Here are some observations from Tuesday’s activity:
Trent Williams: His six-year, $138.06 million deal came together overnight and was announced by Williams’s agents early Wednesday morning. But let’s include it, anyway. Williams was the best left tackle available and perhaps the top player left on the board. He becomes the highest-paid offensive lineman in league history and fulfills his wish to remain with the 49ers. The contentious dispute that ended his long tenure in Washington is far, far behind him.
Andy Dalton: He’s back to being a starting quarterback, it would seem, as he lands in Chicago. The Bears also have Nick Foles. But it’s doubtful that Dalton would have done this deal without a pretty good idea that he’d emerge with the starting job.
Tyrod Taylor: He lands in Houston as, at this point, the backup to star quarterback Deshaun Watson. But he is a viable starter for the Texans if Watson is traded or is not on the field.
Patriots: Their Day 1 spending spree spilled over into Day 2 with their deal with tight end Hunter Henry. There were two standout tight ends on the market and the Patriots landed both of them, in Henry and Jonnu Smith. Coach Bill Belichick adores offensive formations with two tight ends who are pass-catching threats. He and the Patriots can get back to that now. They’ll actually be able to create some mismatches against opposing secondaries, for a change. That was never the case last season, with their unimpressive group of pass catchers.
Bears: They hoped to trade for Russell Wilson, then ended up signing Andy Dalton. That’s quite the drop-off. The ire and ridicule being directed at Dalton are not justified. He’s a reasonably capable NFL quarterback who was selected to three Pro Bowls while with Cincinnati and took the Bengals to the AFC playoffs five times. But he’s no Russell Wilson. And the job security of Bears Coach Matt Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace seems more tenuous than ever.
Chiefs and Colts: They joined the Bears as the losers in the Trent Williams sweepstakes. There are few to no suitable free agent consolation prizes available when it comes to the available left tackles. The Chiefs at least added guard Joe Thuney on Monday, much to the delight of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But it becomes much tougher now for the Chiefs, Colts and Bears to find what they need at offensive tackle.
Wide receivers: The wide receiver market has developed very slowly. Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster, T.Y. Hilton, Antonio Brown, Will Fuller and Curtis Samuel are among the many who remain available. If they were expecting huge free agent paydays, they might have to lower their expectations. Some teams are running out of available cash in their payroll budgets and salary cap space has been tight all along. The wide receiver supply is simply too great, especially with a celebrated class of wideouts in the upcoming NFL draft.