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2020 NFL free agency: Cleaning out the notebook from Day One of the new league year

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Related: Cleaning out the notebook from Day Two of the NFL’s legal tampering period

Patriots vs Dolphins Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

The NFL’s legal tampering period is in the books, and the new league year has begun: at 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the calendar officially turned from 2019 to 2020 meaning among other things that a) the market has officially opened, b) the trading period has begun, and c) all teams need to be under the $198.2 million salary cap. Even though most of the big-name action already took place on Monday and Tuesday, there was still a lot of movement at the start of the new year with the New England Patriots again being in the headlines quite a bit.

With that being said, let’s clean out the notebook.

The Patriots add to their defensive line

After already agreeing to sign wide receiver Damiere Byrd on Tuesday, New England added its second free agent on Wednesday: the team agreed to terms with defensive tackle Beau Allen on a two-year, $8 million contract. The former seventh-round draft pick is a big-bodied addition to a defensive front that had to suffer the departure of Danny Shelton earlier that same day. Accordingly, the expectation is that Allen will help fill Shelton’s former role during the 2020 season.

After all, his 6-foot-3, 327-pound frame is projected to fit in well alongside the returning top defensive tackles Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler and Byron Cowart. He is a strong run defender capable of taking on double teams from the interior positions — zero- to three-technique — and has considerable experience from his time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While not the biggest name on the market, Allen is a typical Patriots addition to bolster the roster’s middle class.

For more on the Patriots signing Beau Allen, please check out our additional coverage from Wednesday:

New England makes its first trade of the offseason

Despite losing some core free agents since the start of the legal tampering period on Monday, the Patriots entered the new league year tight against the salary cap. Moving on from Duron Harmon therefore makes sense from the team’s perspective (especially with Devin McCourty returning on a new two-year, $23 million contract): New England announced on Wednesday that the 29-year-old was sent to the Detroit Lions via trade for undisclosed compensation.

The expectation is that a switch of late-round draft picks will be the result of the transaction, but most importantly it creates net savings of $3.89 million against New England’s cap — increasing the team’s available resources to $7.14 million, according salary cap expert Miguel Benzan. That being said, the Patriots will need to address the depth at the safety position with Harmon no longer available as a third option behind McCourty and Patrick Chung.

For more on the Patriots trading away Duron Harmon, please check out our additional coverage from Wednesday:

Miami and Detroit continue to build with former Patriots

The Dolphins and Lions are both led by former members of New England’s coaching staff — Brian Flores and Matt Patricia, respectively — which makes it no surprise that the two clubs regularly target the Patriots’ free agents. Over the last three days alone, six now-former members of the team’s 2019 roster moved either to Miami or Detroit:

  • Dolphins: OL Ted Karras, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Elandon Roberts
  • Lions: DT Danny Shelton, LB Jamie Collins, FS Duron Harmon

In total, as pointed out by NESN’s Zack Cox, 24 ex-Patriots currently reside on the offseason rosters in Miami and Detroit. The days of the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans being the biggest markets for players coming from New England apparently are over with both Flores and Patricia investing considerable resources in players coming from their old stomping grounds.

For more on the two teams hoarding ex-Patriots, please check out our coverage from Wednesday:

Tom Brady remains unsigned... for now

Brady’s announcement that he would leave New England rocked the NFL on Tuesday morning. Almost 48 hours later — and 14 hours into the official portion of free agency — he still remains unsigned, however. The expectation is that the future Hall of Famer will eventually join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but for the time being no deal has been set as both sides continue to work on the details of a pact that might pay Brady around $30 million per year.

For more on Tom Brady’s latest free agency developments, please follow our news tracker:

The quarterback market remains intriguing

New England’s former starting quarterback was the biggest domino to fall at his position this offseason, but the market continues to evolve. On Wednesday, for example, the Chicago Bears sent a fourth-round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars to pick up former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles and what remains of the four-year, $88 million contract he signed last offseason (Jacksonville, meanwhile, has to swallow almost $19 million in dead cap).

Foles being traded to Chicago has a trickle-down effect on both teams’ current passers. For one, second-year man Gardner Minshew is now locked in as the Jaguars’ starter after a solid season filling in for the veteran in 2019. The Bears, on the other hand, will have a decision to make: will they move forward with their newest investment, or give former second overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky another chance after three mediocre seasons in the system.

The rest of the quarterback market, meanwhile, remains fluid as well:

  • Derek Carr is still with the Las Vegas Raiders but a candidate to be moved after the team signed Marcus Mariota.
  • Cam Newton remains with a Carolina Panthers team that is looking to trade him after picking up Teddy Bridgewater in free agency.
  • Jameis Winston — Tom Brady’s predecessor in Tampa Bay — is still unsigned and generating little momentum after a 30-interception season.
  • Andy Dalton is still the Cincinnati Bengals’ starting quarterback, but a likely trade candidate if the team intends to draft Joe Burrow first overall in late April (as it should).

As can be seen, a lot of options are available for teams looking to address the quarterback spot this offseason. The Patriots, of course, are the most prominent among them after Brady’s departure (although second-year man Jarrett Stidham remains the favorite to fill his shoes).

Defenders are on the move

The Patriots are not the only team to see numerous free agent defenders leave on Wednesday. Some other big names have also decided to switch teams on the first day of the new league year. Among the most notable ones are...

While some big names exited the market over the last three days, some remain unaccounted for — including former first overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney and three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

Almost nothing is official yet

With the Coronavirus forcing the entire NFL to adapt its plans, almost none of the reported transactions are official as of today. After all, teams cannot fly in or visit players to conduct physical examination necessary for deals to be signed off on. While semi-official announcements can come from the players themselves, teams have to rely on other methods of communication (i.e. retweets) to quasi-confirm their moves.