NFL free agency 2024 live updates: Aaron Jones, Sam Darnold to Vikings, Kirk Cousins-Falcons reaction, latest deals and rumors

A whirlwind Monday saw many of the biggest names in free agency agree to contracts. Stay here for the latest news from The Athletic’s staff.

 

 

The first day of the NFL free-agency negotiating period resulted in a flurry of deals. Let’s catch up:

 

The Kirk Cousins era in Minnesota is over. The veteran quarterback has agreed to a four-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, according to his agent.Saquon Barkley, the top running back available, agreed to a three-year, $37.75 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.Many of the other big-name running backs are off the board, including Josh Jacobs to the Green Bay Packers, D’Andre Swift to the Chicago Bears and Tony Pollard to the Tennessee Titans.The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t wait until Monday to make their move, agreeing to a one-year deal with quarterback Russell Wilson.The Las Vegas Raiders made a big-money splash, agreeing to terms with defensive tackle Christian Wilkins on a four-year, $110 million deal.

 

There are plenty of big contracts ahead. Here are the top 10 free agents available, according to The Athletic’s Randy Mueller. We’ll keep this list updated all day.

 

Danielle Hunter, edge (most recent team: Vikings)Calvin Ridley, WR (Jaguars)DaQuan Jones, DT (Bills)Patrick Queen, LB (Ravens)Darnell Mooney, WR (Bears)Tyron Smith, OT (Cowboys)Justin Simmons, S (Broncos)Chase Young, edge (49ers)Josh Reynolds, WR (Lions)Jadeveon Clowney, edge (Ravens)

 

 

2024 NFL free-agency tracker: From Danielle Hunter to Jamal Adams, see where top 150 players land

 

 

For now, Jacoby Brissett is at the top of the Patriots’ quarterback depth chart even if the assumption is that they’ll add a highly drafted rookie to the mix.

 

Most importantly, Brissett’s addition means the Patriots won’t feel forced to play a rookie — perhaps Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels — if they don’t think he’s ready. In a way, he’s insurance in case the No. 3 pick needs time to develop.

 

If that’s the case, Brissett has proven to be quite serviceable. If that’s not the case, he seems like an ideal high-end backup who can help a young quarterback.

 

Brissett’s familiarity with so many different schemes can also be helpful. Last season, he was in Washington in offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy’s pass-happy spread attack. The year before that, he was with Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland in an under-center, play-action-based game.

 

Arguably the best season of Brissett’s career came in 2022 under Alex Van Pelt, now the Patriots’ play caller, who was his offensive coordinator with the Browns. Brissett was the starter for the first 11 games that season while Deshaun Watson was suspended. In those games, Brissett completed 64 percent of his passes, averaged 7.1 yards per attempt and threw 12 touchdowns against six interceptions. He was Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best quarterback that season when factoring in his ability on the ground (he ran for another 243 yards and two touchdowns).

 

 

Aaron Jones is expected to sign with the Vikings on a one-year deal for $7 million, league sources said.

 

 

Good morning on the West Coast, the Rams are reuniting with cornerback Darious Williams on a three-year deal, a league source said. NFL Network first reported the deal.

 

Williams played for the Rams from 2018 to 2021 and knows the defensive language, plus will be a leader in a young CBs room.

 

 

Of the myriad offensive issues that plagued the Eagles in their late-season collapse, Jalen Hurts struggled while facing the blitz and the coaching staff supplied few answers to help him. Hurts’ 62.3 passer rating while facing five or more rushers ranked 25th among all quarterbacks in the final six weeks of the season, according to TruMedia.

 

The same skills that make Saquon Barkley an every-down, all-around back with a propensity for explosive plays also make him a potential solution for Hurts when facing the blitz next season. But Nick Sirianni and Kellen Moore must find more effective ways to use Barkley in such situations than the Giants did.

 

Since 2021, only Christian McCaffrey has run more routes (240) than Barkley (226) when defenses rush five or more players, per TruMedia. Yet Barkley’s 0.75 yards per route in such situations ranks 73rd among running backs during that span. The Giants have converted third downs at the third-lowest rate in the last three seasons (34.3 percent). The Eagles have converted at the league’s third-highest rate (46.6 percent) in their three seasons under Sirianni.

 

 

One day after the Green Bay Packers released him, running back Aaron Jones has agreed to join the Minnesota Vikings, league sources said Tuesday.

 

Jones, 29, spent the last seven years with Green Bay, which drafted him in 2017. But the Packers released Jones on Monday. The Athletic reported the Packers asked Jones to take about a 50 percent pay cut, if not more, entering the final year of a four-year, $48 million contract.

 

So Jones will join the NFC North rival Vikings, who needed a running back after releasing Alexander Mattison. Jones’ 847 rushing yards in 11 career games against Minnesota are his most against any opponent.

 

The Packers agreed to terms with former Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs on Monday.

 

 

In terms of the Panthers moving on from defensive backs Donte Jackson and Vonn Bell and watching Frankie Luvu and Yetur Gross-Matos leave in free agency, it was sad. Where Brian Burns was concerned, it was embarrassing for many of the team’s decision-makers, past and present.

 

The Panthers traded their Pro Bowl edge rusher to the New York Giants for a second-round pick this year and a fifth in 2025, plus a swap of the team’s fifth-round selections this year, league sources told The Athletic.

 

That’s a pittance to what the Panthers could have had for Burns 16 months ago, when they turned down the Los Angeles Rams’ offer of two future firsts (2024 and ’25) and a second in ’23 for a player who wanted to be paid among the game’s highest pass rushers.

 

Burns got his wish Monday when he and the Giants agreed to a five-year contract worth a maximum of $150 million, with $87.5 million guaranteed, according to a source briefed on the deal. Burns becomes the second-highest paid defensive end behind Nick Bosa in NFL history.

 

 

Gideon Canice

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