Dan Graziano, Dianna Russini, Bart Scott and Tim Hasselbeck react to Leonard Fournette’s decision to re-sign with the Buccaneers on a three-year deal. (1:38)
NFL free agency officially started March 16, which coincides with the start of the new league year. But teams and free agents had already started to agree to terms on new deals before officially signing them.
Many of the biggest names found new places, but we’re still awaiting new deals for top free agents like Tyrann Mathieu. Plus, who knows if the QB movement is over (or not), with more trade rumors around the league and a few more free agents still available.
It’s no secret that numerous trades and signings involving top players across the league dominated the headlines this past week. Does more excitement await? Which teams will continue to be active? Who will be the next star to sign with a new team? And which player on the open market will be the next to break the bank with a huge new contract? Stay tuned throughout the offseason to see how it all unfolds.
But until then, catch up below on every notable NFL free-agent agreement, trade, cut and retirement of the offseason we tracked through March 23, with the most recent moves at the top.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler is returning home, agreeing to a two-year deal worth up to $9 million with the New England Patriots, his agent, Derek Simpson, told ESPN.
Butler spent the 2021 season on the reserve/retired list after signing with the Arizona Cardinals and practicing with them throughout training camp and the preseason. At the time, Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said «personal» matters led to Butler being placed on the reserve/retired list.
The Kansas City Chiefs are trading six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for five draft picks: a 2022 first-round pick (No. 29), second-round pick (No. 50) and a fourth-round pick, as well as fourth- and sixth-round picks in the 2023 draft, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.
The Dolphins are giving Hill a four-year, $120 million extension, including $72.2 million guaranteed, agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN. It makes him the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history.
The Miami Dolphins on Tuesday reached agreement with offensive tackle Terron Armstead on a five-year deal worth up to $87.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, locking up one of the top free agents of the 2022 cycle. The deal includes $43.37 million in guaranteed money, the source said.
The former New Orleans Saints left tackle is a three-time Pro Bowler in nine NFL seasons and should provide a boost to one of last season’s worst pass-blocking teams.
DE Will Gholston and the Tampa Bay Bucs are nearing a deal that would bring him back to Tampa for a 10th season, per source. Gholston had interest from 4-5 teams but wanted to stay with Tampa and chase another Super Bowl.
Fact check: Here’s the truth about crime in Manhattan
As former President Donald Trump and his allies attack Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is prosecuting Trump on felony charges of falsifying business records, the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing Monday in Manhattan to castigate Bragg for his handling of violent crime.
But Trump and other Republicans, including committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and former Vice President Mike Pence, have made false claims about the crime situation in Manhattan and New York City. Contrary to their claims in recent weeks, neither the borough of Manhattan nor the city as a whole has been even close to a record level of crime, violent crime or murder since Bragg was sworn in as Manhattan’s top prosecutor in 2022.
And Bragg’s office is correct when it points out that Manhattan has experienced declines in key crime categories so far in 2023 compared with 2022. However, it’s also true that many of Manhattan’s crime numbers increased in 2022 compared with 2021.
It’s impossible to quantify how much Bragg had to do with either the 2023 decrease (it’s early in the year) or the 2022 increase (which was a continuation of a trend that began months before Bragg was elected in 2021); in general, it is extremely difficult to determine how much any jurisdiction’s crime numbers, positive or negative, can be attributed to the local district attorney. There is always a complicated mix of factors at play, from the economy to policing to the corrections system to social policy to the weather to, since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have a tendency to want to blame one person, or credit one person, when in reality these are complex systems that rise and fall for often complex, random reasons that we don’t have the ability to explain – but it’s easier to say, ‘It was Joe Schmoe over there,’” said Jeff Asher, a crime analyst and consultant and co-founder of the firm AH Datalytics.
Here’s a look at what Manhattan crime numbers actually show and do not show.
Global EV sales jump 66% in 2022, lifting market share to 9.5%
Global electric vehicle sales climbed 66.6 percent in 2022 from a year earlier to 7.26 million units, data from a research firm showed Saturday, reflecting a rapid shift in the industry to zero-emission vehicles to meet stricter emission regulations.
The number accounts for 9.5 percent of overall auto sales of 76.21 million vehicles last year, expanding from 5.5 percent in 2021, according to Tokyo-based MarkLines Co.
European and Chinese automakers are boosting EV sales, while Japanese carmakers strive to catch up with global rivals.
Honda Motor Co., for example, has teamed with Sony Group Corp. to set up a 50-50 venture to make new electric vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp. plans to expand its all-electric vehicle lineup and boost its EV sales to 1.5 million vehicles annually by 2026.
