Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the sports world, NFL free agency will proceed on time, which means the legal tampering period will start today. In this tracker, we’ll be analyzing every trade or signing that teams make on Monday, before doing the same with a new tracker on Tuesday.
Packers Sign LB Christian Kirksey
Contract Details: Two Years, $13 Million
The Packers were expected to aggressively pursue linebacker Cory Littleton, but instead, they’ve settled with a lower-level free agency; they’ve come to terms with Christian Kirksey on a two-year contract worth $13 million. Kirksey, 27, has only played 586 total snaps over the past two seasons due to various injuries, and in those snaps, has really struggled. In his last healthy season in 2017, he was a relatively average player, earning a 62 overall grade and 59.9 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. He’ll fit into defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme nicely, as his athleticism is much better than Blake Martinez (now a free agent), but still, you can’t help but be underwhelmed by this contract. Since they utilize a lot of one linebacker sets, Green Bay needs a high-end coverage linebacker in their scheme, and Littleton seemed to be a perfect fit. Instead, it’s unclear that they’re even upgrading from Martinez, and most likely, will be looking for a starting linebacker again next offseason- Kirksey’s second year isn’t guaranteed, making this essentially a one-year deal for the team.
Vikings Extend QB Kirk Cousins
Contract Details: Three Years, $96 Million (Two Years, $66 Million Starting In 2021)
The Vikings had been looking to extending quarterback Kirk Cousins, and just before the legal tampering period officially kicked off, they succeeded in those attempts, signing him to a three-year, $96 million extension. Notably, this new extension saves Minnesota $10 million in cap space for this season, but assuming he plays out the entirety of his contract, Cousins will earn $31 million and then $45 million (!!!) in 2022. In other words, it’s obvious the Vikings are focused on winning in 2020, but usually, that “all-in” mentality tends to backfire. Cousins has had back-to-back productive seasons with the Vikings, but he’s a middle-tier quarterback that requires a proper infrastructure and scheme to fully function, and with the amount he’ll make in 2022, in addition to the departure of offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, we can’t be sure he’ll have either. Yes, it does allow safety Anthony Harris to remain with the team via the franchise tag, but even now, Minnesota doesn’t have a lot of money to spend to improve at cornerback or on the offensive line, so it’s likely their win-now mentality will lead to a similar team to the one that went 10-6 last season. They’re putting their future in harm’s way potentially while not doing enough to help make their team to win the Super Bowl in 2020, so this extension is likely to be a mistake.
Packers Sign OT Rick Wagner
Contract Details: Two Years, $11 Million
It appears the Packers were content on letting right tackle Bryan Bulaga leave in free agency, and instead, they opted to replace him with a cheaper veteran tackle, inking right tackle Rick Wagner to a two-year deal worth $11 million. The 30-year-old Wagner is a downgrade over Bulaga, especially coming off a subpar season, but previously, he had been one of the more consistent pass protectors from the right side in the NFL. Considering that Bulaga is expected to have a heavy market, I actually think Green Bay made the right move here; $5.5 million per year for a starting tackle in today’s market is tremendous value.
Dolphins Sign OG Ereck Flowers
Contract Details: Three Years, $30 Million
With the most cap space in the NFL, it always was a certainty that the Dolphins would sign at least one offensive lineman in free agency. They’ve at least completed that basic objective; they signed guard Ereck Flowers to a three-year, $30 million deal. Flowers, 25, is best known as being a draft bust with the Giants, but upon signing with the Jaguars last season, he showed improvement, and was able to earn a 69 pass-blocking grade for the Redskins this season, per Pro Football Focus. Plus, his production improved throughout the season as he adjusted to his new position, so perhaps there is room to grow in the future. However, despite all of that, Flowers was simply an average offensive lineman in 2019, and will now be making $10 million per year with $19 million guarenteed- a lofty amount. He’s certainly an upgrade over anyone the Dolphins had, and they could afford to overpay for an offensive lineman, but I’m disappointed by how much money is guaranteed, as Miami is paying for untapped potential more than proven production.
Browns Sign TE Austin Hooper
Contract Details: Four Years, $44 Million
In a surprising move, the Browns have added yet another playmaker to their offense, signing tight end Austin Hooper on a four year, $44 million contract. The team already has a decent tight end in David Njoku, but with the amount of two tight end sets that head coach Kevin Stefanski utilizes, it’s clear that the 25-year-old Hooper is still a fit. He’s coming off of his best season with a 78.3 overall grade, per Pro Football Focus, yet a lot of his production comes off of sitting in zone coverages, meaning that he’s a player that needs to be “schemed up” to have success. Is he a useful tight end? Definitely, but he’s not a dynamic tight end nor a strong run blocker (needed in Stefanski’s scheme), and for a Browns team with far greater needs, this move doesn’t make much sense for them.
