Grading the Biggest Moves on Day One of 2023 NFL Free Agency

Grading the Biggest Moves on Day One of 2023 NFL Free Agency


Grading the Biggest Moves on Day One of 2023 NFL Free Agency



Day one of free agency is complete, and I’ve got you covered with grades and analysis for each signing.


Washington Commanders sign Defensive Tackle Daron Payne to contract extension

Contract: Four years, $90 million ($60 million guaranteed)

After receiving the franchise-tag last week, Daron Payne gets a massive extension with the Commanders just a week later. Payne is a soon-to-be 26-year-old star in the making, with high-end flashes against both the run and the pass. If he keeps up on this trajectory, Payne will soon hit that next level as an interior presence. I will say, this was a bit of an overpay for Washington, but with a young star at an important position, you should be willing to spend over what seems “fair.”

Grade: B


New York Jets re-sign Linebacker Quincy Williams

Contract: Three years, $18 million ($9 million guaranteed)

The Jets locked up their star defensive tackle’s brother, and that’s linebacker Quincy Williams. He’s an explosive athlete and hard hitting tackler, but his smaller size, shaky instincts, and high missed tackle percentage doesn’t justify this contract. I’m sure this contract was a mix of wanting to keep superstar Quinnen Williams happy, while also believing in the upside Quincy Williams has flashed on the field, but Joe Douglas paid over the mark on this one.

Grade: C


Atlanta Falcons re-sign Guard Chris Lindstrom

Contract: Five years, $105 million

Lindstrom took another step forward in 2022, and in my opinion, was the NFL’s best guard. A dominant run-blocker that keeps taking strides forward as a pass protector, and he’s only 26 years old. A premier option at his position, although some may think giving a guard that type of contract is a bit much.

Grade: B+


New England Patriots re-sign Cornerback Jonathan Jones

Contract: Two years, $20 million ($13 million guaranteed)

I thought the Patriots would let Jones walk, as they have with other undrafted free agents who played their way up to a big payday. Either Jones took a pay cut to stay in New England, or I overestimated his market. Regardless, it worked out for the Patriots. Jones isn’t a true number one corner, but he proved last season he can offer sufficient play on the outside and match speed-for-speed. His true home is back in the slot, though, where he’s proven to be one of the NFL’s best.

Grade: A-

Chicago Bears sign Linebacker T.J. Edwards

Contract: Three years, $19.5 million ($12 million guaranteed)

The Bears have had a void at linebacker since trading Roquan Smith to Baltimore. T.J. Edwards is a big hitting tackler with the instincts and range to clog up tons of runs. He’s not elite in pass coverage, but I like his chops in a zone role. Edwards could regress a bit with a far worse supporting cast in Chicago compared to what he played with in Philadelphia last season, but this is still a great deal for the Bears.

Grade: A


Denver Broncos sign Guard Ben Powers

Contract: Four years, $52 million ($28.5 million guaranteed)

Ben Powers is coming off a career year in Baltimore. A lockdown pass protector at 26 years old. Denver was in need of a replacement at left guard for Dalton Risner, and they did so with a splash. There are fair concerns, though, as Powers isn’t all that special against the run, and hasn’t offered a ton of bullet points over his career that justify this type of contract.

Grade: B-


Atlanta Falcons sign Defensive Tackle David Onyemata

Contract: Three years, $35 million ($24.5 million guaranteed)

Onyemata is 30 years old and past his prime. With that being said, he still offers some much needed juice in this Falcons front seven. Onyemata has tons of play strength and pass-rushing versatility. He can serve as the interior running-mate of Grady Jarrett, where the two could create favorable matchups for one another and wreck havoc up the middle.

Grade: B-


Denver Broncos sign Quarterback Jarrett Stidham

Contract: Two years, $10 million ($5 million guaranteed)

Stidham had some nice flashes with the Las Vegas Raiders last season, but is nothing more than a backup quarterback. Don’t mind Denver looking for some stability behind Russell Wilson in case he has another disaster season, but to me, this was a little bit of an overpay.

Grade: C


San Francisco 49ers sign Defensive Tackle Javon Hargrave

Contract: Four years, $84 million ($40 million guaranteed)

Javon Hargrave’s exponential progression has led to him hitting the market while being considered one of the NFL’s best defensive tackles. The rich get richer here, as the already elite 49ers defense – and in specific front seven – unlocks a whole next level with Hargrave in the mix. Although he’s not a standout run-stuffer, his ability to shoot gaps and get after the quarterback is next-to-none, as well as a perfect fit in San Francisco’s defense.