Excluding EVs, global sales fell 7.4 percent to 68.95 million vehicles.
By market, China posted an about 80 percent surge in EV sales to 4.53 million vehicles while Western Europe including Germany and Britain saw EV sales soar by about 30 percent to about 1.53 million vehicles.
Approximately 800,000 EVs were sold in the United States last year and 50,000 in Japan.
Among EV makers, the leading manufacturer, Tesla Inc., boosted sales to around 1.27 million vehicles in 2022 from about 880,000 the year before. Chinese EV giant BYD Co. sold approximately 870,000 vehicles last year, compared with 320,000 the previous year.
The alliance of Nissan Motor Co., French partner Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. ranked seventh with sales of about 280,000 EVs.
Toyota, the world’s largest auto seller, sold 24,000 EVs in 2022, according to the company.
Saints had options at wide receiver in Mel Kiper’s latest two-round mock
The Saints add two offensive players with their first three picks.
Another day, another mock draft. This time it’s ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr.’s recent two-round mock draft (Insider required) that has the New Orleans Saints address their top three positions of need with their first three picks.
A run of receivers in the first fifteen picks, including Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson (8th overall to the Atlanta Falcons), USC’s Drake London (10th overall to the New York Jets), and Ohio State WR Chris Olave (15th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles), left the Saints without a bunch of options at the 16th pick. Tackles Ikem Ekwonu out of NC State (5th to the Giants), Alabama’s Evan Neal (9th to the Seattle Seahawks), and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross (13th to the Houston Texans) left the Saints without many options there either. Quarterback Malik Willis out of Liberty was also off the board, landing in the NFC South to the rival Carolina Panthers 6th overall.
This left some of the top prospects on the board as LB Nakobe Dean out of Georgia, LT Trevor Penning out of Iowa, DT Jordan Davis from Georgia, Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett, and Alabama WR Jameson Williams, all of whom fit with the Saints needs.
In Kiper’s mock, the Saints passed on Kenny Pickett and instead opted to replace Terron Armstead on the left side of the offensive line by selecting Trevor Penning:
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Speaking of the Saints, I have a hard time believing the trade with the Eagles was to take a quarterback. Why wouldn’t they try to move up higher? (Unless there’s another move to come.) It’s possible they think they are NFC contenders this season and could be put over the edge with two more starters. With that in mind, here’s a tackle who could replace Terron Armstead on the left side. Penning is a nasty, physical blocker who is ready to play immediately.
In the two picks immediately following the Saints’ selection at 16, the pair of Georgia defensive players – Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis – were picked, leaving the Saints with yet another opportunity to draft Kenny Pickett if the team so desired.
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Even if Michael Thomas comes back healthy, the Saints should address wide receiver with one of their two first-round picks. Williams would have been in the discussion to be the No. 1 wideout in this class, but he tore his ACL in the national title game in January and could miss a little time in 2022. He could be a superstar once he’s healthy; he has explosive speed and was uncoverable for the Crimson Tide last season. ACL injuries aren’t even close to career-ending anymore, so I don’t see this as a risky pick. Williams is worth it.
Pickett ended up going one pick later to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and fellow RAS-star, Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder, was the first quarterback taken in the second round, 40th overall to the Seattle Seahawks.
When the Saints were on the clock with the 49th pick, they had plenty of options still at quarterback (North Carolina’s Sam Howell, anyone?), and grabbed Ole Miss signal-caller Matt Corral:
49. New Orleans Saints
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Corral is a tough evaluation. He wants to play like Josh Allen but doesn’t have the size — he’s only 6-foot-2. He was the only player in the country last season with 3,300-plus passing yards and 500-plus rushing yards. Will he be able to consistently make every throw in the NFL? That’s why I think he’s a safer bet on Day 2. He would make a lot of sense in New Orleans, where he could get an evaluation year behind Jameis Winston.
Options available for the Saints at 49 if they passed on Corral included wide receivers like Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore, Alabama’s John Metchie III, and Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce; Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III; and a pair of tight ends in UCLA’s Greg Dulcich and Colorado State’s Trey McBride.
That left the Saints with QB Matt Corral, LT Trevor Penning, and WR Jameson Williams from their first three picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Other possible sets include QB Kenny Pickett, WR Jameson Williams, and T Abraham Lucas; DT Jordan Davis, WR Christian Watson, TE Trey McBride; or even LT Trevor Penning, QB Kenny Pickett, and WR Jalen Tolbert.
Which set would you prefer? Would you be happy with Mel Kiper’s mock draft if the board fell that way for New Orleans? Let us know in the comments. Send me presents.
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