Cardinals Acquire WR DeAndre Hopkins From Texans
Full Trade: Cardinals Acquire WR DeAndre Hopkins and 4th Round Pick In Exchange For 2nd Round Pick , RB David Johnson, and 4th Round Pick
Cardinals Grade: A+
Texans Grade: F
In absolutely stunning blockbuster, the Texans have shipped superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, getting back a 2nd round pick, running back David Johnson, and a 4th round pick swap in return. If you were to claim that Hopkins, 27, was the best receiver in the NFL, you’d have a good point, as he’s coming off six straight 1,000+ yard seasons and three straight 1,300+ yard seasons. With Deshaun Watson, the first competent quarterback he’s every played with, he reached new heights, and is capable of being both a deep threat, but also a sure-handed intermediate threat as well. For a team that utilizes four receivers in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s scheme, this is a home run, as not only do they supply Kyler Murray with one of the most valuable non-quarterbacks, but they give themselves more flexible in the draft, and add a game-changing player without using much salary cap space, even with a reworked contract. That’s because Houston is taking on all of David Johnson’s $20 million he’s owed over the next season, which is not only an absurd amount for a running back, but one that’s unfortunately past his prime. When I saw that Hopkins was on the trade block, I immediately assumed it would take a first-round pick and much more. Meanwhile, when it was announced that Johnson, and his entire salary, was being traded, I assumed Houston would be getting a mid-round pick with him. Instead, the Texans apparently see the gap between arguably the game’s top receiver and a struggling, overpaid running back as just worth a second-round pick, which I simply can’t understand. In my eyes, this, in the Texans’ perspective, is the worst trade I’ve ever seen, and the Cardinals were able to take full advantage.
49ers Extend EDGE Arik Armstead
Contract Details: Five Years, $85 Million
The 49ers had been working on extending versatile defensive lineman Arik Armstead for some time, and rather than using the franchise tag, they’ve signed him to a five-year, $85 million contract. The 26-year-old Armstead is coming off his career best season, as he posted 73 pressures while also being stout in run defense, and was a flexible piece on their defensive line- defensive coordinator Robert Saleh utilized him as an early down edge rusher, before moving him inside on passing downs. Yet, this came in a contract year while he needed to be their fourth best rusher (Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner), and given all the talent around him, you would’ve thought they could’ve been able to somewhat replicate his production with a cheaper option. I understand the value of his versatility, but offense wins championships, while defenses are built in the secondary; investing this much on the defensive line, especially since Buckner also needs a contract extension, is problematic; this contract essentially eats up all of their remaining cap space.
EDIT: Grade has been adjusted following DeForest Buckner trade
Dolphins Sign EDGE Shaq Lawson
Contract Details: Three Years, $30 Million
Adding some much-needed pass-rushing help, the Dolphins have signed edge rusher Shaq Lawson to a three-year, $30 million deal. Seen as a first-round burst during his time in Buffalo, the 25-year-old Lawson gets a nice payday, with the chance to establish himself in a new setting in Miami. Considering this past season (40 pressures and 68.7 pass-rush grade), it’s clear that he’s an average edge rusher right now, and although he has some untapped potential if utilized as more of a flexible piece in Brian Flores’ defensive scheme, this contract amount is an awfully large amount. It’s nice to see the Dolphins targeting young, talented players who need a change of scenery, but overpaying for them on three-year deals isn’t the way to do it.
Falcons Acquire TE Hayden Hurst From Ravens
Full Trade: Falcons Acquire TE Hayden Hurst and 4th Round Pick In Exchange For 2nd Round Pick and 5th Round
Falcons Grade: B-
Ravens Grade: A
The Falcons have moved quickly to replace Hooper, as just after their starting tight end signed with Cleveland, they acquired former first-round pick Hayden Hurst from the Ravens, along with a fourth round pick, in exchange for a second-round pick and fifth-round pick. Hurst, 26, never could find a major role in Baltimore, even as they utilized a lot of multiple tight end sets, but when on the field, he’s been a sure handed receiver, and has a very similar profile to Hooper. The price paid is a little pricy, which is why this move makes a lot of sense for a Ravens team that traded from a position of strength, but the Falcons didn’t have the resources to add a different tight end, so this is a reasonable trade for both parties.
Cowboys Extend TE Blake Jarwin
Contract Details: Four Years, $22 Million
The Cowboys have yet to sign either Dak Prescott or Amari Cooper to an extension, but in the meantime, they’ve agreed to a four-year contract extension with tight end Blake Jarwin worth $22 million. Jarwin, 25, has been an average all-around time playing in a limited role (891 career snaps in 3 seasons), but by this deal, Dallas is putting faith in him to be their starting tight end next season. While this deal may seem extreme on the surface, it’s essentially only a two-year contract worth around $9 million, since the final two years have very little guaranteed money attached to them, so it’s a pretty minor move for them as they hope to have their starting tight end of the future.
