Favorite, least favorite free agency moves for all 32 NFL teams

East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Indianapolis Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore (5) before the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

  • Dallas Cowboys trade for Brandin Cooks and Stephon GilmoreBoth moves constituted some of the best moves during the initial free agency period among the 32 NFL teams.
  • Buffalo Bills fail to address offensive tackle: Even though Bills made some positive moves during free agency, failing to upgrade the swing tackle spot was a bit puzzling.
  • Detroit Lions overhaul secondary: Signing Cameron Sutton was a wise move to improve the Lions' defensive back room.
Estimated reading time: 32 minutes

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Arizona Cardinals

Favorite: Re-signing guard Will Hernandez

Hernandez missed a chunk of time in the middle of the 2022 season, which was unfortunate because it derailed a quietly excellent pass-blocking campaign for the former second-rounder. Over six starts from Week 7 through Week 18, Hernandez earned 80.0-plus pass-blocking grades in five of them. He finished the year with a sub-3.0% pressure rate allowed, tapping back into his potential as a quality pass-blocking guard in this league.

Arizona was set to lose its top four guards in snaps played from 2022, but by retaining Hernandez on a multi-year deal they maintain some continuity and could have great surplus value in 2024 if he continues to play at a high level. 

Least favorite: Losing cornerback Byron Murphy Jr.

Arizona’s defense on paper may be the least talented unit in the NFL, and the team's cornerback room was already thin before this offseason. 

Murphy can play out wide and in the slot, and he has three straight seasons with coverage grades above 63.0, with his 1.8% explosive play allowed percentage over the past two campaigns a top-25 mark among cornerbacks.


Atlanta Falcons

Favorite: Adding interior defenders David Onyemata and Calais Campbell

Over the past three seasons, Onyemata's 11.4% pressure percentage ranks 11th among interior defenders. He also earned back-to-back pass-rush grades above 75.0 in 2020 and 2021. Campbell is a Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner and is still playing at a very high level, extending his remarkable streak of season-long grades above 70.0 to 12 years running in 2022, after tallying 34 quarterback pressures and 5.5 sacks on the season.

Grady Jarrett is now surrounded by quality talent along the interior of the defensive line, something that has not been the case for some time. 

Least favorite: Value on quarterback Taylor Heinicke

Heinicke is an awesome story and a fun player, but he had ample opportunity in Washington this past season, and his 48.9 passing grade ranked 47th out of 48 quarterbacks with 100 or more passing attempts in 2022. The journeyman also led all quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts in turnover-worthy play rate (6.2%) in 2022, a half of a percentage point higher than the next player. He’s not a game-managing backup; he tries to be a gunslinger. And other backup quarterbacks of a similar caliber signed for less.


Baltimore Ravens

Favorite: N/A

This isn’t an attempt to take a shot at the Ravens, as sitting out free agency is often a good thing, but they really didn’t do much of note. 

Least favorite: Releasing Calais Campbell

Baltimore has a lot of big contracts on its roster, and Campbell is obviously getting up there in age, but it’s never easy to part ways with a locker-room leader and a consistently productive player along the defensive line. Campbell earned grades above 70.0 in both run defense and as a pass rusher, but Baltimore did get out ahead of this move by adding Michael Pierce, Brent Urban and Travis Jones last offseason. 


Buffalo Bills

Favorite: Re-signing Jordan Poyer

Poyer has been remarkably durable in the latter half of his career, logging around 1,000 snaps in five straight seasons before finally missing some time and playing through various ailments in 2022. This likely helps explain how Buffalo was able to retain a cornerstone of its defense on a team-friendly deal, and the team will once again have the dynamic duo of Poyer and Micah Hyde on the back end.

From 2020 to 2021, Poyer ranked ninth among safeties in PFF wins above replacement and second in coverage grade (90.7). He and Hyde can both excel in single-high and two-high safety looks, allowing Sean McDermott to creatively deploy them and confuse opposing quarterbacks with various looks. Buffalo retains a key defensive piece here for less than many expected. 

