Patriots sign QB Cam Newton (1 year, $7.5 million): A+ Grade
It figures the first major breaking NFL news in weeks would occur the first time I went to a restaurant since February. It's huge news for sure, as Cam Newton, the best quarterback on the market by a mile, signed with the Patriots.
New England added Newton to a 1-year incentive-laden deal that is worth $7.5 million. Given that most of this contract is incentive-based, this signing must be an A+. It just has so much upside. Newton, when completely healthy, can play on an MVP level. Granted, he's had trouble staying healthy in recent years, but that's obviously baked into this deal that has virtually no downside. If Newton continues to struggle with injuries, New England won't lose anything outside of some lost money rolled over into next offseason.
Conversely, if Newton can perform like his 2015 self, the Patriots have Super Bowl upside. They have a great defense and offensive line, and Bill Belichick is still the best coach in the NFL. The receiving corps is horrible, but Newton's scrambling ability can mitigate that a bit. It's also possible that if the Patriots begin the year with a great record, they could trade for a veteran receiver like A.J. Green.
Panthers sign CB Eli Apple (1 year, $3 million): C Grade
The Panthers were in dire need of a cornerback after losing James Bradberry this offseason. Despite this signing, they're still in the market for an upgrade at the position.
Eli Apple was once the 10th-overall pick in the NFL Draft, but he's been a major disappointment for the Giants and Saints. He's still just 24, so there's a chance he could develop into a decent player, but there's no evidence that he's trending in that direction. He's not the worst signing at just $3 million, but this even seems like a slight overpay.
Seahawks sign RB Carlos Hyde (1 year): A Grade
The Seahawks had severe running back problems late in the year when the top three players at the position all suffered injuries. This includes Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, so a lacking running threat made it difficult to overtake the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Carson figures to be fine for the season opener, but that's not the case for Penny, who tore his ACL late in the year. The Seahawks needed to make sure they had a viable backup for Carson, and Hyde definitely qualifies. He's not good enough to be a starter, but he's a premium backup who should be able to solve Seattle's depth problems at the position.
Jets sign QB Joe Flacco (1 year, $1.5 million): A+ Grade
The only quarterbacks the Jets had on their roster behind Sam Darnold prior to this signing were fourth-round rookie James Morgan, David Fales and Mike White. These three players have thrown a combined 48 career passes in the NFL. Thus, it was clear that the Jets needed some veteran leadership at the position behind Darnold, who is still only 22 years old.
With that in mind, I love this signing. Joe Flacco is pretty much washed up as a starter, but he can be an elite backup at this stage of his career. Not only can he step in for a short period of time and win some games, but he can also help tutor Darnold to become a better quarterback. Given the extremely cheap price, this was an excellent move by the Jets.
Patriots extend S Patrick Chung (2 years, $6.45 million): C+ Grade
I recall writing that the Falcons would be able to expose a liability in the Patriots' secondary ahead of their Super Bowl matchup a few years ago. That liability was Patrick Chung, and yet he's still on New England's roster. In fact, the Patriots just gave him a 2-year extension today.
Chung, now 33, is even worse now than he was in 2016. Most teams wouldn't give him $3 million per year, but then again, Bill Belichick likes Chung's versatility and fit in his system. Scheme familiarity will be important in a shortened offseason like this one, so I can understand the merit of retaining Chung. This also isn't breaking the bank, or anything, so I can't grade this too harshly. That said, when 31 teams would consider this an overpay, the grade can't be in the "A" or "B" range.
Jets sign RB Frank Gore (1 year): B Grade
I'm assuming this is for something close to the veteran minimum. If this contract is for more money, I'll alter the grade accordingly.
Given that there isn't much risk with this move, it's hard to grade it too negatively. Frank Gore is a solid backup at this stage of his career, and he's a nice presence to have in the locker room. However, this is just a "B" because it carries no upside. I would've preferred a running back with a higher ceiling like Devonta Freeman or Jay Ajayi, but Gore is a fine signing to be Le'Veon Bell's backup.
Cowboys sign QB Andy Dalton (1 year, $3 million): A Grade
I didn't list the Cowboys as a team that could sign Andy Dalton, but this move makes a ton of sense. The Cowboys didn't have much of a backup plan behind Dak Prescott, as Cooper Rush is a pedestrian reserve. Dalton is a massive upgrade, one who can win with Dallas' great offensive supporting cast if Prescott were to suffer an injury.
The average going rate for mediocre backup quarterbacks is about $3 million. That's how much Dalton signed for - he can earn up to $7 million with incentives - and yet he's a premium No. 2 signal-caller. This is an outstanding deal for the Cowboys to get a great insurance policy.
Saints sign QB Jameis Winston (1 year, $1.1 million): A+ Grade
I don't understand why other teams let this happen. The Packers, for instance, spent a far greater resource, a first-round pick, on a worse version of Jameis Winston when they could've just signed Winston for slightly more than $1 million. The Eagles, another team that overpaid for a quarterback in the draft, also could have just signed Winston to have a viable backup for their quarterback.
The Saints can only laugh at the incompetence, I guess. Winston, who is still very young (25), has plenty of room for growth, especially now that he underwent Lasik surgery. He should be better going forward, especially under the tutelage of Sean Payton. If Drew Brees goes down, Winston can step in and play well like Teddy Bridgewater did last year. The Saints will have a capable reserve behind Brees as a result, while Winston will improve his free agency stock for next offseason, so it's a win-win for both parties.
Saints re-sign QB Taysom Hill (2 years, $21 million; $16 million guaranteed): A Grade
I've seen lots of negativity concerning this contract, and I'm disappointed. There are some lazy sports journalists out there who don't do their homework. If they did, and they watched every snap of Taysom Hill's in the preseason, they'd know how much better of a passer he has become, thanks to Sean Payton's great coaching. The Saints didn't select a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft like some expected because they believe Hill is their quarterback of the future.
With that in mind, this is a steal of a contract. When Hill is set to take over for Drew Brees, the Saints will have an insanely cheap starting quarterback, so they'll be able to spend lots of money elsewhere and have a loaded roster. This signing definitely deserves an "A" grade.
Texans re-sign OT Laremy Tunsil (3 years, $66 million; $50 million guaranteed): C Grade
Laremy Tunsil will earn $22 million per season with $50 million guaranteed. Wow. I guess you could say that this isn't the first time things have been high in relation in Tunsil.
Tunsil is a very good left tackle. I wouldn't quite call him great, but he's very talented. However, he's not the best left tackle in the NFL - not even close. He doesn't deserve this much money, and it's quite foolish that Bill O'Brien would trade DeAndre Hopkins just to pay Tunsil.
However, O'Brien gave himself no choice. He couldn't exactly let Tunsil go after trading a first-round pick for him. Thus, I can't grade this very poorly, but this move is a "C," at best.
Colts sign TE Trey Burton (1 year, minimum): A Grade
Trey Burton was a colossal bust with the Bears. He signed a 4-year, $32 million contract ahead of the 2018 season, but never contributed very much. He was constantly injured, as he missed half of last year. Chicago promptly cut him this offseason.
Burton didn't deserve $8 million per season anymore, but he's a great pickup for the veteran minimum. He still has potential, and he should be able to help Indianapolis' offense as a replacement for Eric Ebron if he can remain healthy. If not, the Colts are risking absolutely nothing by signing him.
Panthers re-sign RB Christian McCaffrey (4 years, $64 million): B+ Grade
We've seen several high-priced running back contracts fail in recent years, so I can understand why anyone would be skeptical of this deal. Christian McCaffrey, after all, is now the highest-paid running back in league history at $16 million per season.
However, there are two things to keep in mind. First, McCaffrey is still very young and doesn't have an injury history. He's not even 24 yet, and he has yet to miss a single game in his pro career. Second, McCaffrey is more than just a running back. He's the Panthers' top receiver as well. Because of this, he has just 623 career carries under his belt. He's so important to the team that keeping him around is essential.
It's difficult to grade this in the "A" range because it's obviously no bargain. How could it be if McCaffrey has become the highest-paid running back ever? Still, it's not an overpay, and the Panthers had to do this, so I'll grade this as a B+.
Chiefs re-sign CB Bashaud Breeland (1 year, $4.5 million): C+ Grade
Bashaud Breeland struggled for the most part last year, but he had a big moment in the Super Bowl when he intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo. Breeland didn't play a big factor in the turnover, however, as he caught the ball because Garoppolo was hit as he released his pass. Thus, Breeland shouldn't be paid extra for the pick.
With that in mind, this is an overpay. Breeland should've received half as much money. However, I don't hate this move because there's not much risk, and it's nice for teams to have continuity in this bizarre offseason where players can't practice together.
Giants sign RB Dion Lewis (1 year, $1.55 million): B+ Grade
Here's another signing that occurred two weeks ago that couldn't be graded because the numbers weren't available at the time. As it turns out, Dion Lewis won't even be getting $2 million from the Giants.
Lewis was once an excellent third-down back, but times have changed. Lewis turns 30 in September, and it's clear he lost whatever burst he once possessed. However, Lewis can serve as a dependable backup behind Saquon Barkley at a cheap price. You can't even call Lewis a third-down back in New York because Barkley plays all three downs, but in the event of a potential Barkley injury, Lewis will serve as a nice complement for Wayne Gallman.
Jets sign CB Pierre Desir (1 year, $3.75 million): B+ Grade
The Jets signed Pierre Desir a couple of weeks ago, but no contract details were known until now. The numbers are nothing special, as Desir was signed on to a 1-year "prove it" deal worth slightly less than $4 million.
Based on how Desir played last year, he's not worth $4 million. However, he performed much better in 2018, so there's a chance he could rebound and be a fine, short-term upgrade at a major position of need for the Jets. It's also possible that Desir will be just as abysmal as he was in 2019, but the Jets won't lose much if that happens. They won't be able to roll over the $3.75 million into next offseason, but they have plenty of cap space.
Bills sign OT Daryl Williams (1 year, $2.25 million): A- Grade
The Bills have enjoyed a great offseason. In addition to watching the Patriots implode, they made some strong moves, including the Stefon Diggs trade. This is yet another positive transaction.
Daryl Williams has great talent, but his issue has been staying healthy. He's played very well when 100 percent, though it's worth noting that this hasn't been very frequent. Still, I really like the Bills taking a chance on him, as there's a shot that Williams' injury misfortune will turn around. At just $2.25 million, he's well worth the upside at no risk, as protecting Josh Allen is paramount.
Speaking of injured players, E.J. Gaines is another signing I was asked to grade. Gaines was signed to a 1-year deal worth $935,000. He once played well for the Bills, but has since struggled for other teams because he hasn't been able to stay healthy. It's not a guarantee that Gaines makes the final 53-man roster, but it's nice that he knows the system, especially when considering that players can't practice right now amid the quarantine. I'd grade this as a B+.
Raiders sign S Damarious Randall (1 year, $3.25 million): A- Grade
The Raiders had to find a safety this offseason, especially after losing Karl Joseph to free agency. Joseph went to Cleveland where he'll replace Damarious Randall. Thus, in a bizarre turn of events, Randall will replace Joseph, while Joseph will replace Randall in 2020.
I graded the Joseph signing as an A+, as he received $2.5 million from the Browns. I feel as though he has more upside than Randall, who got $3.25 million from the Raiders. I don't like this signing as much as the Joseph acquisition, but I'm still in favor of it. Randall was benched by Cleveland's coaching staff late in the year even though he's a solid, well-rounded safety. Perhaps he can rehabilitate his career with the Raiders. It's worth a shot, at the very least. If he fails, the Raiders won't be penalized very much.
Chiefs restructure WR Sammy Watkins' contract (1 year, $9 million): B+ Grade
It was believed that the Chiefs would let go of Sammy Watkins this offseason and move on with Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson as the top receivers to go along with Tyreek Hill. Instead, the Chiefs decided to restructure Watkins' contract to avoid a $21 million cap hit. They gave Watkins $9 million for another year to compensate.
This was a smart decision. Because OTAs might be cut short or eliminated outright in the wake of Xi's virus, teams should definitely value familiarity. Watkins doesn't have to learn a new offense or generate chemistry with his quarterback because he was with the Chiefs last year. This helps immensely, and besides, Watkins, somehow, is only 26. It feels like he's been in the NFL forever, but he still has potential to finally meet top-five expectations.
Bengals sign LB Josh Bynes (1 year, $1.6 million): C Grade
Here's another 1-year signing where the details were finally released. This one is worth $1.6 million.
I like this move more than the other two today. Josh Bynes isn't a great player by any means, but he's a solid, two-down linebacker who specializes in run support. The Bengals lost Nick Vigil, so they had to replace him. Bynes is a fine substitute, especially at this cheap price. A bonus is that Cincinnati poached him away from a rival (Baltimore), which is always a nice strategy.
Seahawks re-sign WR Phillip Dorsett (1 year, $1.047 million): C Grade
I wasn't going to grade this signing, but I received a request to do so. Phillip Dorsett signed a 1-year deal with the Seahawks last week, but details were finally announced a couple of days ago.
Even though the Seahawks are getting Dorsett for just $1 million, this is not a very good signing. Dorsett has played with Andrew Luck and Tom Brady, and he hasn't been able to produce very much with either. Despite the Patriots having a horrific receiving corps last year, Dorsett wasn't able to stand out. He didn't even reach 400 receiving yards!
I can't grade this signing poorly because there's no downside, but this is still worthy of a "C." I actually don't think Dorsett will make Seattle's 53-man roster, and even if he does, he won't do very much.
