2016 NFL Free Agency Review

by Nicholas Cicale (@nickcicale)

Giants sign OLB Olivier Vernon
5 years $85 million

Good lord that’s a lot of money! The Giants aren’t messing around, and with the three additions so far (Vernon, Harrison, Jenkins) have completely revamped their defense.

Jaguars sign DE Malik Jackson
5 years $85 million

After year’s of targeting the second tier of the free agency market and getting underwhelming returns, the Jags finally went for a big gun, signing one of the more impressive pass rushers down the stretch last season. The only concern is that Jackson was just one piece in a strong front seven in Denver, and will be “the guy” in Jacksonville.

Washington signs CB Josh Norman
5 years $75 million

When you consider Josh Norman wasn’t close to a household name up until this past season, and that he’s already 28-years-old, a 5-year deal for this much seems almost sure to give headaches down the road. However, right now, it’s the perfect addition for Washington. Their defense showed vast improvements last season but still missed a top-level piece in the secondary. Norman will give them more flexibility, more confidence and take pressure off the offense.

Texans sign QB Brock Osweiler
4 years $72 million

When looking at the numbers, Osweiler posted more or less the same numbers as Brian Hoyer last season. However, Osweiler offers a lot more upside, and gives the team a young quarterback to build around. It is a lot of money for a guy who’s played in seven games.

Giants sign CB Janoris Jenkins
5 years $62.5 million

Jenkins will replace Prince Amukamara in the Giants secondary, and is a slightly more consistent DB than his predecessor. It’s a good move for the Giants, but one of many they’ll need to make in order to build a competent defense.

Raiders sign OG Kelechi Osemele
5 years $58 million

One of the top free agents of any position this season. A zone-scheme blocker with above average pass protecting skills, he will improve Oakland’s run game and help keep Carr upright.

Broncos sign LT Russell Okung
5 years $53 million

Okung shines in a very week class of offensive tackles, and the Broncos got a steal with their unorthodox contract structure. The five years deal is more like a one-year deal for $5 million, with a team option for the rest.

Falcons sign C Alex Mack
5 years $47 million

In desperate need of offensive line help, the Falcons finally add a top-tier lineman. Mack is one of the most reliable centers in the league and represented the best available this offseason.

Giants sign DT Damon Harrison
5 years $46.25 million

Harrison becomes the second big piece added to the Giants defense, and instantly becomes the unit’s most impactful player. He’s a great run stopper who can create pressure up the middle. What more could you want?

Jaguars sign LT Kelvin Beachum
5 years $45 million

The only question with Beachum is how he’ll look coming off his ACL injury. He was arguably the best left tackle in football in 2014, and will give the Jaguars a great alternative to Luke Joeckel.

Eagles sign G Brandon Brooks
5 years $40 million

Chip Kelly kind of ruined the Eagles’ offensive line, and now the team is paying a premium to fill in the holes. Brooks is a superior zone blocker, and if the Eagles don’t utilize zone often, they may not get full value.

Lions sign WR Marvin Jones
5 years $40 million

Jones has a short track record but has shown good instincts and a knack for finding the endzone as a perimeter guy when on the field. After Calvin Johnson’s surprise retirement, getting another option at receiver was a necessity, and while it’s impossible to expect Jones to fill Johnson’s shoes, he was one of the two or three best guys on the market.

Raiders sign CB Sean Smith
4 years $38 million

A strong, tall perimeter cornerback, Smith is just one more piece that makes Oakland an extremely intriguing team next season. He was a big reason KC’s defense bounced back in the second half of 2015, and filled a great need in Oakland for an appropriate price.

Raiders sign LB Bruce Irvin
4 years $37 million

With plenty of money to spend, Oakland pounced at the opportunity to get a defender with playoff experience. Irvin and Khalil Mack will now highlight a much- improved defense.

Saints sign Coby Fleener
5 years $36 million

Fleener has been a highly inconsistent player through his young career. In 2014, he looked really good, grabbing eight touchdowns and averaging over 15 yards per catch. Every other season he’s been closer to 10 yards per catch. He’ll get a lot of looks on the Saints, so if he just needed a better opportunity, it doesn’t get better than this.

Jaguars sign FS Tashaun Gipson
5 years $36 million

Some ups and downs, but he’s still young, and his highlights are much higher than his lowlights. I think the contract might be a little long for my liking, however.

Eagles sign QB Chase Daniel
3 years $36 million

In the limited number of snaps he’s had in the NFL, he’s shown that he’s smart and accurate. Most likely not a game changing talent, but one that should be starting in the league. He is probably the safest QB on the market this season, and I hope he wins the opportunity to start over Sam Bradford.

