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Grading Week One Moves of NFL Free Agency

Earlier this year, we made a decision prior to the launch of the 2015 NFL Free Agency period – no snap reactions. No instant analysis of signings or trades, instead Sports Grumble would wait until we had time to truly do our homework and study each move that was made. That is something we are thankful we chose to do, as there we a few moves we loved a week ago that we feel much differently about today.

So let’s take a look at some of the marquee moves that were made over the course of the last week and assign some grades.

ndamukong suh detroit lions

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

DT Ndamukong Suh signs with the Miami Dolphins

BSuh will have a lot to live up to, not just the $114 million contract but extremely lofty expectations. While we were initially shocked to see the Dolphins willing to spend this type of money on the part of their team that seemed to need it the least, there is not denying that defense is better than it was in 2014.


CB Darrelle Revis signs with the New York Jets


This signing caught us off guard, admittedly. It seemed throughout the entire offseason that the Patriots would find a way to bring Revis back into the fold, even after the team re-signed Devin McCourty. However, the presence of Revis in new head coach Todd Bowles‘s defense will be an absolute joy.


TE Julius Thomas signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars


There is no denying this is a risk for the Jaguars, but it was one they desperately needed to make. Bringing in Thomas gives Blake Bortles a true target off the line of scrimmage. While his run-blocking is suspect, his ability to stretch the field in the passing game is sensational. Good pick up for Gus Bradley.


QB Sam Bradford traded to the Philadelphia Eagles


Man, was this sucker a true shocker last week. Initially, we scoffed at the idea of this trade. But if Bradford can stay healthy (yes, we know, that’s a big “if”), this could be a monstrous move for Chip Kelly. Bradford has a big time arm and might just shake that offense up…if Chip can find him some receivers.


TE Jimmy Graham traded to the Seattle Seahawks


This grade might be a “D” for the Saints, but dear goodness is this exactly what the Seahawks needed. Graham immediately takes the pressure off the legs of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. He gives the Seattle offense something they haven’t had in years – a legit receiving threat at tight end.


Devin McCourty signs with the New England Patriots


McCourty is a true Patriot (speaking in true football sense, of course) – he plays hard and is completely reliable. That isn’t someone Bill Belichick is going to let get away very easily. While Revis bolted, McCourty has roots and history with New England. Smart move by Billy B.


DeMarco Murray Dallas Cowboys

Brandon Wade/Associated Press

RB DeMarco Murray signs with the Philadelphia Eagles

There is something a little odd about Murray being Chip Kelly’s backup plan when he lost Frank Gore to the Colts. And Kelly traded LeSean McCoy for reasons we assumed had to do with his contract…yet signed Murray to the same extension McCoy received in Buffalo? That makes no sense – Murray is a downgrade.


DT Haloti Ngata traded to the Detroit Lions


Brilliant trade for the Lions, and one that only cost them a fourth and fifth round pick. Ngata is a great replacement for Ndamukong Suh – he might be just a step below on the field, but he will do wonders for that locker room as well. Smart move by Detroit.


RB LeSean McCoy traded to the Buffalo Bills


Rex Ryan loves to run the football, and he acquired one of the best guys to do so for him. Solid pickup, especially for an offense that is in need of an identity.


OG Mike Iupati signs with the Arizona Cardinals

Great run-blocker, suspect pass-blocker. Carson Palmer is fragile, so why do you sign a guy who won’t keep him healthy? Plus, they have no one capable of running the football to cast fear in the minds of defenses. Only an unlikely trade for Adrian Peterson can save this signing.


Teams Who Could Acquire Brandon Marshall

George Gojkovich/Getty Images

WR Brandon Marshall traded to the New York Jets


We have to admit, the Jets have been downright impressive throughout this free agent period. Marshall and Revis (and a few others below) are veteran additions who are stellar producers on the field. Marshall gives New York a legit number one, but most importantly allows Eric Decker to excel at the place he is most comfortable – the number two receiver.


CB Byron Maxwell signs with the Philadelphia Eagles


$60 million and $25 million guaranteed in the first three years? Absolute insanity, that’s exactly what this contract is. There is no doubt that Maxwell will be a good player for the Eagles, and on the surface he is a solid signing for Chip Kelly. But dear Lord, those are ridiculous numbers for a guy who has started just 17 games in four years.


WR Mike Wallace traded to the Minnesota Vikings


Minnesota is building something spectacular up North, and that continues with the acquisition of Wallace – a player who excelled when he wasn’t the only player producing in the passing game. There are playmakers on that offense for Teddy Bridgewater, and there is no defense that can truly contain the down-field threat of Wallace and Cordarrelle Patterson.


RB Frank Gore signs with the Indianapolis Colts

The Colts needed a running back badly after the debacle that was the Trent Richardson trade. While DeMarco Murray was out of their price range and they weren’t about to trade top picks for another back (LeSean McCoy), Gore was their most reliable option. For the first time during his NFL tenure, Andrew Luck will have a legit running back to protect the passing game.


Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

WR Percy Harvin signs with the Buffalo Bills


If he can refrain from becoming a cancer in the locker room, this grade will quickly skyrocket. A Percy Harvin of old combined with Sammy Watkins will give new quarterback Matt Cassel ample opportunities to create something fun in Buffalo – especially with LeSean McCoy manning the backfield. Could Rex Ryan actually have a competent offense for once? The pressure is on you now, Mr. Cassel.


DE Michael Johnson signs with the Cincinnati Bengals


After an atrocious year in Tampa Bay (following a $43 million contract signed last offseason), the prodigal son returns to the Queen City. Sure, the signing addresses a need the Bengals had (pass rush), but this in no way completely fixes that problem. Johnson was a shell of himself last season and many are blindly assuming he will return to his old form. That conclusion is far from set in stone.


WR Torrey Smith signs with the San Francisco 49ers


$8 million per year to a guy who has eclipsed 1,000-yards and 50-catches just once in his four-year career?Ask any Baltimore fan, Smith possesses insane amounts of potential but he seems unable to put it all together. He can fly down the field, but his route running can be another story. Is he really an upgrade over Michael Crabtree?


OLB Jabaal Sheard signs with the New England Patriots


There are many folks around the league fawning over this signing. Sure, Sheard has the potential but he has yet to do anything to make us believe he is a true difference maker in the NFL. He’ll likely become another important piece/toy for Belichick who contributes. The signing is fine, just nothing that has us doing shots in celebration.


TE Jordan Cameron signs with the Miami Dolphins


Love this signing by Miami. If he can stay healthy, Jordan Cameron is one of the best tight ends in the league. Thanks to the ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns, few folks outside of Northern Ohio have any idea who he is. However, fans of AFC North teams can attest that Cameron is fantastic – he just never had a legit team to showcase his abilities.


Jeremy Maclin 2015 NFL Free Agency Kansas City Chiefs

Jeffrey G. Pittenger, USA TODAY Sports

WR Jeremy Maclin signs with the Kansas City Chiefs


The Chiefs desperately needed production from the receiver position, and coach Andy Reid went to the man he had much trust in from the past. Maclin will instantly give Alex Smith comfort in the passing game, even though his contract might keep the Kansas City ownership up at night. Regardless, it was a signing the Chiefs needed, and they got one of the best available.


DT Nick Fairley signs with the St. Louis Rams


We have to admit, we assumed Fairley would receive much more than a $5 million one year deal. Instead, Fairley is going to a situation that could be beneficial to all parties involved – a situation that could help Fairley land a very lucrative contract next year. That St. Louis defensive line is going to be downright scary.


RB C.J. Spiller signs with the New Orleans Saints


Spiller will be a nice complement to Mark Ingram in the backfield, and give Drew Brees another option in the passing game as well. This deal won’t be enough to make up for the loss of Jimmy Graham, but nonetheless it gives the Saints something new on offense.


DT Jared Odrick signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars


Solid pickup for Gus Bradley and the Jaguars. Odrick’s services were no longer needed once the Dolphins acquired Ndamukong Suh, but he instantly adds skill and depth to an emerging Jacksonville defensive line. Odrick is a very good player.


Andre Johnson 2015 NFL Free Agency Indianapolis Colts

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

WR Andre Johnson signs with the Indianapolis Colts


The Colts strategy this offseason was an odd one, opting to go the older veteran route when it came to signing free agents. The names they signed would have made one hell of a team in 2011. While Johnson is still a productive receiver, he is hardly the game-changer he once was.


CB Tramon Williams signs with the Cleveland Browns


We are truly torn on this pick On the surface, it’s a good signing. Williams gives the Browns a competent corner to slot alongside Joe Haden (after Buster Skrine departed) without having to rely on struggling youngsters. However, you don’t pay $21 million to an aging cornerback. But, eh, it’s better than most Browns moves (see below).


DT Vince Wilfork signs with the Houston Texans


He isn’t the player he once was, but he won’t need to be on this defensive line. With J.J. Watt next to him and the (hopefully) explosive Jadeveon Clowney returning to form, Wilfork just need to plug holes.



RB Trent Richardson signs with the Oakland Raiders 


This is what we what we get for assuming the Raiders were done making boneheaded personnel decisions.



S Marcus Gilchrist signs with the New York Jets

AGilchrist is aggressive and physical, meaning he will fit in nicely with the mindset coach Todd Bowles is developing in New York. Can’t say it enough, this offseason has been quite impressive for the Jets. This signing may be one of my favorite so far.


QB Josh McCown signs with the Cleveland Browns


No, just no. There is nothing on Earth that could be said that makes this signing make any sense. $14 million over four years. But seriously.



RB Shane Vereen signs with the New York Giants


Another move that we are big fans of here at SG. Vereen is a sneaky good runner. If healthy, Vereen could give Eli Manning some much-needed support in 2015.