Saints re-sign CB P.J. Williams (1 year, $2 million): C+ Grade
P.J. Williams' calling card is his versatility. He plays mostly in the slot, but he can also be used at safety or outside cornerback. He's obviously familiar with the Saints' scheme, so bringing him back makes lots of sense.
That said, this isn't a very exciting re-signing. Williams is a pretty pedestrian player, so I can't grade this favorably. It's definitely not a bad signing, but it's pretty meh.
Cowboys sign DE Aldon Smith (1 year, $4 million): A Grade
This is a flash from the past. Aldon Smith was one of the top edge rushers in the NFL in the early part of the previous decade. He even recorded 19.5 sacks in 2012. Smith's career, however, derailed because of off-the-field issues. Following a DUI, Smith was out of the league completely since 2015.
Smith got some good news recently when it was announced that the NFL would be more lenient with its off-the-field punishments. That obviously makes this signing less risky, though Smith has remained clean since his DUI. It's unclear if Smith can even play well anymore - he turns 31 in September - but he might be able to become a valuable role player on the defense. Dallas' pass rush needs to be addressed in the wake of Robert Quinn's departure, and Smith offers a cheap, low-risk alternative with some upside.
Texans sign DT Timmy Jernigan (1 year, $3.75 million): A Grade
It's a very rare occurrence that the Texans, under Bill O'Brien, make a positive move worth praising. It's almost fitting that such a positive transaction would take place on April Fools' Day, so a small part of me doesn't believe that this is a real signing.
Jernigan is a very effective player in the trenches, particularly in run support. That's when he's healthy, that is. Jernigan has a very extensive injury history, which would ordinarily make him a big risk. However, given this 1-year deal worth less than $4 million, there's hardly any downside. There's nothing but potential with this signing, so the Texans, despite their abysmal offseason heading into this day, deserve an "A" grade for this signing.
Browns sign DE Adrian Clayborn (2 years, $6 million): A Grade
The Browns will be letting go of Olivier Vernon soon, presumably, so they needed to find a new edge rusher across from Myles Garrett. With such dire needs at tackle, guard and linebacker, the Browns didn't exactly have the luxury of using an early-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft on an edge rusher, so they decided to find Vernon's replacement late in free agency, as they signed former Falcon Adrian Clayborn.
I love this move. Clayborn is definitely not what he once was - he turns 32 in July - but he can still get to the quarterback pretty well and stop the run very effectively. He'll be a solid role player in Cleveland's defense, and the best part is that the Browns are getting him at a very cheap price.
Cardinals sign OLB Devon Kennard (3 years, $20 million; $12.25 million guaranteed): B Grade
Devon Kennard was a solid player for the Lions, so it was surprising that they cut him this offseason. He has recorded 14 sacks in the past two seasons, and he's decent at helping stop the run. It appears as though Arizona agrees with my take regarding Kennard because it signed him to a $20 million deal across three years.
I graded Kennard as a three-star free agent, so I think this is a fair deal for him. He can be a nice second pass-rushing option across from Chandler Jones, which is something the Cardinals sorely needed after the Terrell Suggs signing didn't work out all that well.
Lions sign WR Geronimo Allison (1 year, $1 million): C Grade
In the Ronald Darby entry below, I discussed how great it is when teams poach a talented player from a divisional rival. This is the opposite of that, as the Lions are getting one of the worst players on the hated Packers' roster last year.
Geronimo Allison is not a good player, to put it nicely. He routinely makes horrible errors to cost his team, and if he ends up playing a healthy number of snaps for the Lions, he'll only contribute to losses. The Lions should've spent the $1 million on a receiver with more upside.
Redskins sign CB Ronald Darby (1 year, $4 million): A+ Grade
Any time a team can poach a talented player away from a divisional rival at a reasonable price, it's a tremendous move. And yes, Ronald Darby is talented. He was atrocious last year, but he was dealing with an injury.
Darby was once considered one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, but injuries have changed that. However, Darby is only 26. He's still young enough to get healthier and turn his career around. If he can remain on the field, he'll be a major upgrade for the Redskins. And if he keeps getting injured, it's not like the Redskins are really risking anything. They won't be hurt by this if Darby fails, so I love this signing.
Ravens sign DE/DT Derek Wolfe (1 year, $3 million): A+ Grade
It appears as though the Ravens were signing Michael Brockers, but that transaction was voided because Brockers didn't pass the medical check. Baltimore needed another defensive lineman to replace Brockers, and they managed to settle on Derek Wolfe.
Then again, signing Wolfe isn't exactly "settling." He's a very talented defensive lineman, but his problem is staying healthy. He always seems to be injured, but he's very effective when on the field. Signing him would've been risky if the Ravens didn't get him for such a friendly 1-year, $3 million contract. I love this move, as it's all upside.
Packers sign WR Devin Funchess (1 year, $2.5 million): B Grade
The Packers entered the 2020 free agency period needing at least two receivers. After signing Devin Funchess, they still need at least two receivers.
Devin Funchess is a big name because of his time at Michigan and his status as a second-round pick, but he has been lackluster thus far in his career. He struggles to beat coverage and should explore becoming a tight end. He also couldn't stay healthy last year, so we'll see if that becomes a trend.
That said, I think this signing is fine because it carries no risk. It's a cheap deal, and it's sort of an insurance policy in case Green Bay can't obtain a receiver it likes at the end of the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. If the Packers don't obtain a promising rookie receiver, Funchess will be an upgrade as a third receiver over Geronimo Allison or Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Chiefs re-sign WR Demarcus Robinson (1 year, $2.3 million): A Grade
There were some reports of teams being interested in Demarcus Robinson, but he ended up re-signing with the Chiefs for $2.3 million, which is fully guaranteed.
I thought Robinson was going to be an overrated commodity on the market, so credit teams for not falling for it. There was no way Robinson was going to produce six- catch, 172-yard games like he did against the Raiders in Week 2 last year because he wouldn't have Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball to him if he left Kansas City.
That said, I love the Chiefs getting Robinson back at such a low price. The floor on this move is very high, and it can only help the Chiefs repeat as Super Bowl champions, given that Mahomes will have at least four of his top five receiving threats returning for another season.
Broncos re-sign DT Shelby Harris (1 year, $2.5 million): A+ Grade
In addition to the three older signings I graded below, we currently have three new signings to grade, beginning with Shelby Harris, who was brought back to Denver for an extremely cheap price.
I don't understand why Harris didn't command way more attention on the market. He's a stout run defender who also pressures quarterbacks at a decent rate; he accumulated six sacks in 2019. He's also 28, so it's not like he's due to regress in the next few years.
The Broncos are getting unbelievable value with Harris. He should've gotten more than the $10.5 million Dontari Poe received from Dallas, so this is an easy A+ grade.
Cowboys sign NT Dontari Poe (2 years, $10.5 million): B Grade
The Cowboys signed Dontari Poe in the middle of this week, but we haven't had the contractual details until this moment. As it turns out, Poe was obtained for $10.5 million over two years.
Poe was the 11th-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He used to be a dominant force in the interior of the trenches for the Chiefs. Those days are over, as Poe has lost his pass-rushing ability. However, he's still sound against the run. This may sound odd, given that the team he was on last year, Carolina, was ripped to shreds on the ground. However, things got much worse for the Panthers beginning in Week 12, which was when Poe tore his quad.
Poe won't be a difference-maker for the Cowboys, but he'll be a decent role player. I would've given him less than $5 million per season, but I don't really have an issue with this signing.
Chargers sign LB Nick Vigil (1 year, $1.187 million): B+ Grade
Including the Greg Van Roten contract, graded right beneath this one, there are three signings I can now grade, thanks to some numbers being unearthed. Nick Vigil is the second, as he signed on with the Chargers for one year for slightly more than $1 million.
Vigil is a fine replacement for the departed Thomas Davis. He's a solid cover linebacker, but he gets trampled in run support. He should just be playing in sub packages, but he's pretty good at what he does best. This isn't a great signing by any means, but it's a solid one that should help San Angeles' defense.
Jets sign G Greg Van Roten (3 years, $10.5 million): A Grade
I have a list of signings I've yet to grade because contract details haven't been released yet. Greg Van Roten was the top name on the list because I've been waiting on the numbers for a week. As it turns out, Van Roten's 3-year deal is worth $10.5 million.
This is an excellent signing. Van Roten played well as a starting guard in Carolina last year until he suffered a season-ending toe injury in November. His absence was one of the reasons why the Panthers suffered a colossal collapse in the second half of the year. The Jets desperately needed numerous upgrades on their offensive line, and they managed to find a nice one here with Van Roten.
Cowboys sign K Greg Zuerlein (3 years, $7.5 million): A Grade
The Cowboys had some major kicking woes last season, so they had to address the situation this spring. They found a solution, signing former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein to a 3-year deal.
It's rare for me to give an "A" grade to a kicker, but this signing warrants it. Most kickers have been signing contracts worth $4 million per year this offseason, so this is very cheap. Zuerlein isn't even getting $3 million per season, so this is a tremendous bargain.
Rams re-sign DT Michael Brockers (3 years, $31.5 million): C Grade
The Ravens signed Michael Brockers last week, but that agreement was voided because the Ravens were concerned with Brockers' ankle. With Brockers available again, the Rams swooped in and re-signed their defensive lineman.
This is a dubious move for a couple of reasons. First, the Rams barely have any cap space, so I'm not sure how they can afford to retain Brockers without getting rid of another talented player or acquiring someone who can help their major problems. Second, if one of the smartest front offices in the NFL quickly soured on a player, why would the Rams so cavalierly sign him? This is a very risky move when considering Brockers' health and age. The Rams should've held out for a better deal because if the Ravens weren't going to sign Brockers, other teams would've been hesitant.
Cardinals re-sign OT Marcus Gilbert (1 year, $3.75 million): A Grade
Marcus Gilbert is so injury-prone that he should be kept in bubble wrap whenever he's not on the field. He missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL, and he was available for just 12 of 32 possible games in the two years prior. He's never healthy.
That said, I like this move. Gilbert, 32, can still play well on the rare occasions he's on the field. If the Cardinals can get him to play seven or eight games, it'll be a major win because it'll allow them to protect Kyler Murray, which is very important. There's barely any risk with this 1-year "prove it" deal, so why not retain Gilbert at such a low price?
Colts sign CB Xavier Rhodes (1 year, $5 million): A+ Grade
Xavier Rhodes was awful last year. He was torched on a weekly basis, as he was one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL. It was quite the sudden decline, as Rhodes was seen as a prolific cornerback earlier in his career. Rhodes was just 29, so it's not like age should've been a factor.
There's a chance Rhodes could be done, but I think it's more likely that he was dealing with some sort of undisclosed injury last year. Given that he'll turn just 30 in June, he should be able of playing one or two more seasons at a high level. I expect him to rebound, which makes this signing an incredible bargain worth an A+.
Browns sign S Andrew Sendejo (1 year, $2.25 million): B Grade
Andrew Sendejo was once a valuable safety for the Vikings. Things have changed these days, as Sendejo is an older player; he'll turn 33 at the start of the 2020 season. Despite this, he's a solid addition for the Browns.
Sendejo has been on the receiving end of some embarrassing plays, but he's been an adequate safety overall the past couple of years. While it's possible he could further regress, he's cheap and brings solid experience to a Cleveland secondary that lost a couple of safeties this offseason.
Jaguars sign TE Tyler Eifert (2 years, $15.5 million): C Grade
I'm sure the details of this contract will make it seem like a glorified 1-year "prove it" deal, but the numbers we have now say that Tyler Eifert will be paid $15.5 million over two seasons.
This is a ton of money for Eifert. Of course, it would be a cheap contract if Eifert didn't have severe injury issues, but unfortunately, he's running on fumes right now. Eifert's once-promising career has been derailed by a slew of maladies, and he can't be trusted on to remain on the field. Even when healthy, Eifert is a mere shell of his former self, as his explosiveness has been completely sapped.
With that in mind, the Jaguars are overpaying a bit. They should've been able to sign Eifert for less than this. It's not the worst signing because Eifert should be an upgrade, but this carries too much risk.
Eagles sign S Will Parks (1 year, $1.5 million): B Grade
I was yelled at and called an "Eagle hater" for not grading this signing. My response: "Terms aren't available, bro." Some people are so impatient!
Besides, it's not like Will Parks is a good player anyway. He's sub par in coverage and run defense, but he's at least versatile; he can play at safety or cover the slot. He's a fine blitzer, and he'll also contribute on special teams. This is nothing exciting, but then again, Parks was signed on for just one year for $1.5 million, so it's not like Philadelphians should expect all that much from this signing.
Seahawks sign OT Cedric Ogbuehi (1 year, $2.3 million; $500,000 guaranteed): C- Grade
I wasn't going to grade this signing, but I've been requested to do so. Cedric Ogbuehi is a former first-round pick, so perhaps it makes sense to discuss Seattle's signing.
Ogbuehi was a colossal bust in both Cincinnati and Jacksonville. He didn't even make any starts last year despite playing behind some awful Jaguar offensive linemen. So, why add him? Ogbuehi looks to be draft insurance. To me, this says the Seahawks like a specific offensive tackle or two at the end of the opening round, but they're signing Ogbuehi in case those players don't make it to them. If they obtain their coveted prospects, they can just cut Ogbuehi and incur just a $500,000 loss, which is no big deal.
This is a fine strategy, but I feel as though the Seaahwks could've gotten a better insurance policy than Ogbuehi. Being stuck with him as a protector for Russell Wilson seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
Bengals sign S Vonn Bell (3 years, $18 million): C Grade
It's still so surprising to see the Bengals spend like this. I don't know what's gotten into Mike Brown, but I like it. Perhaps he senses that his team could be a true contender with Joe Burrow under center.
