The NFL’s free agency negotiation period opened on March 14 at 12 pm EST. Teams have been able to place the Franchise Tag or try to extend their own free agents for the last couple of days. Now other teams will have the opportunity to talk to their free agents.
Signing free agents will allow growing rosters to fill the major needs without using their draft capital at that position. It also allows contending teams to remain in the playoff picture by ensuring their roster is talented enough to compete.
More than any other event, Free Agency shapes the complexion of the league and how the team will be progressing their roster going forward towards the NFL Draft and the start of the regular season. Some teams make great value signings and others overpay for a popular commodity.
Here are the grades for the signings made during the first day of the 2022 NFL Free Agency Period:
Extensions that happened before 12 pm EST
Tampa Bay Buccaneers give Pro Bowel Center Ryan Jensen a three year $39 million extension
Shortly after Tom Brady announced he was coming out of retirement the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to get a deal done with Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen. This was an outstanding signing for Tampa Bay to keep Jensen for a few reasons. Both Jensen and starting guard Alex Cappa were expected to hit free agency and Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet retired. Now the Buccaneers will keep at least their best starting interior linemen in Jensen. Tampa Bay also got him to stay with the team for a slight discount. Jensen’s new deal is two million dollars less per year than many anticipated he would get on the open market.
Brian Hoyer returns to New England for two years $4 million
The New England Patriots have a lot of trust in Brian Hoyer as their backup quarterback. Next season will be Hoyer’s eighth season with the team spread over three different stints. He is a great veteran to have in the quarterback room for Mac Jones. This could possibly be the end of Jarrett Stidham‘s tenure in New England as the team’s backup quarterback.
Tim Boyle returns to Detroit on a one year $2 million
Last season Tim Boyle made the first start of his career with the Detroit Lions. In three starts Boyle completed 64.9% of his passes for 526 passing yards for three touchdowns and six interceptions. Detroit lost all three of his starts. Even though Boyle lost all three of his starts and didn’t play particularly well Detroit felt that he was good enough to be the team’s backup quarterback for another season.
Green Bay Packers give Preston Smith a four-year $52.5 million extension
Packers edge rusher Preston Smith bounced back from a rough 2020-21 season. Smith’s nine sacks season earned him an extension to stay with the Packers. It also helped Green Bay to extend him because it lowered his cap hit for this upcoming season. Keeping Smith to play opposite Gary rather than cutting him like they did Za’Darius Smith was smart because now the Packers won’t have a major need to address at the edge rusher position and keep one of the better pass rushing duos in the NFC intact for the near future.
Mitch Morse receives a two-year $19.5 million extension from the Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills extended veteran center Mitch Morse to a two-year extension. Keeping Morse around will ensure this at an important position on the offensive line will not become a need in the near future. Buffalo’s offensive line isn’t perfect but has some key players including Morse. Buffalo can now focus on immediate upgrades instead of finding a replacement for Morse who has been a solid player for them since signing in 2019.
Former Pro Bowl tackle Jake Matthews receives a three year $52.5 million extension from Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta decided to give their left tackle a three-year extension. This extension will make Matthews the sixth highest-paid left tackle in the league on a per-year basis. This feels like a slight overpay considering hasn’t been a Pro Bowler since 2018. However, Matthews is one of the few offensive linemen on the roster that they can trust as a starter for the long-term future. Matthews is going to be a vital piece of the Falcons’ future while they retool their offense.
Miami Dolphins give pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah four year $65.4 million deal
Shortly before the start of free agency, the Miami Dolphins managed to extend one of their best pass rushers, Emmanuel Ogbah, before he hit the open market. This is impressive considering many believed he would be leaving the team if other teams had the chance to talk with him. Ogbah got paid around the range as some of the league’s best pass rush specialists. Only as a member of Miami’s defense has Ogbah been able to get to the quarterback at a high rate. Ogbah has 18 sacks over the past two seasons and is a key player for a Miami defense capable of getting this team into the playoff picture if they figure out the offense.
Los Angeles Rams retain offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom on a three year $40 million deal
Los Angeles had multiple free agents hit the market. But they managed to keep versatile offensive linemen Joseph Noteboom around for another three years. He has not been great when he has started for the Rams. However, his versatility to play both tackle and guard has made him a valuable depth piece for Los Angeles over the last four seasons.
It is likely that the thinking behind retaining Noteboom is that he could replace Andrew Whitworth if he retired or Austin Corbett if he left in free agency. His contract is up to par with solid starters at both the left tackle and left guard positions. That might be a little rich because his ceiling at both positions at this point of his career has been average. There have also been times where he has been the weak link for the Rams offensive line. The hope here is that he develops into a better-than-average starter for the Rams.
