NFL free agency live updates: Get the latest news on top players as negotiating period begins

The NFL is about to embark on its own version of March Madness.

While free agency doesn’t officially begin until Wednesday, Monday marks the opening of the “legal tampering window” or “negotiating period,” in which teams are allowed to contact players’ representatives and collaborate on contracts. Several top players could enter pacts not long after the window opens at noon ET, as has been the case in past years. And while this year’s free-agent class is short on star power, there are several notable names and potential key contributors who could be on the move.

Check back with USA TODAY Sports throughout Monday for all the latest on free agency:

49ers get even more imposing up front

On the day that they were set to lose offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey to the Denver Broncos, the San Francisco 49ers were poised to bring in a major talent on the other side of the ball.

Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract with the team, per multiple reports. The agreement would make Hargrave the third-highest-paid interior defender in the NFL, putting him behind only the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Washington Commanders’ Daron Payne.

Hargrave, 30, is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-high 11 sacks.

In San Francisco, Hargrave joins a fearsome front that includes reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa as well as former first-round picks Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw. 

His departure leaves a massive void in the middle of the Eagles’ defense. Philadelphia could lose other top defensive tackles in Fletcher Cox, Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, who are all free agents. 

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) celebrates after an NFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Arizona Cardinals at SoFi Stadium.

Broncos make splashy addition to O-line, reel in backup QB for Russell Wilson

The Denver Broncos continue to bring aboard significant offensive help.

In what might be one of the day’s biggest moves so far, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey is set to sign a five-year, $87.5 million deal with the team, according to multiple reports. 

The former San Francisco 49ers right tackle also will have $50 million guaranteed as part of the deal, per reports. 

McGlinchey is the second notable deal Monday the Broncos made to reshape their front after the team also reached a four-year part with former Baltimore Ravens offensive guard Ben Powers.

Denver also brought on a backup to Russell Wilson in Jarrett Stidham, who served as Derek Carr’s backup last season until he took the reins as starter for the final two games. 

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Ravens to release Calais Campbell, lose Ben Powers to Broncos

Calais Campbell will be back in the NFL for a 16th season, but it won’t be with the Baltimore Ravens.

The team plans to release the six-time Pro Bowl defensive end, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported.

Campbell, 36, is the NFL’s oldest active defensive lineman. A team leader and respected veteran, he was a guiding force for the Ravens’ defense but was set to have a cap hit of about $7 million.

Also leaving Baltimore is offensive guard Ben Powers, who is set to join the Denver Broncos on a four-year deal, per multiple reports. Powers fills an important hole up front for coach Sean Payton and quarterback Russell Wilson, as Dalton Risner is set to become a free agent.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Jason Kelce coming back for another season

Make it NFL season No. 13 for Jason Kelce.

The Philadelphia Eagles center has decided to stave off retirement and return for another year

“I have put much thought into whether it makes sense to play another season,” Kelce wrote on Twitter. “After talking it over with my wife and many other friends and family, I have decided to return for another year. Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fueling me, I ain’t (expletive) done yet!”

Kelce, 35, is a five-time All-Pro selection and fixture of the Eagles’ offensive line. He is set to become a free agent, but it’s possible the Eagles could hammer out a deal before the new league year begins Wednesday.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Bears begin to reshape defense

The first notable movement of free agency is upon us.

Linebacker T.J. Edwards agreed to a three-year deal with the Chicago Bears, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Edwards, 27, had been a starter for the last three years for the Philadelphia Eagles. He led the team with 159 tackles in 2022. 

Philadelphia is likely in store for more free-agency defections on defense, including potentially defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson, cornerback James Bradberry, linebacker Kyzir White and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, among others.

In Chicago, Edwards will be part of a linebacker group bound to be reshuffled after Roquan Smith was traded to the Baltimore Ravens last fall.

The Bears entered Monday with the most cap space of any team.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Patriots bring back Jonathan Jones

The New England Patriots won’t have to replace an important part of their secondary.

Cornerback Jonathan Jones is returning to the team on a two-year deal, per multiple reports.

Jones, 29, had a career-high four interceptions in 2022. He moved the outside after previously operating of the slot. His versatility should come in handy for Bill Belichick, depending on what else the team does with the back end of its defense in free agency and the draft.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Falcons reach big-money deal with G Chris Lindstrom

The Atlanta Falcons struck a deal to lock in one of their key offensive linemen for the foreseeable future – although not the one who could leave in free agency this week.

