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. The first day of Free Agency is usually where most of the big-name free agents. Here are grades for every transaction.
Michael Brockers signs with the Baltimore Ravens for 3 years $30 million: A-
This is the type of signing championship teams make! Brockers isn’t a flashy player by any means, but he is a fantastic run stuffer that the Ravens have added to their colossal defensive line who already has Brandon Williams and (recently traded for) Calais Campbell. The Ravens’ defense could possibly be one of the best in the league next year.
Juston Burris signs with the Carolina Panthers for 2 years $8 million: B
Many people might not know who Justin Burris is, but he started at safety for the Browns for a majority of last year and had a sack, two picks and a forced fumble last year. He could be the Panthers’ starting safety next season but he could also be a high end back up to a rookie if the Panthers ending up drafting one.
Jimmy Graham signs with the Chicago Bears for 2 years $16 million: C+
What will Jimmy Graham’s role in Chicago be? They already have Trey Burton on the roster. Burton has not played well in his time in Chicago. Now Chicago will have two underperforming tight end sets who are both making $8 million per year. Graham might have signed here because Chicago was offering the most money and longer than a one year deal. Many thought Graham would sign with a legitimate contender. The combination of Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles will be the worst combination of quarterbacks Graham has had in his career since entering the league. There is no explanation why they wouldn’t want to go with a younger option with more potential at the position.
Kyle Van Noy signs with the Miami Dolphins for 4 years $51 million: A-
Kyle Van Noy played it smart and signed with a team whose defensive system he knows extremely well and has played under. Brian Flores was Van Noy’s linebacker coach in New England before taking the Dolphins’ head coaching job. Former Patriots usually see a decline in production once they sign elsewhere. But under Flores that is unlikely to happen, because he knows how to get the most out of Van Noy and use his versatility.
Javon Hargrave signs with the Philadelphia Eagles for 3 years $39 Million: B+
Javon Hargrave is one of the best pure nose tackles in the league and will be a great addition to the Eagles defensive line. Investing $40 million into three defensive tackles on their roster that needs depth at skill positions is not smart. This sounds like something defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz asked for.
Eric Murray signs with the Houston Texans for 3 years $20 million: B
Eric Murray is a good depth signing for the Houston Texans. He has the versatility to play cornerback and free safety. He will likely split time with Tashaun Gibson at free safety and be the Texans’ extra nickel corner in passing situations.
George Fant signs with the New York Jets for 3 years $30 million: C
Jason Peters, Andrew Whitworth and Cordy Glenn are on the market and the Jets sign George Fant to this kind of deal. Fant has 24 career starts and has always been looked as a back up in Seattle. And to Jet fans that believe he will be the right tackle and that they are going to draft one in the first round, Fant and Chuma Edoga are your starting tackles going into 2020. The deal isn’t terrible for a starting left tackle, but there were betters options than signing Fant this early in the offseason.
AJ McCarron re-signs with the Houston Texans for 1 year $4 Million: B+
McCarron hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass or started a game since 2015, but he is still a very solid back up quarterback in the league. Houston did the right thing by extending him another year.
Marcus Mariota signs with the Las Vegas Raiders for 1 year: B
The amount Marcus Mariota signed for is unknown at the moment, but that really doesn’t change the grade of the deal. Mariota gets a fresh start and becomes a back up in an offense without much firepower. If Mariota couldn’t do well with the weapons in Tennessee, how is he expected to do better in Las Vegas? Also Derek Carr hasn’t missed a game in two years and has never played less than 15 game in a season, so Mariota won’t be coming to Carr’s relief unless he is benched. On a short term deal, this was the wrong fit for Marcus Mariota. Teams like New Orleans, Kansas City, Green Bay, Seattle and Atlanta would have been the right offense for Mariota to play in on a short-term prove-it deal, like Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Tannehill played with on in 2019. In turn, the Raiders get a backup with a starter-level upside in their quarterback room. It’s a good move for the Raiders, but not Mariota
Jamie Collins signs with the Detroit Lions for 3 years $30 million: A-
This seems like a perfect fit! Like most former Patriot defenders, Jamie Collins did not play well after was traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2016 for a third-round pick. On a one-year prove-it deal, Collins showed that in the right system he is still a force on defense. Knowing that information, Collins signed with a team that uses a very similar style of defense, has a coaching staff he is comfortable with and needs an upgrade at linebacker. Collins should play similar to how he did in New England during his time in Detroit.
