Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Sports

Free agency's best and worst deals so far

The NFL's new league year began Wednesday, allowing teams to formally acquire free agents and make trades to refine their rosters for the 2016 season. But not all moves are necessarily good ones. And some help more than others. Here's a look at the shrewd (and less-than-savvy) moves so far.

Free-agent grades

(Players changing teams)

Brock Osweiler, QB (Broncos) to Texans: The blockbuster. It's a huge addition for the Texans, who get the most promising quarterback available after having to start Brian Hoyer in last season's playoffs. Hoyer's four-interception performance in the loss to the Chiefs seemed to convince the Texans that they had to devote considerable resources to upgrading the position. The Broncos, on the heels of Peyton Manning's retirement, are left without the would-be successor to Manning. There won't be a seamless transition at QB for the Super Bowl champs, whose next move potentially could be a trade for Colin Kaepernick. Grade: A

Bruce Irvin, LB (Seahawks) to Raiders: This gives the Raiders a good complementary pass rusher to go with Khalil Mack. It is a comparatively reasonable deal, worth as much as about $10 million per season over four years. Grade: A-

Olivier Vernon, DE (Dolphins) to Giants: Miami removed its transition-player tag from Vernon and he took full advantage, agreeing to a mammoth five-year, $85 million deal that includes $52.5 million in guaranteed money. The Giants remade their defense on the opening day of free agency by re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul and adding Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins. Grade: B+

Danny Trevathan, LB (Broncos) to Bears: Trevathan rejoins former Broncos coach John Fox in Chicago in what could turn out to be a very good deal for the Bears. Grade: B+

Malik Jackson, DE (Broncos) to Jaguars: Jackson was one of the prizes of free agency and he came away with $85.5 million over six years, including $42 million in guaranteed money. It's an eye-catching deal. Jackson might not be $85 million good. But the Jaguars had abundant cap room and they should get a productive player. Grade: B

Janoris Jenkins, CB (Rams) to Giants: The Rams left themselves vulnerable to losing Jenkins when they used their franchise-player tag on fellow cornerback Trumaine Johnson. And they did lose him via a five-year, $62.5 million agreement with the Giants that includes $29 million in guaranteed money. Jenkins is a good cornerback but it's debatable whether he's good enough to justify $29 million in guaranteed money. Grade: B

Alex Mack, C (Browns) to Falcons: He rejoins his former offensive coordinator with the Browns, Kyle Shanahan, in Atlanta. It's a pricey five-year deal worth about $9.5 million per season. That's a lot for a center but Mack is very good. Grade: B

Marvin Jones, WR (Bengals) to Lions: The Lions needed help after Calvin Johnson announced his retirement Tuesday. Unfortunately for them, it was a year in which no true No. 1 wideout was available on the market. Grade: B-

Kelechi Osemele, G (Ravens) to Raiders: Oakland adds a good player to its offensive line. But a five-year contract worth as much as $60 million suggests the Raiders might be planning to play Osemele at tackle, not guard. That already is being speculated. This could become risky. Grade: B-

Travis Benjamin, WR (Browns) to Chargers: Benjamin has speed and big-play capabilities. He can also help as a kick returner. Grade: B-

Mario Williams, DE (cut by Bills) to Dolphins: Williams is 31 and coming off a five-sack season that led to his release. He was productive before that, with 38 sacks over three seasons. But the Dolphins already had a good pass rusher in Olivier Vernon, who was given the transition-player tag. Then the Dolphins withdrew the tag. So they, in effect, chose Williams. Curious choice. Grade: C+

Trade grades

Kiko Alonso, LB, Byron Maxwell, CB, and No. 13 pick in draft to Dolphins; No. 8 pick in draft to Eagles: The Eagles are doing all they can to rid themselves of the Chip Kelly-as-GM fiasco. Moving up five spots so early in the draft is significant. Grades: B+ for Eagles, C- for Dolphins

DeMarco Murray, RB, from Eagles to Titans for exchange of fourth-round draft spots: The Eagles essentially gave away Murray. That's not necessarily bad, since he never fit in. The Titans get a workhorse who could be beneficial to Marcus Mariota. Grades: C+ for Eagles, A- for Titans

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