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:
First Team All-Pro Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell stays in Green Bay on a five year $50 million deal
Late last offseason the Green Bay Packers took a chance on veteran linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and it paid off in a major way. Not only did Campbell emerge as a starter for Green Bay but he was one of the best linebackers in the league. He was named First-Team All-Pro for his performance the season. Green Bay managed to work their unfavorable cap situation to resign Campbell to a five-year $50 million deal. The Packers have finally found the answer at inside linebacker they have been missing for years. Retaining Campbell will help this team possibly contend for a Super Bowl next season.
Seattle Seahawks resign tight end Will Dissly to a three year $24 million deal
The Seahawks have made it clear they are prioritizing their own free agents before going after available players from other teams. They brought back tight end Will Dissly on a three-year $24 million deal. Seattle will finally make Dissly the team’s starting tight end after giving him that large of a deal. Dissly is a solid receiver but an outstanding run blocker. Whoever signed Dissly was going to get an underrated addition to their roster. The Seahawks did not want to let Dissly sign elsewhere.
Tight End Mo Alie-Cox signs a three year $18 million deal to stay with Indianapolis
Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo Alie-Cox has always been brought up as the former college basketball player turned professional football player. As impressive as that feat is, Alie-Cox should be known as the athletic tight end that could be a star given the opportunity. After signing a three-year $18 million deal he will get the opportunity to break out next season. Jack Doyle has retired leaving Alie-Cox and 2021 fourth-round pick Kylen Granson to be the Colts’ top tight ends. They are going to be great options for the Colts’ next starting quarterback in the middle of the field.
Brian Allen returns to Los Angeles Rams on a three year $24 million deal
After resigning Joseph Noteboom right before the free agency the Rams were able to sign starting center Brian Allen to a long-term deal. This was impressive for Los Angeles to pull off because there were many teams interested in signing a center in free agency. Many felt Allen could get priced out of the Rams price range. Keeping Allen is crucial for the success of this offense going forward. The stability of the offensive line allows the Rams passing attack and running game to be so dangerous.
Arizona Cardinals resign Colt McCoy to a two year $7.5 million deal
It was important for the Arizona Cardinals to keep journeyman quarterback Colt McCoy with the team as their backup. Last season McCoy had a 2-1 record as a starting quarterback. He also completed 74.7% of his passes for 740 passing yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. McCoy is one of the best true backup quarterbacks in the league and it was smart of the Cardinals to keep their Kyler Murray insurance policy in house.
Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck signs a three year $12 million deal to stay with the Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals needed to retain or sign an edge rusher in free agency. Instead of resigning Chandler Jones, the Cardinals brought back Dennis Gareck on a three-year $12 million deal. Gardeck is primarily a special teamer but has shown that he could get after the quarterback when he had seven sacks during the 2020-21 season. Retaining Gareck was a smart play by the Cardinals because not only is he a great insurance policy for if Jones signs elsewhere, he also could start for the team while they develop a rookie to replace him. At his price tag, Gareck could be a steal for the Cardinals.
Miami Dolphins sign former Dallas Cowboys receiver Cedrick Wilson to a three year $22.8 million deal
Many felt that the Dallas Cowboys would retain Cedrick Wilson in free agency after trading away Amari Cooper and bringing back Michael Gallup. Instead, Wilson was signed to a three-year $22.8 million contract by the Miami Dolphins. Wilson is a great third receiver for the Dolphins offense. Wilson can lineup both on the outside and in the slot. Last season in Dallas, Wilson showed had he can be counted on to have a reliable role when needed. He also is a downfield threat that defenses should pay attention to which will open things up for Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, and DeVante Parker. This signing is great for not only the depth of Miami’s receiver room but their overall offense when Wilson can carve out a consistent role.
Teddy Bridgewater signs one year $6.5 million deal with the Miami Dolphins
This offseason was about the Miami Dolphins putting their full faith in Tua Tagovailoa as their starter for at last the next season. Then they make a move like this to sign journeyman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. When the news broke Bridgewater was reported to be the team’s backup. If that is the case Bridgewater is an outstanding backup quarterback considering there was a chance that he could have been a team’s starting quarterback next season. Tagovailoa has struggled with injuries throughout his career, so signing a high-profile backup quarterback makes sense. However, it won’t be long until speculation begins about Bridgewater replacing Tagovailoa as the team’s starting quarterback.
Los Angeles Chargers sign Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson to a five year $82.5 million deal
The Los Angeles Chargers were not quiet about wanting to upgrade their defense and adding a high-profile cornerback this offseason. They also weren’t quiet about adding former New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson. They were able to beat out their division rival Las Vegas Raiders and sign Jackson to a five-year $82.5 million deal.
