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 two day of free agency did not disappoint as big-name free agents waited till the second day to sign. Here are grades for every transaction.
DJ Reader signs with the Cincinnati Bengals for 4 years $53 million: A-
In not so Bengals’ fashion, the Bengals actually made an outside free agent signing and this one was a splash. The Bengals now have two elite defensive tackles along their defensive line. The combo of DJ Reader and Geno Atkins will be a dangerous source on defense that the Bengals have been lacking for years.
Darqueze Dennard DIDN’T sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars for 3 years $13.5 million: F
The Jaguars have a gigantic need at cornerback after trading away Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye. It is important to note that a week after reportedly coming to an agreement that the Jaguars and Dennard broke off the contract and he will remain a free agent. Dennard has never been a number one cornerback by any means, but he would have been an upgrade over who they have now on the roster. This is just another thing for the Jaguars to add to their list of things that are not going their way this offseason.
Justin Ellis re-signs with the Baltimore Ravens for 1 year $805,000
This is a great depth signing for Baltimore! Ellis is a great number three defensive tackle or nose tackle to have during goal line or rushing situations.
Trae Waynes signs with the Cincinnati Bengals for 3 years $42 Million: B-
The Bengals signed two defensive starters in one day. Trae Waynes has been the Vikings number two corner for a few seasons now. Waynes isn’t a lockdown corner, but few can match his speed. He definitely got overpaid considering he’s getting paid more than AJ Bouye, the same as Marcus Peters, and just under Patrick Peterson. But if that’s what it takes for free agents to come to Cincinnati so be it.
Darian Thompson re-signs with the Dallas Cowboys for 2 years $2.5 million: C+
Thompson is a solid depth piece at the safety position for the Cowboys to retain. That’s all he should be and shouldn’t see any major time starting, he has been a starting safety before in his career, but there are better options Dallas could get.
Kyler Fackrell signs with the New York Giants for 1 year $4.6 million: B-
Kyler Fackrell is a great pickup and he was gotten for an extremely reasonable price. He just should’ve signed somewhere else who will prioritize him as a for sure starting pass rusher. His contract makes it seem like he will be splitting time with both Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter. This signing does have great upside though, Fackrell’s best season came in 2018-19 when had 10.5 sacks. Unfortunately for him, he got buried behind ZaDarius and Preston Smith in Green Bay last year and rarely saw the field. Also with all the money that the Giants had for them not to sign an elite pass rusher and think that Fackrell is the only addition they should make is kind of a waste.
Thomas Davis Sr. signs with the Washington Redskins for 1 year $3.5 Million: A
Thomas Davis reunites with his former head coach Ron Rivera in his new stop in Washington. Rather than having to learn a new system with a contender, he decided to go play in a system he spent eight years in. Thomas Davis will start next to Rueben Foster and Jon Bostic/Cole Holcomb. Davis has helped groom linebackers like Luke Keuchly and Shaq Thompson when they were just starting off, he can do the same for the Redskins’ young linebackers.
Jeff Heath signs with the Las Vegas Raiders for 2 years $8 million: B
Another former Dallas Cowboy signs with the Las Vegas Raiders. Jason Witten, Jeff Heath and Maliek Collins signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. They also were a finalist for former Cowboys corner Byron Jones. New Raiders’ defensive line coach and former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has a lot of say around there. All jokes aside this is a solid signing by the Raiders. Heath was a very underrated safety for Dallas. The only question about this signing is what will his role be on the defense. The Raiders already have a former first-round pick Jonathan Abram and defensive leader LaMarcus Joyner, and on the back end of their defense. Whatever it is, the Raiders will best utilize the best kicking safety in the league. (Click here if you want to see why Heath holds that title).
Derek Watt signs with the Pittsburgh Steelers for 3 years $9.75 million: B+
Two of the three Watt brothers will be playing in Pittsburgh next season. Fullbacks are a dying breed so it is good to see that they are still valued across the league. Watt has been a very important piece in the Chargers running game for years. He will help boost the Steelers’ rushing attack that did not play great this last season.
Sean Lee re-signs with the Dallas Cowboys for 1 year $4.5 million: B-
A few years ago, the Cowboys’ defense would play monumentally different pending if Sean Lee was on the field or not. He is the quarterback of the defense. He is the smartest guy on the field and calls the plays. As Lee gets older his role has started to diminish in Dallas, especially after starting linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. He might not be the player he was a few years ago, but he is still an important piece that gives Dallas one of the best linebacker cores in football.