Bucs Sign EDGE Jason Pierre-Paul
Contract Details: Two Years, $27 Million
The Bucs have solidified their pass rush today; not only did they use the franchise tag on Shaq Barrett, but they’ve now re-signed Jason Pierre Paul to a two-year contract worth $27 million. Pierre Paul, 31, had a solid season on the surface in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ scheme, posting 44 pressures and a 67.7 pass-rush grade in 10 games. Yet, ten of those pressures came in one game against the Jaguars, and outside of that, he was much closer to a replacement-level pass rusher. It’s only a two-year deal, but the Bucs didn’t have a great pass rush last year, and although tagging Barrett was smart, overpaying to keep Pierre-Paul is an underwhelming move to bolster their 2020 roster, at least in my opinion.
Raiders Sign LB Nick Kwiatkowski
Contract Details: Three Years, $21 Million
Are the Raiders backing out of the Corey Littleton sweepstakes? It’s unclear at the moment, but regardless, they need multiple linebackers, which is why they moved quickly to sign former Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski. Though he’s struggled to stay healthy, the 26-year-old has flashed his potential when on the field, as he’s solid in coverage, and is also an effective pass-rusher on blitz packages as well. Obviously, Las Vegas is projecting him to both stay. healthy and be just as productive in a large role. If he does, this will be solid value for them, though I have to acknowledge that it’s a somewhat risky signing.
Colts Acquire IDL DeForest Buckner From 49ers and Extend Him
Full Trade: Colts Acquire IDL DeForest Buckner From In Exchange For 1st Round Pick (13th Overall), Sign Him To Extension Worth $21 Million Annually
Colts Grade: D+
49ers Grade: A+
DeAndre Hopkins being traded to Cardinals is the headliner of the day, but it’s not the only blockbuster trade involving an AFC South and NFC South team; the Colts have acquired interior defensive lineman DeForest Buckner from the 49ers, and have signed him to an extension worth $21 million per year. Buckner, 25, has established himself as one of the premier interior rushers in the sport, as he’s had at least 50 pressures and a pass-rushing grade of 73 or better in each of the last three seasons; he produced even when the 49ers’ front four was lacking talent, so he clearly wasn’t a product of their surrounding talent. Yet, he’s never be a game-changing interior rusher like Aaron Donald, or even Chris Jones, Kenny Clark, or Fletcher Cox, and although he could get better, both the contract and the first-round pick is a hefty price for a position that doesn’t usually move the needle in terms of wins. Did the Colts need an interior rusher? Yes, but they definitely could’ve found said player in cheaper fashion, as goes against what they’ve prioritized previously- building through the draft. Meanwhile, the 49ers have zero picks in the second, third, or fourth round, and couldn’t afford to pay Buckner, so in essence, they trade their third or fourth best pass rusher for a first-round pick; they can now trade down and accumulate more assets, or draft a cheap, cost-controlled player at a more valuable position.
Redskins Re-sign LB Jon Bostic
Contract Details: Two Years, $5 Million
In a very minor move, the Redskins have re-signed linebacker Jon Bostic to a two-year contract worth $5 million, with very little guaranteed money attached to the second year. Washington has been quiet so far, but as head coach Ron Rivera tries to build his defense, the 28-year-old Bostic remains with them after playing 1,031 total snaps last season. Unfortunately, those snaps weren’t great, as his overall grade from Pro Football Focus was under 60 for the second straight, and his lack of athleticism continued to be exposed both in space and in coverage. He’s a solid tackler, but he’s not a linebacker that fits the modern game, so hopefully he isn’t expected to start for them in 2020.
Browns Sign OT Jack Conklin
Contract Details: Three Years, $42 Million
Continuing to bolster their offense, the Browns needed to get better in the offensive trenches, and they’ve certainly accomplished that, signing right tackle Jack Conklin to a front-loaded three-year deal worth $42 million. In the playoffs, the Titans were extremely effective with their rushing attack, and although many point to Derrick Henry as the reason why, the reality is that he benefitted from a tremendous offensive line. The 25-year-old Conklin played a major role in their success, as he’s long been a tremendous run-blocker, and that, combined with his agility, makes him a perfect fit in head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offensive scheme. Now, he’s not a great pass protector, but he’s a major upgrade over what the Browns had to offer at right tackle, and whom they could’ve reasonably acquired. He was the best offensive lineman on the market, and honestly, this contract is much less than I expected him to great. Should Cleveland draft a tackle with the 10th overall pick, they’d suddenly have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, which would be quite the turnaround, to say the least.
