Lions re-sign C Frank Ragnow (4 years, $54 million; $42 million guaranteed): B+ Grade
The Lions have made Frank Ragnow the top center in the NFL, giving him $42 million in guarantees over this new 4-year deal. Considering that Ragnow is one of the better centers in the NFL, this sort of a contract is justified.
I understand if some may see this as a ton of money for a center, but I've repeatedly stated that it could be argued that center is the most important non-quarterback position on offense. Just take a look at how teams fare when they're missing their center. Unless they have a quality backup, their offense doesn't function nearly as well. Thus, keeping Ragnow around is a great move. This isn't a bargain, so it won't escape the B+ range, but the Lions had to retain their 25-year-old Pro Bowl center.
Raiders sign CB Casey Hayward (1 year, $4 million): A Grade
The Raiders had way too many needs to address them all entering the 2021 NFL Draft. Their defense was horrendous in nearly every aspect last year, yet they couldn't focus on that in April because they lost three starting offensive linemen.
Cornerback was a position of big need that wasn't addressed, so the Raiders signed Casey Hayward. The former Charger has been a shutdown cornerback throughout his career, but took a step backward last year. It's possible that this was a fluke, and Hayward will rebound like Xavier Rhodes did off his poor season in 2019. Then again, Hayward turns 32 in September, so he could be over the hill. Regardless, the Raiders are getting a great bargain here, as there's no risk with this signing.
Ravens sign OT Alejandro Villanueva (2 years, $14 million; $8 million guaranteed): A- Grade
The Ravens were in the market for a new right tackle as soon as they traded Orlando Brown to the Chiefs. There was some thought that they would find a replacement for Brown at the end of the first round, but they passed on all tackles because they knew that had some solid veteran options available Alejandro Villanueva and Mitchell Schwartz. They went with the former, who also happened to be the healthier option.
Villanuea turns 33 in September, but he still played well for the Steelers last year. He'll decline in the near future, but perhaps moving to right tackle will help him remain a solid starter. The Ravens did well to sign him at a price that's not too expensive. I'm a fan of this signing because it fills a huge need for the Ravens. It's also great that they're stealing a key player from their arch rival.
Buccaneers re-sign WR Antonio Brown (1 year, $3.1 million): A+ Grade
They're all back. Every single one of the significant Buccaneer free agents will return for 2021. Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Leonard Fournette and Rob Gronkowski all were retained prior to today, and now Brown finalizes the list.
Brown is an unbelievable talent, even at his current age (33 in July). He comes with obvious personality issues, but he seems to behave around Tom Brady. Furthermore, this minimal contract mitigates Brown's downside. With no risk, this must be graded as an A+.
Texans sign G Lane Taylor (1 year, $1.2 million): A+ Grade
It made sense that Lane Taylor signed a 1-year deal. He's a very talented guard, but he's coming off a knee injury. He would obviously have to prove that he can perform like his former self after this medical issue.
That said, I expected Taylor's "prove it" contract to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million. I can't believe the Texans got him for just $1.2 million. It's even more absurd that another team didn't offer him more. Sure, he could regress because of his knee, but this move is zero risk and all upside.
Falcons sign S Duron Harmon (1 year, $1.2 million): B+ Grade
New England players don't have a good track record of playing well elsewhere. This shouldn't be a surprise, as Bill Belichick is no longer available to get the most out of them. However, Duron Harmon didn't follow that trajectory. He performed well for the Lions last year, so I thought he would get a better contract than this.
The Falcons won't complain. They had a big need at safety, and Harmon will fill it temporarily. There's a slight chance Harmon will regress because he turned 30 recently, but this minimal contract mitigates the downside.
Panthers sign DT DaQuan Jones (1 year, $4 million): B+ Grade
The Panthers made a high number of additions to their defense in the 2020 NFL Draft, including Derrick Brown in the opening round. However, they still needed a defensive tackle in the wake of Kawann Short's departure. Given how weak the 2021 defensive tackle class, Carolina didn't have many viable options besides signing someone like DaQuan Jones.
This is a fair deal for Jones. He's a solid, jack-of-all-trades defensive tackle. He turns 30 in December, which is a slight concern, but there's almost no risk with this contract.
Cardinals re-sign S Chris Banjo (1 year, $1.2 million): A- Grade
Chris Banjo had always been a core special teams player, but he became more important to the Cardinals this past season. He played more snaps than usual on defense because of injuries, and he did a great job in relief. He proved that he can be a valuable backup on defense, which only strengthened his value on the roster.
With that in mind, it's great that the Cardinals were able to re-sign Banjo to a 1-year deal worth $1.2 million. There would ordinarily be some risk with Banjo because he turned 31 this offseason, but this minimal deal mitigates that.
Buccaneers sign RB Giovani Bernard (1 year, $1.08 million): A+ Grade
I've been waiting for contract details on this grade since it happened last week. E-mailer Warren K. was nice enough to send me a link with the details.
It's hard to believe Giovani Bernard will be getting the absolute minimum. He'll provide a great pass-rushing presence to the backfield, which the Buccaneers sorely needed. Tampa Bay got some nice production from its running backs during the playoff run, but both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones were inconsistent in the regular season. Both dropped a high number of passes as well, which is why Tampa made this move. I love it, as it'll give the Buccaneers' passing game a boost at the minimum price.
The Buccaneers also re-signed backup cornerback Ross Cockrell to a 2-year, $2.1 million contract. I'll grade this a B+, as Cockrell is a quality depth and special-teams player.
Falcons sign KR Cordarrelle Patterson (1 year, $3 million): A- Grade
Cordarrelle Patterson has turned out to be a failure as a receiver, but he's become one of the most explosive return specialists in the NFL. He's led the league in kick return yardage over the past two years, and now he'll bring that dynamic ability to Atlanta.
It's hard to dislike this signing. Patterson will automatically improve Atlanta's special teams at a cheap price. The one downside is that Patterson turned 30 this offseason, so he'll be in decline soon. However, given the terms of this deal, there's no risk involved.
Cardinals sign G Brian Winters (1 year, $1.2 million): B+ Grade
I somehow missed this signing, but e-mailer Rob L. alerted me that the Cardinals signed Brian Winters several weeks ago. The contract is one year worth $1.2 million.
This is a solid move. Winters played well in relief of some injured linemen last year in Buffalo. He should provide the same quality depth in Arizona at a cheap price. This is important because it's imperative to protect Kyler Murray, who could turn out to be injury-prone, based on his small stature. Keeping him healthy will be essential for Arizona finally making the playoffs after a long absence.
Browns sign DE Jadeveon Clowney (1 year, $10 million): B- Grade
I imagine anyone involved with Tennessee's franchise is laughing right now. The Titans signed Jadeveon Clowney last year, and all he did was disappoint in 2020. Clowney failed to register a single sack in eight games. He played the run well, but he didn't justify the $13 million price tag the Titans spent last spring.
Clowney will be getting just $3 million less for 2021 despite his underwhelming 2020 campaign. I expect him to do better this upcoming season because he'll benefit from the opposition focusing on Myles Garrett, but this still seems like way too much for a player who may not necessarily be an upgrade over Olivier Vernon. Still, there isn't too much risk here, outside of the Browns not being able to roll over this money next offseason.
Cardinals sign RB James Conner (1 year, $1.75 million): B+ Grade
It's no surprise that the Cardinals signed a running back. They lost Kenyan Drake this offseason when the Raiders overpaid him in free agency. Thus, the only viable runner on their roster was Chase Edmonds, who hasn't shown that he can carry a full workload over the course of an entire season.
James Conner could be a nice complement to Edmonds. He's a highly known name due to fantasy football and his previous medical history, but he's not as good as people think he is, so I don't deem this to be a bargain. There's also a current injury issue with Conner, who underwent toe surgery this spring. He could be 100 percent by the start of the season, but that's no guarantee. That said, there's not much risk here, so I think a B+ is a fair grade.
Panthers sign CB A.J. Bouye (2 years, $7 million): A- Grade
The Broncos cut A.J. Bouye because they owed him $13 million in the final year of his contract. He would have to sign for much less, given his age (turning 30 in August) and injury history (played seven games in 2020.) That turned out to be the case, as Bouye's deal with the Panthers is for $3.5 million per season.
This is a nice bargain. Bouye can still play well despite his age, assuming that he's healthy. There's obviously no guarantee he'll be able to stay on the field in 2021, but the Panthers aren't taking too much of a risk at this price.
Lions sign CB Quinton Dunbar (1 year, $1.3 million): A Grade
Quinton Dunbar enjoyed a stellar 2019 season for the Redskins. Conversely, his 2020 was horrendous. It began with an off-the-field scandal with DeAndre Baker, and then his play plummeted because of a lingering knee issue. He ended up missing 10 games in Seattle.
The Lions, however, are doing well to buy Dunbar at the very lowest. Dunbar is not 30 yet, so there's a good chance he'll bounce back in 2021. He may not play as well as he did in 2019, but even if he performs at 75 percent of his capacity from two years ago, he'll be a steal at just $1.13 million.
Eagles sign LB Eric Wilson (1 year, $3.25 million): A Grade
The Eagles have endured a rough offseason thus far. They lost several key players, including Carson Wentz, whom they sold low to the Colts. They haven't really obtained any significant players, unless Anthony Harris can rebound off a down 2020. That changed in the wake of this signing.
Eric Wilson is a linebacker with good coverage talent. He's also just 26, so he has room for growth. The Eagles had one of the league's worst linebacking corps in the NFL last year, so Wilson should provide a huge boost. He was added cheaply, so I love this signing.
Titans sign CB Janoris Jenkins (2 years, $15 million; $7.5 million guaranteed): B Grade
We've been waiting on Janoris Jenkins' contract information for quite some time. We finally have it, as Jenkins' 2-year, $15 million deal is really a 1-year agreement worth slightly less than $9 million.
Jenkins struggled in his final seasons with the Giants, but rebounded with the Saints. There's a chance he'll continue to play well with Tennessee, but he could also regress because he turns 33 in October and won't have as strong of a pass rush supporting him on his new team.
I don't mind this signing because it's really only for one year, but this salary is a bit higher than what I would've paid Jenkins.
Giants sign NT Danny Shelton (1 year, $1.13 million): A- Grade
The Giants overpaid Leonard Williams this offseason, so when I saw they signed Danny Shelton, I assumed they gave him too much money as well. We can see that's not the case now that these contract details have been released.
Shelton is ordinarily a stout run stuffer, but he's coming off his worst season. He battled numerous knee injuries, and he was ineffective for Detroit as a consequence. It's understandable why he had to settle for such a small contract.
That said, Shelton is still young enough to bounce back with a strong season. Shelton is 28, so if he can get over his knee injuries, he can help the Giants' run defense. If not, New York won't be penalized at all with this minuscule deal.
Bears sign RB Damien Williams (1 year, $1.13 million): B Grade
I'm a bit surprised Damien Williams signed with anyone. He abandoned the Chiefs last year, giving up his job for no good reason. The Chiefs understandably cut him once they were able to do so. NFL coaches cherish loyalty from their players, so I figured Williams would be a constant name available on the open market, much like other known running backs like Jay Ajayi. Instead, the Bears signed Williams to a small deal.
This signing has some upside. Williams performed well with the Chiefs, so he could be a good backup/third-down back in Chicago. Granted, Williams played with Patrick Mahomes, so he won't be as effective in his new home, but there is some potential with this signing. Then again, Williams showed no regard for his football career a year ago, so it's likely we'll see regression from him.
Browns sign DT Malik Jackson (1 year, $3.75 million): A- Grade
More contract details that have been released! Malik Jackson signed for one year like Sidney Jones and Nick Martin, but his contract is for more ($3.75 million.)
It'll be interesting to see how Jackson performs this year. He's been in a steady decline in recent years, thanks in part to a broken foot in 2019. Age is likely a factor as well; Jackson turned 31 in January. However, there's a decent chance Jackson rebounds this season. Not only is Jackson going to be another year removed from his injury; he's leaving Philadelphia. The Eagles' previous coaching staff was terrible, as evidenced by all the players who improved after leaving the team (Nelson Agholor, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, etc.) Jackson could also see a similar spike in production.
There's plenty of upside with this signing for it to be graded in the "A" range. There's a chance this fails as well, but the Browns won't be penalized much if that happens.
Raiders sign C Nick Martin (1 year, $1.25 million): B+ Grade
Here are more contract details that have been released long after the initial signing. Nick Martin's 1-year deal with the Raiders will be worth $1.25 million.
I have no idea what the Raiders are doing. Not that this is a bad signing; but the Raiders opted to trade stellar center Rodney Hudson for next to nothing, only to replace him with either Martin or Andre James. The latter is the favorite to win the job, but Martin certainly has a shot. He was a sub-par starting center for the Texans, and he was released because he was far too expensive for his talents after signing a 3-year, $33 million contract (nice job, Bill O'Brien.)
Getting Martin for only $1.25 million is a nice deal, so I'm going to grade this signing favorably. However, the Raiders' severe downtrend can't be ignored.
Jaguars re-sign CB Sidney Jones (1 year, $1.75 million): A Grade
It's been nearly a month, but we finally have Sidney Jones' contract details. He signed a 1-year deal worth $1.75 million. I don't know why this information took so long to be released, but better late than never.
Jones is known most as a second-round bust by the Eagles. Philadelphia took a shot on him after he plummeted in the NFL Draft in the wake of an injury, but he never rewarded them. He went to Jacksonville last year, and he finally began performing on a higher level. Jones was solid for the Jaguars, and he's still only 25, so I thought he would get a slightly larger contract than this. The Jaguars, however, are getting him back very cheaply, so this must be graded highly.
Bills sign OT Bobby Hart (1 year, $1.13 million): B+ Grade
Bobby Hart was signed to a cheap deal to replace Ty Nsekhe. The latter lineman was a top-level backup swing tackle for the Bills last year, but signed with Dallas this offseason. Hart will fill that role.
Hart was somewhat of a liability in pass protection as Cincinnati's starting right tackle last year, but he wasn't too bad overall. He's a solid run blocker, and he'll be better off as a backup in Buffalo. He'll provide solid depth, so this is a nice signing.
Bills sign OT Bobby Hart (1 year, $1.13 million): B+ Grade
Bobby Hart was signed to a cheap deal to replace Ty Nsekhe. The latter lineman was a top-level backup swing tackle for the Bills last year, but signed with Dallas this offseason. Hart will fill that role.
Hart was somewhat of a liability in pass protection as Cincinnati's starting right tackle last year, but he wasn't too bad overall. He's a solid run blocker, and he'll be better off as a backup in Buffalo. He'll provide solid depth, so this is a nice signing.
Ravens re-sign LB L.J. Fort (1 year, $1.1 million): A Grade
It seemed as though the Ravens were going to allow L.J. Fort to walk. He was a restricted free agent, but wasn't tendered. As it turns out, Baltimore didn't tender him because it wanted to save money.
Fort will be retained for slightly more than $1 million, which will save the Ravens double that amount. With that in mind, this is a great re-signing. Fort is a quality, two-down linebacker who performs on a high level on special teams. He's a solid role player, so it's great that the Ravens are keeping him for next to nothing.
Chiefs sign C Austin Blythe (1 year, $990,000): A+ Grade
Things seemed bleak for the Chiefs' offensive line when they cut both of their tackles earlier in the offseason. Things have changed dramatically since. They managed to sign both Joe Thuney and Kyle Long to bolster their weakness at guard, and now they improved the middle of their offensive line with Austin Blythe.
Blythe played well for the Rams last year, so I figured he would get a substantial contract. I never suspected anything like this. It's almost criminal that the Chiefs were able to land Blythe for less than $1 million for 2021. With absolutely zero risk and plenty of upside, this contract is an A+, without a doubt.
Seahawks sign WR Tyler Lockett (4 years, $69.2 million; $37 million guaranteed): D Grade
When I saw the value of this contract, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. In an offseason in which Will Fuller and JuJu Smith-Schuster received deals worth $10 million or less, the Seahawks have decided to pay Tyler Lockett nearly $70 million.