Least favorite: Not addressing offensive tackle

The Bills retained Jordan Poyer for less than many expected, and while we don’t have the details yet, also added a good box safety in Taylor Rapp. They also bolstered the interior of their offensive line with the additions of guards Connor McGovern and David Edwards, but bringing in a swing tackle would’ve been a worthwhile addition, as well.


Carolina Panthers

Favorite: Signing wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. on a one-year, $5 million deal

Chark is a true field stretcher at 6-foot-4 with a 4.34-second 40-yard dash, and he will be just 26 years old in Week 1. He missed time in 2022 and opted to go with another one-year flier, and Carolina was a perfect place to do so. If Chark produces all year like he did the last six weeks in Detroit, he should cash in. He posted strong numbers to close out the year:

  • 73.8 receiving grade
  • 388 receiving yards (17th among wide receivers)
  • 10 explosive rec. (12th)
  • 18.5 yards per reception (5th)

Least favorite: Value on wide receiver Adam Thielen‘s contract

It was a tale of two values here at wide receiver after the Panthers had to make moves following their trade of D.J. Moore to the Chicago Bears. Thielen has undoubtedly been a great player for a long time, and he brings a veteran presence that was needed on offense, but this is a really strong contract for a wide receiver who will turn 33 years old before Week 1. Thielen’s 10.2 yards per reception, 2.3 yards after the catch per reception, 1.06 yards per route run and 65.0 grade were all career lows in 2022, though he was apparently dealing with an injury and could perhaps get back to form. 


Chicago Bears

Favorite: Signing guard Nate Davis

Davis is a good fit in the Bears and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s offensive scheme, with a similar outside-zone-based rushing attack as the system he started his career with in Tennessee. Davis’ 79.3 run-blocking grade on outside zone rushes over the past three seasons ranked seventh among guards, which is likely a big reason he was a top target.

Davis also earned a career-high 66.8 pass-blocking grade in 2022 and will still be 26 years old in Week 1 of 2023. These are the type of winning moves you make in free agency, not chasing near the top of the market at premium positions for non-premium players. 

Least favorite: Lack of defensive line moves

Nate Davis is a picture-perfect fit for this Bears offense, and Chicago made a few other quality additions, but their defensive line unit is still among the worst in the league.

The Bears were smart to not go crazy in free agency, with many of the contracts for interior defenders way above the players’ actual value to this point in their careers. Furthermore, the additions of DeMarcus Walker as an inside-outside edge rusher and Andrew Billings as a nose tackle were smart and worthwhile. All of that said, Chicago will have to add talent that can contribute right away in next month’s draft.


Cincinnati Bengals

Favorite: Value for tackle Orlando Brown Jr.

While teams across the league have clearly made a statement that they don’t view Brown as an elite left tackle, Cincinnati gets great value on a very good player here. Brown has five straight seasons with a 73.5-plus pass-blocking grade and has played more than 1,000 snaps in four straight years.

Houston Texans tackle Laremy Tunsil reset the market with a three-year, $75 million extension a few days after Brown joined the Bengals. Brown is set to earn roughly $50 million in cash over the next three years, and Tunsil is due to rake in $72.15 million. Brown is also two years younger than Tunsil. This was maybe the heist of the offseason from Cincinnati, with the added bonus that Brown no longer plays for the Chiefs.

Least favorite: Lack of depth at tight end, running back

Cincinnati did well to prepare for the loss of both starting safeties by drafting Daxton Hill in the first round in 2022 and signing free safety Nick Scott to a win-win deal, and they made a sharp late addition at a spot in need of more talent with cornerback Sidney Jones.

Adding tight end Irv Smith Jr. could be a great one-year flier, just like Hayden Hurst was, but Cincinnati needs more at the position considering his injury history. After losing Samaje Perine and with Joe Mixon’s contract probably larger than his worth, they could’ve added depth at running back. Both spots can be addressed in the draft, but it’s never great to have needs that may force a bit of a reach.


Cleveland Browns

Favorite: Bolstering defensive line

Interior defender Dalvin Tomlinson was arguably not utilized in the most favorable manner in Minnesota as a three-technique alongside even bigger nose tackles, as that was his most advantageous alignment to begin his career with the New York Giants. That said, he’s been one of the most consistent players in the entire NFL over the past six seasons. Tomlinson has never earned a season-long grade below 74.9 and has logged at least 550 snaps each year.