Lions Sign OT/OG Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Contract Details: Five Years, $50 Million
After cutting Rick Wagner and letting Graham Glasgow leave in free agency, the Lions have addressed a hole on their offensive line, signing tackle/guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a five-year contract worth $50 million. Vaitai, 26, is a somewhat flexible piece in terms of his ability to play both on the interior or at tackle, and right now, it’s unclear which role he’ll fill. Though he’s a powerful player and a decent run-blocker, he’s also a poor pass protector whom lacks the agility to handle quicker pass rushers, and most of all, he’s also one without much experience. This is a downgrade over Wagner and Glasgow, both of whom are on different teams despite being attainable at similar prices, and simply put, I don’t understand this signing at all.
Browns Sign QB Case Keenum
Contract Details: Three Years, $18 Million
The Browns had made brining in a veteran backup quarterback a priority, which is why shortly after signing Conklin, they’ve agreed to terms on a three-year, $18 million contract with Case Keenum. Although the 32-year-old Keenum struggled with the Redskins this season, his best season came with the Vikings in 2017, when Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was his quarterbacks coach. He’s definitely a high-end backup capable of filling in if Baker Mayfield were to get injured, though for a team that still has other needs on defense, you have to wonder why they’re so open to signing a backup quarterback to a larger than expected contract. Either way, upgrading the offense clearly was what the Browns wanted to do, and I’m excited to see what Stefanski’s offense looks like next season.
Broncos Sign OG Graham Glasgow
Contract Details: Four Years, $44 Million
Shoring up the interior offensive line behind Drew Lock, the Broncos have made their first significant move of the day, agreeing to terms with guard Graham Glasgow on a four-year contract worth $44 million. Though he hasn’t garnered much attention on the open market, Glasgow, 27, has been a reliable guard over the past three seasons, holding his own as both a pass protector and run blocker. Now, $11 million per year is a lot to pay for a guard, but when players such as Ereck Flowers and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are signing for contracts worth $10 million per year, getting Glasgow at this price is solid value. He’ll immediately replace Ronald Leary on the interior, though with them in need for a wide receiver, hopefully this isn’t the last major offensive signing the Broncos make.
Titans Re-sign OT Dennis Kelly
Contract Details: Three Years, $21 Million
The Titans lost Conklin to the Browns, but they moved quickly to replace him, bringing back tackle Dennis Kelly on a three-year deal worth $21 million. After extending Ryan Tannehill and tagging Derrick Henry, Tennessee didn’t have the money to keep Conklin, so will sign Kelly to a deal worth half of Conklin’s deal instead. To his credit, the 30-year-old has fared well, particularly in pass protection, when called upon, but he hasn’t played 400 snaps in a season since his rookie season in 2012, so it is a risk to trust him to start. Then again, he held up tremendously well as a pass protector when filling in for Taylor Lewan at left tackle for the first four games, so overall, Tennessee is getting a starting-caliber option. It’s a bigger deal than I expected him to get, but I get why the Titans opted for a familiar face to replace Conklin.
Dolphins Sign S Clayton Fejedelem
Contract Details: Three Years, $8.5 Million
In a minor signing, the Dolphins have brought in safety Clayton Fejedelem on a three-year, $8.5 million contract. Still just 26-years-old, Fejedelem has played under 200 snaps in each of the past two seasons, but during that time, as well as in his 377 snaps in 2017, he’s proven to be a good tackler and a decent player in run defense and coverage. He’s a very capable depth safety with special teams experience, and for under $3 million per year with little guaranteed money, this is actually a very nice addition for Miami.
Giants Sign CB James Bradberry
Contract Details: Three Years, $45 Million
The Giants came into the offseason needing to upgrade their secondary, and in their eyes, they’ve done so, signing James Bradberry to a three-year, $45 million contract. Long rumored to be heading to the division rival Redskins, Bradberry, 26, instead lands in New York, where he’ll likely play a lot of man coverage in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. That’s a far cry from what he’s familiar with from playing in Carolina, whom was always amongst the most zone-heavy teams in the NFL; he’s at his best as a zone corner, making him a questionable scheme fit. Additionally, he’s a very inconsistent player on a week-to-week basis without high-end athleticism, and if he goes into next season as the Giants’ #1 corner, he’ll be exposed. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s never had one season with a grade of 70 or higher, yet because of his age and the demand for top cornerbacks, will be paid like a true #1 cornerback. At that point, why not just go the extra mile for Byron Jones?
