2015 Free Agency Deal Grader
Cap rise after cap rise changes the landscape of contracts in the NFL. It means teams are less scared about handing out big deals and that players are cashing in. But it doesn’t mean taking a “whatever it costs” approach to getting a player is the right move, no matter how much you like him.
And that’s where our returning Deal Grader comes in.
As we do every year we look at the player, the guaranteed money, the team and the situation and put them through the PFF grading scale. +2 if we really love it, and -2 if we really don’t. As a reminder, until we get guaranteed money we won’t post a grade but for more instant feedback check out our Live Reaction Blog as we react to all the transactions, trade and roster trimmings going down.
+2.0: A Move Guaranteed To Take Your Franchise to the Next Level
+1.5: Tremendous Value!
Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets: 5-year,$70m with $39m guaranteed
Impact: As good as any corner in the game, Revis has come back from ACL injury the past two years and shown an ability to play (and play very well) in any scheme. He had our fourth highest coverage grade of all defensive backs and we’re excited to see what he does back in New York.
Value: Any time you get a player that good who changes your defense, it’s a win. The question is did they overpay and while some might think so he was simply such an important get for the Jets we don’t adhere to that.
Terrance Knighton, NT, Washington Redskins: 1-year, $4m
Impact: The cream of the crop the past two seasons at the 1-technique, Knighton will try his hand at the 0-technique in Washington’s 3-4. Pot roast immediately legitimizes the Redskins defensive front that has been porous against the run for years now.
Value: Haven’t seen a better value yet in terms of production per dollar as the Redskins get a true difference maker on the interior. The one year deal also ensures a motivated Knighton as reports of him being out of shape have circulated of late.
+1.0: That Will Work Out Very Nicely!
Rahim Moore, S, Houston Texans: 3-year, $12m with $4m guaranteed
Impact: Positive overall and coverage grade each of the last three seasons. Fills a glaring need at the safety position after the departure of Kendrick Lewis and should prove to be an upgrade in the deep safety role.
Value: At 25 years old, with three straight productive seasons one would expect a contract around twice this size. $4m a year comes out as the 24th highest figure at the position. One of the biggest steals in free agency.
Nick Fairley, DT, St. Louis Rams: 1-year, $5m
Impact: A definite upgrade to Michael Brockers, Fairley was on the path to the pro bowl before a knee injury derailed his 2014 season. Productive against both run and pass, should provide a legitimate 3-down option on a stacked defensive line.
Value: $5m a year doesn’t make the top 15 for interior defensive linemen and we’ve seen far bigger per year deals get handed out to less talented players in recent years. Injuries are a concern, but if Fairley can stay healthy next season he’ll transform the Rams line into arguably the league’s best.
Henry Melton, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-year, $3.75m
Impact: Melton is a sure thing as a situational pass rusher. In each of his last three healthy seasons he’s finished in the top 10 in pass rushing productivity. The fit is odd as he’s played the same position in the past as Gerald McCoy and McCoy rarely leaves the field. If Melton only sees snaps in obvious passing situations and nothing more, he’ll still add tons of value to the Bucs.
Value: There is really no downside to this deal. Melton provides a proven pass rusher for mere pennies in this market.
Brandon Graham, ED, Philadelphia Eagles: 4-year, $30m with $20m guaranteed
Impact: Dynamic pass rusher who consistently generates pressure. Didn’t have the same opportunity as others but put up the highest pass rushing productivity score in 2014 of all edge rushers adjusting to life at outside linebacker. Big concern is whether he can handle increased playing time, but has earned the opportunity.
Value: Has the potential to be one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the game and all for a very reasonable rate. Something of a gamble given his playing time, but could really outplay this contract.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: 4-year, $40m with $17m guaranteed
Impact: Led the league in yards from the slot and is a complete mismatch with his ability to generate yards after the catch. 12 touchdowns from the slot were also a league best and his talents really help the Packers offense tick.
Value: It’s not a cheap deal but you figured Cobb could get more on the open market with his skill set much in demand. He has the ability to make life easier for his quarterback and that’s a hard to replicate talent.
Doug Free, OT, Dallas Cowboys: 3-year, $15m with $6m guaranteed
Impact: Dallas returns all their starting line which was our top ranked unit in 2014. That’s huge with their line a big reason for their success in winning the NFC East and getting to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs. Free is coming off an injury marred year but when he was on the field proved an able pass blocker and strong run blocker. Attributes you’d expect him to carry on into his age-31 year.
Value: Just $6m guaranteed? The Cowboys have got value in the short term given the right tackle market and ensured that if Free ages rapidly they aren’t caught with something that hurts them down the road. Big win for the team.
