Wednesday, February 28, 2024

NFL free-agency grades: The good, bad and ugly of every major agreement

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NFL free-agency negotiations between teams and player reps began at noon ET on Monday, and it didn’t take long for news to break about contract agreements. Which deals made sense? Which were puzzling? Who overpaid? Who got a bargain signing?

We’re issuing grades on all the noteworthy deals, many of which will include players from our list of the top 150 free agents, so keep checking back to see how your favorite teams are faring.

Live updates: The latest free agency developments
Best available free agents: Who’s still on the board?
Position by position: The 10 best free agents
Best free-agent fits: One for every team
All-32: Biggest offseason needs for every team

March 18

Steelers add G Isaac Seumalo

The former Eagles guard agrees to terms on a three-year deal.

Seumalo is the Steelers’ second interior lineman signing of the offseason, along with Nate Herbig, making it clear Pittsburgh wants to ensure that young QB Kenny Pickett is adequately protected and also supported by a strong run game. In Seumalo, the Steelers land one of the top interior linemen on the market and a veteran with the ability to play guard or center.

Grade: A

March 17

Chiefs add LB Dru Tranquill

Tranquill is reportedly signing a one-year deal for $3 million that could grow to $5 million with incentives.

The Super Bowl champions are getting one of the league’s leading tacklers in Tranquill, a fifth-year pro out of Notre Dame who was a fourth-round pick of the Chargers. He posted a career year in 2022 for Los Angeles, with 146 tackles (ranking 12th in the league), five sacks and four pass breakups.

The Chiefs last season ranked 20th in total defense, yielding 328 yards per game.

Grade: B

Seahawks add S Julian Love

The former Giants safety gets a two-year, $12 million deal.

​​Coming off a career year, with 124 tackles (almost double his previous high), two interceptions and a sack, Love should thrive in Pete Carroll’s defense. It’s great value for the Seahawks. But one has to wonder: What does this mean for Jamal Adams, who had knee surgery last fall?

Grade: A

Jets snag WR Allen Lazard

The Jet announce the former Packers wide receiver has signed for a reported four years, $44 million, with $22 million guaranteed.

In a move that seemingly is tied to a potential trade for a certain future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Jets pay Lazard, giving them a talented receiver to pair with Garrett Wilson. Lazard is coming off a 60-catch, 788-yard, six-touchdown campaign in 2022.

Now, the question is: When will the Aaron Rodgers trade become official?

Grade: A

Patriots to sign TE Mike Gesicki

Gesicki gets a reported one-year deal worth up to $9 million.

The Patriots have sought an upgrade at tight end and are hoping a change of scenery can help the athletic Gesicki get back on track as a highly prolific threat.

Two years ago, he excelled for the Dolphins, with 73 catches and 780 yards. He never fit well in Mike McDaniel’s offense last season, though, despite hopes by the coaching staff that he could become George Kittle-lite. Gesicki, while playing on the franchise tag, recorded only 32 passes for 362 yards. And he did the Griddy very poorly.

Can he get his groove back in New England?

Grade: C

March 16

Bears add TE Robert Tonyan

The Bears continue their efforts to improve Justin Fields’ supporting cast, adding a divisional rival in Tonyan on a one-year deal.

The fifth-year veteran, who had spent his entire career with the Packers, had a down year last season. Tonyan had 53 catches for 470 yards and two touchdowns, and hasn’t quite been as impactful since 2020, when he caught 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 TDs. A torn ACL derailed his 2021 season. The Bears are hoping he returns to top form this season. At the very least, he’ll be solid.

Grade: B

Colts signing QB Gardner Minshew

The Colts are expected to draft a quarterback in the first round, but they still need a veteran, and Minshew makes a lot of sense. He joins the Colts on a one-year, $3.5 million fully guaranteed deal that includes another $2 million in incentives.

Minshew is following new Colts head coach Shane Steichen to Indy from Philadelphia, where Minshew backed up Jalen Hurts and Steichen served as their play-caller. Minshew, who has starting experience, could serve as the placeholder starter if the QB drafted by Indy isn’t ready for prime time.

