I've listed all of the NFL Free Agent Signing Grades here, which included the trades. Because I've begun posting polls for the trades, I thought it would make sense to list just the NFL trades here, so archiving the voting would be easier.
Cardinals acquire RB Adrian Peterson from Saints for conditional draft pick
I'm surprised any team wanted Adrian Peterson at this point, but I guess the Cardinals were desperate enough to pull the trigger. Chris Johnson was starting for them, after all, and Peterson can't possibly be worse.
That said, Peterson is not going to be a substantial upgrade. He's averaged three yards per carry behind a New Orleans offensive line that is superior to Arizona's. Peterson has also had the luxury of playing with Drew Brees. Opposing defenses actually had to respect Brees. They aren't doing that with Palmer, who is decrepit.
Whatever the Cardinals gave up for Peterson, it's not worth it. They are horrible and won't compete for a playoff spot anyway. Their offensive line is atrocious and won't be able to open any holes for Peterson. The Saints, meanwhile, won this trade, even if they don't get anything. Letting Peterson go is addition by subtraction, as it'll allow Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara to be on the field more often.
Dolphins acquire LB Stephone Anthony from Saints for undisclosed draft pick
Assuming that this undisclosed draft pick is a conditional late-rounder, I like what the Dolphins did with this trade. They're desperate for a linebacker in the wake of Raekwon McMillan's injury and Lawrence Timmons' personal problems, so why not acquire Anthony? He was a first-round pick in 2015, after all. Sure, he hasn't done much in the NFL, but he has potential. Plus, the Saints have a poor coaching staff, so perhaps that's the reason why Anthony hasn't been able to develop. It'll be interesting to see if the Dolphins can make something out of him.
Either way, the Dolphins aren't taking a risk, so I like the move. The Saints, meanwhile, are getting something for a player they haven't been using, so I guess that's a positive as well.
Cowboys acquire DE Jayrone Elliott from Packers for conditional 7th-round pick
The Cowboys need defensive depth for sure, and Jayrone Elliott can provide that. Elliott has logged four sacks over the past two years for the Packers. Plus, he improves special teams, as that will be his primary role.
I think this makes sense for Dallas, as a conditional seventh-round pick is effectively nothing. I'd say the Cowboys won this trade, as I think the Packers were better off keeping Elliott if they're just getting a conditional seventh in return. Dealing him, however, is not a big deal.
Steelers acquire S J.J. Wilcox, 2019 7th-round pick from Buccaneers for 2018 6th-round pick
This seems like a decent deal for both teams, though I'd say Pittsburgh is the clear winner. The Steelers needed a safety to upgrade the spot next to Michael Mitchell. Sean Davis is a young player with upside, but he struggled last year. J.J. Wilcox is coming off a career year after a mediocre start. He's only 26, so he should have a bright future ahead of him, though he still has a lot to prove.
As for the Buccaneers, they just signed T.J. Ward away from the Broncos, so they could afford to deal Wilcox. They're not getting much, moving up a round in the draft across two years. However, it's better than getting nothing and keeping Wilcox on the bench.
Patriots acquire DE Cassius Marsh from Seahawks for 5th- and 7th-round picks
Cassius Marsh was chosen in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but he has recorded only three sacks in his career, all of which came in 2016. He has only been a rotational player, as he happens to be a liability against the run.
The Patriots were in desperate need of edge-rushing help, especially after losing Derek Rivers to a season-ending injury and then letting go of Kony Ealy. Marsh should help a bit, but he'll be more impactful on special teams. Getting him for two third-day selections seems like a fine move, but I would've liked it more if it were for sixth- and seventh-rounders.
I think the Seahawks won this deal by a bit. They didn't need Marsh anymore after bolstering their front with Sheldon Richardson, so getting a viable asset in a fifth-round pick for Marsh is a nice transaction.
Patriots acquire WR Phillip Dorsett from Colts for QB Jacoby Brissett
Phillip Dorsett had been viewed as a colossal bust prior to this preseason. Chosen in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Dorsett logged 18 and 33 receptions in his two NFL seasons. He hasn't been able to take advantage of opportunities when players ahead of him on the depth chart suffered injuries. This happened against the Chiefs in Week 8, yet all Dorsett did was log five receptions for 33 yards.
However, Dorsett looked functional in Indianapolis' preseason games, which enhanced his trade value. He's only a 24-year-old, third-year player, so perhaps he's just a late bloomer. If so, the Patriots could be obtaining a potential, legitimate offensive threat for the future.
As for Jacoby Brissett, he looked good in one of his two starts last year when he and the Patriots shut out the Texans. He also thrived in Thursday's preseason game against the Giants. However, we've seen a history of Bill Belichick and his staff getting the most out of quarterbacks. Then, once those signal-callers go elsewhere, they accomplish nothing. Matt Cassel and Ryan Mallett come to mind, so Brissett could be next.
Still, I don't mind the Colts making this move. Andrew Luck could miss a chunk of the 2017 season, and Indianapolis needs a better plan than Scott Tolzien. Brissett should be better than Tolzien once he learns the offense.