Pernell McPhee, ED, Chicago Bears: 5-year, $40m with $10m guaranteed
Impact: The Bears did their best to revamp their defensive line last offseason with Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston. Neither brought the pass rush the Bears were looking for. McPhee was the best situational pass rusher in the league last year. He’s able to line up at any position on the defensive line and still generate consistent pressure.
Value: $8m a year doesn’t even sniff the top 10 contracts for edge defenders and is less than even former Raven Paul Kruger got on the open market. Even if McPhee doesn’t take on an added role and remains a sub-package guy he projects to be well worth the money.
+0.5: Common Sense Shines Through
Akeem Ayers, LB, St. Louis Rams: 2-year, $6m with $3m guaranteed
Impact: Gregg Williams found himself his blitzing strong side linebacker. No team in the NFL blitzed more often than the Rams last season and few can match Ayers blitz production over the last three seasons.
Value: Quite the favorable deal for the Rams. Ayers may not project as an every down player, but he defends the run at a level worth far more than $3m a year.
Brian Orakpo, ED, Tennessee Titans: 4-year, $32m with $13.5m guaranteed
Impact: A complete player that graded in the top 5 at his position his last healthy season of 2013. At 28 years old there is no reason to expect a decline in performance any time soon. A massive upgrade over Kamerion Wimbley who has shown declining performance for some time now.
Value: Injuries have derailed two of his past three seasons and are reason caution here. That being said, Orakpo performance was on pace for a contract almost double this size prior to injuries and if he stays healthy the Titans have one of the best edge defenders in the NFL.
Derrick Morgan, ED, Tennessee Titans: 4-year, $30m with $10.5m guaranteed
Impact: A talented pass rusher that has never quite gotten his due with low sack totals throughout his career. Graded at +10 in pass rushing every year of his career. Never been much for setting the edge though, Morgan could benefit from a decrease in playing time after seeing over 1,000 snaps a year ago.
Value: Impressive deal for the Titans getting Morgan to accept less overall and guaranteed money than Orakpo. His per year and guaranteed money aren’t even close to top 20 numbers for edge defenders.
Chris Culliver, CB, Washington Redskins: 4-year, $32m with $16m guaranteed
Impact: The Redskins corners were one of the worst positional groups in the NFL last season and any upgrade should be met with praise. Culliver has just one year of starting experience, but always graded out well as the 49ers nickel corner early in his career. Showed no ill affects from a 2013 ACL injury and excelled as a starter last season.
Value: The guaranteed money is considerable, but it shouldn’t be a concern if Culliver can maintain his level of play. Even average production at corner would be desirable for the Redskins, but Culliver has been better than that every season up til this point.
Percy Harvin, WR, Buffalo Bills: 1-year, $6m
Impact: A game breaker when healthy. Besides being a missed tackle machine at wide receiver, Harvin can also impact the game on returns and out of the backfield. The Bills were in desperate need of an option across from Sammy Watkins after a disappointing second season from Robert Woods. Character concerns are obvious after washing out of two teams last season, but his talent has never been an issue.
Value: The money isn’t so high that a one year deal is too risky here. A perfect candidate for a prove it deal, Harvin figures to be on his best behavior in order to get another huge contract next offseason.
Demarco Murray, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: 4-year, $42m with $21m guaranteed
Impact: The league’s leading rusher from a year ago heads from one well blocked zone scheme to another. Murray is far less of a dancer than LeSean McCoy and profiles better for a Philadelphia line that opens up a clean intended point of attack more than any other in the league. There are workload concerns from a year ago (393 carries), but he can still have a substantial impact with reduced touches.
Value: The fit is perfect, the money is not. $10m+ a year also seems hefty with a line that could make many running backs look good. The contract takes Murray into his 30’s and injury is a big concern.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: 3-year, $11.5m with $5m guaranteed
Impact: Former first round pick has yet to run the ball for a team that finished with a top 10 run blocking grade. First round talent, but never been healthy for over 550 snaps in a season. Backup role should help ease injury concerns.
Value: The $5m guarantee is a little high with his injury history, but at only 27 he shouldn’t have a problem playing out a 3-year deal. Looks to be a fairly inexpensive insurance plan for Murray’s health.
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Arizona Cardinals: 1-year, $3.85m with $1.25m guaranteed
Impact: Had an extremely productive 2011 season, but hasn’t done much since and missed last season with an Achilles injury. Has always been a superb blitzer and few blitz their inside linebackers as much as the Cardinals.
Value: Very low risk, high reward signing here. At his best he was a top 5 weak side linebacker. With a change of scenery there is always a chance he could get back there.
Derek Newton, OT, Houston Texans: 5-year, $26.5m with $10m guaranteed
Impact: One year ago this deal would have been closer to a -1.5 than a positive such was the poor play of Newton. But his third year starting saw him “get it”, looking much improved in pass protection (outside of a mauling at the hands of Jason Worilds) and developing into a dominant run blocker. You’d like for him to be more consistent in pass protection, but he’s turned himself into a building block on the line.