Grade: A

Giants add WR Parris Campbell

The Giants add a receiver to the mix, agreeing to a one-year deal reportedly worth up to $6.7 million with the promising, yet oft-injured Campbell. Sidelined off and on for his first three seasons, the Ohio State product remained healthy in 2022 for the Colts and recorded 63 receptions for 623 yards with three touchdowns.

The Giants have a great need for playmakers for their newly extended $40-million quarterback Daniel Jones. A trade for Darren Waller and the signing of Campbell helps, but more work remains. If Campbell can stay healthy, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of threat he can develop into. But for now, it’s hard to count on him as a difference-maker.

Grade: C


The Bengals get a massive upgrade with the addition of Orlando Brown Jr. (Cooper Neill / Getty Images)

March 15

Bengals land T Orlando Brown Jr.

Brown, formerly of the Chiefs, gets a reported four-year, $64 million deal with a signing bonus that exceeds more than $31 million — a record for an offensive lineman.

Bengals officials have acknowledged the need to upgrade the protection for quarterback Joe Burrow. They spent on that unit last season, and now continue to invest in a big way. They have lured Brown — Patrick Mahomes’ blind-side protector — away from the reigning Super Bowl champions, hoping it helps them win a Lombardi Trophy of their own.

Brown bet on himself in leaving the Ravens, determined to play left tackle. And now he’s betting on himself again, leaving the comforts of Kansas City and joining forces with one of the Chiefs’ fiercest competitors.

Grade: A-plus

49ers add CB Isaiah Oliver

The promising former Falcons cornerback gets a two-year deal.

Continuing to reload a defense hit with coaching and free-agent departures, the 49ers add a player who just might be the steal of the offseason shopping period. Oliver suffered a torn ACL in 2021 and appeared in just 12 games in 2022 (starting five) and finished with 37 tackles, seven pass breakups and an interception.

Oliver, a 2018 second-round pick, is praised by coaches and talent evaluators for his high ceiling. He’s in good hands now, as new San Francisco defensive coordinator Steve Wilks will help continue to develop him and position him for success.

Grade: B

Panthers to sign RB Miles Sanders

The Eagles will look rather different in 2023. After losing five defensive starters to free agency thus far, they now will have to find a new starting running back. Sanders gives the Panthers a potent runner on a multiyear deal. Last season, he posted a career-high 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Sanders has a couple of familiar faces in Carolina. He played under then-Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich and then-Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley in 2019 and 2020. Reich is now head coach of the Panthers, and Staley coaches the running backs.

Sanders was the highest-rated running back on The Athletic’s list of the top 150 free agents.

Grade: A

Saints add RB Jamaal Williams

The former Lions running back gets a reported three-year deal worth $12 million, including $8 million guaranteed.

Williams last season led the NFL with 17 rushing touchdowns. The Saints just restructured Alvin Kamara’s deal, but Kamara and three others were recently indicted after allegedly beating a man in Las Vegas last year during Pro Bowl weekend. If Kamara is suspended, Williams could serve as a No. 1 back. And if both players are available, they could form one of the most potent duos in the league.

Interestingly, Detroit signed Chicago’s David Montgomery for a three-year, $18 million deal (including $11 million guaranteed), even though Williams outperformed him in virtually every major statistical category. So the Saints seem to have gotten a bargain.

Grade: A

Browns add S Juan Thornhill

The former Chiefs safety gets a three-year, $21 million deal, including $14 million guaranteed.

Thornhill, a 2019 second-rounder, had a career year for Kansas City last season, recording 71 tackles, nine pass breakups and a sack. The Browns, who ranked fifth in pass defense, held foes to 196.2 air yards per game. They are hoping Thornhill can continue his upward trend and further upgrade their coverage.

Grade: A

Eagles bring back DT Fletcher Cox

The 12th-year veteran agrees to a one-year, $10 million contract.

There was some talk that last season could have been Cox’s final one in Philadelphia. But the six-time Pro Bowl selection and 2018 first-team All-Pro is coming back for another year. He may not be as dominant as he once was, but he remains a solid rotational player and strong locker-room leader for the Eagles, who drafted him 12th overall in 2012.

Grade: B

Commanders add QB Jacoby Brissett

Despite hopes that second-year pro Sam Howell can develop into their starter, the Commanders are adding the veteran Brissett, who has started 48 games in seven seasons.