Dolphins Sign CB Byron Jones
Contract Details: Five Years, $82.5 Million
Speaking of Jones, the 27-year-old was arguably the top defensive player on the market, and surprisingly, is heading to Miami on a five-year, $82.5 contract that makes him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. After coming into the NFL as a safety, Jones became a cornerback two years ago, and since then, has ranked 4th and 14th in WAR in those two respective seasons, per Pro Football Focus. As PFF notes, his ability to thrive in single coverage, as well as his youth, is what made him such a coveted player, and for a young Dolphins team that utilizes man-coverage at a very high rate, having him on board is huge. They’ve gone all-in on prioritizing coverage over pass rush, which is what the Patriots have done for years, as they have the two highest paid corners in football (Jones and Xavien Howard), and assuming full health, I expect their pass defense to certainly be above-average next season. Now, they shouldn’t even think about considering themselves to be a playoff contender until they fix their offensive line and find their franchise quarterback, but as far as Brian Flores’ defense is concerned, this is a terrific deal for them.
Redskins Sign OG Wes Schweitzer
Contract Details: Three Years, $13.5 Million
The Redskins weren’t able to retain Ereck Flowers, as they wisely stayed away from his $30 million price tag, and instead, have settled with a cheaper option, agreeing to terms on a three-year, $13.5 million deal with guard Wes Schweitzer. Schweitzer, 26, was asked to play more than the Falcons ever anticipated throughout his three-year stint with him, and although he wasn’t great in 2019, did earn a 70.2 pass-blocking grade in 2018 (per Pro Football Focus). I’m guessing Washington doesn’t view him as a starter, and for $4.5 million per year, which likely won’t come with much guaranteed money, that’s fine. You’re only as good upfront as your weakest link, and by signing Schweitzer, Washington does make sure to prevent there from being a massive hole on the interior.
Panthers Sign EDGE Stephen Weatherly
Contract Details: Two Years, $12.5 Million
The Panthers are clearly heading towards a deep rebuild, so it was expected that they would target young depth players. That appears to be the case, signing edge rusher Stephen Weatherly to a two-year deal worth $12.5 million. After emerging as a decent role player in 2018, the 25-year-old Weatherly took a step back in 2019, earning just a 49 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. In fact, in his four-year career, he’s never had a pass-rush grade over 58, and since he’s not a great run defender either, doesn’t provide much value. I’m guessing the second year doesn’t come with much in guaranteed money, but still, I would’ve preferred for Carolina to find a more intriguing young pass rusher on a buy-low contract.
Saints Sign IDL David Onyemata
Contract Details: Three Years, $27 Million
The Saints are very limited on cap space, and have yet to sign Drew Brees to a new contract, but still, they’ve kept one of their defensive free agents, signing interior defensive lineman David Onyemata to a three-year contract worth $27 million. Still just 27-years-old, Onyemata was a fringe top-20 player on his position in terms of WAR, per Pro Football Focus, but in 2019, he regressed mightily with just a 55.3 overall grade. He’s a solid pass rusher, and $9 million isn’t absurd, but for a Saints team with far bigger needs and zero financial flexibility, it is. With Sheldon Rankins, Malcolm Brown, and Shy Tuttle, New Orleans was set on the interior, yet they’re bringing back Onyemata on a somewhat expensive contract, rather than adding more valuable players- a receiver or cornerback, for instance. The guaranteed money has yet to be revealed, but New Orleans needs to be smart with their short-term funds, and instead, they were a little reckless with this signing.
Ravens Sign IDL Michael Brockers
Contract Details: Three Years, $30 Million
The Ravens weren’t content just acquiring Calais Campbell; they’ve added to their defensive line even further, signing interior rusher Michael Brockers to a three-year, $30 contract. Brockers, 29, has had the luxury of playing alongside Aaron Donald, yet has never had 40 pressures in one season; he’s more of a run-stuffer. Unfortunately for Baltimore, that’s one of the most replaceable skillsets in the NFL, and although he’s able to play 3-4 defensive end or nose tackle, they might as well have signed a true pass-rushing nose tackle, such as Javon Hargrave or Shelby Harris. Baltimore is usually very opportunistic with how they spend their money, and I’m unclear why Brockers was someone they viewed as a $10 million per year type player.
Panthers Sign S Juston Burris
Contract Details: Two Years, $8 Million
Going back to the Panthers’ depth signings, they’ve agreed to terms with safety Juston Burris on a two-year contract worth $8 million. Obviously, Carolina is looking to get younger on their defense, and at just 26-years-old, Burris may be asked to be a starter for them. He’s not great in coverage, but he has the versatility to play in the box or at slot corner, and is coming off a 69.5 grade season, per Pro Football Focus. That only came in 409 total snaps, so perhaps it’s a fluke given his lack of track record of success, but for just $8 million over the next two years, it’s not like Carolina will be burned if it was. They’re either getting a solid strong safety or a role player at a cheap price, so I like this deal for them.