Value: His lack of “good tape” scares you a bit, with you hoping that his most recent season is how he’ll continue to play. But given the guaranteed money making this essentially a two-year pact this isn’t a deal that will kill the team even if he returns to his old ways.
Kareem Jackson, CB, Houston Texans: 4-year, $34m with $20m guaranteed
Impact: Has developed into a good starting cornerback, proving a testament to the Texans patience with him and his own progress. Capable of playing outside and in the slot, he finished 11th overall in our cornerback rankings in 2014, allowing just 59.2% of throws into his coverage to be complete.
Value: There was likely more waiting for him on the open market given the lack of talent at cornerback and his own talent, so the Texans have got a number that is relatively team friendly relative to his production on the field.
Devin McCourty, S, New England Patriots: 5-year, $47.5m with $28.5m guaranteed
Impact: One of the best safeties in the league, and a stabilizing force in the Patriots secondary. McCourty is about as consistent as it gets, rarely generating negative plays and always finishing with positive grades. His last three seasons have seen him finish in our top 15 at the safety spot and there’s no reason to believe that will change.
Value: It’s decent value in so much as you’ve got an extremely important part of your defense to re-sign, and that makes it a win for the team. But whenever you’re paying top dollar at a position you’ll always struggle to get into a higher bracket no matter how much we like the move.
Jerry Hughes, ED, Buffalo Bills: 5-year, $45m with $22m guaranteed
Impact: Something of a bust in Indianapolis (remember he was traded straight up for Kelvin Shepperd), Hughes has blossomed in Buffalo. His two seasons as Bill have seen him register a +19.9 and +9.7 grade with the only thing really letting him down 20 penalties over that period. Ideally suited to play in a line with lots of talent, he’s a little feast or famine at times, but his return ensures Buffalo has the leagues most dominant line.
Value: Not quite the value of Brandon Graham given how Hughes can go missing at times and his sack numbers may flatter him. But he’s proven an ability to get to the passer and that is king in the NFL.
Arthur Moats, ED, Pittsburgh Steelers: 3-year, $7.5m with $1.9m guaranteed
Impact: Was surprisingly effective in a limited role in Pittsburgh and gets to return on little guaranteed money with the opportunity for more snaps likely to increase if the team do not re-sign either James Harrison or Jason Worilds. Deserves more of a chance to rush the passer given his impressive output.
Value: Moats is a guy who will help on special teams, can backup across the linebacker spots and compete for a starting spot. And if doesn’t work out? Well with so little guaranteed you can get your losses after a year and move on as if nothing happened. Ideal signing.
Brian Hartline, WR, Cleveland Browns: 2-year, $6m with $1.5m guaranteed
Impact: Had a terrible 2014 but this is a gamble we can get behind because Hartline isn’t a bad player and you get the impression him getting out of Miami will see him return to his 2012-2013 levels of play. Over those two years he scored a +9.7 receiving grade.
Value: Cleveland were in desperate need of receiver and while this doesn’t solve their problems, it does make them less obvious. The fact they’ve guaranteed less than $2m is further proof that they’ve got a potential bargain while providing Hartline the perfect place to resurrect his career.
Cary Williams, DB, Seattle Seahawks: 3-year, $18m with $7m guaranteed
Impact: Eagles fan were glad to be rid after he got beat for nine touchdowns the past two years. But while he never lived up to the deal he signed he was better in 2014 and finished the season particularly strongly. In Seattle, where he’ll be afforded more protection, he’s a great fit for their physical scheme.
Value: Given some of the deals cornerbacks have signed this is a very tidy one that the team will be able to manage comfortably over the next couple of years. The onus is on Williams to perform.
Tyvon Branch, S, Kansas City Chiefs: 1-year, $2m with $200k guaranteed
Impact: He might not play or he might lock down a starting spot. Branch was one of the best safeties in the league with his combination of strong play against the run, an ability to blitz and cover the slot. Injuries have disrupted his career so there’s no telling if he can be that player again, but it’s a gamble worth taking.
Value: Just $200k guaranteed for a guy with the history of Branch? How can you not like that. Assuming he stays healthy he’ll eat up snaps at the very least in the teams dime package.
Trent Cole, ED, Indianapolis Colts: 2-year, $16m with $8m guaranteed
Impact: Had a higher pass rushing grade than any Colt edge rusher last year and has always been a good run defender. It’s not a move that helps them build a dynasty but the Colts are clearly in win now mode and Cole helps them do that.
Value: A one year pact essentially, if Cole continues to play at his high level then he’s well worth the guaranteed.