Brissett filled in admirably last season in 11 starts for Cleveland while Deshaun Watson was suspended. Brissett completed 64 percent of his passes while throwing 12 touchdown passes and six interceptions.

He will serve as a potential mentor for Howell and insurance policy in case the North Carolina product, who has just one NFL game under his belt, isn’t ready to start.

Grade: A

Texans land DT Sheldon Rankins

The eighth-year veteran agrees to a reported one-year, $10.5 million deal.

New head coach DeMeco Ryans is bringing in Rankins to shore up his defense and to anchor the defensive line. Rankins helped improve the Jets’ run defense last season: The unit held opponents to 3.88 yards per carry with him on the field, and 4.55 yards per carry when he wasn’t.

Grade: A

Patriots to sign WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

The former Steelers and Chiefs wide receiver gets a three-year deal worth a reported $33 million.

Jakobi Meyers’ agreement on Tuesday to join the Raiders only intensified the Patriots’ need to upgrade at the receiver position. So Bill Belichick is bringing in Smith-Schuster, the former Steelers standout who just helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl.

Smith-Schuster likely would have recorded a 1,000-yard season had it not been for a November concussion. He recorded 933 yards on 78 catches while playing on a one-year deal with Kansas City. In the Super Bowl, he had seven catches for 53 yards. The Chiefs wanted to re-sign him but the Patriots offered the more attractive deal for the young receiver, who should be a go-to guy for Mac Jones.

Grade: A

Buccaneers to re-sign LB Lavonte David

The 12th-year veteran returns on a one-year, $7 million contract that is fully guaranteed. David was the No. 9 free agent on The Athletic’s top 150 list and the third-ranked linebacker, behind Bobby Williams and Tremaine Edmunds.

Coming off one of his finest seasons, and just two months removed from his 33rd birthday, David is remaining with the team that drafted him in the 2012 second round out of Nebraska.

The Bucs last season lacked playmakers on defense, but David wasn’t the problem. He racked up 124 tackles (the ninth 100-plus tackle season of his career), three sacks, five pass breakups and a forced fumble. The Bucs will likely add more youth this offseason, but David returns as a key tone-setter.

Grade: A

Bills bring back S Jordan Poyer

The star safety will sign a two-year deal to stay in Buffalo, returning to the team for which he has excelled the last six seasons, earning All-Pro honors in 2021 and a Pro Bowl selection in 2022. Poyer was the No. 16 free agent on The Athletic’s top 150 list and the third-ranked safety, behind Jessie Bates III and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

The Bills defense is undergoing some changes following the departure of coordinator Leslie Frazier. As one of the mainstays of the unit, Poyer, 31, will help ensure some continuity. Injury limited Poyer to 12 games in 2022, but he still put up numbers that most safeties aspire to record in an full season: 63 tackles, four interceptions and a forced fumble.

Grade: A


Baker Mayfield gets another shot a career resurgence, this time with the Bucs. (Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

Bucs rolling with QB Baker Mayfield

From Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield. The Bucs are giving Mayfield, the 2018 No. 1 pick, a shot to lead them into a new era on a one-year prove-it deal worth up to $8.5 million with incentives.

Mayfield fell out of favor in Cleveland after the Browns made just one playoff appearance in four seasons. He was traded in 2022 to Carolina, where he lasted just 12 games. Mayfield then rebounded, to a degree, with the L.A. Rams during a four-game stint at the end of the season. Now he will try to salvage his career with Tampa Bay, which had only second-year QB Kyle Trask on the roster. The Bucs certainly have some talented pieces with which to work, but they need to address an inconsistent run game, oft-injured offensive line and aging defense to better support Mayfield. He does have some talent, though, and he comes at a very affordable price.

Grade: B

Steelers add MLB Cole Holcomb

The fifth-year pro and 2019 fifth-round pick gets a three-year deal, pending a physical, per NFL Network.

One of Washington’s leading tacklers three of the last four seasons, Holcomb should fit well with the Steelers’ physical brand of football. Holcomb’s 2022 season was cut short by injury; he had 69 tackles in seven games before getting hurt.

Grade: B

Panthers add TE Hayden Hurst

The sixth-year veteran gets a three-year deal.

