DE Arden Key Cooper Neill/Getty Images

2023 NFL Free-Agent Signing, Trade Grades: Day 3 Tampering Period Deals

Kristopher Knox

The 2023 edition of NFL free agency has gotten off to a very active start. When the legal-contact period opened at noon ET Monday, it was immediately followed by several noteworthy signings and big-money contracts.

By the end of Day 2, eight of the top 10 players on our initial free-agency big board had agreed to new deals. Plenty of talent is still available, though, and Wednesday should be another busy day.

A look at Bleacher Report's best available free agents entering Day 3 can be found here.

With the new league year—and with it, free agency proper—opening at 4 p.m. ET, deals will undoubtedly come in that have been kept quiet through the early week.

While free agency is an exciting time for fans, not every singing or trade is a home run. Bleacher Report is here to dive into the latest agreements, separate the good from the bad and hand out grades for every significant deal from Day 3.

Day 2 grades can be found here.

Bengals Sign OT Orlando Brown Jr.

OT Orlando Brown Jr. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Four years, $64.09 Million

Arguably the biggest move of Wednesday came late in the evening. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Cincinnati Bengals agreed to a four-year, $64 million deal with offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. that includes a $31 million signing bonus.

It's not hard to see why Cincinnati was willing to strike a deal. Brown is a four-time Pro Bowler who can play either tackle spot, and $16 million annually is far from outrageous for a top-tier tackle.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Brown's former employer, just signed Jawaan Taylor to a deal worth $20 million annually, according to Spotrac. It will be very interesting to see exactly how Brown's contract is structured.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, $49.9 million will be paid out through the first three years, so this could, in effect, be a three-year agreement worth $16.6 million annually—still not bad at all.

Cincinnati could use an upgrade at either tackle spot, as well. Right tackle La'el Collins suffered a torn ACL and MCL in late December, while left tackle Jonah Williams has remained a weak spot on the Cincinnati line.

Williams was responsible for four penalties and 12 sacks allowed this past season, according to Pro Football Focus.

It sounds as if Williams will play on the left side for Cincinnati, though.

"I'm super thankful for the opportunity to carry on my father's legacy and be a left tackle. It was important to be able to play that position and play for a winning team ..." Brown told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

Regardless of where Brown plays, he'll improve Cincinnati's line immediately. This was a crucial need for the Bengals, and they got the No. 1 player on our free-agent big board—without overpaying.

Grade: A+

Buccaneers Sign Baker Mayfield

QB Baker Mayfield Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Contract Terms: One year, worth up to $8.5 million

In 2019, the NFL had a commercial celebrating its 100th season. In it, future Hall of Famer Tom Brady asked then-Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield to hold his Super Bowl rings while he joined in an impromptu football game.

When the commercial aired, Brady was playing for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, and Mayfield was coming off a season in which he threw a then-rookie-record 27 touchdown passes. A lot has changed since then, but Brady is finally handing things off to Mayfield in the real world. Maybe.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed with Mayfield on a one-year deal worth up to $8.5 million. He'll compete with 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask to replace Brady, who retired early in the offseason.

There's a lot to like about this signing for the Bucs. Mayfield had a tremendous rookie campaign, and in 2020 he led the Browns to their only playoff win since they returned to the league in 1999. He battled through an injury-plagued 2021 season, though, and was traded to the Carolina Panthers last offseason. The Panthers released him, and he finished 2022 with the Los Angeles Rams.

In five appearances with Los Angeles, Mayfield posted a respectable 86.4 passer rating while completing 63.6 percent of his passes. That version of Mayfield is someone with whom the Buccaneers can win. The version of Mayfield we saw in 2018 and 2020 is someone who could become Tampa's next franchise quarterback.

Mayfield has had seven different play-callers in his five seasons. 2021 was the only year in which he had continuity, and he suffered a significant shoulder injury in Week 2. He's only 27 years old, and he'll now work with offensive coordinator Dave Canales—who helped revitalize Geno Smith's career in 2022 as the Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach.

Given the cost of the signing, this is a low-risk move for the Bucs that could have a very big reward.

Grade: A-

Bills Re-Sign S Jordan Poyer

S Jordan Poyer Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Unavailable

The Buffalo Bills are bringing back one of their top defenders. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, safety Jordan Poyer has agreed to return, though exact terms of the contract have not been finalized.

"There are still matters to be worked out, but one of the Bills stars isn't going anywhere," Rapoport tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

It's a win for Buffalo, which made moves Tuesday to free up cap space—including restructuring the contracts of quarterback Josh Allen and pass-rusher Von Miller. Poyer "checked out" free agency, according to Rapoport, and will presumably sign at fair-market price.

