This offseason has been nothing short of outstanding! It has exceeded expectations and already we have seen a lot of major names change places. The 2020 season is going to be vastly different than this past year. Some players seem to be in a perfect fit where they landed and others seem to have signed wherever the money was. Day three of free agency saw some big names sign with new teams. Here are grades for every transaction.
Danny Shelton signs with the Detroit Lions for 2 years $8 million: B+
This move is not the least bit shocking. Danny Shelton became an integral piece to the Patriots’ defense since getting traded there. He had a career best three sacks this past season. Signing with Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions is a very smart move for former Patriot defenders. He also fills a huge need for the Lions after letting multiple of their defensive tackles walk in free agency.
Tennessee Titans traded Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos for a 7th round pick. Titans: C-, Broncos: A
This was a confusing move for a team that looks to be in the thick of things and want to make a Super Bowl run next season. Jurrell Casey is one of the if not the best defensive player for the Tennessee Titans. He had five sacks last season which is very good for a 3-4 defensive lineman. The Titans got rid of his $15 million contract and are likely to re-sign Logan Ryan or go after Jadeveon Clowney. The Titans have had rumors connecting them to both those players. The Broncos now eliminate their big need at defensive line and get a player who would have been a top-10 defensive free agent if he was on the market. They also get Casey at a discount for the next three seasons.
New England Patriots trade Duron Harmon & 7th round pick to the Detroit Lions for a 5th round pick. Patriots: B, Lions: B+
Duran Harmon filled the third safety role for the New England Patriots’ defense. Unlike most teams the Patriots start three safeties on defense, but Harmon was a luxury that the Patriots did not necessarily need. He’s not crazy good but he’s a starting safety that could get a few interceptions for a team. That’s what the Lions need, the Lions have questions as far as who are going to be their starting safeties next season. Harmon could be the Lions’ starting safety and joins a large amount of former Patriots defenders that have found a home in Detroit.
Ted Karras signs with the Miami Dolphins for 1 year $4 million: B+
Ted Karras started 15 games with the Dolphins last year at center after David Andrews missed the season due to injury. He showed that he could be a starting center. The Dolphins have a huge need at the position and they sign him to only a 1 year deal. So if he doesn’t play great and they find a better option they could move off him quickly. But for now Karras is going to be their starting center next year at a nice contract.
Austin Blythe re-signs with the Los Angeles Rams for 1 year: A
The dollar amount for Blythe’s contract has not been released, but regardless this is a great deal for the Rams. Their offensive line was atrocious last year and Blythe is one of the older starters on the offensive line. Blythe was a part of the Rams Super Bowl offensive line and then last year their line had a lot of injuries. If Blythe and the rest of the Rams offensive line can stay healthy the Rams could potentially bounce back in 2020.
Jacksonville Jaguars trade Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears for a 4th round pick. Jaguars: A-, Bears: B
After announcing that their $88 million quarterback Nick Foles will have to compete with sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew for the starting quarterback position in Jacksonville, they traded him the Chicago Bears. This is great for Jacksonville, they only do get $2.6 million in cap relief this season but they get $30 million in cap relief in 2021. On the other side of the spectrum, the Bears’ regime is making their last attempt to keep their jobs. Foles will compete with Trubisky for the starting job. Foles can manage his team to the playoffs or Trubisky could use the chip on his shoulder to show why he was taken second overall. Foles fits well with the Bears. Matt Nagy was Nick Foles offensive coordinator in Kansas City and quarterback coach John DeFilippo held that same position for Foles in Philadelphia. All three were groomed from a system based on Andy Reid’s offensive so the connection between them could work out well.
Ben Garland re-signs with the San Fransisco 49ers for 1 year $2.25 million: B
Ben Garland is not a starter but he is a very solid offensive lineman. He is reliable enough to spot start if an interior lineman for the 49ers goes down during the season. Offensive line depth is extremely important, especially to teams that could make deep playoff runs.
Linval Joseph signs with the Los Angeles Chargers for 2 years $17 million: A
The Chargers address a huge need on their defense. The Chargers have had subpar play from their interior defensive line. Granted they do have Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the edges and they create enough pressure. But Linval Joseph will help them create so much pressure. He will also be a force against the run and help develop last year’s first-round pick Jerry Tillery on defense.
Brian Poole re-signs with the New York Jets for 1 year $3.5 million: A-
His stats do not show it, but Brian Poole is one of the best slot corners in all of football. He was a leader in a locker room lacking a veteran presence and a fan favorite. Poole was the Jets’ best cornerback last season. He could have likely signed a longer deal or with a better team. But this is good for Poole stay in Gregg Williams defense and fantastic for the Jets to keep him in house.