That said, I'm not a huge fan of this signing. Vonn Bell is just a mediocre in-the-box safety. He's stout in run support, but struggles in coverage. The Bengals were weakest in the latter department last year, so Bell doesn't help matters all that much. He's also not worth a contract that pays $6 million per year. It's not a bad signing, but I certainly wouldn't have made it.
Vikings sign WR Tajae Sharpe (1 year, $1 million): B Grade
I've seen some people tout this as a replacement for Stefon Diggs. I look at this more as a replacement for Laquon Treadwell. Tajae Sharpe is not a very good receiver. He runs routes well, but he's not very talented. The last time he caught more than 26 passes was his rookie campaign in 2016. Granted, Sharpe has never played with a good passer, but that will continue to be the case in Minnesota.
Still, this is just a contract worth $1 million, so there's absolutely no downside. Sharpe is an OK third receiver, so the price is right for him.
Eagles sign CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (1 year, $1.3 million): A+ Grade
I don't understand why this deal happened the way it did. It's amazing to me that the Eagles were able to obtain Nickell Robey-Coleman for just $1.3 million (which even includes incentives.) Robey-Coleman should've gotten a bigger contract, as he's one of the better slot corners in the NFL.
The Eagles needed a new slot cornerback, as they lost Malcolm Jenkins, who would routinely line up in that spot. Robey-Coleman obviously doesn't have Jenkins' versatility and can't play safety, but he'll fill in the slot position extremely well. This is an incredible bargain, well worth an A+ grade.
Buccaneers re-sign DT Ndamukong Suh (1 year, $8 million): A Grade
Though Ndamukong Suh can still get to the quarterback, he's no longer the dominant pass rusher he once was because of his age (turned 33 in January.) However, he's a tremendous run defender, and he's one of the few reasons why Tampa Bay was stellar versus opposing ground attacks in 2019. The Buccaneers figure to once again stuff the rush extremely well in 2020, thanks to this move.
Tampa is getting a stellar deal with almost no risk. The only issue with this 1-year "prove it" contract is that the team won't be able to roll over the money into the next year's offseason, but with the salary cap rising greatly, it won't be an issue. The Buccaneers, armed with Tom Brady at quarterback, are set to make a deep run into the playoffs, and having Suh stuffing the trenches will allow them to have a great chance of reaching the Super Bowl.
Saints re-sign CB Janoris Jenkins (2 years, $16.75 million): B+ Grade
Janoris Jenkins struggled with the Giants last year, but I suspected it was because he lost interest playing for such a bad team. The Giants ended up waiving him in December, and Jenkins went on to latch on in New Orleans, where he played extremely well, albeit on a limited sample size. The Saints liked what they saw, as they gave him a $16.75 million extension.
This is a solid move, but it carries some risk. Jenkins will probably play well in 2020, but there's a decent chance he regresses because he'll turn 32 in October. However, this deal opens up cap space right now, which is something New Orleans needed to do.
Jets sign WR Breshad Perriman (1 year, $8 million; $6 million): A Grade
I imagine NFL teams didn't want to make the decision on Breshad Perriman. And I don't blame them. Perriman had been a major first-round bust until December of last year. That's when Perriman came out of nowhere and had a dominant month for the Buccaneers. His stats were legitimate; he was very difficult for opposing secondaries to stop. Because of this small sample size, it was fair for teams to wonder if this was a mirage.
The Jets signed Perriman, but don't have to take much of a risk. They gave Perriman a 1-year "prove it" deal, which is perfect. There's a chance Perriman could continue his great December 2019 play and really provide the Jets with a much-needed upgrade at receiver. Conversely, if Perriman reverts to struggling again, the Jets won't lose much. They won't be able to roll over the money to next offseason, but the cap will rise next spring. With that in mind, I love this gamble, as it could really pay off and help Sam Darnold.
Redskins sign RB Peyton Barber (2 years, $3 million): B- Grade
I'd like this signing a lot more if the Redskins didn't retain Adrian Peterson. Had Peterson left the team, the Redskins would need an insurance policy for Derrius Guice and Bryce Love, but they already have one in Peterson, so where does Barber fit in, exactly?
It didn't seem like the Redskins needed a running back at all, but I suppose it doesn't hurt to have Barber for a cheap price in case either Guice or Love gets injured. If the top three backs on the roster remain healthy throughout the training camp and the preseason - if those even take place - Barber may not even make the team, but I think this signing is just OK.
Panthers sign WR Robby Anderson (2 years, $20 million): C Grade
Many people asked me why Robby Anderson wasn't signed up until now. Anderson was simply asking for too much money when considering how good the 2020 NFL Draft wide receiver class happens to be. Why overspend for someone like Anderson when quality receiver prospects are available?
The Panthers apparently didn't get the memo. I don't think the terms on this deal are overly egregious or anything, but this signing doesn't make too much sense. Why spend $10 million per year on a third receiver, especially on one who isn't that great? Anderson is a nice deep threat, but he's inconsistent and has off-the-field issues. Anderson knows Matt Rhule's system because Rhule coached him at Temple, but that's not enough to save this signing from being graded in the "C" range.
Raiders sign CB Eli Apple (1 year, $6 million): D Grade
It's hard to believe that Eli Apple was chosen 10th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. He's been a colossal bust for both the Giants and the Saints. He'll have one more chance to salvage his career; this time, for the Raiders.
I think the happiest person about this deal, save for Apple himself, is Patrick Mahomes, who will have the luxury of torching Apple twice per year. What's remarkable is that Apple's $6 million is fully guaranteed. This is baffling. Apple is getting more than twice he deserves, so I don't know what the Raiders are thinking.
Jets re-sign DE/OLB Jordan Jenkins (1 years, $5 million): A Grade
It's puzzling to me why Jordan Jenkins didn't get a better contract this offseason. Jenkins played very well last year, logging eight sacks. He's also just 26, so he should continue to improve. I'm not saying he should've gotten a massive deal, but he definitely should've received something more substantial.
The Jets won't complain. Jenkins is a steal for just $5 million on this 1-year "prove it" deal. I have no problem giving New York an "A" grade for this move.
Ravens re-sign CB Jimmy Smith (1 years, $6 million): A Grade
It's a shame Jimmy Smith has endured such an injury-prone career. He's been excellent when healthy, though that'll be put to the test in 2020 because he'll turn 32 this summer. Smith was a very risky prospective free agent as a result.
The Ravens, however, smartly mitigated that risk by signing him to a 1-year deal. This was a great move, as Baltimore is retaining a talented player with almost no downside. I can't say I'm surprised that I'm giving the Ravens another high mark for something they've done in free agency.
Raiders sign WR Nelson Agholor (1 years, $1.05 million): C- Grade
Nelson Agholor is the best at something of all the receivers in the NFL. No one in the league is greater at dropping potential game-winning touchdowns than Agholor. This occurred on so many occasions last season, so I can't imagine any Philadelphian being upset that Agholor is gone.
Agholor is set to make slightly more than $1 million with the Raiders, so this contract is whatever. And yet, it still seems like an overpay. Anyone in America can drop passes for the same price, so I really don't know what the point of this signing is.
Raiders sign QB Marcus Mariota (2 years, $17.6 million): A Grade
Marcus Mariota had some bright moments in Tennessee, namely his upset victory over the Chiefs in the playoffs. Overall, however, he never really lived up to his potential. This doesn't mean that Mariota is a lost cause though. He still has plenty of talent, but just needs to be coached up. That'll happen in Las Vegas, as offensive coordinator Greg Olson is a quarterback whisperer who took Josh Freeman to the Pro Bowl.
I can't wait to see what Olson does with Mariota. A year ago at this time, no one expected a similar cast-off, Ryan Tannehill, would replace Mariota. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Mariota did the same thing to Derek Carr.
Raiders sign DT Maliek Collins (1 year, $6 million): A+ Grade
This is one of the more underrated signings of the offseason thus far. No one has been talking about this. Perhaps that's because the terms of the contract weren't known until now, but I think we can safely grade this extremely highly based on the numbers, which are just $6 million for one year.
Maliek Collins can put good pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the interior of the trenches. He registered four sacks last year, which isn't a staggering number, but it's also not indicative of how well he played for Dallas in 2019. Remarkably, Collins isn't even 25 yet, so he could make a huge leap in production in the near future. This is a steal for the Raiders, who needed to bolster their defensive line.
Redskins sign LB Thomas Davis (1 year, $3.5 million): A- Grade
It was pretty surprising to see Thomas Davis play well for the Chargers, considering that he did so as a 36-year-old. Complex math says that Davis is now 37, so there's a greater risk for regression.
That said, this seems like a very solid addition. Davis played for Ron Rivera when the two were with the Panthers for numerous seasons, so he'll have no issues adjusting to his new team. Also, this deal is a cheap one for just a single season. There's almost no risk involved, so why not pull the trigger on the long-time veteran?
Jaguars sign DT Rodney Gunter (3 years, $18 million; $11.5 million guaranteed): C Grade
The Jaguars lost some very talented players this offseason, one of whom is a top player at his position. Calais Campbell was dealt to the Ravens for barely anything, so the Jaguars needed to replace him. They did so by signing Rodney Gunter away from the Cardinals.
Gunter is going to struggle to fill Campbell's shoes. He's not a bad player by any means, but he's a pretty mediocre producer. He's a jack of all trades; master of none. He's average at stopping the run and getting to the quarterback (7.5 sacks in the past two years), but he has no major strengths or weaknesses. With that in mind, $6 million per year seems like a bit too much for him, but it's not an egregious amount of money.
Lions sign OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (5 years, $50 million; really 2 years, $20 million): C Grade
Here's what I wrote about Halapoulivaati Vaitai in my free agency rankings:
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, commonly known as "Big V," has been one of the best backup tackles in the NFL. He has earned the right to compete for a starting job at right tackle somewhere.
Apparently, the right to compete for a starting right tackle job is worth a $50 million deal over five years. Unreal. Vaitai has done somewhat well in spot starts, serving as an excellent backup tackle. There's a major difference between that and expecting him to be an upgrade over the recently released Ricky Wagner, which would be far fetched when not accounting for Wagner's injuries. Wagner's injuries can't be ignored, but still, this is a major overpay and must be graded accordingly.
Update: MLive has reported further details of this contract. It was initially reported as a 5-year, $50 million deal, which seemed absurd at the time. The contract is really $20 million over two seasons, though all of that is guaranteed. It's still a lot of money for Vaitai, but this is at least more reasonable. I'll upgrade from a "D" to a "C" as a result.
Browns sign S Karl Joseph (1 year, $2.5 million): A+ Grade
This is another transaction that we didn't have the details of when it was announced, and like the Adrian Phillips signing, this one also deserves an A+.
Karl Joseph hasn't lived up to his first-round billing thus far, but he played relatively well for the Raiders last year until he suffered a major foot injury in November that ended his season. Perhaps the foot problem prevented him from generating much interest, but the Browns were correct to buy low on him. Joseph is just 26, so he could come closer to reaching his potential in the near future. Even if he continues to perform at his 2019 level, he'll be a nice addition to a secondary that lost a couple of safeties to free agency this spring.
Patriots sign S Adrian Phillips (2 years, $6 million; $3 million guaranteed): A+ Grade
This signing was announced a couple of days ago, but we didn't receive the terms until now. Looking at them, it's quite apparent that the Patriots obtained an amazing bargain.
It's possible that Adrian Phillips' value tanked because he played just seven games in 2019, but that was due to a broken arm, so something like that shouldn't linger. Besides, Phillips played at a very high level for the Chargers upon his return to the field. He'll help the Patriots immensely, especially when considering that the team lost Duron Harmon to a trade this week.
Saints sign WR Emmanuel Sanders (2 years, $16 million): A Grade
The Saints have needed a No. 2 receiver for quite some time, going back to when they signed Dez Bryant. Neither Ted Ginn nor Tre'Quan Smith was cutting it, so the front office had to address the position this offseason. I wondered if they would overpay for a wideout, but that was not the case in the wake of this move.
Emmanuel Sanders is 33, but he instantly clicked with Jimmy Garoppolo when he joined the 49ers last year via trade. He should be even better with Drew Brees, especially with Michael Thomas drawing so much attention. Sanders should be an excellent No. 2 in New Orleans, and it's great that the Saints are getting him at such a cheap price over a short term.
Steelers sign G/C Stefen Wisniewski (2 year, $2.85 million): B+ Grade
The Steelers lost a couple of offensive linemen this offseason, thanks to Ramon Foster's retirement and B.J. Finney's departure to Seattle, so they had to add at least one blocker in free agency. Stefen Wisniewski may not be a flashy name, but he's a solid addition.
Wisniewski started every playoff game of Kansas City's Super Bowl run. He's a terrific backup because he's a quality blocker who can be stationed at every position in the interior. He was signed for very little, so it's hard not to like this addition.
Vikings re-sign K Dan Bailey (3 year, $12 million): C Grade
The top free agent kickers in the NFL have been getting around $4 million per year this offseason, so Dan Bailey's contract matches that. The question then becomes: Is Bailey on the level of Mason Crosby and a potentially healthy Stephen Gostkowski? I really can't say that he is.
Bailey flamed out in Dallas, as he wasn't welcomed back after going 15-of-20 in 2017. Bailey managed to rebound in Minnesota last year, as he drilled 27-of-29 tries. However, he whiffed on four extra points, and this occurred after a 21-of-28 2018 campaign. With that in mind, this is an overpay, though not exactly an egregious one.