From an on-field perspective, retaining Poyer is huge. The 31-year-old is one of the better safeties in the league, can play deep or in the box and is coming off a Pro Bowl campaign—he was also a first-team All-Pro in 2021.

This past season, Poyer tallied 63 tackles, four interceptions and eight passes defended in 12 games. He allowed an opposing passer rating of just 60.1 in coverage. He battled elbow, foot, rib and knee injuries during the regular season and suffered a concussion in the divisional round. However, Poyer expects to be at 100 percent for the start of 2023.

"Is there going to be a little rehab, a little maintenance? Yes, but I know my body," Poyer told reporters in February. " ... I'll be ready to go."

A final grade could be dependent on how much Buffalo paid to keep Poyer in the fold. Barring a massive overpay, however, it's very hard not to love this move for the defending AFC East champions.

Grade: A

Patriots Sign WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster Michael Owens/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Three years, $33 million

The New England Patriots are set to add wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a three-year, $33 million deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Smith-Schuster was one of the top receivers available this offseason, and he comes in to replace Jakobi Meyers as the new No. 1 target for quarterback Mac Jones.

Meyers agreed to join the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday.

Smith-Schuster is one of the few wideouts in this year's free-agent pool who can truly fill that No. 1 role. He wasn't the go-to guy for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022—that title belonged to tight end Travis Kelce—but he was Kansas City's top perimeter threat.

This past season, Smith-Schuster caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns. He provided a passer rating of 102.5 when targeted.

At $11 million per season, it's a fair price for one of the top pass-catchers available, and Smith-Schuster fills a critical need for the Patriots. New England has been heavily involved in the wideout chase this offseason, according to The Athletic's Jeff Howe.

"Sources: The Patriots have called about DeAndre Hopkins and Jerry Jeudy. They also attended Odell Beckham Jr.'s workout last week in Arizona," Howe tweeted on Tuesday. "They're in the WR market, but the price point remains a key component."

New England featured one of the league's most underwhelming receiving corps this past season, and it will want to continue adding pass-catchers in free agency and the draft. However, landing Smith-Schuster is a terrific start.

Grade: A

Lions Sign RB David Montgomery

RB David Montgomery Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Three years, $18 million

Late Tuesday evening, the Detroit Lions poached running back David Montgomery from the rival Chicago Bears.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Montgomery agreed to join Detroit on a three-year, $18 million deal that includes $11 million guaranteed. Head coach Dan Campbell will likely be thrilled to have the 25-year-old in his offense.

"He runs tough. He's shifty. He can get under you. He can hit the hole, one-cut guy and so he's dangerous, he can be dangerous," Campbell said of Montgomery in 2021, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

A three-plus-year starter for Chicago, Montgomery is a good runner who adds some receiving ability (155 career receptions) to the backfield. However, he hasn't been as explosive in recent years and, on film, seems to struggle to diagnose open running lanes.

Montgomery averaged just 4.0 yards per carry in 2022 and 2.0 yards per carry before contact. Teammate Khalil Herbert averaged 5.7 yards per carry and 3.1 yards per carry before contact behind the same offensive line.

The signing likely means the end of Jamaal Williams' tenure in Detroit. Montgomery isn't a better runner than Williams, but he's younger than the 27-year-old and brings a bit more dual-threat ability.

The contract feels a bit pricey, considering backs such as Williams, D'Onta Foreman and Miles Sanders were available, and the 2022 draft class is expected to be deep at running back—15 backs were ranked inside the top 150 players on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's latest big board.

Grade: C

Buccaneers Re-Sign LB Lavonte David

LB Lavonte David Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Contract Terms: One year, $7 million

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been active Wednesday, and they'll bring back linebacker Lavonte David. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, the agreed-upon deal is for one year and $7 million.

Keeping David is a big win for the franchise. The 33-year-old remains one of the best all-around linebackers in the league and was one of our top-five remaining free agents heading into Wednesday.

This past season, David started all 17 games for the Buccaneers and played 96 percent of the defensive snaps. He finished with 124 tackles, three sacks, five passes defended and a forced fumble.

David is one of the leaders of a Tampa defense that ranked ninth overall in 2022. Keeping him in the fold is important because the Bucs will likely need to lean on their defense heavily next season.

Whether it's Baker Mayfield, Kyle Trask or a quarterback to be named, Tampa will have a new signal-caller in 2023.