From Week 7 through the end of the regular season, new edge defender Ogbonnia Okoronkwo ranked in the top 10 among edge defenders in pass-rush grade (88.5), pressure percentage (17.5%) and pass-rush win rate (22.9%). This could prove to be one of the under-the-radar signings that ages quite well during the season.

Least favorite: N/A

Now including the trade for wide receiver Elijah Moore, the Browns have probably had my favorite offseason of any team thus far.


Dallas Cowboys

Favorite: Trading for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerback Stephon Gilmore

Despite a revolving door of mediocre quarterbacks in Houston, Brandin Cooks earned an 82.1 cumulative receiving grade over his three seasons with the Texans, which was a top-30 mark at the position. His 1.90 yards per route run ranked in the top 25, his 66 explosive receptions ranked 17th and his 30 receptions on balls thrown 20-plus yards downfield ranked eighth. Dallas was also able to shave off $9 million of the contract they inherited, ultimately acquiring Cooks on a two-year, $20 million pact.

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 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 he can earn up to $1.02 million in per-game roster bonuses. This is great value for Dallas, and his serving as a veteran mentor to the still-ascending Trevon Diggs is an added bonus. 

Least favorite: No injection of youth

Dallas did well to retain internal free agents, including an exciting young player in safety Donovan Wilson, but most of their re-signings are closer to 30 years old, as were their two trade acquisitions. A little injection of youth could’ve been nice, though Dallas tends to draft well and still has a pick in all seven rounds to do so even after acquiring Cooks and Gilmore.


Denver Broncos

Favorite: Going back to what made Russell Wilson work in Seattle

Sean Payton has enough cache to do whatever he wants in his new role, and he’s made it clear he wants to run the football a ton and then utilize play action to take deep shots with Russell Wilson. Many believed this was holding Wilson back in Seattle, myself included, but we could not have been more wrong.

Payton brought in right tackle Mike McGlinchey as opposed to a more established pass-blocking tackle, tried to sign blocking wide receiver Allen Lazard and signed Samaje Perine to hold down the fort while Javonte Williams recovers from a torn ACL.

Least favorite: Seemingly ignoring market values

One could argue the deals for tackle Mike McGlinchey, guard Ben Powers and interior defender Zach Allen were among the richest deals for players this offseason. All are good players who will make an impact in Denver, but the club didn’t seem all that interested in getting good value.


Detroit Lions

Favorite: Overhauling secondary

Cameron Sutton quietly continued to excel in a Pittsburgh coverage unit that was otherwise very exploitable this season, with 2022 being just his second season as a full-time starter on the outside. Sutton earned a 71.0 coverage grade and allowed just 411 receiving yards — the ninth fewest among cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps on the season.

The Lions needed to find an outside cornerback in free agency this offseason, and Sutton provides exactly that. Pittsburgh’s scheme in 2022 played man coverage at about the same rate as Detroit did, and so the schematic fit makes sense for both sides.

Least favorite: Losing wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr.

Detroit has reunited with Marvin Jones Jr., who is still a great contested catch threat downfield at 33 years of age, but they will be losing a big-bodied speed element on the outside in Chark. If 2022 first-rounder Jameson Williams can come along, it ultimately may not matter. Detroit had a great offseason, though they could stand to add a little more talent on the interior of their defensive line. Fortunately, they have an arsenal of quality draft picks to do just that. 


Green Bay Packers

Favorite: Retaining edge defender Justin Hollins

The Packers largely sat out free agency, as they tend to do, but retaining Hollins — who they picked up in the middle of the 2022 season — was a smart move, especially with Rashan Gary recovering from a torn ACL. Hollins racked up nine pressures and 2.5 sacks in a rotational role over six weeks with the club, in addition to six defensive stops.

Least favorite: Lack of moves at safety

Former Packers safety Adrian Amos is still on the market, and with former first-round safety Darnell Savage benched this past season before moving to slot cornerback, Green Bay could use some serious reinforcements on the back end.


