Every NFL Team's Best Buy of the 2019 Offseason

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2019

Every NFL Team's Best Buy of the 2019 Offseason

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    Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

    For the most part, you get what you pay for, but sometimes the return on investments far exceed expectations. NFL front offices would take either scenario.

    During the offseason, teams attempt to fill roster holes with coveted free agents, serviceable veterans on bargain-bin deals and extensions for players on expiring contracts before the draft. Some general managers splurge, and others need to exercise frugality by choice or because of limited cap space.

    Regardless of the approach to free agency, clubs expect production from their experienced acquisitions.

    The highest-paid additions are under pressure to perform at a level that justifies their contracts. Don't overlook the grinders who produce on modest deals. Players who outperform their contracts save the front office a lot of financial resources until it's time to negotiate over a new pact.

    We'll take a look at each team's best offseason signing based on value—not necessarily the most productive of the veteran group. The selections include players who re-signed coming off expiring contracts, unrestricted and restricted free agents.


Arizona Cardinals: LB Jordan Hicks

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    Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

    Contract: 4 years, $34 million

    The Arizona Cardinals may have found their long-term quarterback of the offense and defense in the same offseason. Kyler Murray has shown flashes of brilliance with his legs and his arm. On the other side of the ball, Jordan Hicks has covered the field on the ground and in coverage. 

    The Cardinals struggle to cover tight ends. They've allowed one to score in each of the last three games, but Hicks isn't part of the problem. In addition to a league-best 111 total tackles, he's recorded six pass deflections and a team-leading three interceptions. 

    While Haason Reddick has taken a backseat to Joe Walker in the middle of the defense, Hicks looks like the stabilizing centerpiece who brings range and awareness against the run

    In Philadelphia, Hicks didn't have issues with performance, but his spotty availability likely factored into the team's decision not to re-sign him. He missed 21 games between the 2015 and 2018 terms. 

    If Hicks can avoid significant injuries, he's worth the four-year contract signed this offseason.

Atlanta Falcons: OG Jamon Brown

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Contract: 3 years, $18.75 million

    This is a tough call since the Atlanta Falcons had a disappointing 3-8 start to the season. However, in terms of value, the front office landed a solid free agent in Jamon Brown. 

    Sure, Brown has moments when he struggles to seal blocks, but he's yet to give up a sack, per Washington Post's STATs. The 26-year-old has drawn four penalties that were accepted—three for holding and a false start infraction—but that's nitpicking. 

    The Falcons paid less for Brown compared to James Carpenter (four years, $21 million), and the latter has struggled in pass protection on the left side, allowing three sacks and a lot of pressure when you take a look at the game tapes. 

    Brown's average salary of $6.25 million lists 21st among guards, per Spotrac. He's a serviceable guard who could play out the remaining two years of his contract.

Baltimore Ravens: RB Mark Ingram II

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Contract: 3 years, $15 million

    Mark Ingram is an incredible hype man for quarterback Lamar Jackson at the podium, but that's not why he receives the nod over safety Earl Thomas III, who's recorded two interceptions and four pass deflections. 

    The Baltimore Ravens paid top dollar for Thomas. He's third among safeties in guaranteed cash ($32 million) and fourth in contract value

    On the flip side, general manager Eric DeCosta acquired Ingram on a modest three-year, $15 million pact, and he's fifth in rushing touchdowns (nine) and 12th in yards (778). 

    Jackson's ability to run takes some pressure off the running backs, but Ingram carries a sizeable load while averaging 70.7 yards per game at an impressive 5.2-yard rate. 

    As a physical ball-carrier between the tackles and finisher near the goal line, Ingram could eclipse 1,000 yards and match a season-high 12 touchdowns in his age-30 campaign. He makes $5 million per year, which ranks 11th among running backs.

Buffalo Bills: WR John Brown

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    Contract: 3 years, $27 million

    Center Mitch Morse has stabilized the offensive line, but John Brown is on pace for his best season. He's eighth among wideouts in yards (856) with a season-high 65.2 percent catch rate.