Dante Fowler Jr. signs with the Atlanta Falcons for 3 years $48 million: A-
It was surprising to see that Dante Fowler signed a one year deal to stay with the Rams last year. Many thought he would sign a long term deal with a team because of his potential being a former third overall pick and showing that he could be an effective edge rusher in the past. However Fowler bet on himself because he felt that another year under defensive coordinator Wade Philips would give him an opportunity to raise his value and another year with the Rams would give him a shot to win a Super Bowl. One of those two things happened. Fowler and a career high 11.5 sacks this past season, though the Rams extremely underachieved. This year it was almost impossible for the Rams to retain Fowler cap-wise this offseason. Fowler got his long term contract, but by a team that no one expected to have the cap space to make this kind of signing. In Atlanta, he reunites with his defensive coordinator from his time at Florida in Dan Quinn who is the Falcons head coach. If anyone knows how to get Fowler to play at his highest level it is him.
Seth Roberts signs a 1 year deal with the Carolina Panthers: B
Seth Roberts has shown in the past to be a reliable slot receiver. He has had issues with drops in the past, but he is a good veteran piece to have around their young receiving core.
Leonard Floyd signs with the Los Angeles Rams for 1 year $10 Million: A-
This signing is good for both Leonard Floyd and the Rams. The Rams are replacing Dante Fowler with a former first-round pick in Leonard Floyd. Floyd has only had 18.5 sacks in his first four years in the league and seven of those came in his rookie year. His production was expected to go up once the Bears traded for Khalil Mack. Like Floyd, Dante Fowler was deemed a bust after only accumulating 14 sacks in the three years and losing his job to Yannick Ngakoue in Jacksonville. As with this past year, Fowler was able to turn that narrative around and earn a big payday after a full year in this defense. Playing in this defense with studs like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will give Floyd the opportunities he needs to prove that he is the pass rusher many thought he would be when he entered the league.
Zach Banner re-signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers for 1 year $1.75 million: B
Re-signing Zach Banner means that the Steelers keep their backup swing tackle and is great for depth. But it also means that they get their sixth offensive lineman back. Banner’s role is to be the Steelers eligible offensive lineman that they use in running plays. They use him a lot. It seems like a few times a drive the announcer says “Number 72 is reporting as eligible”. The Steelers offseason moves have made it very clear they have every intention of boosting their run game.
Taiwan Jones signs with the Buffalo Bills for 1 year: B
Taiwan Jones likely isn’t going to be splitting carries with Devin Singletary next season barring anything crazy. But Jones was a special teams captain with the Bills in 2018 so that is likely where he will be contributing his second time around in 2020.
Eli Apple signs with the Las Vegas Raiders for 1 year $6 million: B+
It seems like forever ago the New York Giants surprised the world and selected Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick. He might have not been worth that high of a selection but he has been a reliable starter both in New York and New Orleans. The Raiders need a corner opposite Trayvon Mullen. None has shown to be number one corners, but Apple gives the Raiders insurance incase the Raiders don’t get one in the draft gives Mullen the opportunity to develop into a number one corner for the team.
Sean Davis signs with the Washington Redskins for 1 year $5 million: B+
Sean Davis was a solid starter at the safety position for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He likely would have re-signed with the team if not for the Steelers trading for one of the leagues best in Minkah Fitzpatrick. Davis also missed all but one game last season due to injury last year. This is a one year prove-it type deal for Davis and he goes to a team who needed to find a safety to put opposite Landon Collins.
Maurice Canady signs with the Dallas Cowboys for 1 year $1.25 million: B
The Dallas Cowboys lost star cornerback Byron Jones this offseason. Now Canady isn’t supposed to fill that gap but he provides Dallas with depth at the position that they have been lacking.
Chris Harris Jr. signs with the Los Angeles Chargers for 2 years $20.25 million: A
The Chargers fill another need with this great signing. The Chargers fill the gap they had at cornerback opposite Casey Hayward that was created when Jason Verrett and Trevor Williams left. Not only do they do that, but they steal their division rival’s best cornerback in the process. This gives the Chargers arguably the best secondary in football.
Xavier Su’a-Filo signs with the Cincinnati Bengals for 3 years $10 million: B+
For most of his career, Xavier Su’a-Filo has been a backup on some elite-level offensive lines. The Bengals need to upgrade their offensive line. Especially if they have plans of bringing in a new quarterback next season. Su-a Filo should compete for either of the starting guard jobs with Trey Hopkins, Billy Price and Michael Jordan. Worst case scenario he is a cheap backup they have locked up long term.
Elandon Roberts signs with the Miami Dolphins for 1 year $2 million: A
Elandon Roberts has been a huge piece for the past few seasons. He has been one of the Patriots starting linebackers for their elite defense. It was surprising that the Dolphins got Roberts for so cheap. He reunited with his former linebacker coach Brian Flores in Miami and joins a nice rotation with Jerome Baker, Raekwon McMillan and former teammate Kyle Van Noy. Roberts’ contract only makes sense money-wise if he was going to be the teams starting fullback. He does have some experience at fullback for the Patriots last season. All jokes aside this is a great signing for the core of this Dolphins team.
The second half of the article can be found here