After a year in Cincinnati, Hurst heads to Carolina, where he should serve as a piece to the puzzle for the Panthers and their next starting quarterback. Carolina certainly needs weapons now, especially after trading D.J. Moore to Chicago. Hurst isn’t the most productive tight end on the market, but he’s solid, having recorded 52 catches for 414 yards, two touchdowns and 26 first downs for the Bengals. He also likely comes at a fairly affordable price.

Grade: C

March 14

Titans add DL Arden Key

Key secures a three-year deal that reportedly features $13 million in guarantees, but potentially could pay him up to $24 million.

Key has carved out a role as a valuable rotational player, with three starts last season but none in the three prior. He recorded 4 1/2 sacks last season for Jacksonville. Yet, he receives a nice payday from Tennessee. The Titans have devoted resources to upgrading a defense that underperformed last season and will be counted on to ease pressure on an offense that could experience a good deal of change as the offseason progresses.

Grade: B

Vikings, CB Byron Murphy finalizing deal

Murphy, viewed as one of the top cornerbacks on the market, was limited to just nine games last season. In 2021, though, he started 16 games and recorded a career-high four interceptions to go with 12 pass breakups and 64 tackles. If he can return to form, Murphy is a welcome addition for Minnesota after it lost Patrick Peterson on Monday.

Grade: A

Lions land RB David Montgomery

The former Bears running back is reportedly getting a three-year deal worth $18 million, including $11 million guaranteed, as Detroit lures a divisional rival’s lead running back away.

Montgomery, a 2019 third-round pick, has averaged 902.25 rushing yards per season in his career, with 26 rushing touchdowns (but only five last season).

It’s hard to say if this is an upgrade, though. Montgomery presumably will replace Jamaal Williams, who outgained him last season, rushing for 1,066 yards and a league-leading 17 touchdowns. But the Lions must have believed that Williams was out of their price range.

Grade: B

Titans add LB Azeez Al-Shaair

Tennessee general manager Ran Carthon found a replacement for the newly departed David Long, luring Al-Shaair away from Carthon’s old stomping grounds in San Francisco.

Outside of the 2021 season, when he played and started in 13 games, Al-Shaair has never served as a full-time starter. But it’s believed that he will step right into the starting lineup for a Titans defense that badly needs an infusion of young, impactful talent. Al-Shaair fits the bill. That 2021 season, he recorded 103 tackles, a forced fumble, an interception and two sacks.

Grade: A

Colts add DE Samson Ebukam

Ebukam gets a three-year deal worth up to $27 million, in another exit by a 49ers defensive player. This time, it’s to Indianapolis, where the Colts are again starting over.

Ebukam has been steady, yet not quite dominant, averaging 4.65 sacks the last four seasons. He battled injury late last season but did help San Francisco reach the conference championship game.

Grade: B

Cardinals retain G Will Hernandez

Hernandez, 28, reportedly gets a two-year, $9 million deal.

When healthy, Hernandez is a dependable interior lineman. It’s expected that he will continue to ascend. The Cardinals get him for an affordable price after a year in which he battled injuries, playing in just 13 games.

Grade: B

Cowboys retain LB Leighton Vander Esch

The sixth-year veteran returns on a two-year, $11 million contract.

Continuing to address their defense, the Cowboys worked out a deal to keep one of their leading tacklers in the mix. Vander Esch, with 90 tackles in 14 games last season, has had some injury issues. But he still is valued by the Cowboys for his playmaking ability and positive impact on the locker room.

Grade: A

Falcons keep RT Kaleb McGary

The fifth-year pro agrees to a three-year, $34.5 million deal.

McGary was one of the highest-rated linemen last season and should again provide key contributions both in the run game and in pass protection for Atlanta.

Grade: A

Panthers agree with QB Andy Dalton

The 13th-year veteran agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal, with $8 million guaranteed.

Frank Reich and the Panthers need a veteran to help mentor the rookie they’ll presumably draft first overall. They settle on Dalton, who threw 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions after taking over as New Orleans’ starter last year.

There were younger options (Jacoby Brissett, Teddy Bridgewater) with higher ceilings, but Dalton better fit the mold of what the Panthers seek as a veteran backup. He also came at a more affordable price.

Grade: C

Eagles keep CB James Bradberry

The playmaking corner gets three-year deal worth up to $44 million.

