It's hard to find bargains in free agency. Contracts completed at this time of year will usually cost a premium, but the deals below are worth it. These are some of best contracts from a team perspective signed over the last week.
NOTE: All contract figures are from Over The Cap or from numbers filed to the NFL Players Association and the NFL.
Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Minnesota Vikings: It was only a few years ago that folks were chortling over the Vikings' decision to pay Cousins $30 million per year. By the time he gets to the end of the extension he agreed to as this year's free agency period kicked off, the Vikings could be seen as forward-thinking. I like the new two-year, $66 million deal, which is set to go through the 2022 season, for a few reasons. It opens up $10 million in cap space while only adding one additional guaranteed year for Cousins. (The Vikings could get out of the contract after the 2021 season if they wanted.) It also prevents a scenario like the Redskins once faced with Cousins, who was constantly asked about his future with Washington over three consecutive contract years from 2015 to '17, thanks to that team's repeated use of the franchise tag. Minnesota decisively believes that Cousins is a franchise quarterback, so it's better for the Vikings to make a move now rather than wind up paying much more later, like the Cowboys will with Dak Prescott, who had to be tagged this year after reaching the end of his rookie deal without an extension. By the time Cousins reaches the end of this deal, it won't be a surprise if he's outside the top 10 in quarterback salaries.
Javon Hargrave, defensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles: While Eagles fans were honking that their team was "quiet" on the first day of free agency, general manager Howie Roseman and friends snuck in an impact move just before midnight. Hargrave moves across the state from Pittsburgh, fitting beautifully alongside Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Malik Jackson and Derek Barnett. The Eagles are excellent at building strength on strength, and Hargrave was one of the more underrated players available. Able to play in multiple fronts, Hargrave provides more pass-rush disruption than most true nose tackles. The contract -- for $39 million over three years, with the first two guaranteed -- is as close to a Day 1 bargain as you'll find.
Chris Harris, cornerback, Bryan Bulaga, offensive tackle and Austin Ekeler, running back, Los Angeles Chargers: Is GM Tom Telesco going to fool us all into believing in a Chargers roster again? While quarterback remains a huge question, with no clear replacement for Philip Rivers on hand, the Chargers' work in free agency has been outstanding.
Bulaga and Jack Conklin were probably the two best tackles on the market, and Bulaga signed for under $20 million guaranteed in the first two years of his contract. Harris is a better bet to make a big 2020 impact than some of the younger names in free agency, like James Bradberry and Trae Waynes, who received far more money than he did ($20 million over two years). Harris will fit extremely well alongside Casey Hayward, Desmond King and Derwin James in a spicy Chargers secondary. Perhaps the best deal the Chargers made came before free agency, when they brought back running Austin Ekeler, who was headed for restricted free agency, on what I expect will be one of those rare fully completedfour-year contracts. Combine these moves with the trade for Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner, and it's obvious that few teams upgraded their talent base more than the Chargers -- and even fewer did it so economically. Now they just need to move up in the draft, select Tua Tagovailoa and open their new stadium with some sizzle.
Cory Littleton, linebacker, Las Vegas Raiders: Off-ball coverage linebackers are impossible to find, but for whatever reason, that scarcity hasn't led to high prices for those players. Littleton and fellow free-agent linebackerNick Kwiatkoski immediately upgrade the Raiders' speed and smarts at a huge weak spot for the team. Getting Littleton at his prime for just under $12 million per year is a safe bet.
Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys still need more defensive linemen, but they have time to find them. In the meantime, signing McCoy is exactly the type of short-term move worth making. Over-30 veterans who can still provide quality snaps, if only for a year or two more, remain the most undervalued subset of players in free agency. McCoy, 32, may not be at his All-Pro best at this point, but he appears incapable of providing anything but 400-plus excellent pass-rush snaps. That's worth more than the $6.4 million the Cowboys will pay McCoy this year.
Emmanuel Sanders, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints: GM Mickey Loomis always finds a way. This was supposed to be an offseason where the Saints had no money to spend, but Sanders is the type of addition who could put this team over the top. He gets open plenty but won't complain as a role player behind Michael Thomas. With Drew Brees nearing the end and more of the Saints' young stars approaching paydays, this is the type of low-cost deal ($16 million over two years) that will help enable Loomis to make more magic next offseason, too.
Philip Rivers, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts: Life is short. The Colts couldn't afford to spend another year in purgatory, and Rivers' one-year, $25 million contract is a low-cost ticket to either football heaven or hell -- there's no in-between with Rivers. The Colts had more cap space than they needed the last two years, and they didn't commit any money beyond 2020. What's the point of having "assets" if you don't use them? That $25 million total doesn't look like much when Teddy Bridgewater is making nearly that much per year with Carolina and Ryan Tannehill is making almost $5 million more per year in Tennessee.
Kendall Fuller, cornerback, Washington Redskins: Fuller is a baller. He's had some ups and lulls in his career, but he has a higher ceiling than most of the cornerbacks who made more money than him in free agency. He's also a perfect fit in coach Ron Rivera's system. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Fuller will get roughly $40 million over four years, a deal that has the potential to look like larceny in a few years.