Baltimore Ravens free agency grade

Notable additions:

Tony Jefferson – Strong Safety – From: Arizona Cardinals

Brandon Carr – Cornerback – From: Dallas Cowboys

Danny Woodhead – Running Back – From: Los Angeles Chargers

Notable subtractions:

Ricky Wagner – Right Tackle – To:┬áDetroit Lions

Kyle Juszczyk – Fullback – To: San Francisco 49ers

Lawrence Guy – Defensive End – To: New England Patriots

Kamar Aiken – Wide Receiver – To: Indianapolis Colts

 

Analysis:

The Baltimore Ravens made some major improvements to their team in free agency especially in their secondary as they signed Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to 4-year deals. Carr was inconsistent for the Cowboys, but he still is an above average starting cornerback. Carr is able to match up with good wide receivers and he is versatile enough to be a slot cornerback as well. Baltimore had a big weakness for a 2nd cornerback and by bringing in Carr they now have a good cornerback duo with Carr and Jimmy Smith. Also, the team paid a large contract in order to sign strong safety Tony Jefferson away from the Cardinals. Jefferson is a physical safety that tackles well, although he doesn’t cause many turnovers as he only has 2 career interceptions. Jefferson was the best safety in free agency and his signing turns the Ravens secondary from a weakness into a strength as he will be paired with pro-bowler Eric Weddle at the safety position. Baltimore also made somewhat of an impact on offense as they signed running back Danny Woodhead to a 3-year deal. Woodhead is coming off of a major knee injury last season, yet he is another threat that the Ravens will have in their offense. Woodhead isn’t going to carry the load in the running game, but he is a tremendous pass catcher which makes him a really good 3rd-down back for the Ravens. He can also be used as a slot receiver at times for Baltimore and he is a very dangerous player in open space. Woodhead will be the type of weapon that will be used in many ways for Baltimore just like Kyle Juszczyk was used in a variety of ways last season. Juszczyk is now with the 49ers, but bringing in Woodhead gives the team a versatile player in order to replace him. However, the one big loss for the Ravens this offseason was starting right tackle Ricky Wagner leaving for Detroit. Wagner was a very good player for the Ravens last season and Baltimore’s offensive line will be very weak heading into next season without him. The issue is that the Ravens don’t have much depth at right tackle and their starting right tackle right now would be James Hurst who has struggled as a starter before. Baltimore has needs at a few offensive line positions, but right tackle is now a major void that they must fill after the departure of Ricky Wagner in free agency. Overall, I give credit to Baltimore for really improving their secondary with the additions of Jefferson and Carr. However, the loss of right tackle Ricky Wagner hurts their free agency grade a little bit as that is now a position that they must address in the draft.

Grade: B-

tony jefferson

Cleveland Browns free agency grade

Notable additions:

Kevin Zeitler – Guard – From: Cincinnati Bengals

Kenny Britt – Wide Receiver – From: Los Angeles Rams

J.C. Tretter – Center – From: Green Bay Packers

Notable subtractions:

Jordan Poyer – Free Safety – To: Buffalo Bills

Josh McCown – Quarterback – To: New York Jets

Terrelle Pryor – Wide Receiver – To: Washington Redskins

Stephen Paea – Defensive Tackle – To: Dallas Cowboys

 

Analysis:

