2024 NFL free agency updates: Tracker for Wednesday buzz, notable moves as new league year begins

2024 NFL free agency updates: Tracker for Wednesday buzz, notable moves as new league year begins


Editor’s note: This page reflects the news of NFL free agency on Wednesday, March 13. For the latest news on NFL free agent signings, visit our live updates file for Thursday, March 14.

Wednesday marks a significant point on the NFL calendar as the first official day of the new league year. All of those free-agent deals agreed to on the first and second day of the legal tampering period are set to become official at 4 p.m. ET – when trades can also be executed and all 32 teams must be in compliance with the $255.4 million salary cap for 2024.

USA TODAY Sports will have updates on all the latest deals and buzz throughout the day, so check back often for up-to-the-minute news from our staff and around the USA TODAY Network on the start of NFL free agency:

The Dallas Cowboys plan to sign ILB Eric Kendricks, whom ESPN previously reported was headed to the San Francisco 49ers, in what should be the defending NFC East champs’ first significant move of free agency. Kendricks, who was recently released by the Los Angeles Chargers, gets a one-year contract. A nine-year veteran who played the balance of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, for whom he was an All-Pro once, Kendricks has played in 132 NFL games and made more than 1,000 tackles.

Notoriously light at the second level last season, Dallas drops Kendricks into a defense that ranked 16th against the run in 2023 but was run over by the Green Bay Packers in a 48-32 wild-card walkover in January.

Joe Flacco is returning to a backup role.

The 2023 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, who led the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs after belatedly taking over for injured starter Deshaun Watson, will join the Indianapolis Colts. Per ESPN, Flacco is set to sign a one-year deal worth up to $8.7 million, with $4.5 million guaranteed.

Flacco effectively replaces Gardner Minshew II, who signed with the Las Vegas Raiders after providing a Pro Bowl performance in Indy as the replacement for injured rookie Anthony Richardson. Now Flacco will provide insurance and wisdom to Richardson, the fourth overall pick of the 2023 draft who played in just four games before suffering a season-ending injury to his throwing shoulder.

Flacco, the Super Bowl 47 MVP for the Baltimore Ravens, has thrown for 43,936 yards and 245 TDs since entering the NFL in 2008. He passed for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns for Cleveland in five regular-season starts last season, winning four of them before the team was blown out in a wild-card loss at Houston.

The Arizona Cardinals are making a switch at left tackle.

The team announced the release of D.J. Humphries on Wednesday evening, a move that will save the club about $9 million in cap space. He has been the club’s primary left tackle since 2019 and could find a nice market for his services with teams like the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs needing help at his position.

Meanwhile, per ESPN, Arizona is signing former Cincinnati Bengals OT Jonah Williams to a two-year, $30 million pact ($19 million guaranteed). He played on both the left and right side for Cincy. The Cards could also move Paris Johnson Jr., the sixth overall pick of the 2023 draft, to the left side – he played there at Ohio State – after he lined up as Arizona’s right tackle during his rookie campaign.

Bobby Wagner is leaving Seattle again, agreeing to join the Washington Commanders on a one-year deal worth $6 million guaranteed that could kick up to $8.5 million, per NFL Network.

A six-time All-Pro and likely first-ballot Hall of Famer, Wagner reunites with new Washington coach Dan Quinn, previously his defensive coordinator during the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” days. Wagner spent his first 10 seasons in the Pacific Northwest as a defensive linchpin who helped the franchise to two Super Bowls and its first Lombardi Trophy.

Wagner, who has never had fewer than 100 tackles in a season – he had a league-best 183 in 2023 – is still near the top of his game even as he approaches his 34th birthday. The Commanders will be his third team in three seasons after he played for the Los Angeles Rams in 2021 before returning to Seattle last year. His leadership should also be a key for a franchise in full-blown transition.

The Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday officially parted with several former notable figures.

The Raiders announced the official release of quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery.

Garoppolo’s release had been expected since he was suspended two games for violating the NFL’s PED policy, per multiple reports. The punishment voided the guaranteed money on Garoppolo’s deal.

Throughout the initial run of free agency, reports indicated that Calvin Ridley was likely to either stay with the Jacksonville Jaguars or join the New England Patriots.

Instead, the receiver had a surprise up his sleeve.

