10 best free agent signings through Week 13
Eric Eager examines 2015's top-performing free agent signees, naming the teams that have seen the most value from their investments.
10 best free agent signings through Week 13
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 again. As we close the book on the 13th week of the NFL season, we take a look at the top 10 free agent signings, in terms of value.
1. Richie Incognito, G, Bills (one year, $1.1 million, 91.5 overall grade)
The Bills acquired Incognito for practically nothing in the offseason, and he has responded by producing the second-best PFF grade amongst guards, with only one negatively-graded game all season. He also owns a 91.5 run blocking grade, while posting the fifth-best pass blocking efficiency among guards, with a 97.8.
2. Pernell McPhee, OLB, Bears (five years, $40 million, 87.6)
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. He’s been slowed a bit recently by injury, but still leads all 3-4 OLBs in pass rush productivity, and has added 15 stops in the run game.
3. Dan Williams, DT, Raiders (four years, $25 million, 83.3)
While Oakland has struggled recently, it’s not because of Williams. PFF’s 11th-graded interior defender after 12 games, he has put together arguably his best season to date. He is currently third among defensive tackles in run stop percentage, and has earned a positive grade in all but two games this season.
4. Evan Mathis, G, Broncos (one year, $3.25 million, 85.6)
Acquired relatively cheaply in August, Mathis has been Denver’s highest-graded offensive player by a wide margin, and only starting offensive linemen with a positive grade, despite a slow start (-3.3 and 0.5 in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively). His 94.8 run blocking grade is the second-best among guards. This is Mathis’ seventh straight season with a positive PFF grade.
5. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Steelers (two years, $4 million, 83.2)
Williams has seen a rebirth in his game this season, stepping in for the injured Le’Veon Bell (94.0 overall grade) to post the sixth-best grade among RBs through 12 games. He has been the highest-graded running back in the NFL in weeks where Bell was either injured or suspended, all while being one of two qualifying RBs to not allow a pressure in pass protection over the first 12 weeks.
6. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Patriots (two years, $11 million, 83.3)
Sheard has missed some time with injury, but when he’s been on the field, he’s been terrific. Despite playing only 370 snaps, Sheard is eighth among 4-3 DE in hurries (28), leaving him trailing only Ziggy Ansah in pass rush productivity among that group. He’s also added 15 stops on the season, as well.
7. Joe Barksdale, OT, Chargers (one year, $1.095 million, 84.0)
Barksdale has been a rare bright spot for the Chargers, manning the right tackle spot for every game this season and posting the 15th-best overall PFF grade for tackles. He has held up well both as a pass blocker (85.2 in 558 pass-blocking snaps) and as a run blocker (79.2 in 296 run-blocking snaps).
8. Darian Stewart, S, Broncos (2 years, $4.25 million, 87.0)
Signed in the offseason to replace Rahim Moore, he has given the Broncos more than they bargained for. He currently holds the sixth-best PFF grade among safeties for the best defense in the NFL, adding 12 stops, three pass break-ups, an interception, and a QB hurry.
9. Patrick Robinson, CB, Chargers (one year, $3 million, 82.1)
Robinson has vastly outplayed his more celebrated (and paid) teammate Brandon Flowers (33.7 overall grade), posting the second-best yards per coverage snap amongst CBs (0.61). He has surrendered just a 70.9 passer rating on passes thrown into his coverage, while posing the 17th-best run stop percentage among CBs (2.2).
10. Rodney Hudson, C, Raiders (five years, $44.5 million, 84.3)
Hudson has been a big part of the development of Raiders’ QB Derek Carr. He owns the top pass blocking efficiency among qualifying centers (98.7), allowing just five pressures on 318 pass-blocking snaps. He is currently fourth among centers in PFF pass blocking grades (83.4) and sixth in run blocking grades (82.3).