N.F.L. free agency is in full swing, with players negotiating with teams in advance of their 2017 contracts expiring on Wednesday, and there are a host of familiar names involved, including a trio of prominent quarterbacks — Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater — each of whom is expected to change teams.
Here is a look at the free agency picture as it currently stands:
Jordy Nelson Out, Jimmy Graham In for Green Bay
Where he might go: It is too soon to know which teams Nelson might be interested in joining, since the Packers did not announce his release until 5 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, but there will surely be suitors lined up for the 32-year-old wide receiver.
What that means: After a down year in which he had just 53 catches for 482 yards, Nelson became expendable to the Packers. The fact that his release will give the team $10.2 million in cap space was certainly the deciding factor considering the respect he commands in an out of the Packers organization. In the announcement of Nelson’s release, Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst said “Jordy will always be a member of the Packers family and we look forward to his eventual induction into the Packers Hall of Fame.” Nelson is expected to put off that induction by signing with another team, and just a year removed from a season in which he had 1,257 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns, it is reasonable to think that he still has something to offer.
With some money freed up, the Packers are believed to have reached an agreement with Jimmy Graham, a five-time Pro Bowler at tight end, who had 57 catches for 520 yards and 10 touchdowns last season with the Seattle Seahawks. The 31-year-old was a favorite target for Drew Brees in New Orleans, had a good rapport with Russell Wilson in Seattle, and will now get a chance to catch passes from another top-shelf quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.
Kirk Cousins Could Be Vikings’ Franchise QB
Where he might go: All signs are pointing toward Cousins, the 29-year-old quarterback, choosing the Minnesota Vikings as his new home. After three full seasons as a starter for the Washington Redskins he is a unicorn of sorts as a franchise quarterback in his 20s who can choose to play wherever he’d like. As a result, his asking price is expected to be extraordinarily high.
What that means: The Vikings nearly made the Super Bowl with Keenum as their starting quarterback. Cousins, who has thrown for more than 13,000 yards and 81 touchdowns over the last three seasons, would represent a fairly substantial upgrade. There are those who point toward Cousins’s 26-30-1 career record as a starter as a potential warning sign, but he has consistently played on a team with a subpar defense, and that will not be a problem in Minnesota. Cousins would also enjoy a deeper supporting cast on offense, with a pair of star receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, a rock solid tight end in Kyle Rudolph, and a potential star in Dalvin Cook, a second-year running back who had a good start to the 2017 season before missing the final 12 games of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Case Keenum Out to Prove Himself With Broncos
Where he might go: His regular season success, and a postseason touchdown throw that will be remembered for decades, were not enough to earn him the full-time job in Minnesota, so Keenum has reportedly agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos to take over as that team’s starting quarterback. The deal cannot be completed until Wednesday, but all indications are that he has found a permanent home.