While the NFL's free agency will not start until tomorrow 4:00 p.m. ET, the league is already pretty busy. After all, the legal tampering window was opened yesterday and gives all 32 teams the chance to enter preliminary negotiations with representatives of the players about to hit unrestricted free agency. The New England Patriots have 13 such players, so it is natural to see their name pop up rather often.
With all that in mind, let's quickly recap yesterday's action.
New England's free agents draw a lot of interest...
Atop the Patriots' list of free agents are offensive tackle Nate Solder, running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler. All three have already drawn considerable interest on the first day that tampering was allowed – as has linebacker Marquis Flowers. The market for Solder in particular is developing quickly and reportedly “off the charts”: the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos are among the teams to have an eye on New England's top-priority free agent. Don't be surprised if the 29-year old ends up as one of the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
...but few reports actually came out of Foxboro
While reports and rumors came in from all over the league, the Patriots were their typical quiet selves: Except for one report by NESN's Doug Kyed – backup offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle is expected to enter the open market tomorrow –, there were no news of any signings or even rumors of interest on New England's part. Of course, this will change soon enough and furthermore has been consistent with the approach the team has taken in the past. Nothing to worry about for Patriots fans just yet.
The Broncos have found their new starting quarterback
While the Patriots operated out of the spotlight, other teams were rather active yesterday. Among them are the Broncos, who reportedly will sign free agent quarterback Case Keenum. The 30-year old, who is coming off the best season of his NFL career, is expected to earn upwards of $18.0 million per season and immediately becomes Denver's new starter. The move also puts the futures of both Trevor Siemian and former first round draft pick Paxton Lynch in doubt.
Buffalo is on the move up in the draft
One of the most active teams this offseason shares a division with the Patriots: The Buffalo Bills have seen some considerable roster turnover over the last few weeks. After trading away starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor last week, the reigning AFC East runner-ups traded starting left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday. As a result of the transaction, the Bills also move up to the 12th overall pick in the draft – and are expected to now be in the hunt for one of the top-tier quarterbacks.
Rob Gronkowski might take a close look at Cameron Brate
The NFL's best tight end has had a relatively quiet offseason so far – except, of course, the retirement rumors that are swirling around. With questions whether or not those are directly tied to Gronkowski's contract, one bit of news from yesterday appears to be noteworthy: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed tight end Cameron Brate to a six-year, $41 million contract that includes $18 million in guarantees – a deal similar to the extension Gronkowski signed with the Patriots in 2012. Considering that Gronkowski is the far superior player, he might take a close look at what others are getting in case a contract renegotiation is on the horizon.
The Chiefs continue their personnel turnover
One of the Patriots' top rivals in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs, have arguably had the busiest offseason of all NFL teams so far: The Chiefs parted ways with starting quarterback Alex Smith, cornerback Marcus Peters and linebacker Derrick Johnson so far. Now, two more high-profile players need to be added to the list as Kansas City parted ways with both linebacker Tamba Hali and safety Ron Parker yesterday. It will be interesting to see how and if the Chiefs will fill the voids created especially by the veterans leaving town.