Winners, losers and biggest questions from NFL free agency Day 1

From ESPN - March 14, 2018

And so we were already on to backup quarterbacks by late Wednesday afternoon, less than two hours after the official opening of the NFL's 2018 league year and free agency signing period. Trevor Siemian was heading to the Minnesota Vikings. Tom Savage was signing with the New Orleans Saints. Chad Henne was visiting the Tennessee Titans.

Yes, the unprecedented activity -- or, at least, reporting of said activity -- during the three-day negotiating period rendered a near drama-free beginning to the free-agent market. More than half of our top 100 free agents have new contract agreements, and by Wednesday evening, NFL teams were picking through a second wave of less-pursued players.

We hashed through some of the biggest moves late Tuesday night. So, while we have a moment, let's take a bigger-picture look at the proceedings since:

Quick links: Barnwell's grades | Schefter's news | Signings by team | Top 100 free agents

Baffling questions in Arizona

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has a lot of fans around the NFL who respect his work in digging the franchise out of a decadeslong competitive hole. But I am having a hard time understanding what he and the franchise are doing this offseason or how in the world the Cardinals will be competitive in 2018.

It does not take a football savant to question the team's plan at quarterback. There is no basis for counting on Sam Bradford, who aggravated his knee condition by taking a bad step in Week 1 last season and played only two quarters thereafter. Mike Glennon, meanwhile, bombed last season with the Bears in his best chance to establish himself as even a spot starter.

What does the agreement with Bradford, and the Cardinals' reported plans to also sign Glennon tell us? They better not be done looking for quarterbacks.

But the most egregious gaffe, and one that I do not think has generated enough national scrutiny, is the departure of safety Tyrann Mathieu. As a rule, NFL teams should never let themselves get into the position of parting ways with their best young talent. Mathieu has an injury history, but he rebounded last season to play 16 games. He is still 25 years old and is probably one of the Cardinals' three best players.

ESPN's Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss noted that the Cardinals were in a tough situation with the monster contract Mathieu signed in 2016. If that's the case, then it's still on the team for writing a contract that could not sustain itself for two years. Maybe there's something we do not know about Mathieu's health. But if we have the complete information, well, the Cardinals botched their future with a transcendent player.

The quantum step of Nate Solder

It did not get as much attention as some of the quarterback moves this week, but Solder's move from the New England Patriots to the New York Giants was a massive and multifaceted earthquake. (Can an earthquake have multiple facets? I say yes. Discuss.)

Finding competent left tackles is one of the most difficult personnel assignments in football, and the Giants blew through the top of the offensive line market to get Solder. His annual average of $15.5 million is 17 percent more than the next-highest paid player at the position: Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers ($13.25 million).

Overall, the Giants are paying Solder $62 million over four seasons. Keep in mind that the Giants obliterated the market for a player who has never been elected to the Pro Bowl and who was reported to be considering retirement earlier this season.

But the story is not simply the massive offer it took to lure him. The Patriots are now without a true left tackle for the first time this decade. As ESPN's Patriots reporter Mike Reiss lays out, there are no obvious replacements on the roster. And with their spot at No. 31 in the draft, the Patriots will be limited in their opportunity to find a rookie who is ready to start right away.

Patience always wins

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