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NFL free agency only started a couple of days ago, but with the legal tampering period lasting from Monday until 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, most of the league’s biggest names have already signed massive new deals.
However, more contracts are trickling in as we head into the weekend, including for some respectable names. Guys like Le’Veon Bell and Earl Thomas have already found new homes, but Friday’s signings still generated plenty of buzz.
Of course, the biggest news was Ryan Tannehill‘s trade to the Tennessee Titans. After a rough few seasons of injuries and struggles on the field, Tannehill will be looking to provide stability as the backup quarterback to Marcus Mariota in Nashville.
Let’s take a look at the Tannehill trade and Friday’s free-agent grades, which are based on the player’s fit with his new team, the value of the contract and the overall impact that player is projected to have in 2019.
All contract information provided by Spotrac‘s free-agent tracker.
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According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Dolphins sent Tannehill and a 2019 sixth-round pick to the Titans in exchange for a seventh-round pick this year and a fourth-round pick in 2020.
Tannehill returned last season after tearing his ACL in training camp prior to the 2017 campaign, but he dealt with a lingering shoulder injury that had a clear impact on his play. The former college wide receiver threw for 1,979 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 64.2 percent of his passes in 11 games.
The Dolphins are more than likely preparing to start the tanking process in hopes of landing star Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence in a couple of seasons. Even if that’s not the case, it was time for both the Dolphins and Tannehill to part ways given his struggles since coming into the league as a first-round pick in 2012.
As for the Titans, this trade is a bit more of a surprise. It’s understandable that they would want a reliable backup behind the often-injured Marcus Mariota, but why trade for another injury-prone QB to play behind him?
Tennessee Grade: C
Miami Grade: B
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Ronald Darby’s future in Philadelphia was called into question after he tore his ACL halfway through the 2018 season. Fortunately for both sides, Darby is going to stay with the Eagles for at least another season.
According to Ian Rapoport from NFL Network, the two sides agreed to a one-year deal worth $8.5 million.
Despite only playing 17 regular-season games over the past two seasons, Darby has been productive when on the field. In that span, he put up 77 total tackles, nabbed four interceptions and broke up 21 passes.
When healthy, Darby is capable of covering the opposing team’s No. 1 receiving option and shutting him down. This deal allows Darby to re-enter the market when fully healthy and gives the Eagles a great defender as they try to once again be competitive in the NFC East in 2019.
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Many pass-rushers in this year’s free-agent class wound up either receiving franchise tags or signing early in free agency, leaving few legitimate options for teams needing someone to get to the quarterback.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, were able to land one of the top remaining pass-rushers on the market Friday, signing Shaquil Barrett to a one-year deal for $5 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Barrett only had three sacks in 2018, but he was able to regularly win pass-rushing matchups. His biggest struggle was getting on the field, as he played behind Von Miller and top-five draft pick Bradley Chubb.
This is a great value for Tampa Bay, which tied for just the 19th-most sacks last season, and an excellent opportunity for Barrett to prove that he can be a formidable full-time pass-rusher.
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The Los Angeles Chargers have a lot of playmakers in their secondary, and general manager Tom Telesco wanted to keep that unit together.
On Friday, ESPN’s Eric Williams reported that the Chargers agreed to terms with Adrian Phillips, who will turn 27 years old at the end of March. Last year, Phillips racked up 94 tackles, a forced fumble, an interception and nine pass breakups.
Rewarding a player who proved himself with a new contract is always a morale boost for the locker room. It shows that hard work pays off and motivates the rest of the team.
Other teams were probably inquiring about Phillips, but you have to give credit for the Chargers for retaining one of their key playmakers.
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After a brief retirement, defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be back in action with a new team in 2019.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that DRC is signing with the Washington Redskins. The 32-year-old played in seven games last season but retired halfway through the year.
It’s safe to say that Rodgers-Cromartie has plenty left in the tank. He played at a high level in 2018 with the Oakland Raiders, breaking up a couple of passes and even forcing a fumble.
The Redskins already acquired star safety Landon Collins this offseason, but adding an established veteran like DRC is a good move for their secondary.
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After the Dallas Cowboys convinced Jason Witten to come out of retirement, that pretty much killed any chance of the team bringing back tight end Geoff Swaim.
The Jacksonville Jaguars formally announced on Friday via Twitter that they have reached an agreement with the former Dallas tight end. In four NFL seasons, Swaim has only caught 35 passes for 336 yards and one touchdown, but he has been utilized more as a run blocker in early-down situations.
At 6’4″ and 260 pounds, Swaim is a big body who can stay in front of defenders as a blocker, but he’s not going to be a difference-maker in the run or passing games for Jacksonville.
Swaim will likely get plenty of snaps given the current state of Jacksonville’s depth chart at tight end, but that could possibly change after the NFL draft. It was a signing the Jaguars needed to make, but not one that’s going to take their offense to the next level.
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Antonio Brown grabbed the national headlines, but the Oakland Raiders added another weapon to their receiving corps by signing former Arizona Cardinals receiver J.J. Nelson on Friday, according to Ian Rapoport.
Nelson looked like a future playmaker after his first two seasons but has since started to fall off. Last year was his least productive campaign. He was targeted just 19 times and only caught seven passes for 64 yards. But prior to 2018, he showed at times that he could be dangerous deep threat in the vertical passing scheme of former Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.