Don't get me wrong: Lockett has been a very good receiver for the Seahawks. He has caught 28 touchdowns over the past three years, and he's eclipsed 1,000 yards in both 2019 and 2020. However, he's far from an elite talent like D.K. Metcalf. He has never logged more than 1,100 yards in a season throughout his career. Lockett also turns 29 in September, so most of his contract will be spent in his 30s. You could say the Seahawks are paying on past production.
What bothers me the most about this move is that Metcalf is up for a contract soon. He'll be paid more than Lockett, which means the Seahawks will be dedicating so much money to one position.
49ers sign LB Nate Gerry (1 year, $990,000): A- Grade
Nate Gerry was utterly dreadful last year. He missed tackles, and he was even worse in coverage. He was a huge liability against aerial attacks in the seven games he played for the Eagles.
So, why does this earn an A- grade besides the cheap financial details of this contract? I like this is a buy-low opportunity. Gerry was awful in 2020 because he was bothered by an Achilles injury. He clearly wasn't 100 percent because he was much better in 2019. There's a good chance he'll rebound and serve as a quality depth player on the roster.
Vikings sign CB Mackensie Alexander (1 year, $1.13 million): A+ Grade
The Vikings used a second-round pick in 2016 on Mackensie Alexander, who performed very well in the slot for them. Given their struggles in pass defense last year, they clearly missed him when he signed a 1-year deal with the Bengals. We know they longed for him because they were able to re-sign him this spring.
I love this signing. We know Alexander will perform on a high level with the Vikings because he had done so in 2019. He knows Mike Zimmer's defense, so there won't be a transitional period. He's also 27, so there won't be any regression, and at $1.13 million, there's zero downside with him.
Cowboys sign S Damontae Kazee (1 year, $1.13 million): A- Grade
You have to feel bad for Damontae Kazee, who tore his Achilles entering his contract year. He went down in Week 4 of 2020, resulting in him signing an extremely cheap, 1-year "prove it" deal with Dallas.
Kazee had been a solid performer prior to last year. He logged a total of 10 interceptions in the two seasons ahead of 2020 with the Falcons. He could rebound and do well with the Cowboys, but it's also possible that he'll struggle coming off such a serious injury. Either way, the Cowboys won't be penalized at all for having Kazee on their roster. This is all upside.
Broncos re-sign S Kareem Jackson (1 year, $5 million): A Grade
It initially appeared as though the Broncos would lose Kareem Jackson. He was due nearly $13 million, so Denver declined his option. Fortunately for the Broncos, Jackson decided to remain loyal to the team, as he re-signed for only $5 million instead.
Jackson, a cornerback who moved to safety, has been terrific for Denver for the past two years after spending his time in Houston the rest of the decade. He could decline because he turns 33 in April, but that risk is mitigated by this contract, which carries almost no risk. This was an excellent transaction for Denver.
Titans sign WR Josh Reynolds (1 year, $1.75 million): B+ Grade
Josh Reynolds had an opportunity to sign with the Chiefs, yet he opted to go to Tennessee instead. You really have to question his judgment, as he gave up playing with Patrick Mahomes to be a part of a very heavy run-first offense instead.
Reynolds currently projects to be the No. 2 receiver for the Titans in the wake of Corey Davis' departure. That could easily change if the Titans use an early draft pick on a receiver. Ideally, Reynolds would be a tertiary option like he was with the Rams. He caught a career-high 52 passes in 2020, so he projects to be a solid contributor at a cheap price with his new team. This signing won't be overly impactful, but it's a solid move by the Titans.
Chiefs sign DT Jarran Reed (1 year, $7 million): B+ Grade
The Chiefs have an excellent defensive tackle, Chris Jones, and a fine run stuffer to play next to him, Derrick Nnadi, but they needed one more player for the rotation. Ideally, this defender would be able to generate pressure on the quarterback while being on the field for about half the snaps. That's exactly the role Jarran Reed will fill.
Reed is a quality, situational pass rusher. He recorded 10.5 sacks in 2018, and he logged 8.5 last year (includes two from the playoffs.) He can be a liability against the run, but the Chiefs don't need him to handle the rush like Seattle did. Reed can focus on getting to the quarterback.
I like this signing for the Chiefs. I think they paid him a bit too much, but it's not a big deal because this is just a 1-year contract.
Chiefs re-sign WR Demarcus Robinson (1 year, $1.2 million): A- Grade
Demarcus Robinson is well known for his exploits in fantasy football. He's had some nice statistical performances when one of the receivers ahead of him has been out of the lineup. Now, with Sammy Watkins gone, Robinson could have a larger role if the Chiefs don't spend an early selection on the position.
This is a nice deal for Robinson. He's still young (26), so he could improve upon his career high of 45 receptions from last year. If not, there is no risk with this signing, given how small the contract is.
Dolphins re-sign LB Elandon Roberts (1 year, $2 million): A Grade
Elandon Roberts is a quality, do-it-all linebacker. The Dolphins signed him away from the Patriots last year. He played well, but suffered a knee injury toward the end of the season. Thus, it's uncertain if he'll be healthy at the beginning of 2021.
Given that Roberts got hurt so late in 2020, he couldn't possibly get the money he wanted in free agency. However, he should be good to go in the second half of the year, and it's likely that he'll make this signing look like an incredible bargain. If not, the Dolphins won't stand to lose anything, as this move contains nothing but upside.
Vikings sign S Xavier Woods (1 year, $2.25 million): A Grade
The Vikings lost Anthony Harris to the Eagles in free agency, so they needed to find a replacement. This might be a fix for the short term, due to the length of the contract, but it should be a good one for 2021.
Woods played well for Dallas last year. He covered decently, though he struggled with some missed tackles. However, he's just 26, so he can improve. The Vikings seem to be getting a great deal with Woods, especially if he takes his game to another level.
Ravens sign WR Sammy Watkins (1 year, $5 million): B- Grade
This signing would've been much more exciting two years ago. For Sammy Watkins, we didn't know he would be a bust while playing with the best quarterback in the NFL. For Lamar Jackson, some may have believed in his passing upside. This would have been seen as a potentially dynamic connection.
I'd say we know better now. Watkins failed with Patrick Mahomes, so why would he succeed with a lesser passing quarterback? Jackson, meanwhile, hasn't developed much as a thrower, so it's unlikely that he'll get the most out of Watkins. Crazier things have happened, but it's difficult to be excited about this signing, despite how cheap and low-risk it is.
Buccaneers re-sign RB Leonard Fournette (1 year, $4 million): A+ Grade
It wasn't too long ago when Leonard Fournette seemed bound for a huge contract. Yet, despite a strong start to his career, he has disappointed more often than not. He ended up going to Tampa Bay, where he also struggled to start the year. However, he finished strong with a great playoff run, which gives him more hope heading into 2021.
Had the Buccaneers given Fournette anything more than a year, I would've disliked this deal because there's a history of lethargy. However, Fournette is going to be playing hard for a big contract again. The Buccaneers will be getting him at his best despite this incredibly cheap price. There's no risk either, so I love this signing.
Cardinals sign CB Malcolm Butler (1 year, $6 million): A- Grade
Malcolm Butler never lived up to the $61 million contract he signed with the Titans a few years ago. He wasn't horrible or anything, but he just wasn't as good as the money he received. Tennessee had to cut him as a consequence.
This, obviously, is a far more appropriate price for Butler. He's still a solid cornerback, and he'll be a fine replacement for the departed Patrick Peterson. He shouldn't be a No. 1 cornerback at this stage of his career, but if the Cardinals spend the 16th-overall selection on a corner and have Butler as their No. 2, that would be ideal. Either way, this is a quality signing with only a small amount of downside, stemming from Butler's age (31).
Patriots re-sign DT Lawrence Guy (4 years, $11.5 million): B Grade
This signing didn't make much sense at first glance. Why would the Patriots give a 31-year-old defensive tackle a 4-year contract? Well, as it turns out, this is really a 1-year deal worth about $3.5 million, which is a much more logical transaction.
Retaining Guy at this price is a fine move. He's a run-stopping specialist who plays between 50-65 percent of the snaps each week. He's getting up there in age - he just turned 31 - but he should continue to play at the same level in 2021.
49ers re-sign CB K'Waun Williams (1 year, $2.38 million): A Grade
The 49ers lost some defensive backs this offseason, so it was important to retain someone like K'Waun Williams. The 5-foot-9 defender is an excellent slot cornerback. Getting him back at this price is a terrific move.
This definitely should be graded in the "A" range. I almost attached a minus to the grade because Williams is now in his 30s (as of July), but he should still play at a high level in 2021. Even if he doesn't, there's no risk with this signing.
Panthers sign G John Miller (1 year, $1.1 million): A- Grade
The Panthers had to improve their offensive line this offseason, but that didn't mean replacing John Miller. In fact, it was a nice decision to re-sign him. Miller was an adequate starter last year, surrendering three sacks.
I like this move. Having a capable starter for $1.1 million is a great deal. The one concern with Miller is his injury history - he's played only one full NFL season - but that risk is mitigated by this tiny contract.
Rams sign WR DeSean Jackson (1 year, $4.5 million): F Grade
DeSean Jackson's contract details also took a while to be released. His 1-year deal is worth $4.5 million.
This is a waste of $4.5 million. In fact, it's a waste of roster space. Jackson hasn't been a viable NFL receiver since 2018, yet teams continue to pay him due to 'member berries. Jackson is a 34-year-old, injury-prone has-been, and he's also poisonous in the locker room. I'd hate this signing for the Rams even if they acquired Jackson for free.
Titans sign CB Kevin Johnson (1 year, $2.5 million): A- Grade
This signing happened more than a week ago, yet we just finally got the numbers on this contract. Kevin Johnson signed a 1-year "prove it" deal worth $2.5 million.
It would make sense that Johnson would have to take this sort of deal. Johnson is normally a solid slot cornerback, but is coming off a down year because of nagging injuries. He can rebound and get a better contract next spring. The Titans will benefit from this in the short term, as they needed a slot cornerback to replace the departed Adoree Jackson. This is a solid signing with no downside.
Seahawks re-sign DE Carlos Dunlap (2 years, $16.6 million): B Grade
The Seahawks cut Carlos Dunlap a couple of weeks ago because they couldn't afford to pay him $14 million. It was unclear if they would be able to retain him, but they were able to do just that, keeping Dunlap at a discount.
Dunlap wasn't worth $14 million for 2020, but $8 million per season is much more reasonable. He did well for the Seahawks after they traded for him at the end of October, collecting six sacks. The only concern here is that Dunlap just turned 32, but he should be able to perform up to expectations this year.
Jets sign RB Tevin Coleman (1 year, $2 million): B+ Grade
It wasn't too long ago when Tevin Coleman was viewed as a potential solid starting running back. He had some nice performances for the Falcons, then followed Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers. He scored six touchdowns in 2019, but did nothing this past year. He carried the ball just 28 times in eight games. Those touches produced just 53 rushing yards for a 1.9 YPC average.
Coleman is still young enough (28 in April) to rebound. He's almost certainly not going to be the starter with the Jets, but he'll be a solid backup who knows the offense because he played for offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. The familiarity with the coaching staff is reason enough to grade this favorably.
Jets sign DE Vinny Curry (1 year, $1.3 million): B+ Grade
Vinny Curry is no longer the player he once was, but he can still contribute as a role player. He was on the field for 20-25 snaps per game last year in Philadelphia. He collected three sacks in the process.
The Jets needed all the pass-rushing help they could get going into free agency. They signed a stud in Carl Lawson, and now they found a cheap, viable depth player in Curry. I like this signing. It won't move the needle very much, but Curry will be a solid presence in the rotation.
Packers re-sign TE Marcedes Lewis (2 years, $8 million): D Grade
The Packers have done some very odd things lately. They wasted a pick on Jordan Love; they've allowed their key offensive linemen to leave via free agency; and they re-signed a running back to a huge deal after spending a second-round selection on the same position. Add this signing to the list, as the Packers overpaid Marcedes Lewis for no reason.
I'm not sure why the Packers felt the need to give a 37-year-old blocking tight end $4 million per year. Perhaps Lewis will do some ancillary things for this money like running the hot dog stand when the defense is on the field. Lewis is good at blocking, but he's 37. No one was going to give him more than $2 million per season, so why did the Packers give him double that sum? This isn't the worst signing we've seen, but it also makes no sense.
Lions sign LB Alex Anzalone (1 year, $1.75 million): B+ Grade
This linebacker signing occurred more recently than the one I graded beneath this write-up. More recently, as in a couple of hours ago. I'll never understand why some contract details are released immediately, and why some take forever to reach the public. I'm still waiting to grade the Sidney Jones signing from nine days ago!
At any rate, Alex Anzalone has major durability issues. He's played four or fewer games in two of his four NFL seasons thus far. The Lions won't be able to count on him to stay healthy, but they won't really have to because of the size of this deal. If Anzalone does nothing, Detroit won't be penalized at all. Conversely, if Anzalone remains on the field most of the time, he'll be a solid presence in the middle of the field.
Panthers sign LB Denzel Perryman (2 years, $6 million; $3 million guaranteed): A Grade
Denzel Perryman signed with the Panthers a week ago, but I wasn't able to grade the move because we didn't have the contract numbers. They finally came in, and Perryman received $3 million per season with that exact guaranteed amount on a 2-year deal.
This is a great contract for Perryman. He's cheap and comes with very little risk, and yet he could be a big difference-maker for the Panthers, who have struggled against the run for years. Perryman is an excellent, two-down defender against ground attacks, so the Panthers did a great job of obtaining him cheaply.
Colts re-sign WR T.Y. Hilton (1 year, $10 million; $8 million guaranteed): A- Grade
It sounded like the Colts were interested in signing Sammy Watkins, but perhaps they were using that as leverage in their negotiations with T.Y. Hilton. They were able to retain their long-time receiver for a 1-year "prove it" deal as a consequence.
Hilton did not play well for most of 2020, but he caught fire toward the end of the season. Part of that could have been Philip Rivers' regression. Carson Wentz has a better arm right now, so Hilton's outlook is brighter with his new quarterback. Hilton's age (32 in November) and durability are concerns, but those are mitigated by this short-term contract.
Patriots re-sign RB James White (1 year, $2.5 million): A Grade
I'm shocked James White didn't sign with the Buccaneers. It seemed like the perfect fit, especially with Leonard Fournette bound to leave. Instead, White will be back with the Patriots once again.
Cam Newton should be thrilled to have White at his disposal again. White is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, and he's well worth his $2.5 million price tag. There's no downside to this signing, so it should be graded very highly.
Buccaneers re-sign DT Ndamukong Suh (1 year, $10 million): B- Grade
The band is truly back together. The Buccaneers had a number of key free agents entering this offseason: Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, Antonio Brown, Ndamukong Suh and Rob Gronkowski. With Suh returning, the only player not under contract is now Brown, and Tampa is reportedly negotiating with him as well.
I'm a bit surprised Suh returned. He was once one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, but he's declined now that he's in their mid-30s. He can still play well, but I don't think his performance from last year warrants this $10 million price tag. Still, there's not much long-term risk with this signing, so I'm fine with Tampa re-signing Suh.
Seahawks sign DE Kerry Hyder (3 years, $16.5 million): C+ Grade
I just wrote that re-signing Benson Mayowa was not the cure for Seattle's lackluster pass rush. But what about signing Kerry Hyder? Surely that would be impactful, right?
This move is definitely more meaningful. Hyder logged 8.5 sacks for the 49ers in 2020 when playing in relief of injured starters. Hyder has good edge-rushing talent, and he can be a fine No. 2 edge rusher. However, the problem with him is that he's now 30, so there's a chance for a decline, especially toward the end of this contract. I like that the Seahawks are taking a player from the 49ers, but this isn't a great move overall, due to the length of this deal, as well as Hyder's age.
