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In NFL verbiage, the legal tampering period means agree to deals with as many free agents as you want to and can under the salary cap. There's no more waiting until Wednesday. NFL free agency is here, y'all. In the spirit of the free agency floodgates now open in the middle of draft season, let's evaluate how these decisions will impact the 2024 NFL Draft

Here are how some of the biggest Day 1 free agency signings will impact the draft

And below -- how Day 2 adds will impact a team's strategy -- and other clubs drafting near them -- on draft night.

Patrick Queen signing with Steelers

  • How it impacts the draft: Maybe no linebackers in Round 1?

The former Ravens first-round pick will stay in the AFC North but will switch jersey colors from purple and black to black and yellow. Typically a pillar of domination at the linebacker spot, that position has slowly but surely became a weakness of the Steelers defense even as the unit has maintained normal Pittsburghian standards overall. 

Queen is a no-nonsense hard hitter and plus blitzer. He'll fit in well beyond a defensive line anchored by T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Keeanu Benton and Alex Highsmith. This is not a quality linebacker class. And the Steelers -- along with the Cowboys -- felt like teams picking in the 20s that could be in on the likes of NC State's Payton Wilson or Texas A&M's Edgerrin Cooper. While Pittsburgh probably isn't done at the off-ball linebacker spot, it's highly unlikely they'll go that route at pick No. 20. We very well could have a linebacker-less first round for the first time since 2011. 

Vikings signing Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold
MIN • QB • #14
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  • How it impacts the draft: Still feels like quarterback is priority No. 1 in draft for Vikings

Wait, what? This doesn't impact Minnesota's draft plans? The key is in the details here. Darnold's contract is not a one-year, $10 million pact, which would still be a ridiculously low cost for a possible starting quarterback in 2024. It's a deal worth up to $10M, so we're talking playtime and performance incentives. And anything closer to, say, $5M per year, especially with one year, has become classic backup money. 

The Vikings, sitting at No. 11 overall in this year's draft, can't be sure they'll land the quarterback they covet most, or any of the "top tier" consisting of Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye or even J.J. McCarthy. Therefore, they had to sign a contingency-plan veteran now before hunkering down on what will be their finalized draft evaluation of the quarterbacks in this class. On the surface, this hints that the Vikings are lower on the quarterback idea via the draft. Digging deeper, this was just a necessary insurance/stopgap-y move for Minnesota. 

Darnell Mooney signing with Falcons

Darnell Mooney
ATL • WR • #1
REC YDs414
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  • How it impacts the draft: Bears likely to have option for second or third receiver off the board

Clearly, the new coaching staff in Atlanta wanted to upgrade the pass-catcher group -- even with Drake London and Kyle Pitts on the roster -- and there was some thought the Falcons could go skill-position player in Round 1 for the fourth-consecutive year at No. 8 overall, if they didn't sign a viable receiving threat in free agency. 

Mooney got $13M average per year, thereby eliminating the chances Atlanta picks whoever is left of Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze at No. 8 overall. What that means is, the Bears are aligned to be able to make their selection from those three if they want to add more weapons to the offense.

Jets signing Tyrod Taylor

Tyrod Taylor
NYJ • QB • #2
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  • How it impacts the draft: Jets likely to stay away from quarterback in the draft

The Jets are, of course, all in right now with Aaron Rodgers well into his 40s, set to return from a torn Achilles. But, before the Taylor signing, it felt like Gang Green was a sneaky club to add a quarterback relatively early in the draft to plan for the long term. Now, sure, Taylor isn't much younger than Rodgers, and doesn't represent the future at the game's most vital position for New York, yet his presence indicates the team will shy away from quarterback in this class, instead choosing to add pieces elsewhere. 

Darious Williams signing with Rams

  • How it impacts the draft: Reduces Rams need for early-round cornerback

Whether it was Clemson's Nate Wiggins, Iowa's Cooper DeJean or another presumed-to-be first-round cornerback, I've often mocked that position to the Rams in the first round. This familiar signing for Los Angeles slows that momentum. That's not to say the Rams will absolutely be out of the Round 1 cornerback market. It's still a spot on the roster that could use improvement. But Williams is a ready-to-go starter who can align in the slot or on the perimeter. 

Texans trade for Joe Mixon

  • How it impacts the draft: Early-ish-round running back off the table for Texans in draft

After Devin Singletary signed with the Giants in free agency, it felt like Houston could conceivably leave the running back position alone and target one of the top backs in the 2024 class, like Florida State's Trey Benson, Texas' Jonathon Brooks, Tennessee's Jaylen Wright or a bunch of others all vying to be one of the top few backs off the board. 

Now, that's probably not happening. Mixon does have a fair amount of mileage on this legs -- just under 2,000 NFL touches to his name -- but is only 27 years old and went over 1,000 yards in 2023 after failing to do so the year before. This is an big runner with elite athleticism for the position, so it won't be crazy if he can continue his productivity a bit longer than most at his position. The Texans have three picks in the top 90 and will almost assuredly not go running back with any of those picks after the Mixon trade. 

Derrick Henry signing with Ravens

Derrick Henry
BAL • RB • #22
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How it impacts the draft: Early-to-midround running back highly unlikely for Ravens, hurts running back draft market

Like the Mixon add in Houston, Henry's arrival in Baltimore is a fun addition for an AFC contender and dampens the running back market in the draft. Even before free agency, this wasn't lauded as a super-strong class of running backs in the draft -- although I'd argue it's great because they're likely to be selected at what should be "correct" value for the position today. But now with two clubs that were thought to have running back holes which could be filled in the draft, the chances of an early Day 2 run at the position is reduced. 

And there's no way Baltimore spends anything earlier than a fourth-round pick on a runner. Even that's probably too early of a guess.