Rams acquire TE Derek Carrier from Redskins for 2018 7th-round pick
This deal makes sense for both sides. Derek Carrier played for Rams head coach Sean McVay in the past, so he can just slide in with his new team without having to learn the offense at all. Carrier won't contribute as a receiver, but the Rams won't need him to do that because of Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. Instead, he'll serve as a decent blocker.
The Redskins, meanwhile, didn't need another tight end with Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul and Jeremy Sprinkle on the roster. They were likely to cut Carrier, so getting a seventh-round pick is nice.
Cowboys acquire CB Bene Benwikere from Bengals for conditional late-round draft pick
Bene Benwikere once seemed like he would develop into a solid starter in the NFL. As a fifth-round rookie in 2014, he played well for the Panthers. It's unclear what happened to him, however, as he was frequently torched the past couple of years. The Panthers cut him during the 2016 campaign, and he's been on numerous teams since. His latest stop will be Dallas, as the Cowboys acquired him from Cincinnati for a conditional late-round selection.
It's possible that the Cowboys could get Benwikere back to playing at a steady level, and if so, this will turn out to be a major steal. If Dallas can't, which is the most likely scenario, the team probably won't surrender anything for Benwikere, so this seems like a good deal. The Cowboys needed to do something like this, given their issues in the secondary.
Browns acquire WR Sammie Coates, 2019 7th-round pick from Steelers for 2018 6th-round pick
Sammie Coates is an explosive athlete who was seen as a boom-or-bust prospect coming out of Auburn. The Steelers took a shot on him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but he hasn't lived up to his potential. Coates caught 22 passes in two years, as he dropped numerous passes and missed 12 games in that span because of injury. He appears to be a bust.
That said, I don't dislike this trade for the Browns. They need talent, and Coates has plenty of it. He's only 24, so he still has a lot of time to live up to his ability. For the price of exchanging late-round selections, I'd say it's worth it. This also makes sense for the Steelers, who had a log jam at wideout. This seems like an even deal for both teams.
Patriots acquire DE/DT ST Johnson Bademosi from Lions for 2019 6th-round pick
There have been several minor trades made today, so let's go through them quickly. Johnson Bademosi is a terrific special-teams player. He's also just 27, so it's not like he's going to become worse in that regard anytime soon.
This is a nice move by the Patriots to strengthen their special teams. The Lions are getting a 2019 sixth-rounder in return, but it doesn't seem worth it to deal Bademosi because he's very good at what he does. Getting compensation is nice, but the Lions just made themselves worse for 2017 in exchange for something that won't improve the roster until at least 2019.
Seahawks acquire DE/DT Sheldon Richardson from Jets for WR Jermaine Kearse and a 2nd-round pick
If I worked for an NFC West team not named the Seahawks, I would be extremely furious that Seattle was able to trade with the tanking Jets. The Seahawks have improved markedly as a result of this deal.
Sheldon Richardson is an extremely talented defensive lineman. He's also young, too, as he's just 26. Richardson has been playing out of position in recent years because of the presence of Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, but he's three years removed from registering eight sacks, a high number for a player at his position. He also happens to be terrific versus the run. This is a huge acquisition for the Seahawks, as their front seven is now packed with numerous Pro Bowl-caliber players. The only way this would've been better is if Seattle were able to obtain an equally talented offensive lineman, but the fans can't complain, as Richardson still improves the roster.
As for the Jets, it really depends on what this undisclosed draft compensation is. If it's a second- or third-round pick, as speculated, it's not a bad deal for them because they're rebuilding. Having an extra second-day selection in a terrific draft class - check my 2018 NFL Mock Draft here - is a huge boon for the future. They also needed a receiver, and while Jermaine Kearse isn't anything special, he's a steady guy who won't embarrass himself.
The Jets lost this trade, but given their situation, pulling the trigger on this was a logical decision.
Update: The Jets are definitely getting a second-round pick (plus, they're swapping sevenths), so I feel comfortable bumping this up from a B- to a "B" for the Jets. I still think the Seahawks deserve an "A" for this, however.
Titans acquire DE David King from Chiefs for conditional 7th-round pick
Unlike some of the trades made today, this deal won't have any sort of impact on the win and loss totals in the NFL. David King is a fringe NFL player who has barely played since being chosen in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
This deal makes sense for depth, as the Titans obtained a rotational player. He may not even play. I assume snaps have to do with the conditional part of this trade, so Tennessee may not have to give anything up. It's an even, meaningless trade as a result.
Vikings acquire CB Tramaine Brock from Seahawks for 7th-round pick
I gave the Seahawks an "A" grade for signing Tramaine Brock. It was a good deal; he was released earlier in the offseason because of domestic violence charges. Brock has since been cleared, so there aren't any ramifications for having him on the roster.
Brock provided great value as a signing, so it's strange that they'd just give him away for a seventh-round pick. The Seahawks appear to love both Shaq Griffin and Pierre Desir. That's the only thing that would explain it, but keeping Brock on the roster seems like it would have been the better move.