Stephen Paea, DT, Washington Redskins: 4-year, $21m with $15m guaranteed
Impact: Is this a case of a player in a contract year stepping it up, only to return to pre-2014 levels? Some are very concerned and this has been one of the most debated grades. Paea was destructive as an interior rusher on a bad defense, and that kind of skill set it hard to find.
Value: The Redskins haven’t put a lot of guaranteed money in, so while they’re at risk of Paea dropping off his level of play and overpaying, there’s also a chance that if he carries on his 2014 that they’ve got a real bargain.
Bryan Bulaga, OT, Green Bay Packers: 5-year, $34m with $8m guaranteed
Impact: The best pass blocking line in the league last year by a good margin gets to stay intact. We like to think the tackle positions have equal importance and Bulaga was the fourth highest graded right tackle his last two healthy seasons.
Value: The $8m guarantee is extremely low for a top tackle and likely a good think with Bulaga’s injury history. The Packers avoided the left tackle premium and only had to shell out the 20th highest contract among tackles on a per year basis for our 15th best tackle. last season Great value.
Jabaal Sheard, ED, New England Patriots: 2-year, $11m with $5.5m guaranteed
Impact: Flashed elite ability as a pass rusher and run defender in the past, but never quite put both together for a full season. Still finished an overall grade over +8.0 the past two seasons. The Patriots don’t sub their ends much, but Sheard has shown he’ll produce when called upon.
Value: $5.5m a year would be tremendous value for Shear’ds production the past two seasons. If he can see 600+ snaps this could be a steal.
Brandon Flowers, CB, San Diego Chargers: 4-year, $36m with $8m guaranteed
Impact: Took on a ‘prove it’ deal last offseason and did just that. When Jason Verrett was healthy the Chargers secondary looked like a completely different animal last season. Expecting more of the same in 2015.
Value: A mid level contract for a corner in this market with one negatively graded season in his seven year career. Easy decision here.
Clint Boling, OG, Cincinnati Bengals: 5-year, $26m with $5m guaranteed
Impact: A starter the last three seasons, Boling has proven more than competent. Made huge strides last year as a run blocker and it showed in the Bengals production on the ground. Still young enough at 25 years old to expect some development.
Value: Very low risk here with $5m guaranteed, but we’d imagine Boling still plays out a good portion of the contract as it’s very fair for a player of his caliber.
Andre Johnson, WR, Indianapolis Colts: 3-year, $21m with $10m guaranteed
Impact: Decline last year as much a product of being the number two option as a decline in skill. Can still win at the intermediate level and should complement T.Y. Hilton’s deep threat. Never played with a quarterback of Luck’s caliber and could see a resurgence in a high volume passing offense.
Value: At 34 years old by the start of next season, $7.5m year one is quite the risk for a receiver already declining. That being said we are cautiously optimistic. The deal can be off the books with no dead money after a year and Johnson brings a veteran presence to a young receiving corps.
0.0: Color Us Indifferent
C.J. Spiller, RB, New Orleans Saints: 4-year, $18m with $9m guaranteed
Impact: Spiller should fill in nicely as the Saints change of pace/receiving back that had previously been filled by Pierre Thomas. A freak athlete, Spiller has suffered from constant injuries and a weak offensive line for the majority of his career. Finally saw his amazing potential in 2012 where he posted the highest elusive rating we’ve ever seen (94.6), but hasn’t done much since.
Value: There is no doubt Spiller is an impact player when healthy, but his guaranteed money is high for a part time player with his injury history. The per year money isn’t outrageous, but it keeps the deal from getting a +.5 from us.
Kenny Britt, WR, St. Louis Rams: 2-year, $14m with $4.3m guaranteed
Impact: Emerged as the Rams number one receiver last year in his first year in St. Louis. Flashed the potential we saw early in his career, but was held back by inconsistent quarterback play. At 26 years old, no reason to think his play will decline any time soon.
Value: We like the short term contract to keep Britt motivated, but the money seems sizable for how much he produced last year. $7m per year puts him as the 20th highest paid receiver in the league.
Ron Parker, S, Kansas City Chiefs: 5-year, $25m with $8m guaranteed
Impact: Parker has the ability to play corner and safety allowing the Chiefs a lot of flexibility within their scheme. Only played 127 snaps before 2014, but graded out positively in coverage in over 1,000 snaps a year ago. Was a liability against the run with 22 missed tackles on the season.
Value: The guarantee is low enough that we are fine with the deal for now. He could develop into a nice player and his contract won’t have a cap hit of $5m until 2017. By that time the Chiefs should know more what they have and it will only cost them $3m to part ways if he’s not the teams starter.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Miami Dolphins: 2-year, $15m with $5m guaranteed
Impact: One of the elite receiving threats at the tight end position the last two seasons, Cameron gives the Dolphins the red zone threat that they’ve been missing. An extremely poor blocker who may be better off being used as a slot receiver in Miami.
