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NFL Free agency grades

Justin Villarreal

(Note: This will be just analyzing the biggest moves each team made and not every single signing made by every single team)

Chicago Bears: A-

The Chicago Bears have been one of the most active teams this off-season. The Bears traded the 1st overall pick in the upcoming draft to the Carolina Panthers for a massive haul of wide receiver DJ Moore, the 9th overall pick, 61st overall pick, the Panthers’ 2024 1st round pick ,and the Panthers’ 2025 2nd round pick. This was an amazing trade for the Bears as they added a great receiver in DJ Moore to their roster as well as getting a good return of draft capital over the course of the next three years. The best part of this trade for the Bears was undoubtedly getting DJ Moore. The Bears needed to surround QB Justin Fields with talent this off-season and they took their first step in doing so with the addition of Moore. The Bears first move of free agency was to sign linebacker TJ Edwards. This is a great signing for the Bears due to one of Edwards’ best traits being his high football IQ. The Bears continued to add to the linebacker position by signing Tremaine Edmunds. This was the Bears top signing of free agency as Edmunds was arguably the best linebacker available this off-season. The Bears now have a linebacker core led by Edmunds, Edwards and Jack Sanborn after they let their star linebacker Roquan Smith go to the Ravens at the trade deadline. This is noteworthy because the Ravens are now paying Roquan 20 million dollars per year and the Bears linebacking core combined is only making 25 million dollars per year. This highlights how Bears GM Ryan Poles is taking the approach of spending wisely to get the most value possible at the cheapest price. The biggest signing on offense the Bears made was tight end Robert Tonyan. This is a great signing for the Bears because he is familiar with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s offense. The Bears also signed offensive guard Nate Davis. Offensive line was one of the weakest positions for the Bears last season ,so adding some talent to the O-line is a great move for Chicago.

Cincinnati Bengals: A+

The Cincinnati Bengals have had a quiet ,but great off-season. Their biggest signing was offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. This is a great signing for the Bengals due to the position he plays and the team he now plays for. The Bengals have desperately needed to improve their O-line for their franchise QB Joe Burrow and with this signing they take a massive step towards having a good O-line. Brown Jr. is a premier offensive tackle who has made the pro-bowl in 4 out of his 5 NFL seasons which makes him a perfect fit for a team like Cinnicinati. The Bengals continued to add to their O-line with the signing of offensive guard Cody Ford. On the defensive side of the ball the Bengals signed safety Nick Scott and re-signed safety Michael Thomas. Scott was a much needed signing for the Bengals after Cinnicinati lost both its starting safeties from last year. As for Thomas, it was smart for the Bengals to bring him back due to the leadership he brings as a team captain. The Bengals signed cornerback Sidney Jones. This was a good signing by the Bengals as it strengthens their secondary. The Bengals also re-signed linebacker Germaine Pratt. Keeping Pratt was a good move by the Bengals as he has been part of a core group of players who have helped turn the Bengals into one of the best teams in the AFC over the past two seasons. The Bengals signed tight end Irv Smith Jr. to replace Hayden Hurst. This was a smart signing as it fills the need at tight end that opened up once Hurst left.

Buffalo Bills: B+

The Buffalo Bills have spent most of the off-season re-signing their own players. The Bills re-signed star safety Jordan Poyer as well as cornerbacks Dane Jackson and Cam Lewis. The Bills also re-signed linebackers Matt Milano, Peter Matakevich, and Tyrel Dodson. On the offensive side of the ball the Bills signed offensive guard Connor McGovern and re-signed Ike Boettger. The Bills added wide receivers Trent Sherfield and Deonte Hardy. Lastly, the Bills brought back their punter Sam Martin. Overall, the Bills did a good job keeping the talent and depth they already had ,but didn’t do much to improve the team in the ultra competitive AFC. The Bills may have trouble keeping up with teams like the Bengals and Chiefs by not continuing to add to their already great team.

