As the NFL approached the opening of its business year Wednesday, teams were doing a whole lot of, well, business.
The 49ers held onto the best tackle who could have become a free agent, giving Trent Williams the richest contract ever for an offensive lineman.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who likes speedy wideouts as much as he enjoys watching game film, added John Brown, recently cut by Buffalo.
Detroit took away one of division-rival Green Bay’s offense pieces, giving a two-year contract to running back Jamaal Williams.
And Washington stayed busy by agreeing with cornerback William Jackson on a contract worth $42 million over three years with $26 million guaranteed, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the team does not release contract terms.
The myriad of moves during the “legal tampering” period that began Monday can become official at 4 p.m. EDT as the NFL’s 2021 year begins. Nearly all of the agreements have been leaked anyway.
Plus, teams such as the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, the Broncos and 49ers have been proactive in keeping their own. For example, Tampa Bay finding ways to keep linebackers Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“Shaq has made a profound and immediate impact on our defense from the day he stepped into the building two years ago,” said Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht. “From leading the league in sacks in 2019 to leaving his mark during our postseason run to Super Bowl 55, Shaq’s contributions have been vital to our success as a team, and we look forward to continuing that success in the years ahead.”
Trent Williams is a particularly intriguing case. His agents at Elite Loyalty Sports said the deal agreed to early Wednesday will pay Williams $138.1 million over the next six years, surpassing the $138 million deal David Bakhtiari got from Green Bay a year ago. Williams also will get the biggest signing bonus ever for an offensive lineman at $30.1 million, as well as $55.1 million guaranteed.
Basically, he gambled on himself. Seeking to get out of Washington, where Williams believed the medical staff botched a cancer diagnosis, he sat out 2019. Midway through that season, he hoped to be traded before the deadline, which didn’t occur. Williams was banished from the Washington facility by former team president Bruce Allen.
He landed in San Francisco in a draft-day trade for a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-rounder.
— The Bills are adding receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who turned 34 Wednesday. He will join his fourth team in three years and gives a Buffalo a versatile presence to go with All-Pro receiver Stefon Diggs. Sanders has played for Pittsburgh, Denver and New Orleans, winning a Super Bowl with the Broncos.
— Jackson, 28, replaces Ronald Darby in Washington; Darby left to join Denver. Washington also re-signed reserve running back Lamar Miller to a one-year contract.
— Brown could be a veteran deep threat in Las Vegas after Nelson Agholor left in free agency for New England. But Brown, who turns 31 in April, is coming off the second-least productive season of his career and was limited to nine games because of knee and ankle injuries.
— Jamaal Williams was a backup to Aaron Jones with the Packers, and figures to fill the same role in Detroit behind D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. The Lions also arranged a trade with the Rams for steady defensive tackle Michael Brockers as they attempt to rebuild one of the NFL’s worst units.