Adding a ballhawk like Jackson to this defense will be a great touch because he will have plenty of opportunities for interceptions because of the pass rush created by Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. The secondary composed of Jackson, Asante Samuel Jr., and Derwin James will immediately be one of the best in the league. This signing could put the Chargers in the Super Bowl discussion as soon as next season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep Carlton Davis on a three year $45 million deal
Even after the return of Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it felt the one premium Buccaneers free agent who would be leaving in free agency was cornerback Carlton Davis. Somehow Tampa Bay was able to keep Davis around on a three-year deal. Retaining Davis is huge for the Buccaneers for a few reasons. Davis is Tampa Bay’s best cornerback who has been responsible for covering their opposing teams’ number one receivers. It was also important to retain Davis because both Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting are going to hit free agency next season and the Buccaneers could lose one if not both of them. Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht is working magic right now to retain multiple starters to keep this team a contender.
Offensive Tackle Chukwuma Okorafor stays with the Pittsburgh Steelers by signing a three year $29.25 million extension
The Pittsburgh Steelers have retained their homegrown right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. Earlier in his career, Okorafor was a swing tackle and now has started at the right tackle position for the Steelers in the last two seasons. He has was one of the better starting offensive linemen in Pittsburgh last year. Retaining Okorafor now eliminates the potential need to add another right tackle this offseason in free agency or the draft. They locked down a starter they want to be a part of their long-term future going forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars sign former New York Giants tight end Evan Engram to a one year $9 million deal
Jacksonville’s spending spree continued when they signed former Pro Bowl tight end Evan Engram to a one-year $9 million deal. The Jaguars haven’t had stability at the tight-end position in a very long time. This is a one-year prove-it deal for Engram to prove that he can be the player he was earlier in his career rather than who he has been in recent years. Engram has had his problems with in-line blocking and drops in key situations. But his speed and athleticism are extremely rare for tight ends and warrant another opportunity to prove that he could be a star. Even though the salary is a little high, it is only a one-year deal. The best-case scenario is that Engram plays well enough for the Jaguars to offer him a long-term extension during or after next season.
Washington Commanders defensive tackle Tim Settle signs a two-year $9 million deal to join the Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills may have found a diamond in the rough when they signed former Washington defensive tackle Tim Settle to a two-year $9 million deal. Settle was drafted by Washington in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. Unfortunately for him, he was buried behind Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis on the depth chart. But when Settle has gotten moments on the field he has shown the ability to get after the quarterback and be a valuable defender from the interior. He joins a Buffalo Bills defensive line whose strength comes from their depth that rotates onto the field throughout the game. It wouldn’t be shocking if Settle had a breakout season and emerged as a starter next to Ed Oliver next season.
Cleveland Browns sign former Jaguars first-round pick Taven Bryan to a one year deal worth up to $5 million
Former Jacksonville Jaguars first-round pick Taven Bryan signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. When Bryan was drafted in 2018 many had him as one of the best defensive tackles in that draft class. He never emerged as a full-season starter in Jacksonville. Cleveland is giving Bryan an opportunity to prove that he could be that first-round pick and that the instability of the Jaguars organization is part to blame for his lack of success in the league. He joins a defensive tackle rotation featuring former mid-round picks Jordan Elliot and Tommy Togiai and veterans Malik McDowell (who is dealing with off-the-field issue) and Sheldon Day.
New York Jets resign running back Tevin Coleman to a one year $1.5 million deal
The New York Jets brought veteran running back Tevin Coleman back for another year. Coleman is no longer expected to lead this backfield and may not even be the third-best running back on the depth chart at this point of his career. However, he is a veteran who has almost played his entire career in the Kyle Shanahan-style rushing offense. He could end up starting a few games for New York because they use a running back rotation. But this signing was about keeping a veteran presence in the building.
Former Minnesota Vikings center Mason Cole signs a three year $15.75 deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Mason Cole will be on his third team in three seasons now that he signed a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cole will likely “compete” with 2021 third-round pick Kendrick Green for the starting job but like start for Pittsburgh next year and going forward. Green was a popular sleeper pick in last year’s draft but struggled his rookie year. This Steelers team is looking to win now and feel that bringing in Cole could ensure that they get better production from the position next season and beyond.
C.J. Uzomah signs a three year $24 million deal with the New York Jets
The New York Jets have had a bottom three tight end room in the league for a couple of years. That changed Monday when they signed former Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah to a three-year $24 million deal. Uzomah has discretely been the Bengals’ starting tight end for the last four seasons. He started to gain national attention as an extremely capable starting tight end when he had multiple games with 6+ receptions, 90+ receiving yards, and multiple touchdowns in both the regular season and playoffs. Uzomah is also a great blocker who will be a huge help for the Jets growing rushing attack. The hope is for him to thrive in a potentially expanded role in New York and to be a great veteran for this young locker room one season after being a part of an AFC Champion roster.