WR Cecil Shorts signs with the Houston Texans


We really have no idea just how good Cecil Shorts really is, after all he has been held down by struggling Jacksonville offenses throughout his entire four years in the league. While Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are no Hall of Famers, they still are part of an offense with much more pedigree and opportunity than those in Jacksonville during years past.


OG Clint Boling signs with the Cincinnati Bengals


Big grab by the Bengals. Bringing back Boling was essential for a Cincinnati team that finally found its identity on offense during the back half of last season – a bruising running game. Boling became integral to that success and it was imperative that they find a way to get him back in the fold.


WR Brian Hartline signs with the Cleveland Browns


With Josh Gordon out, they needed a replacement – someone like Jeremy Maclin. Instead, they got Hartline. When used correctly, Hartline is a fine player. Instead, he will be looked upon to be a number one for the Browns and that is the perfect recipe for disaster. This is an offense full of role players. That isn’t praise, either.


RB Justin Forsett signs with the Baltimore Ravens


Forsett was great for the Ravens last year in Gary Kubiak’s offense. With Bernard Pierce failing to reach expectations, it was important that Baltimore bring Forsett back. While Kubiak has left for Denver, it will be interesting to see if Forsett thrives in a offense run by Marc Trestman.


CB Antonio Cromartie signs with the New York Jets


Why not bring Cromartie back to play alongside Revis once again? The Jets are hoping to recapture some of that old magic. Regardless, the addition of Cromartie will provide even more depth and skill to that New York defense.


WR Kenny Britt signs with the St. Louis Rams


Well, Nick Foles has a powerful arm and will undoubtedly be launching that puppy around the field quite often. Britt has seen a nice resurgence in St. Louis after a rather glamorous stay in Tennessee. Good job by Jeff Fisher and the Oakland Rams to bring him back.


CB Walter Thurmond signs with the Philadelphia Eagles


In five seasons, Thurmond has one interception and 69 tackles while starting in just nine total games. It looks like Chip Kelly is a fan of former Seahawk cornerbacks. Thurmond won’t make a Pro Bowl, but he does add depth to the position while getting the Philly secondary on the right side of 30.


LB AJ Hawk signs with the Cincinnati Bengals


He won’t be looked upon to start, but Hawk will give the Bengals much needed depth at the linebacker position. With Vontaze Burfict’s health in question, Hawk may see more time than many expect. Regardless of his role, Hawk brings strong value to the Bengals (and was incredibly inexpensive, in football terms).


Brian Hoyer Cleveland Browns Second Half Projections AFC North


QB Brian Hoyer signs with the Houston Texans


He isn’t the longterm solution for Bill O’Brien, but Hoyer is an instant improvement over Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Texans. Hoyer can be a very good quarterback, and we saw it from time to time during his Cleveland tenure. Luckily for him, he’s playing now with a team that is remarkably better and isn’t owned by an impulsive micro-manager.


OLB Bruce Carter signs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers


For a team that desperately needs to improve, Carter is a nice addition. There isn’t anything sexy about the linebacker, but he has shown the ability to be a solid defender against the pass and the run. He could flourish in Lovie Smith’s defense.


RB Reggie Bush signs with the San Francisco 49ers


We have never been high on Reggie Bush, and that hasn’t changed. While he might give Colin Kaepernick a threat out of the backfield in the passing game, he is no longer as useful as he once was in that capacity. If the 49ers expect to use Bush and Carlos Hyde as a two-headed running attack, they are in serious trouble.


CB Buster Skrine signs with the New York Jets


Skrine had a nice tenure playing alongside Joe Haden in Cleveland, and now he gets to play alongside Darrelle Revis in New York. There are probably quite a few corners around the league who are envious of him. Skrine is a reliable corner in his own right. Yet another strong pickup for the Jets as they continue rebuilding the correct way.


LB Rey Maualuga signs with the Cincinnati Bengals


In a perfect world, the Bengals will find a middle linebacker in the 2015 draft to replace Maualuga. To his credit, Maualuga has been solid for Cincinnati against the run in the last three years.  However, his struggles continue in the passing game. The Bengals know what they have in Maualuga and were willing to bring him back. He isn’t bad by any means, he just isn’t particularly good either.


DT Randy Starks signs with the Cleveland Browns


Starks is a fine piece to add to that Browns defensive line, and he will likely rotate in to get after the quarterback.



RB Darren McFadden signs with the Dallas Cowboys

D+It was a low-risk signing for the Cowboys who hope that maybe new scenery will help McFadden breathe a little bit of life into his aging career. Though, Dallas fans should expect very little from this signing.



Cover Photo: Jim Davis/Getty Images


Grant E. Doepel

Grant E. Doepel

Founder at Sports Grumble
Editor in Chief and co-founder of Riverfront City Sports and Sports Grumble, Doepel is a Cincinnati native who lives and breathes Queen City sports. A University of the Cumberlands graduate with degrees in Journalism and Communication Arts, Doepel still resides in the Greater Cincinnati area to provide easy access to the riverfront stadiums.
Grant E. Doepel

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