The Jacksonville Jaguars did on the first day of free agency what the Washington Commanders did not: They went on a spending spree.
When the NFL’s legal tampering window opened Monday — the effective beginning of free agency as teams are allowed to strike deals with players on the market — the Jaguars agreed to sign a number of high-profile players — including now-former Washington guard Brandon Scherff.
Details of Scherff’s contract were not immediately available, but he was in line to become the league’s highest-paid guard on a day when the Jaguars took an aggressive approach to fill their needs. Jacksonville also signed linebacker Foye Oluokun (three years, $45 million), defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi (three years, $30 million), tight end Evan Engram (one year, $10 million) and wide receiver Christian Kirk (four years, $72 million). ESPN reported the news of Scherff’s signing.
The Jaguars were the most active team during the negotiating period while plenty of other teams — including Washington — mostly stayed quiet.
Tight on cap space, the Commanders did little besides re-sign center Tyler Larsen to a one-year contract. Washington isn’t expected to be a major player in free agency after acquiring quarterback Carson Wentz — and his $28 million salary — last week.
Coach Ron Rivera, too, has taken a patient approach to free agency since coming to Washington. Last year, the Commanders were ultimately aggressive by signing Ryan Fitzpatrick, William Jackson III and Curtis Samuel — but only Fitzpatrick’s deal came together on the first day. And not until 10 p.m., at that.
But now — thanks to Scherff’s departure — Washington will have to figure out how it wants to fill its new hole on the offensive line. Veteran Wes Schweitzer is an in-house candidate to start in place of Scherff, as is 2020 fourth-rounder Saahdiq Charles.
Scherff’s exit was years in the making. The two sides were unable to come to a long-term agreement, with Scherff ultimately playing the last two seasons on the franchise tag. Scherff’s pending departure became especially clear in January when general manager Martin Mayhew said the team had made “every effort” to strike a deal.
“Last year we made an offer (for Scherff) to be the highest-paid offensive guard in the history of the National Football League,” Mayhew said then.
Make no mistake, Scherff was a talented player for Washington — becoming the team’s first All-Pro since 1996 in 2020. Though fans were frustrated with his lengthy injury history — he missed another six games this past season — Scherff made the Pro Bowl five times in seven seasons after being drafted fifth overall in 2015.
In Jacksonville, Scherff will be tasked with protecting franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The Jaguars also gave Lawrence a new No. 1 receiver in Kirk — though the deal was widely panned on social media as the Jaguars signed him to $18 million per year despite Kirk never posting a 1,000-yard season with the Arizona Cardinals. Kirk has incentives that boost the total value of the deal to $84 million, as well.
Kirk’s contract may also be a win for Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin, the star 26-year-old who’s in line for a contract extension. McLaurin is set to become a free agent in 2023 and the Commanders have expressed interest in getting him locked up.
“Terry gone need a brinks truck,” Commanders safety Jeremy Reaves tweeted shortly after Kirk’s deal.
Scherff, meanwhile, isn’t the only Commander leaving town.
Former backup defensive tackle Tim Settle agreed to a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills, according to ESPN. Settle, a 2018 fifth-rounder, was buried on the depth chart behind Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis, but has played well when given the opportunity. Now, he’ll have a chance to earn more playing time with the Bills and lands with a contender.
Elsewhere, the running back market began to take shape for Washington’s J.D. McKissic. McKissic remains unsigned, but the Miami Dolphins agreed to sign former Cardinals back Chase Edmonds to a two-year, $12 million deal and the Cardinals re-signed James Conner to a three-year, $21 million extension. McKissic is older than both, but was more productive than Edmonds last season.
Washington would like to bring the 28-year-old back, but McKissic is expected to be in high demand and could earn up to $6 million annually.
Other notable deals from the day include Pittsburgh planning to sign quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to a two-year contract, while Philadelphia came to terms with top edge rusher Haason Reddick for three years, $45 million ($30 million guaranteed).
Trubisky, the former No. 2 overall pick who spent last season in Buffalo, was floated as a possible option for the Commanders before they traded for Wentz. Now, he’ll get to compete for a starting role in Pittsburgh where he’ll battle with Mason Rudolph and former Washington starter Dwayne Haskins.
Reddick figures to bolster an Eagles pass rush that ranked second-to-last in sacks in 2021 with 29. Reddick, a Philadelphia native, earned 11 sacks last season with the Carolina Panthers and had 18 quarterback hits. The 27-year-old has 23 ½ sacks over the last two seasons.
Also in the quarterback market, ESPN reported former Broncos starter Teddy Bridgewater agreed to a one-year deal with the Dolphins — backing up Tua Tagovailoa.
The Chargers plan to sign this year’s top cornerback in former Patriots star J.C. Jackson for five years, $82.5 million, according to The NFL Network. Contracts agreed upon Monday can become official Wednesday when the league‘s new year begins.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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