Bears Sign TE Jimmy Graham
Contract Details: Two Years, $16 Million
The Packers didn’t see Jimmy Graham was worth his $10 million price tag, but the Bears clearly do, as they’ve signed the veteran tight end to a two-year contract worth $8 million per year. Notably, only $1 million of the second year is guaranteed, so it’s essentially a one-year contract, but as far as 2020 is concerned, Graham will likely cost $8 million against the cap, and that’s a problem. He’s lost his explosiveness now that he’s 33-years-old, and since he’s never been a good run blocker, is a tight end #2 at best, though even then isn’t super effective. The Bears, meanwhile, are super tight on cap space, and although they were looking for an upgrade over Trey Burton, they used the remaining amount of their finances on a worse, and older version at the position. This is a head scratcher, to say the least.
Dolphins Sign EDGE/LB Kyle Van Noy
Contract Details: Four Years, $51 Milliom
The Dolphins didn’t just stop with signing Byron Jones; they’ve also added more to their pass rush, agreeing to terms with edge rusher/linebacker hybrid Kyle Van Noy to a four-year, $51 million contract. Van Noy, 29, has familiarity with head coach Brian Flores, who was his defensive coordinator in 2018, and who runs a very similar scheme to what Bill Belichick runs in New England. Therefore, his versatility to play both edge rusher and off-ball linebacker will be properly utilized, and hopefully, Flores uses him more like Belichick used him in 2019. Van Noy played much more as an edge rusher last season, and with that, had a career high 60 pressures and 84.2 overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus. With his versatility, he’s been a top 20 edge rusher in terms of WAR over the past two seasons, and for $12.75 million annually, Flores gets a unique player that fits a much-needed role in his scheme. It’ll be interesting to see how the contract is structured, but on the surface, it’s a reasonable contract, especially for a team with a lot of cap space that will be soon building around a quarterback on a rookie contract.
Eagles Sign IDL Javon Hargrave
Contract Details: Three Years, $39 Million
The Eagles missed out on Byron Jones, so instead, they’ve improved their defense from the interior, signing Javon Hargrave to a three-year deal worth $39 million. A very underrated player, the 27-year-old Hargrave was rated as the 11th most valuable interior rusher in the NFL last season, as he’s a nose tackle that can also rush the passer very effectively, and paired with Fletcher Cox inside, should do damage; he’s never played 700 snaps in a season, so there’s still a role for Malik Jackson, who can mix in on passing downs. From a team perspective, however, the Eagles are now paying $10 million plus for three interior defensive linemen, which is not a great way to allocate resources. There’s no doubt they’ll be an opposing quarterback’s nightmare in terms of interior pressure, but with Amari Cooper and Robby Anderson lingering on the free-agent market, it’s slightly confusing why they continue to invest so much on a non-valuable position.
Texans Signs S Eric Murray
Contract Details: Three Years, $20.25 Million
The Texans continue to make moves during their busy day, signing safety Eric Murray to a three-year deal worth $20.25 million. Murray, 26, is capable of playing both slot corner and as a free safety, though he was better in 2018, when he played mostly free safety, as opposed to when he was used as a slot corner with the Browns in 2019. Well, considering that the Texans are already set at safety with Tashaun Gipson and Justin Reid, it’s likely he’ll play slot corner for them, which is far from ideal; he had just a 60.9 coverage grade this past season, and may not even an upgrade for them. Presumably, this may take them out of the Chris Harris Jr. market, and if that’s the case, I’ll just continue to be astonished about the lack of competency by Bill O’Brien as the general manager.
Jets Sign OT George Fant
Contract Details: Three Years, $30 Million
Four of the Jets’ five starters on a subpar offensive line were set to be free agents, so obviously, they needed to sign a couple offensive linemen practically out of necessity. However, whom they signed is somewhat surprising, as they’ve come to terms with former Seahawks tackle George Fant on a three-year, $30 million deal that is mostly just a one-year deal since there is only around $13 million in guaranteed money. He never was a full-time starter in Seattle, but the 27-year-old Fant has been used as a swing tackle, so his 60.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus is fine in that role, considering it was even better (73.8) in 2018. However, it appears, based on reports and the amount he’s being paid, that he’ll be the Jets’ starting offensive tackle, and if that’s the case, Sam Darnold will continue to be ambushed by opposing pass rushers. The lack of guaranteed money prevents this deal from being a disaster, but New York isn’t accomplishing much with this deal.
Lions Sign LB Jamie Collins Sr.