Carolina Panthers: B-

The biggest move the Panthers made this off-season was trading for the 1st overall pick in the draft. The Panthers gave up a lot for that pick ;however, if the QB they take at 1 pans out then the haul Carolina gave up will have been worth it. The move to trade up in the draft was aggressive and that aggressiveness set the tone for how the Panthers would approach the rest of the off-season. The Panthers signed Vonn Bell who was one of the best safeties available this off-season. This was a really good move by the Panthers as it strengthens their secondary. The Panthers signed running back Miles Sanders for 25.4 million dollars over 4 years. This was a really good signing for Carolina as they improved their running back position for the foreseeable future at a good price. The Panthers signed Hayden Hurst. This was a really good signing by the Panthers as Hurst will be a great target for the QB the Panthers end up drafting. The Panthers signed longtime Minnesota Viking Adam Thielen to a 3 year contract for 25 million dollars. This seems like way too big of a contract to give an aging receiver like Thielen. The Panthers continued to add to their receiving core with the signing of DJ Chark. This was a pretty decent signing for Carolina as Chark can be a good receiver in Carolina ,but not a long term solution for the position. The Panthers also signed veteran QB Andy Dalton. This is a smart signing for the Panthers as Dalton is someone who can provide mentorship to the QB the Panthers end up drafting.

Miami Dolphins: A+

The Dolphins biggest move of the off-season was to trade for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the LA Rams. The Dolphins traded the 77th overall pick and tight end Hunter Long for Ramsey. This was a great move by the Dolphins as they added a great talent at cornerback to their team. The Dolphins continued to add to their secondary with the signing of safety DeShon Elliot. This was a good signing as it filled the Dolphins need for a starting safety. The Dolphins signed wide receiver Braxton Berrios. This was a great move by the Dolphins because Berrios is a speedy receiver who will fit in well with the rest of Miami’s receiving core and offense. The Dolphins brought back running back Raheem Mosert. This was a great move by the Dolphins as Mosert is a good running back and is very familiar with coach Mike McDaniels offense from his time with the 49ers. The Dolphins also brought back running back Jeff Wilson Jr. who much like Mosert is a good running back who is familiar with the offense coach McDaniels runs. Together Mosert and Wilson Jr. will make a good running back duo next year. The Dolphins re-signed Andew Van Ginkel who has been a starter on the team since 2020. The Dolphins signed tight end Eric Staubert. This was a good move by the Dolphins as they needed a new tight end after Mike Gescki left for New England.

Denver Broncos: A-

The Broncos have been a very active team this off-season. The position group the Broncos improved the most was the offensive line. The Broncos signed offensive tackle Mike McGlichey. This was a great signing by the Broncos as they got one of the top talents at offensive tackle. The Broncos also signed offensive linemen Ben Powers. These two signings by Denver should vastly improve their O-line. The Broncos made another amazing free agent acquisition when they signed defensive linemen Zach Allen. What makes this a great move by the Broncos is they get the talented pass rusher they need by signing Allen. The Broncos also signed tight end Chris Manhertz and running back Samje Perine. Both Manhertz and Perine should help the Broncos their offense next season. These two signings were both great moves by the Broncos as their offense was their biggest weakness last season and both Manhertz and Perine are players that can come in and be major contributors to the offense next season. The Broncos signed fullback Micheal Burton. This was an underrated signing by the Broncos as Burton can help in both run blocking and pass protection.

Minnesota Vikings: D+

Minnesota spent most of the off-season re-signing their own players and overpaid for the new players that they did bring in this off-season. The best signing the Vikings made was cornerback Byron Murphy. Minnesota ranked 31st in defense last year and bringing in a corner like Murphy is a step in the right direction to improving their defense next season. Another good defensive signing the Vikings made was signing defensive lineman Dean Lowry. This was a smart move by Minnesota because Lowry is someone that can have an immediate impact on the Vikings pass rush next season. The Vikings signed Marcus Davenport to a one year 13 million dollar deal. This was a terrible signing by the Vikings because they overpaid for a defensive end coming off of his worst season. The Vikings signed tight end Josh Oliver to a 3 year 21 million dollar deal. This was yet again a bad signing by the Vikings as they overpaid for a tight end who is mostly known for his blocking only. The Vikings re-signed center Garrett Bradbury. This was a bad move by the Vikings because Bradbury is a subpar center and improving at that position rather than stick with Bradbury is what the Vikings should have done. The Vikings re-signed running back Alexander Mattison. This signing was both good and bad. Mattison is an above average running back ;however, the Vikings should’ve used the 6 million dollars they gave to Mattison on improving the defense instead.

