NFL Free Agency Tracker: Analyzing Every Move Made After First Official Day of Free Agency

The quarterback carousel is mostly settled at this point, but with impact receivers and edge rushers still on the market, there is a lot left to be settled within NFL circles. This is actually the time where the smartest teams tend to come out on top, as players at this point generally are less reluctant to settle for one-year contracts- there are a lot of quality veterans available for contending teams. In this tracker, we’ll analyze every move (major and minor) made by NFL teams after the first official day of free agency.

Redskins Sign RB JD McKissic

Lions Raiders Football
Photo Cred: Redskins Wire

Contract Details: Two Years, $3.25 Million

Grade: A

The running back market has been slow to develop, as teams are starting to catch onto the lack of value at the position, but that doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t look to grab them on the cheap. That’s what the Redskins have done here, signing running back JD McKissic to a two-year contract worth $3.25 million. McKissic, 26, has only played 585 snaps in his four-year career, but as he showed last season with the Lions, he’s a very capable receiving back. Plus, he’s not a complete liability as a runner, averaging 5.4 yards per carry last season in a power rushing scheme in Detroit, which is what he’ll have to do in Washington. He’ll replace Chris Thompson as the Redskins’ receiving back, and will complement Derrius Guice tremendously. These are the types of low-cost signings that teams in need of running back help should be making.

Eagles Acquire CB Darius Slay From Lions and Extend Him

darius slay
Photo Cred: Detroit Free Press

Full Trade: Eagles Acquire CB Darius Slay From Lions In Exchange For 3rd Round Pick and 5th Round Pick, Sign Him To Three Years, $50 Million Extension

Eagles Grade: A-

Lions Grade: D

The Eagles, to the dismay of their fans, lost out on the likes of Byron Jones, Chris Harris Jr., and Amari Cooper, and hadn’t made any sort of splash this offseason. However, they’ve made a major move, acquiring cornerback Darius Slay from the Lions in exchange for a third-round pick and fifth-round pick, while also making him the highest paid corner in the NFL with a three-year, $50 million extension. Although the 29-year-old Slay struggled last season, he’s generally been one of the top corners in the NFL, earning a coverage grade of 77 (per Pro Football Focus) or higher in each season between 2015 and 2018. Plus, his issues last season may have had more to do with his lack of fit in Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme in Detroit, which asked him to play on the island and a lot of man coverage. However, in Philadelphia, he’ll get back to being more utilized in zone coverage, which is where he’s at his best at, and finally, they have the true #1 corner they’ve been looking for. The contract extension is a little risky, given his struggles last season and age, but it’s fair value considering where the cornerback market is, and the draft pick compensation is light. As for Detroit, I’m not a fan of this move for them at all, as after signing Desmond Trufant, they finally had a chance to support Slay with a quality #2 corner, and could’ve had one of the top secondaries. Instead, their defense may be worse-off then it was last season, and it’s not like they’re getting a high-end pick back in return- I continue to be confused by their direction.

Lions Sign S Jayron Kearse

kearse
Photo Cred: Pride of Detroit

Contract Details: One Year, $2.75 Million

Grade: A

The Lions have at least made some effort to improve their secondary, inking versatile defensive back Jayron Kearse to a one-year deal worth $2.75 million. Kearse, 26, only played 271 snaps, as he was both a role player and missed two games due to injury, but in that time, he was fantastic- an 89 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Plus, he performed at a high level when asked to be a slot corner, meaning that he not only provides safety depth, but also is a backup option to nickel corner Justin Coleman. He’s an unique player with a lot of length (6’4″), and I expect him to make a positive impact for Detroit’s pass defense for just $2.75 million.

Bengals Sign CB Mackenzie Alexander

jea Vikings vs Detroit
Photo Cred: Pioneer Press

Contract Details: One Year, $4 Million

Grade: A

The Bengals have already brought in one former Viking corner in Trae Waynes, but now, they’ve rounded out their cornerback group, agreeing to a one-year, $4 million contract with slot corner Mackenzie Alexander. The 26-year-old Alexander was a major reason why Kearse didn’t play more in Minnesota, as although he wasn’t as consistent in 2019, he was one of the better slot corners in 2018, even grading out as the 17th best corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. After Darqueze Dennard signed in Jacksonville, Cincinnati didn’t have anyone capable of playing in the nickel, but they now do, and at a very cheap price. They’re still a flawed team, but they quietly have a solid pass defense and will soon have a terrific young quarterback (Joe Burrow), and when that’s the case, you’re going to be a competitive team.