Grade: A-


Denver Broncos sign Right Tackle Mike McGlinchey

Contract: Five years, $87.5 million (over $50 million guaranteed)

The Broncos have put a clear emphasis on building up this offensive line, signing both Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey to big contracts. McGlinchey is one of the league’s best run-blocking right tackles, and although he’s pedestrian as a pass protector, he’s still a solid 28-year-old starter at a key position. It’s tough to give this a stellar grade, though. McGlinchey was paid well above his true impact level.

Grade: D+


Detroit Lions sign Cornerback Cameron Sutton

Contract: Three years, $33 million ($22.5 million guaranteed)

The Lions have multiple needs on defense, and cornerback was certainly among the biggest. Sutton was fantastic in Pittsburgh last season. He’s got awesome ball skills and played an array of roles for the Steelers last season. Going from one heavy man-coverage defense to another should make for a seamless transition.

Grade: A-


Carolina Panthers sign Defensive Tackle Shy Tuttle

Contract: Three years, $19.5 million ($13 million guaranteed)

Shy Tuttle is heading back home to Carolina. He spent the first four years of his career in New Orleans, and played a career-high in snaps last season. Tuttle does a nice job eating blocks and making some plays against the run, but is nothing more than a rotational interior defensive lineman that doesn’t offer much as a pass-rusher. Felt Carolina overpaid on this one.

Grade: C


Las Vegas Raiders sign Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

Contract: Three years, $67.5 million ($34 million guaranteed)
Jimmy Garoppolo reconnects with his ties to Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels in New England to sign with the Raiders. Garoppolo is a serviceable starting quarterback, but durability, the fiery passion to win, and high-end playmaking ability all come into question with Garoppolo, and hold him back from “franchise quarterback” status. I’m not huge on this signing, but if the Raiders are treating him as a short-term stop gap that will fit the system and keep them afloat for a bit until their true potential franchise quarterback is ready, that’s a vision I can see.

Grade: C+


Washington Commanders sign Right Tackle Andrew Wylie

Contract: Three years, $24 million

Andrew Wylie has been a consistent starter for the Kansas City Chiefs since 2017. Now, he follows Eric Bienemy to Washington to help shore up this offensive line. Wylie’s a very good athlete and a nice hand-fighter. With the versatility to play right tackle and both guard spots, it should be interesting to see where he and Sam Cosmi shakeout in terms of position on the right side of the line. Regardless, the Commanders have more options now, and Wylie will be a nice starter for them on a fair contract.

Grade: B+


Miami Dolphins sign Quarterback Mike White

Contract: Two years, up to $16 million

Given Tua Tagovailoa’s shaky injury status over his football career, it was obvious that Miami would once again prioritize bringing in a high-end back up for insurance. White played his way into this contract with a nice campaign in New York last season. A nice game-manager & backup option.

Grade: B


Buffalo Bills sign Center Connor McGovern

Contract: Three years, $23 million

McGovern is a versatile offensive lineman coming over from Dallas. The Bills entered this offseason with a big need on the interior, which McGovern can help fill in multiple ways. If the Bills release Mitch Morse, or simply want depth at center in case he retires in a year or misses time due to injury (the latter is more likely), McGovern can play center. In the meantime, though, expect him to serve as their starting guard. He’s far better as a pass protector than a run-blocker, which makes Buffalo a good home for McGovern, given the Bills throw at one of the highest rates in the NFL.

Grade: B-


Houston Texans sign EDGE Chase Winovich

Contract: One year, $2 million

Chase Winovich flashed some promise in the beginning of his career with the Patriots, but has fallen off as of late. Here, he reunites with general manager Nick Caserio for a revival opportunity in Houston, where he’ll have plenty of opportunity in this barren front seven. Winovich can serve as a nice pass-rushing specialist, given he’s a masterful technician with powerful hands and a hot motor.

Grade: A-


Kansas City Chiefs sign T Jawaan Taylor

Contract: Four years, $80 million (60 million guaranteed)

The Chiefs are going through the offensive tackle carousel, letting both Orlando Brown & Andrew Wylie walk, and bringing Jawaan Taylor in. I will say, this is a good fit for Taylor. He’s at his best in true pass sets, and the Chiefs throw at an extremely high rate. With that being said,. Taylor’s play in the NFL thus far certainly doesn’t justify this contract. He’s a fine pass protector, but doesn’t offer much in the run game, and hasn’t showcased a ton of versatility or high-end traits a $20 million dollar player would command. On top of it all, Kansas City plans to slide him over to left tackle, despite the fact that Taylor has played right tackle throughout college and the NFL.