Seahawks re-sign DE Benson Mayowa (2 years, $8.8 million): B Grade
The Seahawks need to improve their woeful pass rush, and this is no solution. Benson Mayowa, of course, played for the Seahawks last year after bouncing around the league.
That said, Mayowa can be a fine role player if better talent is added at the position. He has recorded 13 total sacks over the past two years, including six in 2020. Mayowa was re-signed to an appropriate sum of money, so I'm fine with giving this a "B" grade.
Eagles sign QB Joe Flacco (1 year, $7.5 million; $3.5 million guaranteed): F Grade
I'll let Kenny take it away, as he reported the news on our free agency breakdown video:
"2020: Flacco signed with the Jets, one year, $1.5 million. He went 0-4 and was the second-worst PFF-rated quarterback, and today signed 1-year, $3.5 million contract. What a deal!"
Yeah. I have no idea what the Eagles are doing anymore. This makes no sense. Why do the Eagles need Joe Flacco? They're a horrible team that should be adding young players with upside so they can build a new roster. They would've been better off giving Mitchell Trubisky the same amount. Flacco will just rot on the roster, as the Eagles flushed $3.5 million in guarantees down the toilet.
Packers re-sign CB Kevin King (1 years, $6 million): B Grade
I can't imagine Packer fans are happy about this. After all, Kevin King was torched mercilessly against the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship. Despite this, King will return to Green Bay for at least one more year.
In King's defense, he was not 100 percent in the loss to the Buccaneers. Granted, he's not a very good cornerback, but when he's healthy, he's not terrible either. He's a fine depth option, and he's not a total liability as a starter when not hobbled with an injury. I think it was a fine decision to bring him back for one year, just in case Green Bay can't find a proper replacement in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Falcons sign RB Mike Davis (2 years, $5.5 million): A Grade
The Falcons haven't possessed a potent rushing attack in years. They had to make sure that changed after dealing with Todd Gurley's arthritic knees last year, and they managed to do so with a very cheap signing.
Mike Davis was mostly an unknown heading into 2020, but he took over for Christian McCaffrey once the All-Pro running back got hurt, and he thrived as a replacement. He didn't reach four yards per carry (3.9), but he was a stellar receiver out of the backfield, catching 59 passes.
Davis isn't the final solution to Atlanta's rushing problem, but he can pair excellently with a rookie running back chosen in Rounds 2-4 because he can serve as the third-down back, while the rookie gets the workload on other downs.
Giants sign CB Adoree Jackson (3 years, $39 million): B+ Grade
It wasn't that long ago that the Giants had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Thanks to the moves they've made in the past couple of offseasons, however, they could have one of the top aerial stop units in the league.
Adoree Jackson is a great addition to the Giants' roster. He's an extremely talented player, and he's only 25. He's also a very versatile. The one downside with him is his injury history; he's been limited to 14 games the past two years.
This can't be graded an "A" because there's plenty of risk with Jackson. However, the upside is enormous. If Jackson can bounce back and remain on the field, the Giants will be extremely difficult to throw against.
Jets sign DT Sheldon Rankins (2 years, $17 million): B+ Grade
Sheldon Rankins had a nice start to his career after being selected 12th overall in 2016. He was great in his second and third seasons, but has struggled the two years after that. He especially didn't look right in 2020, which was likely the byproduct of two Achilles tears since a playoff game during the 2018 campaign.
Rankins still has time to turn his career around. He's only 27 (as of April), and he'll be well removed from his Achilles tears when the 2021 season begins. There's a good chance he'll reemerge this upcoming year, and if so, the Jets will look very smart signing him. This is risky enough that I would have preferred a 1-year contract, but this value is still good enough to warrant a B+ grade.
Colts re-sign CB Xavier Rhodes (1 year, $6.5 million): A+ Grade
The Colts signed Xavier Rhodes to a 1-year "prove it" deal last year. This is the only sort of contract Rhodes could have signed, given how terrible he was for the Vikings in 2019. He must have dealt with an undisclosed injury because he rebounded terrifically for the Colts. He was a shutdown cornerback in 2020.
I figured Rhodes would sign a contract for a longer term this offseason after how he played in 2020, but apparently not. Rhodes had to settle for another prove-it deal, which is surprising. It has to be music to the Colts' ears though, because they get to retain a very talented player for a cheap, no-risk deal.
Broncos sign CB Kyle Fuller (1 year, $9.5 million): A+ Grade
This signing makes so much sense. Despite the Broncos signing Ronald Darby earlier in the week, they still needed to address their need at cornerback. Not only is Kyle Fuller a great option to plug that hole; he's a great fit in Vic Fangio's scheme. We know this because Fuller played for Fangio in Chicago, and he thrived under Denver's current head coach.
Best of all, this signing doesn't come with much risk. Fuller will be paid $9 million in 2021, but this is just a 1-year contract, so there aren't many long-term ramifications if Fuller busts for some reason.
Giants sign WR Kenny Golladay (4 years, $72 million; $40 million guaranteed): A Grade
Daniel Jones had an impressive rookie year, but struggled in his sophomore campaign. There won't be any excuses if he disappoints again, however. Saquon Barkley will return from injury, and Nate Solder will be back from his opt-out. The Giants also signed Kyle Rudolph and now Kenny Golladay, who joined the team for a huge contract that includes $40 million in guarantees.
I love this signing for the Giants. I would ordinarily grade something like this as a B+ because this signing is not a bargain - it's not an overpay either; Golladay is getting exactly what he deserves - but it's something that New York absolutely had to do. The front office had to make sure Jones succeeds and doesn't become a bust. Also, Jones is on his rookie deal, so this is the exact time the Giants should be spending big bucks to bolster their roster. Golladay, a legitimate No. 1 receiver, will make the Giants a Super Bowl contender if Jones makes the leap he should have made last year.
Cowboys sign S Keanu Neal (1 year, $5 million): A Grade
It's been a quiet offseason for the Cowboys, save for the Dak Prescott extension. They've made some minor moves in free agency, but finally made a splash signing by obtaining Keanu Neal.
Neal was once a Pro Bowl-caliber safety for the Falcons, but numerous injuries have derailed his career. They've sapped Neal of his talent, though he was still a decent player last year. Neal is only 25, so he has plenty of time to turn his career around. He'll attempt to do that with the Cowboys, who managed to sign Neal to a great deal with tons of upside and very little risk.
Patriots re-sign C David Andrews (4 years, $19 million; $6.5 million guaranteed): A Grade
It seemed as though David Andrews would walk away from the Patriots when New England signed Ted Karras. There were reports of Andrews visiting other teams as well. Despite this, the Patriots welcomed back Andrews with a $19 million contract.
Retaining Andrews at this price is a great decision. He's usually one of the top centers in the NFL, though that wasn't the case last season because he was dealing with injuries. He should be able to rebound in 2021 and beyond. Assuming that happens, this contract will seem extremely cheap. Someone of Andrews' caliber deserved more than $6.5 million in guarantees on a 4-year deal.
Lions sign DE/OLB Charles Harris (1 year, $1.75 million): B Grade
Charles Harris is a mega bust from the 2017 NFL Draft. He was chosen 22nd overall, yet produced only 3.5 sacks in three years for the Dolphins. He moved to Atlanta last year and nearly matched that total (3 sacks). Progress? Maybe, but probably not.
Though Harris has done nothing in his NFL career, I like this signing. An NFL team thought highly enough of his athletic talent to take Harris in the first round. He's only 26. If he finally emerges, he wouldn't be the first one to turn his career around this way. This signing is for less than $2 million in 2021, so there's no risk either. Harris will likely accomplish nothing, and if so, Detroit won't be hurt one bit by this signing.
Texans sign DE/OLB Jordan Jenkins (2 years, $6 million): A- Grade
The Texans have made some dubious decisions this offseason, but they've sprinkled in some positive moves as well. This is a departure from the Bill O'Brien days, when Houston did nothing but destroy itself.
Jordan Jenkins is a solid No. 2 pass rusher. He recorded 15 total sacks in the two seasons prior to 2020. He struggled last year, but who didn't on the Jets? Jenkins has never had anyone to take major attention away from him. For a second, I was going to write that he would benefit from J.J. Watt's presence, but then I remembered Houston got rid of him for nothing. Jenkins will have the same problem in Houston as he did with the Jets, but I still like this signing as a low-cost acquisition with very little downside.
Panthers sign TE Dan Arnold (2 years, $6 million): B+ Grade
The Panthers had a big need at tight end in the wake of Ian Thomas' struggles. This wasn't a huge issue last year because the Panthers had three excellent receivers. That's no longer the case with Curtis Samuel now with the Redskins, so upgrading tight end was a greater priority.
Dan Arnold isn't exactly the long-term solution, but he's not the worst option if he's forced into starting in 2021. Arnold, who caught 31 passes for 438 yards for Arizona last year, played for offensive coordinator Joe Brady when the two were together in New Orleans. It's nice that Arnold won't have any sort of transitional period, so I like this decision.
Texans sign RB Phillip Lindsay (1 year, $3.25 million): A+ Grade
It's become clear that Phillip Lindsay is extremely underrated. The Broncos could have easily tendered him as a restricted free agent, but they decided not to. Then, any team could have signed Lindsay, yet the young running back had to settle for a $3.25 million contract with the Texans for one season.
Lindsay is a talented back who should have gotten a better contract. The Texans would stand to benefit from this if they had any sort of chance of making the playoffs. Still, this is a great signing, as Lindsay will be a viable starter if/when David Johnson gets hurt.
Seahawks re-sign RB Chris Carson (2 years, $14 million): B Grade
The Seahawks likely never would've imagined they'd re-sign Chris Carson to a contract worth $7 million per year when they used a first-round pick on Rashaad Penny. Yet, here we are.
Carson is a solid running back who is effective at catching passes out of the backfield. I'd say the $7 million per season is too much, but this is just a 2-year deal, so there isn't much downside. Re-signing him is fine decision.
Eagles sign S Anthony Harris (1 year, $5 million): A+ Grade
Anthony Harris would have gotten a huge contract from the Eagles - or rather, most teams - a year ago at this time. Harris was coming off a Pro Bowl campaign, so it appeared as though he was about to receive a monstrous deal. He was franchised by the Vikings instead, and he went on to struggle in 2020.
The Eagles have endured a rough offseason thus far, but they made a great signing by obtaining Harris. This is a great buy-low opportunity, as Harris comes with no risk. He'll be playing his hardest for the big contract he deserved a year ago, so he should help a poor Philadelphia secondary at a cheap price.
Bengals sign OT/G Riley Reiff (1 year, $7.5 million): A+ Grade
The Bengals have endured offensive line issues for several seasons. It's no coincidence that they've struggled to win ever since their once-stout blocking unit fell apart, so it's nice to see the front office putting an effort into fixing it. Riley Reiff is a nice addition, as he played well for the Vikings last year. Reiff is 32, so there's some downside to signing him, but not really with this contract. It's a 1-year deal, so there isn't much risk involved.
There's also an NFL Draft-related element that must be discussed, and that would be the Bengals' decision to select Penei Sewell at No. 5 overall if the stud tackle were available. This signing will absolutely not preclude the Bengals from drafting Sewell. First of all, if Cincinnati loves Sewell so much, a 1-year veteran contract will not alter their plans. Second, I designated Reiff as "OT/G" because he could end up playing guard for Cincinnati, while Sewell and Jonah Williams start at tackle. Reiff played guard at Iowa, and he also told the Vikings that he would be willing to play that position if necessary. The Bengals also need an upgrade at guard, so this wouldn't be a wasted signing if Sewell were drafted.
Texans sign S/CB Desmond King (1 year, $3 million): A+ Grade
This signing is proof of the classic saying, even a blind general manager finds a good player once in a while. The Texans have been guilty of many gaffes this offseason, but this is a great move.
Desmond King is a talented, young (26) defensive back. He's also extremely versatile. He can play all over the secondary, which is exactly what the Texans need, given the number of huge holes they had in their defensive backfield last year. King should have gotten a much larger contract than this, but Houston was somehow able to snatch him off the market for just $3 million in 2021. That's insane value, so an A+ grade is warranted.
Panthers sign WR David Moore (2 year, $4.75 million): B- Grade
I feel like people think David Moore is better than he really is. Moore sometimes has good fantasy performances, so those who play fantasy or DFS are familiar with him. Moore, however, has never eclipsed 445 receiving yards in a season despite being paired with one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
Moore's quarterbacking will obviously be worse in Carolina, so he's unlikely to finally emerge. That said, he won't be the worst No. 3 receiver in the NFL. The Panthers needed a replacement for Curtis Samuel, and they could have done worse than Moore. They're also not paying him very much, so I'm fine with this signing.
Bills sign QB Mitchell Trubisky (1 year, $2.5 million): B+ Grade
Mitchell Trubisky is an extremely rare athlete. He's gotten lots of flak for disappointing as the No. 2 overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, but no other player in NFL history can claim that he won NVP. Trubisky earned the award with a dominating loss against the Saints in the opening round of the playoffs this past season.
All kidding aside, this is a good signing. Trubisky struggled as a starter, but he can be a good backup. The average going rate for No. 2 quarterbacks is $3-4 million, so this is actually a bargain. It's also possible that the Bills could develop Trubisky. If he looks great in the preseason, they might be able to trade him.
Dolphins sign C Matt Skura (1 year, $1.75 million): A+ Grade
The Dolphins were in need of a center to replace the departed Ted Karras. Based on how Matt Skura played last year, he'll be a downgrade from Karras. Fortunately for the Dolphins, that's not guaranteed to be the case.
It's understandable why Skura was so bad in 2020. After all, he was coming off a brutal knee injury in which he tore his ACL, MCL and LCL. Now having more time to recover, Skura should return to pre-2020 form. If so, the Dolphins are getting a quality starter on a very cheap deal. If, however, Skura continues to struggle, it's not like the Dolphins cost themselves very much with this buy-low contract.
Steelers re-sign WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (1 year, $8 million): A+ Grade
Uhh... what? I've discussed some bad agents this week, but JuJu Smith-Schuster's representation might be the worst. How does one of the most talented receivers under the age of 25 receive such a small deal like this? At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if Smith-Schuster is booked as a mannequin at the local mall during weekends this summer.
Smith-Schuster has his faults. He's a head case, and he drops lots of passes. However, he's an electric player, and he's so young that he's bound to improve. He should have signed a larger deal this offseason. I mean, Corey Davis received $37.5 million, and Smith-Schuster is 10 times the receiver Davis is!
The Steelers deserve an A+ for this re-signing. They're getting a mega deal with Smith-Schuster, and they almost know that he'll be at his best because he'll be playing for a huge contract next offseason.
Bengals sign DT Larry Ogunjobi (1 years, $6.2 million; $4.6 million guaranteed): B Grade
The Bengals cut Geno Atkins today, doing so one day after signing Larry Ogunjobi. Contract details weren't available for Ogunjobi at the time, but they are now.
This is a bit more money than I would have given Ogunjobi, who is coming off a down 2020 season in Cleveland. However, he's still a solid rotational lineman, and he'll help replace Atkins. This is a solid signing, as Ogunjboi comes with little risk and is likely to be a quality role player for his new team.
Bills sign P Matt Haack (3 years, $5.5 million): B Grade
The Texans just gave a punter $8 million over three years. The Bills gave their punter slightly more than half as much over the same span. In these two signings, you can tell which franchise has its act together, and which franchise is a dumpster fire.
Matt Haack is an average punter. He's probably slightly less "talented" than Cam Johnston, but that doesn't warrant a $2.5 million difference. The Bills are paying Haack less than $2 million per year, which is about right for him.
Giants sign DE/OLB Ifeadi Odenigbo (1 year, $2.5 million): B+ Grade
There was some excitement surrounding Ifeadi Odenigbo entering 2020. He was coming off a seven-sack campaign as a part-time edge rusher for the Vikings, so with some departures, he was expected to have a big year. This did not happen, however, as Odenigbo finished with just 3.5 sacks.