Free Agent signings made after 12 pm EST
Alex Cappa signs a four year $35 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals
The first deal to get done at the beginning of NFL free agency was former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Alex Cappa signing with the Cincinnati Bengals. Cappa has developed into a solid starting guard during his time in Tampa. Cincinnati should value his versatility to play both guard and tackle. He might not be the most exciting upgrade at right guard but is a definite upgrade that they needed to get this offensive line in a position to compete again next season.
Tennessee Titans retain Geoff Swaim by giving him a one-year $3.5 million deal.
Tennessee retained veteran tight end Geoff Swaim who started 16 games for them last season. He had a small role in the passing game but was primarily used as a blocker. Retaining Swaim for one more season would give him the opportunity to emerge as their clearcut starting tight end.
Miami Dolphins gives Chase Edmonds a two-year $12.6 million deal
The Miami Dolphins addressed a major need by bringing in former Arizona Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds to their depleted running back room. Edmonds was primarily a change of pace back during his time with the Cardinals. But his role in the offense grew throughout his career. Now that Miami has given Edmonds a contract like this he is without a doubt the starting running back for the Dolphins. He is a great fit for new head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. McDaniel comes from the Shanahan coaching tree so the Dolphins backfield will be a committee. But Edmonds will lead that committee for the next two seasons in the largest offensive role of his career.
Arizona Cardinals resign Pro Bowl running back James Conner to a three year $21 million extension
It became very clear which one of their two running backs Arizona prioritized in the first few minutes of free agency. They let Chase Edmonds walk and brought back James Conner. It was surprising to see Conner get as large of a contract as he did. Even though Conner was extremely productive last season, especially when Edmonds got hurt, he has dealt with a lot of his own injuries throughout his career. This was a large commitment to make to Conner when considering his injury history. Arizona may have been better off offering him a smaller two-year deal or letting him walk.
Mitch Trubisky signs a two year $14.25 million (worth up to $27 million) deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the first team to make a major quarterback move in free agency. They decided to give former Buffalo Bills quarterback Mitch Trubisky a two-year deal worth up to $27 million to be their starting quarterback. The reports out of Pittsburgh is that Trubisky is their guy and they don’t want a quarterback in this group.
It is extremely risky for the Steelers to trust a quarterback coming in cold from Buffalo’s bench with a potential playoff team that has aspirations of being a real contender in the next couple of seasons because of their extremely talented defense. A major positive for Pittsburgh is that they were able to sign Trubisky to an inexpensive deal.
It is a risky bet for the Steelers to hope one year in Buffalo can help Trubisky become a quarterback that can carry them to a position to be a legitimate contender. Based on what he did in Chicago he could get this team to the playoffs, but it is uncertain what he could do when he gets there.
Chicago Bears sign Larry Ogunjobi to a three-year $40.5 million deal
Over the last couple of days, the Chicago Bears have been dismantling their defense to reshape their cap situation and overall roster. The first defensive player the Bears signed to help rebuild this defense is former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. Last season Ogunjobi continued to show that he is a great pass-rushing defensive tackle.
Betting on himself signing a one-year deal paid off because now he has received a long-term deal from the Bears. This is a great signing by Chicago to bring in the 27-year-old defensive tackle to bring onto their defensive line that already has Pro Bowl edge rusher Robert Quinn and bright young pass rusher Trevis Gipson. This is such a smart signing by Matt Eberflus and the Beras front office to bring in a talented player like Ogunjobi that is within reach of being a Pro Bowl player.
The new Bears brass Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus both know how important it is to have a pass-rushing defensive tackle. Poles spent years in Kansas City with Chris Jones and Eberflus has coached DeForest Buckner the past two seasons. Ogunjobi may not be the caliber of player of Jones or Buckner but was a great addition by the Bears.
Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs stays with the Seattle Seahawks on a three year $40 million deal
The Seattle Seahawks brought their Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs to keep him paired with former Pro Bowler Jamal Adams. It is confusing to see what the Seahawks are trying to do with their roster going forward. They traded away Russell Wilson and cut Bobby Wagner. But after this deal, they now have $100 million invested in their safeties. Diggs has been an excellent player in Seattle and playing in Pete Carroll’s defense has taken Diggs to the next level. But it feels like the Seahawks are trying to retool a roster that needs to be rebuilt. Only prolonging a rebuild will make the rebuild longer.
Seattle Seahawks retain defensive tackle Al Woods signing him to a two year $9 million deal
Seattle also retained another veteran defensive player in defensive tackle Al Woods. He has been the Seahawks’ run-stopping nose tackle since 2019. Even though Woods is an older player, he is relatively inexpensive and has an important purpose for the Seahawks’ defense. That being said retaining Woods won’t be a difference-maker for the Seahawks either.