Buccaneers re-sign Doug Martin
5 years $35.8 million

Martin isn’t a guy that would fit into every offense. He’s a running back that works best in an I formation so staying in Tampa is probably best for him. I do think he is getting way too much money, however.

Eagles sign FS Rodney McLeon
5 years $35 million

This is a ton of money for a free safety that’s been part of a poor secondary his entire career. He’s still only 25, and he’s fast, so i’m not really concerned with a decline of skills. I just don’t know that he really has to offer.

Chiefs sign RT Mitchell Schwartz
5 years $33 million

With Donald Stephenson leaving in free agency, the Chiefs went and signed a replacement right tackle. Schwartz is only 26, and was good as part of Cleveland’s line. It’ll be interesting to see how he’ll fair in a real offense.

Buccaneers sign G J.R. Sweezy
5 years $32 million

Sweezy is a good run blocker and was part of a line that was inconsistent when it came to pass blocking. He’s an upgrade for Tampa for sure, but probably not worth the $32 million.

Jaguars sign RB Chris Ivory
5 years $32 million

Nagging injuries have limited Ivory’s upside, and while he’s looked good with a featured back’s role, he’s better off as a complementary piece to preserve his health. I don’t really understand the move for the Jags thought. They drafted T.J. Yeldon in the second round last season, and he showed a lot of promise as a rookie. The team has struggled to run the ball the last few season’s but that’s more a result of a lackluster offensive line, and incompetent quarterback play allowing teams to stack the box.

Falcons sign WR Mohamed Sanu
5 years $30 million

A solid receiver who’s somehow known more for his passing ability than his ability to catch the ball. In almost any other year, Sanu would be a complementary piece for a team looking to expand their offensive options, but this year he’s the best on the market.  He’ll replace Roddy White in the offense.

Bengles re-sign FS George Iloka
5 years $30 million

Iloka was the best safety on the market. By re-signing him, the Bengles add some stability to a secondary that already lost Leon Hall.

Colts re-sign TE Dwayne Allen
4 years $29.5 million

I may be in the minority here, but I feel Allen in the most appealing TE on the market. He’s young, huge, fast and can block well enough to get by. The only caveat is his injury history. If the Colts wanted to keep one of their tight ends, he’s the guy to stick with.

Texans sign G Jeff Allen
4 years $28 million

Allen will be asked to replace Brandon Brooks, which will be a tall order to fill. Allen is good, but it’ll be hard to account for Brooks’ experience in the Texans system.

Texans sign RB Lamar Miller
4 years $26 million

Miller has shown great skills and was never given a opportunity in Miami. It’s hard to know for sure how he would hold up as a true feature back, and behind an actual offensive line, but the upside for Houston is very intriguing.

Vikings sign G Alex Boone
4 years $26 million

Boone was at one point an elite guard, but began struggling as the 49ers began their tailspin. The Vikings are hoping Boone gets back to form. If he does, the contracts a steal, but if he continues to decline, they’re paying a good chunk of change for a league-average guard.

Ravens sign FS Eric Weddle
4 years $26 million

A strong, veteran presence, Weddle adds consistency to a secondary that has been oft-injured in recent years. However, four years for a 31-year-old safety probably isn’t great for a team that could use getting younger.

49ers re-sign DT Ian Williams
5 years $25 million

This seems like a long contract for a guy who has had injury problems in the past. Still, Williams was a solid player for the 49ers last season and played all 16 games.

Bears sign ILB Danny Trevathan
4 years $24.5 million

One of the most well-rounded linebackers on the market, Trevathan joins a Bears defense in desperate need of help up the middle.

Chargers sign WR Travis Benjamin
4 years $24 million

Always a dynamic return man, Benjamin proved in spurts last season he could be a legitimate deep threat on a team with the right offensive system. Long-time deep threat Malcom Floyd retired this year and wasn’t as effective as he once was, so Benjamin gives Phillip Rivers a weapon he hasn’t had in some time, pairing nicely with Keenan Allen.

Seahawks re-sign CB Jeremy Lane
4 years $23 million

Coming back from injury, Lane was good at times, and not so good at others. With a full offseason to condition and recover, I think he’ll be much more consistent

Chiefs re-sign Tamba Hali
3 years $22 million

Hali is no longer the unstoppable force he once was, and three-years seems long for a player with declining skills. However, even if his 12-sack seasons are behind him, he can still get after the quarterback.

Chiefs re-sign ILB Derrick Johnson
3 years $21 million

I really like that the Chiefs were able to hold onto Johnson, even if three years is likely a year (or two) too long for a 33-year-old linebacker. Johnson has had a great career in KC, and should be an anchor in an otherwise unstable defensive unit.