The Browns came into this offseason with a ton of money to spend and they certainly didn’t hold back as they made three big money signings in free agency. Cleveland especially made major improvements along their offensive line as they signed guard Kevin Zeitler and center J.C. Tretter to long-term deals. Zeitler is one of the top guards in free agency and he is only 27 years old, so he still has several years of quality play likely left in him. It is very difficult to find quality starting guards these days and give credit to the Browns for signing one of the top guards in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Browns also signed Tretter to a 3-year deal to fill their vacant center position after the departure of Alex Mack last offseason. Tretter isn’t nearly as good as Mack is, but Tretter is still a very good center and he is only 26 years old. The Browns offensive line was already really good with Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, and Cameron Erving. However, the Browns now can legitimately say that their offensive line is one of the best in the entire NFL as they don’t have any weakness along the offensive line. The team continued to improve their offense as they signed former Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt to a 4-year/$32.5 million deal. Cleveland now has Britt and 2016 1st round pick Corey Coleman as their top wide receivers as they now have a decent wide receiver duo. Britt is a big possesion receiver that had his first 1,000 yard receiving season in 2016 for the Rams despite poor quarterback play. The starting quarterback for Cleveland is a major unknown right now, but Britt will give the Browns quarterback a really good option to throw to. I don’t know if Britt is worth $8 million per year since he had never had more than 48 receptions in a season prior to 2016. Britt isn’t an elite receiver, but he at least improves the Browns receiving group by giving them a reliable option in the passing game. Free agency was also good for the Browns since they didn’t lose much as their biggest loss was wide receiver Terrelle Pryor. However, it was probably good that they let Pryor go despite his success last season as last season was only his first full season playing wide receiver after transitioning from quarterback. The Browns have a lot of work left before they are a competitive team and they will need to find a good starting quarterback soon. However, the Browns improved their offense substantially by making their offensive line one of the best in the NFL as well as making their wide receiver group more respectable. Cleveland has tons of draft picks to continue to improve this team, but I give credit to them by making some big signings to at least show that they aren’t just going to try and tank next season.

Grade: A+

kevin zeitler.jpg

Cincinnati Bengals free agency grade

Notable additions:

Kevin Minter – Inside Linebacker – From: Arizona Cardinals

Andre Smith – Right Tackle – From: Minnesota Vikings

Notable subtractions:

Kevin Zeitler – Guard – To: Cleveland Browns

Andrew Whitworth – Left Tackle – To: Los Angeles Rams

Domata Peko – Defensive Tackle – To: Denver Broncos

Margus Hunt – Defensive End – To: Indianapolis Colts

Rex Burkhead – Running Back – To: New England Patriots

 

Analysis:

The Cincinnati Bengals once again didn’t do much in free agency and they ended up losing a few key players as well. The most notable loss for the Bengals was guard Kevin Zeitler who signed a big 5-year/$60 million contract with the in-state rival Cleveland Browns. Zeitler has been one of the best guards in the NFL and the Bengals didn’t address the position at all in free agency. Cincinnati will probably draft a guard early in the draft next month, but finding a quality guard like Zeitler will be extremely difficult to accomplish. The Bengals also lost another longtime offensive lineman as left tackle Andrew Whitworth left for the Rams. However, the Bengals were just planning on letting him go anyway since the team drafted Jake Fisher a couple of years ago in order to replace Whitworth. The team also lost longtime starting defensive tackle Domata Peko in free agency, but they already had Pat Sims at defensive tackle to fill his void. Cincinnati is coming off of a disappointing 2016 season and now they didn’t even do much to improve their team as they only made two signings. The Bengals signed Kevin Minter to a 1-year deal and he is expected to replace Rey Maualuga at the inside linebacker position. I like the signing of Minter because he is only 26 years old and he is also much more durable than Maualuga who has struggled to stay healthy in his career. Minter might only be with the Bengals for one season, but he is an upgrade at the inside linebacker position. I also really like the Bengals signing of right tackle Andre Smith who was actually a former 1st round pick of the team not too long ago. Smith never turned out to be a very good starting right tackle, but he provides some much needed quality depth for the team behind Cedric Ogbuehi at right tackle. Overall, the Bengals should have made some more big moves to try and improve their team from a poor 2016 season and they ended up just getting worse especially after the departure of Kevin Zeitler.

Grade: C-

kevin minter

Washington Redskins free agency grade

Notable additions:

Stacy McGee – Defensive Tackle – From: Oakland Raiders

Terrell McClain – Defensive Tackle – From: Dallas Cowboys

D.J. Swearinger – Safety – From: Arizona Cardinals

Terrelle Pryor – Wide Receiver – From: Cleveland Browns

Notable subtractions:

Pierre Garcon – Wide Receiver – To: San Francisco 49ers

DeSean Jackson – Wide Receiver – To: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chris Baker – Defensive Tackle – To: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ricky Jean Francois – Defensive Tackle – To: Green Bay Packers

Analysis:

