• Jessie Bates III shines for the Falcons: He earned an elite 94.5 game grade after recording two interceptions and one forced fumble in Week 1, in addition to two stops in the run game.
• Jimmy Garoppolo, Jakobi Meyers get off to a good start with the Raiders: Las Vegas took down Denver, and both Meyers and Garoppolo earned above-average PFF grades.
• New Giants fail to make much of an impact: Between Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Bobby Okereke, Darren Waller and Parris Campbell, only Okereke earned a 65.0-plus game grade.
Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes
NFL teams invest big money into free agents in the hopes of them coming in and hitting the ground running. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way.
We'll look at each team's biggest offseason signings and see if they’re delivering the goods or creating a feeling of buyer's remorse after Week 1.
JUMP TO A TEAM:
The team many see as future holders of the No. 1 overall pick in 2024, the Cardinals weren't big players in free agency, instead finding ways to rid themselves of players they no longer wanted over the course of the offseason. Perhaps the biggest incomer was Kyzir White (61.6), who is an immediate every-down player, playing every snap on defense. He earned the highest run-defense for the team (79.8) in Week 1 but failed to have the same impact in the passing game.
After raising the ceiling on the safety market, Atlanta didn’t just hope for something big out of Jessie Bates III (94.5); they expected it. It’s safe to say they’ll be pretty happy with his two interceptions and one forced fumble in Week 1, all while he also displayed his talent with two stops in the run game. You could dedicate this entire section to him, but it’s worth pointing out that Kaden Elliss (79.7) looked like an immediate upgrade to the linebacker coverage unit and David Onyemata (89.8) seemed to get stronger as a pass rusher as the game went on with a position-leading 40.9% win rate. Not a bad start at all.
After Odell Beckham (66.3) spent more than a year out of the league, we were all curious if he still had it. It’s obviously too soon to tell for sure, but there was enough to see in his team-leading 59 receiving snaps to be encouraged. Two receptions on three targets doesn't tell the full story, as he also picked up two big defensive pass-interference penalties when Baltimore used him to challenge the Texans deep.
The Bills didn’t really have a marquee signing in free agency, but Connor McGovern (43.9) was given starter money and played every snap in the opening defeat to the New York Jets. Unfortunately, he recorded the lowest grade on the Bills' offense after struggling with his run blocking, a previous knock on him coming over from Dallas. The other notable addition on offense was Deonte Harty, who managed nine snaps and was used in a variety of spots without making much of a contribution outside of one first-down screen grab.
The usually dependable Vonn Bell (38.4) was one of three defenders to play every snap for the Panthers but did not have his best day. He struggled to stand out except for missing two tackles. It was a better outing for Hayden Hurst (70.8), who finished with the second-highest grade on offense and already looks to be something of a comfort blanket for Bryce Young. He was the standout of the skill position newcomers, with Miles Sanders (47.7) having a crucial fumble and Adam Thielen (53.9) picking up just two catches for 12 yards.
Illinois native T.J. Edwards (49.3) played all but one snap in his debut but will not be happy with his performance. Coming off a tremendous year with the Eagles, he had a Week 1 game to forget in coverage, allowing four receptions for a team-high 79 yards and a touchdown. It was little better for Tremaine Edmunds (51.2), who had similar problems. Meanwhile, high-priced defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (58.5) got himself a sack and a hurry but not much else on his 26 pass rushes. It wasn't a great day for the new signings, but they were certainly not alone in that regard for the Bears.
The team spent big when Orlando Brown (65.1) became available. That’s not terrible by any stretch, especially considering Myles Garrett spent a lot of time lined up across from him. Irv Smith Jr. (41.9) was the most used tight end but mustered just 17 yards on his five targets as the Browns' defense made life tricky for Joe Burrow and company. The Bengals' secondary got a revamp with Nick Scott (45.5) coming over from the Rams, but he had himself a poor day in coverage with two missed tackles and three receptions allowed.
The Browns looked to fortify their defense in free agency. Dalvin Tomlinson (65.6) recorded a 12.5% pass-rush win rate to impress in Week 1, which was a better output than Ogbo Okoronkwo (56.7), who picked up a sack — but on a clean-up play.
The focus for Dallas was on quality rather than quantity and retaining their stars. So while they lost some players, the real win was in keeping Leighton Vander Esch and Tony Pollard. They supplemented that with trades for Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks. And after smashing the Giants on Sunday Night Football, that all looks very sensible.
