Getty Images

The days leading up to NFL agency is a lot like the iconic scene in the original "Jurassic Park," when the water ripples in the cup and  you hear the growing noise of thunderous steps as the massive creature approaches and ultimately wreaks havoc. 

Like the T-Rex, free agency is frantic, unpredictable and leaves nothing in its wake. Hopefully, when the damage is done, your team looks more like Dr. Alan Grant and not like the lawyer who thought he was safe. 

"Jurassic Park" metaphors aside, the start of free agency was expected to be wild, and it didn't disappoint. Star quarterbacks signed with new teams, former Pro Bowlers were released and a host of big names found new employment. Some teams made bold moves, while others decided to hold their cards, for now. 

While there were some outliers, there were some main themes that developed during the first three days of free agency. Let's take a look at the top takeaways; the good, the bad and everything in between. 

1. There is no running back market 

For me, the biggest takeaway from free agency so far is the fact that there is zero running back market as far as salary is concerned. It's really the Wild West. 

Take the difference in contracts between Josh Jacobs and Aaron Jones. Jacobs reportedly signed a four-year, $48 million deal with the Packers, Jones' former team. Jones signed a reported one-year, $7 million deal with the Vikings. Jones (4.6) averaged over a yard per carry more than Jacobs (3.5) did last year and ended the 2023 season with five straight 100-yard games. 

Derrick Henry, arguably the NFL's best back, signed a nice two-year, $16 million deal with the Ravens. But it paled in comparison to what Jacobs and Saquon Barkley (a reported three-year, ($37.75 million deal) got from their new teams. Austin Ekeler, arguably the league's most versatile back, signed a shockingly low two-year, $11.4 million deal with the Commanders. Heck, Tony Pollard's new deal ($24 million over three years) is more lucrative than Henry's. 

This week showed that there is no actual market for running back. How much each one makes ultimately comes down to how well they market themselves and how much a specific team values them. Or, in the case of Henry, a running back may choose to take less money if it means being in a better situation. 

2. Cousins is a master negotiator 

Iconic radio host Jim Rome summed up new Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins with a single tweet. While Cousins is a good quarterback, his work at negotiating tables is nothing short of legendary. Cousins landed a reported four-year, $180 million deal with Atlanta this week, raising his projected career earnings to $411.67 million. That's nearly $80 million more than Tom Brady earned on the field during his 23-year career. 

3. Falcons looking dangerous

Staying with the Falcons ... Although we have yet to see a single snap, it's pretty obvious this offense is set to explode with the addition of former Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. The seasoned veteran will get to work with running back Bijan Robinson, wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts. Not to mention Atlanta also signed Darnell Mooney as a bona fide WR2. The NFC South is wide open and, and, yes, we're still several months away from the 2024 season, but it sure seems like Raheem Morris' Falcons are ready to take the division by storm.

4. Bears taking their time with Justin Fields 

There are rumblings that teams don't value Fields as much as the Bears' brass had hoped when they dropped bread crumbs about possibility trading him at the NFL Combine. While that might be true, the fact remains there is a scarcity of good quarterbacks on the open market, and there are still teams that need help at the NFL's most important position. 

Fields still being a Bear shouldn't be too much of a surprise. The draft is still over a month away, and Chicago still holds the No. 1 and No. 9 overall picks. A lot can and will happen between now and Thursday, April 25, when the draft begins. Look for more movement between the Bears, Fields and outside teams when free agency starts to fade and the draft begins to dominate the NFL news cycle.  

5. Chiefs aren't messing around 

Kansas City is going all-in in their quest to become the first three-peat champion. Patrick Mahomes showed how much it means to him when he agreed to restructure his contract and free up over $20 million in cap space. 

The Chiefs reportedly tried to acquire Diontae Johnson, but the Steelers opted to trade the former Pro Bowl wideout to the Carolina Panthers. Kansas City didn't get Johnson, but they did sign Chris Jones to a historic extension that made him the highest-paid defensive tackle in NFL history. The Chiefs also placed the franchise tag on L'Jarius Sneed with the thought of possibly trading him if the two sides can't come to terms on a long-term deal. 

