 1,057 yards, 7 TDs). Ridley was in high demand, including from his former team in Jacksonville, so kudos to the Titans’ Second-year GM Ran Carthon for pulling off the swoop.

Despite the flashy acquisition, the Titans have a lot of organizational holes to fill. Today they sit dead last in odds to win the AFC South at +800.

AFC South – Win – TEN Titans


Best of the Rest

This week truly has been a frenzy of signings and activity. In addition to the moves we’ve highlighted, many more major players have relocated. Players like RBs Tony Pollard (replacing Derrick Henry in Tennessee), Austin Ekeler (Washington), Zack Moss (Cincinnati), and Aaron Jones (Minnesota) have moved to new confines in hopes of bolstering their respective run games. Gabe Davis (who moves to occupy the vacancy in Jacksonville after Ridley’s departure) and Marquise Brown (Kansas City) highlight the rest of the Wide Receiver signings.

And we won’t forget the trades! As RB Joe Mixon joins the Texans in what could end up being a sneaky good move for Houston, San Diego elder statesman Keenan Allen moves to the Bears even though no Chicago receiver can predict who’s going to throw them passes next year and Diontae Johnson joins the Panthers after requesting a trade out of Pittsburgh.

And last but not least (ok it might well be least), we can’t leave out Russel Wilson signing with the Steelers. Wilson signed a one-year bet on himself contract and it’s up to him to prove he’s not washed. I have some serious doubts, but Steel-town would undoubtedly go wild for a Wilson that even remotely resembles his old self. Can coach Mike Tomlin get water from a stone? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Regardless of how you rate the various moves this week, it’s undeniably great to have so many of them to rate. Free agency signing periods, much like trade deadlines are truly fun when loaded with action. So many familiar faces will don new uniforms in 2024 and I for one can’t wait to see the results!

AFC North – Win – PIT Steelers