Houston Texans

Favorite: Signing tight end Dalton Schultz

A day after the Houston Texans traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Dallas Cowboys, the former Cowboys tight end signed in Houston on a one-year flier that was one of the more surprising deals of the entire offseason. Houston needs another reliable pass catcher in its offense with a rookie quarterback on the way, but the team also gets a tight end who can block with some of the best in the NFL in an offense that is expected to need that skill set at the position. Over the past three seasons, Schultz joins George Kittle and Mark Andrews as the only tight ends to earn receiving and run-blocking grades above 70.0 each year. 

Least favorite: Many short-term deals for older players

The free agency approach of adding high-character veterans to a roster that needed a complete overhaul made a lot of sense when Nick Caserio initially took the reins in Houston. It makes less sense now. 


Indianapolis Colts

Favorite: Signing edge defender Samson Ebukam

Ebukam earned career highs across the board in 2022, with a 69.1 overall grade, 43 quarterback pressures and 11.8% pressure percentage. The former fourth-rounder profiles as a solid replacement for Yannick Ngakoue in Indianapolis as the smaller wide alignment edge rusher, with Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo the bigger defensive end types.

Least favorite: Losing wide receiver Parris Campbell

Campbell’s production in 2022 exceeded his three-year cumulative totals from 2019-2021 in nearly every statistical category once he was finally healthy, with nine games of at least 40 receiving yards on the year. The New York Giants continue to load up their roster with slot receivers, a trend that has spanned across multiple regimes, but the $4.7 million one-year flier for Campbell is a great value. The Colts' offense ranked dead last in expected points added per dropback in 2022, and while a new quarterback can change that more than Campbell ever could, he certainly would’ve helped. 


Jacksonville Jaguars

Favorite: Having in-house replacements for the majority of losses

The Jaguars undoubtedly lost some good players to free agency this offseason, which by itself should be a nice change of pace in Jacksonville, but they also deserve credit for being prepared for many of their departures with young talent waiting in the wings. Tackle Jawaan Taylor signed a massive four-year, $80 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Jacksonville seems to feel fairly confident in 2021 second-round pick Walker Little stepping up to take his spot.

Jacksonville is slated to earn its first compensatory draft pick in more than a decade, ending the longest-running drought across the league, and they should earn several. It’s always a good sign when other teams want to pay a lot of money to players on your roster, and it’s even better when you don’t feel pressure to retain them at any cost because you have replacements at the ready. 

Least favorite: Losing edge defender Arden Key

Key had a career year in 2022 playing on a one-year, $4 million flier. His 81.3 overall grade was his top mark for a season by more than 10 grading points. Over the past two seasons, Key has 80 quarterback pressures on 546 pass-rush reps, with the 14.6% pressure rate good for 17th among edge defenders over the span. 

Key generated at least three quarterback pressures in each of Jacksonville’s final five regular-season games and both playoff games, repeatedly stepping up big when it was do-or-die time.


Kansas City Chiefs

Favorite: Adding edge defender Charles Omenihu

Omenihu is one of the more intriguing, young inside-outside pass-rushers. At 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds, he took a leap once landing with the San Francisco 49ers at the 2021 trade deadline. The former fifth-round pick of the Houston Texans earned a 75.3 pass-rush grade with 54 quarterback pressures on a 13% pressure rate in 2022. 

Least favorite: Plan to move Jawaan Taylor to left tackle

We’ve seen players successfully make this transition in the past, but oftentimes the NFL right tackle had experience at left tackle in college. This is not the case with Taylor, who has been a right tackle for the better part of a decade. Perhaps Kansas City still has plans to add a left tackle, and perhaps we’re worrying about something we shouldn’t, but it could prove to be a bold strategy to take your huge swing in free agency on a player you then ask to switch positions. 


Las Vegas Raiders

Favorite: Signing wide receiver Jakobi Meyers

This is an interesting fit, as Hunter Renfrow has lined up in the slot around 70% of snaps thus far in his career and Meyers is right behind at 65%. Nevertheless, the value here for Las Vegas is excellent, with Meyers’ undrafted status and slow 40-yard dash time following him onto his second contract.