It's a short-term deal, and David isn't getting any younger. However, it's a fairly team-friendly pact for the Bucs—he had a projected market value of $9.7 million annually, according to Spotrac.

This isn't a move that makes Tampa better, but there's value in keeping the status quo defensively.

Grade: B+

Commanders Sign QB Jacoby Brissett

QB Jacoby Brissett Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Unavailable

The Washington Commanders plan to go into training camp with 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell as their QB1. However, the Commanders are not guaranteeing the second-year signal-caller the starting job.

"Going in, [Howell will] start as the No. 1, but it's something he has to continue to earn and show us he deserves to be that guy," head coach Ron Rivera said, per ESPN's John Keim.

With Carson Wentz being released and Taylor Heinicke agreeing with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington needed to add a veteran to the quarterback room who can compete with and mentor Howell.

It appears that the Commanders have found their quarterback. According to ESPN's Dianna Russini, Washington is adding Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett is the perfect mentor and/or bridge starter for Washington. He filled the bridge role for 11 games with the Cleveland Browns last season, and he performed well. He threw for 2,608 yards with 12 touchdowns, six interceptions and an 88.9 passer rating. He also rushed for 243 yards, two touchdowns and 28 first downs.

In Brissett, the Commanders are getting an experienced player (48 starts), who can lead the offense if needed and serve as an additional coach on the sideline.

Brissett never publicly complained about being a temporary option in Cleveland. While he'll undoubtedly try to win the starting job in camp, he's an ideal backup for Howell if he doesn't.

Grade: A

Titans Sign DE Arden Key and LB Azeez Al-Shaair

DE Arden Key David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Contract Terms: (Key) Three years, $21 million; (Al-Shaair) One year, $6 million

Also on Tuesday night, the Tennessee Titans added defensive end Arden Key, who last played for the rival Jacksonville Jaguars.

According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, it's a three-year, $21 million deal with $13 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $24 million.

Good complementary pass-rushers are valuable, and that's exactly what Key can be in defensive coordinator Shane Bowen's system. Though he has never produced eye-popping numbers, Key has been a fine rotational pass-rusher.

In 2022, Key had 27 tackles, five tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 20 quarterback pressures. He had 11 sacks and 39 pressures over the past two seasons.

Key could be more impactful in a Titans defensive front that features Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry and should have Harold Landry back after last year's torn ACL.

While Key should be viewed as strictly a rotational piece in Tennessee, he's a terrific replacement for Bud Dupree, who signed a big-money contract in 2021 and was released earlier this offseason.

Dupree had four sacks and 17 quarterback pressures this past season. Key is an upgrade, and he comes in at a very fair price.

Tennessee agreed on a deal with former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, according to ESPN's Dianna Russini. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, it's a one-year deal worth up to $6 million.

Al-Shaair missed time with an MCL injury this past season but was a productive starter in 2021. He finished that season with 102 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. Though he's not a tremendous coverage linebacker (98.7 opposing passer rating in 2022), Al-Shaair will improve Tennessee's linebacker corps.

Grades: B+ (Key), B (Al-Shaair)

Panthers Sign TE Hayden Hurst

TE Hayden Hurst Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Contract Terms: Three years, $21.75 million

The Carolina Panthers are expected to add tight end Hayden Hurst. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, it'll be on a three-year, $21.75 million deal.

The contract is high, given the slowly-developing tight end market—Dalton Schultz and Mike Gesicki remain available—but Hurst can help Carolina's offense.

Hurst, a 2018 first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens, never developed into a top-tier tight end with Baltimore or with the Atlanta Falcons. However, he was extremely productive with the Cincinnati Bengals this past season.

Despite playing as a complementary target behind Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, Hurst finished 2022 with 52 receptions, 414 yards and two touchdowns. He provided a passer rating of 94.9 when targeted.

This is a smart signing by the Panthers, who last week traded up to secure the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft. That selection will presumably be used on a quarterback prospect, though the Panthers could trade back down.

"A source said Scott Fitterer and Frank Reich have conviction on a couple of QBs at the top. If they end up liking more than 1, they could potentially trade down, source said," The Athletic's Joe Person tweeted Friday.

Either way, Carolina will have a rookie quarterback in 2023. Whether he starts over recent addition Andy Dalton remains to be seen, but Hurst can serve as a security blanket for the young signal-caller whenever it's time to take over.

Grade: C+

Panthers Sign Miles Sanders

RB Miles Sanders Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Four years, $25 million

Hayden Hurst wasn't the only offensive skill player the Panthers added on Wednesday. According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Carolina has also agreed to terms with former Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders. ESPN's David Newton reported that his deal is worth $25 million over four years.

With Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley and Tony Pollard getting the franchise tag, Sanders was the best running back available in free agency this offseason.

Sanders, who won't turn 26 until May, was a vital piece of the Eagles' ground attack in 2022, finishing with 1,269 rushing yards, 4.9 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns. He didn't play a big role in the passing game this past season (20 receptions), but he's proved that he can be a dual threat.

In his 2019 rookie season, Sanders caught 50 passes for 509 yards and three touchdowns.

Adding Sanders is a smart move, with a rookie quarterback almost certainly coming into Carolina in late April. It'll be interesting to see if the Panthers look to pair Sanders with 2022 bruiser D'Onta Foreman or allow Foreman to sing elsewhere in free agency.

Foreman is available, but according to Darin Gantt of the team's official website, Carolina has extended an offer to Foreman.

Either way, Sanders is a proven backfield commodity. After spending more than two seasons with Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts, new Panthers head coach Frank Reich can appreciate what a Pro Bowl running back can do for his quarterback.

Grade: B+

Eagles Re-Sign Fletcher Cox

DT Fletcher Cox Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Contract Terms: One year, $10 million

The Philadelphia Eagles have said goodbye to key contributors like Javon Hargrave and T.J. Edwards, but they won't be losing defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Cox will return on a one-year, $10 million deal. According to Schefter, Cox turned down stronger offers in order to provide Philadelphia with a "hometown discount."

It's a terrific price, considering Cox remains one of the most disruptive interior defenders in the league. This past season, he logged 43 tackles, seven sacks and 25 quarterback pressures. He had 10.5 sacks and 48 pressures over the last two seasons.

The 32-year-old is the veteran leader of Philadelphia's defense, and retaining him is an offseason victory for the Eagles, even if he's not the same perennial Pro Bowler or full-time player (65 percent of the snaps in 2022) he was just a few years ago.

Philadelphia has been forced to pick and choose who it can keep, and it decided to release cornerback Darius Slay after being unable to find a trade partner. However, the Eagles have now retained James Bradberry, Brandon Graham and Cox.

Grade: B+

Saints Sign Jamaal Williams

RB Jamaal Williams Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Three years, $12 million

Detroit's signing of David Montgomery may have sparked the running back market. A second back came off the board late Wednesday, and it was one Montgomery will be replacing for the Lions.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the New Orleans Saints are signing Jamaal Williams on a three-year deal worth $12 million with $8 million guaranteed.

Williams should be a tremendous addition to the Saints offense, either as a starting back or as a rushing complement to Alvin Kamara. Williams has some solid receiving ability of his own (122 receptions in his four seasons with the Green Bay Packers), but over the last two years, he's established a reputation as a tough, physical ball carrier.

With the Lions this past season, Williams rushed for 1,066 yards and a league-leading 17 touchdowns. He'll help to take a ton of pressure off of new quarterback Derek Carr by keeping defenses honest.

Williams won't turn 28 until next month, and he's logged just 915 carries in his career, so he should have several good seasons ahead of him. As we've already noted, the 2023 draft is expected to be deep at running back, but New Orleans is getting a very fair deal at $4 million per year.

Grade: B

Buccaneers Re-Sign LB Anthony Nelson

LB Anthony Nelson Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Two years, $11 million

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are bringing back one of their key defensive players. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, linebacker Anthony Nelson agreed to return to Tampa on a two-year deal worth $11 million and up to $13 million.

Nelson, a 2019 fourth-round pick, has emerged as a valuable situational pass-rusher over the last couple of seasons and had a strong all-around campaign in 2022. He logged 11.5 sacks and 24 quarterback pressures over the last two seasons.

In 2022, Nelson logged 5.5 sacks, 10 pressures, 46 tackles and a fumble recovery. He also allowed a career-best opposing passer rating of 87.0 in coverage. He appeared in all 17 games with eight starts. Along the way, he earned the respect of teammates like pass-rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

"Nelly is one of those dudes who shows up every week," Tryon-Shoyinka said in January, per Brianna Dix of the team's official website. "He is smart and is really athletic. People sleep on him, but he is a big-time playmaker. I love him."

Turning only 26 earlier this month, Nelson is likely just scratching the surface of his potential, and he should grow into an even more prominent role with the Buccaneers.

This is a deal that might fly under the radar for many non-Bucs fans, but Nelson is a fantastic young player, and this is a great deal for Tampa. With rotational rushers such as Charles Omenihu getting up to $10 million per year, re-signing Nelson for roughly half that is a bargain.