It has been a rough offseason so far for the Redskins as they fired general manager Scot McCloughan just prior to the start of free agency. Washington also lost several key players including their two starting wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Garcon and Jackson both had 1,000 receiving yards for the Redskins last season, so their production won’t be easily be replaced. Washington did attempt to fill their void a little bit in free agency as they signed former Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor to a 1-year/$6 million deal. Pryor had a breakout season last year as he transitioned from quarterback to wide receiver for Cleveland. Pryor ended up with 1,007 receiving yards last season despite having poor quarterback play. Last season might have been a fluke though as it was his first season as a wide receiver. However, it is a low-risk signing for the Redskins since he only has a 1-year deal. Pryor has only played wide receiver for one full season in the NFL, so it is reasonable to wonder whether he will have the same success in Washington. Also, Pryor is more of a possession receiver which means the Redskins will have to find a new deep threat after the departures of deep threat receivers Garcon and Jackson. The Redskins also lost two key players on the defensive line as defensive tackles Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois both departed in free agency. However, the Redskins were quick to find replacements at defensive tackle as they signed Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain to long-term deals. Both players are just average defensive tackles and it remains to be seen whether they can be as productive as Chris Baker was with the team. The Redskins also tried to address the safety position as they signed strong safety D.J. Swearinger to a 3-year deal. Swearinger is known for his ability to stop the run and he also had 3 interceptions with Arizona last season. However, Swearinger is a liability in coverage at times which isn’t a good characteristic for a starting safety since he will be the last line of defense for the Redskins. Overall, D.J. Swearinger doesn’t bring too much of an upgrade to the strong safety position since he is basically the same type of player as Donte Whitner. The Redskins did a decent job of finding replacements for the key players that they lost in free agency. However, there is no doubt that this team isn’t any better after free agency especially after they lost their two top wide receivers.

Grade: C-

terrelle pryor

Philadelphia Eagles free agency grade

Notable additions:

Torrey Smith – Wide Receiver – From: San Francisco 49ers

Nick Foles – Quarterback – From: Kansas City Chiefs

Alshon Jeffery – Wide Receiver – From: Chicago Bears

Chance Warmack – Guard – From: Tennessee Titans

Notable subtractions:

Nolan Carroll – Cornerback – To: Dallas Cowboys

Bennie Logan – Defensive Tackle – To: Kansas City Chiefs

Connor Barwin – Outside Linebacker – To: Los Angeles Rams

 

Analysis:

The Eagles made it a priority in free agency to get some more weapons for young quarterback Carson Wentz and that is why they went out and wide receivers signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Jeffery gives the Eagles an elite possession receiver on only a 1-year deal, so they aren’t risking too much by signing him. Meanwhile, Torrey Smith gives the Eagles a much needed deep threat and he could be a very good bargain signing if he returns to the type of player that he was with Baltimore a few years ago. Philadelphia struggled with consistency from their wide receivers last season and Jeffery/Smith should fix that issue right away. Meanwhile, the Eagles also reunited with quarterback Nick Foles on a 2-year deal to be the backup to Carson Wentz. It was surprising that the Eagles even addressed the backup quarterback position since they already had a backup quarterback with Chase Daniel. However, I think it was the right move to make for Philadelphia since Foles is a better quarterback than Daniel. Also, Foles is $1.5 million per year cheaper than Daniel who was getting paid $7 million for the next 2 seasons. The Eagles just ended up releasing Daniel and now the Eagles have an outstanding backup quarterback if Wentz is injured or doesn’t play well. Philadelphia didn’t lose too much in free agency, but the subtraction of starting defensive tackle Bennie Logan will hurt the Eagles defense for sure. The Eagles do have Fletcher Cox as a really good defensive tackle, but now they need to fill the major void at the other defensive tackle spot. Losing Nolan Carroll also hurts the depth at the cornerback position for Philadelphia, but it was a position that they needed to address this offseason anyway. Philadelphia still has some work to do on defense and probably at the running back position as well, but they took some stops in the right direction on offense especially with their upgrades at the wide receiver position.