Since 2020, Meyers dropped just 3.1% of targets, a top 20 mark among qualifying wide receivers. At 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs, he uses his frame to battle for contested catches. Meyers’ 63.2% contested catch rate also ranks fourth best among wide receivers over the past three seasons.

Least favorite: Value on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s deal

In six seasons with the 49ers, Garoppolo has missed varying amounts of time — and significant amounts in four of them. His familiarity with head coach Josh McDaniels from their shared time in New England, plus the Raiders perhaps fearing they’re out of the running for a top quarterback with the No. 7 overall pick, likely led to this move 

Over the past two seasons, Garoppolo's 8.3 yards per attempt is the top mark in the NFL, and he attacks the middle of the field regularly, which should mesh well with slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Nevertheless, you won’t get a better version of Garoppolo than what Kyle Shanahan was able to get out of him, and you’re guaranteeing more money than Geno Smith received from the Seattle Seahawks and above the $32.4 million franchise tag.


Los Angeles Chargers

Favorite: Re-signing interior defender Morgan Fox

Fox might not be much of a run defender, producing a 51.0 PFF run-defense grade or worse every season in which he has seen at least 100 snaps against the run. He’s coming off his best season as a pass rusher, though, producing a 69.6 PFF pass-rushing grade that ranked 32nd at the position and registering 40 total pressures in the regular season, which was tied for 15th.

A handful of interior defenders who played around 400 or fewer snaps and didn’t have nearly the pressure or sack numbers that Fox did signed solid contracts above this value, so Los Angeles did quite well.

Least favorite: Losing linebacker Drue Tranquill

It’s somewhat surprising the Chargers weren’t willing to exceed the one-year, $3 million flier Tranquill ultimately signed with the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. Tranquill racked up 52 defensive stops in 2022, which ranked 14th among off-ball linebackers. His 76.7 coverage grade ranked 11th, and his 15 quarterback pressures and four sacks were both top-10 marks at the position. It's hard to argue with that stat line, even if it was his first year as a starter.

The arrival of veteran stalwart Eric Kendricks will certainly help fill the void, but the Chargers have a tough road ahead to turn over this roster as players age out and Justin Herbert’s gigantic extension hits the books. 


Los Angeles Rams

Favorite: Not pushing dead cap into 2024

The Rams could have delayed the inevitable and attempted to run it back in 2023 with a deficient roster, but they instead decided to bite the bullet and jumpstart a rebuild. They deserve credit for not pushing any dead cap into 2024 with post-June 1 designations, choosing to turn the page as quickly as possible. 

Least favorite: Return value in trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey

Ramsey’s 90.6 coverage grade over the past three seasons ranks second among cornerbacks, and his 91.2 run-defense grade ranks first. His 80.3 coverage grade from the slot over the past three seasons ranks fifth. With the level of talent all over this Dolphins' defense, Ramsey can have a very specific role that caters exactly to what he does best. 

Los Angeles (smartly) not retaining any salary on Ramsey drove the price down here a bit, and you lose some leverage when it becomes very obvious a breakup is inevitable, but it’s still tough to trade away an elite talent like Ramsey for very little return.


Miami Dolphins

Favorite: Acquiring Jalen Ramsey for low compensation, not adding new cash to his contract

Ramsey himself told reporters that if another team besides Miami had been the team to acquire him, he may have asked for new cash added to his pre-existing contract. Instead, Miami guaranteed a chunk of money they were set to owe him.

Least favorite: Losing wide receiver Trent Sherfield

Miami’s offseason was very strong so there wasn’t much to choose from here, and in a vacuum tight end Mike Gesicki is arguably the best football player they lost this offseason, but he could not have been a worse fit in the Dolphins offense. On the flip side, Sherfield was a perfect third wide receiver alongside Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, with plenty of speed to boast in his own right, and also a 76.2 run blocking grade that ranked fifth among wide receivers in 2022.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel absolutely loved Sherfield, who followed him from San Francisco to Miami, so this loss will be felt in many ways. 


Minnesota Vikings

Favorite: Signing edge defender Marcus Davenport

Since Davenport entered the league in 2018, his 17.8% pass-rush win rate and 13.9% pressure percentage are both top-20 marks among edge defenders, and he's also earned a very respectable 82.1 run-defense grade for his career, which ranks 16th over the span. Davenport has five straight campaigns grading above 70.0, but injuries have been his biggest issue.