I'd easily give the Vikings the win for this trade. Trae Waynes has struggled, so Brock can challenge him and replace the departed Captain Munnerlyn. Getting Brock for just a seventh-round choice is a steal.
Seahawks acquire CB Justin Coleman from Patriots for late-round pick
Here's what Charlie Campbell wrote about Justin Coleman ahead of the 2015 NFL Draft: "Late in the process, a lot of teams have shown interest in Coleman. He is a sleeper who could end up being a third-day gem. Coleman was a 4-year contributor for the Volunteers who broke into the starting lineup as a freshman."
It's not a surprise that the Seahawks wanted to acquire Coleman, as he has some talent. He's been better as a tackler than a cover man thus far in his career, but he has some potential. It's a decent move to obtain him for a late-round pick. I also don't fault the Patriots for dealing Coleman, as they have lots of talent at the position. This is a deal that makes sense for both sides.
Falcons acquire OT/G Ty Sambrailo from Broncos for 5th-round pick
And yet another early-round offensive lineman has been dealt. Ty Sambrailo wasn't a first-round pick like Greg Robinson, Cameron Erving or Laken Tomlinson, but he was chosen in the second frame of the 2015 NFL Draft. Sambrailo has been an utter failure thus far, failing to see the field very often for the Broncos, who have endured major offensive tackle issues over the past couple of seasons. When Sambrailo has played, he's been worse than a turnstile.
I don't have much hope for Sambrailo succeeding in Atlanta. The Falcons have a strong blocking unit, save for right guard. Perhaps Sambrailo can be coached up and inserted into that spot. I don't think it's out of the question that he could provide the team with an upgrade there, though it's highly unlikely.
Though the Falcons are just taking a shot on a former second-round pick by only giving up a selection in the fifth frame, I think the Broncos won this deal. Sambrailo was so useless that he was unlikely to make the final roster, so it's great that John Elway was able to obtain something for him.
49ers acquire G Laken Tomlinson from Lions for 2019 5th-round pick
We've seen several first-round offensive linemen traded this offseason, and Laken Tomlinson is the latest player to join that exclusive club. Tomlinson, chosen in the opening frame of the 2015 NFL Draft, has been an utter failure thus far. In fact, he was projected not to survive final cuts.
The fact that the Lions obtained something for a player they had no intention of keeping makes them the winners of this deal. They effective obtained a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for free, which was a good move by their front office.
As for the 49ers, they're desperate for offensive line help, so I can understand why they would make this trade. However, we've just seen the Lions revitalize Greg Robinson's career. If the Lions could transform Robinson from a colossal bust to a decent blocker, doesn't it speak volumes that they couldn't get anything out of Tomlinson? We'll see if Tomlinson can turn his career around, but I have my doubts.
Chiefs acquire OT/C Cameron Erving from Browns for 5th-round pick
The Chiefs weren't one of the teams I highlighted that could trade for Cameron Erving, as they didn't have a need at center or right tackle. However, Erving was acquired to serve as a versatile backup. He can play four of the five positions up front. He can't play those positions well, but he can at least be penciled into the lineup at four spots.
Erving has been a complete failure thus far as a former first-round pick, routinely whiffing on blocks and getting called for penalties. However, he does have talent, so motivation has been an issue. Perhaps being with a winning organization will help him make something out of his career. We've seen it with Greg Robinson, who has improved in Detroit after floundering with the Rams. For a fifth-round pick, why not take a chance on him?
As for the Browns, it's nice that they got at least something for Erving. I get the sense that they were going to dump Erving during final cuts, so it's great that they received a fifth-round pick for him.
Steelers acquire TE Vance McDonald, 5th-round pick from 49ers for 4th-round pick
The Steelers seemed like they had their answer at tight end when Ladarius Green dominated the Giants during a regular-season victory last year. Unfortunately, Green had major concussion issues he couldn't overcome, and once all three first-round tight ends - O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, David Njoku - were off the board by the time Pittsburgh was on the clock during the 2017 NFL Draft, it was apparent that the Steelers had to trade for someone if they wanted to improve upon Jesse James in the passing game.
Vance McDonald turned out to be the answer. San Francisco's old regime gave McDonald a 5-year, $35 million contract based on his potential, but he never lived up to it. However, McDonald, a 2013 second-round pick, has never played with a competent quarterback. Now, he'll have a future Hall of Famer throwing the ball to him, and I have to think Ben Roethlisberger will make good use of McDonald's talents. Better yet, the Steelers are surrendering next to nothing for McDonald. Pittsburgh will be selecting at the end of the fourth round, while San Francisco will be picking atop the next frame. Thus, the difference between the two selections will be a 3-5 choices, plus however many compensatory picks there are the end of Round 4.
The Steelers definitely won this trade. As for the 49ers, it didn't sound like they wanted to keep McDonald around at his price, so he likely was going to be a final cut. Moving up 6-12 spots in the third day of the 2018 NFL Draft is better than nothing.