Jarran Reed re-signs with the Seattle Seahawks for 2 years $23 million: A-
Jarran Reed and Seattle managed to settle on a deal that probably isn’t the length that Reed wanted, but this is a good deal for both sides. If Reed plays up to his play in the 2018 season he could be in line for a big-time extension come next offseason. Reed staying in Seattle is great for this defense.
Minnesota Vikings trade Stefon Diggs and a 2020 7th to the Buffalo Bills for 22nd overall pick, 2020 5th round pick, 2020 6th round pick, and 2021 4th round pick. Vikings: A-, Bills: B+
Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen were one of the best receiver duos in the league. But at both of their price tags, it was a luxury to have both of them together and with so many needs the Vikings needed to spread the cap room around their roster. This is a very deep receiver draft class and the Vikings can find a serviceable secondary receiver in the middle rounds and they got some extra draft picks to fill out the rest of their roster. The Bills finally got their number one receiver! Diggs will be playing alongside Cole Beasley and John Brown next season. The Bills don’t have a bunch of needs on their roster so they can afford to move those picks. The only problem with adding Stefon Diggs to this group of receivers is the fact that the Bills did not get a bigger receiver like they needed.
Amari Cooper re-signs with the Dallas Cowboys for 5 years $100 million: A
There was little doubt that Amari Cooper was going to be playing anywhere but Dallas in 2020. The Redskins offered to make Cooper the highest-paid receiver in football and he turned it down to stay in Dallas. Cooper was Dallas’ most important free agent.Without Cooper, Dak Prescott isn’t considered one of the better quarterbacks in football and Dallas is not a playoff contender. Keeping Prescott and Cooper together is monumental for Dallas going forward.
Mario Addison signs with the Buffalo Bills for 3 years $30.4 Million: A
The Bills’ two biggest needs going into the offseason were to acquire a true number one receiver and an edge rusher that can get them 10+ sacks a season. The Bills filled both of those needs very quickly. Addison has quietly gotten 39 sacks the last four years with Carolina. Addison reunites with his former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott in Buffalo. The Bills signed their primary pass rusher for a discount.
Kendall Fuller signs with the Washington Redskins for 4 years $40 million: B+
Every year the Super Bowl Champions are bound to lose big-name free agents in the offseason to struggling teams. But it is surprising that Kendall Fuller signed with a struggling team like the Redskins and did not sign for more. Fuller likely had suitors who are in a better position to win. This is huge for Washington who already has some pieces in place for head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to play with. Josh Norman was a terrible fit for Washington’s old defensive scheme, hopefully, Fuller transitions into the number one corner that Norman never was.
Randall Cobb signs with the Houston Texans for 3 years $27 million: C+
Bill O’Brien traded away Deshaun Watson’s security blanket and attempted to replace him on the same day. Randall Cobb is a security blanket and one of the better slot receivers in the league. This feels similar to when the Giants overpaid Golden Tate and signed him to a long term contract after trading away Odell Beckham Jr. The Texans didn’t need another slot receiver. They have Keke Coutee on their roster who has shown potential to be a solid slot receiver in the league. Cobb would have been a great signing for the Texans. If he was the number two receiver to DeAndre Hopkins and for a smaller price tag. But having to be a major part in replacing the production of DeAndre Hopkins is way past Cobb at this point in his career.
Blake Martinez signs with the New York Giants for 3 years $30 million: B+
Blake Martinez has had over 140 tackles in each of the past 3 seasons. He was in line to be one of the highest-paid linebackers in the league. Martinez was expected to have a bigger contract then he received, but did not receive a larger offer. This is likely because of Martinez’s inability to cover in the middle of the field. It isn’t that he can’t do it, he just struggles in coverage. Martinez made his money off his tackle numbers. The Giants were in desperate need of linebacker help. Martinez is the best linebacker to play for the Giants in years.
Levine Toilolo signs with the New York Giants for 2 years $6.2 million: B
Levine Toilolo is going to be a very underrated signing. He is one of the best blocking tight ends in football. Though he is not effective as a receiver Toilolo got signed for his blocking ability. He will fit right into the role that Rhett Ellison had for the Giants.
Jimmy Ward re-signs with the San Fransisco 49ers for 3 years $28.5 Million: B+
Jimmy Ward is the second free agent the 49ers had that many expected to leave, but ended up re-signing with the team. The 49ers had trouble slotting Ward into their defense playing him at safety and cornerback, but this season he finally found a home at safety. This was a very fair deal for both teams and now the 49ers do not have to try to replace a premium position on their elite defense with a rookie or older veteran.
The first half of this article can be found here