After losing a number of veterans to free agency, the Eagles hang on to one of their own. The reliable Bradberry had 44 tackles and three interceptions, the fold.

Grade: A

Vikings retain C Garrett Bradbury

The fifth-year pro agrees to a three-year deal worth up to $15.75 million.

Bradbury has a great relationship with quarterback Kirk Cousins, and continuity is important along an offensive line. But Bradbury hasn’t rated well in blocking efficiency, according to PFF. He ranked 28th out of 32 centers in 2022, which makes you wonder if the Vikings should have let him walk.

Grade: C

Cowboys retain S Donovan Wilson

The 2019 sixth-rounder gets a reported three-year deal worth up to $24 million, with $13.5 million guaranteed.

The Cowboys ensure continuity on the back end of their defense after a degree of concern they might not be able to re-sign Wilson.

The fifth-year pro recorded 101 tackles, five sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for Dan Quinn’s defense last season.

Grade: B

Raiders get WR Jakobi Meyers

The No. 25 free agent in The Athletic’s top 150 list and top-ranked wide receiver gets a three-year deal worth a maximum $33 million, with $21 million guaranteed.

Meyers, who played the past four seasons for New England, reunites with former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and should give the Raiders a solid receiving duo alongside Davante Adams. The Raiders seemingly are getting Meyers at a decent price. The word at the NFL combine was that he was seeking roughly $16 million per year. But this is still a solid deal for the 26-year-old.

Grade: B

March 13

Browns agree with DT Dalvin Tomlinson

The former Vikings defensive tackle gets a four-year deal that NFL Network reports is worth up to $57 million, including $27.5 million guaranteed.

Seeking an imposing presence for the interior of their defensive line to complement talented edge rushers, the Browns gave Tomlinson a handsome deal.

Tomlinson comes at a more affordable price than Javon Hargrave, who signed with San Francisco, and Dre’Mont Jones, who signed with Seattle. Tomlinson didn’t have as much of a pass-rush impact as those players, though, managing just 2 1/2 sacks each of the last two seasons.

Grade: B

Panthers retain C Bradley Bozeman

The 28-year-old re-signs for $18 million over three years. By retaining Bozeman, the Panthers ensure they keep their starting line intact a year after they helped pave the way for a top-10 rushing attack.

Grade: B

Seahawks add DT Dre’Mont Jones

The No. 19 free agent in The Athletic’s top 150 list and No. 2 defensive tackle gets a three-year deal reportedly worth $51.53 million, including $23.5 million in Year 1.

Jones posted a career-high 6 1/2 sacks in 13 games for the Broncos last season. He has the ability to move along the line and rush from multiple positions and should do well for the Seahawks, who struggled at this position in 2022.

Grade: B

Vikings add edge Marcus Davenport

The No. 13 free agent in The Athletic’s top 150 list and No. 1 edge rusher gets a reported one-year, $13 million deal. Davenport is an intriguing player because he generates a good amount of pressure, yet struggles to finish, recording only half a sack in 15 games last season. Can Brian Flores help him figure out how to get home? The Vikings were probably wise to give Davenport a prove-it deal rather than commit for the long-term.

Grade: B-minus

DB Jimmie Ward to the Texans

The versatile defensive back follows former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans to Houston on a reported two-year, $13 million deal. Ward brings leadership and playmaking ability. He likely is eyeing a starting job at safety despite spending much of last season at nickel back after losing his safety job to Tashaun Gipson while out with injury.

Grade: A

Falcons add LB Kaden Elliss

The Falcons agree to terms, per reports, with the former Saints linebacker, who is capitalizing on a productive 2022 campaign in which he recorded seven sacks and 78 tackles in 17 games (11 starts). Ellis does have a limited body of work, making just one start before 2022. But if he can build on last season, he will serve as another piece to the puzzle for a talent-deficient Falcons defense.

Grade: B

Broncos agree with DE Zach Allen

The No. 21 free agent in The Athletic’s top 150 list and third-ranked defensive tackle will receive a three-year, $45.75 million contract, with $32.5 million guaranteed.

Allen had a career year in 2022 with the Broncos, recording 5 1/2 sacks and 20 quarterback hits in 13 games. He follows former Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph to Denver, where the Broncos aimed to beef up a promising defensive front.