Bengals re-sign CB Adam Jones
3 years $20 million

With the Bengals offense losing pieces, keeping their defense intact was a must. Jones has had a good career in Cincinnati, and will most likely retire a Bengal.

Steelers sign TE Ladarius Green
4 years $20 million

The tight end with the most upside in this year’s class, Green gets a chance to shine without being in Antonio Gates’ shadow. He’s much more athletic than Heath Miller, and could developed into another option for an already dangerous offense.

Buccaneers sign DE Robert Ayers
3 years $19.5 million

Ayers was a standout on the Giants defensive line, but that isn’t saying much. I don’t anticipate his sacks from last season are sustainable, but he is still a very good run stopper, and the Bucs could use all the help they could get on that front. The price is a bit high.

Broncos re-sign RB C.J. Anderson
4 years $18 million

Anderson wasn’t as good as anticipated last season, but part of that had to do with the drop in QB play throughout the season. Still, matching the Dolphin’s offer sheet was pretty unexpected.

Dolphins sign DE Mario Williams
2 years $17 million

The Dolphins continue to go for over priced, big-name free agents, adding Williams to a defensive line that already had Suh and could retain Cameron Wake. It does make the line better, but for a team with a lot of holes to fill, they could have been a bit less willing to sign someone coming off a bad season.

Titans sign C Ben Jones
4 years $17 million

Jones is a versatile lineman who can play guard or center, and is an affordable option for the Titans, who need to protect their young quarterback.

Bills re-sign OG Richie Incognito
3 years $15.7 million

Incognito’s old, but is coming off an extremely productive season in Buffalo, and is one of the main reasons their offense turned it around. He did slow down in the second half, so while rest in the offseason could bring him back to health, age is catching up to him.

Chargers sign CB Casey Hayward
3 years $15 million

Probably the most well-rounded corner on the market, Hayward can play outside or in the slot, and both man and zone. He gives helps a very weak Chargers secondary.

Browns sign QB Robert Griffen III
2 years $15 million

It feels like a classic Browns move that’s meant to excite but ultimately falls flat, but I do think there’s good value here with RG3.

Titans sign WR Richard Matthews
3 years $15 million

It’s a strange world. Richard Matthews’ three-year deal was the fourth-highest for wide receivers this offseason, even though in five seasons in the NFL he’s only mustered 1,396 yards and 8 touchdowns. Last season, he did set career highs in receptions (43), yards (662) and TDs (4), so there is a chance he continues to show slight improvements in Tennessee, but he’s not at all a versatile player.

Rams sign CB Coty Sensabaugh
3 years $14 million

Sensabaugh was brought into LA to replace Janoris Jenkins. Good luck with that.

Buccaneers sign CB Brent Grimes
2 years $13.5 million

Grimes enjoyed three productive seasons in Miami, tallying 13 interceptions, before being cut by the team. The Bucs need all the help they can get on defense, and Grimes is still a pretty competent defender.

Chargers sign DT Brandon Mebane
3 years $13.5 million

The Chargers need to improve on the defensive side of the ball. Coming from Seattle, the veteran will give them a big body at nose tackle. He isn’t a game changer, but is a solid addition that will sure up the line at a relatively low cost.

Seahawks re-sign WR Jermaine Kearse
3 years $13.5 million

Kearse has been a productive receiver for the Seahawks since entering the league, and in a weak free agent class, the Seahawks decided to keep Kearse at the going rate instead of taking a risk with other players on the market.

Jets sign RB Matt Forte
3 years $12 million

Forte hasn’t shown too much decline other than the occasional injury here or there, but his biggest asset is still his ability to be a pass catcher. The Jets haven’t had a running back as a legitimate receiving threat since Leon Washington.

Chargers re-sign TE Antonio Gates
2 years $12 million

Gates is still a productive player and has been able to stay healthy more late in his career than he was when he was younger. Nice to see him stay in San Diego (at least until the team moves).

Bears sign ILB Jerrell Freeman
3 years $12 million

After adding Danny Trevathan, the Bears went out to get a second underrated linebacker, taking their unit from one of the worst in the league to one that’s above average.

Raiders re-sign OLB Aldon Smith
2 years $11.5 million

Smith is currently serving a one-year suspension, but should be eligible to return sometime in November. That allowed the Raiders to keep him around for much less per-game than his on-field production warrants.

Ravens sign WR Mike Wallace
2 years $11.5 million

If one team is good at getting everything they can out of burners, it’s the Ravens. Even if Wallace has been a shell of himself the last three season or so, he’s still fast, and was once regarded as one of the more dangerous weapons in football. It wouldn’t be shocking if he had a bit of a resurgence on 2016.