Patriots acquire LB Marquis Flowers from Bengals for conditional 7th-round pick
This is a minor trade that seems to make sense for both teams. The Patriots like to collect mix-and-match linebackers they can use depending on the weekly matchup, so Marquis Flowers will provide depth and an option in that regard. He'll primarily serve as a boost on special teams. For a conditional seventh-round pick, he seems worth it.
As for the Bengals, they're deep at linebacker, so they probably figured they weren't going to have Flowers make the final 53-man roster. So, getting something for Flowers is a solid move.
Saints acquire LS Jon Dorenbos from Eagles for 7th-round pick
Jon Dorenbos has been a professional long-snapper in Philadelphia since 2006. He's also a magician, as he reached the finals of America's Got Talent a year ago. Now, general manager Howie Roseman can say that he's a magician as well, as he obtained a draft pick for a long-snapper.
There are two ways to look at this trade. On one hand, Dorenbos has been with the Eagles forever. Not only has he been terrific at his job, but he's also served as a great guy in the locker room for a long time. To trade him for a seventh-round pick seems callous. Is a seventh-round pick really worth getting rid of someone who has provided so many great years of service? On the other hand, getting any sort of compensation for a long-snapper has to be considered a win. The Eagles must have faith in replacement Rick Lovato to pull the trigger on this, so from a pure value perspective, the Eagles have won this trade.
As for the Saints, I don't know if it's worth giving up an asset, even if it's a seventh-rounder, for a 37-year-old long-snapper. I don't think it's a horrible trade, however, as they do improve at the position.
Chiefs acquire ILB Reggie Ragland from Bills for 2019 4th-round pick
The Bills continue to dump players acquired by the previous regime. This time, Reggie Ragland was dealt to the Chiefs. Ragland was chosen in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, but never played a single down for Buffalo because of a torn ACL.
I think this trade makes sense for both sides. The Bills are tanking, and acquiring as many picks as possible in the next couple of drafts. While it would normally be logical to keep a young player around for the rebuilding process - Ragland turns 24 in September - he just wasn't a good fit for Sean McDermott's scheme. Ragland wasn't practicing or playing with the starters. In fact, he was demoted to the third-team defense in August.
However, he seems like he'd be a better fit for Kansas City's 3-4 scheme. The Chiefs also need linebacker help, as Derrick Johnson is coming off a torn Achilles. It's unclear if Ragland is over his own injury, but Kansas City will at least have a possible successor for Johnson whom defensive coordinator Bob Sutton can develop.
Jets acquire S Terrence Brooks from Eagles for CB Dexter McDougle
Everyone, stop your fantasy drafts right now! A big trade has been made, so you might want to restart all of your drafts!
This trade obviously isn't a big deal at all. Terrence Brooks is a pedestrian special-teams player, while Dexter McDougle is an oft-injured cornerback. McDougle has enjoyed a solid training camp, so the Eagles could get something out of him, depth-wise. I think Philadelphia won this deal, as I'd rather have the upside than a mediocre special-teamer. Still, this trade probably won't matter at all, as the most likely scenario is that neither player will do much for his team.
Seahawks acquire T/G Matt Tobin, 7th-round pick from Eagles for 5th-round pick
As a Hall of Fame running back once said, desperate times call for desperate measurements. The Seahawks measured the talent on their offensive line in the wake of George Fant's injury and determined that they had to be in desperation mode. Thus, they acquired Matt Tobin from the Eagles for a swap of third-day picks.
Tobin is not any sort of viable solution. He has never played well in his career. He's still somewhat young (27) and could be coached up, but his glaring lack of pass-protection skills would make it difficult for him to keep a plastic bag blowing in the wind from reaching the backfield. I feel like the Seahawks should've been able to do something better, even though I won't punish them too much because they aren't giving up a substantial amount.
The Eagles, however, won this trade quite easily. I don't know if Tobin would've even made their 53-man roster, so dealing a practice squad-caliber player to be able to move up two rounds is a terrific move.
Bills acquire WR Jordan Matthews, 3rd-round pick from Eagles for CB Ronald Darby
When I saw that Sammy Watkins was traded, I tweeted out a link to the NFL Free Agent Wide Receiver Rankings for a potential replacement. Little did I know that Buffalo also dealt for Jordan Matthews.
Matthews is not an adequate replacement for Watkins. The latter is a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the NFL when healthy. Matthews is an above-average No. 2 and a solid slot option. He's definitely not a bad player to have in an offense, but he's the Bills' top wideout right now unless Zay Jones explodes as a rookie. As the Eagles learned last year, Matthews cannot be a No. 1.
That said, the Bills did not lose this trade by nearly as much as they did in the Watkins swap. Acquiring a third-round pick and Matthews for Ronald Darby isn't a bad deal. The 2018 NFL Draft class is loaded - check out the 2018 NFL Mock Draft - so it's nice that Buffalo has two selections in each of the first three rounds.
