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Sports Grading the early deals of NFL free agency

14:13  14 march  2018
14:13  14 march  2018 Source:   thescore.com

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The NFL 's "legal tampering" period opened with a flurry on Monday, resulting in many top free agents reportedly deciding their future home ahead of the new league year Wednesday. With many moves virtually in the books, theScore's Jack Browne, Mitch Sanderson, and Mike Alessandrini grade the

Senior Analyst Sam Monson assigns a grade ("A" through "F") to every NFL free - agent deal . Free agency is by now well underway, and PFF will be bringing back the deal grader , where we Martellus Bennett showed early in 2016 how impressive he could be as a lead TE before injuries struck and he

The NFL's "legal tampering" period opened with a flurry on Monday, resulting in many top free agents reportedly deciding their future home ahead of the new league year Wednesday. With many moves virtually in the books, theScore's Jack Browne, Mitch Sanderson, and Mike Alessandrini grade the biggest signings upon first look.

Kirk Cousins, Vikings

Contract:3 years, $86 million fully guaranteed

Cousins certainly deserves a round of applause from the rest of the NFLPA (or at least, the quarterbacks) for securing a fully-guaranteed contract. But from the Vikings' point of view, this is a pretty major risk. Cousins put up good numbers with the Redskins in an offense that loved to throw it deep, but the Vikings are a defense-first team who now risk being unable to keep their elite defenders. Cousins will earn $10 million more than Case Keenum per season going forward, and the chances he's worth $10 million more are slim. - Sanderson

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The Early Winners of NFL Free Agency . Created with Sketch. NFL Free Agency 2018: Grading the Biggest Moves. Ignoring the debate over whether Sherman needed an agent to represent him, there’s no debate that this is the best low-risk, high-reward deal for a team this free - agency cycle.

NFL Free Agency 2018: Grading the Biggest Moves. While there are still some remaining tidbits, like how the Steelers will resolve their near future with Le’Veon Bell and where remaining players like A.J. McCarron land, the opening bell was an early climax.

Grade:B-

Drew Brees, Saints

Contract:2 years, $50 million with $27 million guaranteed

Brees put Saints fans through a bit of a scare, but it all worked out in the end. The future Hall of Famer reportedly took a hometown discount to remain in New Orleans, declining a two-year deal worth $60 million guaranteed from an unnamed team. With a $25-million annual average, Brees' salary ranks fifth in the league and allows the Saints some space to upgrade in hopes of giving their star quarterback another ring. - Sanderson

Grade:A

Case Keenum, Broncos

Contract:2 years, $36 million (guaranteed money yet to be reported)

Paying Case Keenum $18 million per season would have seemed ludicrous just 12 short months ago (in fact, the Vikings had him on a $2-million deal for 2017). But he proved himself a capable starter while in Minnesota - something the Broncos have lacked for some time - and his contract puts him just 20th in yearly salary among quarterbacks. Keenum will have strong receiving targets in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, as well as a top-tier defense, just as he did in Minnesota. The only potential problem for Denver is if Keenum returns to his journeyman status before whatever rookie quarterback they likely draft is ready to take over. - Browne

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The 2017 NFL free agency period is underway and many of the market’s top names have already agreed to monster deals with new teams. Here’s our grade for each of the early additions so far.

2018 NFL Mock Draft: 3 Full rounds post-first wave free agency by Randy Gurzi. New York Jets: Browns taking Baker Mayfield is good news at No. 3 by Michael Pallas. Daily Email. Deals . Sports Illustrated. More SI NFL News ».

Grade: B-

Sam Bradford, Cardinals

Contract:1 year, $20 million with $15 million guaranteed

Teams continue to pay Sam Bradford. The 2010 first-overall pick is a fine quarterback when healthy; he's just never healthy. The signal-caller played in just two games in 2017, battling a chronic knee injury. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer recently called Bradford's knee "degenerative," so Arizona offering $15 million guaranteed is puzzling at best. He looked excellent at times during his tenure in Minnesota, but this feels like a panicked signing. The length and salary keep this just above "F" territory. - Alessandrini

Grade:D

Jimmy Graham, Packers

Contract:3 years (money yet to be reported)