Grade: B

Chargers add LB Eric Kendricks

He’s going, going, back, back, to Cali. … The former UCLA standout, who is coming off seven straight 100-plus tackle seasons with the Vikings,  agrees to a deal with the Chargers. Despite having strong pass rushers, the Chargers have needed improved play at middle linebacker.

Grade: B

Raiders add S Marcus Epps

The 27-year-old Epps, who spent the past three seasons with the Eagles, gets a two-year deal with $8 million guaranteed and the potential for up to $12 million in earnings.

Epps may not flash as much as C.J. Gardner-Johnson, but he’s as steady as they come and will fill a pressing need for the Raiders, who have endured a fair share of disappointment at the position. And Las Vegas didn’t have to break the bank to get him. While strong against the run, Epps could improve against the pass. Even so, he will help boost a Raiders defense that gave up 365.6 yards (fifth-most) and 24.6 points (seventh-most) per game last season.

Grade: B

Giants add LB Bobby Okereke

The former Colts linebacker agrees to a four-year, $40 million deal, including $22 million guaranteed.

Okereke obviously made an impression on the Giants by earning 17 tackles against them in Week 17. He finished the season with 151 tackles (10th-most in the NFL) and also ranks among the best in pass coverage. He should help the Giants continue their climb.

Grade: A

Steelers add CB Patrick Peterson

After losing Cameron Sutton, the Steelers bring on Peterson, an eight-time Pro Bowl corner.

He’ll fit well in Mike Tomlin’s defense, but it’s a bit of an intriguing move because Peterson will be 33 this season, and the Steelers typically don’t go for older players in free agency. But as he comes off a five-interception, 66-tackle season (one of his most productive campaigns in 12 seasons), he appears to have a good deal left in the tank.

Grade: B

Dolphins add LB David Long Jr.

The 2019 Titans sixth-rounder agrees to a two-year deal worth $11 million.

Long was the No. 12 free agent in The Athletic’s top 150 list and fourth-ranked linebacker. He’s a playmaker, with 161 tackles, 11 pass breakups and four interceptions in 22 games the last two seasons combined. But as they say, the best ability is availability, and Long has played in only 22 of 34 possible games from 2021-22. Before that, he made only minimal contributions in 2019 and 2020. Because it’s not a long-term deal, this could be a good get for the Dolphins. However, it certainly is a bit of a roll of the dice.

Grade: C

Browns retain Ethan Pocic

The six-year veteran gets a three-year deal with what NFL Network reports is an $18 million base salary.

Signed as a free agent last season, Pocic took over as the starting center after Nick Harris suffered a season-ending surgery. Pocic started 13 games, missing four with a knee injury, but drew high praise for his play when healthy. By retaining Pocic, the Browns keep their robust line together and hope it paves the way for improved success in 2023.

Grade: B

49ers add QB Sam Darnold

San Francisco agrees to a one-year deal with the No. 3 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Coach Kyle Shanahan did make it to the NFC Championship Game with Brock Purdy. But does he really think he can get something out of Darnold, who has now disappointed with two teams? Darnold did go 4-2 last season with the Panthers while also improving his touchdown-to-interception ratio, in his second season since being traded from the Jets. But did Jacoby Brissett, Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton and Taylor Heinicke all turn San Francisco down?

Given the 49ers’ recent run of quarterback injuries, there’s a good chance Darnold sees the field this season. If Shanahan positions him for success, the coach just might be the greatest QB whisperer of this generation, if not all-time.

Grade: D

Bucs keep CB Jamel Dean

The No. 10 free agent in The Athletic’s rankings and second-ranked cornerback (behind James Bradberry) agrees to a four-year, $52 million deal, with $26 million guaranteed.

The steady riser was expected to have a number of suitors and land a big pay day. Instead, he remains with Tampa Bay on a deal that isn’t quite as rich as some had anticipated, but suits both sides. Based on how Dean has performed thus far, he’ll certainly earn every penny of this contract. He only just became a full-time starter last season, his fourth as a pro, but already has seven career interceptions.

Grade: A

Browns add edge Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

The former Texan will sign a three-year deal worth up to a reported $22 million, featuring $12.5 million guaranteed.