The Vikings naturally parted ways with Odenigbo, but the Giants have decided to give him a shot. I like this move, as Odenigbo still has upside. The Giants aren't risking anything, so this signing should be graded favorably.
Bills re-sign CB Levi Wallace (1 year, $1.75 million): A+ Grade
It was confusing when the Bills effectively cut Levi Wallace upon failing to tender him as a restricted free agent. It was even more perplexing when Wallace returned to the team for a 1-year deal worth only $1.75 million.
Wallace needs a better agent. He's a solid No. 2 cornerback, so he should have received a contract worth at least $5 million per year. It's ridiculous that he has to play for peanuts (relatively to other NFL players of his caliber.) While Wallace's agent deserves an "F," the Bills will be graded as an A+ for this incredible bargain.
Broncos re-sign S Justin Simmons (4 years, $61 million): A- Grade
The Broncos had previously franchised Justin Simmons, but they've reached a 4-year agreement with him worth $61 million.
Simmons was chosen in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he has since blossomed into one of the top safeties in the league. The Broncos aren't paying on past production by signing him to this contract, as Simmons is just 27. He'll be in his 20s for almost the entirety of this deal.
This should be graded in the "A" range. This is not a crazy bargain, but I think it could have been argued that Simmons should have received a bit more money than this.
Texans sign P Cam Johnston (3 years, $8 million): C- Grade
The Texans are likely to trade Deshaun Watson. If so, Cam Johnston's punting leg will be very active this season. I guess that's why the Texans signed a punter to a 3-year contract.
Cam Johnston is an above-average punter, ranking ninth and 11th in net punting over the past two years. He'd be a fine addition on a short-term contract, but why would the Texans sign him to a 3-year deal? Punters grow on trees and are easily replaceable, so unless we're talking about an elite punter, they should all be signed to small contracts.
Jets sign S Lamarcus Joyner (1 year, $4.5 million): A+ Grade
Lamarcus Joyner was a terrific safety for the Rams, so naturally, the Raiders tried to use him as a slot cornerback. Joyner really struggled in that regard, prompting his release.
Joyner should bounce back in 2021, assuming the Jets will use him properly. It sounds as though the Jets will play him at safety, so there's a good chance New York will get great, or at least good play next to Marcus Maye at the position. Given that the Jets signed him to just a 1-year deal worth $4.5 million, this must be graded very highly because this is all upside and no risk.
Seahawks re-sign C Ethan Pocic (1 year, $3 million): B+ Grade
Ethan Pocic was a second-round pick, who didn't quite live up to his billing. He's been a mediocre or below-average starting center, depending on the season.
That said, Pocic has gotten better in recent years, and there's a chance he could become an above-average starter. If so, the Seahawks are getting quite the bargain with this signing. If not, Seattle isn't risking anything.
Lions sign WR Breshad Perriman (1 year, $3 million): B+ Grade
Breshad Perriman has tantalized far too many NFL decision-makers. The Ravens wasted a first-round pick on him, and after a great stint in Tampa Bay, the Jets signed Perriman, only to watch him flop.
Perriman still has potential, but wasn't able to maximize it with the Jets. The conditions didn't warrant it, but you could say the same thing about Detroit because the Sean McVay-less Jared Goff is bound to struggle. Still, there's a chance Perriman will finally live up to his great potential, so he's worth the gamble at this very cheap price.
Chiefs re-sign OT Mike Remmers (1 year, $7 million): A Grade
The Chiefs missed three offensive linemen in the Super Bowl. Mike Remmers was one of the replacements, but don't blame him for Patrick Mahomes' terrible protection. Remmers held up rather well in place of the injured Mitchell Schwartz last year.
Kansas City ended up cutting Schwartz, which seemed like an issue with Remmers set to hit free agency. However, the Chiefs managed to retain Remmers on a 1-year deal with no risk, which seems like a great decision.
Browns sign CB Troy Hill (4 years, $24 million): B Grade
Troy Hill was one of the top slot cornerbacks in the NFL last year. The Browns didn't exactly get positive production from the position because Kevin Johnson was hurt in 2020, so the Browns correctly identified this as something they needed to upgrade.
Hill should be better than Johnson, at least in the near term. I worry about his outlook down the road because he's now 30. Thus, I think the Browns should've signed him for fewer years. Still, this is a solid signing, as Hill will come in handy as the Browns attempt to defeat the Steelers and all of their receivers.
Jets sign WR Keelan Cole (1 year, $5.5 million): B Grade
Keelan Cole once showed lots of promise when he caught 42 passes for 748 yards in his rookie year. His stats have plummeted since, though he didn't exactly have the best support from his quarterbacks.
It remains to be seen if that'll still be the case with the Jets, as it's unclear if Zach Wilson or Justin Fields will pan out in the NFL. It's also unknown what role Cole will play. He's a decent slot receiver, but that spot is currently occupied by Jamison Crowder. This signing might signal that Crowder may not be on the roster much longer.
Patriots re-sign K Nick Folk (1 year, $1.225 million): B+ Grade
The Patriots overpaid for positions of lesser importance this offseason, but they at least did well with this one. This is exactly what kicker contracts are supposed to look like. Most kickers come and go, so they should be paid cheaply on short-term deals.
Nick Folk missed just two field goals last year, going 26-of-28, including 2-of-3 from 50-plus. He's not the greatest kicker, but he's solid enough to retain.
Dolphins sign WR Will Fuller (1 year, $10 million): A+ Grade
Is this the same offseason in which Corey Davis and Nelson Agholor received $37.5 and $26 million contracts? How is this the same league? I feel like we're having two different free agency periods occurring at the same time right now.
I hated the Davis and Agholor signings. This one is amazing. Will Fuller is an extremely talented receiver. He's very explosive and will make plenty of downfield plays for Tua Tagovailoa. He'll be especially potent as a No. 2 receiver, a role he held with the Texans before DeAndre Hopkins was traded.
The one negative with Fuller is that he has a very checkered injury history. However, this contract mitigates that risk. If Fuller gets banged up again, the Dolphins can just move on without too much of a penalty.
Cardinals sign K Matt Prater (2 years, $7 million): B Grade
I hate big contracts given to kickers. Luckily, this isn't one of those, as the Cardinals will be paying Matt Prater $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
Prater is coming off his first sub-80 percent season since 2011. He missed seven field goals (21-of-28), though four of those whiffs were from beyond 50, where he was 6-of-10. Prater is still a solid kicker, so this is a fine move for Arizona.
Raiders sign DT Quinton Jefferson (1 year, $3.25 million): A Grade
I certainly can't berate Mike Mayock for this signing. Mayock's endured a miserable free agency period thus far, but there have been some bright spots amid the reckless moves. This is one of them.
I love that the Raiders are buying low on Quinton Jefferson. The former Seahawk and Bill was stellar for the former team in 2019, but then signed with Buffalo and struggled last season. Jefferson is still in his mid-20s, so there's no logical reason for a decline. He could easily bounce back next year, which will be especially great for the Raiders because they have him signed to such a cheap contract.
Saints re-sign CB P.J. Williams (1 year, $2.3 million): C+ Grade
It's definitely not ideal if the Saints retain P.J. Williams to be their slot cornerback, given that he is an inconsistent player who struggled last year. However, given the Saints' cap difficulties, they'll have to make plenty of concessions, and this appears to be one of them.
While this isn't a great move by any means, it's not a bad one either. Williams knows the defensive scheme, and he's still young enough (27) not to regress and be worse than he was in 2020.
Giants sign TE Kyle Rudolph (2 years, $14 million): C Grade
I've vowed to assign "F" grades whenever non-elite tight ends sign big contacts. My threshold for this was $20 million over, so we're not quite there with this Rudolph signing.
That said, I'm not a huge fan. I'm not sure why the Giants felt as though they needed to give $7 million per year to a player past his prime. Kyle Rudolph can still block well, which will help Daniel Jones, but the Giants could have gone with a much cheaper option without spoiling any upside.
Raiders sign RB Kenyan Drake (2 years, $11 million): D Grade
Mike Mayock is having a rough offseason thus far. He gutted his offensive line to save enough money for ... Kenyan Drake!?
Why are the Raiders paying a backup running back so much money? They could have signed Marlon Mack to a 1-year deal worth $3 million, or Mike Boone to a 2-year contract worth $3 million (both got less from the teams that signed them.) Drake isn't much better than either player. He's a rather mediocre back. He's a fine insurance policy for Josh Jacobs, but the Raiders could've obtained their backup plan for much less.
Chargers sign TE Jared Cook (1 year, $6 million): B Grade
The Chargers lost Hunter Henry to the Patriots in free agency, so they needed to find someone to replace him. Jared Cook, who turns 34 in April, is obviously not a long-term solution, but he'll be able to serve as a starter while the Chargers develop someone else this year.
This is a decent signing. It's a bit more than what I would've paid for a declining player like Cook, but this is a 1-year deal, so there's not much long-term risk. Justin Herbert should like having a veteran presence at his disposal rather than a rookie tight end who will endure growing pains while being thrown into the fire.
Raiders sign DE Solomon Thomas (1 year, $5 million): B Grade
Solomon Thomas was a colossal bust from the 2017 NFL Draft. He was chosen third overall by the 49ers. One VP of player personnel told me that he expected San Francisco to draft Patrick Mahomes instead. I guess the 49ers chose the wrong player, huh?
Despite Thomas being an enormous bust - he has six sacks in 48 career games - he's pretty decent in run support. Had he been chosen on Day 2 of the NFL Draft, we'd think he has carved out a solid career for himself. So, even if he doesn't improve, he'll still be a contributor of sorts for the Raiders. There's also upside here, too, but given that Robert Saleh couldn't get much out of Thomas, he's probably a lost cause as a pass rusher.
I'd say $5 million is a bit more than what I would've given Thomas, but I think this signing is fine. It's a 1-year deal, so it won't hurt the Raiders very much in the long run.
Raiders re-sign G Richie Incognito (1 year, $2.62 million): A Grade
Mike Mayock was losing his mind when he attempted to cut three-fifths of the Raiders' offensive line. The Cardinals and Seahawks stepped in at the 11th hour and told him that they wanted to trade for Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson, respectively. While Mayock screwed up with Hudson and Jackson, he at least got one thing right when he released Richie Incognito.
Incognito was a stellar blocker in 2019, but he missed all but two games last season with an ankle injury. He was making too much money, so Mayock's plan was to cut Incognito and then re-sign him to a cheaper deal. This would've backfired had Incognito gone elsewhere, but the planned worked. The Raiders managed to retain Incognito for just $2.62 million, which was a great move. The concern with Incognito is that he turns 38 in July, but he showed no signs of slowing down prior to his ankle injury, so he could continue to perform on a high level. If not, the Raiders won't exactly be penalized by this contract.
Raiders re-sign DT Johnathan Hankins (1 year, $3.5 million): B+ Grade
Johnathan Hankins is a monstrous run stuffer, but doesn't offer very much as far as being a pass rusher is concerned. He shouldn't have gotten any sort of large contract, so the $3.5 million for 2021 seems right.
This is a fine signing. Hankins is a quality role player to have on the team, and the Raiders won't be risking anything to have him rostered for at least one more season.
Browns re-sign WR Rashard Higgins (1 year, $2.38 million): B+ Grade
Rashard Higgins did a good job when taking over for an injured Odell Beckham Jr. last season, finishing the year with 599 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. Keep in mind that he barely saw any action until Week 7 because the Browns like to operate in two-receiver sets.
Given that Higgins showed well, I was wondering if he would get a larger contract this offseason. Apparently not, as he'll be back with the team for just $2.38 million. This is a nice re-signing, as Higgins will once again provide quality depth despite not playing much until either Beckham or Jarvis Landry gets injured.
Raiders sign WR John Brown (1 year, $3.75 million): A Grade
I've criticized Mike Mayock heavily on the NFL Trades Grades page for trying to cut players other teams were willing to acquire, but I'll have to give him credit for this outstanding signing. Then again, because this is an offensive player, it's possible that Jon Gruden coaxed Mayock into the move.
It's amazing that the Raiders were able to get such a great deal on John Brown. Sure, he has an extensive injury history, but that's mitigated by this contract because it carries no risk. Brown, when healthy, is going to be an upgrade over Nelson Agholor, who signed an inexplicable $26 million contract earlier this week. Somehow, the Raiders got the better player for $23 million less.
Patriots sign LB Kyle Van Noy (2 years, $13.2 million): A- Grade
Who didn't see this coming? Kyle Van Noy is a long-time Patriot who joined the Dolphins prior to the 2020 season. He was a bit of a disappointment in Miami, but only because of lingering hip and groin injuries.
Van Noy will feel right at home back in New England. He's the prototypical Bill Belichick defender, after all. He's extremely versatile, and he's good at everything. Having him back on the roster will be a nice boost.
I really like this signing. My only concern with it is that Van Noy is now 30, but he should be able to rebound off his down year.
Vikings sign CB Patrick Peterson (1 year, $10 million): A Grade
This is the Vikings learning from their own mistake last year. Their previous top cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, was torched mercilessly in 2019. Minnesota gave up on him, but the Colts decided to give him a chance. Rhodes turned out to be one of the top cornerbacks this past season.
Patrick Peterson, like Rhodes in 2019, saw a big decline suddenly. He had his worst season, but is definitely capable of rebounding. The Vikings are betting on him to do so, but the stakes aren't very high. They've given him a 1-year "prove it" deal. It's for $10 million, but there aren't many long-term ramifications for signing Peterson. This is mostly upside, so this signing should be graded very favorably.
Cowboys re-sign CB Jourdan Lewis (3 years, $16 million): C- Grade
When I saw that the Cowboys re-signed Jourdan Lewis, I figured it was for a 1-year deal worth $2-3 million or so. Lewis, after all, was one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL last year. He was one of the few reasons why the Cowboys were so terrible against the pass in 2020.
I guess the Cowboys didn't watch tape of their own player? That's my only explanation for this bizarre deal. This signing isn't a complete failure because Lewis enjoyed some bright moments in the past, and he's only 25, but it doesn't make sense why Dallas would pay him so much.
Redskins sign WR Curtis Samuel (3 years, $34.5 million; $24.5 million guaranteed): B+ Grade
Curtis Samuel had a poor start to his career, but came on strong in recent years. He was terrific last season, as he was used in many facets, especially after Christian McCaffrey was lost for the year.
The Redskins needed another receiving weapon to go along with Terry McLaurin. Samuel seems perfect for that role, especially when considering that he played for Ron Rivera in Carolina. The Redskins use their skill players creatively, so it'll be exciting to see what they do with Samuel.
Buccaneers re-sign K Ryan Succop (3 years, $12 million): C Grade
Unless you're talking about the Justin Tuckers and the Adam Vinatieris, kickers come and go. I'm always going to be opposed to teams giving long-term deals to the non-elite kickers, and that would include this signing.
Succop is coming off a great year in regard to his field goals, though he missed five extra points. He could easily regress overall, which would make this contract look terrible. I understand that the Buccaneers have endured kicking issues throughout the years, but this wasn't a good decision.
Broncos sign RB Mike Boone (2 years, $2.6 million): B+ Grade
Mike Boone is the Walter Payton of the preseason. He's always dominated meaningless August games, but never gotten much of a chance to play in the regular season. It's not like he'll have that opportunity in Denver, given that Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are on the roster.
However, Lindsay is due to hit free agency next offseason, so Boone could be the No. 2 back in 2022. If so, he'll be a very cheap, quality backup, so I like this move.
Seahawks sign TE Gerald Everett (1 year, $6 million): A- Grade
I wonder if front office personnel around the NFL read my breakdown of tight ends busting at a 100-percent rate because I was sure Gerald Everett was going to receive a contract in the neighborhood of $30 million. This, obviously, is far more reasonable.