Contract Details: Three Years, $30 Million
Sticking with the theme of former Patriot coaches signing their old players, head coach Matt Patricia has found a new player to be his linebacker/edge rusher hybrid- the Lions have signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a three-year deal worth $30 million. After struggling mightily as a member of the Browns, Collins, 30, came back to the Patriots this past offseason, and got off to a scorching hot start with four 90-grade games (per Pro Football Focus) through Week 6, but after that, his highest grade in a game was 75.7, and was once again an atrocious tackler. Sure, his ability to rush the passer and play in coverage is nice, but he’s a decent linebacker, and Detroit is paying him to be closer to what he was at the beginning of the season. I don’t think he’ll struggle as much as he did in Cleveland, but I’m expecting him to be closer to an average player with the Lions.
Bills Sign LB AJ Klein
Contract Details: Three Years, $18 Million
The Bills didn’t appear to be in need of a linebacker, but nevertheless, they’ve agreed to terms with veteran linebacker AJ Klein on a three-year, $18 million contract. With three seasons of his last seasons resulting in a 48.2 grade (from Pro Football Focus) or lower, it’s surprising to see Klein sign for multiple years, even if there isn’t a lot of guaranteed money after the next two seasons. Yes, the 28-year-old was surprisingly productive (70.4 overall grade) in 2018, but he’s generally been a liability in both run defense and coverage, so I don’t see where he fits in their defense. Yes, he has experience playing under head coach Sean McDermott in Buffalo, but still, he’s the type of player who should be signing a deal closer to the veteran’s minimum, rather than for $6 million per year.
Seahawks Sign IDL Jarran Reed
Contract Details: Two Years, $23 Million
In the interior defensive lineman market has moved quickly, and yet another player has come off of the board, with Jarran Reed re-upping with the Seahawks on a two-year deal worth $23 million. The 27-year-old Reed missed the first six games due to suspension, and overall, just had a poor overall season. However, in the previous two seasons, he had established himself as a decent interior pass rusher, compiling 55 pressures in 2018. Is that worth $11.5 million. Certainly not, considering that even in his peak 2018 season, he was just the 37th most valuable interior rusher, per Pro Football Focus. Plus, there’s no guarantee Reed gets back to his old form, and in reality, I was expecting him to sign a much cheaper prove-it contract. This is a great deal for the player, but as with most contracts this offseason, I’m wondering why another team is investing in a player at a non-valuable position.
Bills Acquire WR Stefon Diggs From Vikings
Full Trade: Bills Acquire WR Stefon Diggs and 7th Round Pick In Exchange For 1st Round Pick, 5th Round Pick, 6th Round, and 2021 4th Round Pick
Bills Grade: A
Vikings Grade: C-
If one blockbuster trade for a superstar receiver wasn’t enough, the football world was set on fire once again, as the Vikings have traded Stefon Diggs (and a seventh-round pick) to the Bills, acquiring a first-round pick, fifth-round pick, sixth-round pick, as well as a 2021 fourth-round pick in the process. Diggs, 26, has been one of the most consistently productive receivers throughout his five-year career, posting a receiving grade from Pro Football Focus of 77.6 or higher in each season. Plus, despite only receiving 99 targets this year, he still had 1,208 receiving yards, as his average yards per reception soared to 18- he’s a terrific deep threat, which will mesh well with quarterback Josh Allen. He’s a star player in the midst of his prime locked into a team-friendly contract for the next four seasons, so rather than drafting a Justin Jefferson or Denzel Mims with the 22nd overall pick, they solidify their receiving corps, and their offense as a whole- they needed a game-changing #1 receiver. For Minnesota, this seemed inevitable given Diggs’ dissatisfaction with the organization, in addition to their need for young, cost-controlled players. While many believe they got a lot back in this deal, the first-round pick is the only selection of note, and they may have to use on a wide receiver now anyways. I’d get it if Diggs was on a massive contract, but his contract is very affordable, and unless he was eagerly looking for a new deal, this isn’t a great look for a team that can’t decide if they want to contend or rebuild; they only save $5.5 million in cap space, signing trading Diggs also incurs as $9 million dead cap hit.
Cowboys Re-sign WR Amari Cooper
Contract Details: Five Years, $100 Million
The Cowboys have reeled in their star receiver; they’ve brought back Amari Cooper on a five-year, $100 million contract. Rather than sign with the Redskins, who also pursued him, the 25-year-old Cooper, who is just entering prime, stays in Dallas, where he’s a perfect fit. Since being traded there, he’s become not only one of the top deep threats, but one of the top receivers overall in the NFL, and given his age, he definitely deserved to reset the receiver market. He’ll always slightly struggle with drops, but players with his elite separation ability are impossible to find; new head coach Mike McCarthy needs his receivers to create separation on their own, making Cooper the perfect player for his scheme. Losing Byron Jones hurts, especially since he signed for less total money than less-valuable players in running back Ezekiel Elliot and edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence, but nevertheless, Cooper was always someone they had to retain, and they’ve done so here.