Grade: B

alshon jeffery

 

New York Giants free agency grade

Notable additions:

Rhett Ellison – Tight End – From: Minnesota Vikings

Brandon Marshall – Wide Receiver – From: New York Jets

D.J. Fluker – Guard – From: Los Angeles Chargers

Geno Smith – Quarterback – From: New York Jets

 

Notable subtractions:

Robbie Gould – Kicker – To: San Francisco 49ers

Marshall Newhouse – Right Tackle – To: Oakland Raiders

 

Analysis:

The New York Giants have had a good free agency mostly because they didn’t lose any important players, but they also improved their team as well. The biggest signing that the Giants made was to bring in pro bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall on a 2-year/$11 million contract. Marshall didn’t have a very good season by his standards last season with the Jets, but he at least put up respectable numbers especially since he didn’t have a good quarterback to throw to him. Odell Beckham Jr. is the clear number 1 wide receiver for the Giants, but Marshall is still an elite wide receiver that can take some of the pressure off of Beckham Jr. New York now has 3 really good wide receivers after the addition of Marshall and it will make their passing attack even more dangerous. I also really like the additions of quarterback Geno Smith and right tackle D.J. Fluker. Eli Manning hasn’t missed a game in a very long time, but the addition of Geno Smith gives the Giants a very good backup quarterback at a very cheap cost. Smith is a borderline starting quarterback in the NFL and he adds some much needed depth to the quarterback position for the Giants. Meanwhile, D.J. Fluker has been a disappointment so far in his career as he is a former 1st round pick. However, Fluker is a nice depth addition at least for the Giants as he can play either guard or offensive tackle. Fluker will likely compete with Bobby Hart for the starting right tackle job for the Giants in 2017 after Marshall Newhouse left in free agency. The only signing that I really question for the Giants is giving Rhett Ellison a 4-year/$18 million contract. Ellison has been a backup tight end with Minnesota for several years and he barely contributed at all as he only had 5 receptions last season. The Giants did have a big need at tight end, but Ellison is certainly not the solution as he isn’t a very good pass catcher. It doesn’t make much sense to give him $4.5 million per year since he has never done much in the NFL. He is a good blocking tight end, but he definitely isn’t worth that amount of money and he shouldn’t be a starting tight end for any NFL team. New York didn’t make a big splash in free agency this year. However, they made some good signings and they had a great free agency even though the Ellison signing wasn’t very good.

Grade: A-

brandon marshall

Dallas Cowboys free agency grade

Notable additions:

Nolan Carroll – Cornerback – From: Philadelphia Eagles

Stephen Paea – Defensive Tackle – From: Cleveland Browns

Notable Subtractions:

Ronald Leary – Guard – To: Denver Broncos

Barry Church – Strong Safety – To: Jacksonville Jaguars

Brandon Carr – Cornerback – To: Baltimore Ravens

Terrell McClain – Defensive Tackle – To: Washington Redskins

Jack Crawford – Defensive End – To: Atlanta Falcons

J.J. Wilcox – Free Safety – To: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Morris Claiborne – Cornerback – To: New York Jets

 

Analysis:

It wasn’t a very good free agency for the Dallas Cowboys as they didn’t do anything to improve their team, yet they let many key players leave in free agency as well. They let basically their entire secondary leave in free agency as Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, and J.J. Wilcox all left. Now, the Cowboys are extremely thin at the cornerback and safety positions heading into next season and those are positions that they will need to address early on in the draft. The Cowboys did bring in cornerback Nolan Carroll on a 3-year deal, but he is a below average starting cornerback and he has been a backup for a large portion of his career. Only signing Carroll to fix the Cowboys weak secondary is not even close enough to being a good solution. The Cowboys also lost Terrell McClain and Jack Crawford who aren’t major impact players, but they are key losses since now Dallas doesn’t have much defensive line depth. Dallas did sign defensive tackle Stephen Paea, but he probably won’t even make much of an impact as a rotational player. Overall, the Cowboys defense is a mess right now especially along the defensive line and in the secondary, yet the only thing that they did to fix it was to sign below average players Nolan Carroll and Stephen Paea. Meanwhile, the Cowboys also lost Ronald Leary who was a key part of their outstanding offensive line. However, Dallas does have the luxury of letting him go since they already have a good replacement at left guard with La’el Collins. Losing Leary doesn’t hurt the Cowboys much and their offense certainly remains very dangerous with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dez Bryant. However, the offense might need to score a lot of points since the Cowboys defense is an absolute disaster right now. Dallas lost a lot in free agency especially on defense and they have a lot of work to do in the draft to even be considered a championship contender.

Grade: F

nolan carroll