Guys haven’t even signed contracts, and already NFL teams are throwing around money like they print it.
Welcome to NFL Free Agency, 2019.
The period officially begins Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean deals weren’t getting done Monday, the first day for legal tampering, the two days when teams can negotiate deals with players.
They can’t be signed until Wednesday, but there were plenty of deals done early in the process.
Some of the deals were outrageous, including big money going to a lot of good players, not great ones.
Here are my grades for the first flurry of moves on Monday and Tuesday:
Patriots DE Trey Flowers to the Lions
The 25-year-old pass rusher was the top free agent on the market on my list. The Lions needed to upgrade their pass rush, so this makes a lot of sense. It was rumored for a while now, and the Lions made it happen.
Flowers had 7.5 sacks last season, but he influenced the quarterback much more than that. Flowers was among the league leaders in pressures. His versatility is a calling card as well, since he can rush from both the edge and the inside.
Lions coach Matt Patricia was the defensive coordinator in New England for Flowers’ first three seasons, so there is familiarity there.
Patriots LT Trent Brown to the Raiders
The Raiders are getting an ascending player, which is the wise thing when it comes to free agency. But to make Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league is a little rich, especially after taking two tackles in the first three rounds of the draft last year.
The plan is supposedly to move Kolton Miller, their first-round pick last year, from the left side to the right side with Brown staying on the left side. But Brown is actually a better right tackle, which makes that talk interesting.
At any rate, the Raiders will be better at tackle than they were a year ago when they had issues there. It’s a solid signing, but the money is a bit rich.
Rams S Lamarcus Joyner to the Raiders
After landing Antonio Brown and Trent Brown for the offense, the Raiders were able to help the defense by signing Joyner to help the secondary.
Joyner played both nickel corner and safety for the Rams, but he will be a back-end player for the Raiders. They had to get help back there, so this move makes sense. Now they just need to add help for him and the defense in the draft.
Giants S Landon Collins to the Redskins
Collins is a good, solid safety who excels playing close to the line of scrimmage. The Redskins needed help on the back end, so it makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is giving him the type of deal the Redskins are paying him. It’s a reported six-year, $84-million deal with $45 million guaranteed in the first three years.
Collins is a good player making great money. A few years ago, he was outstanding for the Giants, so the Redskins have to be thinking he can get back to that level of play. He did suffer a shoulder injury late last season that required surgery.
Ravens LB C.J. Mosley to the Jets
Mosley is a good player, and he will help the new-look Jets defense, but he isn’t close to being worth getting a deal that makes him the highest-paid inside linebacker in the league.
Mosley is a really good run defender, but he also stays on the field in passing downs. He’s also good at lining up the defense, which is important. In the Jets’ new defense under Gregg Williams, he will be an inside 3-4 linebacker. The money is a little crazy, but he’s a nice addition.
Dolphins RT Ja’Wuan James to the Broncos
This one is eye opening. I like James as a solid player, coming off a good season in 2018, but to pay him a top-tier deal is nuts. He’s scheduled to make a $52 million over four seasons. Once again, it’s great money for a good player.
The Broncos are desperate to improve their line, and he will help, but this looks like a panic move in terms of the dollars spent.
Bucs LB Kwon Alexander to the 49ers
Alexander is coming off a torn ACL, which makes this risky. But he’s a good player who will fill a major need for the 49ers. When Reuben Foster had his off-the-field issues, leading to his release, it left linebacker as a problem spot.
If Alexander is healthy, it’s a good, solid signing. He can stay on the field for all downs, which is important in the 49ers scheme. He’s a good run-and-chase player, but he has to be better in coverage in their scheme than he was in Tampa.
Coming off the injury – and battling injuries for much of his career — and making him the third highest-paid inside linebacker in the league drives this grade down some.
Redskins WR Jamison Crowder to the Jets
Crowder is a player who had a down year in 2018 because of injuries, but in his first three seasons he was a productive slot player. He will give Sam Darnold a nice weapon inside in the slot.
The Jets had issues at receiver a year ago, but Crowder can help improve that area under new coach Adam Gase. The deal is for a reported three years and $28.5 million, which is about the rate for a slot receiver in this market.
Vikings LB Anthony Barr to the Jets
Update: Barr had initially agreed to a deal with the Jets but changed his mind and decided to re-up with the Vikings..
Eagles QB Nick Foles to the Jaguars
If the reported deal of four years, $88 million with $50-million guaranteed is accurate, they paid too much. But I get it. They needed to get the quarterback position solved, and Foles was the guy they felt could do it.
But why go that high with the money? Who else was in it?
Foles is an upgrade over Blake Bortles, but he’s not the kind of quarterback who can have sustainable success without help. He can’t carry a team. That will put a premium on fixing the offense around him in the next month and a half.
Foles is a decent quarterback, but the money was way too high for my liking.
Seahawks CB Justin Coleman to the Lions
Coleman had a good season as a slot corner for the Seahawks last year and the Lions needed upgrading at that spot. They released Nevin Lawson to help create the spot for Coleman, who is a better player.
Coleman spent the past two seasons with Seattle, but spent two seasons in New England, where he played for Pats coach Matt Patricia, who was then the Patriots defensive coordinator.