I still think the Eagles won this trade, however. They were going to get rid of Matthews one way or another, so effectively trading a third-round pick for Ronald Darby is a great move. Darby, a 2015 second-round pick, had an excellent rookie campaign. He struggled last year because of a lingering hamstring injury, but he has the talent to rebound. The Eagles were desperate for a cornerback, and Darby provides a major upgrade. With Sidney Jones coming back in 2018, Philadelphia could have an excellent cornerback duo next year.
Rams acquire WR Sammy Watkins, 6th-round pick from Bills for CB E.J. Gaines, 2nd-round pick
Wow, where did this come from!? Jordan Matthews was rumored to be available via trade, but not Sammy Watkins. Buffalo's star receiver was outstanding in last night's preseason game versus the Vikings, appearing healthy for the first time in a while. The Bills apparently didn't care, dealing him to the Rams for an exchange of draft picks and cornerback E.J. Gaines.
I suppose this is a sign that the Bills are tanking. Aside from LeSean McCoy, Watkins was the only proven play-maker they had on offense. Zay Jones is a mere rookie, while Anquan Boldin is on his last legs. They acquired Jordan Matthews, but he's a mediocre talent. Watkins, when healthy, gave the Bills a legitimate downfield threat, but they don't have that anymore unless Jones proves himself as a rookie.
I can't give the Bills a good grade for this trade. Gaines has some promise, but he struggled immensely last year because he was injured. He could rebound - he was halfway decent as a rookie in 2014, but then missed all of 2015 - but that's not something the Bills can count on. Getting a second-round pick for their sixth isn't enough. This is a solid move if the Bills plan to tank, but if that's the case, why did they re-sign Tyrod Taylor?
As for the Rams, this was an outstanding move for them. They lacked a No. 1 wideout - Robert Woods and Tavon Austin were battling for that distinction - but now Jared Goof has a lethal target at his disposal. Sure, Watkins has injury concerns, but he's absolutely worth it based on what the Rams gave up for him. Going from a second to a sixth and trading Gaines is not a big deal if it means adding a Pro Bowl talent. The Rams won this trade by a long shot.
Chiefs acquire LB Kevin Pierre-Louis from Seahawks for LB D.J. Alexander
I initially wasn't going to grade this trade, but I received multiple requests for it, so here I am. The reason I was reluctant to grade this deal is because both teams are receiving equal, yet partly insignificant assets.
When I say that Kevin Pierre-Louis and D.J. Alexander are the same player, I'm not exaggerating. Neither is a factor defensively, yet both are stellar on special teams. They're both 25, and they both earn somewhere between $600,000 and $700,000. I'm not even sure why the Chiefs and Seahawks made this deal. It's like when two owners in your fantasy league trade a running back for another running back, and you wonder, "Why the hell are they doing this deal?"
Chargers acquire QB Cardale Jones from Bills for conditional 7th-round pick
A couple of days ago, I commended the Chargers for working out Robert Griffin, a young quarterback who could, at the very minimum, serve as an upgrade over pedestrian No. 2 quarterback Kellen Clemens. The upside was developing Griffin to be the quarterback of the future. Perhaps that was far-fetched, but it was a possibility at the very least.
This trade is similar to the Griffin signing, except the Chargers are going younger for more upside but less certainty this year. It's unclear if Jones can unseat Clemens this year, but he's only 24, and with some great coaching, perhaps he can compete to be Philip Rivers' successor in a few years. It probably won't work that way, but the Chargers aren't really taking a risk by giving up just a seventh-round pick.
As for the Bills, this trade isn't surprising, given that they selected Nathan Peterman in the middle rounds this past April. Buffalo should've gotten a bit more for Jones; he was a fourth-round choice in 2016 and flashed a bit in the preseason. However, he was part of the old regime, so dealing him made sense.
Broncos acquire G Allen Barbre from Eagles for conditional 2019 late-round pick
It was initially reported that the Eagles released Allen Barbre, but the Broncos weren't willing to risk losing him to another team on the open market. They ponied up by offering a conditional late-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft to acquire the 33-year-old guard.
This seems like a great move for Denver. The team spent a first-round choice on tackle Garett Bolles and signed Ronald Leary, but still had a major hole at left guard. Barbre, who was once a journeyman blocker, has worked hard and evolved into a capable starter. He'll be a definite upgrade for the Broncos, so it was a terrific decision by John Elway to acquire him, surrendering just a late-round conditional selection.
As for the Eagles, it's nice that they were able to obtain something for Barbre, considering that they were willing to release him. However, I still disagree with the decision to part ways with Barbre, so Denver is the clear winner of this trade.
Lions acquire OT Greg Robinson from Rams for 6th-round pick
It's amazing to think that Greg Robinson was once the second-overall pick in the NFL Draft. Robinson was seen as raw, but incredibly talented coming out of Auburn. Unfortunately, he has never developed. He's been awful in every facet for the Rams. They gave him numerous chances, and he has failed every time. He was recently beaten out at right tackle by someone named Jamon Brown, and there was some speculation that he would be released. Instead, he was dealt to the Lions.