    Brown has been a reliable receiving option for quarterback Josh Allen. That's huge since the second-year signal-caller isn't the most accurate passer, completing 60.2 percent of his attempts this season.

    In his 15 years, running back Frank Gore has played with and against some of the best wide receivers. He gave high praise for Brown after the Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins 37-20 in Week 11, per Sal Maiorana of the Democrat and Chronicle.

    "John Brown is a baller," Gore said. "He's been doing great all year. I'm happy that he's getting an opportunity to show people the type of receiver he can be in this league."

    In recent seasons, Brown projected as a solid slot receiver who can stretch the field with his speed and produce chunk plays. Now, he's an every-down threat who delivers with consistency as opposed to a few flashes here and there.

    The Bills have good value with Brown's contract. Typically, No. 1 wide receivers on their second or third deals cost more than $9 million per year.

Carolina Panthers: DT Gerald McCoy

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, $8 million 

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired a new coaching staff, and they released Gerald McCoy, who still had three terms left on his deal. At 31 years old, he can still reach the quarterback and break into the backfield for tackles behind the line of scrimmage. 

    McCoy has four sacks, six tackles for loss and two pass breakups, which is impressive for an interior lineman. The 10th-year veteran still has gas left in the tank. In fairness to the Buccaneers, they probably didn't want to keep him on the books with a $13 million cap hit. 

    The Panthers acquired a solid interior tackle who can play in multiple fronts and contribute on an every-down basis. This season, McCoy has lined up for 61.67 percent of defensive snaps. Over the last three outings, he's been on the field for more than 66 percent of the plays on defense.

    Although McCoy's previous deal didn't appeal to the Buccaneers, he's certainly earning his $8 million contract with the Panthers—a team that needed an extra push up front after ranking 27th in sacks last year.

Chicago Bears: DT Nick Williams

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, $895,000

    Nick Williams has stood out as a rotational defensive lineman this season. Through 11 weeks, he led the Chicago Bears in sacks (six). In Week 12, edge-rusher Khalil Mack added a tally in the category to take the lead with 6.5.

    Last year, Williams appeared in two games before re-signing with the Bears. Despite playing 28 games before this season, he logged his first sack in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos. Apparently, that play opened the floodgates for the 29-year-old. The 6'4", 308-pounder logged sacks in each of the next two contests. 

    In terms of sacks, the Bears defense has lost some of its shine under defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who replaced Vic Fangio, but Williams has witnessed somewhat of a career resurgence as a pass-rushing presence in the middle of the defensive line.

    In contract value, the Bears hit the ball out of the park, so to speak—their second-best pass-rusher won't make more than $1 million this season.

Cincinnati Bengals: OG John Miller

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Contract: 3 years, $16.5 million

    The Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line has been pushed around all season. The unit ranks 30th in run-blocking adjusted line yards (3.48) and 21st in pass protection, per Football Outsiders

    Yet, John Miller has provided solid pass protection up front and opened some space for the running backs between the tackles. According to Washington Post's STATs, he's allowed one sack and drawn only two penalties. 

    Miller isn't a Pro Bowl player by any stretch, but he's a serviceable starting-caliber asset and arguably the Bengals' best offensive lineman aside from center Trey Hopkins. As John Sheeran of Cincy Jungle points out, the 26-year-old has put together solid moments in the trenches.

    "One of the team's few free-agent signings, Miller has been largely the same middling player he was with the Bills," Sheeran wrote. "His highs are promising, but inconsistencies in pass protection still plague his game from time to time." 

    If the coaching staff can tighten up his pass-protection technique, the Bengals would have good value at guard for an average of $5.5 million per year.

Cleveland Browns: RB Kareem Hunt

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    Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

    Contract: 1 year, $1.1 million

    Safety Morgan Burnett deserves an honorable mention. He made his presence felt all over the field, recording 41 tackles, two pass breakups, a pair of sacks and an interception. In Week 11, he tore his left Achilles and landed on injured reserve.

    Kareem Hunt served an eight-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy after video surfaced of him shoving and kicking a woman at a Cleveland hotel. He also underwent offseason hernia surgery. He returned to action in Week 10, and head coach Freddie Kitchens inserted him into the game plan immediately.

    In three outings, Hunt has 178 yards from scrimmage with 10 combined first-down plays as a ball-carrier and pass-catcher. His ability to provide a solid dimension to the short passing game allows quarterback Baker Mayfield to dump off short tosses in the flat and gain chunk yardage.

    As shown in his first three games, Hunt extends plays after the catch and runs with some wiggle to elude defenders on the ground. Although he's suited up for just three games, the third-year veteran brought a significant boost to the offense at a low price tag.

Dallas Cowboys: WR Randall Cobb

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, $5 million

    The Dallas Cowboys have a high-quality trio of talented wideouts at different stages of their careers. Amari Cooper, a three-time Pro Bowler is in his prime. As a sophomore, Michael Gallup has shown notable growth. Nevertheless, we can't overlook Randall Cobb's role as a reliable veteran in the slot. 

    Cooper will garner most of the attention from defensive backs. Gallup draws tighter coverage when he's hot. As of late, Cobb deserves recognition for contributing to quarterback Dak Prescott's gaudy passing numbers—a league-leading 3,433 yards and 21 touchdowns.

    Cobb scored a touchdown in his first game as a Cowboy. He went through several quiet outings but re-emerged as an efficient playmaker between Weeks 10 and 12, converting 22 targets into 14 receptions for 307 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Although he's behind Cooper and Gallup in major receiving categories, Cobb rounds out a top-level position group for a mere $5 million.

Denver Broncos: DB Kareem Jackson

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    Contract: 3 years, $33 million

    Kareem Jackson's numbers don't jump off the screen; his 52 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception only illustrate a portion of his impact in the Broncos secondary.

    As he's done in previous seasons, Jackson can line up in multiple spots, in the box, center field as a free safety or in the slot. The 31-year-old knows how to use different aspects of his skill set to fit each role.

    Jackson has the awareness and instincts to line up inside, shadow a slot receiver and come down into the box for run support if necessary.

    At safety, Jackson can also quarterback the defense alongside Justin Simmons. The latter spoke to reporters about their responsibilities in head coach Vic Fangio's defense (h/t Mile High Report). 

    "One of the things from a safety standpoint is setting up your defense in to the right calls to where you're going to be the most successful. Kareem and I kind of have the freedom to do that. Throughout the week we'll do different calls to see what we like better or ask guys—our corners, nickels, backers—what they like better." 

    On average, Jackson's salary ranks sixth among safeties and would list 16th under cornerbacks. The Broncos paid a good amount for their complete defensive back, but his physical and mental attributes allow him to take on different duties. The savvy veteran's contract corresponds to his obligations on the field.

Detroit Lions: DE Trey Flowers

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Contract: 5 years, $90 million

    The Detroit Lions pursued Trey Flowers as their coveted free agent. He reunited with lead skipper Matt Patricia, who coached him in New England, and not much has changed in terms of the defensive end's role and production. 

    Lions fans would probably like to see Flowers log more sacks at his pay grade, but he's never registered big numbers in the category. The 25-year-old's season high lists at 7.5.

    Flowers provides a big capable body (6'2", 265 lbs) able to play in multiple fronts, stop the run and supplement the pass rush as opposed to lead the charge toward the pocket. 

    Based on contract value in connection to sack numbers, one can argue Flowers has underperformed, but he's the same player we saw in New England, providing impact outside flashy box-score numbers. 

    As of late, Flowers has come along in the sacks category, logging four of his five since Week 8. If he continues to make his presence felt at the point of attack, the versatile defensive lineman could reach double-digit numbers for the first time in his career.

    For those concerned with Flowers' sack count, he has the same number as Frank Clark and a half more than DeMarcus Lawrence—the latter two defensive ends signed $100-plus million deals last offseason.

Green Bay Packers: OLB Preston Smith

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Contract: 4 years, $52 million

    You can flip a coin and take a pick between Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith, the Green Bay Packers' dynamic pass-rushing duo. They have a combined 20.5 sacks. None of the other defenders on the roster have more than two. 

    Preston signed a slightly lesser deal compared to Za'Darius' four-year, $66 million pact. The former can also drop into coverage and disrupt the short passing game. In addition to his team-leading 10.5 sacks, he's logged three pass deflections and an interception. 

    Za'Darius can line up inside and redirect ball-carriers, which doesn't generate statistics in the box score, but Preston can roam the field as a solid asset against pass-heavy spread offenses. 

    Preston has already reached a career-high 10.5 sacks—fourth across the league. With edge-rushers like Frank Clark and DeMarcus Lawrence signing deals worth $100-plus million, the Packers saved a lot of cap space on their investment for a player who's just as effective coming off the edge and brings a little extra in coverage.

Houston Texans: LB Brennan Scarlett

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Contract: 2 years, $5.78 million

    Brennan Scarlett has helped fill a huge void opposite Whitney Mercilus. Jadevon Clowney's holdout progressed into a trade that landed him in Seattle, leaving a void in the Texans' front seven, specifically the pass rush. 

    Scarlett isn't playing at a Pro Bowl level, but he's been productive on the edge and moved into a consistent starting role in October. Through Week 7, he had not played more than 44 percent of defensive snaps in a game. Over the last four outings, the 26-year-old has lined up for at least 61 percent of the plays on defense. Clearly, the coaching staff has shown more trust in him over time.

    Scarlett lists third on the team in sacks (3.5). The front office may not view him as a long-term starter yet, but he's been a solid value acquisition at a position that needed a boost.

    Nonetheless, with one more year left on his deal, Scarlett has an opportunity to grow in a full-time starting position on the edge. At a low price, the Texans found a first-stringer with long-term potential.

Indianapolis Colts: EDGE Justin Houston

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Contract: 2 years, $24 million

    Amid changes to their defense, the Kansas City Chiefs opted to part ways with Justin Houston and saved $14 million on his previous contract. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts on a manageable deal, and he's still an effective pass-rusher off the edge.

    Houston has played 71.68 percent of the defensive snaps, but he has a narrow focus on rushing the quarterback. In Kansas City, he had more coverage responsibilities.

    Through 11 games, Houston doesn't have a pass breakup or an interception, but he's active near the pocket, racking up a team-leading eight sacks and 10 tackles for loss.

    High-level edge-rushers come at a premium on the market. Based on annual salaries among defensive ends, both 3-4 and 4-3 types, Houston lists 17th, but he's tied for 12th leaguewide in sacks.

    With a high motor, Houston can tee off on quarterbacks, providing a much-needed pass-rushing presence on the Colts' defensive line. Linebacker Darius Leonard, Indianapolis' second-best pass-rusher, has three sacks. The club is tied for 19th in the category across the league (26). 

Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Nick Foles

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    Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

    Contract: 4 years, $88 million

    Nick Foles hasn't been impressive by any stretch, but he's only played two full games with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The fanbase may be calling for Gardner Minshew II to reclaim the starting role, but the coaching staff should give the veteran signal-caller at least a handful of starts to prove his worth.

    Foles will either justify his $88 million deal as an offensive centerpiece or push the organization in a new direction toward Minshew or a quarterback in the upcoming draft. The Jaguars have an additional 2020 first-round pick from a trade deal that sent cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams. That selection may allow them to move up for a signal-caller if necessary.

    When healthy, Foles could provide a decent foundation for the passing offense. Although he's yet to play through an entire season, we've watched him lead the Philadelphia Eagles through high-pressure situations against top-notch competition and walk off the field with Super Bowl MVP honors.

    Despite taking losses in all three of his starts, Foles isn't a failed experiment in Jacksonville, yet. He needs time to settle in after breaking his collarbone in Week 1. Secondly, his defense has allowed 483 rushing yards in the last two games. With better play on the other side of the ball and more time under center, the 30-year-old may find his groove and balance the Jaguars offense.

    Unlike most starting quarterbacks who went through the free-agent market, Foles didn't cost the Jaguars top dollar. His contract value lists 12th among signal-callers this season.

Kansas City Chiefs: CB Bashaud Breeland

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, $2 million

    Clearly, safety Tyrann Mathieu has been the most productive among the Kansas City Chiefs' free-agent signings, registering 49 tackles, six pass deflections, two interceptions and a sack. 

    The front office signed a starting-caliber player in Bashaud Breeland, whose contract cost a small fraction of Mathieu's three-year, $42 million contract. 

    Breeland's numbers aren't far off from Mathieu's. He's recorded 35 tackles, five pass breakups, an interception and recovered two fumbles—returning one for a touchdown.

    Last year, the Chiefs ranked 31st in passing yards allowed per game and spent $2 million on a starting cornerback to patch up the secondary. That's a bold move, but it's paying off. 

    Kansas City lists 14th in passing yards allowed per contest. Although the unit still needs to tighten up on surrendering scores through the air (16th), general manager Brett Veach invested a drop in the bucket for a moderate improvement at cornerback.

Los Angeles Chargers: LB Thomas Davis

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    D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    Contract: 2 years, $10.5 million

    Spectators who watch a Los Angeles Chargers game wouldn't be able to tell Davis is 36 years old with 14 years of wear and tear on his body, excluding the 2010 campaign when he sat out with a torn ACL. 

    Thomas leads the Chargers in tackles (90) with 40 more than defensive end Joey Bosa, who's second in the category. We often overlook this statistic because it doesn't tell us much without context. 

    Looking at the game tapes, Thomas hasn't lost a step in his pursuit of ball-carriers and keeps his motor going until the play is blown dead. He's still smooth with technique, logging 50 solo takedowns. 

    The Chargers rank 20th in rushing yards allowed per contest, but they fell apart up front in just a handful of games. In six of their 11 outings, the group has held opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground.

    Davis doesn't provide much in pass coverage, but he's someone to account for in run support. At a manageable wage, he's a solid component to the Chargers' linebacker corps.

Los Angeles Rams: LB Clay Matthews

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    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    Contract: 2 years, $9.25 million

    The Rams didn't splurge in free agency, but general manager Les Snead inked safety Eric Weddle and outside linebacker Clay Matthews to two-year pacts. Both have been productive, but the latter provides more impact plays.

    Despite missing three games with a broken jaw, Matthews ranks second on the team in sacks (seven) with eight tackles for loss, which ranks third. 

    Matthews is on pace to log a double-digit sack season for the first time since the 2014 campaign. He's shifted between inside and outside linebacker throughout his career, but the 33-year-old seems focused on taking down quarterbacks in Los Angeles. 

    The Rams needed pass-rushing help on the edge opposite Dante Fowler Jr. They found a solution at a premium position that won't cost them more than $5 million per year.

Miami Dolphins: DB Eric Rowe

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    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    Contract: 1 year, $3.5 million

    Head coach Brian Flores brought Eric Rowe over from New England with him. At a modest price, the fifth-year veteran has carved out a prominent role in the secondary.

    With a growing number of pass-catching tight ends around the league, Rowe's responsibilities go beyond covering wide receivers, per Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

    "Eric Rowe is evolving into a solid rover (or star, depends on what your team calls it), which is the safety that handles covering tight ends. It is the old Minkah Fitzpatrick role," Kelly tweeted.

    The Dolphins traded Fitzpatrick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a first-round pick, which created a need for a versatile defender. The coaching staff may have found its tight-end stopper in Rowe. The 26-year-old lists third on the team in tackles (53), and he's tied with cornerback Nik Needham for the most pass deflections (six).

Minnesota Vikings: LB Anthony Barr

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Contract: 5 years, $67.5 million

    During the last offseason, Anthony Barr had an agreement with the New York Jets but changed his mind and decided to re-sign on a new deal to stay in Minnesota. After a rough year in coverage, he's made plays all over the field through 12 weeks. 

    The Vikings have experienced lapses with coverage on the back end, but the front seven remains solid with Barr on the second level covering shallow areas. He's recorded 54 tackles, four pass breakups, 1.5 sacks and an interception.

    Based on the length of his deal, Barr should serve as a key component in the Vikings' front seven for years to come. Although he's 6'5", 255 pounds, his athleticism allows him to stay on the field for all three downs as a complete linebacker.

    Barr has continued to perform at a high level. He stands out as one of the team's top defenders who brings an impact to run support, the pass rush and coverage.

New England Patriots: LB Jamie Collins

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, $2 million

    In his first stint with the Patriots, Jamie Collins had some solid seasons and one Pro Bowl campaign. After a short stay in Cleveland, he's put together an All-Pro worthy term on a $2 million deal. 

    In addition to his excellent coverage, logging three interceptions and five pass deflections, Collins leads the team in tackles for loss (seven) and sacks (six). He's a major part of New England's opportunistic defense that's No. 1 across the league in takeaways (29). 

    The Patriots' defensive line doesn't have a dominant pass-rusher, but Collins has been a valuable supplement in that area beyond sacks—he's also brought pressure to force quarterbacks into poor decisions. 

    Collins' athleticism and versatility allow the coaching staff to move him around the formation, and he's done his part in making plays in every possible down-and-distance scenario.

    In terms of value, the Patriots may have the best buy of the offseason. Collins has arguably been the team's most valuable player on defense.

New Orleans Saints: QB Teddy Bridgewater

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Contract: 1 year, $7.25 million

    The New Orleans Saints' decision to sign Teddy Bridgewater helped the team in the present and may aid the franchise in the future.

    The offense didn't skip a beat with Bridgewater under center while Drew Brees recovered from thumb surgery. He threw for nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. The Saints went 5-0 in the starter's absence. 

    Brees will turn 41 years old in January, and his contract will automatically void at the end of the 2019 campaign. The team won't force him out of the door; he's still completing a league-leading 75.7 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. 

    However, if Bridgewater is willing to hang around until Brees walks away, the Saints may have their franchise signal-caller for the foreseeable future. 

    New Orleans' small investment in Bridgewater kept this team in the running for a first-round bye week in the postseason and provided the decision-makers a look at their potential future at the most important position on the roster.

New York Giants: EDGE Markus Golden

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, $3.75 million

    Markus Golden reconnected with defensive coordinator James Bettcher, after the two spent three terms together between 2015 and 2017 in Arizona. The fifth-year veteran logged 12.5 sacks in his sophomore season.

    The New York Giants have two young edge-rushers in Lorenzo Carter and rookie third-rounder Oshane Ximines, but Golden provides a veteran presence with experience in Bettcher's system. He leads the team in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (10). 

    According to Next Generation Stats, via ESPN's Seth Walder, Golden is rarely double-teamed, but he's able to win one-on-one matchups at the point of attack. 

    Golden's sack number isn't near the top of the league, but the Giants certainly need his push near the pocket. Big Blue is tied for 19th in sacks, with Carter listing third on the team in the category with 3.5.

    For a bargain price of $3.75 million, the Giants acquired their best pass-rusher, who's once again flourishing under Bettcher.

New York Jets: WR Jamison Crowder

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Contract: 3 years, $28.5 million

    Over the last two seasons, wideout Robby Anderson has led the Jets in receiving yards. He became a restricted free agent in the offseason, and former general manager Mike Maccagnan opted to keep him on the books. 

    Anderson hasn't taken another leap in his second year with quarterback Sam Darnold. Instead, Jamison Crowder established a strong rapport with the signal-caller and leads the team in receptions (55) and yards (580). 

    For the most part, Crowder operates out of the slot, but he's played 77.99 percent of offensive snaps this season. 

    The Jets signed a couple of high-profile players in running back Le'Veon Bell (four years, $52.5 million) and linebacker C.J. Mosley (five years, $85 million), but the former is averaging a season-low 3.2 yards per carry behind a shaky run-blocking offensive line. The latter has been limited to two games because of a groin injury.