Jets re-sign RB Bilal Powell
3 years $11 million

After signing Matt Forte, it’s unthinkable that the Jets were willing to spend so much of their limited cap space on a backup running, who—other than five games to close out last season—has shown absolutely nothing in five years with the team. Powell’s one strength is his pass-catching ability as a third down back, and with Forte now in the mix, there really isn’t a need for a water down version of the veteran.

Ravens sign TE Ben Watson
2 years $8 million

At age 35, Watson had his best season as a pro, with career highs in Targets, receptions, yards and TDs. That being said, there’s nothing really to get excited about, and considering the youth and depth the Ravens already have on the roster, it’s a bit of a strange move.

Saints sign ILB James Laurinaitis
3 years $8 million

Laurinaitis may have been surprised about his release, but his declining athleticism made the move a smart one. His best asset at this point is his mind, and he could become the defensive play caller for New Orleans, something they desperately need.

Packers re-sign RB James Starks
2 years $6 million

Starks is surprisingly 30, but doesn’t have the work load as most backs as competent at his age. Staying in Green Bay as a compliment/safety net to Eddie Lacy.

Bears re-sign TE Zach Miller
2 years $5 million

Miller filled in admirably last season when Martellus Bennett was out with injury, and the Bears were comfortable enough with his performance to reward him with a 2-year deal, and to trade Bennett away altogether.

Cardinals sign G Evan Mathis
1 year $4 million

Mathis is a big name thanks to his time in Philadelphia, but at 34 he isn’t nearly as productive as he was his last healthy season with the Eagles. As part of the stout Cardinals line, however, he should be a nice one-year addition.

Cowboys sign RB Alfred Morris
2 years $3.5 million

The magic in Morris’ career might have run out last season. His 202 attempts, 3.7 yards per carry, 856 total yards and one touchdown were all career lows, but if there’s one situation in the league that can help him be successful one more time, it’s Dallas. With the inconsistency of Dallas’ backfield last season and a great offensive line, Alfred Morris couldn’t have landed in a better spot. He was great just two seasons ago, and could be what Dallas needs to get their ground game going again.

Vikings sign RT Andre Smith
1 year $3.5 million

The Vikings had a huge, talented offensive line heading into training camp last season, but lost Phil Loadholt and others to injury. Adding Smith, a 300 pounder, at tackle with a modest one-year deal was a no brainer. Smith’s been great in the past, and although inconsistent and injured in 2014 and 2015, he’s still only 29. He’ll enter camp technically as a backup, but could compete for a starting gig right away.

Saints sign DT Nick Fairley
1 year $3 million

Coming off a solid year as a backup for the Rams, the Saints are getting a high upside piece for a struggling defense.

Packers sign TE Jared Cook
1 year $2.5 million

Cook tends to make one or two big plays each season, resulting in one or two great looking game’s on the stat sheet. Don’t be fooled, Cook doesn’t have a chance to transform an offense.

Bengals sign WR Brandon LaFell
1  year $2.5 million

After a small breakout in 2014, LaFell entered 2015 injured and never fully got going. LaFell isn’t as productive as the receivers the Bengals lost to free agency, but he’s a cheep replacement and a solid safety net if the team can’t get one in the draft.

Partiots sign DE Chris Long
1 year $2.3 million

Another typical Patriots move, getting a pass rusher who seems washed up but could contribute in the right situation. If Long is as mediocre as he seemed last year, it won’t cost the Patriots much, but if he plays like he did in his prime, it could be the steal of free agency.

Panthers re-sign Charles Johnson
1 year $2 million

Considering how important Johnson has been to the Panthers’ defense over the years, a one-year deal for $3 million is a steal.

Washington signs TE Vernon Davis
1 year $2 million

Davis is a shell of his former self. In the NFL, when your skills go, they go. He’ll be a backup, at best.

Patriots sign DT Terrance Knighton
1 year $1.5 million

Knighton is a great two-down tackle that should fit nicely as a role player for New England.

Cardinals re-sign Chris Johnson
1 year $1.5 million

At times last season, Chris Johnson looked like he had rekindled the flame that once made him one of the most exciting running backs in the NFL. Unlike recent years, he broke out for multiple long runs, including a 62-yard scamper against the Ravens. However, he got hurt at the end of the season, missing the teams last month of games. And while he averaged over 5 yards per carry in four of the 11 he played in, and averaged under 4 seven times. He’s staying in Arizona, and with the injuries they suffered at running back last year it’s easy to understand why. But it’s David Johnson’s starting job now.

Bills sign OLB Zach Brown
1 year $1.5 million

Brown is a classic example of an underutilized Titans defenders that could see greener pastures now that he’s on a new team.

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