What. Just. Happened. The 2019 NFL Futures rocked by some major moves in free agency.
We’re covering the big hits here after a week that went absolutely bonkers. Check out our 2019 NFL Futures Market for the updated odds!
Le’Veon Bell (Sort of) Finally Gets His Contract
A year ago, Le’Veon Bell literally said that $60 million wasn’t enough to go play with the Jets. And so he signed a 4-year, $52 million this year to show everyone up after sitting out the entire 2018 season. It’s a good deal for the Jets, and that’s a no-brainer. But this was an average deal for Le’Veon Bell that has terrible optics.
In the end, he went from playing on a contender…to playing for the Jets.
Within the context of the running back contract market, Bell is parked right around David Johnson and Devonta Freeman, but well shy of what Todd Gurley is making. And that in itself explains quite a bit given how ineffective Gurley was in the playoffs due to an arthritic knee that bothered him as the season wore on. There has long been an ebb and flow of how much running backs are actually worth. At their best, they can tilt a game in your favor. At worst…they’re not much better than CJ Anderson in the most important game of the season. Paying for that kind of service is tough.
In terms of market value, karma and control, Bell got what he deserved. The deal comes packed with $25M in guarantees that he’ll earn right away. Maybe it comes with the respect and long-term certainty he craved. But David Johnson received an equal deal after dislocating his wrist in 2017 after just one game. There’s really no reason that Bell should’ve sat out last year and created such a firestorm. It’s not like he came out ahead. You could make the argument that he lost $14.5 million and the chance to further his earning potential.
Did he win anything he wouldn’t have already received? Not really. Even worse? This deal didn’t move the New York Jets anywhere close to contention in the 2019 NFL futures, where they are just +6000 to go all the way. They have to play the Patriots twice every year, and escaping AFC East is no easy task, even if you believe the Patriots are wilting this year (spoiler – they aren’t).
Like his former teammate, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon now gets to prove that he was worth more than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ system. Is this a bad time to remind everyone that James Connor was excellent last year? Bell has a lesser quarterback, a coach who has migrated from “genius” to “potentially asleep as at the wheel”, a receiving corps that has exactly zero studs, and a franchise culture that doesn’t remember what winning feels like.
All for $25 million in guarantees. It feels like a loss all around for everyone that’s not a Jets fan.
Odell Beckham Jr. Drives Cleveland Browns Down to +1400 to win Super Bowl
In undoubtedly the biggest trade of the off-season, Odell Beckham Jr. was sent to the Cleveland Browns to reunite with longtime BFF Jarvis Landry, and propel Baker Mania to all new heights. It’s an incredible deal for Cleveland, who are all-in on maximizing the added value Baker’s rookie contract comes with from a roster building perspective. The excitement over Cleveland is not only palpable, it’s the first time in a long time that it’s actually legit. The 2019 NFL futures, and the wagers we took on the Browns to win it all, reflect that energy.
Another writer broke the ODB trade down in more detail if you want to read more on the titanic move the Browns made.
Antonio Brown Wrestles His Way To The Raiders
Everyone called him crazy, and it turns out that Antonio Brown was actually crazy smart. The Steelers shipped Brown for a 3rd and 5th round pick to the Oakland Raiders, who immediately gave him a $50.1 million contract over 3 years that came with $30.1 million in guarantees. Maybe he could’ve told Le’Veon Bell that he had a good agent?
A Raiders fan who happens to be on staff (I know, they’re everywhere), wrote about this in further detail. The short version: the Raiders might actually know what they’re doing. Like the Jets, however, they’re still +6000 in the 2019 NFL Futures.
Nick Foles Replaces Bortles in Jacksonville
The Nick Foles signing in Jacksonville reverberated relief across northern Florida. But it certainly didn’t vault Jacksonville in the 2019 NFL futures, where they are just +3300 overall and trapped in a weird spot. Unfortunately, the Jaguars had to do a lot of other moves at the same time in order to free up money. Foles signed a 4-year, $88 million contract with $50.1 million in guarantees. Nobody is scared of this team anymore, and the move for Foles – or a player of his ilk – feels like it’s coming a year too late.
