2019 NFL Free Agency Grades: Giants get a 'D' for puzzling Golden Tate signing, Bears a 'B' for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix move
The Landon Collins and Nick Foles reported deals don't quite stack up
Guys haven't even signed contracts, and already NFL teams are throwing around money like they print it.
Welcome to, 2019.
The period officially began Wednesday, but that doesn't mean deals weren't getting done Monday and Tuesday, the first two days for legal tampering, the two days when teams can negotiate deals with players.
Some of the deals were outrageous, including big money going to a lot of good players, not great ones.
Here are my grades for this week's moves:
Broncos LB Shaq Barrett to the Bucs
The Bucs signed Barrett to a one-year deal for $5 million, which is a solid price. He's been a capable backup for the Broncos, but he became expendable with Bradley Chubb taking over opposite Von Miller.
Barrett played outside in the Denver 3-4 scheme, and with the Bucs transitioning to a 3-4 look, he fits with what they are doing. He had 14 sacks as a reserve and could be a good bargain if he gets to start.
Jets DT Mike Pennel to the Patriots
The Pats gave Pennel a two-year deal that helps fill the void for losing Malcom Brown to the Saints in free agency. Pennel started 10 games for the Jets last year.
Pennel is a 335-pound inside player who is good against the run. At 27, he's in the prime of his career and should help New England's run defense.
Cowboys TE Geoff Swain to the Jaguars
The tight end position was a disaster in Jacksonville last season, and one of the major issues was blocking. They couldn't handle the edge, which is why the running game struggled. Swain will help upgrade that part of the blocking, but he isn't a great receiver.
Saints DE Alex Okafor to the Chiefs
The Chiefs gave Okafor a three-year deal for $$24 million to join their group of ends in coordinator Steve Spagnuola's 4-3 scheme.
Okafor started 16 games for the Saints last year and had four sacks, but he is a good, solid player who can also hold up against the run. At 28, he could be primed to be a 8-9 sack player for the Chiefs in 2019.
Eagles WR Golden Tate to the New York Giants
I like Tate as a player, and he will help the Giants. But what kind of message is this team sending? Are they rebuilding or not? Tate is 30. That's not the kind of free agent you sign when you are rebuilding.
Tate is also a slot receiver, much like Sterling Shepard, a player already have on the roster. I've always thought Tate was one of the more underrated players in the league. Now he's going to be expected to be like Odell Beckham Jr. for the money he's getting.
Grade: D (not the player)
Patriots DT Malcom Brown to the Saints
Brown was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 2015 and started off his career looking like he might be a long-term starter for the Pats. He didn't play well last season, which is why he only got a three-year deal for $15 million.
The Saints have issues inside on their defense with Sheldon Rankins tearing his Achilles in the team's playoff game against the Eagles and Tyeler Davison is a free agent. They will need Brown to get back playing at a high level again in 2019 to help offset the potential slow start to the season by Rankins.
Chargers corner Jason Verrett to the 49ers
This could be a big hit for the 49ers, a team in need of an upgrade at corner. Verrett went to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and was one of the better cover players in the league. But injuries have crippled him the past three seasons. He is coming off a lost season to a torn Achilles tendon.
That's why he received just a one-year deal from the 49ers. But if he's healthy, he will end up being a starter.
Redskins S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Bears
After losing Adrian Amos to the Packers, the Bears signed former Green Bay safety Clinton-Dix, who spent half a season with the Redskins after Green Bay traded him last year.
Amos is a better player, but Clinton-Dix has the better range on the back end. One more note: He's on a one-year deal, which makes him a bargain. He will be playing for a long-term deal. He isn't Amos, but for the value it's a solid move.
Falcons RB Tevin Coleman to the 49ers
The 49ers are getting a good deal on the running back, getting him for $5 million per season on a two-year deal. He played for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, so he understands the zone scheme and is a nice fit.
Coleman has home run ability, and should be a nice 1-2 tandem with Jerrick McKinnon. This is a good, solid move.
Saints RB Mark Ingram to the Ravens
I don't like giving big deals to running backs, but this one makes sense. Ingram on a deal averaging $5-million per season is a good deal.
Ingram fits the Ravens style of offense, too, a guy who puts his foot in the ground and goes. Baltimore is better off paying Ingram $5 million per year than breaking the bank for Le'Veon Bell.
