NFL free agency is one of the most exciting times of the NFL offseason, especially when things really start to ramp up and the offers for star players start flying.
While most teams would love nothing more than to land the big-name free agent, not all those splash signings work out for the better. Sometimes, it's the smaller moves that really make a difference to the team-building effort.
Here are the best free-agency moves from Tuesday, starting with the Dallas Cowboys‘ trade for star cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
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CB Stephon Gilmore traded to Dallas Cowboys
- Cowboys grade: A
- Colts grade: B
- Cowboys receive: Stephon Gilmore
- Raiders receive: Fifth-round compensatory pick
Gilmore has been one of the best cornerbacks in football since moving to the New England Patriots in 2017, and he reconfirmed that with an impressive showing for the Indianapolis Colts in 2022 after playing just 304 snaps with the Carolina Panthers in 2021. Since 2017, his 92.8 PFF coverage grade is the highest among all cornerbacks to play at least 1,000 snaps.
Gilmore is owed $8.96 million combined in salary and a roster bonus due later in the offseason and can earn up to $1.02 million in per-game roster bonuses. This is great value for Dallas, and serving as a veteran mentor to the still-ascending Trevon Diggs is an added bonus.
CB Emmanuel Moseley to sign one-year, $6 million deal with Detroit Lions
- Fit/need grade: A
- Value grade: A-
- Contract: One year, $6 million
- PFF projected contract: One year, $4.25 million, $3 million guaranteed
This is a smart buy-low decision from the Detroit Lions on a player who started off the 2022 season strong, earning a career-high 73.5 coverage grade through Week 5, before tearing his ACL leading up to Week 6. That injury is far removed from Week 1 of 2023, so it’s not as if Moseley recently got hurt and is beginning rehab. Detroit has now added Cameron Sutton and Moseley, with Jeffrey Okudah and Jerry Jacobs in the fold, which could dramatically improve their cornerback unit that was in desperate need of reinforcement.
The interesting thing to monitor will be if Sutton kicks inside to the slot in nickel packages, with his flexibility a nice component of his value, though he’s played more on the outside in recent years.
TE Darren Waller traded from Las Vegas Raiders to New York Giants
- Raiders grade: C+
- Giants grade: A-
- Giants receive: Darren Waller
- Raiders receive: No. 100 pick
Injuries have limited Waller over the past two seasons, but when at his best he is one of the top tight ends in football. Between 2019 and 2020, only the San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce bested his 91.2 PFF receiving grade among tight ends. His 2.42 yards per route run in 2019 and 2.28 in 2020 ranked fourth and second, respectively, at the position. If the Giants can get a healthy version of Waller who resembles that player again, this is a huge addition.
The Raiders deserve some credit for ensuring Waller’s extension signed last offseason did not preclude a trade for a player they’ve explored moving on multiple occasions, but after signing Jimmy Garoppolo, you immediately get rid of a difference-making weapon.
WR Michael Thomas signs one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints
- Fit/need grade: A
- Value grade: A
- Contract: One year, $10 million, up to $15 million
- PFF projected contract: Three years, $40 million ($13.33 million per year)
After missing much of 2020 and all of 2021, Thomas was productive through the first three games of the 2022 season, averaging 1.64 yards per route run and catching 16 of the 17 catchable passes thrown his way.
He’s still only 30 years old, so if he can stay healthy, the Saints have a reliable option to go along with Chris Olave, who stood out as a rookie.