Best bargains through 1st week of free agency
Bruce Kluckhohn / USA TODAY Sports

While some signings crept out through the media ahead of time, March 21 marks the official one-week anniversary of the NFL's 2018 free-agency period.

As per tradition, the league's landscape has been altered quite a bit, as general managers dished out wild contracts to players they may have never even met before. The majority of notable deals, particularly in the early days, had a tendency to overpay free agents, but some contracts have been more friendly for the team than the player.

Here are ten of the best bargains so far:

Morgan Burnett, Steelers

Contract: 3 years, $14.5 million (guaranteed amount unknown)

After Tyrann Mathieu left the market, Burnett was arguably the best safety available, yet he reportedly did not receive much attention before agreeing to a three-year deal with the Steelers on Tuesday. The 29-year-old had been a consistent force on the back end of the Packers defense for eight seasons, but settled for a below-market deal that includes the 27th-ranked annual average value among safeties. Regardless of how much guaranteed money he ends up with, the Steelers got a steal and managed to upgrade from Mike Mitchell.

Mike Pouncey, Chargers

Contract: 2 years, $15 million with $10 million guaranteed

The former Dolphins center is staying in the warm weather and increasing his chances to win a championship, but he's taking a pay cut to do so. In an offseason that saw Ryan Jensen go from being relatively unknown to the highest-paid center in the league, the 28-year-old Pouncey settled for the 16th-most guaranteed money and 12th-highest annual average value at his position. The Chargers get a leader with Pro Bowl experience to play between two second-year guards, and at a great value.

Richard Sherman, 49ers

Contract: 3 years, $27.15 million with $7 million guaranteed

Sherman will tell you otherwise, but the contract, which he negotiated himself, is very favorable for the 49ers. The 29-year-old cornerback is betting hard on himself to stay healthy and productive for his new team or risk earning well below other corners with his resume. Sherman is coming off an Achilles injury and gave San Francisco an easy out after one season if he can't recover from his ailment as well as they expect.

LeGarrette Blount, Lions

Contract: 1 year, $2 million (guaranteed amount unknown)

Amazingly enough, Blount could take home his highest single-season earnings in 2018 if he gets the full $2 million. The powerful running back can bring the physical attitude the Lions offense has been lacking, at a very modest price (28th among running backs). Though he is 31 years old, Blount hasn't taken as much damage as others with his experience, being used as a complimentary piece for the bulk of his career.

Tyrann Mathieu, Texans

Contract: 1 year, $7 million with $6.5 million guaranteed

Mathieu went from being paid the second-most among NFL safeties, to a team-friendly contract without any long-term security. The 25-year-old's playmaking had been lacking the last two years as the Arizona Cardinals' overall play dwindled, but he's still very versatile and the athleticism hasn't abandoned him yet. Adding the "Honey Badger" to a defense with J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney should have been too expensive to pull off, but here we are.

Teddy Bridgewater, Jets

Contract: 1 year, $6 million with $500K guaranteed (max value of $15 million with incentives)

The Jets managed to avoid any real risk when signing Bridgewater, who has not completed a pass since 2015. According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Bridgewater has to take at least half the snaps and be on the active roster for every game to earn $4 million of his incentives, and throw for over 3,000 yards and at least 21 touchdowns to get another $3 million. If all of that were to happen, Bridgewater would still be the cheapest starting quarterback who's not on a rookie contract.

Nickell Robey-Coleman, Rams

Contract: 3 years, $15.75 million with $8 million guaranteed

Slot cornerbacks have essentially become starters in the NFL with the amount of five-defensive back sets teams use, but Robey-Coleman was not paid like a starter. The slot specialist is set up perfectly for his role in between Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters with the Rams, and is on a deal that will pay him $3.25 million less than fellow nickelback Aaron Colvin, who joined the Texans in free agency. He's got a perfect name to play nickelback and, in the eyes of the Rams, a perfect contract.

AJ McCarron, Bills

Contract: 2 years, $10 million with $7.9 million guaranteed

As the only potential starter not named Colin Kaepernick left on the market, the Bills were almost forced to sign McCarron after they were a little late to the quarterback-signing party. Yet, they managed to negotiate an extremely affordable deal in a league that loves to overpay the passers. McCarron's salary is so low that the Bills must be sending the message they consider him a backup. But at the moment, he's at the top of their depth chart.

Julius Peppers, Panthers

Contract: 1 year, $5 million (guaranteed amount unknown)

The 38-year-old defensive end accepted a cheap deal to come back to his first club last season, joining up on a one-year, $4-million deal before exploding for his highest sack total (11) since 2012. Despite tying for the team lead in sacks, Peppers didn't go after much of a pay bump, returning for $2.5 million less per year than Mario Addison, who also got to the quarterback 11 times.

Honorable mentions:

  • Saints QB Drew Brees - 2 year, $50M with $27M guaranteed
  • Redskins WR Paul Richardson - 5 years, $40M with $16.5M guaranteed
  • Saints CB Patrick Robinson - 4 years, $20M with $10M guaranteed
  • 49ers WR Marquise Goodwin - 3 yrs, $20.3M with $10M guaranteed
  • Lions DB DeShawn Shead - 1 year, $3.35M with $1.5M guaranteed
  • Seahawks TE Ed Dickson - 3 years, $10.7M with $3.6M guaranteed
  • Packers DL Muhammad Wilkerson - 1 yr, $5M with $1.5M guaranteed

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
(Contract numbers courtesy: Spotrac)

Best bargains through 1st week of free agency
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