FA Notes: Chiefs, Jones, Evans, Titans, Pats, Giants, Panthers, Falcons, Jags, Bucs, Rams

Buzz about the Chiefs re-signing Chris Jones surfaced last week, and while that trail has gone a bit cold, some optimism still exists the defending champions can keep their top defender off the market. Many around the league do not expect Jones to leave Kansas City, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, but they do not anticipate a discount coming to pass. Jones stuck to his guns last year during a holdout that cost him more than $3MM between fines and a missed game check; that would make it rather shocking if he agreed to a team-friendly deal now.

The Chiefs reaching the $27-$28MM-per-year range should help move this close to the finish line, Fowler adds. That said, Jones could probably — given the cap spike — make a run at Aaron Donald‘s $31.7MM AAV standard and the position’s guarantee record (Quinnen Williams‘ $66MM) if he reaches free agency. The Chiefs were not willing to go near the Donald AAV neighborhood during talks last year, and it will surely take a monster offer to keep Jones from testing free agency now.

With the legal tampering period less than a week away, here is the latest free agency news:

  • The Chiefs were also among the teams interested in Mike Evans, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, who details what would have been a big market for the veteran wide receiver. Evans opted to re-sign with the Bucs on a frontloaded deal that included $29MM fully guaranteed. The Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Panthers, Patriots, Rams and Titans were preparing to see what it could take to lure Evans out of Tampa. High-profile FAs regularly use the Combine to gauge markets before the legal tampering period, and Evans evidently determined this Bucs deal compared favorably to what he could have collected on the market. But with Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr.¬†franchise-tagged, Evans would have been the top WR available. That distinction may now fall to Calvin Ridley.
  • Speaking of the Bucs, they are not ruling out a reunion with Shaquil Barrett at a reduced rate, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes. Tampa Bay cut Barrett last week, removing an $18MM-per-year contract from their payroll. Barrett stands to generate interest as a street free agent, but the former Super Bowl standout and NFL single-season sack leader is going into an age-32 season and coming off a 4.5-sack showing in 2023.
  • Darnell Mooney may be one of the players who could benefit from Evans, Pittman and Higgins being off the market. Despite the Bears target failing to eclipse 500 receiving yards in each of the past two years, he posted a 1,000-yard season in 2021 and has been in a low-volume passing offense. Teams figure to check in on the deep threat, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler suggests the Chiefs and Titans as potential players. The Chiefs’ receiver woes were well documented last season, and they recently cut Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Titans beat out the Chiefs for DeAndre Hopkins last year, but he is going into an age-32 season and signed for just one more year. Treylon Burks has also not shown much consistency yet.
  • Barring 11th-hour deals, this year’s safety market will feature Xavier McKinney and Kamren Curl. These two could do quite well without Antoine Winfield Jr.¬†and Kyle Dugger in the mix, with ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan noting Curl’s market could come in around $14MM per year. A line of demarcation may emerge after these NFC East starters, with Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline adding a lucrative second wave should not be expected to transpire at this position. This is how the 2023 market played out, with a gulf forming between Jessie Bates and the field. Though, multiple others (Juan Thornhill, Vonn Bell, Donovan Wilson) collected eight-figure guarantees.
  • The Rams have talked terms with Kevin Dotson‘s camp, per GM Les Snead. They expect both he and center Coleman Shelton to hit the market. Dotson delivered a big contract year and should be expected to become one of the top earners on a crowded guard market. The Rams want Shelton back as well.
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