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Grading Days 8 and 9 of Free Agency

Robby Anderson

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. Free agency saw some big names sign with new teams. Here are grades for some of the transactions involving household players between days eight and nine of free agency.

Tahir Whitehead signs with the Carolina Panthers for 1 year $2.5 million: B+

The Panthers have a major hole on their roster that goes bigger than the middle linebacker position that Luke Kuechly played. But the Panthers do have fill the linebacker position because right now they only have Shaq Thompson at the starting linebacker spot. It is not a shocker to see Tahir Whitehead sign with one of his former college coaches at Temple Matt Rhule and the Carolina Panthers. Whitehead is a very good starting linebacker that can help vill the void at linebacker on this defense.

PJ Walker
XFL Superstar PJ Walker earned himself an NFL contract after his first season

PJ Walker signs with the Carolina Panthers for 2 years $1.5 million: B+

After the NFL season ended, the XFL kept football fans entertained until their season was suspended. People tuned in to watch PJ Walker dominate the league with the Houston Roughnecks. Walker looked like the league’s MVP, making him bound to earn an NFL contract. It wasn’t long until Walker signed in the league. As expected it was as a backup. Walker’s talent must shine to win the Panthers backup quarterback job. Then he must make the best of his opportunities in the preseason and whenever they happen after that.

Jordan Jenkins resigns with the New York Jets for 1 year $5 million: A-

Jordan Jenkins has developed extremely well in his time with the Jets. He led the team with eight sacks last season. That might not be what the Jets want as far as their leading sack number, but the Jets had to keep their best edge rusher in house. The Jet are trying to upgrade opposite Jenkins to create a pass rushing duo that the Jets have been lacking.

Kyle Allen looked like the future of the Carolina Panthers 5 of his first 6 starts                            Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers trade Kyle Allen to the Washington Redskins for a 5th Round Pick. Panthers: B, Redskins: A-

Kyle Allen made a name for himself early last year and seemed to be the replacement for Cam Newton. That ended as soon as Allen seemed to decline and lost seven straight games. The Panthers looked to restart at the quarterback position by signing Teddy Bridgewater and PJ Walker to go with Will Grier. They moved Allen to his former head coach, Ron Rivera, in Washington. This reunion is great for both sides. The Redskins lost their backup Colt McCoy to the Giants and Kyle Allen has experience in the offense that Washington will run next year. It is reported that Allen expects to compete for the starting job in Washington and if he were to beat out Dwayne Haskins this would be a huge steal for the Redskins to only give up a fifth round pick.

Joe Walker signs with the San Fransisco 49ers for 1 year $900,000: B+

Joe Walker may not be a household name, but last season he took the starting middle linebacker job away from former first round pick Haason Reddick in Arizona last year. He will be a great back up to a defense that didn’t look the same when Kwon Alexander got hurt and missed time. He could very likely be in a camp battle with over exceeding rookie Dre Greenlaw next season as well.

Corey Coleman re-signs with the New York Giants: B

Corey Coleman’s career has been very bumpy since entering the league. After showing some promise in his first two seasons, he demanded a trade and got moved to Buffalo, was cut from there, had a short stint on the Patriots and ended up on the Giants’ practice squad. He made it to the roster, but then tore his ACL last year in training camp. Things haven’t been good for Coleman, but the Giants are bringing him back to see what they can get out of him. Being a former first round pick the talent should be there and the Giants are goin to try to get something out of him.

Dion Lewis
The New York Giants will be Dion Lewis’ sixth team Credit: Getty Images/Jacob Kupferman

Dion Lewis signs with the New York Giants for 1 year $1.5 million: B+

Dion Lewis was brought in by Tennessee to split time with Derrick Henry. But after Henry’s breakout Lewis saw his role decrease and after they paid Henry they let Lewis go. Lewis is a nice change of pace back. He could catch balls from the backfield and split the backfield with Saquon Barkley in a two back set on passing downs. It’ll be interesting to see how Jason Garrett plans to use Dion Lewis in his offense that primarily uses one running back.