Former Giants defensive tackle Austin Johnson signs with the Los Angeles Chargers for two years $14 million
There was no team who more notably struggled to defend the run last season than the Los Angles Chargers. After bringing in defenders to help defend against the pass earlier in the offseason they decided to bring in a couple of run stuffers for their defensive line. Los Angeles signed former New York Giants nose tackle Austin Johnson to a two-year $14 million deal. Johnson has had a solid career with both the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants being a run-stuffing nose tackle. He also showed last year in his first full-time starting opportunity that he could rush the passer by putting up 3.5 sacks. This may not be as flashy of a signing as J.C. Jackson but is just as important for a Chargers defense with a large glaring weakness.
New York Giants sign former Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Mark Glowinski to a three year $20 million deal
The New York Giants made an extremely underrated signing Monday when they signed former Indianapolis Colts right guard Mark Glowinski. He has been a key starter for the Colts’ dominant offensive line over the last four seasons. This is a massive loss for the Colts and a huge gain for the Giants. Glowinski likely will not be a Pro Bowler but is a huge upgrade at guard and one of the best offensive linemen that have been on the Giants roster in a long time. This is the kind of signings the Giants need to make to help improve their offensive line for Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.
Carolina Panthers sign former Minnesota Vikings safety Xavier Woods to a three year $15.75 million deal
Xavier Woods will be on his third team in three years now that he signed a three-year $15.75 million deal with the Carolina Panthers. After emerging as a starter in four seasons in Dallas he played extremely well replacing Anthony Harris in Minnesota. Carolina now pairs Woods up with emerging star safety Jeremy Chinn in their defensive backfield. He fills a void on the Panthers’ defense that may not be as significant as their needs at quarterback or offensive tackle but is important to the success of this team. They were able to sign a solid starter for an inexpensive deal so they can focus on using their other assets on more pressing needs.
Offensive Guard Austin Corbett to sign with Carolina Panthers for three years $29.25 million
Shortly after signing Xavier Woods, Carolina locked up former Los Angeles Rams starting guard Austin Corbett to a three-year $29.25 deal. Corbett was taken with the first selection of the second round of the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Browns. But he couldn’t maintain a starting job in Cleveland. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Rams during his second year in the league for an exchange of fifth-round picks. He then grew into a starter with the Rams and developed into a solid starter along their offensive line. Now he gets a long-term deal from the Panthers who need to make upgrades along their offensive line. This was a great value signing for Carolina and likely not the last addition to their offensive line this offseason.
Miami Dolphins to sign cornerback Keion Crossen to a three year $10.5 million deal
The Miami Dolphins signed cornerback Keion Crossen to a long-term contract. Crossen doesn’t usually lineup at cornerback but is one of the best special teams players in the league. Miami makes a great signing bringing in a special teams player the caliber of Crossen to an extremely talented special teams unit.
Jacksonville Jaguars sign Zay Jones to a three year $30 million deal
Jacksonville wasn’t done signing veteran receivers to long-term contracts after signing Christian Kirk on Monday. They signed former Las Vegas Raider Zay Jones to a three-year $30 million deal. The former Buffalo Bills second-round pick had an expanded role with the Raiders this past season after Henry Ruggs was cut from the team. Jones had at least seven targets and five receptions in six of the last seven games last season.
Jacksonville saw enough promise to pay him to be one of the team’s top pass-catchers next season. But this is another bold signing at the receiver position to give a player like Jones this large of a deal. Much like the Kirk deal, this deal will receive a lot of criticism because of the other wide receiver options available.
It seems that the Jaguars are valuing deep threats that can stretch the field and hope that Kirk and Jones will produce in expanded roles next season. They will likely both have the largest target shares of their career next season.
Trevor Lawerence’s group of receivers next season will feature Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, Marvin Jones Jr, and Laviska Shenault Jr. It will be interesting to see if Jones can emerge as the team’s second receiver behind Christian Kirk.
Defensive Tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day signs a three year $24 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers
The second of the defensive line additions that the Los Angeles Chargers made on Monday was signing Sebastian Joseph-Day to a three-year $24 million deal. The former sixth-round pick emerged as an extremely valuable starter for the Rams when Chargers head coach Brandon Staley was the team’s defensive coordinator in the 2020-21 season. This signing makes so much sense because of the relationship between Staley and Joseph-Day. The Chargers also need interior defensive linemen who can help stop the run. The Super Bowl champion is a key addition to a defense that has the potential to be one of the most talented units in the league next season.