Dolphins Re-sign S Adrian Colbert

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
Photo Cred: Sun Sentinel

Contract Details: One Year, $1.75 Million

Grade: B+

The Dolphins have been very active adding depth to their defensive, and now, they’ve addressed their safety group, re-signing Adrian Colbert on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. Colbert, 26, performed above expectations for the 49ers in his rookie season, but was atrocious in 2018, and after returning from injury, played at an average level for Miami. He was their deep safety at the end of last season, and since they’ve failed to add someone capable of filling in there, he may do so again. Now, I’d prefer for him to be a third safety rather than a starter, but when healthy, he’s proven to be a capable option, and for under $2 million, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have brought him back.

Browns Sign IDL Andrew Billings

billings
Photo Cred: Bleacher Report

Contract Details: One Year, $3.5 Million

Grade: A-

Since the Bengals signed DJ Reader, nose tackle Andrew Billings was always unlikely to be back in Cincinnati. However, he’s staying in the state of Ohio, as he has agreed to terms with the Browns on a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Still just 25-years-old, Billings has had back-to-back productive seasons, providing value in run defense while being at least an average pass rusher. In fact, he’s been as productive of a player as nose tackles like Linval Joseph and A’Shawn Robinson, yet both of those players signed for two-years, $17 million, while he’ll make just $3.5 million over one season. In other words, the Browns, unlike other teams, were rightfully patient in addressing an invaluable position, and as a reward, sign a young reliable player at a very affordable price.

49ers Sign G Tom Compton

compton
Photo Cred: jets.com

Contract Details: One Year

Grade: C

The 49ers released veteran guard Mike Person, and they’ve moved quickly to replace him with a different role player on the interior offensive line- they’ve signed Tom Compton to a one-year deal. Though has occasionally been a decent run blocker, at no point in his career has the 30-year-old Compton stood out as anything more than a below-replacement level guard, though in 837 snaps last season, he did grade out decently with a 61.8 overall grade by Pro Football Focus. He should provide some depth for San Francisco, though he’s a limited player and they shouldn’t feel confident in him should they need someone to fill in on the interior offensive line; he’s a downgrade to Person.

Cardinals Sign LB De’Vondre Campbell

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers
Photo Cred: Falcons Wire

Contract Details: One Year, $8.5 Million

Grade: D

When the Cardinals signed Devon Kennard to a three-year deal yesterday, I wasn’t sure if he’d be used an edge rusher, or if he’d be coverted back to off-ball linebacker. Well, it appears he’ll be the former, as Arizona has signed linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to a one-year, $8.5 million deal. Campbell, 26, was a solid coverage player for Atlanta in 2017, but in the two seasons since then, he’s had a coverage grade of 50.6 or lower (per Pro Football Focus), and isn’t anything more than average as a run defender. He’s an athletic player that should be better than he has been, but at this point, he’s definitely not an upgrade for the Cardinals, who have done a really poor job addressing their defense- they have spent a combined $24.5 million on three below-average players, which is not the way to complement the acquisition of DeAndre Hopkins.

Panthers Sign WR Keith Kirkwood

kirkwood
Photo Cred: wobm.com

Contract Details: One Year

Grade: A

Bringing in more of Saints’ influence into their offense, the Panthers have added some wide receiver depth for Teddy Bridgewater to work with- they’ve inked former Saint Keith Kirkwood to a one-year contract. After missing all of last season due to injury, the 26-year-old was let go by the Saints this offseason, and now, he’ll reunite his former college coach (Matt Rhule) and will also get to play under offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who coached him in New Orleans. In 2018, he was reasonably effective for the Saints as a slot receiver and red zone weapon, and considering the Panthers could use some more size in their receiving corps, I actually like this fit for them. Brady, after all, schemed production for a “big slot” prototype in Justin Jefferson at LSU, so maybe Kirkwood can replicate that production. It’s a low-risk one-year deal, but if he gets a chance to play, I do think he’ll be a more valuable player than expected.