Washington Redskins trade Quinton Dunbar to the Seattle Seahawks or a 5th Round Pick. Redskins: C, Seahawks: B+

For weeks Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar has requested a trade. Though many may not know him, Dunbar was actually the Redskins best cornerback last season. Dunbar wanted to get traded off this team to join a contender and that is exactly what he did. The Seattle Seahawks traded a fifth-round pick for a starting cornerback. Dunbar will likely compete and beat out Tre Flowers for the starting job opposite Shaquill Griffin.

Jimmy Smith is an extremely good cornerback buried in a secondary loaded with talent

Jimmy Smith resigns with the Baltimore Ravens for 1 year $6 million: A-

Jimmy Smith has been an extremely solid starting cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens. He has no Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors, but he has been a full-time starter for them since 2013. Now the Ravens have former All-Pros Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey on their roster so Smith will be reduced to playing snaps in the slot and or rotating with them. Though he is not a necessity he is a nice luxury for the Ravens to have as they are trying to fortify their defense to become one of the better units in football.

Jordan Ta’amu signs with the Kanas City Chiefs for 1 year $610,000: B

Jordan Ta’amu is another player from the XFL who has earned an opportunity to earn a spot in an NFL roster because of their play in the XFL. Ta’amu showed that he is not only a threat with his arm but with his legs. He has a shot to be Patrick Mahomes back up in 2020.

Al Woods signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars for 1 year $2.5 million: B-

At age 33, Al Woods is still a very good run stuffer. The fit with Jacksonville is confusing because they seem to be starting a rebuild. They also already have Taven Bryan, Abry Jones and Rodney Gunter so there aren’t going to be many snaps for him to play in Duval. It was predicted that he would sign with a contender, but at least he is a veteran for the younger guys.

Cassius Marsh signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars for 1 year: B

Cassius Marsh has been a solid veteran defensive end for a few seasons. He has played for some elite defensive coaches in Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll. In 2019, with the 49ers, he had 5.5 sacks with the team. Marsh will likely be a back up in Jacksonville to Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue (if they do not trade him).

Isaiah McKenzie re-signs with the Buffalo Bills: B+

Isaiah McKenzie was supposed to be the next great returner, but dealt with fumbles early in his career. Buffalo seems to like using McKenzie in trick plays using him in jet sweeps and taking advantage of his speed. He will likely be returning punts for the Bills next year.

Rashaan Melvin signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars for 1 year $2.25 million: A-

Rashaan Melvin seems to always sign with the team that has the biggest need at cornerback and knows they can’t fix it in one offseason. That is exactly what the Jaguars are dealing with at cornerback. They traded away Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye and dropped to the bottom of the league as far as secondary talent. Right now Melvin is the team’s number one cornerback with DJ Hayden.

Philip Dorsett
Phillip Dorsett stepped up big time for the Patriots when they needed better play from the wide receiver position
(Photo: Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Phillip Dorsett signs with the Seattle Seahawks for 1 year $1 million: B+

Phillip Dorsett has been one of the Patriots’ most reliable receivers since joining the team. He is a speedy deep-ball threat. The Seahawks now have three receivers that could stretch the field. Dorsett’s playoff experience is great for a team trying to get back to the Super Bowl.

Travis Benjamin signs with the San Fransisco 49ers for 1 year: B+

Travis Benjamin has a reputation for being one of the fastest receivers in the league. In recent years he has been buried behind all the talented receivers that were in Los Angeles. Benjamin’s role is unclear right now in San Fransisco, but his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan should have a role in for him in this offense where he will be splitting reps with all the secondary receivers in San Fransisco.

Peyton Barber signs with the Washington Redskins for 2 years $3 million: C-

The Redskins running back depth chart goes as follows: Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love, Peyton Barber, J.D. McKissic and Josh Ferguson. Notice a trend…A majority of them have been starter or have the potential to be starters, but none are workhorse backs. The Redskins have too many running backs on their roster. They have too many talented players that deserve snaps and they also all have major flaws. Guice is often injured, Peterson cannot carry an offense at his age, Love is unproven, Mckissic isn’t a true running back and Barber isn’t really that good. Barber is average at best, but he has been keeping Ronald Jones out of the lineup in Tampa Bay. The Redskins have too many running backs on their roster, making this signing was unnecessary.