Didn't the Packers just try this? Martellus Bennett signed a three-year deal last offseason with high expectations, as he was seemingly the best tight end Aaron Rodgers had ever gotten the chance to play with. While we don't know how much they paid for him yet, Graham looks to fit a similar mold to Bennett. The 31-year-old has been a shell of himself since his 2015 patellar tendon injury and has never been able to provide much in terms of blocking. Graham needs to fill a big role, especially in the red zone, after Jordy Nelson was released. - Sanderson

Report: At least two teams willing to offer Cousins fully guaranteed deal

  Report: At least two teams willing to offer Cousins fully guaranteed deal Kirk Cousins could very well become the highest paid player in NFL history when he signs with a new team in the coming days, and there’s a chance he could achieve that by demanding a fully guaranteed contract. There has been some talk that Cousins may want to sign only a three-year deal with all of the money being guaranteed. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that at least two teams — and possibly three — are willing to give him a contract like that. As the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes heats up, sources say at least 2 teams are prepared to offer the free agent QB a 3-year, fully guaranteed contract if that’s what it takes. At least one other team will do a similar deal nearly fully guaranteed. Would make him the highest paid QB. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2018 By signing a deal like that, Cousins would have more control over his future. Jimmy Garoppolo recently signed a five-year, $137.5 million extension with the 49ers, and Matthew Stafford got a five-year, $135 million contract from the Detroit Lions last offseason. Both players will earn about $87 million over the first three years of their respective deals, so Cousins is likely aiming for a three-year contract in the $90 million range. Cousins is trying to balance winning with being paid top dollar, so the three-year, fully guaranteed contract would make the most sense for a team like the Jets.

April 9 Updates. Jets sign C Travis Swanson (1 year, .55 million; 0,000 guaranteed): A Grade I'm loving all of these 1-year "prove it" deals . All of the grades posted today proves that it's foolish to splurge early in free agency .

NFL Free Agent Grades : Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets - A Jared Veldheer, OT, Raiders - B+ Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Steelers - B+ Ted Ginn, WR/KR, Panthers - C+. Atlanta Falcons: B- Grade Thomas Dimitroff is often aggressive in free agency , and this spring wasn't any different.

Grade:C+

Allen Robinson, Bears

Contract:3 years, $42 million with $25 million guaranteed

After fielding a dreadful receiving corps in 2017, the Bears signed one of the top pass-catchers available in 2018. We can't fault them for this, as there's no doubting Allen Robinson's talent. The annual average value and guaranteed amounts (both ranking in the top eight among wide receivers) are somewhat concerning, however. Robinson's breakout season is now three years in the rear-view mirror and he's coming off a torn ACL. The wideout could fit nicely into new head coach Matt Nagy's offense, but this signing carries considerable risk as well. - Alessandrini

Grade:B-

Sammy Watkins, Chiefs

Contract:3 years, $48 million with $30 million guaranteed

The Chiefs apparently intend to throw exclusively downfield next season. Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill are now likely the fastest receiving tandem in the league, but while Patrick Mahomes might have the arm to make it work, he's still a rookie and pushing the ball deep will be a challenge. Then, there's the money and the health concerns. Watkins is talented but has consistently struggled to stay healthy. Even if he can perform at a good level, it's close to impossible he will be able to live up to being paid more than every receiver not named Antonio Brown or DeAndre Hopkins - Browne

Report: Cousins plans to sign fully guaranteed 3-year deal with Vikings

  Report: Cousins plans to sign fully guaranteed 3-year deal with Vikings The Minnesota Vikings pounced early to land free agency's biggest prize. Kirk Cousins plans to sign a three-year, fully guaranteed contract with the team Thursday, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal is worth $86 million "or so," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Cousins is set to have dinner with Vikings coaches and personnel Wednesday night once the 2018 league year has officially begun, sources told Rapaport, and will make his first visit to the team's facility Thursday.The move comes shortly after it was reported that Case Keenum intends to sign with the Denver Broncos at the official beginning of free agency.