Grade: A

Saints Sign Khalen Saunders

DT Khalen Saunders Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Three years, $14.5 million

The New Orleans Saints have agreed to a three-year deal with defensive tackle Khalen Saunders. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, it's a contract worth up to $14.5 million.

Saunders likely comes in as a replacement for David Onyemata, who agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons earlier in the week. He's coming off a strong season with the Chiefs, has upside and should be a fine young addition to New Orleans' defensive interior.

Though the 26-year-old didn't log a start in 2022, Saunders finished with 48 tackles, 3.5 sacks and nine quarterback pressures. Big (Saunders is 6'0" and 324 lbs), athletic interior defenders who can plug running lanes and provide pressure are extremely valuable, and if the Saints view Saunders as a potential starter, he's a steal at this price point.

Defensive tackles have been a hot commodity this offseason and have commanded big money. Onyemata's contract is worth $35 million over three years, according to Spotrac. The Cleveland Browns agreed with Dalvin Tomlinson on a four-year deal worth $57 million, according to Ian Rapoport.

While Saunders doesn't have the experience (38 games, five starts) of some of the market's top defensive tackles, that doesn't mean he can't start in New Orleans. He was largely stuck behind Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi, though he did play 39 percent of the defensive snaps this past season.

Saunders could easily be a player on the upswing, and New Orleans was smart to add him on a team-friendly deal.

Grade: B+

Texans Sign DT Sheldon Rankins

DT Sheldon Rankins Al Bello/Getty Images

Contract Terms: One year, $10.5 million

The Houston Texans have already agreed with safety Jimmie Ward, defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway and pass-rusher Chase Winovich this offseason. On Wednesday, they continued rebuilding their defense, agreeing with defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins on a one-year deal.

According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, it's for $10.5 million.

Adding Rankins should significantly improve a Houston run defense that ranked 29th in yards allowed per carry (5.1) this past season.

Rankins started 15 games for the New York Jets in 2022 and finished with 43 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 11 quarterback pressures. He's not an every-down defender, but he has played at least 50 percent of the defensive snaps in each of the past three seasons.

It's a solid move for a team that definitely needed to reload defensively, though the Texans likely overpaid a bit here. Rankins had a projected market value of $7.3 million annually, according to Spotrac.

Expectations should be tempered for Rankins, who benefited from playing in a loaded New York defense over the past two years. However, Houston's defensive front is better than it was a couple of days ago.

Grade: C+

Browns Sign S Juan Thornhill

S Juan Thornhill Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Three years, $21 million

The Cleveland Browns officially released starting free safety John Johnson III on Wednesday—along with pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney—which left a big hole on the back end of their defense.

Cleveland didn't wait long to make a move. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Browns are signing former Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill to a three-year, $21 million deal.

Thornhill is a two-time Super Bowl champion who started 52 regular-season games for the Chiefs, so his experience will be valued. He's also only 27 years old, so Cleveland should be getting prime years for the entirety of his contract.

However, Thornhill isn't a particularly efficient coverage safety and perhaps not an upgrade over Johnson. Thornhill allowed an opposing passer rating of 105.6 in 2022 while being credited with nine missed tackles. Johnson had 10 missed tackles but allowed an opposing passer rating of only 82.8.

Thornhill isn't a bad player—he does have eight interceptions in four seasons—but he wasn't one of the top safeties on the market. He's not younger than Johnson, and he might not be any better in Jim Schwartz's defense. At $7 million per year, it also feels like the Browns overpaid to bring Thornhill to Cleveland.

Grade: C-

49ers Sign CB Isaiah Oliver

CB Isaiah Oliver Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Unavailable

The San Francisco 49ers are adding another piece to their already dominant defense. According to ESPN's Nick Wagoner, San Francisco is signing cornerback Isaiah Oliver to a two-year deal.

The 2018 second-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons has had an up-and-down career to this point. Oliver played sparingly as a rookie and struggled in his second and third seasons (opposing passer rating of 113.0 and 120.8 in 2019 and 2020, respectively). He also landed on injured reserve in each of the past two seasons and played a total of 16 games during that span.

However, Oliver has improved significantly as a cover man and is coming off his best season as a pro. He finished the 2022 season with 37 tackles, seven passes defended, an interception and an opposing passer rating of 76.2 in coverage.