Everett has a ton of upside, but has yet to live up to it. That may have been because of Jared Goff's incompetence. Everett will have a better chance to thrive with Russell Wilson.
I like this move for the Seahawks. They've stolen a talented player from a rival, and they won't be paying him very much. There's no downside to this, so how can anyone hate this signing?
Panthers sign DE/DT Morgan Fox (2 years, $8.1 million): B+ Grade
The Panthers possessed a horrible defense last year, so they made sure to add some talent to their front seven. One of those additions is Morgan Fox, who collected six sacks for the Rams in 2020.
It could be argued that Fox's six sacks were a byproduct of the opposition paying attention to Aaron Donald, but Fox will benefit from Brian Burns and Derrick Brown commanding respect. Fox should serve well as a rotational pass rusher in the interior. This is a solid move, as the price is about right where it should be.
Chiefs sign G Kyle Long (1 year, $5 million): A Grade
Kansas City's offensive line appeared very dubious last week when they cut Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. They've since added two mega talents, acquiring Joe Thuney and now Kyle Long.
Long retired after the 2019 season, but has returned at the age of 32. He's apparently in good enough shape for the Chiefs to sign him, so that should bode well for his 2021 outlook. Whether or not he stays on the field is the true question, as Long has endured horrible durability throughout his career. He hasn't played more than 10 games since 2015.
Still, this is a great signing. It has immense upside because Long is a Pro Bowl-caliber guard when healthy. If he gets hurt, the Chiefs won't lose much, as a 1-year, $5 million contract is insignificant in the long run.
Panthers sign DE/OLB Haason Reddick (1 year, $6 million): A Grade
I was worried that the Panthers gave Haason Reddick too large of a contract, but this is a great deal. Reddick, a former first-round pick, was considered a bust heading into 2020, but Arizona finally figured out how to use him correctly. The Cardinals utilized Reddick as an edge rusher, which resulted in him logging 13 sacks.
Was this a fluke? Perhaps, but the Panthers did a good job of putting themselves at no risk with this signing. It's fair to wonder how the Panthers plan on using Reddick, given that they have Brian Burns and Yetur Gross-Matos on the edge already. Given that they signed Denzel Perryman, I don't think they'll move Reddick back to inside linebacker, so this signing should work out well.
49ers sign C Alex Mack (1 year, $5.5 million): A+ Grade
This is another grade in which I easily could've awarded the team in question with an A++. I wrote that about the Titans re-signing Jayon Brown, and I feel the same way with the 49ers acquiring Alex Mack for just $5.5 million.
Mack used to be the best center in the NFL. That's no longer the case because he's now 35, but Mack can still play on a relatively high level. He'll be a huge upgrade at center for the 49ers, and he'll be a great presence in the locker room. Best of all, he'll barely cost anything, and he'll come with no risk.
Based on the ridiculous Trent Williams contract discussed below, I figured Mack would've gotten $40 million from the 49ers. Credit John Lynch for this great signing despite messing up with Williams.
Colts re-sign RB Marlon Mack (1 year, $2 million): A+ Grade
Holy cow, who is Marlon Mack's agent, the homeless guy outside of Lucas Oil Stadium? At this rate, I wouldn't be shocked if Mack is booked as the Easter Bunny in various malls in the greater Indianapolis area.
Marlon Mack is a talented running back who should have gotten more years and money than he received from Indianapolis. This is a disgrace. I'm quite aware that Mack tore his Achilles last year, but that occurred in the opening game of the season, so there's a good chance he'll be 100 percent by Week 1 of 2021.
It's absurd the Colts were able to replenish their quality running back depth so cheaply, so this is a no-brainer A+.
Raiders re-sign LB Nicholas Morrow (1 year, $4.5 million): A Grade
These linebackers need better agents. Teams are scooping up so easily, almost as if they're available on some TV deal. Get this linebacker now for the low, low price of $4.5 million, and we'll send you another linebacker, free of charge!
Nicholas Morrow isn't as good as Jayon Brown, but he played well for the Raiders last year as a cover man. He missed one too many tackles, but he's 26 and can improve in that regard. He should've gotten a bigger deal than this, but the Raiders won't complain because they're barely paying him anything, taking on no risk in the process.
Titans re-sign LB Jayon Brown (1 year, $5.25 million): A+ Grade
I can't believe this signing. How in the world did Jayon Brown not get a larger contract than this? If Lavonte David received $25 million over two years, Brown should've been able to obtain close to $40 million over three seasons.
Brown is an excellent linebacker, particularly when it comes to coverage. He's also just 26, so his best days are likely ahead of him. He's coming off an elbow injury, but that shouldn't have affected his negotiations.
This contract makes no sense. I nearly gave the Titans an A++ for making this move.
Texans sign CB Terrance Mitchell (2 years, $7.5 million): B+ Grade
It's not often that I get to commend the Texans for making a positive decision, so let's all enjoy this moment before Houston's front office signs a fourth-string fullback to a $40 million deal.
Terrance Mitchell did a good job of stepping in for an injured Greedy Williams last year in Cleveland. He deserves a shot to be a full-time No. 2 cornerback elsewhere. He could fill a huge need in Houston's atrocious secondary, doing so at low risk and at a cheap price.
Seahawks sign CB Ahkello Witherspoon (1 year, $4 million): A Grade
The Seahawks lost Shaq Griffin in free agency, so they needed to find a replacement at cornerback. They looked to a divisional rival to do so, obtaining Ahkello Witherspoon on a 1-year "prove it" deal.
Witherspoon definitely needs to prove it because he has been highly inconsistent throughout his career. He's had some brilliant moments, and he played well last year, albeit in limited action. Conversely, he's been atrocious at times, most recently in 2019.
Witherspoon is young, and he has upside as a 26-year-old. There's no risk here at all, so I love Seattle making this move.
Cardinals sign WR A.J. Green (1 year, $8 million): C- Grade
When I first heard of this signing, my reaction was, "Ugh, why?" That's how bad A.J. Green was last year. He couldn't get any separation from opposing defensive backs. At 33, that's unlikely to change.
This isn't the worst signing because it's only for one year, so there's no long-term risk. However, I'm not sure why Green deserved $8 million. Half that sum would even be too much based on what he did last year. Green played on the same team that saw Tee Higgins thrive, so quarterbacking obviously wasn't the issue prior to Joe Burrow's injury.
Cowboys sign OT Ty Nsekhe (1 year, $1.75 million): A Grade
The Cowboys had severe offensive line woes last year. They had some nice names on their roster, but they suffered so many injuries. They didn't even have a functional blocking unit at one point, namely against the Redskins in a 25-3 blowout loss in Week 7.
Dallas had to make sure it had much better offensive line depth this upcoming season, and signing Ty Nsekhe is a big part of that. Nsekhe has been one of the top swing tackles in the NFL over recent seasons. He filled in nicely for an injured Trent Williams a few years ago, and he'll be able to accomplish the same in Dallas if Tyron Smith or La'el Collins were to get hurt again.
Nsekhe was obtained cheaply at no risk, so I love this signing. This won't even move the needle at all if Smith and Collins remain on the field for all 16 games, but that's unlikely to happen.
Patriots sign C Ted Karras (1 year, $4 million): A+ Grade
The Patriots have made so many terrible overpays in this free agency period that it's shocking to see them make a great move like this. I'm grading this signing as an easy A+.
David Andrews is likely to depart via free agency, so New England needed to make sure it had a viable replacement in the middle of its offensive line. Ted Karras is a quality center who will fit in nicely. He's still young (28), so there's no fear of regression, and he used to play for the Patriots, so he's familiar with the system. Furthermore, this is an incredibly cheap deal with no risk.
Dolphins sign DT Adam Butler (2 years, $9.5 million): B+ Grade
Two days after Davon Godchaux went from Miami to New England, Adam Butler went from New England to Miami. The winner in this non-trade trade? No one. At least, not until the financials are discussed.
Godchaux signed for $16 million over two seasons, while Butler was inked to a $9 million deal over the same span. Given that the two players are similar in overall talent, the Dolphins definitely got the better deal.
Despite Godchaux and Butler being ranked near each other, the two are different. Godchaux specializes in stopping the run, while Butler is better as a pass rusher. I'd rather have the latter in today's pass-heavy NFL, so Miami should be graded highly for this signing.
Dolphins sign CB Justin Coleman (1 year, $2.75 million): A+ Grade
This is an incredible buy-low signing by the Dolphins. They didn't need a cornerback, but they effectively walked into a garage sale and picked up an expensive trinket that was being given away nearly for free.
Justin Coleman is a gifted slot cornerback, but he's coming off a down year. He hurt his hamstring in the season opener and was never the same upon his return after missing five games. Coleman is still just 28, so he can definitely bounce back and play very well for the Dolphins at an incredibly cheap price.
49ers sign OT Trent Williams (6 years, $138 million; $55 million guaranteed): D Grade
Um, excuse me? When I saw that the 49ers re-signed Trent Williams, I assumed it was for a 1- or 2-year "prove it" deal. Instead, my eyes popped out of my head upon seeing these numbers. I thought I was still dreaming, which made me remember this weird dream I had last night where I took over some lodge in Antarctica with a steam room. It wasn't as excting as you may think because part of my job was watching people in the steam room so they wouldn't pass out and die. These wisdom teeth meds are quite the trip.
At any rate, I don't understand this contract at all. Is this the same Trent Williams who turns 33 in July and hasn't played a full NFL season in nearly a decade? He's an incredible player when healthy, but why have the 49ers ignored all the risk?
This signing could work out very well, or it could rupture San Francisco's cap situation in the long term. There's no in between. I'm going with a "D" grade for this move, but I won't fail the 49ers because they'll at least have stellar blocking on the blind side when Williams can manage to stay on the field.
Lions sign RB Jamaal Williams (2 years, $7.5 million): A Grade
This signing is disappointing because I thought Jamaal Williams would sign somewhere to compete for a starting job. He will not do so in Detroit unless D'Andre Swift suffers a long-term injury.
Still, this is a great move by the Lions. I'm often against paying big bucks to running backs, but the Lions are not doing so with this move. Williams was obtained cheaply, and he'll serve as a terrific backup and insurance policy to Swift.
Bills sign WR Emmanuel Sanders (1 year, $6 million): C- Grade
I'm not a fan of this signing. I know the Bills cut John Brown, but replacing him isn't the answer. With Gabriel Davis gaining more experience, he was expected to slot in as the starter alongside Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. So, where does Sanders fit in?
I'd say I'm worried about Sanders blocking Davis from seeing as many snaps as he should, but that's unlikely to happen, if 2020 is any indication. Sanders was a major flop in New Orleans, failing to impress even when he took over as the No. 1 receiver when Michael Thomas got hurt. He's 34 now, so it's likely his career is just over. If so, why even give him $6 million?
This isn't the worst signing because it carries very little risk, but it just seems like a waste of $6 million. I'm not going to grade this very poorly, but it seems as though Buffalo made a mistake.
Redskins sign CB William Jackson (3 years, $42 million; $26 million guaranteed): A Grade
William Jackson was the crown jewel of the 2021 NFL free agent cornerback market, ranking as the top unrestricted player at the position. Lesser players signed before him, but Jackson finally found a new home, inking a deal with the Redskins worth $42 million overall and $26 million guaranteed.
The Redskins have an elite defensive line, so throwing on them will be impossible if they also maintain a great secondary. Signing Jackson is a major piece in that potentially occurring. Jackson was an excellent corner for the Bengals over the past four years, and he's going to spend the majority of this contract in his 20s, so there's no chance of regression. He and Kendall Fuller will benefit greatly from all of the pressure Chase Young and company will generate, so there's a chance that Jackson could be viewed as one of the better corners in the NFL as a result.
With that in mind, this deserves a very high grade. The financials on this deal are actually quite reasonable, and the length of the contract isn't super long, so if Jackson plays terribly for some inexplicable reason, the Redskins won't be too penalized for signing him.
Dolphins sign QB Jacoby Brissett (1 year, $7.5 million): A Grade
The Dolphins needed to obtain a quality backup quarterback for obvious reasons. Tua Tagovailoa has great potential, but he didn't perform very well in his rookie campaign. I suspect that this was because he wasn't 100 percent off his gruesome injury, but there's also a chance that he'll struggle once again in his second season.
If so, the Dolphins can turn to Brissett and get good results. Brissett is one of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL. He can take a good team into the playoffs, and Miami qualifies as such. I like this signing better than the Andy Dalton and Tyrod Taylor transactions, given that Brissett is both younger and better than both of them, and yet Brissett is getting less money than either of them!
Steelers re-sign OT Zach Banner (2 years, $9.8 million; $3.25 million guaranteed): A Grade
Zach Banner won the starting right tackle job in training camp, but lost it right away when he suffered a torn ACL in the season opener. It seemed as though the Steelers were going to be able to buy Banner at a low price, and that's exactly what they did with this signing.
This is a great move. The Steelers already lost Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler this offseason, so they couldn't let another offensive linemen get away. Banner, who is getting just $3.25 million in guarantees, should be 100 percent or close to it because his torn ACL occurred so early in the season.
Bengals sign CB Mike Hilton (4 years, $24 million): B+ Grade
The Bengals already signed Chidobe Awuzie, but they needed a second cornerback; particularly one who can play in the slot. Mike Hilton fits that description, as he'll take over that role in Cincinnati.
Hilton is coming off a down year, but he's young enough (27) to bounce back with a strong season. It's more likely that he'll do so than not, so I like this move. Another factor is that the Bengals are taking Hilton away from the arch-rival Steelers, so it's nice that they're weakening a foe, all while strengthening one of their primary weaknesses.
Bengals sign CB Chidobe Awuzie (3 years, $21.75 million; $7.5 million guaranteed): A- Grade
The Cowboys didn't have very good play from their defensive backs last year, but Chidobe Awuzie was an exception, at least when he was healthy. He missed half of 2020 with injuries, which was something new; he had been out for only one game since his rookie campaign.
Awuzie is a 26-year-old cornerback with decent talent. He should be a solid starter for the Bengals, at the very least, so I really like this signing. The Bengals, who had a miserable secondary last year, obtained a quality player on a deal in which they'll pay out just $7.5 million guaranteed.
Ravens re-sign DE/DT Derek Wolfe (3 years, $12 million): B+ Grade
Derek Wolfe no longer has the same pass-rushing juice he once possessed now that he's in his 30s, and he will always be a major injury risk. However, he was an important player for the Ravens last year because he stuffed the run so well.
Retaining Wolfe was a nice move, and the Ravens did it with a safe contract. If he gets hurt again, or if his production falls off a cliff, Baltimore won't be damaged very much by this signing.
Jaguars sign WR Marvin Jones (2 years, $14.5 million): A Grade
Receiver wasn't high on the Jaguars' priority list, but it makes sense for them to sign Marvin Jones. They have a bunch of young players at the position, namely D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault. They're going to stand to benefit from having a veteran presence in the locker room.
Besides, Jones still played well down the stretch last year, especially after Kenny Golladay got hurt. Jones is 31, so his best days are behind him, but he'll help Trevor Lawrence and his new receiver teammates, all while playing on a cheap, short-term deal.
Texans sign QB Tyrod Taylor (1 year, $12.5 million): D Grade
Tyrod Taylor is a high-end backup. He can step in for a playoff-caliber team and keep it afloat for a couple of weeks. He deserved a decent contract like this one.
However, the Texans are not a playoff-caliber team. They're horrible. With that in mind, I don't know why they're spending so much money on a backup quarterback. It's a poor strategy that should be graded terribly.
Bears sign QB Andy Dalton (1 year, $10 million): C+ Grade
It's finally over. After all these years, the Bears have finally found an answer to their quarterbacking needs.
OK, maybe not. Andy Dalton is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the NFL, and the Bears are paying him as such. Dalton can take a great team to the playoffs, but won't win at all in January. This is basically what has happened in two of the past three years under Mitchell Trubisky, so nothing has really changed.