Jacksonville Jaguars sign Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Scherff to a three year $49.5 million deal
The Jacksonville Jaguars made Brandon Scherff the highest-paid offensive guard in the league. Scheff should have been given a long-term contract making him the highest-paid interior offensive lineman in the league a few years ago. Jacksonville started off free agency getting a massive upgrade along their offensive line. When healthy Scherff is a top-3 interior offensive lineman in the league. Jacksonville upgraded the weakest part of their roster and helped their second-year quarterback Trevor Lawerence by bringing in Scherff. Even though Scherff is expensive and has an injury history, this feels like a great use of a large amount of cap space the team has to help rebuild this roster.
Former Patriots offensive lineman Ted Karras signs a three year $18 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati signed another offensive lineman on Monday in former New England Patriots interior offensive lineman Ted Karras. He has experience at both center and guard. Karras will likely replace Trey Hopkins as the team’s starting center. However, there is a chance that Karras beats out 2021 second-round pick Jackson Carman for the starting left guard job. Similar to Cappa, Karras is a solid starting-caliber offensive lineman. He likely won’t be going to the Pro Bowl anytime soon. But for his salary, he is a good value and will be an upgrade over what the Bengals have at his position(s). The only knock overall is that the Bengals didn’t go for offensive linemen with more household names that have flashed in recent memory.
Detroit Lions give Tracy Walker a three year $25 million extension
The Detroit Lions are retaining starting safety Tracy Walker on a three-year $25 million deal. He has played okay throughout his career in Detroit. But overall the Lions could have upgraded at the safety spot. The duo of Walker and Will Harris is one of the worst defensive backfields in the league. Walker isn’t making a lot over the next three years, but that will reflect in his play. This feels like a disappointing signing by a Lions team who needs to add playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
Foyesade Oluokun signs a three year $45 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville added the versatile playmaking linebacker Foyesade Oluokun to their rebuilding defense. Oluokun was a sixth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. The former safety has shown to be a tackling machine that is capable of getting after the quarterback and creating turnovers. Over the last two seasons in Atlanta Oluokun has been able to fill the stat sheet. Jacksonville feels that Oluokun will be a great replacement for the recently cut veteran Myles Jack. He is an extremely athletic linebacker capable of bringing to the table much of what Jack has done throughout his career in Jacksonville. He is a promising young player that could help this defense grow and remove itself from the bottom of multiple of the league’s defensive statistical categories.
Jacksonville Jaguars signs former New York Jets defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi to a three year $30 million deal
Shortly after signing Foyesade Oluokon the Jaguars finished up a deal with former New York Jets defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi. For those who don’t know much about Fatukasi, he is a former sixth-round pick of the Jets who has developed into a very strong run stuffer. Jacksonville has needed an upgrade at nose tackle and defensive tackle overall. Both Davon Hamilton and Jay Tuefele could still develop into solid players but Fatukasi is a plug-and-play starter that could be trusted to plug up the run for Jacksonville. The Jaguars definitely had division rivals and All-Pro running backs Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor when they made this signing. Both have torn up the Jaguars defense in recent memory. Fatukasi will help this defense limit the production of those two running backs.
Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson signs a three year $40 million deal with the New York Jets
The New York Jets were rumored to be heavily involved in the interior offensive line market this offseason. During the first day of free agency, the Jets signed former San Francisco 49er and Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson. The former first-round pick of the Detroit Lions has developed into a key blocker for Kyle Shanahan’s zone running scheme. This will help him transition into Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s offense that is modeled off of Shanahan’s 49ers offense. New York needed to make this signing to solidify their offensive line to protect second-year quarterback Zach Wilson.
Joe Douglas appears to have finished rebuilding the Jets offensive line. From left to right their line will read George Fant, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Graham Glasgow, Laken Tomlinson, and Mekhi Becton. However, there are a couple of questions for the Jets coaching staff to figure out. They have to determine whether Fant or Becton will start at left tackle. Then they must figure out if Vera-Tucker or Tomlinson will start at left guard. Both are primarily lined up at left guard over the course of their careers.
Sidney Jones returns to the Seattle Seahawks on a one year $3.6 million deal
Cornerback Sidney Jones was the third Seattle Seahawks defender to return to the team on Monday. Once Jones was promoted to one of the team’s starting cornerback position he played extremely well. It was smart for the Seahawks to retain Jones because they have struggled to defend the pass in recent years and Jones could be a valuable starter for the Seahawks next season and prove why they should retain him past the 2022-23 season.
Tennessee Titans sign former Seahawk Jamarco Jones to a two year $5.75 million deal
The Tennessee Titans signed former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Jamarco Jones to a two-year $5.75 million deal. During his time in Seattle Jones has played tackle and guard. The urgency Tennesee showed to sign Jones to a multi-year contract shows that the Titans will likely start Jones at either tackle or guard next season. Jones hasn’t been a full-time starter at all during his career. Tennessee likely feels that Jones could be a bargain starter for them over the next two years. At minimum Jones is a quality backup for the Titans.
