The 2018 NFL offseason has been strange, to say the least. There has been a ton of activity at some positions and next to none at others, most notably at safety. Three former Tar Heels have found themselves new homes in the process: Defensive end Robert Quinn, tight end Eric Ebron, and safety Da’Norris Searcy. Additionally, Zach Brown capitalized on an excellent season and was rewarded by the team he played for. Here’s a recap of where they went and what got them there.
Quinn’s move was probably the highest-profile of the three, though it wasn’t exactly a free agency signing. Having indicated that they were ready to move on from the player who once gave them a 19-sack season, the Los Angeles Rams instead have agreed to trade Quinn to the Miami Dolphins for a mid-round pick and a late-round pick swap, according to NFL.com. Quinn’s contract had a built-in out for this offseason, but with the trade, it looks almost certain that Miami will pick up the remainder of Quinn’s contract, which is set to net him over 20 million dollars over the next two years, a significant escalation from what it had guaranteed him before. It’s a free agency payday without the hassle of negotiation, and Quinn has made out very well for himself.
Once free agency actually started, Ebron was the hottest Tar Heel commodity around. He had seemed to put things together in the back half of the 2017 season, with the buzz around his name going from “bust” to “okay, maybe we just don’t like him because Detroit was dumb enough to take him before Odell Beckham Jr.” He showed the separation skills, hands, and athleticism that we all loved him for when he was a Tar Heel, without some of the concentration issues that had plagued his early career. After drawing interest from several teams, including the Carolina Panthers, Ebron signed with the Indianapolis Colts on a two-year contract, with the details outlined in this Tweet:
Details on Eric Ebron’s 2 yr Colts contract...— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) March 23, 2018
2018: $5M roster bonus paid today, $1.25M base salary, $250K in per game roster bonuses, $250K unspecified incentives.
2019: $5.25M base, $1M roster bonus, $250K incentives, $250K per game roster bonuses.
Basically, he’s getting around 6.5 million dollars a year over two years. Compared to the market, that’s a very healthy deal for tight ends, and as Ebron is still very young, he could parlay this contract into an even better one if he can stand out on the Colts’ decrepit offense.
Searcy was a quieter free agency presence, but his acquisition is notable for a couple of reasons. First, the safety market has been extremely quiet this year. Besides Searcy, only a couple have been signed: Tyrann Mathieu, Morgan Burnett, Tavon Wilson, and Kurt Coleman are the only really notable names that pop out. Meanwhile, players like Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, Tyvon Branch, Ron Parker, and Darius Butler still have not found new NFL teams. They’re not even really hearing offers, according to one anonymous agent. In the midst of that, it’s pretty impressive that Da’Norris Searcy has found a home, and even better, it’s a homecoming for the former Tar Heel, who returns to the state of North Carolina to play for the Carolina Panthers. Searcy’s deal isn’t as lucrative as the other two in this article, but for a 30-year old at a non-premium position who was a backup last year, this will more than do for him:
Done deal for Da’Norris Searcy, who gets a 2-year deal worth $5.7M with up to $3.1M in the first year. Searcy will be 30 during the season and found a nice deal in a tough market. https://t.co/TPgdQquqGK— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2018
He walks out with a solid payday where many of his positional peers are waiting for anything.
Zach Brown didn’t move, but got paid nonetheless, as the league leader in tackles through the 14 games he played was deservedly rewarded by Washington with a 3-year contract worth up to $24 million. The terms are fairly team-friendly, according to this article, with low guaranteed money and significant escalation throughout the duration of the contract, but as long as Brown keeps playing like he has, he’ll maximize his contract and Washington will continue to get good production.
The significant Tar Heel still on the market is safety Tre Boston, who is young and coming off a good year with the Chargers but has found himself caught in the aforementioned safety no-man’s land. Hopefully he can become the fifth Tar Heel to land a payday, completing a successful offseason for Tar Heels in the NFL.