Redskins Sign CB/S Kendall Fuller
Contract Details: Four Years, $40 Million
Bringing a familiar face back to where he was drafted, the Redskins have signed nickel corner Kendall Fuller to a four-year, $40 million contract. Still just 25-years-old, Fuller was traded from the Redskins in the Alex Smith trade, and in two seasons with the Chiefs, posted back-to-back 70-grade seasons, according to Pro Football Focus, playing both in the slot and as a safety. However, his best work has been in the slot, where he’s a really solid young nickel corner, and back in 2017, he actually posted an elite 91.2 coverage grade. On the surface, it’s an overpay for a good-not-great player, but considering where the cornerback market is going, I actually am not against this deal, given the value of nickel corners. He fills a major need in Ron Rivera’s defense, though I definitely expect Washington to be more active in upgrading the other side of the ball.
Texans Sign WR Randall Cobb
Contract Details: Three Years, $27 Million
After trading Hopkins, the Texans obviously needed another receiver, specifically one that could be of an underneath threat, since they have two deep threats in Marvin Jones and Kenny Stills. They’ve filled that void, signing veteran slot receiver Randall Cobb to a three-year contract worth $27 million. Cobb, 29, had somewhat of a career resurgence with the Cowboys last season, as although he struggled with drops, actually created more big plays than expected last season. I’ll be interesting to see how money is guaranteed, as $9 million per year is a somewhat hefty amount, but I do like how he fits into Houston’s offense as their slot receiver, though I continue to be baffled about how they’ve proceeded as an organization today.
Lions Sign IDL Nick Williams
Contract Details: Two Years, $10 Million
Adding a much-needed interior defensive lineman to mix, the Lions have signed former Bear Nick Williams to a two-year, $10 million deal. Despite already being 30-years-old, Williams played over 200 snaps (532) for the first time last season, and with Chicago, served well in run defense and was a decent pass rusher. Ideally, the Lions would’ve been able to add a better player to their defensive line, but I’m happy they didn’t overspend on the interior defensive line, especially with some of the hefty contracts they’ve agreed to today.
Giants Sign LB Blake Martinez
Contract Details: Three Years, $30 Million
Another Corey Littleton suitor has added a different linebacker. This time, it’s the Giants, who have signed former Packers linebacker Blake Martinez to a three-year deal worth $30 million. Martinez, 26, has a relatively productive player for the Packers in 2018 with an 80.8 coverage grade (per Pro Football Focus), but for the most part, he’s not that type of player. He’ll always compile large tackle numbers, yet at the expense of helping the defense, as he lacks the athleticism or aggressiveness needed to be a valuable modern day linebacker. It was clear all season that the Packers defense was vulnerable over the middle field, and Martinez’s limitations were a major reason for that. New York needed an athletic presence in the middle of their defense, and instead, they add to the problem even further with another poor signing by general manager Dave Gettleman.
49ers Re-sign S Jimmie Ward
Contract Details: Three Years, $28.5 Million
Continuing to bring back pieces from their defense, the 49ers have reached an agreement on safety Jimmie Ward on a three-year, $28.5 million contract. Before this season, the 28-year-old Ward had struggled to stay healthy previously, and also was an ineffective player. This past season, however, he was used much more as a traditional safety in defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme, and after missing the first three games of the season, suddenly emerged as a fantastic player at the position- 84.9 overall grade and 84.5 coverage grade, according to Pro Football Focus. If 2019 proves to not be a fluke, then $9.5 million per year is a great value for San Francisco, as it doesn’t put him amongst the highest paid safeties. At the same time, however, they’re still tight on cap space, even after trading DeForest Buckner, so once could argue that they should’ve looked for a cheaper replacement on defense, while trying harder to bring back veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Overall, Ward is probably worthy of this deal, despite his previously poor track record, but it’s not a great use of resources for the 49ers, who may be investing a bit too much into their defense.
Texans Sign QB AJ McCarron
Contract Details: One Year, $4 Million
Having a quality backup quarterback is always important, so the Texans decided to re-sign their current backup, retaining AJ McCarron on a one-year deal worth $4 million. McCarron, 29, had a decent run with the Bengals during his rookie season, and even started a playoff game, but since then, has been an okay #2 quarterback- in his lone start this season, he earned a 60.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Given Deshaun Watson’s injury history, it’s nice to be able to rely on a serviceable veteran option, so for the first time today, we can all rejoice that we don’t have to completely bash a move made by Bill O’Brien.