- Bill Barnwell is a staff writer for ESPN.com.
There are three distinct acts to the NFL offseason. The first is free agency. The second is the draft. And we’re now in the quietest act of the three. The period between the draft and the start of training camp is a window that teams use to sign players to extensions, retool spots on their roster and even think about making a trade or two.
The unofficial start of the third window is the Monday after the draft, when teams can start signing players without having those contracts impact the compensatory pick formula. It’s one of the reasons why the Jets waited to sign Randall Cobb and Billy Turner until after the draft, as they’re set to receive three comp picks in next year’s draft after the ins and outs of free agency. We didn’t see a flood of deals that week, but it’s easier for players who are still on the market to sign now than it would have been right before the draft.
Teams can also sign players who have been cut without incurring any compensatory damage, and that possibility led to the most impactful signing of last year’s third player movement window. After months of advertising him as a trade candidate, the Giants were forced to cut James Bradberry for cap reasons. The Eagles picked the veteran cornerback up on a one-year deal May 18 and got Pro Bowl-caliber play from him. Throw in the trade for C.J. Gardner-Johnson just before the season began, and you see how successful teams can shape their rosters even after the draft has ended.
Today, I’m going to hit on a handful of the moves and happenings that I either expect to happen or think should happen between now and the start of the season. Some are obvious; it’s only a question of when and how much players like Joe Burrow and Justin Jefferson will get paid on extensions with their teams. But others — like finding landing spots for players left in the free agent market — might be more difficult. Let’s start with one player who should head back to the only NFL home he has ever known.
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