Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

Grading the NFL's Biggest Offseason Moves So Far

Brock Osweiler
While March Madness is just a few days away, the NFL offseason still has been able to steal
headlines, as deals are pouring in across the landscape of the league. Conservative spenders like the New York Giants and Houston Texans are spending big-time cash, and the offseason could get even more crazy, as the future of Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III are decided. However, so far, here are the grades for some of the past few weeks' biggest deals:

Olivier Vernon, DE, New York Giants (5 year, 85 million)
The moment Miami revoked Vernon's transition tag, the Giants acted quickly, swooping in to nab the pass rusher with the biggest contract ever for a defensive end. Vernon's deal will be worth $17 million/year and offers plenty of financial security. Though, for most casual football fans, the deal came out of nowhere. Vernon, who been has been with the Dolphins since 2012 (and played at Miami prior), has been solid, but 7.5 sacks in 2015 and 29 over the course of a four-year career really worth that type of money? It is easy to see why New York did it; they needed to improve their pass rush in a big way after their disappointing 2015, but this might have been overkill. Even so, Vernon is young enough and productive enough that the move won't be an absolute bust, worst-case scenario.
Grade: B+

Malik Jackson, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars (6 year, 90 million)
The Jaguars have the most cap room in the entire league and they used a big chunk of it to snatch up Jackson, who was a major part of Denver's run to the Super Bowl. For head coach Gus Bradley, it will be a very welcome addition. The former Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator has lacked a dominant defensive tackle (a.k.a. the Michael Bennett role in Seattle) since he arrived in Jacksonville. Jackson will not only be a dominant run stopper, for a rush defense that needs help, he could help form a potent pass rush with rising Dante Fowler. It obviously wasn't cheap, but for Jacksonville, who is starting to show signs of progress, it was the right move to make.
Grade: A

Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans (4 years, 72 million)
A list of Houston's quarterbacks over the past two years reads more like a preseason depth chart more than the depth chart of a Playoff team: Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Tom Savage, Ryan Mallett and T.J. Yates have all seen action. Granted, Bill O'Brien has done amazing things without any quarterback to speak of, but it was obvious Houston needed a new signal-caller, but their No. 22 draft position made that questionable. Instead, the Texans went out and spent big on the relatively unproven Osweiler, who saw his first significant action this past season, but was then benched once more for Peyton Manning. Osweiler has a huge arm and great size, and has shown plenty of potential throughout his time in Denver, but it is hard to get behind a contract that pays $18 million a year, with $37 million guaranteed. The move was understandable, but that doesn't make it any more risky, considering Osweiler has thrown 305 meaningful passes in his career.
Grade: C+

Mario Williams, DE, Miami Dolphins (2 years, 16 million)
Mario Williams was considered one of the NFL's best pass rushers before his arrival in Buffalo. While Williams wasn't terrible in the Northeast, he was not at all worth his hefty price tag and was a cap causality this offseason. Seemingly learning nothing from overpaying Ndamukong Suh this past offseason, the Dolphins gave Williams $8 million/year to replace Olivier Vernon. That type of money won't kill them, but one has to wonder if Williams, who is 31 (and has had questions about how much he actually tried with the Bills), is starting to slow down. The move might help Miami pick up the slack for the loss of Vernon, but it still leaves them one-dimensional on the defensive side of the ball, and doesn't improve them whatsoever.
Grade: C-

Bruce Irvin, LB, Oakland Raiders (4 years, 37 million)
Oakland won seven games this past season, and they seem to be on the verge of a Playoff appearance behind the play of QB Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and linebacker Khalil Mack. That was likely their motivation to go out and sign Bruce Irvin from Seattle, and cornerback Sean Smith. Irvin, a dangerous pass rusher in his fifth year out of West Virginia, had 5.5 sacks this past season and has been extremely disruptive throughout his career off the edge. The move gives the Raiders a dangerous rusher off the edge to help Mack, and replace the troubled Aldon Smith. Around $9 million per year isn't terrible for a presence like Irvin, and the 28-year-old appears to be in the prime off his career. This appears to be just another great move by GM Reggie McKenzie, who has completely transformed the Oakland franchise.
Grade: A-

Matt Forte, RB, New York Jets (3 years, 12 million)
The lifespan of an NFL running back is very short, and Matt Forte is perfect evidence of that. Despite being just 30, the Chicago Bears seemed to think Forte's best days were behind him, and let him go in free agency. That allowed the Jets to snatch up Forte to replace Chris Ivory, who signed with the Jaguars. The move appears to be a win-win for both sides. For New York, it gives them a rock-solid veteran who can be a mentor if they want to draft and develop someone in this year's Draft, and it allows Chicago to test out Jeremy Langford, who showed signs of brilliance this past season. For just four million a year, it was low-risk, high-reward for the Jets.
Grade: B+

Sam Bradford, QB, resigning with Philadelphia Eagles (2 years, 36 million)
Despite the fact Philly limped to a 7-9 lifeless mark this past season under the leadership of Sam Bradford at quarterback, the Eagles opted to resign the former No. 1 overall pick to a 2 year deal worth 36 million dollars with plenty of guaranteed money. While that move was confusing, just as odd was the signing of Chase Daniel days later. Daniel, who was backup for new coach Doug Pederson in Kansas City, has a chance at taking over the starting job, at least according to Pederson. That may indicate the Eagles may try to trade Sam Bradford, but would they really get that big of a haul for an injury prone player like Bradford? Plus, that would make every single free agent who signs with Philadelphia worried about their situation, and would push them elsewhere. Anyway you look at it, I don't understand this move. Bradford isn't absolutely terrible, but personally I don't like signing injury prone players to massive contracts, with too many guarantees.
Grade: D+

Other Moves
Chris Ivory to Jacksonville: The move gives the Jags an absolute monster at running back, but it could lead to less of a workload for T.J. Yeldon, who showed so much potential this past year. Grade: B-

Marvin Jones to Detroit: Unfortunately, it appears Calvin Johnson's career is truly over. Detroit did land the best available target on the market, though, and didn't completely overspend. Grade: B+

Travis Benjamin to San Diego: Benjamin showed plenty of playmaking ability this past year in Cleveland, but this move confuses me. San Diego could add a receiver, but Benjamin is extremely one-dimensional, like a number of Charger receivers. Grade: C

Ladarius Green to Pittsburgh: This may be the most underrated move of the first week of free agency. Green was knocking on the door in San Diego, and Pittsburgh was looking for a tight end after Heath Miller retired. Green could absolutely breakout with a starting role locked down. Grade: A

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.