Cowboys sign S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (1 year, $4 million): A+ Grade
I love 1-year "prove it" deals for talented players, and that would describe this signing. Clinton-Dix, who took a similar deal with the Bears last year, will once again be playing hard to prove to the league that he deserves a big contract next offseason.
I'm actually a bit surprised Clinton-Dix had to take a "prove it" deal once again. He performed very well for Chicago in 2019, so the Cowboys are getting an amazing bargain. Dallas needed to improve its safety situation, and Clinton-Dix will certainly help them do that.
Broncos sign RB Melvin Gordon (2 years, $16 million; $13.5 million guaranteed): B Grade
What a bizarre signing. Of all the 31 teams Melvin Gordon could've left the Chargers for this offseason, the Broncos would've been close to the bottom of my guesses. Denver, of course, didn't need a running back because of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, yet it signed Gordon anyway.
Had Gordon been added for the huge deal he had been pining for, I would've given this a "D" or even an O'BRIEN grade. Yet, Gordon didn't receive much more (per year) than Austin Ekeler did from the Chargers, which is bizarre. Gordon has a checkered injury history, but he's still very talented, and he'll be an upgrade over Freeman. Given that the Broncos aren't breaking the bank to sign Gordon, I have to grade this at least somewhat favorably, despite the fact that Gordon doesn't fill a need at all.
Steelers sign TE Eric Ebron (2 years, $12 million): B Grade
It's difficult to believe that Eric Ebron is just 27 years old because it seems like he's been in the NFL forever. He still has loads of potential because he's so physically gifted. The Steelers will be hoping that he can finally live up to his upside.
I have a feeling that's not going to happen. Ebron is incredibly frustrating, whether it's because he drops too many passes, runs bad routes or quits on his team. However, the Steelers aren't taking much of a risk with these terms, so I'm OK with this move.
Saints re-sign G/OT Andrus Peat (5 years, $57.5 million; $33 million guaranteed): D Grade
Wow, I can't believe this contract. This is a horrible signing, but let me begin with the two positives. First, continuity is important for the offensive line, so retaining Andrus Peat allows continuity to happen. Second, Peat is still just 26, so he has time to improve his game.
All of that is fine, but this move deserves to be graded harshly. Peat is the worst starter on the Saints' offensive line. He's versatile because he can play both guard and tackle, but he's been a major liability over the past couple of seasons. To give him this much money is completely asinine. The Saints could find a similarly skilled lineman for a contract around two years for $5 million, just as the Buccaneers just did with Joe Haeg.
Buccaneers sign OT/G Joe Haeg (1 year, $2.3 million): B+ Grade
The Buccaneers have a solid offensive line, but one issue is right tackle because Demar Dotson is a free agent. They signed Joe Haeg to potentially fill that role, so getting a potential starter for $2.3 million is a good deal.
That said, it won't be ideal if Haeg starts, and I'd have to think the Buccaneers agree. Haeg would be an outstanding backup because he can play both tackle and guard, and even if that ends up being the case, this will still be seen as a good signing.
Falcons sign RB Todd Gurley (1 year, $5 million): A+ Grade
The Falcons were interested in Todd Gurley when he was with the Rams, but they wisely didn't want to pay the price to acquire him via trade. Gurley's contract was obscene, so it didn't seem wise to spend a resource. The Rams ended up cutting Gurley, which allowed Atlanta to scoop him up as a free agent.
This is an outstanding signing. Gurley carries major risk on his own because of his degenerative, arthritic knees, but that risk is completely mitigated by this contract. There's barely any downside here, as the Falcons have obtained Gurley for just $5 million in 2020. If Gurley flops, this won't hurt Atlanta at all besides not being able to roll the $5 million over into the 2021 offseason. It's more likely that Gurley will help the offense as someone who can give his new team 15-20 highly effective touches per game. Gurley's days of handling massive workloads are over, but he'll do some great things whenever he gets his limited opportunities.
Buccaneers sign QB Tom Brady (2 years, $60 million; now official): A+ Grade
It was assumed the Buccaneers would announce the Tom Brady signing on Wednesday morning, but they're doing it now. Brady has officially signed with the Buccaneers for a 2-year pact worth around $30 million per season.
I can't believe it. Brady will be wearing red and pewter next season. This might be the most bizarre quarterback switch ever. I recall Joe Montana going to Kansas City, but at least he wore red for both teams. Peyton Manning was something we knew we'd have to get used to because of his injury in 2011. This is just something else, but it's here. Brady is a Buccaneer.
Despite how weird this is, it's an excellent move that must be graded as an A+. The Buccaneers have obtained the best quarterback in NFL history, and he can still play at a high level. Brady doesn't quite have his fastball, but he's still one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. He was paired with nothing last year - Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu played hurt - and now he'll have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate at his disposal; not to mention a solid offensive line.
This puts the Buccaneers in Super Bowl contention. In addition to an improved offense that will commit far fewer mistakes, they also have a good coaching staff and a defense that greatly improved at the end of the year. And to top it off, they're not even paying Brady all that much! Getting him for $60 million over two years is a steal. This must be graded as an A+, as weird as it is.
Browns sign CB Kevin Johnson (1 year, $3.5 million): A+ Grade
The Browns are having a great day. They've signed a pair of solid players for $3.5 million each. I gave the Andrew Billings addition an A+, and I'd say Cleveland deserves the same mark for this move.
Kevin Johnson played very well in the slot for the Bills last year. He'll handle those same duties in Cleveland. The Browns have two talented outside corners, Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, but they needed an upgrade at nickel. Johnson will definitely be that upgrade, and the Browns are getting him at a cheap price.
Saints sign S Malcolm Jenkins (4 year, $32 million; $16.5 million guaranteed): B Grade
Malcolm Jenkins signed with the Saints on Wednesday, but the terms of his deal weren't available at the time. We now have them, and we can see that Jenkins signed a 4-year contract worth $32 million, with about half of that guaranteed.
Jenkins, who played for the Saints prior to spending six years with the Eagles, is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the NFL. He can play in numerous spots in the secondary, and that will obviously help the Saints, who needed to improve their secondary this offseason after allowing Kirk Cousins to look competent in their opening-round playoff defeat. Jenkins will undoubtedly help, but perhaps only in the short term. He turns 33 in December, so regression is coming. This is a risky signing, but if it allows the Saints to get over the hump and win their second Super Bowl, it'll be worth it.
Cardinals sign LB De'Vondre Campbell (1 year, $8.5 million): B- Grade
This deal is technically worth "up to" $8.5 million, so the overall figure includes possible incentives. The real money in this contract could be substantially less, which would improve the grade depending on what that figure happens to be.
As for the actual player, Campbell is a solid two-down linebacker, but gets totally lost in coverage. With that in mind, this isn't really what Arizona needed. The Cardinals were constantly torched last year in coverage, particularly against tight ends, so they need linebackers and safeties who can help them in that regard. Campbell is another linebacker who will be abused in coverage if he's asked to play that role, so hopefully that won't be the case.
Browns sign DT Andrew Billings (1 year, $3.5 million): A+ Grade
Andrew Billings is a stellar run stuffer who isn't totally incompetent as a pass rusher. Billings is also just 25, so he has plenty of time to improve his pass-rushing skills. He's slated to be a rotational defensive lineman, but he could end up being a starter.
I love this signing. Billings easily could've received a bigger contract without any criticism. The Browns, however, are getting him very cheaply and at no risk. This is definitely an A+ signing.
Cowboys sign DT Gerald McCoy (3 years, $18.3 million; $9 million guaranteed): B+ Grade
Gerald McCoy signed a 1-year contract last offseason, which makes sense, given his age. McCoy, now 32, is in danger of major regression in the coming seasons, so the Panthers wanted to protect themselves. The Cowboys, apparently, are not worried about that because they gave him a 3-year pact.
That said, McCoy's not getting a large sum, so this isn't a huge risk. The total value is $18.3 million, and the guarantee is about half of that. It's a small sum of money when considering how much of an impact McCoy had in the trenches last year. The stats may not show it - five sacks - but McCoy was a big difference-maker for Carolina. He wasn't quite the dominant force he used to be, but he still played very well, and he should continue to perform the same way for the Cowboys. This is exactly what Dallas needed in the wake of the Maliek Collins departure.
Raiders sign DE Carl Nassib (3 years, $25 million): B- Grade
I can't believe it. I didn't think we'd see something like this, but we now have proof that 3-year contracts don't have to be for multiples of three in this new CBA. Rather than sign Carl Nassib for $24 million over three years, the rebel Raiders decided to make it $25 million. Al Davis would be proud.
This $25 million is a bit too much for Nassib, but I definitely wouldn't say this is a bad signing. It's a fine one, as Nassib will help the Raiders' run defense. Nassib holds up extremely well against ground attacks, but doesn't offer much as a pass rusher. He's only 27, so perhaps he'll improve in this department. If that happens, this might seem like a steal. For now, I believe this grade should be a B- or so.
Dolphins sign LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (1 year, $3 million): B+ Grade
The Dolphins have added two linebackers thus far this offseason. They acquired Elandon Roberts today, a signing that I'll grade once I know that financial details. We weren't aware of the money on this deal when it happened, but we've learned that Miami signed Kamu Grugier-Hill to a 1-year pact worth $3 million.
Grugier-Hill was a decent linebacker for the Eagles last year. He played pretty well against the run, but didn't so hot in coverage. Given that the Dolphins gave him just $3 million, they obviously see him as a two-down linebacker, so this signing definitely makes sense.
Rams sign DT A'Shawn Robinson (2 years, $17 million): B+ Grade
A'Shawn Robinson had a strong 2018 season, but failed to put together consecutive positive years, thanks, perhaps, to a knee injury that lingered in 2019. That made A'Shawn Robinson a nice, buy-low candidate, and the Rams should be able to reap the benefits as a result.
Robinson is a very solid signing at a reasonable price. The Rams needed someone like him to replace the departed Michael Brockers. While Robinson isn't nearly as good as Brockers, he should be a viable rotational player on the front.
Lions sign CB Desmond Trufant (2 years, $21 million): A Grade
The Lions were looking for a cornerback to start across from Darius Slay, and they may have found one, at least temporarily. It sounds as though Detroit will trade Slay, so Trufant may end up as the Lions' new No. 1 corner. If that happens, the team will still be in good hands.
Trufant turns 30 in September, so he's not the same corner he once was. However, he's still a very skilled cornerback who can match up well with most top receivers. There would be a bit of risk attached to him if he were signed to a long contract, but this is just a 2-year deal, so there's barely any downside with this transaction.
Vikings sign NT Michael Pierce (3 years, $27 million): A Grade
The Vikings have endured a troubling offseason thus far, as they foolishly extended Kirk Cousins, cut several players and then traded Stefon Diggs. It's about time they've had some good news, and that would be the signing of Michael Pierce.
Pierce is not the same sort of player Linval Joseph was in his prime, but he's a better talent now because he's four years younger. Pierce doesn't offer any sort of a pass rush, but he's a monstrous run-stuffer. Minnesota will be very difficult to run on as long as Pierce is clogging the trenches, so adding him was a good idea. He was signed to a cheap price, so I'd say this move is worth an "A" grade.
Seahawks sign OT Brandon Shell (2 years, $11 million): C Grade
I found this amusing:
Both Brandon Shell and George Fant swapped teams and were ranked right next to each other, yet the Jets gave their new pedestrian tackle almost double the amount the Seahawks handed to theirs. I penalized the Jets with a "D" grade for the Fant signing, so this should deserve more of an optimistic response.
That said, Shell is a pretty poor blocker. He'll be the Seahawks' new backup swing tackle, but I feel as though the front office could have done better.
Cowboys re-sign CB Anthony Brown (3 years, $15.5 million): C- Grade
It's difficult to really get behind this contract. Anthony Brown was benched as Dallas' slot cornerback last year and then was lost for the season because of torn triceps. Despite this, the Cowboys re-signed him to a deal worth $5 million per year.
I don't understand the thought process behind this. Perhaps Brown will rebound and play mediocre football once again, but why the 3-year deal? I suppose Mike McCarthy was too busy getting thrown out of youth sports games to really pay attention to what was going on in Dallas.
Rams re-sign OT Andrew Whitworth (3 years, $37.5 million; $12.5 million guaranteed): C+ Grade
The primary reason why the Rams regressed in 2019 was the state of their offensive line. They had one of the best blocking units in 2017 and 2018, but that changed this past season. A major catalyst for that was the departure of two starters, but Andrew Whitworth's regression didn't help. Whitworth has been one of the best left tackles in the NFL for a very long time, but that wasn't the case in 2019. He wasn't horrible, but he was no longer his elite self.
It's reasonable to expect Whitworth to continue to decline. He turns 39 during the 2020 season, so it's tough to grade this signing favorably. That said, this shouldn't warrant a poor grade either because the Rams must protect Jared Goff and can't really find a viable replacement for Whitworth, due to a lack of cap space and draft capital.
Patriots sign DT Beau Allen (2 years, $8 million): B Grade
Beau Allen didn't get to see much action last year in Tampa Bay because of Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh, but he was an effective run-stopping specialist when on the field. He's also a solid special-teamer. He'll continue to provide quality depth and special-teams play for his new squad, making this a solid signing.
Chargers sign CB Chris Harris (2 years, $20 million): A+ Grade
Chris Harris has been one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL over the past decade, but he turns 31 in June. He'll likely regress soon, so it makes sense that the Chargers gave him a 2-year contract. They've protected themselves by taking a lower-risk move, and yet, this signing has plenty of upside.