There's a good chance Robinson won't make Detroit's final roster, so the front office may have just flushed a sixth-round pick down the toilet. However, I can't exactly blame the Lions for taking a shot on Robinson either. They won't have stud left tackle Taylor Decker for most, if not the entire year. They need to find a capable replacement. Robinson is highly unlikely to be capable in any sense of the word, but he at least has potential.
I won't give the Lions a poor grade for this deal because I understand where they're coming from. They're using a sixth-round pick in order to hit a home run. Unfortunately, this home run would be like a AAA player facing Roger Clemens in his prime, considering how horrendous Robinson has been in his career thus far. The Rams, meanwhile, deserve the higher grade, as they're at least getting something for a terrible player they were going to cut.
Browns acquire S Calvin Pryor from Jets for LB Demario Davis
The Browns and Jets have made a one-for-one swap on Thursday, exchanging defensive players. Both Calvin Pryor and Demario Davis have been disappointments in their careers, but this trade makes sense for both teams.
Cleveland needed a safety to start next to Jabrill Peppers. Pryor may not beat out the other safeties on the roster, but he'll have a shot. He was a first-round pick in 2014, so he at least has potential, despite the horrible start to his career. Davis, meanwhile, is back with the Jets after spending one season with the Browns. The Jets needed depth behind David Harris and Darron Lee, and Davis seems like he could be a passable third inside linebacker.
This trade seems about even, but I'm going to give the Browns a slight edge. Pryor is younger and has more potential than Davis. He's been terrible as a pro thus far, but he could turn things around and become a solid player in the NFL. It probably won't happen, but I can envision a scenario in which it does.
Raiders acquire RB Marshawn Lynch, 2018 6th-rounder from Seahawks for 2018 5th-round pick
Beast Mode is headed for Oakland. The Raiders acquired Marshawn Lynch for a swap of third-day selections in 2018, effectively giving up almost nothing to acquire the former Seattle runner.
If you're surprised that the Seahawks are receiving so little for Lynch, don't be. They weren't expected to really obtain anything of substance, as this trade was just a formality. Lynch was still under contract with Seattle and wasn't going to play for them, so the Seahawks did well just to receive anything.
As for the Raiders, it's unknown what they're getting with Lynch. He sat out all of 2016 after struggling the year before, failing to even average four yards per carry. Lynch looked done and worn out. Perhaps his sabbatical will give him fresh legs, and the Raiders were apparently fine with his conditioning; otherwise, they wouldn't have signed him. Lynch could do well in Oakland, as the Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Then again, he turned 31 this week, so no one should be surprised if we don't see the Beast Mode of old in 2017.
Overall, I like this move for Oakland. The Raiders needed a running back, and they're at least taking a chance on someone who was one of the best players at his position a few years ago. If Lynch struggles, the Raiders haven't really lost anything, so this is all upside.
Update: Having seen Lynch's contract, I'm downgrading this deal from an A- to a "B." Lynch could work out very well for the Raiders, but paying him $4.5 million per season seems like a lot for a 31-year-old running back who missed all of 2016 and struggled mightily the season prior to that. The Raiders overpaid, but not egregiously, so I have to drop their grade.
Patriots acquire RB Mike Gillislee from Bills for 5th-round pick
This isn't technically a trade, as the Patriots signed restricted free agent Mike Gillislee to a 2-year, $6.4 million offer sheet a week ago. The Bills had five days to match, but opted not to do so. Gillislee, as a result, is now a Patriot. New England, in turn, had to surrender a fifth-round pick to Buffalo.
I like this move for the Patriots. They wanted another running back despite signing Rex Burkhead, and Gillislee is likely better than anyone they could get in the fifth round. Gillislee is just 26, and he averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 101 attempts in 2016, scoring nine touchdowns in the process. Gillislee can take LeGarrette Blount's role, as Blount apparently was asking for more money than New England was willing to pay him. It shouldn't surprise anyone if Gillislee reaches the end zone 10-plus times in 2017.
As for the Bills, this all could've been avoided had they given Gillislee a second-round tender. Instead, they'll likely be punished for this move in their games versus New England. Sure, they're getting a fifth-rounder (No. 163 overall) back in return, but odds are that they won't be able to land a player who makes the roster with that selection.
Eagles acquire DT Timmy Jernigan, third-round pick (No. 99) from Ravens for third-round pick (No. 74)
Timmy Jernigan played extremely well as a second-round rookie in 2014. His play has regressed each year since, but wasn't a bad player by any means this past season. Jernigan notched five sacks and performed well when trying to stop the run. Still, the Ravens were frustrated by his declining performance, and Jernigan was upset about his reduced snaps, prompting this trade.
I love this move for the Eagles. They're moving down 25 spots in the third round, which isn't a huge deal considering that some of the players they're targeting in that particular round could be there at 99. Philadelphia needed defensive tackle help in the wake of Bennie Logan's departure, and Jernigan figures to fit in nicely. Jernigan is just 24, so he could turn things around and develop into a major asset for the Eagles.
The Ravens probably shouldn't have given up on Jernigan. He still has so much potential, so moving up 25 spots in the third round doesn't seem all that exciting. It's at least something though, so if Baltimore was considering cutting Jernigan, at least it got something for him.
