Free Agent Frenzy 

March 14, 2023

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

The madness is about to begin with the First Four tonight. And while the next 20 days are all about the brackets, we’re taking a quick pause for pro sports. It was a wild start to NFL free agency yesterday, and we’ll heat-check the NBA and NHL to see who\’s hot and who\’s not heading down the stretch. Enjoy your bracket for a few more days before it gets busted.

Letter Rip!


Free Agent Frenzy

Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Raiders, Broncos, Bears & Falcons Headline Biggest Winners on Opening Day of NFL Free Agency

It’s a free agency frenzy! The NFL’s free agent window doesn’t officially open until Wednesday, but yesterday marked the open \”tampering window.\” Players won’t sign on the dotted line until tomorrow, but that didn’t stop free agency from exploding as soon as the unofficial window opened. And before you ask… No, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t made an announcement — although a few Jets players made cryptic social media posts suggesting some exciting news.

Almost immediately, the top free agents went flying off the board, including DT Javon Hargrave (49ers), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Raiders), S Jessie Bates III (Falcons), LB Tremaine Edwards (Bears), and many more. The AFC West was the busiest division with the Raiders and Broncos making splashes — Denver allocated over $200 million collectively on five different players. The Bears and Falcons were also big winners on the defensive side of the ball. Here are the biggest free-agent signings from Monday.

NFL Free-Agent Tracker 

QB Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers)  Raiders

Contract: 3 Years, $72.5 Million

DT Javon Hargrave (Eagles)  49ers

Contract: 4 Years, $84 Million

OT Jawaan Taylor (Jaguars)  Chiefs

Contract: 4 Years, $80 Million

OT Mike McGlinchey (49ers)  Broncos

Contract: 5 Years, $87.5 Million

DL Zach Allen (Cardinals)  Broncos

Contract: 3 Years, $45.7 Million

LB Tremaine Edmunds (Bills)  Bears

Contract: 4 Years, $72 Million

LB T.J. Edwards (Eagles)  Bears

Contract: 3 Years, $19.5 Million

S Jessie Bates III (Bengals)  Falcons

Contract: 4 Years, $64 Million

DL David Onyemata (Saints)  Falcons

Contract: 3 Years, $35 Million

DT Dalvin Tomlinson (Vikings)  Browns

Contract: 4 Years, $57 Million

Backup Quarterbacks On The Move

Jarrett Stidham (Raiders) → Broncos

Mike White (Jets) → Dolphins

Sam Darnold (Panthers) → 49ers

Players Who Re-Signed With Former Teams

QB Daniel Jones (Giants): 4 Years, $160 Million

OG Chris Lindstrom (Falcons): 5 Years, $105 Million

QB Geno Smith (Seahawks): 3 Years, $75 Million

DT Daron Payne (Commanders): 4 Years, $90 Million

CB Jonathan Jones (Patriots): 2 Years, $20 Million

QB Quincy Williams (Jets): 3 Years, $18 Million

Recent Trades

Bears Acquire WR D.J. Moore From Panthers

Dolphins Acquire CB Jalen Ramsey From Rams

Falcons Acquire TE Jonnu Smith From Patriots

Additional Storylines

SI: 2023 NFL Free Agency Grades: Analyzing Every Major Move

B/R: 3 Instant Reactions to Jimmy Garoppolo Reuniting With Josh McDaniels in Vegas

Yahoo! Sports: Jets Have Gone From Wanting Aaron Rodgers to Needing Him

NFL: Ravens Release Veteran DL Calais Campbell After 15 Seasons



Heat Check: Bucks Blazing 

Photo: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

Giannis Dominates as Bucks Overtake Celtics & Nuggets For Top Spot in NBA

There’s a new No. 1 in the NBA. After the Celtics held the best record in the Association for three-quarters of the season, and the Nuggets pulled away out west, the Bucks’ hot streak now has Milwaukee atop the standings. Giannis Antetokounmpo (46 points, 12 rebounds) had a monster performance in the Bucks\’ win over the Kings last night (133-124) while the Celtics fell to the lowly Rockets (111-109). Milwaukee went on a recent 16-game win streak and they’ve now won 20 of their last 22. They\’re a league-best 26-7 since January 1st.