Tre Boston resigns with the Carolina Panthers for 3 years $18 Million: B-
Tre Boston has been one of the more underrated safeties in the NFL. Though he has bounced around from team to team he has had nine total interceptions the past three years. He finally found a home in Carolina. But it was confusing to see a player like Boston sign with a team starting a rebuild. Boston went to school and was drafted in Carolina so it is fitting for him to land a long term contract here with the Panthers.
Tom Brady signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 2 years $50 Million: A-
The biggest story of the offseason was where was Tom Brady going to sign. After taking his time and weighing out his options Tom Brady signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This shocked the world considering the Buccaneers were not a legitimate contender when free agency started. That being said the fit for Brady because head coach Bruce Arians, who has worked with a lot of established quarterbacks and will likely let Brady run the offense that he wants to run. Also, the Buccaneers have some of the best offensive weapons in the league they have two 1,000 receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. They also have two talented tight ends in Cameron Brate and former first-rounder OJ Howard. The only concern about this signing is the fact that the Buccaneers don’t have a win now roster or one that could be the favorite to win the NFC. They likely aren’t even the favorite to win the NFC South right now.
Connor McGovern signs with the New York Jets for 3 years $27 million: A
The New York Jets added another quality starter to their offensive line. McGovern is less controversial than George Fant. He is an established starting-caliber interior lineman. Though he does not have any Pro Bowls to his resume, he is a huge upgrade over what they had at guard last year.
Damiere Byrd signs with the New England Patriots for 1 year $2.5 million: C+
Damiere Byrd is a nice no. 4 receiver or back up wideout. New England has a reputation of turning after thought players into solidified starters. It is just confusing that Byrd was the Patriots’ first player they signed and that signed him when there was so many better receiver options available on the market. This does not fill the Patriots hole at wide receiver.
Quinton Jefferson signs with the Buffalo Bills for 2 years $13.5 million: B-
The Buffalo Bills have addressed their major needs early in free agency, but now have a hole on their roster when Jordan Philips and his 9.5 sacks signed with Arizona. Quinton Jefferson has been a very solid rotational piece of the Seahawks defensive line. He won’t be able to replace Philips production, but he will be a nice piece next to last year’s first-rounder Ed Oliver.
Carl Nassib signs with the Las Vegas Raiders for 3 years $25 million: B+
Carl Nassib has really established himself as a successful situational pass rusher since joining the Buccaneers. Nassib has 6.5 and six sacks in his two seasons with the team. The Raiders had two promising rookies starting at defensive end last season. Last year’s fourth overall pick Clelin Ferell had 4.5 sacks and fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby had 10 sacks last season. Arden Key has not developed into the player most thought he would. So Nassib is a nice addition to this young defensive line group.
BJ Finney signs with the Seattle Seahawks for 2 years $8 million: B
It seems like the only thing the Seahawks are have been lacking for years has been stability on the offensive line. However, as much as the Seahawks have been lacking on their offensive line, it hasn’t affected the Seahawks enough to damage their play, Russell Wilson does not need the greatest offensive line to work his magic, but it would definitely help. Finney has been a backup for most of his career in Pittsburgh, having only started when Ramon Foster or David DeCastro got hurt. Finney could be a very solid starter for the Seahawks offensive line and likely will be just that.
Vernon Butler signs with the Buffalo Bills for 2 years $9.3 million: B-
This signing was confusing after the Bills signed Quinton Jefferson. Vernon Butler was a former first-round pick whose career got off to a rocky start, he had a career-high six sacks this past year, but also made headline after getting ejected during his game during the Colts. He got into an altercation with Colts tight end Jack Doyle. The confusing part about this signing is why the Bills decided to pay $11.4 million to two rotational pieces at defensive tackle over the next two years rather than pay $10 million over the next three years and retain Jordan Philips who started for them last season.
Gerald McCoy signs with the Dallas Cowboys for 3 years $20.25 Million: A
After the Cowboys lock up Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper with a majority of their salary cap space, the Cowboys manage to bring in another big-name free agent in Gerald McCoy. McCoy was brought in late int he offseason by the Carolina Panthers after being cut by the Buccaneers. He had five sacks on the year, but his addition gave the Panthers a huge boost to their defense and locker room. The Panthers were one of the better defense in the league because of the addition of McCoy and the Cowboys are hoping that his addition does the same to their defense.
The first half of this article can be found here