Offensive guard Chris Lindstrom agreed to a five-year extension with the Falcons, the team announced. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the contract was worth $105 million, which would put Lindstrom ahead of the Indianapolis Colts’ Quenton Nelson ($20 million average annual salary) as the league’s highest-paid guard.

Lindstrom, 26, was the No. 14 overall pick in 2019 out of Boston College. He was a Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro selection in his breakout 2022 campaign. 

Offensive tackle Kaleb McGary, meanwhile, remains unsigned and on track to become a free agent.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Patriots trade Jonnu Smith to Falcons

Jonnu Smith is going to be reunited with Arthur Smith.

The New England Patriots are trading the tight end to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a seventh-round pick, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports.

Jonnu Smith struggled to live up to expectations in the two years he was with New England after signing a four-year, $50 million contract. He did not reach 30 catches or 300 receiving yards in either season with the team.

In Atlanta, however, the pass catcher will reteam with Arthur Smith, who served as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator when Jonnu Smith had career-best campaigns in 2019 and 2020.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Bills bring back two more players

With just more than one hour to go before the NFL’s negotiating period begins Monday, the Buffalo Bills have reached deals to keep two more contributors at home.

Linebacker Tyler Matakevich signed a two-year deal with Buffalo, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported. Matakevich, 30, is primarily a contributor on special teams. 

Punter Sam Martin, meanwhile, re-upped on a three-year deal worth $7.5 million, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported.

The Bills, of course, have much more notable names set to hit free agency in linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, safety Jordan Poyer and running back Devin Singletary, all of whom could be headed elsewhere.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Top NFL free agents available

On Monday, the big names on everyone’s minds remain two quarterbacks who aren’t free agents: Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson. But as the world waits on a potential trade of Rodgers to the New York Jets and any movement of a possible offer sheet for Jackson, several other players at less-heralded positions could command hefty paydays. 

Orlando Brown Jr. is the top player on Nate Davis’ free-agent rankings, as the left tackle was not franchise-tagged by the Kansas City Chiefs. Several other offensive and defensive linemen could be in high demand, including DT Javon Hargrave (No. 6), OT Kaleb McGary (No. 7), DE Zach Allen (No. 15) and OT Mike McGlinchey (No. 18). 

And while there might not be a bevy of big names at skill positions, there are at least a few to keep an eye on: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (No. 3), WR Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 10), RB Jamaal Williams (No. 11) and RB Miles Sanders.

Check here for the full list.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Baker Mayfield’s landing spot?

Maybe there’s a path to a starting spot for Baker Mayfield after all.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to target the quarterback as potential competition for Kyle Trask, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo.

Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, provided a spark for the Los Angeles Rams with his late-season arrival, which was made possible when he was waived by the Carolina Panthers after a brief and disappointing run. 

Initially, it appeared as though Mayfield might have to settle for a prime backup job. In Tampa Bay, however, he might have a solid shot at coming out ahead of Trask, the 2021 second-round pick who wasn’t able to beat out Blaine Gabbert for the backup role in previous years. 

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz

Late re-signings filter in

Ahead of the action Monday, several teams made key moves to keep notable players from reaching the open market. Among them:

  • The Washington Commanders struck a four-year deal with franchise-tagged defensive tackle Daron Payne. The agreement is worth $90 million, including $60 million guaranteed, per multiple reports. Payne becomes the second-highest-paid defensive tackle, trailing only the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald.
  • The New York Jets agreed to a three-year, $18 million deal with linebacker Quincy Williams, per multiple reports. The younger brother of Jets All-Pro defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, the former Jacksonville Jaguars draftee has started 28 games over the last two years and emerged as an active presence on Robert Saleh’s defense.
  • Wide receiver Sterling Shepard re-upped with the New York Giants on a one-year, $1.165 million deal, according to multiple reports. Shepard played in just three games last season before suffering a torn ACL.
  • The San Francisco 49ers re-signed safety Tashaun Gipson on a one-year deal worth $2.9 million, per multiple reports. Gipson, 32, started every game for the 49ers last season and paced the team with five interceptions.

– Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz