2017 NFL Free Agents: Grades for Every Week 2 Signing

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 17, 2017

2017 NFL Free Agents: Grades for Every Week 2 Signing

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    The second week of NFL free agency is often where smart teams sign good players at reasonable prices.

    This week hasn't yet produced the big numbers and flashy headlines that dominated the first few days of the new league year, but several moves made quietly in recent days are likely to help teams contend come fall and winter. 

    Here's a day-by-day breakdown of the key and semi-key signings that took place this week.


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    Philadelphia Eagles sign QB Nick Foles: Two years, $11 million [NFL Media's Mike Garafolo]

    Foles is a very good backup with plenty of starting experience and he's familiar with that system. I get that. But they're also paying Chase Daniel $7 million to go away, per Spotrac, and I'm not sure Foles is better than Daniel. This is a weird move. 

    Grade: D-

    Kansas City Chiefs sign DT Bennie Logan: One-year, $8 million [Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports]

    A regular starter for much of the last four years in Philadelphia, the 27-year-old was graded by Pro Football Focus as the 11th-best run-stopping defensive tackle in the league in 2015. For a cap-strapped team, that's a pretty good replacement for Dontari Poe.

    Grade: A

    Oakland Raiders sign WR Cordarrelle Patterson: Two-year, $8.5 million [Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio]

    The 2013 first-round pick is a two-time All-Pro return man coming off a decent season on offense. He hasn't turned into an elite receiver, but the Raiders can use him in a variety of ways (potentially even as a running back). At 25, he has plenty of upside. And he comes cheap with a one potential-year commitment. 

    Grade: A-

    Indianapolis Colts sign C Brian Schwenke: One-year, $1.3 million [Colts.com's Kevin Bowen]

    There was no room for the 25-year-old in Tennessee, but he did perform decently in 28 starts over four years there. He brings much-needed depth and experience to that line. 

    Grade: B+

    Colts sign DE Margus Hunt: Two-year, $4.1 million [NFL Media's Ian Rapoport]

    Hunt started zero games and played sparingly as a backup during his four years in Cincinnati, recording just 1.5 sacks and 14 tackles. Still, he's a former second-round pick coming off his highest-graded season at PFF. I like that the Colts continue to swing the bat on pass-rushers. 

    Grade: A-

    Houston Texans re-sign TE Ryan Griffin: Three years, $9 million [Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle]

    Griffin is a solid No. 2 tight end coming off the best season of his four-year career (50 catches, 442 yards, two touchdowns and a reception rate of 67.7). That appears to be about the right price, too. 

    Grade: A-

    Arizona Cardinals re-sign RB/WR Andre Ellington: One-year contract [Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic]

    Somers reported that the Cards plan on using Ellington as both a receiver and a running back. He certainly has the skill set, and he presumably comes cheap.

    Grade: B+

    Denver Broncos sign OLB Kasim Edebali: One-year contract [Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post]

    The 27-year-old was a backup the last three years in New Orleans, but he did have five sacks despite playing only 363 snaps in 2015. He'll be limited to a situational role in Denver, but with DeMarcus Ware retiring he could have some opportunities to flourish with plenty of support. 

    Grade: A

    Buffalo Bills sign DE Ryan Davis: Two-year, $2.2 million [Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com]

    As a backup in Jacksonville and Dallas, Davis has actually posted positive PFF grades in each of the last four seasons. He had 10 sacks in a two-year span between 2014 and 2015 with the Jaguars, despite starting zero games. This is a nice high-upside depth signing. 

    Grade: A+

    Colts re-sign RB Robert Turbin: One year, "up to" $4.1 million [La Canfora]

    They have to keep the soon-to-be 34-year-old Frank Gore well supported, but Turbin averaged just 3.5 yards per carry last season. They probably could have had Latavius Murray for only a little bit more than that. 

    Grade: C


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    Seattle Seahawks sign RB Eddie Lacy: One year, $5.5 million [Rapoport]

    According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the 2013 offensive rookie of the year weighs a ridiculous 267 pounds at the moment. But I still love this move. Lacy's still only 26, and he was averaging 5.1 yards per carry early in 2016 before a foot injury ended his season. At that price, a guy with Pro Bowl potential could become an absolute steal. 

    Grade: A

    New England Patriots sign RB Rex Burkhead: One year, $3.15 million [ESPN via Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal]

    Burkhead was one of the best under-the-radar players on this year's market. He quietly averaged a solid 4.6 yards per carry on 74 attempts in 2016, and he gained 144 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches and scored twice against Baltimore's highly rated defense in his first career start in Week 17. There's plenty of tread on his tires and his ceiling remains high. I don't get how he came so cheap.