6. Creating a new 'Steeler Way' 

Fans of the Steelers have likely noticed a trend regarding their team's typical offseason routine. Pittsburgh rarely makes big splashes in free agency, usually opting to sign bargain veterans who can fill gaps in the roster. The Steelers also tend to keep their players even if better options are out there. 

Pittsburgh has flipped the script this offseason. They made several surprising releases (center Mason Cole, punter Pressley Harvin III, and cornerback Patrick Peterson), some expected ones (quarterback Mitch Trubisky, offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor) and made two of the biggest free agents signings so far in quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Patrick Queen. The Steelers also pulled off one of the biggest trades so far when they dealt Johnson to the Panthers in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson and improved draft positioning. 

Team president Art Rooney II said there was growing impatience with Pittsburgh's recent lack of playoff success, and that is showing so far this offseason. 

7. Boom or bust for Titans, Calvin Ridley 

A year ago, you would have laughed if I told you that Ridley signed the most lucrative contract for a skill player during this year's first week of free agency. But that's what happened after the veteran wideout penned a reported four-year, $92 million deal that included $50 million guaranteed. 

This will either go down as a great or terrible transaction for the Titans, who also made news on Wednesday when they signed former Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph to a one-year deal. Ridley's deal is similar to the one the Jaguars made with fellow wideout Christian Kirk two years ago. It was hard to find anyone then who thought Kirk was worth the $18 million per season the Jaguars were about to pay him. No one is saying that now as Kirk has more than lived up to that contract. 

8. More Aaron Rodgers drama 

Speaking of possible buyer's remorse, it's safe to say that the New York Jets may be regretting their decision to acquire Rodgers last offseason. 

Rodgers was again in the headlines this week after the New York Times reported that Rodgers was approached -- and was receptive to the idea -- of being presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s possible running mate for November's election, never mind the fact that Rodgers is under contract with the Jets.

Things could turn around this season, but at this point, Rodgers' era in New York is trending towards joining the list of Jets' all-time blunders. 

9. Futures of top wideouts continue to be murky 

There continues to be unsettled situations in Cincinnati and Minnesota. Tee Higgins has requested a trade out of Cincinnati, while Vikings star Justin Jefferson has yet to receive his contract extension. 

Let's start with Higgins, who reportedly hasn't discussed a new contract with the Bengals since last March. If that's true, that's a bad look for the Bengals, who have said numerous times that they value Higgins and want to keep him in the fold. Higgins has every right to ask for a trade, but the Bengals also have every right to deny him that request.  

How will this play out? I won't rule out the Bengals trading Higgins, but if they do, they will be seeking a capable replacement for Higgins in return. Could this lead to a trade with Minnesota for Jefferson? That doesn't appear to be likely, but I wouldn't rule it out. 

Jefferson starred with Bengals Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase at LSU. Chase has openly alluded to Jefferson joining forces with him and Burrow in Cincinnati. The Bengals have shown that they will do whatever it takes to make Burrow happy, and acquiring Jefferson would certainly do that. 

Higgins wants the respect of being an elite No. 1 receiver, on the field as well as at the bargaining table. He won't get either in Cincinnati, but he would in Minnesota if Jefferson isn't there. 

Even if this scenario doesn't play out, I don't see either player signing a new deal with their respective teams anytime soon. The Bengals have made it clear that extending Higgins isn't a priority, and Jefferson probably doesn't have much motivation to sign with a team that currently has Sam Darnold as it's starting quarterback. 

10. New Era in New England

We'll end things by going back to a trade that happened so long ago that it's been lost in the shuffle. The Patriots basically confirmed that they will be drafting a quarterback in the first round after trading Mac Jones to the Jaguars last weekend. 

I have little idea of what my mock draft will look like, but one thing I know is that I will have the Patriots taking former LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels in the first round. The Patriots were reportedly high on Daniels while Bill Belichick was still in charge, and nothing has happened since Belichick's departure that would suggest that that still isn't the case.