    Crowder's average salary lists 25th among wideouts, which seems like a satisfactory investment for a player who's emerged as Darnold's top receiving option.

Oakland Raiders: OG Richie Incognito

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    D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, 1.03 million

    In 2017, Richie Incognito put together a Pro Bowl campaign with the Bills, but he didn't play in the 2018 term. The 36-year-old had incidents at a gym and a funeral home in Arizona—the latter led to an arrest.

    Incognito's off-field transgressions likely led to his extended time away from the NFL. The Oakland Raiders signed him to essentially replace Kelechi Osemele, who was traded to the Jets, but the veteran guard had to serve a two-game suspension for his actions at the funeral home (following his father's death) in August. 

    Upon his return, Incognito added grit and nastiness to the offensive line, a unit that's an integral component to the Raiders' 12th-ranked ground attack. According to Football Outsiders, Oakland's five-man group lists fourth in run-blocking based on adjusted line yards (4.84). 

    In Week 10, Troy Aikman of Fox shared a glowing opinion of Incognito's play this season.

    "During the Raiders-Chargers Thursday Night Football match, NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman dubbed Incognito the league's best left guard of the season," per Kyle Martin of the Raiders' official website. 

    Aikman may receive pushback with guards Zack Martin and Marshal Yanda performing at high levels as well, but Incognito deserves to be in the conversation.

    Offensive tackle Trent Brown has sealed the right side of the front line, but the Raiders made him the highest-paid player at his position on a four-year, $66 million deal. They have one of the top guards at slightly over $1 million.

Philadelphia Eagles: CB Ronald Darby

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Contract: 1 year, $6.5 million

    Ronald Darby hasn't looked his absolute best this season, and he's battled a hamstring injury, which cost him four games. With that said, the Eagles absolutely need him in the secondary.

    Sidney Jones, a 2017 second-rounder, has been a letdown since coming out of Washington. Although he's avoided significant injury this season, the third-year cornerback lost his starting role and hasn't played a defensive snap since Week 8. Avonte Maddox had his ups and downs in coverage. Jalen Mills needed time to recover from a foot injury and didn't suit up until Week 7. 

    Despite missing four games, Darby leads the Eagles in pass breakups (nine). With him healthy over the last four outings, Philadelphia has allowed fewer than 225 passing yards in each of those games.

    When available, Darby provides solid coverage downfield, but he's missed 19 games since 2017, which likely explains his modest deal. It'll be interesting to see if the Eagles feel comfortable enough to bring him back on a multiyear contract. They can trust his skills on the field but may worry about durability.

Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Steven Nelson

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Contract: 3 years, $25.5 million

    The Steelers signed Steven Nelson, which indicated the team had run out of patience with cornerback Artie Burns, who was benched multiple times before he became a non-factor this season.

    To the front office's credit, Nelson has stepped into the starting role opposite Joe Haden and provided solid coverage. Steelers Depot writer Daniel Valente highlighted the fifth-year cover man's ability to limit Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., holding the three-time Pro Bowler to one catch for zero yards after his 42-yard touchdown reception.

    Slot cornerback Mike Hilton also praised Nelson for his blanket coverage on the perimeter, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "He's been unbelievable," Mike Hilton said. "When he's been targeted, he's pretty much been shutdown." 

    Fitzpatrick has garnered the spotlight for his immediate impact, but Nelson also deserves acknowledgment for the Steelers' suffocating pass defense, which ranks eighth in yards allowed per game.

San Francisco 49ers: RB Tevin Coleman

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Contract: 2 years, $8.5 million

    Head coach Kyle Shanahan carries the label of an offensive guru, but he still needs the appropriate players to fit his schemes. He initially crossed paths with Tevin Coleman in Atlanta between the 2015 and 2016 terms.

    Back then, Shanahan utilized Coleman as a dual threat out of the backfield capable of moving the ball on the ground and extending plays after the catch. Years later, that hasn't changed. 