Value: This history of concussions is always scary and his blocking prowess doesn’t help. The money is in the top 5 for the position, but only two years make it a worthwhile option for Miami that we’re excited to see play out.
Darnell Dockett, DI, San Francisco 49ers: 2-year, $7.5m with $2m guaranteed
Impact: Something of a gamble. Dockett looked on the decline before missing all of 2014 injured. But you feel a reduced role as more of a situational pass rusher could extend his shelf life and reap some immediate rewards for a 49ers team seemingly in turmoil.
Value: Not an awful lot of guaranteed money saves this deal, with the onus on Dockett to play well enough to get close to the max value.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: 4-year, $16m with $7.6m guaranteed
Impact: Stepped up as a runner in 2014 but still didn’t crack the 1,000 yard mark. That’s life in New Orleans where a prevalent passing game and variety of options at running back always limit the touches. Powerful runner though but not much cop in the passing game.
Value: Would probably be worth more in a team with more of a ground and pound focus, Ingram is a nice retain for the Saints who have seen Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles leave in recent years.
Todd Herremans, G, Indianapolis Colts: 1-year, $2.25m with 500k guaranteed
Impact: You kind of have to ignore his 2014 season where he played hurt. Before that Herremans was one of the most dominant run blockers in the league, but always looked shaky in pass protection. Not a great fit for Indy if they’re intended to pass the ball 600 times. But he will make the running game better.
Value: Very little guaranteed money on a veteran is always handy, and while we question the fit with Indianapolis (unless they run the ball more) he does provide an upgrade.
Virgil Green, TE, Denver Broncos: 3 year, $8.4m with $4.2m guaranteed
Impact: Has proved a solid backup tight end without ever really showcasing enough receiving skills to be anything more. With Gary Kubiak in charge we’d expect more 12 personnel this year so a bigger role for Green to show his worth.
Value: A necessary if unspectacular move, Green doesn’t have the sample size to really make a huge judgment on and the money isn’t really prohibitive in that regard.
Mike Iupati, OG, Arizona Cardinals: 5 year, $40m with $22.5m guaranteed
Impact: The Cardinals line continues to improve and this time they’ve added an absolute beast of a run blocker. No left guard had a higher run block rating than Iupati and he has constantly overpowered linemen on the line and at the second level. It’s just a shame that his pass protection has never mirrored that work.
Value: In a passing league this is more money than we’d like to pay for a guard who can be something of a liability in that regard. We don’t hate the move though because ultimately the Cardinals needed to get better on the interior of their line, particularly in the running game, and Iupati will be a big upgrade for whoever is running the ball.
Da’Norris Searcy, S, Tennessee Titans: 4 year, $24m with $10.5m guaranteed
Impact: Really impressed in a rotational role in 2014, though you do question why he had to timeshare in the first place. The sample size is the scary part because you’d like more “proof” before handing someone so much guaranteed.
Value: It’s questionable. Searcy has the potential to go either way where if he follows his career trajectory he’ll really add something to the Titans secondary and if he doesn’t, he’ll likely be cut in two years with fans bemoaning the waste of money.
Frank Gore, HB, Indianapolis Colts: 3 year, $12m with $7.5m guaranteed
Impact: The Colts needed a decisive runner behind a line that has improved year on year running the ball. Gore is that guy, but he’s got a lot of wear and tear on his body and isn’t coming off a dominant year in San Fran.
Value: A lot will depend on how Gore ages. He’s worth the money now but running backs have been known to drop off a cliff, at which point the rest of the guaranteed money after 2015 will seem something of a waste.
Jared Odrick, DI, Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-year, $42.5m with $22.5 guaranteed
Impact: Likely to take over Red Bryant’s role from last season, Odrick will provide considerably more pass rush from that position than Bryant did. We question whether his run defense can hold up, but the Jags obviously are fine with the trade off after finished as a bottom 10 pass rushing team last season.
Value: While capable of above average play at high snap counts, Odrick hasn’t quite put together production that would suggest a top 10 defensive tackle contract. His year over year development is reason for optimism though.
Ndamukong Suh, DI, Miami Dolphins: 6-year, $114m with $60m guaranteed
Impact: Transforms Miami’s defensive line into a juggernaut and allows them many options with his versatility. Made vast strides of late in the run game and provides an answer for Dolphins late season run game woes. Has only improved year after year.
Value: Can a defensive tackle impact the game at a $19m per year level? Suh plays at as high a level at the position as anyone in the game, but Miami overpaid here and will assuredly feel the cap strain down the road.
Shane Vereen, HB, New York Giants: 3-year, $12.5m with $3.5m guaranteed
Impact: Primarily a receiving back that can run a full compliment of routes out of the backfield. Not someone you’d trust to carry the ball 20 times a game, but has performed above average in that respect when given the chance.