Former Cardinal Zach Allen (69.4) signed a big deal and stepped up with some good work in the run game, even if he did draw a blank rushing the passer. Mike McGlinchey (55.2) got himself a huge contract this offseason, but his Week 1 play didn’t quite justify that. He opened the season by allowing a team-high six pressures. The other big addition to the line is Ben Powers (57.1), who fared better in pass protection but did struggle in the run game. Running back Samaje Perine (61.3) split equal snaps with Javonte Williams, spending more time on the field for passing plays but faltering when left in to pass block.
It all went to plan for Detroit on opening night, and the new defensive additions certainly helped. Wide receiver Marvin Jones (35.1) dropped a pass and fumbled a red-zone opportunity away, while David Montgomery (55.4) found the end zone but was not as effective as Jahmyr Gibbs despite getting on the field for 36 more snaps. The big gains were on defense, where C.J. Gardner-Johnson (70.0) was particularly impressive.
There is a different feel to this Packers team with a young quarterback calling the shots after a quiet offseason. We’ve come to expect an awful out of the Packers' rookies, with the team giving first-year players more snaps than any other in the NFL.
Dalton Schultz (46.7) ended up with just four yards on his four targets in a quiet start, but Robert Woods (64.1) was more productive with 57 yards (although his two drops were uncharacteristic of a receiver who has never dropped more than eight in a single season). At running back, Devin Singletary (44.3) is very much a secondary option after being outsnapped 36-16 by Dameon Pierce. Denzel Perryman (69.7) is still dangerous against the run, as evidenced by his five defensive stops, but it was a quiet start for Sheldon Rankins (38.5). His only mention on the stats sheet was a quarterback hurry.
The Colts were not super active in free agency, adding veteran Gardner Minshew (44.3) to provide some veteran support for Anthony Richardson. He got on the field for three snaps, and if the Colts had their way, they would be the only three snaps he sees all year. Defensively, they added Taven Bryan (63.1) and Samson Ebukam (54.6), who combined for 61 snaps and mustered one hurry between them.
What do you mean the Jaguars didn’t do much in free agency? What version of the multiverse have we landed in?
The Super Bowl Champions lost a fair amount of talent this offseason, especially on offense. The team is starting two new tackles in Jawaan Taylor (52.7) and Donovan Smith (49.7), and both drew the attention of the watching world for the wrong reasons. Even with Taylor’s liberal interpretation of both the snap and line of scrimmage, he had some issues — but not as many in pass protection as Smith, who gave up seven hurries and incurred a penalty. Former Charger Drue Tranquill (68.8) made a case for more playing time in a strong linebacker group.
The Raiders have tied their short-term future to the arm of Jimmy Garoppolo (81.1), who had himself a strong debut, avoiding turnover-worthy plays and moving the chains. He connected well with Jakobi Meyers (69.8), who looks like he will be a strong No. 2 to Davante Adams when he returns from the concussion protocol. Austin Hooper (60.1) outsnapped rookie Michael Mayer, but it's hard to see that staying the case for long. Former Eagle Marcus Epps (75.5) made a strong start, although he did get beat for a touchdown in coverage.
It was a quiet offseason for the Chargers, who saw more players leave via free agency than arrive. The one notable addition was linebacker Eric Kendricks (54.9), who was one of four Chargers to feature on every defensive snap in Week 1. He was a solid contributor in the run game, but his poor grade in coverage stemmed from giving up four receptions on four targets for 56 yards.
This is a young Rams team that is going to win through the draft. They went for quantity and are already benefiting from the introduction of youth.
The biggest move Miami made in the offseason was for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but that was a trade and he’s currently out injured. Outside of that, the next most important move is one the team hopes doesn’t see the field except in garbage time duty. If Mike White is playing, it means Tua Tagovailoa isn’t.
The Vikings went shopping for talent in the NFC, adding Marcus Davenport from the Saints, Byron Murphy (63.4) from the Cardinals and Dean Lowry (41.8) from the Packers. With Davenport missing out and Lowry kept largely in check, Murphy was the best performer of the trio. Even then, Vikings fans will hope for more. On offense, Josh Oliver (68.4) was perfectly serviceable, but it does feel like Minnesota spent a lot of money for his caliber of player.
After Jakobi Meyers departed in free agency, the Patriots will be expecting a lot from JuJu Smith-Schuster (50.2). Game one didn’t go to plan for the former Steeler and Chief, as he was outsnapped by sixth-round pick Kayshon Boutte 55 to 43. There is some rationale for this, with Boutte seen as a more natural replacement for DeVante Parker, but even when Smith-Schuster was on the field, he picked up only 1.22 yards per route run on his seven targets.