This is a terrific acquisition. The Chargers had a hole at cornerback across from Casey Hayward. Now, the Chargers have one of the best cornerback trios in the NFL, as Harris, Hayward and Desmond King will shut down opposing aerial attacks. Even better, the Chargers were able to poach a talented player from a hated rival, so there's nothing to dislike about this signing. It's very much worth an A+ grade, or an "A" grade at the very minimum.
Bengals sign G Xavier Su'a-Filo (1 year, $2.25 million): C Grade
The one positive Xavier Su'a-Filo has going for him is starting experience. He's made 53 starts since he was drafted in the second round in 2014. Experience is not a good thing if it's bad experience, however, as Su'a-Filo has struggled when thrust into action.
That said, the Bengals are paying Su'a-Filo to be a backup, which is just fine. I'd rather have someone with more upside, but this isn't a horrible signing.
Saints re-sign DT David Onyemata (1 year, $2.25 million): C+ Grade
This signing occurred two days ago. I'll be grading some signings now that didn't have financial details available when they occurred as we await more news.
The Saints have a stellar front office, so I'm disappointed that they couldn't buy low on David Onyemata. The 27-year-old run stuffer is coming off a down year in which he struggled in all aspects. He's often a better performer, but his lackluster 2019 campaign should have created more of an opportunity to re-sign him cheaply. The Saints, however, gave him a substantial contract that I can't fully get behind. That said, Onyemata can bounce back in 2020 to make this look like a quality signing.
Rams sign DE/OLB Leonard Floyd (1 year, $10 million): C+ Grade
Leonard Floyd was a huge disappointment as a former first-round pick. His sack total has decreased each season he's been in the NFL even though he's had the luxury of playing across from Khalil Mack the past couple of seasons. He'll once again be paired with an All-Pro (Aaron Donald), but I can't say I'm optimistic about his outlook with the Rams.
I'd say that $10 million is far too much money for Floyd. I know it's for just one year, so there's not much risk, but I don't understand why Floyd would command something like this. The Rams can't be graded too poorly, but I think they may regret not being able to roll this money over into next offseason.
49ers re-sign C/G Ben Garland (1 year, $2.25 million): A Grade
Things looked bleak for the 49ers when they lost center Weston Richburg last year, but Ben Garland stepped in and played very well down the stretch, including the playoffs. I assumed some teams may have recognized this, but apparently not, as the 49ers were able to retain Garland for just $2.25 million.
Garland is a stellar backup who has proven that he can be a decent starter at center. It was important for San Francisco to retain him because of Richburg's injury uncertainty. The 49ers deserve an "A" for re-signing him at such a cheap price.
Falcons sign DE Dante Fowler (3 years, $48 million): B+ Grade
The Falcons have needed to address their defensive line for quite some time. Apparently, the front office has finally gotten the message, as it signed Dante Fowler to a $48 million deal.
It took Fowler a while to avoid first-round bust status, as he struggled for the Jaguars, who selected him third overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Fowler, however, finally blossomed into a potent edge rusher, logging 11.5 sacks with the Rams last year. Fowler is just 26 (as of August), so it's possible that he could continue to improve his level of play.
There's a slight chance that this signing fails. Fowler has had work-ethic issues in the past, so perhaps they resurface now that he has more money. However, this isn't an enormous risk because it's a 3-year deal, and there's a greater probability that Fowler becomes a solid producer for his new team.
Jets re-sign CB Brian Poole (1 year, $5 million): A Grade
It's not saying much to indicate that Brian Poole was the top cornerback on the Jets' roster last year, but that was the case. Poole played well, as he covered the slot very effectively, so it was in New York's best interest to retain him. The team did so for $5 million.
I don't understand why Poole didn't command more money on the open market, but the Jets shouldn't complain. They deserve an "A" grade for re-signing a solid cornerback to a cheap deal.
Chargers sign DT Linval Joseph (2 years, $17 million): A- Grade
Tom Telesco is one of the most underrated general managers in the NFL, so it's no surprise that the Chargers are quietly enjoying a quality offseason. They've revamped their offensive line with Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner, and now they've signed Linval Joseph to a very reasonable deal.
Joseph used to be one of the better 4-3 defensive tackles in the NFL. That has changed now that he's 32, but he's still a strong run stuffer who can get after the quarterback a bit. The former aspect of Joseph's game is important for the Chargers, who were trampled by opposing ground attacks last year. Joseph will be a huge boon in improving the ground defense, and the Chargers are not breaking the bank to acquire him. There's a slight concern that Joseph's play could fall off a cliff at his age, but the Chargers aren't taking much of a risk in signing him.
Dolphins sign C/G Ted Karras (1 year, $4 million): A+ Grade
Ted Karras isn't the best player the Dolphins have added in free agency, but he certainly carries the most value with his contract. This is a fantastic signing that must be graded as an A+.
I can't believe the Dolphins are getting Karras this cheaply. Karras took over for injured center David Andrews last year and did a very good job in his absence. It was clear that Karras, who can play both center and guard, deserved a starting job somewhere in 2020. Miami is getting a starting-caliber center or guard for just $4 million, which is an absolute steal.
Lions sign NT Danny Shelton (2 years, $8 million): A Grade
The Lions have made some dubious signings in free agency thus far, so it's nice to see them make a positive move for once. I actually love this signing by Detroit, and I'm giving it an "A" grade.
Danny Shelton is a monstrous run stuffer, and he also managed to improve in the pass-rushing department last year. I thought that would increase his value in free agency, but it didn't for some reason. The Lions will stand to benefit, as they're getting him cheaply to fill a big need. Also, Shelton played in New England recently, so transitioning into Matt Patricia's system won't be any sort of issue.
Panthers sign QB Teddy Bridgewater (3 years, $63 million): C+ Grade
The Cam Newton saga is finally over. The Panthers went back and forth between stating that Newton would be back in 2020, but they ultimately decided to move on from him. They told Newton that he can seek a trade, prompting Newton to respond with a tweet containing nothing but Greek letters. I imagine Newton's fluency in a second language will help him land a job elsewhere.
I can understand why the Panthers wanted to move on from Newton, as he's had issues staying healthy. He was simply too unreliable, so beginning anew was a logical step. However, with that in mind, it seems odd to go to Bridgewater. It's not like Bridgewater has proven that he can remain healthy either. He had a major knee injury, and teams were concerned about his durability when he entered the NFL.
Given that Carolina could just have the same issues with Bridgewater than it endured with Newton prevents me from grading this favorably. I don't hate this signing, but it just doesn't make much sense to me.
Cowboys re-sign LB Sean Lee (1 year, $4.5 million): B Grade
Sean Lee has endured a tragic career with the Cowboys, as his full potential has never been met because of a torrent of injuries. It'll continue for one more year, however, as Lee was given $4.5 million to play in 2020.
Lee is a shell of his former self at this point, but he's still a solid backup and great leader in the locker room. I like bringing him back for another season, as there's not much of a downside.
Jaguars sign CB Darqueze Dennard (3 years, $13.5 million; $6 million guaranteed): B Grade
Darqueze Dennard has played just one full season in the NFL, but he performs well when healthy. He played very well in the slot last year, so I thought there was a chance he'd get a bigger contract than this. Unfortunately for Dennard, his injury history was too much of a factor for teams.
The Jaguars are getting a good bargain with Dennard, so I like this signing. The one issue is that Jacksonville already had a quality slot cornerback in D.J. Hayden, so one of them will have to move to the outside. I'm not sure which one will do so, but I imagine the Jaguars have some sort of plan for this.
Bills re-sign S Jordan Poyer (2 years, $20.5 million): A Grade
Jordan Poyer wasn't an impending free agent; he was entering his contract year, so that's no longer the case after Buffalo adding two years and $20.5 million to his current deal.
This is yet another great decision the Bills made this offseason. Poyer is one of the better safeties in the NFL, so keeping him through the 2022 season is a smart decision, especially if Buffalo is able to get some temporary cap relief as a result after signing several players in the past couple of days.
Bills sign DT Quinton Jefferson (2 years, $13.5 million): A Grade
The Bills signed two defensive tackles tonight. I didn't like the Vernon Butler addition, but this is much better.
Jefferson is coming off a great 2019 campaign. He was stout against the run and also generated a decent amount of pressure on the quarterback. He's only 27, so he could continue to improve. This is an amazing price for Jefferson, who should have been paid much more.
Seahawks sign C/G B.J. Finney (2 years, $8 million): A+ Grade
The Seahawks hadn't done anything in free agency thus far beyond signing Greg Olsen. This, however, makes up for Seattle's idle status up to this point.
This is a stellar signing. B.J. Finney played very well last season when taking over for the suspended Maurkice Pouncey. He showed the ability to be a solid starting lineman in the NFL, so the Seahawks are getting him for great value. Finney can start at both center and guard, so the versatility, upside and price combine to give Seattle an A+ grade.
Bills sign DT Vernon Butler (2 years, $16 million; $9.3 million guaranteed): D Grade
I love what the Bills have done this offseason, but I can't get behind this signing. The Panthers were so disappointed with Vernon Butler that they decided not to pick up his fifth-year option. Yet, Buffalo gave Butler a contract worth $8 million per season and $9.3 million guaranteed.
Butler has been a huge disappointment as a former first-round pick. He's OK as a run stuffer, but offers nothing in the pass-rushing department. I don't know why Buffalo thinks he's worth $9.3 million guaranteed, but this is a rare mistake from what has been a stellar free agency perior for the team.
Jets sign C Connor McGovern (3 years, $27 million): A Grade
Wait, what is happening? Why did the Jets sign a talented player? I established below that talented players don't fit into Adam Gase's system, so why are the Jets adding such a poor fit to their roster? This makes zero sense.
All kidding aside, it's nice to see the Jets finally make a great move. They desperately needed help at both center and guard, and Connor McGovern can play very well at both positions. Three years and $27 million is an incredible bargain for McGovern, especially when comparing it to some of the other contracts linemen have received.
Bengals sign CB Trae Waynes (3 years, $42 million; $20 million guaranteed): C+ Grade
What the hell is going on? Does Mike Brown know something about the Wuhan Coronavirus that we don't? Or does he just believe that we're all going to die, so why not spend whatever money he has stored in his vault? Either way, it's very bizarre to see something like this.
I really liked the D.J. Reader signing. This one, not so much. Trae Waynes, a former first-round pick, has never lived up to his billing. He really struggled to begin his career, but has worked up to being a decent starting corner. He's certainly an upgrade, but this is too much money for him.
That said, I don't want to go too low for my grade for two reasons. First, Waynes is definitely an upgrade over what the Bengals had at cornerback last year. Second, if Brown reads this Web site, I don't want him to be discouraged from spending by seeing too low of a grade.
Raiders sign S Jeff Heath (1 year, $4.6 million): A Grade
Jeff Heath has been starting for the Cowboys in recent years, which was a mistake. Heath is not a very good starter, so I've considered safety to be a big need for Dallas. The Cowboys agreed with that sentiment, as they tried to land Earl Thomas and other safeties in previous offseasons.
That said, Heath can provide excellent depth, and based on this contract, that's exactly what Las Vegas expects from him. It makes sense for the Raiders to add a solid backup safety, given that Johnathan Abram got hurt last year.
Giants sign DE/OLB Kyler Fackrell (1 year, $4.6 million): A Grade
The Giants are getting a great steal with Kyler Fackrell. The former Packer has some promise to become a decent edge rusher. He logged 10.5 sacks in 2018, but didn't get to play very much last year because Green Bay added the two Smiths, Za'Darius and Preston.
It's no surprise that Fackrell left the Packers, but I thought he'd get a bit more money than this. He's worth it, as he'll be a valuable rotational edge player for the Giants at the very least.
Bengals sign DT D.J. Reader (4 years, $53 million): B+ Grade
I can't believe what I'm seeing. The Bengals spending money in free agency. It's truly the end of times.
Cincinnati barely makes any noise in free agency, but it's nice to know that the team makes it count when it actually spends. D.J. Reader is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. He's a monster in run support, and he can also generate pressure on the quarterback. He's not even 27 yet, so the Bengals are getting a great, young player at what seems like a reasonable price. Well done, Cincinnati!
Eagles re-sign S Rodney McLeod (2 years, $12 million): A Grade
Rodney McLeod is coming off a down year, but this was hardly a surprise. He was recovering from ACL and MCL tears, so he was expected to perform poorly. McLeod, however, is now two years removed from the knee injury, so I expect him to rebound in 2020.
The Eagles agree with that sentiment, apparently, and they're getting a great value. McLeod would command way more money under normal circumstances, so credit general manager Howie Roseman for recognizing this.
Chargers sign OT Bryan Bulaga (3 years, $30 million): A- Grade
Philip Rivers can't be too happy about this. The Chargers have finally decided to upgrade the offensive line now that he's no longer on the team, first trading for Trai Turner and now signing Bryan Bulaga.
Bulaga is one of the best right tackles in the NFL, so this is potentially a huge upgrade for the Chargers. It's also a steal when considering some of the contracts other offensive linemen have received this offseason. I'd grade this as an A+ if it weren't for Bulaga's age (31) and checkered injury history.
Jets re-sign G Alex Lewis (3 years, $18.6 million): D Grade
Alex Lewis is exactly what Adam Gase is looking for. Gase doesn't like working with good football players, as he prefers bad talents instead. Good players don't mesh with his system quite well, whereas bad talents are incredible fits.
I imagine Gase thinks this should be graded as an A- or higher, but this is real life, and things don't work the way he wants them to. Alex Lewis is a pedestrian blocker who should've received the veteran minimum, or maybe a bit more. Instead, Gase has decided that paying him $6 million per year is a good idea, which I suppose is on par with George Fant's $30 million contract.