Nelson is no guarantee to make the final roster given the competition at wide receiver in Oakland. That makes this signing a bit more insignificant, but given Nelson’s play in the past, it doesn’t hurt for the Raiders to take a chance on him.
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It’s been a couple of years since Chandler Catanzaro last played for the New York Jets, but the 28-year-old kicker is back in the green and white after stints last season with Tampa Bay and Carolina.
In 13 games with the Bucs and Panthers, Catanzaro made 16 of 20 field goals, including a perfect three-of-three from 50-plus yards and a long for the season of 59. His extra points weren’t as consistent, however, missing on five of his 35 extra-point attempts.
Catanzaro is coming in to replace Jason Myers, who signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent this offseason. He’s not as consistent as the former Pro Bowl kicker, but Catanzaro’s deal should likely be relatively inexpensive.
It wasn’t the most exciting move of free agency, but definitely one that the Jets needed to make with Myers out of the picture.
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The Houston Texans have been hard at work this offseason trying to reconstruct their secondary. On Friday, they took another step in that direction by signing former Cleveland Browns slot corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Friday morning that the Texans were bringing Boddy-Calhoun in on a one-year deal. The 26-year-old corner has played 43 games in three seasons since going undrafted out of Minnesota in 2016.
According to Pro Football Focus, Boddy-Calhoun was targeted 47 times in the slot this past season, giving up a passer rating of 102.7 when thrown at. That’s not the greatest stat, but the Browns secondary wasn’t elite as a unit last year, either.
This is a solid prove-it deal for a player with a lot to prove. If it doesn’t work out, the Texans can cut ties after this season and let Boddy-Calhoun test free agency once again.
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OG John Miller agrees to sign with the Bengals: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Miller is signing a three-year deal worth $16.5 million to play for the Cincinnati Bengals. Miller isn’t a superstar interior offensive lineman by any means, but he’ll be an upgrade to Alex Redmond and the current depth chart at offensive guard. Grade: B
TE Jeff Heuerman agrees to sign with the Broncos: The Broncos are bringing back Heuerman on a two-year, $9 million deal, per Mike Klis of 9News. Heuerman has struggled to stay healthy, but this deal isn’t going to break the bank for Denver. Grade: C+
OT Kendall Lamm agrees to sign with the Browns: Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported that the Browns agreed to sign Lamm, who has experience at both tackle spots. This is likely a depth move more than anything and a needed one for Cleveland’s offensive line. Grade: C
DE Mario Edwards Jr. agrees to sign with the Saints: Pro Football Talk reported Edwards agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with “$1.5 million upside for sacks.” That’s a friendly deal for a player who has shown flashes of potential, albeit inconsistently. Grade: B+
CB Phillip Gaines agrees to sign with the Browns: Wilson reported that Gaines will be re-signing with Cleveland. It will be nice to have a veteran presence in a younger locker room, but this isn’t a move that’s going to make the Browns significantly better on the field. Grade: C
LB Mark Nzeocha agrees to sign with the 49ers: Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reported that the 49ers are bringing back one of their key special teams contributors. Retaining a key special teams player is important, even if it doesn’t grab national headlines. Grade: C+
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Ndamukong Suh spent 2018 with the Los Angeles Rams, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Rotoworld) reported the Rams were “disappointed” in his regular-season play and don’t plan to bring him back.
However, Rapoport noted that Suh would prefer to stay on the West Coast, which isn’t a surprise given that the defensive tackle grew up in the Portland area. That was a big part of his free-agency decision last offseason.
That narrows down the number of teams that will be in play, but there aren’t many reports about where Suh is leaning.
One team to keep an eye on will be the San Francisco 49ers. General manager John Lynch has the cap space (currently $47.1 million) to potentially work out a deal, and expectations for the team are high. Jimmy Garoppolo will be returning under center after an ACL tear cut short his 2018 campaign, and San Francisco has the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft.
Other Potential Landing Spots: Chargers, Raiders, Seahawks
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With the Kansas City Chiefs switching defensive philosophies, they decided to part ways with longtime pass-rusher Justin Houston.
Even at 30 years old, Houston is a force to be reckoned with. He accumulated 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Given the high demand for pass-rushers in today’s league, there are a number of teams that could be going after the former Chiefs star.
Newly acquired Ravens safety Earl Thomas is already recruiting Houston on Twitter, and the move would make a lot of sense. The Ravens lost Za’Darius Smith, Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley to free agency, so the team could use another playmaking linebacker on the outside to wreak havoc.
Other Potential Landing Spots: Steelers, Bears, Patriots
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Jay Ajayi is one of the more forgotten names in this group of free agents. Although he is coming off an ACL tear, he has a chance to be a productive player with the right team.
The 25-year-old running back burst onto the scene with the Dolphins in 2016, running for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. After being traded to the Eagles halfway through the 2017 season, Ajayi became a key contributor on his team’s way to its first Super Bowl victory.
Assuming Ajayi is healthy, plenty of teams would be interested in a productive back who can handle a steady workload.
Ajayi has a meeting next week with the Indianapolis Colts, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. That’s a terrific landing spot for Ajayi, who would be working with quarterback Andrew Luck and splitting reps with the explosive Marlon Mack.
A move like that could help the Colts offense take the next step.
Other Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Patriots, Seahawks