Oliver is also strong in run support and should be a good fit for Steve Wilks' defense in San Francisco. It's difficult to put a final grade on the deal without knowing what the 49ers are paying Oliver, but if he can build off of what he did in 2022, this could be a very savvy signing by San Francisco.

Grade: C+

Dolphins Sign DeShon Elliott, Freddie Swain, Myles Gaskin

RB Myles Gaskin Silas Walker/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Unavailable

The Miami Dolphins added another piece to their secondary Wednesday, agreeing to a deal with former Detroit Lions defensive back DeShon Elliott, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Elliott started 13 games for the Lions, but he should strictly be a backup in Miami. He has some positional versatility, but he's not a particularly efficient pass defender. This past season, he allowed an 81.6 percent completion rate and a 125.3 opposing passer rating in coverage.

Depth in the secondary is always good, but this is not an acquisition that should really move the needle for Dolphins fans.

Miami will also bring back receiver and special teamer Freddie Swain, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Swain, who finished last season with the Denver Broncos, should provide receiver depth. He'll also play special teams and can return kicks.

The Dolphins are also re-signing running back Myles Gaskin on a one-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

While adding depth to the secondary makes sense, bringing back an underwhelming ball-carrier does not. Gaskin only logged 10 carries this past season; he's averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in his career, and he doesn't play special teams (50 snaps in four seasons).

Gaskin does provide some receiving ability (101 catches), but it really feels like Miami could have found a significant upgrade in April's draft.

An argument could be made that re-signing Gaskin helps maintain continuity, but the Dolphins already did that by re-signing Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.

Grade: C- (Elliott), C (Swaim), D (Gaskin)

Chargers Re-Sign Morgan Fox

DT Morgan Fox Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Contract Terms: Unavailable

The Los Angeles Chargers had a lackluster defense in 2022, one that ranked 20th overall and dead-last in yards per carry surrendered (5.4).

However, one of L.A.'s defensive linemen was a priority to re-sign, and it seems that the Chargers have gotten a deal done. Morgan Fox will be back in 2023, according to his agent, David Canter.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, it's a two-year deal for Fox.

Fox was one of the Chargers' few reliable front-line defenders this past season and was one of the NFL's most underappreciated interior pass-rushers. He appeared in all 17 games, started 12 and played 55 percent of the defensive snaps.

The 28-year-old finished with 38 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 16 quarterback pressures. He was not credited with a single missed tackle.

Fox, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016, has not missed a game over the past five years and has notched 14 sacks over the past three.

It will be interesting to see how much L.A. is paying to keep Fox and how it compares to the other defensive tackles who have been signed during early free agency. Keeping him in the fold, though, is a very positive development for the Chargers defense.

Grade: B+

Vikings Re-Sign RB Alexander Mattison

RB Alexander Mattison Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Contract Terms: Two years, $7 million

The Minnesota Vikings are bringing back Alexander Mattison on a two-year deal, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The deal is reportedly worth $7 million, up to $8 million if he hits incentives, and includes $6.35 million in guarantees.

That's a fairly hefty sum for a backup running back who has never logged more than 134 carries in a season. However, that's probably what Minnesota had to pay to keep the 24-year-old.

Mattison has fared well when given opportunities. He's averaged 4.1 yards per carry and 7.5 yards per reception. In his four 2021 starts, Mattison compiled 518 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns.

There's a very good chance that Mattison was viewed by some teams as a potential starter this offseason. Minnesota, though, probably could have found a viable (and cheaper) alternative in this year's talented draft pool.

The caveat here is that there's a chance that Mattison will become the Vikings' starter in 2023. There has been some buzz that the team is willing to trade Dalvin Cook.

"Multiple teams believe Minnesota has had trade talks centered around running back Dalvin Cook," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote on Sunday.

This deal will look a whole lot better for the Vikings if Cook is indeed on the move in the coming days.

Grade: C+

Other Signings

Colts WR Ashton Dulin Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here's a rundown of Wednesday's other signings.

Colts Re-Sign WR Ashton Dulin

The Indianapolis Colts agreed to bring back wide receiver and kick returner Ashton Dulin on a two-year deal worth up to $9.2 million, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Dulin served as a solid complementary target for the Colts in 2022 and ranked fourth among the team's wideouts with 207 receiving yards on only 15 receptions. He also provided special teams value, returning eight kickoffs and playing 58 percent of the special teams snaps.

At only 25 years old (26 in May), Dulin offers upside at receiver and can be a core special teamer for new coordinator Brian Mason. It's a smart signing for Indianapolis even if it won't generate a ton of excitement.