Value: A little pricey here for a one dimensional back, but he’s one of the best in that dimension. If the Giants can figure out a way to work him seamlessly into their offense than he’ll be worth the money.
Corey Peters, DT, Arizona Cardinals: 3-year, $10.5m with $5.75m guaranteed
Impact: Peters is an improving defensive tackle that should be a replacement for the multiple losses on the Cardinals line. Peters has developed into a competent run defender after a shaky start to his career and isn’t a liability against the pass.
Value: The money is small enough that the deal should work out for Arizona. Peters won’t be able to replace Dan Williams run stopping ability, but he’ll certainly ease the loss.
Rodney Hudson, C, Oakland Raiders: 5-year, $44.5m with $20m guaranteed
Impact: Young center only getting better. Hudson single-handedly propped up a leaky Chiefs line last year and has improved every season with more experience. Keeping Derek Carr clean is priority number one in Oakland, and Hudson will do just that.
Value: This is what keeps this deal from getting a positive. The guaranteed money is a record for a center and with only two full seasons under Hudson’s belt that makes us a little uneasy. Also head-scratching why they would cut ties with Stefen Wisniewski, who produced at a high level in the past, when he could have been had for a fraction of Hudson’s money.
Kendall Langford, DI, Indianapolis Colts: 4-year, $17.2m with $2.5m guaranteed
Impact: At 29 years old we know what we’re getting from Langford at this point and it’s average play against both run and pass. That has value, especially on a team like the Colts that lacks any sort of talent up front, but it’s just not too much to get excited about.
Value: The small guarantee is good for the Colts and makes it a year to year type contract. Langford should fit in swimmingly with the Colts free agent philosophy of finding veteran stopgaps.
Owen Daniels, TE, Denver Broncos: 3-year, $12m with $3m guaranteed
Impact: The Broncos are taking a chance that the veteran tight end will develop a rapport with Peyton Manning faster than a rookie will. With Daniels’ putting together another productive receiving season in his first season in Baltimore, they may just be right.
Value: The money screams ‘win now’. It seems very unlikely they’ll want the now 32 year old Daniels on the books $5.5m in 2017. With only a few years left of Manning though I can’t blame them for going all in for one more super bowl run.
-0.5: Did You Really Need To Make That Move?
Antonio Cromartie, CB, New York Jets: 4-year, $32m with $7m guaranteed
Impact: Cromartie looked like a revelation in Arizona last season until he faded considerably down the stretch. Todd Bowles is certainly familiar with Cromartie and banking that he can right the ship in New York. We assume with the money given that Cromartie will be the starter, but Dee Milliner had done nothing up til this point in his career to suggest he should be replaced.
Value: Essentially a one year deal with the guaranteed money so not a huge risk. We’re just not fans of giving up on a former top 10 pick so soon.
Dan Skuta, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-year, $20.5m with $8m guaranteed
Impact: Graded out positively in each of the past two seasons at outside linebacker in the 49ers 3-4. Played a very limited role however, playing just over 700 total snaps in San Francisco. Skuta should step in as the OTTO linebacker, or a hybrid 4-3 outside linebacker that typically plays on the line of scrimmage.
Value: It’s always dangerous projecting backup success to starter success, especially when that player has been in the league for five seasons without starting. We liked Skuta as a backup, but $8m guaranteed is too much for us to get excited about this move.
Lance Kendricks, TE, St. Louis Rams: 4-year, $18.5m with $10m guaranteed
Impact: A competent run blocker early in his career, Kendricks has been average in that aspect of late. Still figures to be the Rams number two tight end, but has still seen over 500 snaps the previous two seasons. Has h-back flexibility, but has never been overly impressive in that role.
Value: The Rams now have over $22m of guaranteed money locked up in two tight ends. While they play a lot of two tight end sets, they’ve yet to combine for 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Kendricks $4.6m per year is the 15th highest at the position and he is not even the starter.
Eddie Royal, WR, Chicago Bears: 3-year, $15m with $10m guaranteed
Impact: Took the 3rd most snaps in the slot of any receiver last year and figures to fill the same role in Chicago. Was only able to garner 13th best yards per route run from the slot (1.31) despite playing in one of the league’s best passing offenses.
Value: By now we know what Royal is, and it’s not close to $10m guaranteed. He got the same guaranteed money as Andre Johnson and is now the 30th highest paid receiver on a per year basis.
Cole Beasley, WR, Dallas Cowboys: 4-year, $13.6m with $7m guaranteed
Impact: Including the postseason Beasley has 98 career receptions. His 1.22 yards per slot reception don’t exactly blow us away either, with the general feeling you can find a similar talent to Beasley around the league relatively comfortably. Not a bad player just not a good one.