With the Vikings picking him up, it likely signals that they’ll move on from Za’Darius Smith and slot Davenport into his role. Davenport has always been a super athletic edge player and could earn a bigger deal next year if he’s able to produce for Minnesota. He and Danielle Hunter will form one of the most athletic edge duos in the entire NFL.

Davenport understandably signed a one-year flier, as teams may have been wary to commit long-term to a player who has one season eclipsing 500 snaps, but he was arguably the best edge rusher available in free agency, so this could prove to be a very worthwhile gamble. 

Least favorite: Value on tight end Josh Oliver

The former third-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars dealt with a few injuries in the early years of his career but has become a success story by cashing in here on a strong multi-year deal, with incentives that could reportedly push the value up to $24 million. We have seen strong contracts for predominantly blocking tight ends in years past, including Nick Boyle and Tyler Kroft, and that’s what this is here, with Oliver amassing just 26 receptions for 230 yards over his first four NFL seasons.

Kevin O’Connell wants to be able to operate more effectively out of 12 personnel, and Oliver’s 74.6 run-blocking grade in 2022 ranked second among tight ends with at least 100 run-blocking snaps on the season. After Minnesota traded for tight end T.J. Hockenson, they’re likely about to pay him near the top of the position market and could approach $25 million per year in spending on their top two tight ends, which would comfortably lead the NFL following the trade of Jonnu Smith to the Atlanta Falcons.

All of that said, this ended up as one of the strongest contracts at the tight end position this offseason, and Oliver wasn’t necessarily one of the top options available.


New England Patriots

Favorite: Signing tight end Mike Gesicki to a one-year flier

A year after playing on the franchise tag, Gesicki signs another one-year contract for less, as New England took advantage of a down year that had more to do with a poor scheme fit than anything else. Over the last four seasons, Gesicki’s 28 red zone receptions rank in the top 10 among tight ends, and his 16 touchdowns rank tied for fourth. The Patriots struggled to convert in the red zone last season, so the addition of the huge catch radius tight end makes a lot of sense.

We also love the value here for the Patriots because they traded the full $11 million in 2023 salary owed to Jonnu Smith to the Atlanta Falcons before turning around and adding a more productive move tight end for less. 

Least favorite: No bigger moves at offensive tackle

The Patriots did well to address an area of clear need at offensive tackle, but they went with a quantity approach and spent largely on older veterans. It’s possible they make a move early in the draft at the position, which would create a solid, diversified room of talent. Until then, it’s not a unit that inspires a great deal of confidence. 


New Orleans Saints

Favorite: Reworking wide receiver Michael Thomas’ contract

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.

Least favorite: Value on interior defenders

Interior defender David Onyemata‘s departure was a big loss, and the Saints had to do something, but they arguably overspent on both replacements. Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd were brought in to fill the void up the middle, but Onyemata’s 113 quarterback pressures over the last three regular seasons are 42 more than the combined output of Saunders and Shepherd over the span.


New York Giants

Favorite: Upgrading at linebacker with Bobby Okereke

Okereke burst onto the scene with an impressive rookie season that saw him stand out in coverage, allowing just 28 receptions from 34 targets on 219 snaps in coverage. However, 2020 and 2021 saw him struggle somewhat, with sub-60.0 PFF grades in both seasons, before a bounce-back year in 2022. This past season, his 53 defensive stops were tied for 12th amongst all players at the position.

Least favorite: No outside wide receiver additions, continue to overload slot options

For whatever reason, now spanning multiple regimes, the Giants continue to pour resources into wide receivers that belong predominantly in the slot. They made a huge expenditure on X-receiver Kenny Golladay a few offseasons ago, which backfired immediately, but they need size on the outside. Perhaps newly-acquired tight end Darren Waller will line up out wide a good amount going forward.


New York Jets

Favorite: Trade for safety Chuck Clark

Clark has four straight seasons with 65.0-plus overall grades, demonstrating great durability by topping 1,000 snaps in each of the last three seasons and racking up 69 defensive stops over the last three seasons, which ranks 10th among safeties.

