10 best free agent signings through Week 8
For NFL teams and their fanbases, NFL’s annual free agency period is a time of year filled with opportunity and hope. Some of this hope is realized, while some signings leave teams looking forward to next year’s opportunity to try it all again. As we close the book on Week 8 of the NFL season, PFF takes a look at the top 10 free agent signings this season, in terms of value.
1. Pernell McPhee, OLB, Bears (five years, $40 million, 87.9 overall grade)
The Bears are in the middle of a rebuilding effort, while at the same time staying competitive in almost every game. Much of this dynamic can be attributed to McPhee. While he didn’t come cheaply, he has truly been an elite edge rusher, leading 3-4 OLBs in pass rush productivity. McPhee is tied for third amongst 3-4 OLB in QB hits (seven), fourth in QB hurries (27), and has added an interception.
2. Richie Incognito, G, Bills (one year, $1.1 million, 91.3 overall grade)
The Bills acquired Incognito for practically nothing in the offseason, and he has responded by producing the third-best PFF grade among guards. Incognito has been almost equally good as a run blocker (89.7) and as a pass protector (87.9), allowing just three QB hits and hurries, tied for sixth among guards is pass blocking efficiency.
3. Michael Crabtree, WR, Raiders (one year, $3 million, 85.3 overall grade)
In a year where many free agent WR have struggled, Crabtree has been a revelation across the bay, finishing Week 8 as PFF’s 13th-highest graded WR. Derek Carr has a 93.3 passer rating when throwing Crabtree’s way, and he has produced 2.14 yards per route run, both good for 12th best among WRs thus far.
4. Evan Mathis, G, Broncos (one year, $3.25 million, 85.6 overall grade)
A PFF favorite for years, and for good reason, Mathis appears to be settling in nicely for the undefeated Broncos. Acquired relatively cheaply in August, Mathis has been Denver’s highest-graded offensive player by a wide margin, and the only starting O-lineman with a positive grade, despite a slow start in Weeks 1 and 2.
5. Dan Williams, NT, Raiders (four years, $25 million, 83.3 overall grade)
While he has graded positively every season since 2012, Williams may be due for his best season ever in his first stint as a Raider. Solid versus the run (82.2) and the pass (78.3), he has been a big part of Oakland’s gradual restoration of credibility in 2015. Williams is third among DT/NTs in run stop percentage (12.2) through the first eight weeks of 2015.
6. Greg Hardy, DE, Cowboys (one year, $11 million, 84.8 overall grade)
Despite being suspended for the first four games of the season, Hardy still ranks ninth among 4-3 DEs, tied for 10th among all edge defenders. He has been a big reason that Dallas has been competitive even without Tony Romo, producing three sacks, six hurries, three QB hits, and seven stops in three games.
7. Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills (three years, $3.35 million, 78.0 overall grade)
PFF’s 12th-highest rated QB through eight weeks, Taylor may be on this list as much for how the Bills have missed him than for his above-average play on the field thus far. Taylor has posted a 75.8 accuracy percentage under pressure, which is good for second among NFL QBs through Week 8. Meanwhile, the Bills are 0-2 without Taylor, with E.J. Manuel posting a 46.4 overall grade in his absence.
8. Walter Thurmond, S, Eagles (one year, $3.25 million, 88.1 overall grade)
While Byron Maxwell got the money in the offseason, Thurmond is a bigger reason why the Eagles’ secondary has been so good this year. The converted slot corner has produced two QB hurries, 11 stops, and three interceptions this season.
9. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Dolphins (six years, $114 million, 89.4 overall grade)
Suh was expensive, but he has produced the fifth-highest grade amongst interior defensive lineman thus far this season, earning a positive grade in every game. Despite heightened attention from opposing offensive lines, Suh has posted the ninth-best pass rush productivity among DT/NT through eight weeks, recording two sacks, six QB hits, and 17 hurries thus far.
10. Nick Fairley, DT, Rams (one year, $5 million, 80.3 overall grade)
While playing only 156 snaps through eight weeks, Fairly is tied for the 22nd-best grade amongst DT/NTs. Solid both as a pass rusher (76.8) and a run stopper (80.5), Fairley has proven a solid complement to Aaron Donald inside, grading positively in all seven games this season, increasing his snaps in all of the past five weeks.
To see the worst 10 free agent signings so far this season, click here.