    Although Matt Breida leads the running back group in rushing yards (542), Coleman serves as the deal-closer with five of his six touchdown runs starting inside the 20-yard line

    If Coleman had not missed two games with an ankle injury, he may be the team leader in yards from scrimmage at this point, but he's third with 612. The 26-year-old plays a major role in the San Francisco 49ers' No. 2-ranked rushing offense and short passing game.

Seattle Seahawks: LB K.J. Wright

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Contract: 2 years, $14 million

    K.J. Wright isn't an elite talent at linebacker, but he's a serviceable second-level defender who's been active in coverage, logging a career-high seven pass breakups. He dropped a potential game-sealing interception in Week 11 against the 49ers but all can be forgiven since the Seahawks came out with the victory. 

    After an injury-riddled 2018 campaign because of a knee injury, Wright can still play a heavy snap count in his age-30 term. He's played at least 87 percent of the defensive snaps in each game this season.

    Wright ranks second on the team in tackles (83) and passed Joe Nash in the category for fourth place in Seahawks record books. The ninth-year veteran isn't a consistent disruptor in the backfield as we saw in his early years, but he uses his experience and football intellect to stay in position to accumulate stops.

    Wright's annual salary ranks 31st among outside linebackers. Because of his ability to play in space, he's worth the investment.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE Shaquil Barrett

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Contract: 1 year, $4 million

    Shaquil Barrett transitioned from a backup pass-rusher with the Broncos to an every-down game-wrecker in Tampa Bay. He's tied with Cardinals edge-rusher Chandler Jones for the most sacks (12.5), and the 27-year-old will likely demand a lucrative multiyear deal on his next trip to the free-agent market if the Buccaneers choose not to extend or franchise-tag him.

    With star pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul out through Week 7 because of a neck injury sustained in a car accident, the Buccaneers needed someone to provide pocket pressure. Barrett filled the void immediately, logging eight sacks within the first three games. 

    Of course, two 300-pound interior tackles like Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea demand a lot of attention from offensive linemen, but the former cost the Buccaneers $9.25 million on a one-year deal. For slightly less than half the price, Barrett has developed into a premier pass-rusher with room to grow in a full-time starting role.

    In addition to the high sack number, Barrett leads the Buccaneers in tackles for loss (12). He's also logged two pass breakups and an interception.

Tennessee Titans: WR Adam Humphries

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Contract: 4 years, $36 million

    The Tennessee Titans' passing attack may have yielded more production if the team pulled quarterback Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill a week or two earlier, but wide receiver Adam Humphries has flashed in small glimpses throughout the year. 

    In Week 3, Humphries had his best game of the season, hauling in six passes for 93 yards. He didn't score his first touchdown until Week 10—a go-ahead reception that helped seal a 35-32 victory over the Chiefs. 

    Despite the Titans' struggles to move the ball through the air, Humphries has a team-leading 36 catches with an impressive 80 percent catch rate. He's not a No. 1-type wide receiver, but the fifth-year veteran is a chain-mover with sure hands, which bodes well for Tannehill, who can extend plays and throw under duress.

    With solid quarterback play, Humphries should garner recognition as one of the top slot receivers in the league.

Washington Redskins: RB Adrian Peterson

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    John Munson/Associated Press

    For the most part, you get what you pay for, but sometimes the return on investments far exceed expectations. NFL front offices would take either scenario.

    During the offseason, teams attempt to fill roster holes with coveted free agents, serviceable veterans on bargain-bin deals and extensions for players on expiring contracts before the draft. Some general managers splurge, and others need to exercise frugality by choice or because of limited cap space.

    Regardless of the approach to free agency, clubs expect production from their experienced acquisitions.

    The highest-paid additions are under pressure to perform at a level that justifies their contracts. Don't overlook the grinders who produce on modest deals. Players who outperform their contracts save the front office a lot of financial resources until it's time to negotiate over a new pact.

    We'll take a look at each team's best offseason signing based on value—not necessarily the most productive of the veteran group. The selections include players who re-signed coming off expiring contracts, unrestricted and restricted free agents.