Raiders sign TE Jason Witten (1 year, $4.75 million): A Grade
This is truly a historic day, as three future Hall of Famers who have been with the same team throughout their entire careers have gone to different franchises. The Tom Brady to Tampa Bay transaction isn't quite official yet, but it's almost certain to happen soon. Philip Rivers has signed with the Colts, and now, Jason Witten has joined the Raiders.
Witten makes sense for the Raiders, who have a terrific pass-catching tight end in Darren Waller, but they needed a better blocking tight end. Witten will serve in that role, and he'll also be a reliable weapon in the end zone. For some reason, the Raiders only trust Waller in between the 20s, so I imagine the Vegas quarterback, whoever that may be, will be targeting Witten for several touchdowns in 2020.
One final thing: It can't be understated how important Witten will be in the locker room. The Raiders have lacked leadership for quite some time, so Witten will be valuable in that regard as well.
Colts sign QB Philip Rivers (1 year, $25 million): A+ Grade
I don't see how this can be graded as anything other than an A+. The Colts obtained a quarterback who can put them over the top and win a Super Bowl, and yet they are taking almost no risk in doing so. This is an outstanding move.
Some will argue that Philip Rivers is done, but Rivers was playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year. He simply had no chance. The opposite will be true in Indianapolis, as the Colts have one of the top blocking units in the league. Furthermore, Rivers enjoyed some of his best seasons playing for Frank Reich when the two were together in San Diego. Rivers knows Reich's system, so there won't be any sort of adjustment period.
This also will help the Colts in the long term. Jacoby Brissett, who is still young, can learn from Rivers. I think Brissett would stand to benefit from standing on the sidelines for a year, so this is just a great acquisition all around, especially when considering that this contract won't have any financial ramifications beyond the 2021 offseason.
Titans sign DE/OLB Vic Beasley (1 year, $9.5 million): B Grade
The Titans have a solid defense, but their primary weakness is the edge rush. They needed to do something about it this offseason, so they responded by signing Vic Beasley away from Atlanta.
Beasley, a former first-round pick, began his career well, but declined after that. He's been a disappointment in recent years, though he finished 2019 on a tear. Still, it's hard to be too optimistic about Beasley, which is why he had to settle for a one-year "prove it" deal. I like this a bit for the Titans, who should be getting Beasley at 100-percent effort in 2020 as he attempts to rehab his stock.
Redskins sign LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (1 year, $3.45 million): A Grade
I'm a huge fan of this value signing. Kevin Pierre-Louis was previously seen as a solid backup, but he had a chance to start late last year for the Bears and did very well. It wouldn't surprise me if Pierre-Louis ends up making some starts in Washington's troubled linebacking corps, which would make this a fantastic bargain. If not, this is still a solid move for the Redskins.
Dolphins sign RB Jordan Howard (2 years, $10 million): B Grade
This is a solid move. The Dolphins had a huge need at running back, as Patrick Laird was their starting running back to close out 2019. That could not happen again, so Miami was able to get a decent value with Howard, who only lost his job last year because he got hurt.
It's worth noting that this will not preclude the Dolphins from selecting either D'Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. It just means that they won't be screwed if they can't land a running back they want.
Jaguars sign LB Joe Schobert (5 years, $53.75 million; $22.5 million guaranteed): C+ Grade
I feel compelled to compare this to the Cory Littleton signing, which occurred earlier today. Littleton signed for $36 million over three years. He'll get more money per season, but Schobert's deal is longer and has more overall money, so it carries more risk.
Given that Schobert is coming off a down year in which he missed too many tackles, I'd say the Raiders clearly won in this comparison. I think Littleton is a bit better than Schobert, so this should be seen as a risky overpay by Jacksonville. It also begs the question, why did Schobert go to the Jaguars when they are clearly tanking? It seems as though he values money over winning, which is fine for him from a personal standpoint, but it's not something I'd want to see if I were a coach or personnel decision-maker.
Bills sign DE Mario Addison (3 years, $30.4 million; $15.2 million guaranteed): B Grade
Mario Addison has been a consistent producer over the past several seasons, as he has recorded nine or more sacks in each of the past four years. The one downside with him is that he turns 33 in September, so regression is coming. With that in mind, this seems like an overpay, as the Bills are very likely paying on past production.
That said, I can understand the logic behind this move, and I even kind of like it. The Bills smell blood in the water with Tom Brady leaving New England, so they know that this is their time to take control of their division. With other improvements they've made, they can certainly win the AFC East and make a deep trip into the playoffs, so the Bills are understandably willing to take this risk in order to really help themselves in 2020. Addison should at least play well next year, especially given that he'll have an easy transition into a defense he's familiar with, thanks to his former defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott.
Panthers sign S Juston Burris (2 years, $8 million): B+ Grade
The Panthers had a big need at safety entering free agency, as their players at the position struggled to tackle last year. I don't think Burris is the clear solution, but he's a nice start, as he should definitely be able to help the situation by providing strong depth at the position. Burris took over for an injured Morgan Burnett late last year and did well down the stretch, so perhaps he can even win a starting job in Carolina.
With that in mind, $8 million for two years is a great price for Burris. He'll probably be just a top-end backup, but if he wins a starting job, this will be seen as a great bargain signing.
Raiders sign LB Nick Kwiatkoski (3 years, $21 million; $13.5 million guaranteed): A Grade
I really don't understand what the Bears are doing. They had a choice between retaining one of Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski. When they chose the former, I assumed that Kwiatkoski commanded more money on the open market. That turned out not to be the case, as the Trevathan and Kwiatkoski contracts were very similar. In fact, Trevathan is receiving $750,000 more overall.
Kwiatkoski is three years younger than Trevathan and also has a cleaner injury history. I gave Chicago a C+ for re-signing Trevathan, so this contract deserves a much higher grade. The Raiders did a great job of securing a much-needed upgrade for their poor linebacking corps at a great price, so I have no issues with giving them an "A" for this signing.
Packers sign OT Ricky Wagner (2 years, $11 million): A- Grade
This signing occurred yesterday, but contract details weren't readily available. I'll be getting to some of the similar signings from yesterday at this time as we await more breaking free agency news.
Ricky Wagner signed a big contract several years ago, but disappointed with the Lions because of numerous injuries. He played well when healthy, but that wasn't a frequent occurrence. Signing him is a risk, but that's mitigated by these terms. If Wagner fails, the Packers won't be hurt too much by the 2-year, $11 million contract they gave to him. Thus, adding Wagner to the roster is all upside, and there's plenty of that, given that he can perform well as a replacement for Bryan Bulaga, if healthy.
Raiders sign LB Cory Littleton (3 years, $36 million): A Grade
This is a fantastic move by the Raiders. They've been in desperate need of linebacker help for quite some time, and they found an enormous upgrade by signing Cory Littleton to play alongside the newly acquired Nick Kiwatkoski.
Littleton is definitely worth this contract, and I thought he would be paid even more. He's one of the top, young linebackers in the NFL. He's only 26, and he's fantastic in coverage. His presence will be a huge boon to the Raiders' defense, which should be much better in 2020.
Bears sign DE Robert Quinn (5 years, $70 million; $30 million guaranteed): D Grade
I have a feeling that the public and media is going to love this move for the Bears, and I can understand why. The prospect of Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn teaming up together to terrorize quarterbacks seems like a winning formula.
However, I don't think it'll work for a couple of reasons. First, Quinn hasn't played well in the 3-4 in the past. He struggled with the Rams when they transitioned to a 3-4, and so it wasn't a surprise that he rebounded in Dallas' 4-3. I don't know why he would go to a team running a 3-4 again. It's almost as if he doesn't even know his weaknesses, and it's more damning that the Bears don't either, given that NFL players are generally optimistic about their abilities.
Second, Quinn is now 30, so the Bears appear to be paying on past production. It's more likely than not that Quinn will regress at least a little bit in regard to his athletic ability.
Given these two items, as well as the very high price, I must grade this poorly. You could argue that this deserves an O'BRIEN grade, but I'll be optimistic like Quinn and grade this as a "D."
Lions sign QB Chase Daniel (3 years, $13.05 million): B+ Grade
Chase Daniel continues to corner the market on backup quarterback funds. He's received so many decent contracts just to be a reserve signal-caller, and yet, here's another one.
Daniel is one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL. The average going rate for mediocre No. 2 signal-callers is around $4 million per season, and that's what Daniel will be getting from Detroit, so I like this move. The Lions really needed someone like Daniel, as Matthew Stafford is likely to miss some time in 2020 with his troublesome back.
Dolphins sign DE Emmanuel Ogbah (2 years, $15 million; $7.5 million guaranteed): A Grade
Emmanuel Ogbah played very well for the Chiefs last year, recording 5.5 sacks in 10 games. However, he couldn't finish the season because of a torn pectoral. Perhaps that injury restricted Ogbah from earning how much he deserved because this is a great bargain for the Dolphins.
With that in mind, this is definitely worth an "A" grade. Ogbah isn't a special talent, but he's a very solid player to have in a pass-rushing rotation, and that's something the Dolphins desperately needed.
Saints re-sign QB Drew Brees (2 years, $50 million): A+ Grade
Unlike the Tom Brady situation, there was never any drama regarding where Drew Brees would land. Both he and the Saints made it clear that they wanted to reunite for at least one more season, so it was more of a matter of how long of a term the Saints would retain him for.
As it turns out, the answer to that is two seasons, as Brees will receive $50 million over that span. I generally reserve A+ grades for bargains, but two years and $50 million is definitely a bargain for a future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback who is still playing at a high level. There's some risk for regression because Brees is 41 now, but his style of play should allow him to continue performing extremely well. And as a bonus, the Saints have protected themselves if Brees wants to retire after 2020, as this contract will void after one year if Brees calls it quits.
Cardinals sign DT Jordan Phillips (3 years, $30 million): D Grade
Jordan Phillips is the defensive version of Jameis Winston. Like Winston, he posted meaningless stats last year while hurting his team with occasional poor play. Now, he'll be doing the same in Arizona at a very heavy price tag.
Phillips was my 33rd-ranked defensive tackle, which may seem odd because he posted 9.5 sacks in 2019. However, he didn't pressure the quarterback very much otherwise. He was able to luck into sacks because of Ed Oliver's presence. Meanwhile, he did nothing else as a pass rusher and struggled to hold up against the run. Arizona is committing a blatant overpay by signing Phillips.
Bills sign ILB Tyler Matakevich (2 years, $9 million): C+ Grade
It's clear that the Bills are making special teams a priority. They signed A.J. Klein yesterday and now have added Tyler Matakevich, who was a special-teams captain in Pittsburgh.
I'd say that Matakevich is a very slightly worse version of Klein, but he's also two years younger. He'll be receiving less money per year as well, so I like this signing a bit more. I still think it's a tad too much to pay a special-teamer and a backup linebacker, but I like Buffalo's strategy of attacking a certain aspect of their roster.
49ers re-sign S Jimmie Ward (3 years, $28.5 million): A+ Grade
I wrote in my free agent rankings that Jimmie Ward deserves a huge contract after the stellar year he just enjoyed. This certainly doesn't qualify as a "huge contract," but the 49ers won't complain, as they'll stand to benefit from Ward's terrific play for three more seasons.
Ward is a phenomenal safety, and getting him back for less than $10 million per year is a steal. The one concern with him is his injury history - he has missed 24 games over the past four seasons - but he showed improved durability last year, and I think he's well worth the risk. If injuries get the best of him, the 49ers won't be overly harmed by this contract because it's just a 3-year pact.
Giants sign LB Blake Martinez (3 years, $30 million): A Grade
I don't know how long it's been. It's felt like centuries have gone by as I've been pining for the Giants to address their linebacking corps. Well, they've finally done it, as they signed Blake Martinez to a deal worth $10 million per season.
This is an excellent signing. Martinez is a young (26), talented linebacker who excels in coverage. That last part is important because the Giants' pass defense was atrocious last year. Martinez will be a huge help in that regard. His weakness is his run support, but the Giants have a stout defensive front to help mitigate that.
Texans sign WR Randall Cobb (3 years, $27 million; $18.75 million guaranteed): C- Grade
Hey, Texans fans, it's been a rough day thus far, but you have a replacement for DeAndre Hopkins! It's... umm... Randall... Cobb...
Cobb signed a 1-year "prove it" deal last offseason worth $5 million. He did well in Dallas, catching 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns. However, there's a reason why he had to sign that prove-it contract. Cobb has an extensive injury history that very easily could resurface. He also turns 30 in August, so an athletic decline is coming.
It's amazing that O'Brien seems to outwit himself at every turn. It's almost as if he didn't even know about Cobb's injury history when signing him. This acquisition could work, but it's more likely than not that it'll blow up in O'Brien's face, pretty much like everything else that has happened today.
Texans sign WR Randall Cobb (3 years, $27 million; $18.75 million guaranteed): C- Grade
Hey, Texans fans, it's been a rough day thus far, but you have a replacement for DeAndre Hopkins! It's... umm... Randall... Cobb...
Cobb signed a 1-year "prove it" deal last offseason worth $5 million. He did well in Dallas, catching 55 passes for 828 yards and three touchdowns. However, there's a reason why he had to sign that prove-it contract. Cobb has an extensive injury history that very easily could resurface. He also turns 30 in August, so an athletic decline is coming.
It's amazing that O'Brien seems to outwit himself at every turn. It's almost as if he didn't even know about Cobb's injury history when signing him. This acquisition could work, but it's more likely than not that it'll blow up in O'Brien's face, pretty much like everything else that has happened today.