Value: This is where the deal falls down. The Cowboys have paid him like Andrew Hawkins, and Andrew Hawkins he is not. Dependable target that they’ve ever so slightly overpaid for.
Rey Maualuga, LB, Cincinnati Bengals: 3-year, $15m with $4.5m guaranteed
Impact: Played better this year in limited snaps and despite missing some time hurt, finishing the year particularly strongly. In a more situational role is good enough to add something but will get found out the more than is asked of him.
Value: Too rich for our liking. Essentially a one-year five million deal, you’re paying Maualuga like a solid every down starter when he’s a notch below that.
David Harris, LB, New York Jets: 3-year, $21m with $15m guaranteed
Impact: An integral part of a changing Jets defense, Harris has had a knack for making plays but has always struggled to get off blocks. That’s just not his game. At this stage in his career he’s a good player but his reputation out weighs his performance. Our 29th ranked inside linebacker last year with a -1.2 grade.
Value: He’s more valuable to the Jets than elsewhere, but the guaranteed money has soured us on this deal. More money than we’re comfortable with.
Michael Oher, OT, Carolina Panthers: 2-year, $7.5m with $2.5m guaranteed
Impact: At this stage you have to accept Oher as a disappointment, that rookie year where he was so good is the exception and not the rule. Was poor in Tennessee with the ninth worst grade of all tackles. Looked and played like a poor fit as a Titan and so it proved.
Value: It’s not a terrible deal but you’re still paying him like a starter. Oher has a reputation that will keep getting him a chance to play but at some point you have to allow some other team to take the chance. As desperate as Carolina might be for line help this seems an unnecessary punt.
Josh Mauga, LB, Kansas City Chiefs: 3-year, $8.25m with $2.25m guaranteed
Impact: Derrick Johnson he is not. Our seventh lowest ranked linebacker in 2014, Mauga proved that he really shouldn’t be starting in the NFL and was better suited to being a backup and special teams player.
Value: It’s the guaranteed money that feels a bit silly. Surely you could find a replacement level talent for the veteran minimum given his -14.0 grade in his 1,028 2014 snaps. Just not value.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: 2-year, $16m with $5.5m guaranteed
Impact: Set out to disprove the theory than Chip Kelly had a QB friendly system. Earned his -9.8 grade with his usual failings whenever faced with pressure. Regardless of system he’s just not a solid option at quarterback that is going to take you very far unless you can do what the Jets did and build a near flawless roster around him.
Value: Money suggests he will compete for a starting spot this year, which should scare Eagles fans no end. He’s not a starting quarterback in this league and so paying him this much makes little sense.
Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-year, $47m with $24m guaranteed
Impact: No denying that Thomas has become an impact receiving tight end, finishing third in our TE receiver rankings in 2013 and 10th last year. He’s a touchdown machine undoubtedly but the Jags don’t just need a redzone threat, they need someone who will help them move the chains and you question if Thomas has proven he can be a go to guy all over the field for Blake Bortles.
Value: The Jags definitely got better signing Thomas, but they sure did pay a lot to do so. Thomas will no have to prove he’s a more complete receiving tight end then he’s shown and that’s a leap of faith we’d be concerned by.
Torrey Smith, WR, San Francisco 49ers: 5-year, $40m with $22m guaranteed
Impact: One of the very best at getting deep and drawing defensive pass interference fouls, we’d like this more if it was just a little less money. Smith has never really developed into an all round receiver, though he gets deep like few do. He’ll add a dimension to the 49ers passing attack but can they make use of him?
Value: Like we said, a little rich for our liking. Smith you imagine will benefit from playing with Anquan Boldin again but a lot will come down to what kind of chemistry he and Kaepernick develop. Otherwise we could have a less expensive Ryan Tannehill/Mike Wallace situation develop.
Byron Maxwell, CB, Philadelphia Eagles: 6-year, $63m with $25m guaranteed
Impact: 17 starts as an NFL player and a poor end to his 2014 season. That Seahawks branding sure benefits players. The truth is Maxwell burst onto the scene with an extremely impressive 2013 but didn’t really keep that up during his first full season as a starter.
Value: A gamble that Maxwell can deliver in a way that Cary Williams couldn’t. The parallels of him and Williams will be very interesting to watch, and by our grading of the deals you can see who we think got the better of it.
Curtis Lofton, LB, Oakland Raiders: 3-year, $18m with $6.5m guaranteed
Impact: The Raiders had to upgrade from Miles Burris and Lofton is that, albeit not by much. The undersized linebacker missed the most tackles in the league last season, one more than Burris, and graded in the bottom five at the position. Lofton has had better years in the past, but nothing to suggest him turning around the Raiders run defense.
Value: Everything about the money here seems too high. His per year salary is on par with what Karlos Dansby signed last offseason and they are on complete opposite ends of the performance spectrum.