Boston, despite what their Irish heritage suggests, hasn\’t been so lucky in March. The Celtics have lost five of their last eight, including their last three by a combined eight points. It\’s ugly for the best team in the west, too. Despite Nikola Jokc\’s eye-popping MVP numbers, the Nuggets have lost three in a row. Great seasons in Boston and Denver over the first three quarters have come to a screeching halt, and Milwaukee is now the team to beat. Here\’s a look at the latest NBA playoff picture and our mid-March heat-check. 

NBA Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference

1. Bucks (49-19) \"🔥\"

2. Celtics (47-22) \"❄️\"

3. 76ers (45-22) \"🔥\"

4. Cavaliers (43-27) —

5. Nets (39-29) —

6. Knicks (40-30) \"🔥\"

7. Heat (37-33) —

8. Hawks (34-35) —

9. Raptors (32-36) —

10. Bulls (31-36) —

In the Hunt: Wizards (31-37), Pacers (31-38), Magic (28-40)

Western Conference

1. Nuggets (46-22) \"❄️\"

2. Grizzlies (41-26) \"🔥\"

3. Kings (40-27) \"🔥\"

4. Suns (37-31) —

5. Warriors (36-33) \"🔥\"

6. Clippers (36-33) —

7. Timberwolves (35-34) —

8. Mavericks (34-35) \"❄️\"

9. Lakers (33-35) \"🔥\"

10. Pelicans (33-35) \"❄️\"

In the Hunt: Thunder (33-35), Jazz (33-36), Blazers (31-37)

The NBA Playoffs begin Wednesday, April 11

Additional Storylines

ESPN: 5 Things to Watch This Week in the NBA

NBC Sports: Warriors\’ Klay Thompson Scores 33 on Eight 3s in 1st Half

CBS Sports: NBA Power Rankings: 76ers Take No. 1 Spot



Heat-Check: Who Wins the West?

Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

The Bruins Own the East, But 8 Teams Are Vying for the No. 1 Seed in the Western Conference

After a trio of games on ice last night, the Stars and Avalanche were both winners, and our NHL Western Conference race still has more questions than answers. One thing is certain — the Boston Bruins are flirting with NHL history. The Bruins have 50 wins (105 points) with 17 games to play as they skate toward the No. 1 overall seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Metro is a two-horse race between the Devils and Hurricanes. But out west? Eight teams are separated at the top by just five games and nine points, and no one seems to be letting up. Let’s check in on the Bruins’ chase for history and every other team hoping for a chance to keep skating into April.

Reminder: Sixteen of the 32 teams make the postseason — eight from each conference. The top three teams in each division are joined by the top two wild card spots.

Stanley Cup Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1. Bruins (105 points) \"🔥\"

2. Maple Leafs (88 points) —

3. Lightning (84 points) \"❄️\"

Metropolitan Division

1. Hurricanes (94 points) —

2. Devils (94 points) \"🔥\"

3. Rangers (84 points) \"❄️\"

Wild Card Race

WC1: Penguins (78 points) \"🔥\"

WC2: Islanders (76 points) —

In the Hunt: Panthers (73 points), Sabres (71 points), Capitals (71 points), Senators (70 points), Red Wings (69 points)

Western Conference

Central Division

1. Stars (87 points) \"🔥\"

2. Wild (84 points) \"🔥\"

3. Avalanche (80 points) \"🔥\"

Pacific Division

1. Golden Knights (88 points) \"🔥\"

2. Kings (85 points) —

3. Kraken (81 points) —

Wild Card Race

WC1: Oilers (80 points) —

WC2: Jets (79 points) \"❄️\"

In the Hunt: Predators (73 points), Flames (73 points)

Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin Monday, April 17

Additional Storylines

NHL: 10 Biggest Questions Before Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin

ESPN: NHL Playoff Standings: Who Will Be West’s No. 1 Seed?



 Panthers Shake Up NFL Draft

More than a month out from Day 1, the 2023 NFL draft has already been turned on its head. Several teams in search of a quarterback now are likely on edge given that the Panthers are a virtual lock to take a signal-caller. (USA Today)

 Voter Fatigue in the NBA MVP Race

The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic is the favorite to become the first player to win three straight MVPs since Larry Bird in the 80s. But is voter fatigue a factor? Jokic’s stats make a third MVP run virtually impossible to ignore. (CBS Sports)