NFL free agency tracker 2022: All of Wednesday’s news on deals between players, teams – USA TODAY

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NFL free agency is officially beginning.

The deals, of course, have been coming through since Monday, when the NFL’s legal tampering window opened. But Wednesday marks the start of a new league year and, as of 4 p.m. ET, the first day that contracts and trades can officially be processed. And while a number of the top free agents already have chosen their destinations, many more have yet to make up their minds.

Check back with USA TODAY Sports often throughout Wednesday and the entire week for all the latest news and buzz on the free-agent market and what deals could be materializing:

MORE: Tom Brady’s stunning return to NFL was a decision we should have seen coming

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Jets continue to bolster tight end position

Two days after news broke that the New York Jets and former Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah had agreed to terms on a deal, the team added another player at the position of need. 

Tyler Conklin also will join the Jets, according to multiple reports.

Conklin – a fifth-round pick by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2018 NFL draft – registered career highs in receptions (61), yards (593) and touchdowns (three) last season.

— Jim Reineking

Bills to add former Bucs tight end O.J. Howard

Moments after news broke of the massive free-agency splash that was the acquisition of pass rusher Von Miller, the Buffalo Bills announced that they agreed to terms with tight end O.J. Howard.

Howard – a first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2017 NFL draft – played five seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has 119 career receptions for 1,737 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, he had a career-low 135 yards receiving in 2021 while sharing snaps at the tight end position with Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.

In Buffalo, Howard will team with incumbent Dawson Knox to give quarterback Josh Allen another viable target at the tight end position. 

— Jim Reineking

Bills make free-agency splash with Von Miller

The Buffalo Bills have come tantalizingly close to reaching the Super Bowl the previous two seasons, and likely will be hoping that their latest free-agency splash can put them over the top.

The Bills and eight-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Von Miller have agreed to a six-year contract, the team announced Wednesday

“It’s been a crazy four hours going back and forth. Lot of things that I love in LA,” Miller said, announcing the deal on Instagram. “But I just wanted you to know, I’m coming to Buffalo. Bills Mafia, what’s good? Is 40 open?”

— Jim Reineking

Ravens reunite with familiar figure to boost pass rush

The Baltimore Ravens are turning to one of their former standouts to elevate their pass rush. 

Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith agreed to a four-year, $35 million contract with the team, according to multiple reports. 

Smith, 29, played in just one game in 2021 due to a back injury. He was released by the Green Bay Packers on Monday in the team’s quest to get under the salary cap by the start of the new league year Wednesday. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, he racked up 26 sacks for the Packers from 2019-20. 

Smith began his career with the Ravens as a fourth-round pick out of Kentucky in 2015, spending four years with the franchise before signing a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the Packers.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Joe Flacco re-ups with Jets

Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco is returning to the Jets, according to his agency. ESPN said the deal was for one year and $3.5 million. This isn’t exactly a surprise because Jets coach Robert Saleh said after the season that he valued having a veteran backup and wanted Flacco to return. That’s a change because before the season Saleh said having a veteran quarterback wasn’t important. 

Flacco, 37, can give the Jets a chance to win if starter Zach Wilson goes down. Wilson talked about how much Flacco’s presence helped him late in the season.

In two games last year, Flacco completed 27 of 42 passes (64.3 percent) for 338 yards, three touchdown and no interceptions.

– Andy Vasquez, NorthJersey.com

Raiders to sign Chandler Jones, trade Yannick Ngakoue

Another big name is headed to the AFC West as one notable figure heads out of the division.

Four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Chandler Jones is finalizing a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, a person with knowledge of the move told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet official. The agreement was for three years and $51 million, per multiple reports.

In a corresponding move, the Raiders are sending defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.

Jones, 32, has the most sacks of any NFL player since 2012 with 107 ½. He registered 10 ½ sacks for the Arizona Cardinals last season, but five of them came in a Week 1 win over the Tennessee Titans.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz and Mike Jones

Another NFL free-agency change of heart

Randy Gregory isn’t the only free agent who reversed course this week.

Running back J.D. McKissic is rejoining the Washington Commanders after agreeing to a deal with the Buffalo Bills, according to multiple reports.

McKissic, 28, plans to sign a two-year deal worth $7 million, per multiple reports.

The Commanders also released offensive guard Ereck Flowers and offensive guard Matt Ioannidis in cost-cutting moves.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Browns move on from underperforming tight end

Austin Hooper didn’t live up to the lucrative contract he signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent two years ago, so the team is releasing him Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the move told USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss personnel moves.

The move is being designated as a post-June 1 cut, meaning the Browns will be able to spread Hooper’s dead cap hit of $11.25 million over two years instead of absorbing all of it this offseason. 

A two-time Pro Bowler with the Atlanta Falcons, Hooper joined the Browns in March 2020, when he signed a four-year, $42 million contract. But Hooper caught just 84 passes on 131 targets for 780 yards and a touchdown in his 29 regular-season games, all starts, with the Browns. He dropped eight passes, including six last season, according to pro-football-reference.com.

In four seasons with the Falcons, he racked up 214 receptions for 2,244 yards and 16 touchdowns in 59 games, 28 of which he started.

– Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal

Jaguars continue spending spree, bring on CB

The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to be big spenders in free agency.

Cornerback Darious Williams agreed to a three-year, $30 million contract with the team, according to multiple reports.

Williams, 29, became a steady figure for the Los Angeles Rams as a starter for the last two seasons. In Jacksonville, where Williams grew up, he will team with Shaquill Griffin and 2021 second-round pick Tyson Campbell at cornerback.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Browns jolt return game with All-Pro Jakeem Grant

The Browns haven’t had an electric return man since Josh Cribbs and Travis Benjamin combined to provide a dynamic threat on special teams from 2005-15.

Jakeem Grant has the track record to change that.

The Browns and Grant agreed to a three-year contract worth up to $13.8 million with incentives, a league source said early Wednesday morning, confirming an NFL Network report.

Grant, 29, will become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. Wednesday, when free agency officially starts and contracts can be signed.

Grant, formerly of the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears, was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time last season as a return specialist.

In 15 games, he returned 26 punts for 309 yards (11.9 average, ranked third in the NFL) and a touchdown and 23 kickoffs for 539 yards (23.4 average, ranked 11th in the league). As a wide receiver, he caught 11 passes on 17 targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

– Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal

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