Seahawks S Earl Thomas to the Ravens
This one is perplexing to me. Thomas has been a great player, but he turns 30 in May and he's had some injury issues. Yet the Ravens are giving him a reported $32-million in guaranteed money on a four-year deal.
They probably wanted to get faster than what they had in veteran Eric Weddle, but Weddle brought a lot of special qualities to the defense. I am not a big fan of this move.
Chargers WR Tyrell Williams to the Raiders
This is an outstanding move by Oakland. They are pairing a big-play receiver with deep speed to go with Antonio Brown, who they acquired in a trade from the Steelers. Williams is a 27-year-old player who I think is ready for a much bigger role than what he had with the Chargers.
Williams has been a 1,000-yard receiver in his career, and that will happen again. With Brown seeing a lot of doubles, look for Williams to benefit in a big way.
Jets K Jason Myers to the Seahawks
Seattle had some issues with Sebastian Janikowski, so they turned to a kid coming off an All-Pro season. Myers was 33 of 36 on his field goals last year to earn a four-year deal for $4 million per season from Seattle.
That's a little steep for a kicker who was cut two years ago by the Jaguars for his shaky kicking.
Dolphins DE Cam Wake to the Titans
Wake can still be a quality pass rusher in spurts at the age of 37. But his sack number dropped from 10.5 in 2017 to six last season. Is that a sign of age starting to show?
Even so, the Titans needed help on the edge, and this deal isn't outrageous so it could be good for a year or so.
Wake is a class act who will also be good in the locker room. I think as a situational rusher, he could get seven or eight sacks.
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell to the Jets
In my world, I am not paying aging running backs. Yes, Bell was a good player two years ago, but he's now older and likely slower.
That's not a reason to go pay a big-money deal to a back. I know he will help Sam Darnold in the offense, but I just don't think running back is a value position. Even at $13 million a year -- bargain compared to what he thought he was getting -- it's not my kind of deal.
Patriots DE Trey Flowers to the Lions
The 25-year-old pass rusher was the top free agent on the market on my list. The Lions needed to upgrade their pass rush, so this makes a lot of sense. It was rumored for a while now, and the Lions made it happen.
Flowers had 7.5 sacks last season, but he influenced the quarterback much more than that. Flowers was among the league leaders in pressures. His versatility is a calling card as well, since he can rush from both the edge and the inside.
Lions coach Matt Patricia was the defensive coordinator in New England for Flowers' first three seasons, so there is familiarity there.
Patriots LT Trent Brown to the Raiders
The Raiders are getting an ascending player, which is the wise thing when it comes to free agency. But to make Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league is a little rich, especially after taking two tackles in the first three rounds of the draft last year.
The plan is supposedly to move Kolton Miller, their first-round pick last year, from the left side to the right side with Brown staying on the left side. But Brown is actually a better right tackle, which makes that talk interesting.
At any rate, the Raiders will be better at tackle than they were a year ago when they had issues there. It's a solid signing, but the money is a bit rich.
Rams S Lamarcus Joyner to the Raiders
After landing Antonio Brown and Trent Brown for the offense, the Raiders were able to help the defense by signing Joyner to help the secondary.
Joyner played both nickel corner and safety for the Rams, but he will be a back-end player for the Raiders. They had to get help back there, so this move makes sense. Now they just need to add help for him and the defense in the draft.
Giants S Landon Collins to the Redskins
Collins is a good, solid safety who excels playing close to the line of scrimmage. The Redskins needed help on the back end, so it makes sense. What doesn't make sense is giving him the type of deal the Redskins are paying him. It's a reported six-year, $84-million deal with $45 million guaranteed in the first three years.
Collins is a good player making great money. A few years ago, he was outstanding for the Giants, so the Redskins have to be thinking he can get back to that level of play. He did suffer a shoulder injury late last season that required surgery.
Ravens LB C.J. Mosley to the Jets
Mosley is a good player, and he will help the new-look Jets defense, but he isn't close to being worth getting a deal that makes him the highest-paid inside linebacker in the league.
Mosley is a really good run defender, but he also stays on the field in passing downs. He's also good at lining up the defense, which is important. In the Jets' new defense under Gregg Williams, he will be an inside 3-4 linebacker. The money is a little crazy, but he's a nice addition.
Dolphins RT Ja'Wuan James to the Broncos
This one is eye opening. I like James as a solid player, coming off a good season in 2018, but to pay him a top-tier deal is nuts. He's scheduled to make a $52 million over four seasons. Once again, it's great money for a good player.