Robby Anderson signs with the Carolina Panthers for 2 years $10 million: A-

After Matt Rhule got hired by the Carolina Panthers people started connecting Robby Anderson to them. They seem to be a realistic option, he had the potential for a bigger market and to sign with a team in desperate need for some wide receiver help. However, due to the depth at the position in this year’s draft, Anderson and the rest of the free-agent receivers did not see the market they were expecting. The Panthers have their number one receiver in DJ Moore who has developed nicely over his first two years in the league. But the Panthers have had instability at the number two receiver. Curtis Samuel has played well, but has dealt with injuries early in his career. Anderson is another speedy receiver to go with Curtis Samuel who will get moved to the slot. Now the Panthers have one of the fastest offenses in the league with the combination of Anderson, DJ Moore, Samuel and Christian McCaffrey. Teddy Bridgewater should be happy.

It is so unfortunate that Tyler Eifert has dealt with the injury problems that he has.
(Courtesy of stripe hype.com)

Tyler Eifert signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars or 2 years $15 million: C+

This is another one of the Jaguars’ very confusing transactions this offseason. If they are rebuilding why would they invest a two-year contract on an older tight end that has dealt with a concerning amount of injuries? Tyler Eifert had 13 touchdowns in his best the year, 2015, but has nine since. He has only played in 30 games in the past four years. His first 16 game season was this past year and he only had 436 yards and three touchdowns. Jacksonville could have looked for an upgrade at tight end or a complement to third round pick Josh Oliver, but Eifert on a two-year deal doesn’t seem like the answer.

Nick Vigil signs with the Los Angeles Chargers for 1 year $1 million: A

The Chargers have made huge upgrades to their already talented defense this offseason. Their weakest unit was at linebacker. Nick Vigil is cheap signing that can start at linebacker right away. He had over 100 tackles this past season in Cincinnati and could do the same next year as the teams starting linebacker next to Denzel Perryman and Uchenna Nwosu.

Devin Funchess signs with the Green Bay Packers for 1 year $2.5 million: B-

Devin Funchess technically fills a need for the Packers. But he also isn’t the right player to fill that need. The Packers need a burner or a receiver to stretch the field. Funchess is not that, instead he is a big target that could be used over the middle. A question about Funchess coming out of college was whether he would play wide receiver or tight end. That versatility could actually be helpful for the Packers. They also have a need at tight end. If Funchess plays in the slot and catches ball over the middle like a tight end, this signing is better. The Packers would also need to add another receiver to fill their need for someone opposite Davante Adams on the outside. It is important to note that Funchess missed the entire season last year with the Colts due to a broken collarbone. So it is possible that Funchess might be a little rusty.

Breshad Perriman had 506 yards and 4 Touchdowns during the last 5 games of the season

Breshad Perriman signs with the New York Jets for 1 year $8 million: A-

Breshad Perriman was an afterthought and most thought he was out of the league until he broke out at the end of last year. He showed the league why he was selected in the first round a few years ago. The New York Jets have moved on from wide receiver Robby Anderson and replaced him with a similar style of receiver. Like Anderson, Perriman is a deep threat speedy receiver who can stretch the field. Jameis Winston took full advantage of Perriman skill set last year. The Jets are taking a risk here, but Perriman could have more upside than Anderson had with the team but also could have a lot lower of a floor.

Richard Rodgers signs with the Washington Redskins for 1 year $1 million: B-

The Redskins have a void at tight end to fill now that Jordan Reed is officially off the roster. Richard Rodgers is a safe signing who could be their starter next year while they figure out their long term answer to their need. It is important to note that this year’s drafts tight end class is not very strong, so teams are more likely to sign veterans to short term deals than use a draft pick on one of these tight ends.

Anthony Sherman re-signs with the Kansas City Chiefs for 1 year: A

Fullbacks aren’t valued that high anymore, but Anthony Sherman has been an important piece to the Chiefs running game for a few seasons well. It is also very important for the Chiefs to try to keep all of their pieces from last season to give themselves an opportunity to repeat next year. Keeping Sherman is great for the running game, the chemistry of the offense, and the entire roster.

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