Coleman is more of a playmaker than Lawson, which had to be part of the appeal for the Lions.
Chiefs C Mitch Morse to the Bills
I love this move. Morse is an athletic player who can stabilize the middle of the Bills offense. Buffalo also signed Spencer Long, who has played center, but it looks like he will play guard.
Morse gives second-year quarterback Josh Allen a nice, steady player under center, which is important for a young passer.
Ravens WR John Brown to the Bills
I love this move for the Bills. Brown is a deep threat with blazing speed who is a perfect fit for Josh Allen, the big-armed second-year Bills quarterback. Brown has been a 1,000-yard receiver in his career (back with the Cardinals) and I think he can be that with the Bills in 2019.
Brown’s ability to stretch the defense was on display early last year for the Ravens when Joe Flacco was playing, but when Lamar Jackson took over he kind of vanished. That won’t happen with Allen’s ability to drive the football.
Cowboys WR Cole Beasley to the Bills
Beasley is the opposite of Brown, a slot receiver who does his dirty work in the middle of the field. But he will be a security blanket for Josh Allen, who has to raise his completion percentage from 52.8 last season.
Beasley’s ability to win in one on one situations against slot corners and sit down in the soft spots in the zones should help that become a reality.
Jaguars DT Malik Jackson to the Eagles
Jackson was a good player for the Jaguars for two seasons, but got too light to open the 2018 season and had trouble against the run. He was benched, but played well down the stretch.
He is a great locker-room guy who will get a lot of single blocks playing next to Fletcher Cox. Jackson is still a quality interior pass rusher. He needs to get back some of his weight to be able to hold up better against the run.
Bucs WR Adam Humphries to the Titans
Humphries did a nice job for the Bucs as a slot receiver last year, earning a $9-million per year deal from the Titans.
On the surface, it would appear to be a lot for a slot receiver who has been little more than a complementary piece of the offense. But the Titans need to upgrade their inside passing game for Marcus Mariota. Humphries can do that, but the price was a little rich.
Ravens DE Terrell Suggs to the Cardinals
This will be a homecoming for Suggs, who played his college ball at Arizona State. Suggs, who is close to being Hall of Fame worthy, is still capable of providing a good pass rush in spurts. He has 18.5 sacks the past two seasons, including 7.5 last season.
Playing opposite Chandler Jones, he will help give the Cardinals a nice pass-rush tandem. The move also could indicate the Cardinals might be leaning to taking Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray first overall, since the best option at the top of the draft is Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa.
Then again, you can never have enough good pass rushers.
Texans S Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs
The “Honey Badger” is coming off a nice season in his only one with the Texans and he fills a major need on the back end for the Chiefs. His ability to cover a lot of ground will help alongside Eric Berry.
Give Mathieu credit. He turned down a deal that was said to be averaging close to $10 million to get $14 million a year from the Chiefs.
New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is an aggressive coach who needs players who can cover on the back end and Mathieu can do that.
Panthers WR Devin Funchess to the Colts
The Colts gave Funchess a one-year, prove-it deal for $13 million, which I find strange. Why not go after Tyrell Williams? I know Funchess is cheaper, but Williams has much more big-play ability.
Funchess gives the Colts a bigger target, but he doesn’t run that well, which is why he didn’t stick with the Panthers.
Bears S Adrian Amos to the Packers
The Packers had a need at safety – after moving corner Tramon Williams there last season – and they filled it by signing Amos from the Bears.
The 25-year-old Amos has 56 starts in four seasons, and he’s made significant strides the past two seasons. He’s a good player in coverage and he’s a nice tackler in the run game. He’s scheduled to make $37 million over four years, which is a bargain compared to the deal Landon Collins got from the Redskins.
Redskins OLB Preston Smith to the Packers
On the heels of landing Za’Darius Smith to amp up the pass rush, the Packers followed that up by landing Preston Smith, one of the most-underrated players in this class. Preston Smith had four sacks last year to give him 24 ½ in his career, but he had over 50 pressures for the Redskins.
In the Packers’ scheme, he will play as a stand-up outside linebacker who coordinator Mike Pettine will love to have. He’s one of those 26-year-old players who is just now reaching his prime years. This is an outstanding signing.
Vikings DT Sheldon Richardson to the Browns
This is one of the sneaky-good signings of this class. Richardson has been dominant at times in his career, and played really well on a one-year deal for the Vikings last season.
He will join a defensive front that could be on of the best in the NFL next season. The knock on Richardson is he sometimes doesn’t always play the scheme. That can be coached out of him, but he’s a talent up front.
Jaguars S Tashaun Gipson to the Texans
The Texans lost safety Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs, so they replaced him with a cheaper version in Gipson, a player they know well. Gipson is coming off an above-average season from the Jaguars, but they let him go for cap reasons.
He isn’t as good as Mathieu, but he will be a steady influence in the back end for the Texans. The price of $7.5 million per season is manageable.
Panthers LB Thomas Davis to the Chargers
The Chargers had major issues at linebacker last year, so this makes sense. Davis isn’t as swift as he used to be, but he will give the Chargers a nice veteran presence in Gus Bradley’s defense. But age (35) is a concern.