The Broncos are desperate to improve their line, and he will help, but this looks like a panic move in terms of the dollars spent.
Bucs LB Kwon Alexander to the 49ers
Alexander is coming off a torn ACL, which makes this risky. But he's a good player who will fill a major need for the 49ers. When Reuben Foster had his off-the-field issues, leading to his release, it left linebacker as a problem spot.
If Alexander is healthy, it's a good, solid signing. He can stay on the field for all downs, which is important in the 49ers scheme. He's a good run-and-chase player, but he has to be better in coverage in their scheme than he was in Tampa.
Coming off the injury – and battling injuries for much of his career -- and making him the third highest-paid inside linebacker in the league drives this grade down some.
Redskins WR Jamison Crowder to the Jets
Crowder is a player who had a down year in 2018 because of injuries, but in his first three seasons he was a productive slot player. He will give Sam Darnold a nice weapon inside in the slot.
The Jets had issues at receiver a year ago, but Crowder can help improve that area under new coach Adam Gase. The deal is for a reported three years and $28.5 million, which is about the rate for a slot receiver in this market.
Vikings LB Anthony Barr to the Jets
Update: Barr had initially agreed to a deal with the Jets but changed his mind and decided to re-up with the Vikings..
Eagles QB Nick Foles to the Jaguars
If the reported deal of four years, $88 million with $50-million guaranteed is accurate, they paid too much. But I get it. They needed to get the quarterback position solved, and Foles was the guy they felt could do it.
But why go that high with the money? Who else was in it?
Foles is an upgrade over Blake Bortles, but he's not the kind of quarterback who can have sustainable success without help. He can't carry a team. That will put a premium on fixing the offense around him in the next month and a half.
Foles is a decent quarterback, but the money was way too high for my liking.
Seahawks CB Justin Coleman to the Lions
Coleman had a good season as a slot corner for the Seahawks last year and the Lions needed upgrading at that spot. They released Nevin Lawson to help create the spot for Coleman, who is a better player.
Coleman spent the past two seasons with Seattle, but spent two seasons in New England, where he played for Pats coach Matt Patricia, who was then the Patriots defensive coordinator.
Coleman is more of a playmaker than Lawson, which had to be part of the appeal for the Lions.
Chiefs C Mitch Morse to the Bills
I love this move. Morse is an athletic player who can stabilize the middle of the Bills offense. Buffalo also signed Spencer Long, who has played center, but it looks like he will play guard.
Morse gives second-year quarterback Josh Allen a nice, steady player under center, which is important for a young passer.
Ravens WR John Brown to the Bills
I love this move for the Bills. Brown is a deep threat with blazing speed who is a perfect fit for Josh Allen, the big-armed second-year Bills quarterback. Brown has been a 1,000-yard receiver in his career (back with the Cardinals) and I think he can be that with the Bills in 2019.
Brown's ability to stretch the defense was on display early last year for the Ravens when Joe Flacco was playing, but when Lamar Jackson took over he kind of vanished. That won't happen with Allen's ability to drive the football.
Cowboys WR Cole Beasley to the Bills
Beasley is the opposite of Brown, a slot receiver who does his dirty work in the middle of the field. But he will be a security blanket for Josh Allen, who has to raise his completion percentage from 52.8 last season.
Beasley's ability to win in one on one situations against slot corners and sit down in the soft spots in the zones should help that become a reality.
Jaguars DT Malik Jackson to the Eagles
Jackson was a good player for the Jaguars for two seasons, but got too light to open the 2018 season and had trouble against the run. He was benched, but played well down the stretch.
He is a great locker-room guy who will get a lot of single blocks playing next to Fletcher Cox. Jackson is still a quality interior pass rusher. He needs to get back some of his weight to be able to hold up better against the run.
Bucs WR Adam Humphries to the Titans
Humphries did a nice job for the Bucs as a slot receiver last year, earning a $9-million per year deal from the Titans.
On the surface, it would appear to be a lot for a slot receiver who has been little more than a complementary piece of the offense. But the Titans need to upgrade their inside passing game for Marcus Mariota. Humphries can do that, but the price was a little rich.