Giants sign WR John Ross (1 year, $2.5 million; $1 million guaranteed): B Grade
John Ross was a colossal bust as the former ninth-overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft. He finished his career in Cincinnati with 51 catches, playing in only three games in 2020.
Ross has been a garbage receiver, but he still possesses 4.22 speed. Perhaps there's some coach out there who will know what to do with him. Is that coach Jason Garrett? Probably not, but Ross is a cheap flier. He probably won't make the final roster, but there is at least some upside with this signing.
Giants re-sign DE/DT Leonard Williams (3 years, $63 million; $45 million guaranteed): C Grade
Leonard Williams is coming off a great year. He was one of the reasons the Giants improved defensively down the stretch and nearly made the playoffs. He had to be retained or replaced, so the Giants opted for the former strategy.
There's obviously a ton of upside with keeping Williams on the roster, but this contract carries a ton of risk as well. Williams has gotten lots of flak in the past for mailing in some games, so what's going to happen with his new contract with $45 million in guarantees? I'm not so sure the Giants will get Williams' best effort moving forward. They could, but it's far from certain to happen.
Browns sign DE Takk McKinley (1 year, $4 million): B+ Grade
Takk McKinley has been a major bust as a former first-round pick. He recorded 13 sacks in his first two seasons, but has produced just 4.5 sacks since. The Falcons had enough of him, opting to cut him last year.
All hope isn't lost with McKinley, however. He's still just 25, and he has loads of talent. Perhaps Cleveland's coaching staff can get something out of McKinley and turn him into a late bloomer. If not, the Browns are losing nothing with this minimal contract.
Jaguars sign DT Tyson Alualu (2 years, $6 million): A Grade
Tyson Alualu returns to the scene of the crime! The Jaguars reached for Alualu in the 2010 NFL Draft when they selected him 10th overall. Though Alualu lasted seven years in Jacksonville, he disappointed as a former first-round pick.
That said, Alualu's career would have been deemed a success had he been chosen in the second round or later, so it's not his fault the Jaguars misevaluated him a decade ago. Alualu is a solid rotational defensive lineman who will certainly help his then-former and now-current team. Jacksonville made a nice move to sign him at a very cheap price.
Jaguars sign CB Shaq Griffin (3 years, $44.5 million; $29 million guaranteed): A Grade
The Jaguars went to the AFC Championship in 2017 in spite of Blake Bortles. Their defense was amazing, and their cornerbacks were the strength of their team. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye made it very difficult for opposing teams to throw on them, though both departed in the near future. The Jaguars had to rebuild their secondary, and it appears they have done so with Shaq Griffin and Rayshawn Jenkins joining 2020 first-rounder C.J. Henderson.
I love this signing. Griffin is a very talented cornerback, and he's also young (26), so he figures to improve. He's coming off a down year because he was hurt, but he played on a high level in previous seasons. This contract seems about right for Griffin, and the Jaguars can certainly afford it because they have tons of money and will possess a quarterback on a rookie contract.
Ravens re-sign DE/OLB Tyus Bowser (4 years, $22 million): B+ Grade
Tyus Bowser doesn't have much to show as far as stats are concerned. He logged five sacks in 2019 and then had just two the following year. Why would someone like this warrant a $22 million contract?
As you might suspect, the numbers don't tell the whole story with Bowser. He played about a third of the snaps in most games, so he didn't have a chance to rack up big sack numbers. He's also young (not even 26 yet), so he'll be able to improve. He has shown good upside, so it's not a surprise the Ravens believe that will happen.
This is one of those situations where Bowser could grow into his contract, and in two years, we'll be wondering how Baltimore was able to sign him so cheaply.
Titans sign DE/OLB Bud Dupree (5 years, $82.5 million; $35 million guaranteed): C+ Grade
This signing occurred Monday afternoon, but we didn't receive financial details until now. Bud Dupree was signed to a colossal 5-year contract worth $82.5 million with $35 million guaranteed.
The Titans whiffed on their edge rusher signings last year, and I suspect they may have done so again. Dupree has performed extremely well the past two seasons - 19.5 sacks in 27 games - so he could theoretically cure Tennessee's pass-rushing woes. However, I have two concerns with this signing:
1. Dupree has never enjoyed a good season when not in a contract year. He was playing for a new contract in 2019 and 2020, when he had 11.5 and eight sacks, respectively. He was not playing for a new contract in 2015-18, when he never logged more than six sacks. Will he become fat and happy upon receiving $35 million in guarantees? It's certainly possible.
2. Dupree is coming off a torn ACL. This wouldn't be a huge deal if it occurred in September or October, but he hurt his knee in December. There's a chance he won't be 100 percent to start the 2021 campaign.
I could be wrong on both points, and this signing could totally be worth it. However, I think the potential downsides warrant a grade in the "C" range.
Patriots sign DT Henry Anderson (2 years, $7 million): B+ Grade
Henry Anderson received a 3-year, $25.2 million contract two offseasons ago. He was coming off a seven-sack campaign, so the Jets naturally threw lots of money in his direction. Anderson hasn't done much as a pass rusher since - 1.5 total sacks in the past two seasons - which prompted the Jets to cut him.
Anderson is still a positive presence when it comes to stopping the run, and he's not inept in regard to getting to the quarterback. The Patriots are doing a good job of buying low here, so I'm going to assign a high grade to this signing. The only concern I have with it is that Anderson will turn 30 prior to the 2021 opener, but a B+ grade is still fair.
Jaguars sign TE Chris Manhertz (2 years, $7.25 million): B+ Grade
Despite my tirade against tight ends below, I don't hate this signing. This isn't a big contract, so what I wrote in the Hunter Henry entry doesn't apply.
Chris Manhertz has just 12 career catches in five NFL seasons, so some might be confused by this move. However, Manhertz is a terrific blocking tight end, so his presence on the roster will help open up running lanes for James Robinson. Manhertz was obtained cheaply, so I'll grade this favorably.
Jaguars sign S Rayshawn Jenkins (4 years, $35 million; $16 million guaranteed): B+ Grade
The Jaguars will be getting a huge boost on offense as soon as they make the Trevor Lawrence pick official, but their defense is still a train wreck. They've needed to make numerous upgrades to their stop unit, including a couple to their dubious safety situation.
I'd say this qualifies. Rayshawn Jenkins has done a good job of improving his game in recent years. He played very well for the Chargers last season. He was good in coverage, though he missed some tackles. He should continue to get better, so the financials on this signing could make sense. I'm fine with the move, especially when considering that the Jaguars have the most cap space in the NFL.
Chargers re-sign CB Michael Davis (3 years, $25.2 million; $10 million guaranteed): B- Grade
The Chargers have enjoyed a great free agency period thus far. This signing isn't as good as the Corey Linsley and Matt Feiler additions, but this isn't a bad move either.
Michael Davis was a semi-decent cornerback last year. He's not worth this contract at the moment, but he may grow into it. He's young (just turned 26), so he should continue to improve. The Chargers will have to lean on him more in the wake of Casey Hayward's release. I'm fine grading this in the B- range.
Patriots sign TE Hunter Henry (3 years, $37.5 million; $25 million guaranteed): F Grade
Did Bill Belichick bang his head on something? Has the spirit of Bill O'Brien possessed him? Is Matt Millen holding him at gunpoint? These are three scenarios that may explain his reckless spending spree. It's a new day of free agency, yet the bad signings haven't stopped.
Spending this much money for a non-elite tight end is a mistake, but don't take my word for it. Here's a deep dive of every single big contract ($20 million or more) given to a non-elite tight end (Travis Kelce, George Kittle) over the past four years:
Browns sign TE Austin Hooper (4 years, $44 million)
Buccaneers re-sign TE Cameron Brate (6 years, $41 million; $18 million guaranteed)
Rams re-sign TE Tyler Higbee (4 years, $36 million; $15.5 million guaranteed)
Vikings re-sign TE Kyle Rudolph (4 years, $36 million)
49ers sign TE Vance McDonald (5 years, $35 million; $16 million guaranteed)
Bears sign TE Trey Burton (4 years, $32 million)
Packers sign TE Jimmy Graham (3 years, $30 million)
Cardinals re-sign TE Jermaine Gresham (4 years, $28 million)
Lions sign TE Jesse James (4 years, $25 million; $11 million guaranteed)
Cowboys re-sign TE Blake Jarwin (3 years, $24.25 million)
Texans re-sign TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (3 years, $21.5 million; $10 million guaranteed)
Packers sign TE Martellus Bennett (3 years, $21 million)
Can you find one signing there that worked? I'll save you some time: Signing non-elite tight ends to big contracts has a 100-percent failure rate over the past four years. One hundred percent!
Why do teams continue to do this? When will they learn to stop overvaluing tight ends not named Kelce or Kittle?
Hunter Henry is talented, and he's closer to Kelce or Kittle than some of the names on that list, but he has a very dubious injury history. He has never played a full season. I don't know how the Patriots can trust him to stay healthy.
I'm going to vow to grade all of these signings as an "F" going forward until NFL teams learn to stop giving absurd contracts to tight ends.
Redskins sign QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (1 year, $10 million): B+ Grade
This is Ryan Fitzpatrick's ninth team! It's insane that he has now played for more than a quarter of the league. Interestingly enough, this is only his third NFC team, and his first in the NFC East.
I like this move for two reasons. First, the Redskins have the pieces around Fitzpatrick to make the playoffs. They qualified for the postseason last year in spite of Alex Smith, and Fitzpatrick is a better game manager. He can get a team with a great defense and offensive supporting cast to the playoffs. Second, even if he loses out to Taylor Heinicke, he can do a good job of mentoring Henicke.
Is all of this worth $10 million? Perhaps this is a slight overpay, but I think it was a positive move for Washington.
Vikings sign DT Dalvin Tomlinson (2 years, $22 million): A+ Grade
This takes me back to the days when the Vikings had Kevin and Pat Williams, and then Sharrif Floyd and Linval Joseph. You can even go back to John Randle. It seems as though the Vikings should always have a dominant force on the defensive line, and Dalvin Tomlinson is the latest person in that pantheon.
Tomlinson is a monstrous run stuffer who can also get to the quarterback rather well for a 320-pound lineman. He's also just 27, so he'll be in his prime for both years of this contract. With that in mind, I love this move for the Vikings. They're getting a big-time talent on a contract that doesn't carry much risk because this is just a 2-year deal.
Bengals sign DE Trey Hendrickson (4 years, $60 million; $32 million guaranteed): A- Grade
Things have certainly changed. It wasn't that long ago when the Bengals were one of the most frugal franchises in the NFL. They would never spend any money in free agency. Now, after throwing around lots of money last spring, they made one of the largest signings of the opening day of free agency in 2021.
The Bengals lost Carl Lawson to the Jets, so they had to replace him. They didn't waste much time, inking Trey Hendrickson to a $60 million contract. Hendrickson isn't a big name, but he's coming off a terrific year in which he tallied 13.5 sacks. He's only 26, so the sky is the limit for him.
I love this move for the Bengals. It carries some risk, but it most likely gives them a dominant force on the edge to help them potentially finally defeat Lamar Jackson for the first time.
Patriots re-sign DE Deatrich Wise (4 years, $30 million; $10 million guaranteed): B+ Grade
The Patriots made some dubious signings on the first day of free agency, but they did well to keep one of their own. This is one of the good moves on a mixed day for New England.
Deatrich Wise is a talented, young edge rusher. He's only 26, and he's coming off a solid year. He had just 2.5 sacks, but definitely played better than that. He has high potential, so the Patriots did well to re-sign him. They deserve a good grade for this move, as the Patriots are getting a nice deal by giving Wise just $10 million guaranteed.
Saints re-sign QB Jameis Winston (1 year, $12 million): D Grade
I don't understand this signing. The Saints are in dire financial difficulties, so why are they paying a backup quarterback $12 million? I know that the Saints have said that they expect Jameis Winston to compete with Taysom Hill, but that seems like a load of nonsense. Unless Hill bombs in training camp, he'll be the starter after playing well in relief of Drew Brees last year.
With that in mind, it seems like the Saints are wasting their money. Given his inexperience, Hill needs as much help as possible. This $12 million could have been used to bolster his supporting cast. Instead, it'll be paid to Winston, who will just be standing on the sideline the entire time.
Jets sign DE Carl Lawson (3 years, $45 million; $30 million guaranteed): A Grade
It's been a long time since the Jets have possessed a terrific pass rusher on their roster. That has changed in the wake of this signing, as the Jets have brought in Carl Lawson on a deal worth $15 million per season.
Lawson's sack numbers aren't great - 10.5 combined sacks in 2019 and 2020 - but that's not indicative of how he has performed. He generates lots of pressure, and he's only going to get better because he's not even 26 yet.
This may seem like a ton of money at first glance, but given that Lawson is just entering his prime, this could be seen as a bargain by next spring. I love this move, so it should be graded very favorably.
Chargers sign G/OT Matt Feiler (3 years, $21 million): A Grade
The Chargers have made just two signings today, but they're one of the winners of free agency thus far. In addition to adding Corey Linsley, they obtained Matt Feiler to bolster their offensive line.
This signing is huge. Feiler played very well for the Steelers in recent years, so he figures to be a colossal upgrade at guard. The Chargers have endured blocking issues in the past several seasons, so it seems as though general manager Tom Telesco has recognized that. He has made protecting Justin Herbert a priority.
This is a great deal for Feiler. He should've gotten at least $10 million more than this, so I'm going to grade this as an "A."
Jets sign WR Corey Davis (3 years, $37.5 million): C- Grade
The Jets' new front office has done a good job overall thus far, but they seem to have a very Patriots-like problem when it comes to identifying talented receivers. They signed a bust in Breshad Perriman last offseason, and now they've overpaid for someone else.
Corey Davis has loads of talent as a former top-five pick. However, he seldom put everything together in Tennessee. He played well in 2020, but was considered a major bust before last season. There's a good chance he was just playing up for a big contract, and if so, it worked.
I can't get behind this signing. It could pan out, but there's way too much risk.
Titans sign DE/DT Denico Autry (3 years, $21.5 million): B- Grade
Denico Autry is a jack-of-all-trades player who can be used in numerous places on the defensive front. Given that the Titans had severe problems getting to the quarterback last year, it makes sense that they would sign him. Autry logged 7.5 sacks in 2020, after all. The Titans are also stealing a solid player from their arch rival.
There's a lot to like with this signing, so why the B-? Autry turns 31 in July, so he could be in for some regression in the near future. That may not happen, but this signing is a bit risky.
Jaguars sign RB Carlos Hyde (2 years, $6 million): C+ Grade
Carlos Hyde returns to Jacksonville! The Jaguars were so impressed with Hyde's 189 rushing yards and 3.3 YPC average from 2018 that they just had to bring him back for another stint.
Obviously, there are different people running things in Jacksonville now. The head honcho is Urban Meyer, who coached Hyde at Ohio State. That would explain this signing. Though this is a slight overpay - Hyde's career has gone downhill in recent years - I don't mind a new coach bringing in personnel familiar with his system.
Patriots sign WR Kendrick Bourne (3 years, $22.5 million): D+ Grade
Man, the Patriots cannot evaluate receiving talent. I understand this contract even less than the Nelson Agholor deal, and that one didn't make much sense either.
It's crazy that the Patriots spent nearly $50 million on two receivers today, yet they still have a big need at the position. Kendrick Bourne is just an OK player. He's versatile, but doesn't have much talent. He'll be a fine role player, but you shouldn't pay role players $22.5 million.
Buccaneers re-sign TE Rob Gronkowski (1 year, $10 million): A Grade
Was there ever any doubt Rob Gronkowski was going to return to Tampa Bay for another year? He will, of course, reunite with Tom Brady for one more season, as the duo tries to win another Super Bowl.