The Saints lost some talent this offseason, especially on defense. They did add Khalen Saunders (57.1) and Nathan Shepherd (42.2), who combined for 60 snaps, one tackle and zero pressures in Week 1. The Derek Carr (68.8) era got underway, and while he did enough to secure the win, it wasn’t the level of performance that would seem to win the Saints a lot of games. Touchdown machine Jamaal Williams (46.3) failed to find the end zone, fumbled a ball away and picked up only one first down.
This was not the start the Giants were hoping for. They spent big in retaining stars, much like the Cowboys, but they didn’t see an immediate reward for that. They did look to add in free agency with Rakeem Nunez-Roches (48.6), Bobby Okereke (72.1), Darren Waller (64.0) and Parris Campbell (43.8). Okereke was impressive in coverage, but the rest failed to make much of an impact — even with Waller leading the team in targets. It was a game best forgotten.
We can skip over Aaron Rodgers since he was a trade acquisition. Instead, we’ll look at the more recently signed Dalvin Cook (64.4), who had a solid debut. Cook totaled more touches and snaps than Hall, but Hall's productivity and sheer explosiveness should help him close that gap as he gets healthier.
The Eagles lost an awful lot of talent this offseason, but there remains a strong roster that is going to cause plenty of teams, plenty of problems. They replaced Miles Sanders by trading for D’Andre Swift and signing Rashaad Penny, who was a healthy scratch in Week 1. In the secondary, they brought in Justin Evans (66.2) and Terrell Edmunds (48.1), with Edmunds seeing just 10 snaps and Evans playing 77 out of 80. Despite the offseason losses, the Eagles were well prepared with a long-term drafting strategy that is working to near perfection.
It wasn’t a great day for former Eagles guard Isaac Seumalo (40.1). He had the second-lowest grade on the offense and was overmatched against a rampant 49ers front. Patrick Peterson (63.2) got beat for two touchdowns but did have two nice pass breakups outside of that while elsewhere in the secondary Keanu Neal (64.8) had the team's highest coverage grade. At this stage, Elandon Roberts (59.5) is who he is — a force in the run game but a worry in coverage.
Most of the 49ers' offseason drama centered on their quarterbacks. They dealt with that and also found time to ensure they had ample depth on the defensive line heading into the season, bringing in Javon Hargrave (83.7) and Austin Bryant (61.7). Hargrave was the big signing and made a statement in Pittsburgh with one hit and two hurries as a pass rusher.
After three largely successful seasons in Detroit, Evan Brown (62.3) was good enough in his debut, finishing behind only Charles Cross in terms of pass-blocking grade. Bobby Wagner (74.7) has returned to Seattle, where he had so many good years. He was fantastic against the run in Week 1 and led the team with 14 tackles. The biggest free agent deal was for Dre’Mont Jones (51.5), but it didn’t quite work out for him in his Seahawks debut, as he was kept off the stat sheet on his 28 pass rushes. Similarly, Jarran Reed (57.3) and Julian Love (42.6) didn’t set the world alight this week. Things were better from Devin Bush (67.0), even if he played only 21 snaps.
After winning the starting spot, Baker Mayfield (80.8) went on to win his first game as a Buccaneer. He was also the highest-graded player on Tampa Bay's offense. Matt Feiler (77.6) didn’t have the best time in Los Angeles last year but made a much better start in Tampa Bay. It was the opposite case for Ryan Neal (55.9), whose slightly subpar day was punctuated by allowing a touchdown in coverage. Greg Gaines (55.3) was a big part of the Rams' rotation the past two years, but he’ll need to play better if he’s to serve the same purpose for the Bucs.
We haven’t seen much of Andre Dillard (60.6) since he was drafted by the Eagles, but that looks set to change with him becoming the Titans' starting left tackle. He looked the part in the run game but allowed three hits and three hurries in pass protection. He’s not the only free agent addition on the line, with Daniel Brunskill (75.7) having a great day, characterized by just one hurry allowed on 43 pass-blocking snaps. Over on defense, Arden Key (69.56) racked up a league-leading eight total pressures, although three were clean-up pressures as Jeffery Simmons cleared a path for him. Azeez Al-Shaair (53.0) played 64 out of 65 snaps but struggled to make much headway.
Jacoby Brissett competed for the starting quarterback job, but he’ll be holding a clipboard for as long as Sam Howell is healthy and playing well (enough). Former Giant Nick Gates (60.6) is the starting center after a remarkable return to the football field following all of his surgeries. The other new name on the line, Andrew Wylie (69.9), gave up three pressures in a decent debut. Linebacker Cody Barton (37.3) didn’t make the best first impression, as he was nearly invisible in the run game and allowed four catches on five targets in coverage.