Minnesota Vikings sign Harrison Phillips to a three year $19.5 million deal
Minnesota make a puzzling signing when they brought in former Buffalo Bills defensive tackle, Harrison Phillips. They had much larger needs on this roster and already had Dalvin Tomlinson and Michael Pierce on the roster signed to large contracts. However shortly after signing Phillips, the Vikings let go of Pierce who missed the 2020-21 season because of COVID-19 and then only played in eight games this past season. Phillips is a cheaper replacement for Pierce who will be a valuable run-stuffer along Minnesota’s defensive line. This is a large loss for Buffalo and potentially the addition of a foundational piece for the Vikings’ rebuilding defense.
Run Stuffing Defensive Tackle DaQuan Jones signs with Buffalo Bills
After losing run-stuffer Harrison Phillips the Buffalo Bills decided to sign former Carolina Panthers defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. After seven years with the Tennesee Titans, Jones signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers. He transitioned well to the Panthers’ 4-3 defensive front and started all 17 games for them. Now he joins a deep rotation of defensive tackles in Buffalo and could have the opportunity to play for a Super Bowl this season.
New York Giants sign offensive guard Jon Feliciano to one year deal
The New York Giants signed Mark Glowinski to start at right guard for them early on Monday. Now they bring in former Buffalo Bill Jon Feliciano to play left guard for them. Feliciano is extremely familiar with the new Giants head coach Brian Daboll because of their time together in Buffalo. There is speculation that Feliciano could play center for the Giants next season. Either way, he is an upgrade over what the team had at either position and helps this line get one step closer to being at least in the middle of the pack.
Justin Britt signs a two year $9 million deal to stay with the Houston Texans
Houston resigned their starting center Justin Britt to a two-year $9 million deal. The former Seattle Seahawk played well for the Texans last season. Britt started 11 games for Houston last year before being placed on Injured Reserve. Keeping Britt in the building will allow the Texans to continue to improve their offensive line from how they played last season.
Former Jacksonville Jaguar A.J. Cann signs with the Houston Texans for two years $10.5 million
Houston made a second addition to the interior of their offensive line by signing offensive guard A.J. Cann. The Texans are very familiar with Cann who has spent the past seven seasons with their division rival Jacksonville Jaguars. He is a solid veteran guard who should be a more-than-competent starter for an offensive line that still needs to be added to this offseason.
Denver Broncos sign defensive tackle D.J. Jones for three years $30 million
The Denver Broncos created an opening on their defensive line when they traded away veteran defensive tackle Shelby Harris in the Russell Wilson trade. However, they have replaced Harris with a great young player in D.J. Jones. Over the last three seasons, Jones has been a starting defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. He has been the best pure defensive tackle (so excluded Arik Armstead) on the 49ers roster over the last two seasons including 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw. Jones is a great run stuffer who will likely lineup at nose tackle for the Broncos. He will a key piece for this defense that is looking to retool this offseason and support their upgraded offense to get this team to the playoffs and beyond.
Kansas City Chiefs sign safety Justin Reid to a three year $31.5 million deal
Late Monday night the Kansas City Chiefs send a major message when they signed former Houston Texans safety Justin Reid to a three-year $31.5 million deal. This ultimately shuts the door on a potential return of Tyrann Mathieu in Kansas City. Losing a player like Mathieu is a huge blow to this defense, but at least Kansas City got ahead of the need and replaced Mathieu before he signed with a new team. He may not be able to replace the presence Mathieu had on the team and in the locker room, but he is an extremely talented young player. Now that Reid is in a better situation in Kansas City it wouldn’t be shocking for him to grow into a Pro Bowl-caliber player a member of this talented defense.
New England Patriots retain kicker Nick Folk on a two year $5 million extension
The New England Patriots made an underrated signing when they kept their kicker Nick Folk in the building signing him to a two-year $5 million deal. Prior to his time in New England, it appeared that Folk’s NFL career was done after spending 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 14-year veteran is a former Pro Bowler and was one of the most consistent kickers in the league last season. Bill Belichick demands excellence from his special teams unit and will continue to get it by keeping Folk in the building.
Cornerback Charvarious Ward signs a three year $42 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers missed having future Hall of Famer Richard Sherman in their secondary last season. Their secondary was composed of veterans like Emmanuel Moseley, Jason Verrett, Josh Norman, Dontae Johnson, and mid-round rookies Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir. They were helped by the team’s great pass rush but lacked a true number one cornerback.
Over the last few seasons, Charvarious Ward has developed into a true number one cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs when they appeared to have lacked one. This is an excellent signing by the 49ers because they didn’t break the bank on a veteran cornerback with a better resume. Instead, they brought in a valued veteran who fills a need for a 49ers defense with very little needs overall.