Ridley agreed on Wednesday agreed to a four-year, $92 million contract with the Tennessee Titans, according to multiple reports. The deal includes $50 million guaranteed.

With the agreement, Ridley becomes the ninth highest-paid receiver in the NFL at $23 million per season.

Ridley’s departure is a major hit for a Jaguars team that was pushing for his return. Jacksonville signed Gabe Davis to a three-year, $39 million in free agency, but Ridley led the team with 1,016 receiving yards last season. Davis, Christian Kirk and Evan Engram will now have to shoulder a heavier load to help Trevor Lawrence.

New England, meanwhile, also lost out on its top option to “weaponize the offense,” a top goal of personnel chief Eliot Wolf. While the team re-signed tight end Hunter Henry and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, it now has limited options for upgrading its receiving corps in free agency.

The Titans, however, used their sizable cap space to land a go-to target for second-year quarterback Will Levis. With the move, Tennessee could be more inclined to address its offensive line at the No. 7 overall pick in the draft.

With Russell Wilson joining the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mason Rudolph was left to evaluate other options in free agency.

The quarterback on Wednesday agreed to a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans, according to multiple reports.

Rudolph, 28, started and won the final three games of the regular season for the Steelers, helping push the team to the playoffs. He remained in the role even after Kenny Pickett was healthy enough to return to the lineup.

In Tennessee, he will serve as the backup to second-year signal-caller. His arrival is another road block for Malik Willis, the 2022 third-round pick who has been buried on the depth chart.

The New Orleans Saints’ expected split with Michael Thomas is now official.

Thomas was released with a post-June 1 cut designation, according to multiple reports. The move allows the Saints to spread out a dead cap hit of $18 million.

Thomas, 31, has struggled to recapture anything close to his early-career form, when he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and set the NFL record for receptions in a single season (149 in 2019). He had just 39 catches for 448 yards in 2023, posting a career-low 44.8 yards per game.

The Los Angeles Chargers finally made their long-awaited cost-saving move.

The team is releasing wide receiver Mike Williams, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the move was not yet official.

Williams, who will turn 30 in October, is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in September. He was set to carry a $32.5 million salary cap hit in 2024, second only among wide receivers to teammate Keenan Allen.

Williams signed a three-year, $60 million contract two years ago after a career season in which he recorded 76 catches for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. But the cap-strapped Chargers had difficult decisions to make in order to become financially compliant by the 4 p.m. ET deadline, as Williams, Allen, Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa all were set to carry cap hits of more than $30 million for next season. Mack, however, agreed to a restructured deal with the team, according to Adam Schefter.

The Philadelphia Eagles are making plenty of changes this offseason, but the team is keeping kicker Jake Elliott in place for the foreseeable future.

Elliott agreed to a four-year extension with the Eagles, the team announced. Per multiple reports, the deal is worth $24 million, which would put Elliott into a tie with the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker for the NFL’s highest-paid kicker.

Elliott, 29, converted a career-high 93.8% of his field goal attempts last season and missed just one of his 46 extra-point tries.

The San Francisco 49ers continue to reshuffle their defensive front.

With the team expected to make official its impending release of defensive tackle Arik Armstead, San Francisco also on Wednesday agreed to acquire defensive tackle Maliek Collins from the Houston Texans in a trade, per reprorts. The Texans will receive a seventh-rounder back in the deal.

Collins, 28, started 16 games for the Texans last year and recorded five sacks. The Texans, however, have been active in reshaping their defensive front, bringing in Danielle Hunter, Folorunso Fatukasi and Denico Autry while losing edge rusher Jonathan Greenard to the Minnesota Vikings.

The 49ers are also facing change up front, too, with former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Jordan Elliott agreeing to a two-year, $10 million deal. San Francisco also could lose defensive end Chase Young, who is expected to visit the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans, per multiple reports.

The New York Jets are instituting a protection plan for Aaron Rodgers.

Two days after reaching a deal with former Baltimore Ravens offensive guard John Simpson, the Jets again looked to Baltimore’s line by swinging a trade for right tackle Morgan Moses, according to multiple reports.

Moses returns to the Jets after starting 16 games for the team in 2021.

The Jacksonville Jaguars wideout is one of the free agent outliers who hasn’t agreed to a new deal during the free agency tampering period, and maybe Ridley hasn’t received the offer he’s looking for yet.