Grade: C-


Cincinnati Bengals re-sign Linebacker Germaine Pratt

Contract: Three years, $21 million

Myself and many others didn’t expect Pratt back in Cincinnati, but here we are. With T.J. Edwards setting the linebacker market with a lesser contract than expected, Pratt’s number then came down to a reasonable range for the Bengals. He’s a big linebacker that can stop the run, and although he doesn’t play on many third downs, he’s proven to be serviceable in zone coverage if needed. Cincinnati maintains a very good linebacker core.

Grade: A-


Minnesota Vikings sign Tight End Josh Oliver

Contract: Three years, $21 million ($10.75 million guaranteed)

Simply put, Josh Oliver is an underrated tight end. There were question marks for Oliver as a blocker entering the NFL, but he’s quickly erased those, developing into a great blocker. He’s also got the ball skills and athleticism to make some occasional plays as a receiver that can push vertically. He’ll serve as an upgraded second tight end behind T.J. Hockenson. With that being said, Oliver isn’t worth a contract of this caliber, which is even more detrimental given all of Minnesota’s other needs and a lack of cap space.

Grade: C-

Carolina Panthers sign Safety Vonn Bell

Contract: Three years, $22.5 million ($13 million guaranteed)

Vonn Bell is a rock-solid veteran that can play multiple roles in this defense. The Panthers now have a safety trio of Xavier Woods, Vonn Bell, and Jeremy Chinn. I expect Woods to maintain most of the free safety duties, and Vonn Bell to take over Chinn’s role as the “jack-of-all trades” safety. This will allow Jeremy Chinn to get back playing more in the box. That’s where he’s been at his best for the Panthers, and it’s no coincidence that as his production has gone down over the past three seasons, so has his percentage of snaps at linebacker. The Panthers needed more secondary help, and Bell should be a good veteran presence that can unlock Jeremy Chinn, although I am afraid Bell’s prime could soon be coming to a close.

Grade: B


Cleveland Brown re-sign Center Ethan Pocic

Contract: Three years, $18 million with more available via incentives

After five seasons in Seattle, Ethan Pocic signed in Cleveland last offseason to backup Nick Harris. However, when Harris went down with a season-ending injury, Pocic stepped into the starting position and enjoyed a breakout season, playing like one of the best centers in football. Much of this can be a credit to playing for offensive line coach Bill Callahan, and next to two excellent guards in Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. Regardless, if Pocic keeps playing even close to how he did last year, it’s hard not to like this signing.

Grade: A-


Chicago Bears sign Guard Nate Davis

Contract: Three years, $30 million ($19.25 million guaranteed)

Nate Davis has played at a high-level in Tennessee for a while now, and he’s only 26. A powerful run-blocker that operated in a similar rushing offense with the Titans to what Luke Getsy deploys here in Chicago. I love this signing for the Bears. Now, the question is what this means for Cody Whitehair and/or Teven Jenkins. The Bears haven’t signed a right tackle, is Jenkins getting kicked out there, or possibly playing a versatile depth role? Could a trade be possible? Or, could we see Cody Whitehair get cut? He’s north of 30 years old, and Chicago would save nearly a combined $15 million over the next two seasons.

Grade: A-


Chicago Bears sign Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds

Contract: Four years, $72 million ($50 million guaranteed)

The T.J. Edwards’ deal seemed to impact most of the linebacker free agent class negatively, but that wasn’t the case for Edmunds. He was treated as a tier above the rest. An awesome coverage linebacker with sideline-to-sideline athleticism at just 24 years old. I do enjoy his fit in this Chicago defense, but still wonder if some of his mental lapses will pop back up on tape now that he’s not playing next to Matt Milano and a cast of defensive players. Is Edmunds THAT good to justify such a large contract for an off-ball linebacker? Should the Bears put more of an emphasis on the defensive line? Edmunds is a very good player, but I’m not big on this signing given the dollar figures behind it.

Grade: C


Atlanta Falcons sign Safety Jessie Bates

Contract: Four years, $64.02 million

Jessie Bates is coming off a down season, but Bates is just 26 years old, and has shown on numerous occasions his name belongs in the conversation with the best free safeties in the NFL. He’s an absolute ball-hawk that can cover crazy sideline-to-sideline ranges on the back-end, even out of single-high.

Grade: B


Detroit Lions re-sign Linebacker Alex Anzalone

Contract: Three years, $18.75 million

Alex Anzalone does a little bit of everything for this Lions defense, which includes calling plays for their unit. He doesn’t really shine in many areas, though, and it’s fair to call this re-signing an overpay given the other deals linebackers were signed to today. Not necessarily a value signing, but the Lions have got a sufficient linebacking core spearheaded by Anzalone, Malcolm Rogriguez, and a developing Derrick Barnes.