Grade: B-

Chiefs Sign Edge Charles Omenihu

Late Tuesday, the Kansas City Chiefs agreed with former San Francisco 49ers pass-rusher Charles Omenihu on a two-year deal worth up to $20 million, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Omenihu was a terrific complementary pass-rusher for San Francisco last season, finishing with 4.5 sacks, 21 quarterback pressures and 20 tackles. He should play a similar role in Kansas City and could serve as a replacement for Frank Clark.

Clark was released in a cap-saving move earlier this offseason. He had five sacks and 24 pressures in 2022. Omenihu, 25, is four years younger and could offer a bit more long-term value to the Chiefs.

Grade: B

Raiders Sign LB Robert Spillane

The Las Vegas Raiders agreed to a two-year deal with linebacker Robert Spillane late Tuesday night. According to Doug Kyed of AtoZ Sports, it's a two-year deal with $4 million guaranteed and worth up to $9 million overall.

Spillane is a fantastic two-down linebacker who thrives in run support, and he should bolster a Raiders defense that ranked 23rd in yards per rush allowed (4.5) last season. However, he can be a liability in pass coverage and allowed an opposing passer rating of 109.2 last season.

Adding Spillane won't do much to improve Las Vegas' 29th-ranked pass defense, but he's a physical defender who will bring an edge to the front seven.

Grade: B-

Steelers Sign LB Cole Holcomb

With Spillane departing, the Steelers made a logical move by bringing in linebacker Cole Holcomb. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the two parties have agreed to terms on a three-year deal (terms not available) that is pending a physical.

Like Spillane, Holcomb is a strong two-down run defender. He landed on injured reserve with a foot injury last season and played in only seven games. However, he logged 142 tackles in 2021.

Also like Spillane, Holcomb isn't great in coverage, as evidenced by a 2022 opposing passer rating of 125.6. This is a replacement-level move for Pittsburgh.

Grade: C

Bills Sign WR Deonte Harty

The Buffalo Bills agreed to sign receiver and return specialist Deonte Harty on a two-year deal worth up to $13.5 million with $5 million guaranteed, according to Rapoport.

Harty, who was an All-Pro return specialist as a rookie in 2019, wasn't heavily utilized this past season (three punt returns, six kickoff returns). However, he has proved to be an explosive special teamer who has averaged 9.8 yards per punt return throughout his career.

It's an interesting signing because Buffalo recently reached an agreement to rework the contract of running back and returner Nyheim Hines. If Hines remains on the roster, the Bills may plan to use Harty primarily at receiver, where he logged 570 yards and three touchdowns in 2021. For a complementary pass-catcher with upside and special teams value, this is a very fair contract.

Grade: B+

Patriots Sign Riley Reiff

The New England Patriots agreed to add offensive tackle Riley Reiff, according to ESPN's Dianna Russini (terms unavailable). Reiff is an 11-year veteran who has played both right and left tackle and can provide a leadership presence.

"Great leader and really good for the room," a member of the Bears front office told Dakota Randall of NESN. "Tough-as-nails throwback type who is going to give you everything he's got every day. True pro."

At worst, Reiff can provide valuable depth for New England. He could also slot in as a starter at right tackle, replacing free agent Isaiah Wynn. Ideally, the Patriots will draft a long-term answer at the position, but Reiff is a good insurance policy.

Grade: B-

Patriots Re-Sign S Jabrill Peppers

The New England Patriots agreed to bring back safety Jabrill Peppers on a two-year, $9 million deal, according to Pelissero.

Peppers, a 2017 first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, has developed into a versatile and valuable defender since he arrived in New England this past season. Though he's not great in pass coverage (107.8 opposing passer rating in 2022), he's fantastic in run support and also provides special teams value.

This past season, Peppers appeared in all 17 games, logged 60 tackles and played 59 percent of the snaps on special teams. It's a pricey contract for a player who only started five games in 2022, but it could hint at a bigger role for Peppers—it's worth noting that longtime Patriots safety Devin McCourty retired this offseason.

Grade: C

Ravens Re-Sign RB Justice Hill

The Baltimore Ravens agreed to re-sign running back Justice Hill on a two-year, $4.5 million deal that could be worth up to $5 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Hill averaged an impressive 5.3 yards per carry this past season, though he never saw an extensive workload (49 total carries). He'll return as the No. 3 back behind J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards and a core special teamer.

While there's value in bringing back Hill, the contract feels too high. Several quality running backs are available, and the draft is deep at the position. Unless Baltimore is eyeing a much bigger role for Hill in 2023, this was an overpay.

