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NFL Free Agent Signings: Ranking the 5 Best Signings so Far

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMarch 14, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 21:  Cortland Finnegan #31 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after a defensive stop against the Houston Texans at LP Field on September 21, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

While it's only roughly 11:30 a.m. ET on day two of NFL free agency, we've already seen a flurry of big names come off market. Not all free-agent signings are created equal, however, so let's take a look at the five best acquisitions so far. Remember, this list only includes moves made Tuesday and early Wednesday morning.

1. Cortland Finnegan to St. Louis Rams

Contract: Five years, $50 million ($26.5 million guaranteed) 

Breakdown

Love this signing on so many levels. Not only does Finnegan get a reunion with old coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis, but he also fills what emerged as a huge need for the Rams. $10 million a year is pricey, and $26.5 guaranteed is a lot of money to put on the books.

Yet many vastly underrated how good Finnegan has been over the past four or five years. He's not on a Darrelle Revis level, but you could easily consider him one of the top players at the second tier of cornerbacks.In fact, Pro Football Focus ranked Finnegan as the No. 3 overall corner last season behind Revis.

He'll smack you in the mouth at the line of scrimmage (literally) and play the run tough. And at just 28-years-old, Finnegan will give you production throughout the life of the deal. Win-win here. 

2. Robert Meachem to San Diego Chargers

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 27:  Receiver Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints makes a catch in the end-zone for a touchdown during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 27, 2009 at Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Contract: Four years, $29.5 million ($14 million guaranteed) 

Breakdown

There are some worries about Meachem after he failed to produce consistently in one of the NFL's best offenses in New Orleans. But after the Chargers watched Vincent Jackson sign a monster deal in Tampa Bay, getting Meachem to sign a deal in the $7.5 million a year range was a fine replacement addition.

He's big (6'2", 210 lbs.) and fast (sub 4.4-second 40-yard dash), which gives the Chargers a similar player to Jackson at a lesser price. Given more opportunities in San Diego, Meachem could blossom. 

3. Marques Colston re-signed by New Orleans Saints

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 16:  Receiver Marques Colston #12 of the New Orleans Saints catches a first quarter touchdown pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on October 16, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Get
J. Meric/Getty Images

Contract: Five years, $40 million ($19 million guaranteed) 

Breakdown

I wasn't crazy about Colston flirting around with teams like the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. While Colston obviously has talent, he's perfectly suited for the Saints' pass-happy offense. His production likely would have dropped had he left the Saints.

New Orleans was also able to backload his deal to fit the contract under the 2012 salary cap and beyond. Expect Colston to keep producing 1,000-yard seasons with Drew Brees (hopefully) the quarterback in New Orleans. 

4. Carlos Rogers re-signed by San Francisco 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Carlos Rogers #22 of the San Francisco 49ers runs out on to the field for the start of the NFC Divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Contract: Four years, $31 million (guaranteed money unknown)

Breakdown

Given the aggressive and pricey nature of the cornerback market, getting Rogers—a Pro Bowler in 2011—for $31 million over four years was a relative bargain for the 49ers. A four-year deal was ideal for San Francisco, as Rogers is 30 years old and may not produce through a five- or six-year contract.

Getting him back also ensures that the 49ers will return all 11 defensive starters from a unit that ranked as one of the NFL's best last season. I'm not concerned about the "career year" theory and watching Rogers walk would have undoubtedly been a big blow for the 49ers.

5. Carl Nicks to Tampa Bay Buccaneers

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27:  Carl Nicks #77 of the New Orleans Saints moves on the line during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York. The Saints won 27-7. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Get
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Contract: Five years, $47.5 million ($31 million guaranteed)

Breakdown 

I don't love how much the Bucs had to spend to get Nicks, but there's no player at his position more worthy of the deal he received. Prying him away from New Orleans also hurts a division rival.

The move should pay off almost immediately, as the Bucs look to be more run-centered in 2012. A top-tier back (Trent Richardson?) could run wild behind the guard combination of Nicks and Davin Joseph, who was also a Pro Bowler in 2011. 

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