Case Keenum To The Washington Redskins, Flacco To Denver
In the latest installment of a parts swap, Washington acquired Case Keenum after the Baltimore Ravens traded Joe Flacco to Denver. This was a move of desperation for Washington, who will remain without Alex Smith in 2019, and clearly have no confidence in Colt McCoy or whomever they can draft in April. The fact that Denver absorbed $11 million of Keenum’s contract makes this an outright steal for Washington, even if it doesn’t exactly send ripples through the 2019 NFL futures.
The move to replace Keenum in Mile High with a guy like Joe Flacco is as much of an Elway Move as there is. Flacco has been outright terrible for so many years that he lost his job to a ROOKIE WHO CAN’T COMPLETE PASSES (more on that in a second). It makes Denver no more or less dangerous than they already were. The oddsmakers aren’t scared of them, currently pricing them at +6600.
Earl Thomas, Mark Ingram Head To Baltimore
You’d be crazy to think that the Baltimore Ravens are worth touching in the 2019 NFL Futures, but the weird +2800 number they’re posting mirrors what Houston was evaluated at. Signing Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram is the kind of move that a team like this has to make. Lamar Jackson is an exciting player, that has to be better at passing (because you can’t get much worse) this coming season with a full training camp under his belt. It’s strange that you would add Earl Thomas, but subtract CJ Mosley (who signed with the Jets). Adding Ingram gives Baltimore that hammer they need to control the clock, but seeing this defense without their star linebacker is going to take some adjusting. I like these moves, but don’t love them overall for Baltimore. If you were going to shed Flacco’s contract, why let Mosley go when you were gunning after the best safety in the game?
San Francisco Pays $64 Million For Two Guys Who Aren’t Good Anymore
Do you know how I know Tevin Coleman is below average? He was terrible in place of an oft-injred Devontae Freeman in Atlanta. Paying him $10 million over two years is fine if you’re just trying to fill the running-back spot with insurance when you had to play four guys that nobody heard of at the position last season. But unloading $54 million on Kwon Alexander? That’s insane.
Unfortunately, this is right in line with the way the 49ers spend money. They gave Garoppolo $137.5 million after seeing him play for half a season. They signed career backup Jerick McKinnon $30 million over four years for no reason whatsoever. The 49ers continue to play the part of “big spender” without actually making their team better. Coleman will back McKinnon up and neither player is that exciting on paper.
It’s nothing against Kwon, a player I actually really like. He’s only 24 years old, but he was also overworked in Tampa and has the padded stats to prove it. He was loved on the Bucs, and hopefully that translates to the Bay area. Adding him in a vacuum is not that bad because he’s a great player. But at that price tag? He has to be a Pro Bowler (and not a Pro Bowl injury replacement).
DeSean Jackson Returns To Philadelphia
Yes, yes and more yes. He should’ve never left. This is the perfect addition for Carson Wentz and comes at a relatively low cost to the constantly evolving Philadelphia Eagles. This team needs speed on offense. Now they have it with Wentz lasering passes to Jackson. That move was good enough to hold them at +1600 in 2019 NFL Futures to win the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia, as they always do, did a lot of shuffling around with their defensive roster, subtracting Michael Bennett and replacing him (sort of) with Malik Jackson. They’ll continue to patch up and find their system guys, and one thing is for certain with this team – they are excellent at identifying players who can excel in their ecosystem.
Ryan Tannehill Lands In Tennessee
I guess the Titans have two terrible quarterbacks to choose from now. This literally just happened as I was writing this article and I don’t have much to say about it. Well, I don’t have many positive things to say about it. The Titans remain +5000 to win the Super Bowl in 2019 NFL Futures and not even a Titans fan would be dumb enough to spend money on that number. Tannehill was so disliked in Miami that people rejoiced when the rumor of him being traded emerged. I hope Cameron Wake, who signed with Tennessee, didn’t move to another state to get away from Tannehill. It says enough about the former first rounder that he was moved for a 4th and 7th round pick in a quarterbacks league with almost no, real talent available on the market. Have fun, Tennessee. You have piled up a football fans worst nightmare: a quarterback controversy between two quarterbacks that suck.