Least favorite: Value on extension for linebacker Quincy Williams

Williams' first two seasons as a full-time starter haven't been too impressive, with 44.2 and 55.2 PFF grades in 2021 and 2022, respectively. That being said, there have been flashes, as Williams' 50 defensive stops in 2022 ranked 22nd among all linebackers. However, he also had 17 missed tackles, which were tied for the 13th-most at the position.


Philadelphia Eagles

Favorite: Value on running back Rashaad Penny, linebacker Nicholas Morrow

Among running backs with at least 100 carries from 2021 to 2022, Penny’s 6.2 yards per carry and 4.4 yards after contact per attempt both led the NFL, and his 0.23 forced missed tackles per carry ranked 11th. He put up these numbers operating behind an offensive line that ranked 19th in run-blocking grade. Over the past two years, the Eagles ranked third in both run-block grade (82.5) and yards before contact per attempt (1.8).

The sky is the absolute limit for Penny running the ball, and Philadelphia is set up well with Kenneth Gainwell on passing downs and Boston Scott‘s return to provide solid depth in both facets.

Morrow could benefit from playing behind a stout Eagles defensive line like many off-ball linebackers before him, and he’s simply better than a minimum contract, but it was just a tough market at the position this offseason with so many options. Morrow logged a career-high 1,086 snaps and earned his second consecutive 60.0-plus coverage grade in 2022, which was behind the lowest-graded defensive line in the NFL.

Least favorite: Losing both starting safeties

Gardner-Johnson led the NFL with six interceptions in 2022 and is as versatile as any defensive back in the league. The lack of one clear role may have complicated negotiations more than it helped, especially with the slot cornerback market in the midst of a multi-year contraction. Nevertheless, Gardner-Johnson brings energy to a defense that can elevate everyone around him. 

Epps excels at making plays in the run game and down in the box. He’s coming off a season where his 81.0 PFF run defense grade was the 11th-best mark amongst all safeties, and Philadelphia has to replace a ton of tackling production up the middle of the field, though Terrell Edmunds is a solid replacement.


Pittsburgh Steelers

Favorite: Signing guard Isaac Seumalo

Seumalo was the top guard available on our free agent board, and while his age and injury history may have limited his market a bit, Pittsburgh still did very well here. Seumalo earned a career-high 75.2 overall grade and his third straight 77.0-plus pass-blocking grade in 2022. Notably, this career year was Seumalo’s first starting on the right side after years of predominantly excelling as a left guard, which goes to show his versatility and talent.

The Steelers now have five solid players who are capable of playing multiple guard spots and have experience at center, so they have extreme flexibility and injury insurance along the interior going forward. Ultimately, Seumalo’s price may have just been too good to pass up, and it’s smart of teams to still make these investments even if one could argue they are “set” at a position group.

Least favorite: Only adding Patrick Peterson at cornerback

Pittsburgh signed Peterson to a two-year, $14 million deal in free agency to help fill the void left behind by Sutton, but that will be easier said than done for a player who seemed to benefit from a lot of off-zone coverage in Minnesota. There have even been discussions about him potentially moving to safety at some point.

The departing Cameron Sutton earned a career-best 72.2 grade in 2022, allowing just 0.76 yards per coverage snap, which ranked 11th among cornerbacks with at least 200 coverage snaps on the season. After a strong free agency period for Pittsburgh elsewhere along the roster, particularly along the offensive line and in the front seven, cornerback remains the Steelers' top need by a solid margin. 


San Francisco 49ers

Favorite: Strengthening a strength with addition of interior defender Javon Hargrave

Hargrave has earned back-to-back 90.0-plus pass rush grades and put up the first double-digit sack season of his career in 2022, so it’s not surprising the 30-year-old cashed in at such a high level. With pending extensions for young interior defenders such as Quinnen Williams, Jeffery Simmons, Dexter Lawrence and others, this deal will also move down the board of largest contracts at the position in short order. 

Least favorite: Losing cornerback Emmanuel Moseley

Moseley looked like he was taking another step in the second year of his two-year, $9.384 million extension signed as a restricted free agent, starting off the 2022 season strong with 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. After effectively signing Moseley to a one-year, $6 million deal for 2022, San Francisco perhaps could’ve done that again to keep him. 