Grade: C-

49ers Sign Edge Clelin Ferrell

The San Francisco 49ers will add pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell on a one-year deal, according to Schefter.

The fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft never panned out for the Raiders, but there's untapped potential with which defensive line coach Kris Kocurek can work. Ferrell had 4.5 sacks as a rookie and 21 quarterback pressures in 2020 before becoming more of a limited role player in his final two seasons in Las Vegas.

Signing Ferrell is a low-risk move that could pay off in a big way if he rebounds the way players such as Omenihu and Arden Key did in San Francisco.

Grade: C+

Colts Sign Taven Bryan

The Indianapolis Colts agreed with defensive tackle Taven Bryan on a one-year, $4.5 million deal, according to Schefter. That's a more than fair price, given the red-hot defensive tackle market, and Bryan can be a quality contributor in Indianapolis' defensive front.

While the 2018 first-round pick never lived up to expectations with the Jacksonville Jaguars, he's been a productive defender over the past two years. He started 16 games for the Browns in 2022 and finished with 26 tackles, three sacks and one pass defended.

Bryan can bring pressure on occasion, but he'll likely be a rotational piece who thrives on rushing downs.

Grade: B

Buccaneers Re-Sign G Aaron Stinnie

The Buccaneers traded away guard Shaq Mason, but they're bringing back a little bit of insurance at the position. According to Greg Auman of FOX Sports and The Athletic, guard Aaron Stinnie is returning on a one-year deal

Stinnie didn't play in 2022 after suffering a torn ACL and MCL. However, he's been with the Buccaneers since being claimed off waivers in 2019 and started the final three playoff games that season, including Super Bowl LV.

While Stinnie isn't an experienced starter (one regular-season start), he knows the Tampa personnel, provides depth and can start in a pinch. It's a solid, if unspectacular, signing.

Grade: C+

Dolphins Sign TE Eric Saubert

Miami has yet to re-sign tight end Mike Gesicki, and it added to the position on Wednesday.

According to NFL Network's Cameron Wolfe, the Dolphins are adding former Broncos tight end Eric Saubert on a one-year deal. This past season, Saubert caught 15 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown while playing 35 percent of the offensive snaps.

Saubert probably wasn't signed to be the starter, but he can help provide a veteran presence and perhaps help mentor a rookie if the Dolphins target a tight end in April's draft. That's a very real possibility if Gesicki isn't re-signed.

Grade: C

Bills Sign QB Kyle Allen

The Bills are adding another Allen to their quarterback room. According to Rapoport, Buffalo is signing signal-caller Kyle Allen, who will compete to back up Josh Allen.

Kyle Allen started 12 games for the Panthers in 2019 and has 19 career starts on his resume. He's only gone 7-12 as a starter but has a respectable (for a backup) career 82.2 passer rating.

With Case Keenum heading to the Texans in free agency, Buffalo needed an experienced backup. It gets one in its newest Allen.

Grade: C+

Raiders Re-Sign DT Jerry Tillery

The Raiders are bringing back defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston.

Tillery joined Las Vegas during the 2022 season after being released by the Los Angeles Chargers—a team that drafted him 28th overall in 2019. In Los Angeles, Tillery never lived up to his draft status, but he flashed some as a rotational player in Las Vegas.

In eight games this past season, Tillery had eight tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and three quarterback pressures.

Grade: C

Jets Re-Sign DL Solomon Thomas

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas was the third overall pick in the 2017 draft but has never measured up to his selection status.

Thomas has, however, become a serviceable rotational player, and he filled that role for the New York Jets in 2022. Though he didn't start a game, Thomas appeared in all 17 contests and played 33 percent of the defensive snaps. He finished with 26 tackles and a half-sack.

Thomas will be back on a one-year contract worth up to $3.9 million, according to Pelissero. That's a tad high for a non-starter, but it ensures that a valuable member of New York's vaunted defensive line rotation will return.

Grade: C-

Patriots Sign James Robinson

The Patriots are adding another player to a talented backfield that already includes Rhamondre Stevenson and Ty Montgomery. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Patriots have agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $8 with running back James Robinson.

The 24-year-old should be a good addition to the Patriots offense, especially if he can regain the form he showed as a rookie in 2020.

That season, Robinson rushed for 1,070 yards, had 344 receiving yards and scored 10 combined touchdowns. Robinson hasn't been as productive since suffering a torn Achilles in 2021, but he should be an effective complement to Stevenson and will likely replace free-agent Damien Harris.

Grade: B-

Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.


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