49ers acquire C Jeremy Zuttah, 6th-rounder from Ravens for 6th-round pick
It was initially reported that the Ravens were going to cut Jeremy Zuttah, but the 49ers called in right away and asked if they could trade for him. Something like this happened earlier in the offseason when the Jaguars and Dolphins orchestrated a trade involving Branden Albert, so this sort of action is definitely not unheard of.
I like this trade for both teams. The 49ers couldn't count on courting Zuttah, so they've opted to slide down 12 spots in the sixth round to make sure they can obtain the 31-year-old. Despite being in his 30s, Zuttah is still performing on a high level. Centers typically play well into their mid-30s, so the 49ers don't need to worry about any sort of regression. He'll be a big upgrade over Daniel Kilgore, providing a much-needed boost for San Francisco's poor offensive line. That all sounds great, especially considering the price tag. Twelve spots in the sixth round is irrelevant.
As for the Ravens, they were going to release Zuttah anyway, so why not obtain something for him? Even if that something is moving up 12 spots in the sixth frame, it's at least something.
Patriots acquire WR Brandin Cooks, 4th-rounder from Saints for 1st- and 3rd-round picks
My apologies for being slow with these grades Friday evening. I just got home from a wedding rehearsal dinner (my fiancee's sister is getting married tomorrow), and I'll get to all of the grades shortly.
I have to say that despite it being speculated for days now, I'm still shocked that this deal went through. It's kind of crazy that the Patriots will have Brandin Cooks in their offense. I didn't even think they'd be in the market for a receiver because they had Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell and maybe Michael Floyd on the roster (plus Rob Gronkowski), but Bill Belichick apparently thought differently.
It's going to be fun to watch Tom Brady have a new weapon like Cooks. He hasn't had a dynamic, downfield threat like Cooks since Randy Moss. It might be instinctive to point out that Cooks could decline because he won't be playing with Drew Brees anymore, until you remember that he'll now be paired with Brady, and there theoretically shouldn't be a drop-off. The price is a bit steep for my blood, but at least New England didn't have to surrender Malcolm Butler.
I like the move for the Patriots, but I think the Saints are the winners of this deal. Cooks made it known that he didn't want to be on the roster anymore, and the Saints have two strong receivers without him in Michael Thomas and Willie Snead. New Orleans now has two first-round selections in a very deep draft, so they can use those picks to improve their woeful defense.
Patriots acquire DE Kony Ealy, 3rd-rounder from Panthers for 2nd-round pick
The Patriots are involved in their second blockbuster trade of the offseason. They acquired Dwayne Allen from the Colts a few days ago, and now they've obtained a promising player on the other side of the ball.
Kony Ealy had a tremendous performance in the Super Bowl loss against the Broncos, and he was expected to have a huge 2016 campaign. That didn't happen, however. He recorded five sacks and happened to be a liability in run support. The Panthers were apparently so disappointed with him that they were willing to deal him to New England for a swap of second-day selections.
That said, there's definitely upside for the Patriots. Ealy was a second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he won't turn 26 until December. We've seen him play lights out on the biggest stage in football, so he's definitely capable of thriving in the NFL. Perhaps he'll do that under Bill Belichick's excellent tutelage. If so, Ealy would fill a huge need at defensive end, replacing Chris Long. If not, then New England sacrificed only eight draft spots, which is probably meaningless.
For the Panthers, it's a bit odd that they're giving up on Ealy so quickly. They're moving up from the beginning of the third round to the bottom of the second frame, which just doesn't seem worth it. Why not give Ealy another shot?
Dolphins acquire DE William Hayes, 7th-rounder from Rams for 6th-round pick
I don't understand what the Rams are doing. They spent countless millions on Robert Woods on Thursday, and then they sent William Hayes packing to Miami for almost nothing Friday morning. The Rams were apparently going to cut Hayes, so they at least got something for him. That part is at least logical. What doesn't make sense is why they'd want to release Hayes in the first place.
Hayes is a solid rotational defensive end. He can play about half the snaps and do everything pretty decently. He has recorded 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons and hasn't been a liability in run support. He's a nice player to have on the defensive line, so I don't understand why the Rams were so desperate to get rid of him.
I'm sure the Dolphins don't get it either, since, you know, they traded for him. As mentioned, the Dolphins are giving up almost nothing. They're moving down from the sixth to the seventh round, which is almost meaningless. They seem like the clear-cut winners of this trade.
Browns acquire QB Brock Osweiler, 2018 2nd-round pick, 2017 6th-round pick for 2017 4th-round pick
Wow, I don't ever recall seeing anything like this in the NFL. It happens all the time in the NBA, where one team sends a highly paid player and a draft pick to another franchise for cap relief, but this doesn't happen in football. It's prevalent in basketball because of guaranteed contracts, but the Texans effectively had to pay $16 million to Osweiler no matter what. Well, not anymore. They're completely off the hook.