New York Giants: A+

The New York Giants spent most of this off-season bringing back their own players. They gave QB Daniel Jones a massive contract extension, franchise tagged star running back Saquan Barkley, and re-signed receivers Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Isiah Hodgins. The Giants also re-signed offensive guard Wyatt Davis. Bringing back members of the offense that helped lead the Giants to the playoffs last season is a smart move by the team. The Giants also added receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Tommy Sweeney from the Buffalo Bills. Both players are familiar with coach Daboll’s offensive system so these signings make sense for the Giants. The Giants made a splash move by trading the 100th overall pick in this year’s draft to the Raiders for star tight end Darren Waller. Adding Waller will help put the Giants offense over the top in talent. The Giants also signed linebacker Bobby Okereke. This move fills the Giants need at middle linebacker. Lastly, the Giants signed Matt Brieda. This is a solid signing for the Giants as Breida will make a great backup to Saquan.

New York Jets: P (passing)

The big news this off-season with the Jets is a potential trade with the Green Bay Packers for QB Aaron Rodgers. Since this trade has yet to actually happen it is hard to analyze it. Significant moves the Jets have made are signing receivers Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman. These moves are good moves by the Jets – especially if Rodgers does become their QB. These two additions to the offense take their receiving core from middle of the pack to elite. The Jets also signed defensive tackle Soloman Thomas to a 1 year prove it deal. This is a smart signing by the Jets as Thomas does have lots of potential.

Atlanta Falcons: B-

By far Atlanta’s best move was re-signing offensive tackle Kaleb McGary. This came as a shock because McGary was a top offensive linemen available this off-season who would presumably have tons of suitors and the fact Atlanta was able to keep him is a huge win for the Falcons. The Falcons made another great move when they signed safety Jessie Bates III. This is a move that typically a contending team would make which makes it surprising that the Falcons made this signing. Adding Bates to their team was a great move nonetheless by the Falcons. Lastly, the Falcons signed QB Taylor Heinicke. This is an underrated signing by the Falcons as Heinicke could compete for the starting QB job in Atlanta. Heinicke isn’t a long term solution at QB if he does win the job ;however, he would be a decent bridge QB for a year while the Falcons look for their long term solution at QB in either this year or next year’s draft.

San Francisco 49ers: A-

The 49ers didn’t make as many signings as other teams ,but the signings they did make were great. By far the biggest signing the 49ers made was signing Javon Hargrave. This was an excellent signing by the 49ers because Hargrave was one of the most coveted defensive linemen available this off-season and will fit perfectly on San Francisco's already stacked defense. The 49ers also signed offensive lineman Jon Feliciano and brought back center Jake Brendel. These were two good signings by the 49ers as they ensure San Francisco will have a good O-line this upcoming season. Lastly, the 49ers made a very interesting signing by adding QB Sam Darnold to their team. Brock Purdy will have to miss the start of the year due to injury and Trey Lance’s future starting in San Francisco is uncertain at the moment ,so Darnold could start ;however, there is also a good chance Darnold may never start for the 49ers. San Francisco already had good depth at QB ,so if Darnold doesn’t ever start for the 49ers then this may have been an unnecessary signing by the 49ers.

Green Bay Packers: I (Incomplete)

The biggest news surrounding the Packers is the expected departure of long time QB Aaron Rodgers. Depending on what compensation the Packers get back for Rodgers will determine how good of an off-season the Packers had. The Packers also lost key contributors to their offense last season with both Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan leaving. The only notable moves Green Bay has made were bringing back star kick returner Keisean Nixon and safety Rudy Ford.

Detroit Lions: A-

The Lions ended their season on a high note and have carried that energy into the off-season. The Lions signed running back David Montgomery. This move came as a bit of a surprise as the Lions let Jamal Williams go in favor of Montgomery. The Lions thoroughly addressed their biggest need this off-season which was the secondary. The Lions signed safety CJ Gardner Johnson and corners Emmaunel Moseley and Cam Sutton. The Lions secondary will be a lot better next season due to these three signings. Lastly, the Lions brought back wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. on a one year deal. This was an underrated move by the Lions as Jones Jr. can provide locker room leadership as well as production on the field for Detroit next season.

New Orleans Saints: C+

The Saints biggest move this off-season was signing QB Derek Carr. This was a decent signing for them ;however, the Saints also re-signed QB Jameis Winston. The Saints signed two QBs who can both presumably start for them next season. These two moves seem like a misuse of resources by the Saints as they only needed to sign either Carr or Winston. The other notable move the Saints made this off-season was signing running back Jamal Williams. This was a great move for the Saints as Williams is coming off a career year and can be a major contributor to the Saints offense.