How can this not be graded favorably? Gronkowski isn't what he once was, but he's stll a very good player. He's a tremendous blocker and a potent threat in the end zone, as the Chiefs discovered in the Super Bowl. This contract carries virtually no risk, so I'm grading it as an "A."
Broncos sign CB Ronald Darby (3 years, $30 million; $19.5 million guaranteed): C Grade
Ronald Darby was once seen as the missing piece for Philadelphia's defense. The Eagles acquired him from the Bills and went on to win the Super Bowl. However, Darby didn't last much longer in Philadelphia because he was always hurt. He signed a 1-year "prove it" deal with the Redskins and finally managed to remain healthy, playing all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2020.
Darby proved that he could remain healthy for one year, but how about three more? The Broncos are taking a huge risk by giving him $30 million overall and $19 million in guarantees. I wouldn't bet on him to stay on the field, yet the Broncos will need him to do that in order to justify this contract. It could work out, but I don't think it will.
Jaguars re-sign DE Dawuane Smoot (2 years, $14 million): B- Grade
The Jaguars didn't have much going for them last year, but Dawuane Smoot wasn't responsible for the incompetence. He played well as a rotational edge rusher, notching seven sacks.
This is a bit more than I would have paid Smoot, but this is a fine re-signing, as Smoot will reprise his role as a 50-percent snap player on the edge.
Rams re-sign DE/OLB Leonard Floyd (4 years, $64 million): C Grade
If you were to tell someone a year ago that Leonard Floyd would receive a $64 million contract, they would have put you in a mental hospital. If you talked to a Bears fan, they may have murdered you. Floyd, of course, was a colossal bust for Chicago after being chosen ninth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Following his rookie year, he never recorded more than 4.5 sacks for the Bears.
Everything changed last year with the Rams. Floyd finally broke out of his shell to notch 10.5 sacks. He was great, but this was likely the byproduct of teams focusing on Aaron Donald and/or Floyd trying extra hard because he was in his contract year. If it's the latter, the Rams made a terrible signing.
Then again, this could be permanent. Floyd may have just been a late bloomer. This signing could work, but it's also extremely risky.
Patriots sign WR Nelson Agholor (2 years, $26 million): C- Grade
You're seeing things correctly. Nelson Agholor just signed for the same term and total money as Yannick Ngakoue. Somehow, a mediocre receiver will be paid as much as one of the top edge rushers in the NFL. I don't understand either.
This isn't a terrible signing, but it's not very good either. Agholor thrived last year under Greg Olson's great coaching, but only after doing nothing in the NFL for the rest of his career besides dropping important passes. Agholor won't have Olson coaching him in New England, so I imagine he's due for some regression.
With that in mind, I can't go above a C- grade for this signing. The Patriots needed to upgrade their receiving corps, but they could have done much better than this.
Raiders sign DE/OLB Yannick Ngakoue (2 years, $26 million): A+ Grade
The Raiders finally got their man. They thought they were obtaining Yannick Ngakoue from the Jaguars in a pre-2020 NFL Draft trade for the 19th pick, but Jacksonville wanted the No. 12 overall selection instead. The Raiders ultimately won, big time.
I can't believe how cheap this deal is. When it was announced that the Raiders signed Ngakoue, I assumed it was for a 5-year contract worth $90 million or so. Only $26 million!? That's unreal. I get that it comes out to $13 million per season, but this is just a 2-year deal, so it doesn't carry much risk.
It's insane that the Raiders are getting this much potential with any sort of downside. This is an A+ signing, without a doubt.
Broncos re-sign DT Shelby Harris (3 years, $27 million): B- Grade
Shelby Harris' impact was felt last year when he missed a handful of games. The Broncos were atrocious against the run in those contests, then went on to improve in that regard when he returned to the lineup in Week 13.
Re-signing Harris was important. He's been a tremendous player for the Broncos in recent years. However, I fear a bit that Denver might be paying on past production because Harris turns 30 in August. It'll go downhill for him soon, though I'm confident he can still play at a high level in 2021 and 2022.
Steelers re-sign CB Cameron Sutton (2 years, $9 million): A+ Grade
I'm almost at a loss for words at this contract. I don't understand how the Steelers were able to retain Cameron Sutton so cheaply. Sutton has been a solid No. 2 cornerback for the Steelers over the past couple of seasons. He's also just 26, so he could continue to improve.
This is a no-brainer A+ signing. Sutton should have received a contract worth more than double this amount. He needs to find a new agent, but the Steelers will enjoy his quality play at a cheap price in the meantime.
Texans sign DT Maliek Collins (1 year, $6 million): D Grade
The weekend is over, but the Texans have continued their quest of signing bad players to overpriced contracts. We'll see if this strategy pans out, but I don't have high hopes for it.
Maliek Collins was one of the worst defensive linemen in the NFL last year. I don't know why the Texans felt the need to hurry and snatch him. They could have obtained a similar, or slightly better player for less.
Chargers sign C Corey Linsley (5 years, $62.5 million; $26 million guaranteed): A Grade
If you want to know how important Corey Linsley can be to an offense, check out the difference between the Packers with and without him last year. Green Bay nearly lost to the Jaguars at home without Linsley's services late in the year, then caught fire when he returned to the lineup in Week 16.
Linsley will now be blocking for Justin Herbert, and I imagine Herbert has to be thrilled with this news. The Chargers have endured major problems at center since Nick Hardwick retired, as Mike Pouncey proved to be an injury-prone disappointment. The days of poor center play are finally over in the wake of this signing.
This has to be an "A" grade. The Chargers are putting themselves in a great position by protecting their young quarterback. They still need to add a couple of lineman, but they're off to a great start in free agency.
49ers sign DE/OLB Samson Ebukam (2 years, $12 million): D Grade
I don't understand this signing. Maybe John Lynch knows something the rest of us don't, but that would entail the Rams' great coaching staff missing something with Samson Ebukam as well.
Ebukam is an OK rotational edge player. He's never logged more than 4.5 sacks in a single season. I understand the 49ers wanting depth on the edge after what transpired last year, but they could have just obtained an equal player at substantially less money.
Browns sign S John Johnson (3 years, $33.75 million; $24 million guaranteed): B- Grade
The Browns improved tremendously last season from their disappointing 2019 campaign, but they still had some weaknesses. One of those was at safety. That's no longer the case in the wake of the John Johnson signing.
I'm often against teams spending big bucks on safeties because there are usually so many good ones available on the open market. However, this signing might be different because Johnson is a great talent, and he's only 25. The sky is the limit for him.
My one reservation is that Johnson played in such a great Rams defense. Was he one of the reasons it was an elite unit, or did he benefit from the likes of Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and two outstanding defensive coordinators? I guess we'll find out!
Chiefs sign G/OT Joe Thuney (5 years, $80 million; $48 million guaranteed): A Grade
Patrick Mahomes must be thrilled by this signing. After all, everyone saw what happened in the Super Bowl. Mahomes' offensive line, ravaged by injuries, couldn't protect its quarterback at all, resulting in a blowout.
The Chiefs since gutted its offensive line, getting rid of injured tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. However, an upgrade at guard was needed as well because Kelechi Osemele was also hurt by the end of the year. The Chiefs still need to find new tackles, though it's possible that Joe Thuney could play there. Thuney can start anywhere on the offensive line, after all. He's one of the top blockers in the NFL, and he's extremely versatile. He's a great addition to the Chiefs.
How can this not be graded as an "A?" Protecting Mahomes is the most important thing the Chiefs can do, and that's exactly what they're accomplishing by adding this stud offensive lineman to the roster.
Jets sign LB Jarrad Davis (1 year, $7 million): B Grade
Jarrad Davis was a huge bust from the 2017 NFL Draft. He was chosen No. 21 overall, but struggled throughout his time in Detroit. He was down to playing just 29 percent of the snaps last year.
However, Davis still has talent, so it's possible he could be a late bloomer. I like that the Jets are taking a low-risk approach to buying low on him. He could potentially fill a big need in the middle of New York's defense. If not, the Jets won't really be penalized for this signing.
Jaguars sign KR Jamal Agnew (3 years, $21 million): B Grade
This reminds me of the Kyle Juszczyk signing I graded earlier today. Three years and $21 million would be an absurd sum of money for almost every player at Jamal Agnew's position. Kick returners come and go, as they often have a short life span in the NFL. Paying $7 million per year for one is insane.
Agnew, however, is different. He's the best at what he does. He's good for at least one touchdown per year, and the field position advantage he'll consistently give to his rookie quarterback will be huge. I like this signing, though not enough to put it at B+ or higher.
Patriots sign S/CB Jalen Mills (4 years, $24 million; $9 million guaranteed): A- Grade
Bill Belichick has a history of signing defensive backs away from the Eagles and turning them into quality players in his scheme. He did this with Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe, so we'll see if lightning strikes again.
Jalen Mills seems like a perfect fit into Belichick's defense. He can play any scheme, and he's versatile enough to play both cornerback and safety. Mills made a nice conversion from corner to safety last year, but I imagine he'll play all over the place in New England.
The overall money in this deal seems like a lot, but Mills is getting just $9 million in guarantees, so I think this is a good contract overall.
Jaguars sign DT Roy Robertson-Harris (3 years, $24.4 million; $14 million guaranteed): B Grade
The Jaguars have really missed Calais Campbell in recent years. There's no one player who can replace him, though Roy Robertson-Harris is certainly not a bad option.
The Bears didn't miss Robertson-Harris as much as the Jaguars have longed for the days of Campbell, but his absence last year hurt Chicago's defense. Robertson-Harris missed the second half of the season with a shoulder injury, and it was clear that the defense wasn't quite the same without him. He's a versatile player who can generate pressure on the quarterback and help stop the run. He's not great at any one thing, but he has no weaknesses either.
I think this is a solid signing. It's slightly more than what I would've given Robertson-Harris, but the Jaguars need to be graded on a bit of a curve because they have the most cap space in the NFL.
Patriots sign DE/OLB Matthew Judon (4 years, $56 million): C+ Grade
The Patriots are spending money like drunken sailors today. They've made some dubious signings, and while this one is much better than the Jonnu Smith move, it doesn't seem like a slam dunk either.
Matthew Judon has been a solid player for the Ravens, but never a great one. He has never logged more than 10 sacks in a single season, and Baltimore didn't view him as a great pass rusher because it traded for Yannick Ngakoue during the 2020 season. The Ravens also refused to give Judon the contract he wanted, which is telling, given that they're the team most familiar with him in the entire league. It's not like the Ravens missevaluate talent often, so why didn't they want to pay Judon the big bucks?
It could be that the Ravens knew Judon would be overpaid on the open market, like he was in this instance. Judon isn't very young either; he turns 29 soon, so he'll be spending the majority of this contract in his 30s, which is far from ideal.
In summary, I don't hate this signing. Judon will help the Patriots' pass rush, which was in need of an upgrade. However, this was an overpay, and there's a good chance the Patriots will regret this contract down the road.
49ers re-sign CB Jason Verrett (1 year, $5.5 million): A+ Grade
If it weren't for Alex Smith, Jason Verrett may have won 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Verrett, a first-round pick from the 2014 NFL Draft, began his career on a high note, but struggled to remain healthy after that. He played in only six games between 2016 and 2019. However, he was given an opportunity to start this past season because of injuries to other cornerbacks on San Francisco's roster, and he was incredible. He was back to his former self, making 13 great starts for the 49ers.
Obviously, re-signing Verrett to a long-term deal would have been foolish, given his dubious durability. He had to be retained on a 1-year "prove it" contract, and that's what the 49ers did with him. They're giving him only $5.5 million for 2021, which seems like an incredible bargain. This signing, which carries no risk, deserves to be graded as an A+.
Texans sign LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (1 year, $3.25 million): B+ Grade
The Texans have made some dubious signings thus far in pre-free agency, but this one isn't too bad. Given their hole at linebacker in the wake of trading Benardrick McKinney, the Texans needed to bring in someone like Kamu Grugier-Hill.
This signing makes sense. The financials are what they should be, and general manager Nick Caserio is familiar with Grugier-Hill, given that he drafted him in 2016. Grugier-Hill is a versatile player who can only help Houston's defense. He's not a difference-maker, but he can be a solid role player.
Panthers sign OT Cameron Erving (2 years, $10 million; $6 million guaranteed): O'BRIEN Grade
When grading the Pat Elflein signing, I wrote that the Vikings were laughing at the move because they waived Elflein in 2020. Now that the Panthers have signed Cameron Erving, I can say that numerous teams are laughing, namely every single franchise that has rostered Erving over the years.
Frankly, Erving is a bad player. He's a replacement-level talent. He has experience, but that doesn't matter because it's nothing but bad experience. He's not even a good backup because there's no upside.
With that in mind, there was no reason to pay Erving this sort of money. Any sort of guarantee is a mistake. Even six dollars - forget the million - would be too much. This signing deserves an F- grade. It's even worse than the Patriots' decision to overpay Jonnu Smith because Smith, at least, is a solid player.
Patriots sign TE Jonnu Smith (4 years, $50 million; $31.25 million guaranteed): F Grade
It seems like every offseason, there's a team that greatly overpays for a tight end. The Browns were guilty of this last year when they gave Austin Hooper a 4-year, $44 million contract. The year before, the Lions gave Jesse James a 4-year, $25 million deal. The prior spring, the Bears handed Trey Burton a $32 million contract over four seasons. All of these signings have been utter failures.
Now, it's the Patriots' turn. This is a colossal overpay. Jonnu Smith is an athletic tight with upside, but he has never lived up to his potential. You can perhaps blame Ryan Tannehill for that, but it's not like the Patriots have a better passing quarterback. I'm sure Cam Newton will want to lean on Smith, but based on his past production, Smith is unlikely to be the sort of weapon that Greg Olsen was for Newton in Carolina.
I really hate this big tight end contracts. They never pan out unless the player in question is an elite tight end like Travis Kelce or George Kittle. Smith isn't close to being elite, so this signing deserves a failure grade.
Patriots sign DT Davon Godchaux (2 years, $16 million; $9 million guaranteed): C+ Grade
The Patriots struggled to stop the run last year, especially late in the season when battling the Dolphins in a must-win game. Davon Godchaux didn't play for Miami in that affair because he was out with a torn biceps, but that didn't stop Bill Belichick from acquiring the 2017 fifth-round pick.
Godchaux will help against the run, but will do nothing else. He has just three career sacks, but has a good history of being stout versus opposing ground attacks. I don't think he's good enough to warrant $8 million per year or $9 million guaranteed, but this is a short-term deal, so the Patriots won't be damaged very much if Godchaux busts for them.
Panthers sign G Pat Elflein (3 years, $13.5 million; $6 million guaranteed): D Grade
The Vikings must be laughing at this contract. That's because they waived Elflein in the middle of the 2020 season. The Jets then picked up Elflein, who made six starts for his new team.
Elflein is a passable starter, but would be better off as a backup. With that in mind, this is an obvious overpay. I get that the Panthers desperately needed to retool their offensive line, but why overpay a below-average player like this? Had the Panthers been more patient, they could have obtained an equal lineman on a cheaper deal.
Lions re-sign DE Romeo Okwara (3 years, $39 million): B Grade
Romeo Okwara is a one-trick pony, but he does that trick extremely well. He logged 10 sacks in 2020, a number that would've been higher had the Lions maintained more leads. His pass-rushing skills are great, but he struggled as a run defender and as a player in coverage.
Okwara doesn't have an extensive history of positive production; he was even cut by the Giants in 2018. That means this contract carries a ton of risk, which obviously is not ideal. However, Okwara has great upside as well. He's still just 25, so he could continue to improve in every regard. If so, this signing might be seen as a bargain down the road.
I'd say a "B" grade is fair for this. The downside must be acknowledged, but this is a contract that could be very favorable a year from now.
Buccaneers re-sign DE/OLB Shaq Barrett (4 years, $72 million; $36 million guaranteed): A- Grade
The Buccaneers had a number of high-end free agents entering free agency, and somehow, they're not going to lose any of them. They re-signed Lavonte David and franchised Chris Godwin, and now they inked Shaq Barrett to a huge contract.