Redskins sign CB Kendall Fuller (4 years, $40 million): B+ Grade
It's almost like he never left. Kendall Fuller was included in the Alex Smith trade that sent him to Kansas City a couple of years ago. Despite the Redskins shipping him off, Fuller has returned, fresh off winning a Super Bowl.
Getting Fuller back is a huge win for the Redskins, who shouldn't have traded him in the first place. Fuller is a very talented cornerback, and he's not going to be 26 until next February. He isn't coming off the best season, but he was dealing with an injury. He played very well in the past and should revert to that standard with his old team. The price is definitely fair, and the Redskins are addressing a huge need, so I'm good with giving them a B+.
Cowboys re-sign WR Amari Cooper (5 years, $100 million): C+ Grade
The Cowboys traded a first-round pick for Amari Cooper, so they were pretty much priced into re-signing him. Cooper had all the leverage, so the Cowboys were forced into giving him a huge contract. Yet, I didn't even expect the deal to reach nine figures.
This is way too much money for Cooper. The former Raider is a very talented player, but he has a couple of glaring flaws. First, he tends to get injured too often. In fact, he was banged up during the team's stretch run last year, so Michael Gallup ended up becoming the No. 1 receiver. Second, Cooper quit on the Raiders in the past. Now that he has a huge contract, there's nothing to stop him from doing so for his second team.
I'm not a fan of this signing, but I can at least understand why the Cowboys did it. Again, they would've looked foolish for letting go of a player they traded a first-rounder for. Also, Jerry Jones is in win-now mode, so allowing Cooper to walk away would have ruined his team's chances in 2020.
Seahawks re-sign DT Jarran Reed (2 years, $23 million): D Grade
Jarran Reed is a pretty pedestrian player, so I can't get behind this signing. He's a mediocre run defender who offers zero pass-rushing ability, which is why he was the 26th-ranked defensive tackle in my free agency rankings.
For a 2-year deal, Reed should've commanded between $8 and $10 million at the very most. This is way too much money for him, and I'd give this signing an O'BRIEN grade if it were more substantial.
Bills sign LB A.J. Klein (3 years, $18 million; $9.7 million guaranteed): C Grade
A.J. Klein is a solid run defender and a stellar special-teams player. He's a decent guy to have on a team, but not for this much money. This is definitely an overpay.
A linebacker who is completely lost in coverage shouldn't be getting this sort of a contract. I don't hate this move, but it can't receive a positive grade, as Klein probably should've gotten half the money he obtained.
Lions sign LB Jamie Collins (3 years, $30 million): B+ Grade
This resembles the Dolphins' Kyle Van Noy signing I discussed earlier today. Jamie Collins has been tremendous as a Patriot, but failed elsewhere. I was worried history would repeat itself, but Collins appeared to have a similar thought process, as he'll be playing for Bill Belichick's former defensive coordinator going forward.
Collins should do well in Detroit if he doesn't regress due to age; he'll turn 31 in October. He should be able to perform on a high level for at least a couple of seasons. This is a reasonable price for Collins, so I think Detroit deserves a B+ for this move.
Jets sign OT George Fant (3 years, $30 million; $13.7 million guaranteed): D Grade
The Jets just watched several other teams hoard other offensive tackles today. Now, they're stuck paying $70 for hand sanitizer, or rather, $30 million for George Fant.
This is a massive overpay. George Fant is an athletic tackle, but he has never lived up to his potential. He couldn't even start for the Seahawks, who have major offensive line issues, so why do the Jets think that he can be an upgrade for them? This is a panic-move signing, and I nearly gave it an O'BRIEN, but it's not as bad as Bill O'Brien's actual moves today.
Texans sign S Eric Murray (3 years, $20.25 million): O'BRIEN Grade
A day in which the Texans traded one of the best receiver in the NFL for basically nothing, they gave my 34th-ranked free agent safety a 3-year, $20.25 million contract. Oh boy...
I've said it so many times now, but Bill O'Brien has no idea what he's doing. An NFL personnel man texted me today, comparing O'Brien to Lloyd Christmas. That's perfect, as a three-word description for O'Brien is "dumb and dumber."
Eagles sign NT Javon Hargrave (3 years, $39 million): A Grade
The Eagles needed a replacement if Timmy Jernigan departed in free agency, and they certainly found one. They signed Javon Hargrave in what seems to be an excellent move.
Hargrave is a young nose tackle who stuffs the run extremely well and can also get after the quarterback. He projects as a terrific pairing with Fletcher Cox, and at $39 million for three years, this seems like a bargain, especially when compared to some of the other signings that occurred today. The Eagles may have missed out on Byron Jones, but this is a tremendous consolation prize.
Dolphins sign OLB Kyle Van Noy (4 years, $51 million; $30 million guaranteed): B+ Grade
What I wrote about Kyle Van Noy in my free agency rankings really applies to this signing:
Kyle Van Noy does everything for the Patriots, whether it's rush the passer successfully, clamp down on the run or drop into coverage. It remains to be seen, however, if he could thrive outside of Bill Belichick's system.
I normally would be skeptical about a signing like this because Van Noy would probably regress outside of Belichick's scheme. However, Brian Flores runs the same system. In fact, Flores had a huge hand in developing Van Noy, so I think we can expect the former Patriot to play just as well in his new home. That's not a guarantee, but the upside of this signing is enormous, given how good of a player Van Noy is. Van Noy is exactly what the Dolphins needed, so I'm grading this favorably.
Bears sign TE Jimmy Graham (2 years, $16 million): O'BRIEN Grade
Wait a second... Jimmy Graham's not retiring? This is absolutely shocking news. I assumed Graham would be forced to hang up the cleats after coming off a miserable season in Green Bay. Apparently, the Bears didn't pay attention to how horribly Graham performed in 2019.
I don't understand this signing. Paying Graham anything more than the minimum would be an overpay, and yet Chicago is willing to give him $8 million per season. Graham is decrepit and can barely move, and he wasn't productive with Aaron Rodgers. If he couldn't do anything with Rodgers, how can he possibly do well with whichever mediocre or horrible quarterback the Bears opt to go with in 2020? This is the type of signing Bill O'Brien would make, so I'm forced to give Chicago an "F" for this move.
Panthers sign DE Stephen Weatherly (2 years, $12.5 million): D Grade
This is a lot of money for a guy I had ranked as my 30th defensive end in this year's free agency class. Weatherly, who has six sacks in the past two seasons, is a replacement-level player. There's no reason he should've gotten more than the veteran minimum, yet the Panthers have foolishly decided to give him $6 million per year for some unknown reason.
The Weatherly signing isn't significant enough to warrant an O'Brien grade, but it's still pretty horrible. This is a growing trend with the Panthers, as they've seemingly made all of the wrong moves thus far ever since new owner Bobby Axelrod took over the team.
Redskins sign G Wes Schweitzer (3 years, $13.5 million): C- Grade
Wes Schweitzer has experience as a starter, thanks to injuries. However, that's where the positives end. Schweitzer is not a very good blocker, and yet the Redskins are paying him like he's pretty decent at his job.
This definitely isn't the worst signing we've seen all day, but it's not very good. For three years, I'd say Schweitzer would be worth around $8 or $9 million. Thus, this isn't an egregious signing, and it's much better than what Ereck Flowers, the man Schweitzer is replacing, got from Miami. However, it's still an overpay.
Dolphins sign CB Byron Jones (5 years, $82.5 million): B- Grade
Byron Jones was the crown jewel of the secondary players in free agency. He's one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, and he's still young. He's 27, so he should theoretically play at a very high level throughout the duration of this contract. Jones will team up with Xavien Howard to form a lethal cornerback duo, at least on paper.
Despite this, I'm not too high on this signing. Jones had a chance to go to a team where he would have a better chance of winning. Instead, he took more money - plus the state-free tax of Florida - and went to a franchise that has been in ruins the past two decades. Jones made it known that he prioritizes money over winning. That's his decision to make, and I don't blame him for thinking this way. However, it also means that I can't grade this very favorably, given that there's a good chance we won't see the best of Jones now that he has all of this money.
Giants sign CB James Bradberry (3 years, $45 million): A Grade
James Bradberry is coming off a stellar season. He missed some tackles, but he locked down No. 1 receivers for the most part. He turns just 27 in August, so he still has a bright future ahead of him.
With that in mind, this is an amazing signing. The Giants were in desperate need of a cornerback, so Bradberry is a colossal upgrade. With this deal, he's not even much of a risk because it's a 3-year pact. It would be surprising if Bradberry failed anyway, so considering the upside, I'm willing to give this an "A" grade.
Titans re-sign OT Dennis Kelly (3 years, $21 million): B Grade
This signing should be compared to the Detroit Halapoulivaati Vaitai signing. Both Vaitai and Dennis Kelly have been backups throughout their career, but both have done well in spot starts. However, Kelly has a longer track record of success, as he's made 31 career starts compared to Vaitai's 20. Kelly will also be getting $3 million less per season than Vaitai.
Now, there is one thing in Vaitai's favor, which is age. Kelly is four years older than Vaitai, which means that Vaitai has more upside. However, Vaitai comes with far more risk. Not only is he more expensive; his contract is for five more years. If Vaitai fails, the Lions will be hurt by signing. Meanwhile, if Kelly fails, it won't harm Tennessee as much. It's also worth noting that Kelly has good chemistry with the other Tennessee linemen, while Vaitai will be on a new team and will have to make adjustments.
With all of that in mind, I like the Kelly signing much more. It doesn't have the same upside, but it's much safer and has a greater chance of working.
Broncos sign G/C Graham Glasgow (4 years, $44 million): B+ Grade
The Broncos had major offensive line woes last year, so that's something they had to address this offseason, especially with a young quarterback set to be the starter in 2020. This is an excellent first step.
Graham Glasgow played very well for the Lions in 2019. He's only 27, so he has plenty of room for growth. He's also capable of starting at every position in the interior of the offensive line, so he's a stellar signing for the Broncos because they had weaknesses at both guard and center. The price is fair, so I'm willing to give this a B+.
Browns sign QB Case Keenum (3 years, $18 million; $10 million guaranteed): B Grade
Case Keenum didn't play very well for the Redskins last year, but he had some bright moments. Keenum was stuck playing with an offensive line missing its left tackle and a receiver corps that was young and inexperienced. If the Browns can upgrade left tackle, he'll have a much better supporting cast in Cleveland if he ever has to enter the game.
Average backup quarterbacks make around $4 million per year, so it would make sense for the Browns to pay Keenum a bit more because he's a premium reserve at the position. The Browns learned that they need one of those, given Baker Mayfield's sharp decline in 2019.
Browns sign OT Jack Conklin (3 years, $42 million): A Grade
On a day in which the Dolphins signed Ereck Flowers for $30 million over three years, the Browns managed to obtain Jack Conklin for slightly more. I don't know how this happened, but I'm almost speechless.
Conklin is one of the best right tackles in the NFL, so this is a steal. He also fills a huge need, as the Browns made an enormous mistake when heading into 2018 with two lackluster tackles. Conklin fixes half that problem, so I absolutely love this move. It feels wrong to give the Browns an "A" grade, but I can't find anything wrong with this transaction.
Buccaneers re-sign DE/OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (2 years, $27 million): B Grade
Jason Pierre-Paul missed half of this past season with a neck fracture. It seemed as though that would limit him in his return, but the opposite occurred instead. Pierre-Paul was terrific in the 10 games he played, recording 8.5 sacks and handling the run very well. His presence was a big reason why Tampa Bay's pass defense improved markedly in the second half of the season.
I think this is a fair price for Pierre-Paul. If he were younger, he'd deserve a larger contract for much more money, but he turned 31 this offseason. Giving him a 2-year deal mitigates a lot of risk, so I'd say this deserves a "B" grade.
Dolphins sign DE Shaq Lawson (3 years, $30 million): D Grade
The Dolphins are getting a "D" for this signing, and yet it's the best of two moves they've made today thus far. It's not a good time to be a Dolphins fan, apparently, though I'm sure the same could've been said each season since Dan Marino's retirement.
Shaq Lawson was a first-round bust for the Bills. He failed to register more than four sacks in a season prior to 2019. He notched 6.5 sacks last year, but played as a part-time edge rusher. He was a mediocre performer overall, so he should've received a contract worth half as much at the very most. I don't understand why the Dolphins think he's worth $10 million per season.
Cowboys re-sign TE Blake Jarwin (3 years, $24.25 million): C- Grade
Blake Jarwin is a young tight end who has plenty of promise. I graded him as a two-star free agent, so I thought he would receive a contract worth $4 million per year or so.
This is double that amount, which seems unnecessary. Jarwin hasn't proven that he's worth this sort of money. He might get there, which is why this is not going to earn an "F" grade, but this definitely seems like an overpay.
49ers re-sign DE/DT Arik Armstead (5 years, $85 million): C Grade
I'm surprised the 49ers were able to re-sign Arik Armstead. I thought the Jimmy Garoppolo contract would prevent them from doing so, but John Lynch found a way to get it done.
Despite this unexpected turn of events, I'm not too high on this move because it comes with too much risk. Armstead hadn't been overly productive prior to 2019, and yet he finally blossomed into a devastating presence in the trenches in what happened to be his contract year. It's possible that Armstead will regress now that he's been paid, which is a phenomenon we've seen from so many defensive linemen over the years.
I don't hate this signing because it could certainly pan out, but I'm skeptical enough of it to give it a "C" grade.
