By: Alexander Amir
Grade : C-
(QB) Sam Bradford (One year, $20 million)
(QB) Mike Glennon (Two year, $8 million)
(OL) Justin Pugh (Five year, $45.035 million)
(OL) Andre Smith (Two year, $8 million)
(QB) Carson Palmer (Retirement)
(RB) Adrian Peterson (Release)
(S) Tyrann Mathieu (Texans)
(DB) Tramon Williams (Packers)
(WR) John Brown (Ravens)
(WR) Jaron Brown (Seahawks)
(LB) Kareem Martin (Giants)
(DE) Josh Mauro (Giants)
The Arizona Cardinals addressed their biggest need in free agency (aside from QB) which was offensive line. Despite Justin Pugh’s extensive injury history, he is an excellent guard and above average tackle when healthy. Andre Smithis also a solid lineman who will provide depth, but he too has a lengthy injury history. I do believe letting Tramon Williams leave Arizona was the right decision, because while he is an excellent defensive back he is 35 years old and would have cost them a significant sum of money that will be best used elsewhere.
Letting Tyrann Mathieu walk was a questionable move; he wasn’t willing to take a pay cut, but as a great defensive back at 25 years old he should have been a priority. The Sam Bradford deal looks like a disaster waiting to happen- giving a $20 million a year contract to a quarterback who has played just 2 full seasons out of 8 is questionable, to say the least. While Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, and Nick Foles were all in their respective conference championship games, they had excellent surrounding teams. By the time the rest of Arizona’s team is good enough to compete, they will have long since moved on from Bradford. That $20 million should have been spent on offensive playmakers and defensive secondary depth.
The NFC West has undergone a transformation since just last year. The 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks all have excellent, young quarterbacks. The division is littered with starpower on both sides of the ball, between Todd Gurley, Richard Sherman, Marcus Peters, and a still-talented Seattle Seahawks defense. The Cardinals have numerous positions to fill, most pressing of which is finding a long-term quarterback, ideally through this year’s draft. Addressing the offensive line is a start, but they still have a ways to go to compete with the rest of the division.
Los Angeles Rams
Grade : B
(S) Lamarcus Joyner (One year, $11.287 million- franchise tag)
(CB) Nickell Robey-Coleman (Three year, $15.75 million)
(OL) John Sullivan (Two year, $15 million)
(CB) Sam Shields (One year, $915 thousand)
(CB) Trumaine Johnson (Jets)
(WR) Sammy Watkins (Chiefs)
The Rams have had an incredible off season in terms of trades, but have actually been very quiet in free agency. They let Trumaine Johnson go to receive Marcus Peters in return and franchise tagged Lamarcus Joyner, keeping their defense intact. Sam Shields was a nice pickup, as he was an above average cornerback for the Packers two years ago and only costs the team the veteran minimum. Sullivan and Robey-Coleman were both solid players for the Rams last season, and they were able to keep them at a good price.
I don’t think the Rams have made any bad decisions this offseason. While Sammy Watkins may be an electric playmaker, he had a long injury history and would have been expensive. Aside from that, no other conceivably poor moves were made.
The Los Angeles Rams have become a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. They had the highest scoring offense in the league while also boasting a talented defense. They get an good, but not great, grade simply because they have not made any significant moves. The defense has been tinkered with this offseason and stays just as strong, while the offense will undoubtedly improve even more with Goff, McVay, and Gurley in their 2nd year together. They should have high expectations this season, with a division title and a deep playoff run well within reach.
San Francisco 49ers
Grade : A
(CB) Richard Sherman (Three year, $27.15 million)
(OL) Weston Richburg (Five Year, $47.5 million)
(RB) Jerick McKinnon (Four Year, $30 million)
(OL) Jonathan Cooper (One Year, $4.95 million)
(RB) Carlos Hyde (Cleveland)
(OL) Brandon Fusco (Atlanta)
(DE) Aaron Lynch (Chicago)
The 49ers made every right move this offseason to fill the glaring needs in their roster. Weston Richburg and Jonathan Cooper will bolster the interior offensive line to protect Jimmy Garoppolo and support new running back Jerick McKinnon in the running game. The Richard Sherman signing is one of the best of all of free agency, as they strengthened a position of need in their defense with one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and someone who is familiar with the NFC West with a chip on his shoulder against the Seattle Seahawks.
None. The 49ers lost three starters from last season but replaced them just as quickly. The only way the Sherman signing won’t work out is if he is unable to come back to proper form from his Achilles injury.
San Francisco is entering the draft in excellent position with the 9th pick and a roster with few glaring holes after this offseason free agency. With a rich crop of defensive prospects in this year’s draft, the 49ers will likely have the opportunity to draft a difference maker like Derwin James, Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, or maybe even Minkah Fitzpatrick. If they can add an offensive playmaker and an additional pass rusher, this team could easily compete with the Rams for the NFC West title.
Grade : C-
(DB) Bradley McDougald (Three Year, $13.5 million)
(OL) D.J. Fluker (Value unknown)
(WR) Jaron Brown (Two Year, $5.5 million)
(LB) Barkevious Mingo (Two Year, $6.8 million)
(TE) Ed Dickson (Three Year, $10.7 million)
(DT) Tom Johnson (One Year, $2.1 million)
(TE) Jimmy Graham (Packers)
(DT) Sheldon Richardson (Vikings)
(WR) Paul Richardson (Redskins)
(CB) DeShawn Shead (Lions)
(CB) Richard Sherman (49ers)
(TE) Luke Wilson (Lions)
The Seahawks didn’t make very many splashy moves in free agency, but I like the Barkevious Mingo signing. It is a low-risk deal for a consistent, durable player who is young but still has experience in the league. D.J. Fluker played decently for the Giants last season, and I can see him being a consistent force as well on the Seahawks’ offensive line. Jaron Brown is an up-and-coming, young receiver who showed some good flashes with Arizona last season, dropping only one pass out of 64 targets.
With all of Seattle’s injuries and defensive questions I would have expected them to resign more of their own free agents. Cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell have yet to be resigned, and Richard Sherman was cut after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury. I do believe Sherman will recover fully from his injury, and given the Seahawks’ defensive questions it would have behooved them to have him return. He was the heart, soul, and leader of the defense, and I think the team will miss him more than they think.
Seattle’s defense is a mess. Star cornerback Richard Sherman was cut after he suffered a season-ending injury, as was talented but troubled defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Safety Earl Thomas is mired in trade rumors, while Cliff Avril’s 2018 season is in doubt and Kam Chancellor’s entire career is in jeopardy. After being such a dominant unit the past half decade, the Legion of Boom is rapidly deteriorating. While Thomas, Chancellor, Bobby Wagner, and K.J. Wright are still present (albeit some being injured), they are all set to become free agents over the next couple of years. While injury questions do muddle free agency decisions, I believe the Seahawks severely neglected to address the offensive side of the ball. They have mediocre running backs, only one proven receiver, and a suspect offensive line. I would have liked to see these needs addressed more in free agency– hopefully the team will do so in the draft.