As the first stage of NFL free agency starts, front offices across the NFL have been discussing contract terms with agents of players on the market. Some teams have already started to re-sign players and to make trades.
Now, let’s look at some teams that have made the best moves of free agency so far.
The Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals made a tremendous splash at the beginning of free agency when they signed former defensive player of the year J. J. Watt to a two-year $28 million deal. Although J. J. Watt may be on the backside of his career, he still can disrupt offenses while playing along with Chandler Jones and Corey Peters on the defensive line.
Besides acquiring J. J. Watt, they signed edge rusher Markus Golden to a two year $9 million contract. After playing with the New York Giants, Golden went to Arizona by trade during the 2020 season, and he enjoyed some success. He earned a 77.6 pass-rushing grade and a 17.4% pressure rate in nine games with the Cardinals, according to Pro Football Focus.
The defensive front should be a force to reckon with next season. Meanwhile, they have Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker on the backside. Last year, the Cardinals had the number 12 ranked defense while they had some key players missing, so the acquisition of J. J. Watt should do wonders for them.
Also, the Cardinals signed tackle Kelvin Beachum to a two year $4 million contract. Beachum will be a significant addition to the Cardinal passing heavy offense. In his past seven seasons, his lowest pass-blocking grade was 72.7 according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). However, he hasn’t recorded a run-blocking grade higher than 60.0 since 2015.
Furthermore, the Cardinals have agreed to an $8 million deal with former Bengals star A. J. Green. Next year, if everyone is healthy, the Cardinals’ receiving core should include DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and A. J. Green. With increased pass protection, this pass heavy offense may make some noise next season.
The Baltimore Ravens
For this season, the Raven has primarily focused on re-signing key defensive pieces while fortifying the line. The Raven re-signed Tyus Bowser to a four-year $22 million deal.
Bowser rotated on the edge last year with Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Pernell McPhee. He showed he was a valuable piece because of his versatility. Bowser can go against the run, rushing the passer and going into coverage.
In addition to re-signing Bowser, the Raven re-signed Derek Wolfe to a three year $12 million deal. Although Wolfe wasn’t much of a factor as a pass rusher, he was a certified run-stuffer. Last year, he finished the season with an 82.8 run-defense grade, which made him fifth at his position.
Lastly, the Raven fortified their pass block by signing Guard Kevin Zeitler to a three year $22.5 million deal. Although he had a down season with Giants, Zeitler has been one of the most consistent pass-protecting interior offensive lineman in the league. He has earned at least 75 pass-blocking grades for seven out of nine seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.
Following a great run to the AFC championship game, the Bills have continued to push forward with brilliant moves during free agency. The team started off by re-signing right tackle Daryl Williams to a three year $24 million deal.
Although he hasn’t been a standout player throughout his career, he has been a solid starting option at right tackle. However, Williams earned a career high 79.2 grade from Pro Football focus last year. Meanwhile, his contract leaves room for the Bills to make more moves.
The Bill also signed Guard Jon Feliciano to a three year $17 million deal. Hopefully, Feliciano will help the Bill run offense. According to Team Rankings, the team’s offense ranked 12th in overall rushing stats last year. Meanwhile, Feliciana had the highest PFF grade for run-blockers in 2020, but he struggled to pass block.
The Bills strengthened their offense by signing Emmanuel Sanders to a one year $6 million deal to replace John Brown. In this past heavy offense, Saunders will immensely pressure the defense as he plays alongside Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis.
Also, the Bills are keeping their linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano together. The Bills gave Matt Milano a well deserved four years $41.5 million extension. Pro Football Focus ranked Milano 11th in coverage for linebackers last year.