Okoronkwo cashes in after a career year. Playing a full season for the first time in his four-year career, he recorded 44 tackles (nine for a loss) and five sacks while starting eight of 17 games. It feels like the Browns overpaid a bit for this one given his injury history. However, if healthy, and as a part of a front that features Myles Garrett, Okoronkwo could thrive.

Grade: C-plus

Falcons pay S Jessie Bates III

The former Bengals safety, the No. 3 overall free agent in The Athletic’s rankings, earns a four-year deal worth an average of $16 million per season.

That’s a lot of money, making Bates among the highest-paid safeties in the game. He’s coming off a season in which he recorded a career-high four interceptions but also a career-low 71 tackles. New defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen should position Bates to make plays all over the field for Atlanta, whose defense ranked 26th in the league last season. His departure from the Bengals leaves a big void in Cincinnati.

Grade: B

Bears add G Nate Davis

Continuing their aggressive approach, the Bears address their offensive line as well. Davis is getting three years and $30 million, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe.

When healthy, the former Titan and No. 2 guard in The Athletic’s free-agent rankings played at a Pro Bowl level. But injuries slowed him in 2021 and 2022. If he can return to his top form and remain on the field, Davis will improve a line that surrendered 58 sacks last season (fourth-most in the NFL).

Grade: B


Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds gets $50 million guaranteed in joining the Bears. (Rich Barnes / USA Today)

Bears score LB Tremaine Edmunds

The former Bills playmaker lands a four-year, $72 million contract, featuring $50 million in guaranteed money.

After yielding 375.9 yards per game (fourth-most) and a league-high 27.2 points per game, Chicago’s intentions of improving its defense are clear. The Bears opened free agency by adding T.J. Edwards from Philly. Now they get the highly coveted Edmunds, who was No. 8 on The Athletic’s ranking of free agents (and No. 2 linebacker), to further fortify their defensive front. Boasting great size (6-5, 250) and athleticism, Edmunds makes plays all over the field whether against the run, as a pass-rusher or in pass coverage.

Grade: A

Panthers land S Vonn Bell

What looks like a big loss for the Bengals should translate into a very impactful signing for Carolina.

Bell, an eight-year veteran, should serve as an invaluable piece to the puzzle as the Panthers kick off a new era. Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero will capitalize on Bell’s extensive tool bag, which enabled him to rack up 77 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles

Grade: A

Bengals re-sign LB Germaine Pratt

The career Bengal gets a three-year, $21 million deal.

Coming off of his best season and ranking among the leading linebackers in the league while racking up 99 tackles, Pratt gets his wish and returns to the team that drafted him in the third round in 2019.

Grade: A

Chiefs add OT Jawaan Taylor

The former Jaguars offensive tackle agrees to a four-year deal worth $80 million, including $60 million guaranteed, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe.

Kansas City continues to invest in Patrick Mahomes’ line. The decision to let Andrew Wylie walk makes sense now. Taylor was viewed as one of the best on the market. If they can retain Orlando Brown Jr., the Chiefs will have an impressive set of bookends.

Grade: A

Commanders add RT Andrew Wylie

The former Chiefs O-lineman will sign a three-year, $24 million deal, according to reports.

New Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy brings the versatile Wylie to Washington with him following their Super Bowl victory. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Wylie has played guard as well, but excelled against Haason Reddick in the Super Bowl, holding the Eagles’ top pass rusher without a sack. The Commanders’ quarterback position remains murky, but after two moves on Monday (adding Nick Gates as well), they ensure improved protection at the very least.

Grade: A

Raiders add QB Jimmy Garoppolo

The Raiders will sign Garoppolo to a three-year, $67.5 million deal, with $34 million guaranteed, a team source confirms to The Athletic’s Tashan Reed.

After cutting ties with Derek Carr and allowing fill-in Jarrett Stidham to sign with Denver, Josh McDaniels reaches into his past and brings Garoppolo to Las Vegas. After six seasons in San Francisco, where he helped his team reach the Super Bowl once and NFC Championship Game twice, Jimmy G. will look to revive a Raiders franchise desperate for success.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Jimmy Garoppolo reunites with Josh McDaniels as Raiders land their next QB

Garoppolo ranked among the top quarterbacks available and likely would have had more options, but familiarity with McDaniels likely proved attractive. His familiarity with the system should help McDaniels’ unit take a leap forward after struggles with consistency in 2022.