    Grade: A+

    Cincinnati Bengals sign OT Andre Smith: One year, 'likely' $4.5 million [Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer]

    I get that he used to be good back when he played for Cincinnati the first time. But now he's on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a serious injury. Smith really hasn't had a good year since 2013, and he's rarely been healthy since then. They might have been better off pursuing Ryan Clady or Breno Giacomini. 

    Grade: D

    New Orleans Saints sign OLB Alex Okafor: One year, $3 million [Rapoport]

    Okafor just turned 26 and is two years removed from an eight-sack season. His role was reduced in a talented defense the last couple years, but his PFF pass-rushing grades have actually climbed. This is a very nice depth signing for a team in need of defensive talent. 

    Grade: A

    Green Bay Packers sign CB Davon House: One year, $3.5 million [Rapoport]

    House isn't coming off a good season in Jacksonville, but he did have a few good years in Green Bay before jumping ship in 2015. The former fourth-round pick is still only 27, and the Packers can use the help in the secondary. 

    Grade: B+

    Minnesota Vikings sign DE/OLB Datone Jones: One year, $3.75 million [Garafolo]

    I'm not sure Jones will play a large role with his hand back in the dirt in Minnesota, but I won't fault a team for signing a 26-year-old former first-round pick when they're getting a deal like that. 

    Grade: B

    Cardinals sign OLB Jarvis Jones: One-year contract [Wilson]

    The 2013 first-round pick has improved in each of the last two seasons in Pittsburgh. At the very least, this is a good depth signing, but Okafor is a better player at this point. 

    Grade: C+

    Atlanta Falcons sign WR Andre Roberts: One year, $1.8 million [ESPN's Dan Graziano]

    The 29-year-old went over 400 yards in four consecutive seasons earlier in his career, but he's also scored on three returns in the last two seasons. As a depth receiver and a return man, he's worth a lot more than what he reportedly signed for. 

    Grade: A+

    Los Angeles Rams re-sign K Greg Zuerlein: Three years, $6.75 million [Drew Boylhart‏ of The Huddle Report]

    "Legatron" has actually missed eight of his last 13 field-goal attempts from beyond 50 yards. I wouldn't be surprised if the Rams brought in competition. 

    Grade: D


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    Patriots re-sign LB Dont’a Hightower: Four years, $43.5 million with $19 million guaranteed [ESPN's Adam Schefter]

    Hightower rushes the passer quite a lot for an inside linebacker, which might explain why he just became the second-highest paid player in the game at that position (behind Luke Kuechly). The five-year veteran is only 26 and coming off a Pro Bowl season. He also played a major role in Super Bowl LI. He's worth it, especially for a New England team that has lost several key front-seven defenders of late. 

    Grade: A

    Pittsburgh Steelers sign WR Justin Hunter: Terms unavailable [ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler]

    Assuming they didn't give up an arm and a leg, I love this. Hunter is big (6'4", 203 pounds), fast (4.44-second 40), young (still only 25) and was recently highly touted (he was the No. 34 overall pick in 2013). In an environment like Pittsburgh, he could explode as a deep threat. 

    Grade: A+

    Vikings re-sign CB Terence Newman: One year, $3.25 million [Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle]

    Yes, he'll be 39 before he plays another game, but Newman is unbelievably coming off one of the best seasons of his long career. Per PFF, opposing quarterbacks posted a 62.0 passer rating when throwing his way, which was the sixth-lowest qualified mark in the NFL. 

    Grade: A

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-sign C Joe Hawley: Two-year contract [Announced by the team]

    Hawley looks and feels like a center you can lean on, even build around. But he hasn't been good enough as a pass-blocker and he could be fighting for his job this summer. That said, there weren't a lot of other options for Tampa Bay on the open market. Competition is good.

    Grade: C+

    Washington Redskins re-sign NT Ziggy Hood: Terms unavailable [Wilson]

    The former first-round pick won't play for a fifth team in five years, but he's still been terrible for almost all of his eight-year NFL career. In 2016, he was graded by PFF as the 118th-best interior defensive lineman in the game. Only 122 players qualified at that position. The Redskins could have done better, especially since Hood could very well start again in 2017. 

