1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sum of guarantees to UFAs: $68.75 million
Players signed: cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Barry Church, linebacker Lerentee McCray.
Analysis: The Jaguars led the NFL in total money committed to unrestricted free agents from 2014 to ’16, and their approach did slow after a front-office reorganization. Now led by executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars signed the top cornerback (Bouye) and also one of the few veteran pass-rushers (Campbell) who were available. The fickle nature of heavy free-agent activity has been well-documented. But on paper, the Jaguars look stronger up front with Campbell joining veterans Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr., Abry Jones and Yannick Ngakoue. Bouye and Church, meanwhile, will bolster a secondary that also includes cornerback Jalen Ramsey and safety Tashaun Gipson.
2. Cleveland Browns
Sum of guarantees to UFAs: $58.5 million
Players signed: receiver Kenny Britt, guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter
Analysis: The Browns were so spooked by the beating their quarterbacks took last season that they made Zeitler the highest-paid guard in NFL history and handed Tretter a deal that could total nearly $17 million over three years. (They also re-signed incumbent guard Joel Bitonio, whose deal isn’t reflected in these numbers.) Browns quarterbacks were sacked 46 times by teams using a standard four-man (or fewer) pass rush, the most by one team in 10 years. That statistic should improve in 2017, courtesy of a premium price. The purpose of the Britt signing is less clear, and there is probably more to be told about why the Browns ended up with Britt instead of Terrelle Pryor Sr., who signed with the Washington Redskins.
3. Chicago Bears
Sum of guarantees to UFAs: $49.5 million
Players signed: quarterback Mike Glennon, tight end Dion Sims, cornerback Marcus Cooper, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safety Quintin Demps, receiver Markus Wheaton
Analysis: After winning just nine games in coach John Fox’s first two seasons, the Bears have shifted gears on a number of fronts. Their signing of Glennon, a backup in Tampa Bay who has made 18 starts in four seasons, ended the Jay Cutler era, but also gave them the flexibility to continue searching for a long-term answer. (Glennon will be paid well at $18.5 million as a starter for one season, after which the Bears can move on if they want.) The Bears also got him a few weapons in Sims and Wheaton, and then — after a season in which they intercepted just eight passes, second fewest in the NFL — they attempted to remake their secondary. Cooper, Amukamara and Demps could all start.
4. New England Patriots
Sum of guarantees to UFAs: $44.9 million
Players signed: cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy
Analysis: Gilmore’s deal, while unexpected and monstrous, largely accounts for the Patriots’ total here. Don’t forget that their busy offseason also has included trades for receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Dwayne Allen, along with the re-signing of defensive lineman Alan Branch and safety Duron Harmon to deals that totaled nearly $10 million in guarantees. And there is still a significant payout remaining if the Patriots decide to re-sign linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who has been making free-agent visits around the league (he recently made a visit to the Jets on his birthday).
5. Detroit Lions
Sum of guarantees for UFAs: $39.5 million
Players signed: offensive tackle Rick Wagner, defensive linemen Akeem Spence and Cornelius Washington, cornerback D.J. Hayden and linebacker Paul Worrilow.
Analysis: This accounting does not include the three-year deal the Lions gave to guard T.J. Lang, which is believed to include about $19 million in guarantees. His agreement was consummated over the weekend, and would push the Lions into second place in this account when it becomes official. The Lions’ spending was largely directed at upgrading their offensive line. Wagner will replace Riley Reiff at right tackle, and Lang is the new right guard following the departure of Larry Warford.