Seattle Seahawks

Favorite: Adding safety Julian Love

Love had a career year in 2022, logging over 1,000 snaps for the first time in a season and earning a 71.5 coverage grade with two interceptions and three more pass breakups. The versatile safety also racked up 30 defensive stops and missed just 5.5% of tackle opportunities, his third straight season of 6.5% or lower, resulting in an 87.5 tackling grade. 

Love logged over 150 snaps in the slot, down in the box and as a free safety in 2022, and his addition could enable Jamal Adams to be used in a ton of different ways. Seattle can do a lot of mix and matching on the backend, with Adams and Love able to play down on the line all the way back to the deep third. Pete Carroll will be cooking a lot of things up with his defensive backs. 

Least favorite: Releasing nose tackle Al Woods

Sure, Woods will be 36 years old in Week 1, but his run-defense grades in each of the last five seasons were all above 65.0, and his cumulative 79.0 mark over the stretch is in the top 20 of all interior defenders. With Poona Ford also remaining unsigned, Seattle could stand to add a run-stuffer on the interior.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Favorite: Retaining cornerback Jamel Dean

This was one of the surprises of the entire free agency period after Dean was seemingly benched for Tampa’s playoff game against the Cowboys, and reports were he could sign a really big deal elsewhere. It was reported that Dean had a broken toe for the game, which prevented him from lining up on defense, but he played 17 special teams snaps, so the whole situation is a bit bizarre. 

Nonetheless, Dean was the top young cornerback available on the free agent market and Tampa gets exceptional value with this re-signing. Over the last three seasons, Dean’s coverage grade trails only Jaire Alexander and Jalen Ramsey among cornerbacks, and he’s earned a top-15 coverage grade on press coverage snaps, where he thrives as a big, physical corner that can bump the top outside wide receivers off their routes. 

Least favorite: Losing safety Mike Edwards

Edwards is an up-and-down player, but he is a ballhawk on the backend that can flip the field in big moments, with six interceptions over the last three seasons, which ranks in the top 20 among safeties despite playing fewer snaps over the span than every other player in the top 20 but one. 


Tennessee Titans

Favorite: Signing edge defender Arden Key

Key has been on a tear over the last two seasons after the 49ers untapped his potential in 2021, often deploying him on the inside on passing downs, which has helped him earn back-to-back 70.0-plus pass-rush grades with 80 total pressures. Key’s 14.6% pressure percentage over the last two seasons is a top-20 mark among all players regardless of position.

Least favorite: Value on tackle Andre Dillard‘s contract 

Dillard signed with the Titans after serving in a backup role with the Eagles despite his first-round draft status. Not being able to crack the lineup for another team would’ve been a much bigger red flag, and he offers guard-tackle flexibility that could contribute to his value.

On 340 snaps at left tackle in 2021, Dillard earned a 71.7 pass-blocking grade, which is the best indicator we have from his NFL experience of the player Tennessee believed it was signing. We’ll see if he can play at a high level as a full-time starter, but it’s fair to wonder if he signs a deal even close to the three-year, $29 million pact he received without his first-round pedigree. That said, there are only $13 million in total guarantees in the deal with just $7.5 million in Year 1 cash flow. 


Washington Commanders

Favorite: Adding quarterback Jacoby Brissett

Last season with the Browns, Brissett played exactly like any team hopes when they bring aboard a bridge quarterback. The journeyman averaged 7.1 yards per attempt on a 9.5-yard average depth of target, attacking downfield but still keeping his turnover-worthy play rate at just 3.1% on the season. 

This is not a lateral move from Taylor Heinicke, it’s a marked upgrade at the position, and Washington doesn’t let a trio of wide receivers in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel potentially go to waste.

Least favorite: Losing linebacker Cole Holcomb

A fifth-round draft pick out of North Carolina back in 2019, Holcomb ranked top 20 among off-ball linebackers with 20 defensive stops through the first seven weeks of the season. He also ranked top 15 with five tackles for loss or no gain before suffering a season-ending foot injury.

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