    Grade: D


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    Atlanta Falcons sign DT Dontari Poe: One year, $8 million [Schefter]

    Poe is probably a bit overrated and is coming off a down year, but he's still a nimble mountain of a man and has two Pro Bowl nods under his belt at the age of 26. And he undoubtedly makes a young defense better by bringing size and experience to the front. For a one-year, $8 million commitment, that's golden. 

    Grade: A+


    Vikings sign RB Latavius Murray: Three years, "roughly" $15 million [Rapoport]

    This is a lot of money for a 27-year-old who has seemingly regressed ever since averaging 5.2 yards per carry in his first healthy season. That said, the Vikings had the worst running game in the league last year and Adrian Peterson is gone, so they could use the help and ESPN's Field Yates reported that the contract can at least be voided after one season. I would have preferred to see them sign Lacy or Burkhead, but I won't hold this against them. 

    Grade: B-


    Raiders sign TE Jared Cook: Two years, $12.2 million [Rapoport]

    The four-time 500-yard tight end was at his best late last season with the Packers. He immediately makes the Oakland offense substantially better, and at a reasonable price. 

    Grade: A


    Rams sign DE/OLB Connor Barwin: One year, $6.5 million [Caplan]

    Barwin might never replicate his 14.5-sack 2014 season, but the 30-year-old still hasn't missed a start since 2010. He's a reliable starter, and now he reunites with Wade Phillips as an edge-rusher in LA. 

    Grade: A


    New York Jets sign CB Morris Claiborne: Terms unavailable [Schefter]

    Claiborne has had trouble staying healthy, and he has just four interceptions in five seasons. But the 2012 No. 6 overall pick is coming off his highest-rated season at PFF, and he's got the talent to shine in a new environment. This is a good flier on a 27-year-old for a team that is rebuilding anyway. 

    Grade: B+


    Baltimore Ravens sign CB Brandon Carr: It's complicated [Schefter]

    It's a one-year deal, according to Schefter, with a series of options that could make it a four-year, $24 million contract. But it'll likely play out as a two-year, $12 million pact. So it's everything except a three-year deal. Point is, the Ravens got a 30-year-old who hasn't missed a start in his nine-year career at a premium position for a reasonable price. 

    Grade: B


    Rams sign RB Lance Dunbar: One year, $3 million [ESPN's Adam Caplan]

    This is a small but good move for the new regime in Los Angeles. Dunbar is an experienced third-down back with a lot of tread on his tires at the age of 27. And he's a good pass-catcher, too. Only problem is he's not a great blocker.

    Grade: B


    Dallas Cowboys re-sign RB Darren McFadden: One-year contract [Albert Breer of The MMQB]

    With Dunbar jumping to L.A., the Cowboys were smart to bring back McFadden to support Alfred Morris behind Ezekiel Elliott. He missed most of last season due to an elbow injury but went over 1,000 yards while averaging 4.6 yards per carry in 2015. Good move if it's cheap. 

    Grade: B


    Raiders sign QB E.J. Manuel: Terms unavailable [Schefter]

    The Raiders clearly have a lack of talent behind Derek Carr. Couldn't hurt to bring in a 26-year-old former first-round pick to compete. 

    Grade: B


    Miami Dolphins re-sign G Jermon Bushrod: Terms unavailable [Caplan]    

    The 32-year-old didn't perform well after transitioning from tackle. I'd be surprised if he spent the whole 2017 season as a starter. That said, it made sense to bring him back so long as it's a cheap contract. 

    Grade: B-


    Jacksonville Jaguars sign LB Josh McNary: Terms unavailable [Announced by the team]

    Always nice to steal a decent player from a division rival, especially if he comes cheap and can at least deliver as a special-teams ace. McNary has 78 total tackles in four seasons with the Colts. 

    Grade: A


    Colts sign NT Al Woods: Terms unavailable [Agent]

    Always nice to sign a decent player from a division rival, especially if he comes cheap and even if he was released by said rival. That said, Woods was a replacement-level cog in Tennessee's rotation the last few years, and he'll likely be the same as a 30-year-old with the Colts. Meh.

    Grade: C


    Saints re-sign RB Travaris Cadet: Terms unavailable [Wilson]

    I guess it's a good sign that there was interest from other teams. Cadet has put together three 200-yard seasons as a receiver. 

    Grade: B+


    San Francisco 49ers re-sign DT Chris Jones: One-year contract [Agent Mike McCartney]

    The former New England starter had some quality starts late last year for the Niners, who can use semi-experienced and slightly talented 26-year-old bodies on D. 

    Grade: B


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