Las Vegas Raiders: C-

The Raiders traded star tight end Darren Waller away and replaced him with OJ Howard and Austin Hooper. The Raiders now have more depth at tight end ,but less talent. The Raiders replaced long time QB Derek Carr with Jimmy Garoppolo. This move kind of makes sense for Vegas as they obviously needed a QB ,but Jimmy G isn’t much of an upgrade over Derek Carr. The Raiders signed wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. This slightly improves the Raiders offense. The position group where the Raiders improved the most was in the secondary. The Raiders signed safety Mike Epps and corner Duke Shelley. Both signings should significantly improve the Raiders defense. Signing Shelley is a super underrated move by Vegas as Shelley is coming off of a career year with the Minnesota Vikings.

New England Patriots: B-

The Patriots really improved their offense this off-season. They signed tight end Mike Gesicki. This was a huge move by the Patriots as Gesicki was the best free agent tight end. The Patriots also signed Juju Smith Schuster. This move gives the Patriots a wide receiver one in their offense. The Patriots signed running back James Robinson. This is an underrated signing by the Patriots as Robinson was great with the Jaguars until injuries hampered his career. Lastly, the Patriots did a good job bringing back key members of their secondary as they re-signed safety Jabril Peppers and corner Jonathan Jones.

Baltimore Ravens: I (incomplete)

The biggest news this off-season surrounding the Ravens is QB Lamar Jackson wanting out due to the Ravens not wanting to pay Lamar what he wants. Lamar Jackson is a free agent and the Ravens placed a transition tag on him which means any team to sign Lamar will have to give the Ravens two 1st round picks if the Ravens choose not to match the offer. It is still unclear whether or not Lamar will be playing QB for the Ravens next season. It’s hard to determine how the Ravens have done this off-season with no clear sense of direction on the QB position. The only notable the Ravens have made is signing receiver Nelson Agholor. This is a good signing ,but Agholor won’t be as impactful if the Ravens don’t have a solid plan at QB by the start of next season.

Indianapolis Colts: C-

The Colts haven’t made many moves this off-season. The most notable move the Colts made was signing edge rusher Sam Ebukam. This is a move that should improve the Colts pass rush. Other notable moves the Colts made were bringing back linebacker EJ Speed, adding slot receiver Isaiah McKenzie, and signing kicker Matt Gay.

Kansas City Chiefs: B+

The Chiefs made a ton of depth signings this off-season. The only major move Kansas City made was signing offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor. This is a good replacement for Orlando Brown Jr. and a move that will help protect QB Patrick Mahomes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B-

Tom Brady’s retirement from the NFL left the Bucs with a huge hole to fill at QB. Tampa filled this hole with Baker Mayfield. There weren’t many great options at QB and Baker is coming off a good stint with the LA Rams ,but isn’t the long term answer the Bucs need at QB. Tampa did a surprisingly good job at keeping their own free agents. The Bucs brought back linebacker Lavonte David and corner Jamel Dean.

Tennessee Titans: B+

The Titans added starters at every level of their defense this off-season. They signed corner Sean Murphy-Bunting, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, and edge rusher Arden Key. The Titans also added two starters to their offensive line. They signed offensive tackle Andre Dillard and offensive guard Daniel Brunskill. The Titans didn’t add a superstar this off-season ,but added solid starters all across their team.

Pittsburgh Steelers: C-

The main position group the Steelers improved this off-season was the secondary. The Steelers signed safety Keanu Kneal and re-signed safety Damontae Kazee as well as signing corner Patrick Peterson. The Steelers didn’t make any improvements to their team outside of the secondary.

LA Chargers: C-

The Chargers didn’t make many major moves this off-season. The only big addition to their team was linebacker Eric Kendricks. The Chargers also brought back tight end Donald Parham Jr. and punter JK Scott.

Cleveland Browns: B+

The Browns traded for receiver Elijah Moore and the 74th overall pick in the draft for the 42nd overall pick. Cleveland got great compensation for the 42nd pick in this trade. The Browns also signed receiver Marquise Goodwin. Both Moore and Goodwin will bring elite speed from the receiver position to the Browns offense. The Browns re-signed center Ethan Pocic. This was a great move for Cleveland as Pocic has been a really good center for them. The Browns also signed tight end Jordan Akins. The Browns also added two starters to their defense with the signings of safety Juan Thornhill and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.

