NFL free agency: Barkley, Queen lead players to sign with former rival

ByBrianna Williams ESPN logo
Thursday, March 14, 2024

NFL free agency has already been full of big deals and, as of 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, it's time to officially bring in the new league year.

From Atlanta Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins, to Baltimore Ravens running back Derrick Henry, it may take some time getting used to seeing your favorite player in their new threads.

In some cases, that circumstance is heightened when players sign with their former division rival.

Former New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley spearheaded that trend this offseason when he signed with NFC East foe Philadelphia Eagles. His decision ruffled some "Big Blue" feathers, including those of the Giants all-time leading rusher.

Barkley grew up outside Philly in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and played for the Penn State Nittany Lions before being drafted second overall by New York in 2018. During his tenure with the Giants, he went 2-7 against the Eagles.

Though he might be the most notable, Barkley isn't the only player to sign with a division rival this offseason. Here are some other NFL players who went from friend to foe.

Patrick Queen

Ravens to Pittsburgh Steelers

Record vs. new team: 1-7

Queen, the Ravens' 2020 first-round pick, is coming off his first Pro Bowl season after putting up a career-high 133 tackles, along with 3.5 sacks and one interception.

Last season, he spoke highly of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry -- and shared an early interaction he had with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

"It's the game that defines you and makes you a Raven. When I was on their sideline my rookie year, Mike Tomlin was looking at me, yelling at me, 'You're not a Raven. You're not a Raven. You're not supposed to be there. You're not one of them.' So every time I play them there's something personal," Queen said.

Perhaps Tomlin's words then were more fortuitous than they seemed.

Former teammates Lamar Jackson,Patrick RicardandKyle Hamiltondidn't take long to troll their new rival.

Aaron Jones

Green Bay Packers to Minnesota Vikings

Record vs. new team: 6-5

After spending seven seasons in Green Bay, Jones signed with Minnesota one day after being released by the Packers.

Read more: Why did Packers choose Josh Jacobs over Aaron Jones at RB?

Jones continues a long-time Packers-to-Vikings pipeline that includes Brett Favre, Greg Jennings, Za'Darius Smith and more.

The move is also reminiscent of a former Green Bay running back that recently signed with an NFC North foe after his time with the Packers. Jamaal Williams, who shared the backfield with Jones from 2017-20, played one season for the Detroit Lions in 2021, and set the franchise's single-season touchdown record.

Jonathan Owens

Packers to Chicago Bears

Record vs. new team: 2-2 (2-0 with Packers)

The Vikings aren't the only NFC North team to sign a former Packer.

Owens played nearly 70% of defensive snaps in his sole season in Green Bay.

His wife, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, is already looking forward to flying into Chicago on game days.

Geno Stone

Ravens to Cincinnati Bengals

Record vs. new team: 3-2

Another Raven decided to head elsewhere in the AFC North, but this time around the Bengals are involved.

Stone, a third-year safety, led Baltimore in interceptions (7) last season.

Just as he did with Queen, the Ravens quarterback jokingly sent a message to Stone.

Jordan Poyer

Buffalo Bills to Miami Dolphins

Record vs. new team: 11-2 (11-1 with Bills)

After spending seven seasons with Buffalo, Poyer is taking his talents to South Beach.

The veteran safety lives in South Florida during the offseason and expressed his excitement to NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe.

"I'm coming home! I've wanted to come to Florida for a long time and I feel like I'm coming home," Poyer said, per Wolfe. "I've had a lot of respect for Coach McDaniel and his team ... I think I'm going to be a perfect fit."

Last month, on an episode of "The Jordan Poyer Podcast," he shared that he was attending Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's birthday party and that their friendship began on the golf course.

Related Video