NFL free agency grades : Which deals will turn out well for both sides, and which could sour quickly? Breaking down the biggest signings so far. Among the early highlights: the Bears cut Jay Cutler and signed Mike Glennon to be their new starting QB on a three-year contract; the Eagles inked Alshon

We grade every big deal of free agency —with the caveat that contract terms and guaranteed NFL . Free agency Snaps: Broncos suddenly QB-less after Osweiler’s exit. As is the case nearly every off-season, the Dolphins have made multiple high-profile, high-cost moves early in free agency in 2016.

Grade: D

Andrew Norwell, Jaguars

Contract:5 years, $66.5 million with $30 million guaranteed

It was assumed, prior to free agency, that Norwell was a lock to join his former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, now with the Giants, but the Jaguars swooped in and used their limited cap space to secure one of the top prizes of free agency. Norwell is an elite pass-protector and above average run-blocker, and instantly upgrades a subpar Jaguars offensive line. His reported contract - worth $66.5 million over five years - is steep, but Jacksonville had very few holes in its roster and could afford to fill one with a player coming off his first All-Pro nod. - Browne

Grade: A

Malcolm Butler, Titans

a man wearing a helmet© Brett Carlsen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Contract:5 years, $61 million with $30 million guaranteed

A Super Bowl benching is hard to swallow, but Butler finally getting his long-desired payday - around $61 million over five years - from the Titans should make it a little easier to live with. Tennessee will be hoping it's getting something the defense has needed for years: a No. 1 cornerback. While Butler has played like one at times, he's also struggled with game-to-game consistency. He might not be the type of player who can excel when not surrounded by good talent and coaching, and the Titans certainly paid him as if he is one. - Browne

Report: Sam Bradford intends to sign with Cardinals

  Report: Sam Bradford intends to sign with Cardinals The Arizona Cardinals are expected to sign quarterback Sam Bradford when free agency opens on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, according to a report.Sam Bradford intends to sign with Arizona, source tells ESPN.

The Arizona Cardinals were wise to target offensive line early in free agency . NFL on ESPN reports that it's a five-year, million deal .

We won’t really find out for sure until the final product hits the field, but let’s take an early look at the Chicago Bears’ first moves in free agency . Daily Email. Deals . Sports Illustrated. More SI NFL News ».

Grade: C+

Trumaine Johnson, Jets

Contract:Roughly $15 million per season (full terms yet to be reported)

Johnson has found a hole in the system. The good-not-great cornerback got the franchise tag two years in a row from the Rams, resulting in him earning over $30 million despite no Pro Bowl or All-Pro nods. Now, he's going to be tied as the highest-paid corner in the league, essentially because he was the best option on the board after Butler signed and the Jets had a ton of cap space to burn. Great move for Johnson, wild over-payment by the Jets. - Sanderson

Grade:C

Muhammad Wilkerson, Packers

Contract:1 year, $5 million, plus $3 million in incentives

One of the better signings of the day, Wilkerson provides an instant upgrade along Green Bay's defensive line, forming a dynamic trio with Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels. A one-year contract for $5 million is a perfect deal for the veteran defensive lineman. Wilkerson will be motivated to shake the negative image he was tagged with toward the end of his Jets tenure, and he reunites with former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who worked in New York from 2009-2012. Wilkerson dominated during that span. - Alessandrini

Grade:A

Anthony Hitchens, Chiefs

Contract:5 years, $45 million (guaranteed money yet to be reported)

This is a total headscratcher. Hitchens is a solid starting inside linebacker, but he does not deserve to have the fifth-highest annual average salary ($9 million) at the position. He's never been to a Pro Bowl or recorded 100 tackles in a season. He doesn't generate turnovers and his new team doesn't have the money to overpay someone just because he's pretty young. Valuing Hitchens this much just doesn't make any sense. - Sanderson

Grade:D

Trey Burton, Bears

Contract:4 years, $32 million (guaranteed money yet to be reported)

One of the more interesting signings Tuesday, Trey Burton adds another pass-catching option to Matt Nagy's offense with 2017 second-rounder Adam Shaheen. Most famously known for throwing a touchdown pass to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl, Burton was Philadelphia's backup tight end the last four seasons. He's made the most of his opportunities, though, flashing as an impact pass-catcher and matchup nightmare. The annual average value is quite high for a player with limited starting experience, but if Burton plays up to his potential, he'll be worth the money - Alessandrini

Grade:B

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