Seattle Seahawks: A-

The Seahawks re-signed QB Geno Smith for three years after his career year where he led Seattle to the playoffs. This was an excellent move by Seattle as Geno proved last year that he deserves to still be the Seahawks QB next year ,but the Seahawks also were smart not to give Geno a long extension that could tie the team down. Geno’s extension allows Seattle to draft their next franchise QB in either 2024 or 2025 and let him sit for a year or two behind Geno. The Seahawks also improved their defense. Seattle signed defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones. This was a good signing by Seattle as Jones is an underrated but good D-linemen. The Seahawks also signed safety Julian Love and linebacker Devin Bush. These signings were smart moves by Seattle because both Love and Bush have the potential to be starters for Seattle next season. Lastly, the Seahawks brought back franchise legend Bobby Wagner. This was a great move by Seattle as they reunite with one of their best players in franchise history.

Houston Texans: B+

The Texans improved their offense ahead of the NFL draft where they will undoubtedly take a QB. The Texans signed tight end Dalton Shcultz and running back Devin Singletary. Schultz will be a good target for a young QB to throw to ;meanwhile, Singletary will help take some pressure off the QB the Texans draft by leading the way for the Texans running game. The Texans also added receiver Robert Woods who will be another reliable target for the QB the Texans draft. The Texans also added lots of potential starters to their defense. The Texans added safety Jimmie Ward. This was a good signing as Ward can be a solid starter for the Texans. Houston also added linebackers Cory Littleton and Denzel Perryman. Both Litteton and Perryman have the potential to be starters for Houston. Lastly, the Texans signed defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins and Chase Winovich. Rankins and Winovich also can be starters for Houston next season.

Philadelphia Eagles: A

The Eagles lost lots of talent from their team ,but Philly was able to keep most of their core players. The defensive tackle Eagles re-signed Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, center Jason Kelce, running back Boston Scott, and corner James Bradbury. All of these guys played roles in the Eagles winning the NFC last year and most of them were also a part of the 2017 team that won the Super Bowl. Keeping this many players from such a great team is a huge accomplishment for the Eagles. The Eagles added running back Rashad Penny to replace Miles Sanders and safety Terrell Edmunds to fill their need in their secondary after a number of players from their secondary last year left in free agency this season. Philly has been able to keep a roster that is just as competitive as the roster they had last season.

Washington Commanders: C+

The Commanders spent most of their off-season improving their O-line. Washington signed offensive tackles Andrew Wylie, Trent Scott, center Tyler Larsen, and linemen Nick Gates. The Commanders should have a much improved O-line next year due to these signings. The Commanders signed QB Jacoby Brissett. This is a subpar signing as Brissett is a good backup ,but an underwhelming starter.

Dallas Cowboys: B+

The Cowboys spent most of the off-season bringing back members of their defense. Dallas signed defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. , linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, and safety Donovan Wilson. These were good signings as Dallas had a pretty good defense last year. The Cowboys decided to move on from running back Ezekeil Elliot and replaced him with Ronald Jones. This was a smart move by Dallas as they save money by not spending big at an easily replaced position like running back.

Arizona Cardinals: D+

The Cardinals lost lots of talent this off-season like Byron Murphy and Zach Allen. Losing players in free agency is something that happens to every team ;however, the Cardinals did very little to replace the talent that they lost. Their only noteworthy signings were linebacker Kyzir White and kicker Matt Prater.

LA Rams: F

The Rams signed two players this off-season. Offensive linemen Coleman Shelton and defensive linemen Marquise Copeland. Neither are likely to start for the Rams next year. The Rams off-season this year will be remembered for the team trading away star corner Jalen Ramsey and not adding a single starting caliber player to either side of the ball.

Jacksonville Jaguars: F

The Jaguars made the playoffs and won a playoff game for the first time in many years. They followed up a successful season with a very unsuccessful off-season. The Jaguars didn’t sign anyone noteworthy this year despite being so close to being a contending team in the AFC. The only notewortthy move the Jaguars made this off-season was re-signing safety Andrew Wingard.

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