Grade: C+


Cleveland Browns sign EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Contract: Three years, $19 million and up to $22 million ($12.5 million guaranteed)

The Browns have been looking for playmakers on the front seven alongside Myles Garrett, and they’ve got one in Okoronkwo. A physical player at the point of attack when playing the run, and tons of versatility as a pass-rusher. He’s only grown throughout his career in the NFL, and if he takes another step forward with the Browns, Andrew Berry may have a steal on his hands.

Grade: A


Pittsburgh Steelers sign Cornerback Patrick Peterson

Contract: Two years, $14 million ($5.85 million guaranteed)

Patrick Peterson adds veteran leadership and a body to a Steelers defense in need of cornerback upgrades. However, I don’t understand making this overpay on Peterson when they could’ve resigned Cam Sutton. He’s younger, better, more versatile, and I felt the contract he signed with Detroit was a much better value than what Pittsburgh got Peterson for. Luckily for the Steelers, I think they know the job is not finished at this position. I could see them spending a top pick on one of the prospects in this loaded cornerback class during April’s draft, but the Steelers could’ve still done that and paid the four extra million annually to keep Sutton instead of signing Peterson.

Grade: C-


Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-sign Cornerback Jamel Dean

Contract: Four years, $52 million ($26 million guaranteed)

Jamel Dean’s tenure in Tampa Bay has been a bit up and down, but all in all, he entered this market as a top option at 26 years old with lots of promise. Dean’s a big, physical corner that thrives in press coverage, but has also shown improvements in other areas to expand his portfolio. He’s not a lockdown, top corner in the NFL, but he is trending into cornerback one status. Given the market, I felt this was a good value signing.

Grade: A-


San Francisco 49ers sign Quarterback Sam Darnold

Contract: One year

Sam Darnold couldn’t ask for much of a better landing spot. The 49ers are an extremely quarterback friendly offense, and they just lost Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency, Brock Purdy just underwent surgery, and the future of Trey Lance is still unknown. This is a minor signing, as I don’t expect San Francisco to view Darnold as a starter by any means, but considering his draft pedigree and the 49ers current quarterback situation, this deal is worth mentioning. I’m out on Darnold at this point, but given it will be a cheap signing, and he had some flashes late in the season last year, I like this pickup.

Grade: TBD once specifics of contract are revealed


Washington Commanders sign Linebacker Cody Barton

Contract: One year, fully guaranteed

Cody Barton is a nice pickup for the Commanders, who have a big need at linebacker. He’s a great athlete with serviceable skills as a gap-shooting run defender & middle of the field zone coverage. Grade remains to be determined until we know more about the dollar figure on this contract, but I’m assuming it will be a few million for this upcoming season. I can definitely get behind that.

Grade: TBD once specifics of contract are revealed


Tennessee Titans are signing Tackle Andre Dillard

Contract: Three years, $29 million

Dillard didn’t live up to his first round pedigree in Philadelphia, but clearly Tennessee believes in the flashes. Dillard has had some good outings scattered throughout his film, and one could argue he would’ve gotten even more playing time if it weren’t for injuries and being a part of a loaded Eagles offensive line. Left tackle is also a big position of need for Tennessee. With that being said, this contract was a lot larger than I thought Dillard would or should have gotten. Unless Tennessee is about to undergo a philosophical change (which is possible), I don’t see his fit in a run-heavy offense that lacks true pass sets.

Grade: C-


Las Vegas Raiders sign Safety Marcus Epps

Contract: Two years, $12 million ($8 million guaranteed)

Marcus Epps played well for a great Eagles defense last season. The Raiders were in need of a safety that can play down in the box, and Epps can do just that. Don’t let his smaller size fool you. He’s got good instincts for the football, and is an extremely hard hitter that looks like a heat seeking missile when firing downhill. He’s serviceable in a smaller pass coverage role, too.

Grade: B+


Miami Dolphins sign Linebacker David Long

Contract: Two years, $11 million

From signing new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, to acquiring cornerback Jalen Ramsey via trade, it’s been a great offseason for this Dolphins defense that, I believe, will be one of the best units in football next season. Adding David Long at a bargain discount only helps. He’s awesome against the run and serviceable against the pass, putting the cherry on top of this Dolphins’ linebacker core. Another excellent piece for Miami’s defense.

Grade: A+


New York Giants sign Linebacker Bobby Okereke

Contract: Four years, $40 million ($22 million guaranteed)

The Giants had a clear hole at the linebacker position that Bobby Okereke will really help fill. He makes up for his lack of size with instincts and physicality against the run, and tons of impressive plays dropping back into coverage.

Grade: B+

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