I actually think this is a fantastic trade for both teams. For the Texans, they now have the cap space to either sign or trade for Tony Romo. Osweiler was a complete failure, and they already admitted that they made a mistake by benching him in favor of Tom Savage. I like that they're getting rid of him and just admitting that he's a sunk cost. That's the smart thing to do rather than to stubbornly keep him around. Sure, it has cost them a second-round pick in 2018, but if that means getting Romo and competing for the Super Bowl this year, then it's worth it.
As for the Browns, they had the most cap space in the NFL entering free agency, so they can afford to have Osweiler hang out for a year for $16 million. And for a second-round pick in a loaded 2018 draft class? Why not? On top of that, perhaps the Browns will be able to develop Osweiler. He was once considered a promising quarterback, and he's only 26. Perhaps he'll amount to something. And if not, well, the Browns can just cut him next spring and not worry about it.
Patriots acquire TE Dwayne Allen, 6th-round pick from Colts for 4th-round pick
I have no idea what's going on with the free-agency tight end market. It makes absolutely no sense. The Redskins are giving Vernon Davis $5 million per year. The Colts have paid Jack Doyle more than $6 million per year. And the Cardinals handed the pedestrian Jermaine Gresham $7 million per year. These contracts would be awful in a vacuum, and that's not even taking into account the incredible 2017 NFL Draft Tight End Prospects in this class. With so many great tight ends available, there's absolutely no reason for any team to overpay for sub-par talents like Gresham, Doyle and Davis.
While smart teams that need a tight end will draft one, the Patriots did something equally intelligent. They sent what's reported to be a late-round pick to the Colts for Dwayne Allen. Indianapolis signed Allen to a $29.4 million contract a year ago, but New England will only be on the hook for $2.5 million in 2017 and $4.5 million in 2018. Yes, Allen will be earning less than the three aforementioned tight ends, and it could be argued that he's better than all of them!
The one concern with Allen is that he's injury-prone. That'll keep New England from earning an "A" grade, but I still think they won this trade if all they're giving up is a late-round selection. They needed a replacement for Martellus Bennett, who will be set to earn a ton of money based on the other tight end contracts. The Colts, meanwhile, can't be graded harshly for getting a selection for Allen, given that they just overpaid for Doyle. It makes sense for them to get rid of Allen because of that contract, but this could've been avoided had they not overpaid Doyle.
Update: The compensation is Allen and a sixth for a fourth-round pick. That's not bad at all for the Patriots, as they obviously have a late selection in the fourth frame, so moving down a round-and-a-half for a decent tight end is pretty solid. The Colts, meanwhile, will save $3 million in cap space, but that's not important because they were in the top 10 in cap space entering this week.
Dolphins acquire TE Julius Thomas from Jaguars for 2017 late-round pick
So, why couldn't the Dolphins and Jaguars just make one trade that involved sending Julius Thomas in exchange for Branden Albert? Why construct two separate deals? Do they love paperwork, or something?
This trade is pretty much like the other swap, as one team is acquiring an overpaid underachiever for almost no compensation. The only difference in this situation is that Julius Thomas is still young - he's 28, while Albert is 32 - so he has a better chance of panning out in his new home.
That said, it'll take some work. Thomas has good talent, but he's never been productive without Peyton Manning. He's also very injury-prone. He's never played a full season, missing seven of 32 possible games as a Jaguar. He potentially fills a big need for the Dolphins, but he could very easily flop.
I'm willing to grade the Dolphins slightly better than I did the Jaguars, as Thomas has more potential. Plus, Miami didn't surrender much and had $42.4 million in cap space to pay Thomas, so I won't be giving its front office a bad grade for this trade.
Jaguars acquire OT Branden Albert from Dolphins for conditional 2018 late-round pick
It was reported last week that the Dolphins were going to cut Branden Albert. They then rescinded that transaction once they learned that a team was interested in trading for him. Of course, that was the Jaguars, who were rumored to be willing to deal Julius Thomas for him. Thomas wasn't involved in this transaction, however, as Jacksonville surrendered a conditional late-round pick in 2018 for Albert.
The Dolphins have to be considered the winners of this trade at the moment. They were going to release Albert for nothing, yet the Jaguars were willing to give them compensation for him. A 2018 late-rounder isn't much, but at least it's something.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, is getting a left tackle, which it sorely needs. The team just cut Kelvin Beachum, who was damaged goods. The problem is that Albert is damaged goods as well. Albert hasn't played a full season since 2011, missing 13 games in the past three years. Albert struggled mightily in 2016, as he was never healthy. He could rebound next season, but he's now 32 and may never be the same as he once was.
The Jaguars now have to pay Albert's contract, as he counts $7.2 million against the cap. Jacksonville had more than $67.2 million in cap space, so that's not an issue. My problem is the Jaguars not really changing anything. They couldn't count on Beachum, and they now are in the same exact situation with Albert. The only thing that's different is that they possibly don't have a late-round pick in 2018. That's not the worst thing to surrender, and I'm not going to grade the Jaguars too harshly, but it's difficult to understand the thought process, given that the Dolphins were so willing to cut ties with the player Jacksonville just acquired.