Bucs Re-sign IDL Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Pittsburgh Steelers
Photo Cred: The Athletic

Contract Details: One Year, $2.25 Million

Grade: B

The Bucs are still waiting to finalize their agreement with Tom Brady, but for now, they’ve added some depth to their defensive line, signing interior defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches to a one-year deal worth $2.25 million. Nunez-Roches, 26, hasn’t made much of an impact during his five-year NFL career, but he performed decently for Tampa Bay as a rotational early down run defender, a role that he may once again occupy this season. That’s not a valuable skillset at all, but then again, considering how much some other players with similar prototypes are signing for, this is a much better use of finances by them. They still are in need of some help at safety, but all of a sudden, the Bucs look like they’re ready to be a major competitor in the NFC, and depth signings like this help.

Redskins Sign OT Cornelius Lucas

cornlucas
Photo Cred: Hogs Haven

Contract Details: Two Years, $5.3 Million

Grade: A+

As mentioned with McKissic, the Redskins haven’t made any splash moves, but they’ve brought in a lot of quality depth players, and now, they’ve agreed to terms with tackle Cornelius Lucas on a two-year, $5.3 million deal. After not getting a chance to play between 2016 and 2018 in Detroit, Los Angeles, or New Orleans, the 28-year-old Lucas was thrust into the Bears starting lineup as the right tackle at the end of last season, and performed tremendously. In 507 total snaps, he earned a 74.9 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, and even held his own against strong defensive lines (Cowboys and Packers). Usually, I wouldn’t buy into one surprise season, but Lucas has fared well in pass protection in the past, and if Washington needed him to, I think he could even start for them. This is a great value signing for the Redskins, especially when players like Cedirc Ogbuehi are making more on an annual basis.

Browns Sign CB Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson
Photo Cred: Bills Wire

Contract Details: One Year, $3.5 Million 

Grade: A-

Adding some extra help for their secondary, the Browns have signed cornerback Kevin Johnson to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, which can go up to $6 million with incentives. A former first-round pick, the 27-year-old Johnson was essentially a non-contributor for Houston, but upon going to a more zone-heavy scheme in Buffalo, had a career renaissance- a 73.6 coverage grade in 402 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. Well, in Cleveland, he’ll be in a zone-heavy scheme with new defensive coordinator Joe Woods, and since the team needs a nickel corner, his experience as a slot corner from this past season will help. He’s a great fit with the Browns, and should fill a meaningful role for them before hitting the market again in 2021.

Giants Sign QB Colt McCoy

coltmccoy
Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Contract Details: One Year, $1.5 Million

Grade: C+

Adding a veteran quarterback to back up Daniel Jones, the Giants have agreed to terms with former Redskin Colt McCoy on a one-year, $1.5 million contract. McCoy, 33, was once considered potentially the Browns’ quarterback of the future, but he has long been a backup at this point of his career, and has played just 507 snaps in the past six seasons combined. When he has played, he hasn’t been very effective, though for a backup, you could do a lot worse. Hopefully, for the Giants’ sake, Jones can have a productive and healthy season, and McCoy won’t have the see the field anyways.

Cowboys Sign S Haha Clinton-Dix

haha
Photo Cred: The Athletic

Contract Details: One Year, $4 Million

Grade: A+

Finally adding the playmaker at safety that they’ve long been looking for, the Cowboys have signed Haha Clinton-Dix to a one-year, $4 million contract, immediately creating a strong safety tandem between him and Xavier Woods. After settling for a one-year prove-it contract last offseason with the Bears, the 27-year-old Clinton-Dix had his fifth straight season with an overall grade from Pro Football Focus above 70, and has been excellent in both coverage and run defense. Plus, he’s also a scheme-flexible player with the ability to play near the line of scrimmage or as a free safety, and as defensive coordinator Mike Nolan implements his new scheme, he’ll have two playmakers at safety to build around. For whatever reason, Clinton-Dix continues to be ignored by the rest of the league, who appear content signing inferior safeties to large contract. That’s to the benefit of Dallas, who in my opinion, just got the steal of the offseason, and improved their defense in a major way.

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