Jermey Parnell, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars: 5-year, $32m with $13m guaranteed
Impact: Parnell joins a Jaguars line that the gives reason for excitement. Two key free agents and three promising recent draft picks form what could be their first above average line in some time. There are a lot of question marks and Parnell is atop that list. Parnell has just 805 snaps to his name, and while the 507 from last year were impressive, the sample size much lower than we would like.
Value: We keep coming back to the unnecessary risk of $13m guaranteed. That is a very high number for a player heading into his sixth year with less than a seasons worth of snaps to his name. He could very well continue to be that player we saw last year, but Brian Bulaga got $5m less guaranteed for basically a known quantity.
Bruce Carter, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4-year, $20.5m with $4.25 guaranteed
Impact: Athletic freak who doesn’t quite live up to the billing in coverage. Has experience in the Tampa 2 and reportedly will fill the crucial middle linebacker role. We just don’t see the fit as Carter lacks the required physicality against the run.
Value: Just the first season guaranteed here so not too much risk. Still a high figure though for someone who adds no value to an already porous run defense.
Antrel Rolle, S, Chicago Bears: 3-year, $11.2m with $5m guaranteed
Impact: The Bears safety position has been a thorn in their side for years now. The Rolle signing addresses that, but it still doesn’t solve it. He’s had a single positively grade season in the PFF era and at 32 years old his best days are likely behind him.
Value: The structure here is friendly to the Bears. It’s essentially a $5m one year deal that can be released without repercussion next season. That said, $5m is still more than we’d like for someone of Rolle’s caliber.
James Carpenter, OG, New York Jets: 4-year, $19m with $7.5m guaranteed
Impact: The Jets are in desperate need of guard help, but Carpenter doesn’t appear to be the answer. The former first round pick has been an poor run blocker in his time at guard and while he’s an upgrade from Willie Colon, that’s not saying much.
Value: $7.5 guaranteed is a bit higher than you’d like and means Carpenter likely won’t be dumped after one season if he fails to perform. Banking on that first round potential here.
Davon House, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-year, $25m with $10m guaranteed
Impact: Never played more than 533 snaps in a season. Shown man coverage skills in his limited role, and should figure to be number one starter in Jacksonville. A bit of an unknown, but has always been touted as having all the tools to succeed. Was buried behind two fairly solid corners in Green Bay, but it’s still worrisome that he could never break through in a starting role.
Value: Like Parnell, it’s hard to like this deal with all the risk involved. Part time success doesn’t always translate to full time success and House wasn’t even all that impressive in a limited role.
-1.0: That’s An Awfully Big Gamble
Brandon Browner, CB, New Orleans Saints: 3-year, $15m with $10m guaranteed
Impact: Likely the penciled in starter at corner across from Keenan Lewis. Browner can help ease matchup issues as he’s the league’s largest cornerback, but his coverage skills at this point are questionable at best. Flagged 19 times last year playing just 61% of the Patriots total snaps.
Value: So this is what all the cap shaving was for? The $10m guaranteed means he’ll be with the Saints likely past age 32. A lot of money for a corner with a serious penalty problem.
Buster Skrine, CB, New York Jets: 4-year, $25m with $13m guaranteed
Impact: Skrine was flagged for 17 penalties in 2014, was the second most targeted cornerback in the league, and got beat for eight touchdowns. You can never have enough defensive backs but with the other moves the Jets have made in free agency (and not forgetting they have former first round pick Dee Milliner on the roster) it’s hard to see why they felt the need to make Skrine such a rich man relative to his prior performance.
Value: It feels a little like a team with a lot of cap room are throwing as much mud at the secondary woes and seeing what sticks. A tad unnecessary and they could get better players for less money.
Dwayne Harris, WR, New York Giants: 5-year, $17.5m with $7.5m guaranteed
Impact: 34 career receptions and some highlight reel punt returns. Harris couldn’t surpass Cole Beasley on the Cowboys depth chart yet got more guaranteed money for him. We’re not seeing the logic for a player who in the regular season or preseason hasn’t offered enough to suggest he can be a viable part of an offense.
Value: Non existent. It’s hard to believe any team would have come close to matching this offer.
J.T. Thomas, LB, New York Giants: 3-year, $12m with $4.5m guaranteed
Impact: The more Thomas played in Jacksonville the less the Jags wanted to see of him, with him ending the year with a -14.8 grade. Was particularly bad down the stretch but has done nowhere near enough to warrant the kind of guaranteed money you pay for someone you’re expecting to contribute on defense.
Value: The Giants like a selection of linebackers but it feels like they’re pushing the boundaries of things if they’re expecting Thomas to be a 500+ snap a year guy given his play the past two years. The guaranteed money again seems like something nobody else would pay.
-1.5: Why Would You Go And Do That?
-2.0: You’re Bringing Back Brett Favre?
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