The Raiders just have to hope that Garoppolo, who managed to play a full season just once with the 49rs, can shake the injury bug.

Grade: A

 

Commanders add OL Nick Gates

The versatile Gates agrees to a three-year deal, The Athletic’s Ben Standig confirms.

Upgrading the offensive line ranked high on the Commanders’ to-do list, and now they’ve lured Gates away from the divisional-rival Giants. Gates has played guard, center and tackle during his career. But center is believed to be his best position. Last season, he yielded just one sack and seven pressures in 217 pass-blocking snaps, according to TruMedia.

Grade: B

Broncos add RT Mike McGlinchey

The talented McGlinchey lands a five-year, $87.5 million deal, with $50 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network.

The Broncos continue to upgrade Russell Wilson’s protection, awarding one of the 49ers’ top linemen a massive deal. McGlinchey is strong both against the run and the pass and should serve Sean Payton and the revamped Broncos offense well.

Grade: A

Lions add CB Cameron Sutton

Sutton will sign a three-year, $33 million deal, with $22.5 million guaranteed, according to reports.

One of the league’s top performers at his position last season, Sutton will improve a Detroit secondary that ranked 30th in the league, surrendering 245.8 passing yards per game. Sutton brings great versatility. He had expressed a desire to return to Pittsburgh; however, the Lions obviously proved more attractive.

Grade: A


Javon Hargrave had had 60 tackles and 11 sacks last season for the Eagles. (Bill Streicher / USA Today)

49ers add DT Javon Hargrave

The top-rated defensive lineman on the market will sign a four-year, $80 million deal that features $40 million guaranteed, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

This is a huge get for the 49ers, who already boast a strong defense, but now add another impact player to the mix. Hargrave is regarded as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the league, trailing only Aaron Donald and Chris Jones in pass-rushing grades, according to Pro Football Focus. Last season for the Eagles, he had 60 tackles and 11 sacks, two pass deflections, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Steve Wilks replaces the departed DeMeco Ryans at defensive coordinator, but San Francisco ensures that talent drop-off will not be a concern.

Grade: A

Falcons add DT David Onyemata

Onyemata agrees to a three-year, $35 million deal, with $24.5 million guaranteed, according to reports.

The Falcons entered the offseason with the goal of improving the interior of their defensive line. They are hoping Onyemata (who ranked 34th on The Athletic’s top 150 list, and was the fifth-highest-rated defensive tackle according to those rankings, behind Javon Hargrave, Dre’Mont Jones, Zach Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson) can help with this. He had a career-high 6 1/2 sacks in 2020, but has seen his production decline in the last couple of seasons. Will a change of scenery and rotational role help spark a resurgence after seven seasons with the Saints?

Grade: C

Broncos add G Ben Powers

The 2019 Ravens fourth-round pick is expected to sign a four-year, $52 million contract, including $28.5 million guaranteed, The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider and Jeff Howe both confirm.

Powers took a big leap in 2022 after entering training camp uncertain if he’d make Baltimore’s roster. He helped pave the way for an effective Ravens rushing attack. Now, the Broncos are banking on continued growth for Powers, hoping he will help provide much-needed security for Russell Wilson.

Grade: B

Bears add LB T.J. Edwards

Edwards goes to Chicago for $19.5 million over three years, according to reports.

The native of Lake Villa, Ill., who grew up idolizing Brian Urlacher, now will anchor the Bears defense after a season in which he racked up a career-high 159 tackles (99 solo, 10 for a loss) for the Eagles. It’s a much-needed addition for a Bears defense that ranked 31st in the league, surrendering 157.3 rushing yards a game.

Grade: A

Patriots keep CB Jonathan Jones

Jones agrees to a two-year deal to return to New England, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reports.

The steadily ascending cornerback tied for first on the team with four interceptions last season. He boasts good versatility with the ability to play outside and in the slot. And with Devin McCourty having announced his retirement, the Patriots will need continued leadership and playmaking ability from Jones.

Grade: A

(Top photo of Isaac Seumalo: Elsa / Getty Images))

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