However it must be noted there’s probably a good reason he hasn’t re-signed with the Jags, who would like to have him back. If Jacksonville re-signs Ridley before 4 p.m. ET today, the Jaguars would owe the Atlanta Falcons a second-round draft pick as a condition of the teams’ deal at the 2022 CQ trade deadline. If Ridley technically hits the open market after 4 p.m. and then re-ups with the Jags, they would only owe Atlanta a third-round selection.

Stay tuned on the status of a 29-year-old who’s arguably the best free agent available at this point of the process on the heels of a 76-catch, 1,016-yard, eight-TD season in 2023.

The Baltimore Ravens are parting with another notable figure on defense.

The team cut outside linebacker Tyus Bowser in a move that will save the team about $5.5 million in cap space.

Bowser was a second-round pick in 2017 and started 17 games in 2021, when he notched seven sacks. But he missed all of last season with a knee injury and played in just nine games the previous year.

The Ravens have already lost linebacker Patrick Queen to the Pittsburgh Steelers and safety Geno Stone to the Cincinnati Bengals, while outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney remains a free agent.

The Buffalo Bills have added to their receiving corps after losing Gabe Davis to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The team agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with former Atlanta Falcons receiver Mack Hollins, according to multiple reports.

Hollins, 30, had just 18 catches for 251 yards last season in a run-heavy Falcons offense.

But the 6-4, 221-pounder gives Josh Allen a big-bodied red-zone target who will pair with Stefon Diggs on the outside while allowing Khalil Shakir to stay in the slot. And at $3 million, he comes at a far lower price for the cap-strapped Bills than Davis, who agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Jaguars.

Former Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley and Denver Broncos FS Justin Simmons are among the top players who have not agreed to new deals. Simmons, who was recently released, is eligible to sign anywhere immediately.

Per NFL Network, the Las Vegas Raiders will cut WR Hunter Renfrow on Wednesday, a move that will save them about $8.2 million against the cap. Used sparingly in the offense since being a Pro Bowler in 2021 (103 catches for 1,038 yards and 9 TDs), Renfrow has just 61 receptions since and did not find the end zone once in 2023.

It is also expected that QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be released if no one takes him in a trade. He signed a three-year, $72.8 million deal a year ago. Parting with him now will save the Raiders $11.3 million this year.

Which teams are still having cap issues?

Per Over The Cap, as of early Wednesday morning, only three teams are not yet in compliance with this year’s $255.4 million salary cap. The Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills only need to make minor adjustments before the 4 p.m. ET deadline.

However the Los Angeles Chargers still need to clear approximately $25 million. They currently have four players – WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and OLBs Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa – with 2024 cap hits in excess of $30 million, all of them but Bosa headed into the final season of their current contracts. QB Justin Herbert and SS Derwin James both approach $20 million for 2024 and could be candidates for restructures.

What’s going on with the Dallas Cowboys?

“America’s Team” has been among the quietest during the early part of free agency, losing several starters (RB Tony Pollard, C Tyler Biadasz, DE Dorance Armstrong) who have yet to be replaced in a meaningful way.

The major issue is QB Dak Prescott, who has a $59 million cap hit heading into the final year of his contract, which also stipulates he cannot be franchised next year and carries a no-trade clause. Prescott is owed a $5 million roster bonus next week and a $29 million base salary in 2024.

Elsewhere, All-Pro WR CeeDee Lamb is headed into the final year of his rookie contract, and All-Pro LB Micah Parsons is eligible for an extension for the first time. A lot of in-house business for Jerry Jones and Co. to consider in addition to eyeing new players for the roster.

Why are some free agents already signing deals?

The tampering window is open, however some players have already switched teams. Why?

In the case of S Kevin Byard, who reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Chicago Bears prior to Monday, for example, the Philadelphia Eagles terminated his contract early. That made Byard a “street free agent” and thus eligible to sign elsewhere immediately as opposed to waiting for Wednesday. Former Denver Broncos Pro Bowl FS Justin Simmons is in a similar situation, already eligible to join another club.

Early termination of contracts not only kickstarts the process of clearing cap space, but it’s often a sign of good faith as clubs give veterans a head start on the free agent process.

In the case of QB Russell Wilson, he can’t officially sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers until later this week as the Broncos have only announced his impending release, but it’s not yet official.

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