Dolphins sign G Ereck Flowers (3 years, $30 million): O'BRIEN Grade
In full disclosure, Ereck Flowers is a reader of this Web site, so I feel bad doing this. Unfortunately, I'd lose any credibility if I didn't. This is an easy "F" grade - or as I like to call it, an "O'Brien" - and there's no doubt about it.
I don't understand the Dolphins' thought process regarding this transaction. Flowers went to school in Miami, so is that the reason they're giving him $20 million more than he deserves? A somewhat reasonable deal for Flowers would've been $10 million over three years, and even that may have been excessive.
Flowers is not good at what he does. He came into the league with plenty of promise, but failed miserably at both left and right tackle. He moved to guard last year and did an OK job for the Redskins. He played at a below-par level, so I assumed he'd get a deal giving him $3 million per season. The Dolphins have given him more than three times that amount, so this must be graded accordingly.
Browns sign TE Austin Hooper (4 years, $44 million): C- Grade
The Browns are taking a more analytical approach to their player personnel despite this tactic failing woefully in recent years for them. Apparently, analytics have told them that signing a non-elite tight end to a 4-year deal worth $11 million per season is a great decision.
There's no doubt that Austin Hooper is a talented tight end. However, he's not nearly on the level of Travis Kelce or George Kittle. Paying him this sort of money seems absurd, especially when his stats have been inflated by blowout garbage time and Matt Ryan's quarterbacking. I find it difficult to envision Hooper's numbers increasing with Baker Mayfield throwing the ball to him. I imagine the Browns would agree if they weren't so reliant on analytics. The problem with analytics is that it can be used as a crutch for lazy people who don't want to watch film. I don't think the Browns watched enough film on the Falcons, but this should not surprise anyone because we're talking about the Browns.
This is not a good signing. In fact, I was debating giving this a "D" grade, but Hooper is talented enough to elevate this to a C-.
Vikings re-sign FB C.J. Ham (4 years, $12.25 million): B- Grade
C.J. Ham is one of the better fullbacks in the NFL. Granted, there aren't that many fullbacks in the NFL anymore, but Ham is pretty good at what he does. He pass protects very well, and he's also an effective receiver out of the backfield. He's an important part of the Vikings' offense, so it was a fine move to retain him.
I'm not crazy about the money - it's a bit more than I would've given to a fullback - but this contract won't really hurt the Vikings, so I think it's OK.
Vikings re-sign QB Kirk Cousins (3 years, $96 million): D Grade
I believe it was Ian Rapoport who reported that Kirk Cousins was seen leaving the Vikings' facility this morning wearing a black mask while carrying a bag with a dollar sign on it. Then again, it could have been Jay Glazer, so take what I said with a grain of salt.
I find this move to be incredibly stupid. The Vikings made a huge mistake when they initially signed Cousins to a fully guaranteed deal. They've endured his pedestrian quarterbacking since, standing zero chance against the 49ers in their divisional-round playoff loss. It's obvious that Cousins is not good enough to lead a team deep into the playoffs, but the Vikings somehow haven't realized this. Instead, like a drug addict, they've come back for more, even though what they're doing clearly is horrible for them.
I understand that this signing is to relieve cap space, but Minnesota is taking the wrong approach. It should have gotten rid of Cousins and then focused on tanking for Trevor Lawrence. Instead, the Vikings will endure another mediocre season where Cousins ultimately ends up disappointing them, and then they'll experience the same thing in 2021.
Packers sign LB Christian Kirksey (2 years, $16 million): B- Grade
The Packers were thoroughly embarrassed in the NFC Championship, as the 49ers pounded the ball at them at will. Green Bay allowed Raheem Mostert to have a complete performance, so it was clear that it had to do several things to improve its run defense this offseason. This was the first step.
This signing should help, at least in theory. Christian Kirksey was once seen as a promising, young linebacker, but he has played in just nine games over the past two years due to injury. He has also struggled when actually on the field. The Packers will be hoping that Kirksey rebounds after buying low on him.
The thing is, it's not actually buying that low. Kirksey is getting more money than I expected he would per year. It's not an egregious sum, but this is too much money based on how he has performed. Still, it's only a 2-year pact, so the Packers aren't putting themselves at tremendous risk, so if this move doesn't pan out, Green Bay's financial status won't be too damaged by it.
Patriots re-sign S Devin McCourty (2 years, $23 million): A+ Grade
The Patriots are getting a massive hometown discount with this signing. Devin McCourty is one of the top safeties in the NFL, so he deserved way more money than this. Getting him back for $23 million over two years is a steal.
The one concern with McCourty is his age, as he turns 33 prior to the start of the season. However, McCourty was still a Pro Bowl-level performer in 2019, and safeties tend to play well into their mid-30s, so I don't expect too much of a decline from him.
Texans re-sign CB Bradley Roby (3 years, $36 million): B Grade
Bradley Roby has been one of the most inconsistent players in the NFL over the previous half decade. He played well in 2015, struggled the year after, bounced back at a high level in 2017, then performed poorly once again the following season. He signed a 1-year "prove it" deal ahead of the 2019 campaign and played very well after returning from injury. The Texans saw enough from him to give him a contract worth $12 million per season.
I'm fine with this deal. Roby is a talented player with upside. He can struggle at times, but when he's on an upswing, he can perform on a very high level. The Texans have severe cornerback issues outside of Roby, and they have tons of money available, so it makes sense to re-sign him for this sort of contract.
Titans re-sign QB Ryan Tannehill (4 years, $118 million; $62 million guaranteed): D- Grade
The Wuhan Coronavirus is an upper respiratory illness, so it doesn't affect the brain, right? If it did, I could understand why the Titans gave Ryan Tannehill this contract. Otherwise, I have no good explanation for this.
Why haven't the Titans learned from mistakes other teams have made? Several franchises have paid a high price for giving non-elite quarterbacks big-money deals. The Lions with Matthew Stafford, the Falcons with Matt Ryan and the Ravens with Joe Flacco are just three of many examples. The thing is, Stafford, Ryan and Flacco were all better quarterbacks when they signed their contracts than Tannehill is at the moment. Tannehill did a good job operating in Tennessee's run-first offense last year, but he's just a game manager with below-average throwing talent. He was an upgrade over Marcus Mariota, but that doesn't mean that he deserves a contract that'll pay him $62 million in guarantees, especially when there's a clear upgrade in Tom Brady available!
I was very close to giving this an "F" grade. You could easily make the case for it, but the continuity is the one good aspect of this deal. Still, this contract will destroy Tennessee's cap situation in the near future.
Colts re-sign OT Anthony Castonzo (2 years, $33 million): A Grade
This is great news for the Colts. There was chatter that Anthony Castonzo would retire this offseason, which would have created a huge void at left tackle. Luckily for Indianapolis, Castonzo has decided to return to the team for at least two more years.
Not only is this a positive turn of events, it's also a great deal. Castonzo getting $16.5 million per year may seem like a lot, but this contract is for just two seasons. The Colts aren't putting themselves into a bad situation because they won't be stuck with overpaying Castonzo in the event of an unforeseen decline. Instead, they'll keep one of the better left tackles at low risk, which means this signing is definitely worth an "A" grade.
Bears re-sign LB Danny Trevathan (3 years, $21.75 million): C+ Grade
Danny Trevathan was an outstanding acquisition by the Bears four years ago, as he was one of the major components to Denver's Super Bowl-winning defense. Trevathan played similarly in 2018 when the upstart Bears made the playoffs and were a double-doinked kick away from advancing to the second round.
That said, I'm not too high on this re-signing. Trevathan turns 30 in 10 days, so the Bears are paying a bit on past production. That production wasn't always available either, as Trevathan has played more than 12 games just once during his time in Chicago. He has missed 18 contests the past four seasons, and his injury rate can only rise as he enters his 30s.
The money per year on this deal isn't terrible, so I'm not going to give this a terrible grade. However, going above a C+ seems like a mistake as well. Perhaps the Bears should have focused on re-signing Nick Kwiatkoski instead.
Bills re-sign G Quinton Spain (3 years, $15 million): C Grade
I initially couldn't decide between a C+ and a "C" grade for this signing. Quinton Spain is a pretty pedestrian guard. He's not terrible, but he's not very good either. He doesn't deserve $5 million per season.
That said, I think it's important for offensive lines to have continuity. Keeping the unit together is for the best, so I won't give Buffalo too low of a grade for this contract. It's not an egregious sum, so even though it's an overpay, I'd say a "C" is warranted.
Texans re-sign K Ka'imi Fairbairn (4 years, $17.65 million; $9 million guaranteed): C Grade
I gave the Packers and Patriots B+ grades for re-signing Mason Crosby and Stephen Gostkowski, respectively. Each kicker received a contract worth a bit more than $4 million per season. The Texans have given Ka'imi Fairbairn a similar contract in regard to money per season, and yet this grade must be substantially worse than what Green Bay and New England both earned.
There are two reasons for this. One, this deal is longer than the 3- and 2-year pacts Crosby and Gostkowski received. It also contains $9 million guaranteed, which seems like too much money for a kicker. Two, Fairbairn isn't as good as Crosby or Gostkowski. Fairbairn is a solid kicker, but he's not worth this sort of money; he missed five extra points in 2019.
Bills sign CB Josh Norman (1 year, $6 million): B Grade
I'd say $6 million is way more than what I would've given Josh Norman, based on his play over the past couple of seasons. Norman was pretty mediocre in 2018, and then downright awful last year. He was one of the worst cornerbacks in 2019. He was so atrocious that he was benched late in the season. Norman turned 32 in December, so his decline wasn't much of a surprise.
Though $6 million is too much money, I don't hate this signing. This move comes with minimal risk because it's for one season. Also, it's important to note that Norman played some of his best football under Sean McDermott when the two were together in Carolina. Norman knows the system, so there won't be any sort of transitional period. Thus, it's possible that he rebounds and at least becomes mediocre again. If so, this signing will be worth it, as Norman will provide valuable depth in that scenario.
Chargers re-sign RB Austin Ekeler (4 years, $24.5 million; $15 million guaranteed): B Grade
The Chargers apparently didn't listen to our video podcast from this week where Kenny said that Austin Ekeler is a candidate for major statistical regression...
I agreed with Kenny, but only because Ekeler won't have Philip Rivers as his quarterback next year. I like Ekeler more than Kenny does, as I think he's a very talented receiver out of the backfield. Ekeler caught 92 passes for 993 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2019.
This may seem like a lot of money for a running back who can't handle a full workload because of his stature. That's definitely a problem with this deal, but Ekeler is such a valuable part of the passing game. His presence will help the development of Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa, so that has to be factored into this grade.
Packers re-sign K Mason Crosby (3 years, $12.9 million): B+ Grade
I recently gave the Patriots a B+ for re-signing Stephen Gostkowski to a 2-year, $8.5 million contract. Mason Crosby, like Gostkowski, is an excellent kicker, and they both happen to be the same age. They'll both earn about the same about per year, so the two deals should be graded similarly.
It should be noted that this contract is front-loaded, as $6 million will be given to Crosby in the first year. This is not a surprise, given that the new CBA will be signed soon.
Seahawks sign TE Greg Olsen (1 year, $7 million): C- Grade
Of all the places Greg Olsen visited after being released by the Panthers, Seattle seemed like the worst-possible destination. The Seahawks have two younger and better options at the position in Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister, so the 35-year-old Olsen is arguably now the third-best tight end on Seattle's roster.
Furthermore, I don't understand why the Seahawks are paying Olsen $7 million to play for them in 2020. Olsen looked close to done this past season, thriving only in matchups where the opposition struggled mightily to cover tight ends. Olsen will almost certainly be worse at 35 than he was at 34, so why the $7 million, especially when he doesn't fill a need?
The only positive I can see with this signing is that Olsen will be a positive veteran presence in the locker room, which is not something that should be dismissed. Despite that, however, I'm mostly opposed to this signing.
Cardinals re-sign OT D.J. Humphries (3 years, $45 million; $29 million guaranteed): B- Grade
The prospect of D.J. Humphries receiving $29 million on a contract paying out $15 million per season would've been laughable a year ago. Humphries was a constantly injured player who was never on the field for all 16 games throughout his young career. He was teetering on the verge of bust candidacy as a former first-round pick.
Much has changed in the past 12 months. Humphries finally played a whole year, and while he wasn't dominant, he was a solid presence on an otherwise pedestrian Arizona offensive line. Just 26, Humphries can continue to improve his play in the coming seasons.
That said, there's a small sample size of Humphries playing at a high level and staying healthy. He could just as easily revert to the injury-prone sub-par tackle we've seen in the past in 2020. I understand why the Cardinals re-signed him - protecting Kyler Murray is paramount - but this contract comes with substantial risk.
Ravens re-sign S Chuck Clark (3 years, $16 million; $10 million guaranteed): A+ Grade
I usually reserve A+ grades for great bargains, and that's exactly what this is. I don't know how the Ravens did it, but they managed to re-sign one of their newer talented defensive players to a very cheap contract.
Chuck Clark was a part-time player prior to Week 6. His role increased when Tony Jefferson tore his ACL, and the Ravens didn't suffer declined play when that happened. Clark played very well down the stretch to help Baltimore reach a 14-2 record. He's only 25 (as of April), so I expect him to continue to improve.
Bears re-sign S Eddie Jackson (4 years, $58.4 million; $33 million guaranteed): B- Grade
The Bears allowed Adrian Amos to get away, so they were focused on keeping Eddie Jackson around for the long term. They signed him to a contract that makes him the highest-paid safety per a yearly average.
Jackson is a fantastic play-maker, but I don't think he's great enough to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL. This is a slight overpay, but definitely not an egregious one, as Jackson is a core player in Chicago's defense.