Ben Jones returns to the Tennessee Titans on a two year $14 million deal
Shortly after locking up Jamarco Jones, the Tennessee Titans retained their starting center Ben Jones. He is such a crucial piece of the Titans’ offensive line they needed to keep in the building. especially after cutting Rodger Saffold. Tennessee still should invest some assets into their offensive line. But keeping a great starter like Jones should keep this line playing at a high level to keep opening running lanes for Derrick Henry. After extended Harold Landry, the Titans needed to keep Ben Jones and they did just that.
Ten-time Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater returns to New England on a one year $2.62 million deal
New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater is considered one of the greatest special teams players of all time. Since being drafted in 2008 Slater has won three Super Bowls, been named First-Team All-Pro twice, been named Second Team All-Pro three times, and has been voted to ten Pro Bowls. The Patriots won’t likely let Slater off their roster until he retires.
New York Jets retain Braxton Berrios on a two year $12 million deal
There was some speculation that the New York Jets could target a wide receiver in free agent for the second season in a row. This offseason the Jets retained one of their own in gadget receiver Braxton Berrios. Late in the season, Berrios proved that he is more than a special teams player and could be an offensive weapon that could be relied upon every week if given the opportunity. He could be a typical slot receiver and make his living off catching targets in the middle of the field or taking handoffs down the field.
New York has now given themselves the opportunity to build upon what they saw Berrios do late in the season. Keeping a weapon like Berrios in the building is important for the development of not only Zach Wilson but this offense as a whole. His role should definitely expand as he is now solidified as the third receiver behind Elijah Moore and Corey Davis.
Buffalo Bills sign Pro Bowl guard Rodger Saffold to a one year deal
The Buffalo Bills started the day by cutting versatile offensive linemen Daryl Williams and extending Mitch Morse. They also had a void to fill on their offensive line when they let go of veteran Jon Feliciano. They upgraded in a major way by signing former Tennesee Titan Rogers Saffold. The veteran guard has been an outstanding piece of the Titans’ dominant offensive line. Buffalo signed a Pro Bowl guard at a premium who was let go because of cap issues. This kind of signing could be enough to put the Bills over the top.
Haason Reddick signs a three year $45 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon added a hybrid strong side linebacker role that rushes the quarterback to their defense this past season. They struggled to use current players on their roster in that void. So they decided to sign arguably the best pass-rushing hybrid linebacker in the league Haason Reddick to a three-year $45 million deal with them. Reddick has put up double digits sacks with the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers in each of the past two seasons. He fills the team’s needs for a sack artist and a linebacker. Now the Eagles will add Reddick to their Pro Bowl pass rushers Javon Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, and Brandon Graham. Reddick’s time at Temple absolutely played a factor in his decision to land in Philadelphia.
Cincinnati Bengals keep B.J. Hill with a three year $30 million deal
Before the start of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals traded former first-round pick Billy Price for defensive tackle B.J. Hill. Many people were excited about Price’s opportunity to start for New York, but Hill’s addition to the Bengals defense was massive. Hill had 5.5 sacks last season and was a great contributor to the AFC Champions’ defense. After Ogunjobi left, it was crucial for the Bengals to retain Hill or they would have a massive hole at defensive tackle. It is great to see that Hill has developed from rotational defensive tackle in New York to a key player for Cincinnati’s defense.
Houston Texans resign safety Terrence Brooks to a one year $2 million deal
Veteran safety Terrence Brooks will be returning to the Houston Texans for another season. His small deal likely means that he will be a backup once more in Houston. However new head coach Lovie Smith may give Brooks an opportunity to start at safety next season. This feels like a lackluster signing for the first day of the free agency period.
Jacksonville Jaguars sign Christian Kirk to a four year $72 ($84 million max value) million deal
The free-agent signing that made the most headlines day was the Jacksonville Jaguars signing former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk to a four-year $72 million deal. Kirk was a very talented receiver during his time with the Cardinals but was never more than the team’s second receiving option. This deal is making headlines because a receiver who has never topped 80 receptions or 1,000 receiving yards will have the sixth-largest contract among wide receivers in the league.
It was rumored that Kirk was going to receive offers around $15+ million per year. But no one was mentally prepared for him to sign an offer like this. It feels like two teams were bidding for Kirk’s services which skyrocketed his price tag. He was a smart signing by Jacksonville who needed an upgrade at receiver. But he likely will not be worth the price tag.
Even though Jacksonville won the Christian Kirk sweepstakes, they lost because now they have Kirk’s contract on their payroll. As talented as Kirk is, he is a playmaker the caliber of his contract. He can surprise everyone and become the number one receiver the Cardinals drafted him to eventually be. But until then this movie will be criticized.