Barrett has been one of the top edge rushers in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. He recorded 19.5 sacks in 2019, and while that number declined to eight in 2020, Barrett played much better than that number indicates. He was also dominant in the Super Bowl. If it weren't for Tom Brady, he may have won MVP of that game.
There's a good chance the Buccaneers won't regret this signing. The only potential issue is that they're possibly paying on past production because Barrett will spend just 14 months of this new contract in his 20s. He should still be playing at a high level at 30, 31 and 32, but there's a chance for regression; hence the non-A grade.
Cardinals re-sign DE/OLB Markus Golden (2 years, $9 million): B+ Grade
The Cardinals made a nice trade in the middle of the 2020 season, sending a sixth-round pick to the Giants for Markus Golden. Chandler Jones getting hurt created a huge hole on the edge. Golden filled it well, recording 4.5 sacks, a number that isn't indicative of how well he played.
Re-signing Golden, even with Jones due back, was a nice move. Golden should be more productive with opposing teams focused on Jones and now J.J. Watt. There's some risk with Golden turning 30, but this contract doesn't carry much risk. It's a good deal, worthy of a B+ grade.
Ravens sign G Kevin Zeitler (3 years, $22 million): A+ Grade
Free agency hasn't begun yet, but the Ravens have won the pre-free agency period. This is an outstanding signing, worthy of an A+.
Kevin Zeitler was seen as one of the better guards in the NFL a couple of years ago. He's 31 now, and he's coming off his worst year. However, he still played well, and because most guards can perform on a high level into their mid-30s, there's a good chance Zeitler will rebound. If so, the Ravens are getting a mega deal with Zeitler at just more than $7 million per year. If Zeitler doesn't bounce back, this isn't a huge risk, and the Ravens should get some mediocre play out of Zeitler in a worst-case scenario.
49ers re-sign FB Kyle Juszczyk (5 years, $27 million): B Grade
Five years and $27 million would be too much to pay for most fullbacks, but Kyle Juszczyk isn't an ordinary fullback. He's the best player at the position, by far. He does everything extremely well, from blocking, to converting short-yardage opportunities, to catching passes out of the backfield.
Juszczyk is worth this sort of money, so I'm giving this signing a "B" grade. There's no value here, and Juszczyk will spend the entirety of this deal in his 30s, but there doesn't seem to be any regression on the horizon.
Saints re-sign QB Taysom Hill (4 years, $140 million): A Grade
I never thought I would give an "A" grade to an unproven quarterback receiving a 4-year, $140 million contract, yet here we are. Taysom Hill, the Saints' new starting quarterback in the wake of Drew Brees' retirement, has received an "A" contract worth $140 million.
The numbers on this deal are very misleading. Every year on Hill's contract is voidable, so the Saints will be paying him on a year-to-year basis. This is ideal for non-elite quarterbacks, as the Saints can dump Hill without repercussions if he begins to struggle. They won't be in a situation like the Eagles are in because of Carson Wentz, for example.
Besides, Hill showed lots of promise when he took over for an injured Brees in 2020. His passing seemingly improved each week, so I'm excited to see what he can do with an entire offseason to prepare as the starter. Even better, this contract will save the Saints $7.4 million in cap space, so how can this not be graded highly?
Bills re-sign G Jon Feliciano (3 years, $17 million): A- Grade
The Bills had multiple impending free agents on their offensive line, but they managed to keep the unit together. They re-signed Daryl Williams and then managed to retain Jon Feliciano.
Feliciano missed the first seven games of the 2020 season, as Buffalo missed his fierce run blocking when he was out with his pectoral injury. The running game improved upon Feliciano's return. This, as well as the offensive line's continuity, were the reasons why it was so important to bring back Feliciano. This signing should be graded favorably, as the 29-year-old was retained relatively cheaply.
Packers re-sign RB Aaron Jones (4 years, $48 million): C Grade
Aaron Jones is a tremendous talent, and he's only 26. Aaron Rodgers will be happy to have Jones around for four more years, or however long Rodgers remains in Green Bay.
That said, I can't get behind this signing. Giving big money to running backs, even great ones like Jones, often backfires. Also, this signing makes the A.J. Dillon second-round pick from last year seem futile. Dillon will be the No. 2 back with Jamaal Williams entering free agency, but the Packers could have gained some serious leverage by having their starting running back on a very cheap rookie deal. Instead, they'll be dedicating a big chunk of change to a position that is easily replaceable.
Bears re-sign DE Mario Edwards (3 years, $11.55 million): B Grade
This is a lot of money for someone who plays about a quarter of the snaps. Mario Edwards is a pass-rushing specialist who recorded four sacks in 2020. He was on the field for 24 percent of the snaps, so nearly $4 million per year would be excessive for a player like that.
However, Edwards' role is expected to expand beginning in 2021. With Roy Robertson-Harris entering free agency, Edwards figures to be on the field way more often. Edwards' best days could be ahead of him, so we could look back at this contract a year from now and believe the Bears got a great deal.
49ers re-sign CB/S Emmanuel Moseley (2 years, $10.1 million): B+ Grade
Emmanuel Moseley was a restricted free agent, but the 49ers apparently wanted to get ahead of his contract season by giving him a 2-year deal. This seems like a good move because Moseley is expected to handle a larger role in 2021.
Moseley, who is a versatile defensive back, is expected to take over in the slot for impending free agent K'Waun Williams. He's only 25, and he's already performed well, so he should continue to get better. This contract could look extremely cheap by next spring.
Bills re-sign OT Daryl Williams (3 years, $28.2 million): B Grade
Good for Daryl Williams. For a while, it seemed like Williams would never get a contract like this. It felt like he would have to settle for 1-year "prove it" deals because of his very checkered injury history.
Williams, however, was able to play 16 healthy games in 2020. He was dominant, so I understand why the Bills would want to give him a long-term contract. Keeping continuity on the offensive line is important, especially when it comes to retaining one of the better members in the unit.
I can't grade this signing poorly, but the risk must me acknowledged. Williams' health could easily regress again, so I think the highest grade I can give for this is a "B."
Texans sign LB Christian Kirksey (1 year, $4.5 million): D+ Grade
One day after giving $3 million to the 28th-best free agent running back on the market, the Texans spent $4.5 million on the 32nd-ranked player in my NFL Free Agent Linebacker Rankings.
I'm not sure why the Texans are overpaying for scrubs in the pre-free agency period. Maybe they know something we don't, but it's more likely that they're overvaluing has-been scrubs for no reason. Christian Kirksey qualifies as such, as he's been a miserable defender in recent years after a positive start to his career. This is better than the Mark Ingram signing because Kirksey's career isn't over, but this deserves a bad grade regardless.
Patriots re-sign QB Cam Newton (1 year, $14 million): A- Grade
It's a bit surprising to see Cam Newton return to New England for another year. I figured Bill Belichick would want to bring back one of his former quarterbacks - Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett - but he opted to retain Newton for one season on a $14 million deal.
I'm fine with this move. Newton played well when healthy last year, but he also naturally spent some time being injured. He initially banged his hand on the helmet of a Denver player, resulting in a multi-game slump, and then he was sidelined with a minor illness. He struggled upon his return, citing some bad timing with his new teammates as a result of missed action.
Newton is a fine option to serve as a bridge quarterback for whomever Belichick drafts this April. Newton also affords Belichick another opportunity to pass on all the quarterbacks again. If Belichick doesn't like Trey Lance, Mac Jones or Kyle Trask, he can wait a year for a better long-term player at the position.
Update: Upon further inspection, Newton's contract includes just $5 million in base value, with the other money coming in incentives. I'm going to raise this grade from a "B" to an A- as a result.
Bears re-sign K Cairo Santos (5 years, $16 million): D Grade
Five years and $16 million seems like a lot for a kicker who has been cut five times since 2018. Cairo Santos was terrific last year, hitting 30-of-32 attempts, but before 2020, he hadn't converted better than 80 percent of his kicks since 2016. So, was 2020 a fluke, or the beginning of a new trend?
There's a chance Santos will continue to kick very well for the Bears, but there's an obvious downside. Santos could regress back to the mean, which will make this contract look extremely foolish. The Bears could have retained Santos or a similar kicker to a shorter, cheaper deal, so it's unclear why they gave him this sort of contract.
Bills re-sign LB Matt Milano (4 years, $44 million): A Grade
Buffalo needed to re-sign Matt Milano, given how lost its defense looked without him in 2020. Milano missed six games, and in those contests, the Bills surrendered 29.8 points per game. Conversely, when Milano was on the field, the Bills allowed 20.1 points per game. That's nearly a 10-point swing!
Of course, there were other mitigating factors in that dichotomy, but the fact remains that Milano is supremely talented and very essential to the Bills. He's also young; he's still just 26 years old.
I'm giving the Bills an excellent grade for this re-signing. It seems like Milano should've been able to get more, given how important he is to Buffalo's success.
Texans sign RB Mark Ingram (1 year, $3 million): D Grade
Why? I get that the Texans needed running back depth behind the injury-prone David Johnson, but why?
Mark Ingram was the 28th-ranked player in my NFL Free Agent Running Back Rankings, and even that was generous. He was so bad last year that he was frequently inactive by the end of the season. His best performance of 2020 saw him accumulate 77 total yards and a touchdown - coincidentally against the Texans' awful run defense in Week 2, a game I just re-watched.
The Texans had so many better options in free agency. Demand for running backs is usually low, so they could have gotten a better bargain with a superior player at the position had they been patient.
Buccaneers re-sign LB Lavonte David (2 years, $25 million; $20 million guaranteed): A- Grade
This has to be a pleasant surprise for the Buccaneers. Given the number of impending free agents on the roster, and the limited cap space, I figured Tampa Bay would lose one of Lavonte David or Chris Godwin. Even after franchising the latter, however, the Buccaneers re-signed David to a 2-year deal.
David has been one of the most underrated players in the NFL for quite some time. He's an exceptional linebacker, and he's one of the core leaders of Tampa Bay's defense. Bringing him back is huge, especially on a short-term deal that doesn't carry much risk. David could always decline because of his age - he just turned 31 - but the upside is worth the minimal risk.
Texans sign C Justin Britt (1 year, $3.2 million): B+ Grade
The Texans have endured offensive line issues for years, so every potential upgrade they make is significant. This might be considered one, with Justin Britt set to replace the recently released Nick Martin.
Britt was out of the NFL last year. Before that, he was a mediocre starting center for the Seahawks. "Mediocre" is a huge upgrade for the Texans, so this is a solid signing that carries no risk because this is a 1-year "prove it" deal.
Cowboys re-sign QB Dak Prescott (4 years, $160 million; $126 million guaranteed): D Grade
The Cowboys caved, and Dak Prescott obtained everything he wanted. Not only will he be getting $126 million guaranteed; he also has a no-trade clause.
The only positive concerning this trade is that we don't have to deal with the media complaining about Prescott not being paid. The Cowboys are giving Prescott way too much money, as they clearly have not learned the lesson that other teams have endured from giving third-tier quarterbacks contracts like this. Dallas can just look at the Vikings (Kirk Cousins), Ravens (Joe Flacco) and other franchises that have destroyed their roster by dedicating too many funds to non-elite quarterbacks.
And no, Prescott is not elite. The stats may say otherwise, but most of Prescott's production has come in garbage time or against bad competition. He's had no success in the playoffs, and it's not even clear if he'll be 100 percent coming off his brutal injury. The Cowboys should have continued to franchise Prescott like the Redskins once smartly did with Cousins. Instead, they're going to have to implode their roster soon, much like the Vikings have done recently because of Cousins' contract.
Bills re-sign S Micah Hyde (2 years, $19.25 million): A Grade
Micah Hyde has been an excellent safety for the Bills over the past four years. He was set to enter free agency after the 2021 campaign, so with him entering his 30s, there was some speculation that he would be in Buffalo just one more season. That's no longer the case in the wake of this extension.
Hyde just turned 30, so he's not expected to decline during the span of this deal, however. It could happen, but safeties can play well into their mid-30s. This contract doesn't even carry much risk because it's for only two years. Hyde likely could have gotten more money, so the Bills deserve a great grade for this signing.
Steelers re-sign QB Ben Roethlisberger (1 year, $14 million): A+ Grade
It was only a few weeks ago when some were speculating that Ben Roethlisberger wouldn't be back with the Steelers in 2021. Roethlisberger just turned 39, and he's obviously not the same quarterback he once was. The Steelers, trapped in a tough cap situation, could have allowed him to walk.
Things changed when Steeler ownership declared that Roethlisberger would return, and that became official today in the wake of this new contract. Roethlisberger will make $14 million this year, and there will be voidable seasons after 2021.
This is an outstanding deal for the Steelers. Not only do they get to keep their future Hall of Fame quarterback for one more year; they'll also save $15 million in cap space to help fill some needs.
Vikings sign DE Stephen Weatherly (1 year, $2.5 million): B- Grade
I gave the Panthers a "D" grade for signing Stephen Weatherly last offseason. Here's my reason:
This is a lot of money - 2 years, $12 million - 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.
Weatherly lasted just one year. He recorded no sacks in nine games. However, he's still fairly young (27 in a few weeks) and can be a fine rotational player. He has played for Mike Zimmer for four years, so he can step in and just reprise his role without any sort of transition. At $2.5 million, he's somewhat of a bargain compared to what the Panthers gave him.
Lions sign WR Tyrell Williams (1 year, $6.2 million): C+ Grade
The Lions are bound to lose at least one of Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones this offseason. It's possible both could depart, thus the Lions had to find some receiving talent to serve as replacements.
Tyrell Williams is an OK addition. He has some upside with his deep ability, but he missed all of 2020 with a torn labrum and was ineffective the year before with foot problems. Williams is not reliable, and he's not even very good when healthy, but this signing doesn't carry too much risk.
Cardinals sign DE/DT J.J. Watt (2 years, $31M; $23M guaranteed): B+ Grade
J.J. Watt broke the news himself, posting a picture of him wearing an Arizona Cardinals shirt. He'll be joining former Texan teammate DeAndre Hopkins as they attempt to get the Cardinals into the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
It's impossible to hate this signing. Watt isn't the best defensive player in the NFL like he once was, but he's still an exceptional defensive lineman at the age of 32. He can still apply heavy pressure on the quarterback and help clamp down on the run. Arizona's pass rush was lackluster last year when Chandler Jones was lost with a season-ending injury. Watt's presence will prevent that from happening, and he'll also form a great one-two punch with Jones when the two are healthy.
The financials on this deal are fair, so I'm giving the Cardinals a B+ for signing Watt. It's a nice move, as it'll allow them to compete for a playoff spot in the toughest division in the NFL.
Steelers sign QB Dwayne Haskins (1 year): B+ Grade
Dwayne Haskins was an utter failure as the Redskins' first-round pick, as he didn't even last two seasons with his team. He has too much natural talent to not be on an NFL roster at the moment, however, so the Steelers have decided to take a chance on him with a 1-year deal.
Haskins has been abysmal thus far, but he's 23 and still possesses plenty of upside. It makes sense for the Steelers to take a chance on him, given that they don't have a successor for Ben Roethlisberger at the moment. Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs aren't the answers, obviously, and while Haskins may not be either, there's a small chance he can still turn into a viable quarterback.
Redskins re-sign C Chase Roullier (4 year, $40.5 million; $19 million guaranteed): B+ Grade
Chase Roullier was once seen as the weakest link of the Redskins' offensive line. This wasn't much of a surprise because he was a sixth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft. However, Roullier has gotten better each year, and he's now one of the better centers in the NFL. He was due for a huge contract extension, so this was expected.
I have nothing bad to say about this extension. Roullier is being paid what he deserves, so this should receive a positive grade. This isn't a great bargain, so I won't grade this in the "A" range, but a B+ seems right.