Ravens DE Terrell Suggs to the Cardinals
This will be a homecoming for Suggs, who played his college ball at Arizona State. Suggs, who is close to being Hall of Fame worthy, is still capable of providing a good pass rush in spurts. He has 18.5 sacks the past two seasons, including 7.5 last season.
Playing opposite Chandler Jones, he will help give the Cardinals a nice pass-rush tandem. The move also could indicate the Cardinals might be leaning to taking Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray first overall, since the best option at the top of the draft is Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa.
Then again, you can never have enough good pass rushers.
Texans S Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs
The "Honey Badger" is coming off a nice season in his only one with the Texans and he fills a major need on the back end for the Chiefs. His ability to cover a lot of ground will help alongside Eric Berry.
Give Mathieu credit. He turned down a deal that was said to be averaging close to $10 million to get $14 million a year from the Chiefs.
New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is an aggressive coach who needs players who can cover on the back end and Mathieu can do that.
Panthers WR Devin Funchess to the Colts
The Colts gave Funchess a one-year, prove-it deal for $13 million, which I find strange. Why not go after Tyrell Williams? I know Funchess is cheaper, but Williams has much more big-play ability.
Funchess gives the Colts a bigger target, but he doesn't run that well, which is why he didn't stick with the Panthers.
Bears S Adrian Amos to the Packers
The Packers had a need at safety – after moving corner Tramon Williams there last season – and they filled it by signing Amos from the Bears.
The 25-year-old Amos has 56 starts in four seasons, and he's made significant strides the past two seasons. He's a good player in coverage and he's a nice tackler in the run game. He's scheduled to make $37 million over four years, which is a bargain compared to the deal Landon Collins got from the Redskins.
Redskins OLB Preston Smith to the Packers
On the heels of landing Za'Darius Smith to amp up the pass rush, the Packers followed that up by landing Preston Smith, one of the most-underrated players in this class. Preston Smith had four sacks last year to give him 24 ½ in his career, but he had over 50 pressures for the Redskins.
In the Packers' scheme, he will play as a stand-up outside linebacker who coordinator Mike Pettine will love to have. He's one of those 26-year-old players who is just now reaching his prime years. This is an outstanding signing.
Vikings DT Sheldon Richardson to the Browns
This is one of the sneaky-good signings of this class. Richardson has been dominant at times in his career, and played really well on a one-year deal for the Vikings last season.
He will join a defensive front that could be on of the best in the NFL next season. The knock on Richardson is he sometimes doesn't always play the scheme. That can be coached out of him, but he's a talent up front.
Jaguars S Tashaun Gipson to the Texans
The Texans lost safety Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs, so they replaced him with a cheaper version in Gipson, a player they know well. Gipson is coming off an above-average season from the Jaguars, but they let him go for cap reasons.
He isn't as good as Mathieu, but he will be a steady influence in the back end for the Texans. The price of $7.5 million per season is manageable.
Panthers LB Thomas Davis to the Chargers
The Chargers had major issues at linebacker last year, so this makes sense. Davis isn't as swift as he used to be, but he will give the Chargers a nice veteran presence in Gus Bradley's defense. But age (35) is a concern.
Broncos CB Bradley Roby to the Texans
This is a decent signing on a one-year deal. The former first-round pick will be motivated to show that he's worth a long-term deal in 2019. Roby didn't play as well as expected last season, which is why the price was down.
The Texans lost veteran Kareem Jackson to the Broncos, so this is basically a swap. Thee only difference is Roby is a lot cheaper.
Redskins OT Ty Nsekhe to the Bills
Although he's 34, Nsekhe is one of the more underrated tackles in the league. He's been a quality swing tackle with the Redskins, but he has performed well when he's been a starter.
He has also played guard, which could be a spot for him on the Bills line. The Bills also could start him on the right side at tackle, but if they were to draft a tackle in April he could be a valuable reserve or guard.
Broncos C Matt Paradis to the Panthers
The Panthers had Ryan Kalil retire after the season, so they had to either sign a center or draft one, and they opted to sign Paradis.
He is an outstanding zone blocker who gets by with his smarts and his athletic ability. He immediately upgrades the interior of the Carolina line, although he is coming off a season cut short by a broken leg.
Rams G Rodger Saffold to the Titans
The Titans clearly wanted to upgrade the interior of their line, and landing Saffold does that. He is coming off a little bit of a down season compared to 2017, but he is a good run blocker who should help Derrick Henry.
It's a good, solid move, but again the money was a little high. Then again, it's the market.
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