Grading every major 2024 NFL Free Agency signing so far

  • Kirk Cousins is heading to the ATL, Russ to Pittsburgh
  • Saquon Barkley betrays Giants for Eagles, Josh Jacobs to Green Bay
  • Christian Wilkins, Chris Jones off the market with huge deals

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

The legal tampering period for 2024 NFL free agency began and the wheels were set into motion like they were on an F1 car. Deals started flying in furiously and continued in the coming hours following that.

Not every free agency deal in the NFL is created equal, though. Of course, there are simply bigger-name and more impactful players who are on the market than their peers or counterparts. But there are also simply contracts that are handed out in situations that are better than others.

So we're going with the major 2024 NFL free agency signings and breaking each deal down with a tracker for every big-name contract that's been agreed to along with grades for every signing. Let's get right into it.

RB Austin Ekeler signs with Washington Commanders (2-year, $11.43M)

We saw Austin Ekeler decline a bit in the 2023 season but this is a budget-friendly deal for the Commanders. That $11.43 million figure is the max value of the contract, meaning there is an incentive-based nature to the deal, which obviously benefits Washington. Furthermore, with Brian Robinson Jr. still in the fold, that should allow Washington to not overuse Ekeler, which could lead to a bit of a resurgence.

Grade: B+

EDGE Za'Darius Smith re-signs with Cleveland Browns (2-year, $23.5M)

Za'Darius Smith coming back to the Browns is a no-brainer. He absolutely outplayed what you might see in the box score last season and is a perfect fit opposite of Myles Garrett. Getting him back for just under $12 million per year in AAV is a great move that should help Cleveland continue forward as one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Grade: A

LB Frankie Luvu signs with Washington Commanders (3-year, $36M)

Linebacker has been a sore spot for the Washington Commanders and Frankie Luvu will certainly help with that. Having said that, though, Luvu is a good player but far from a great one. Paying him premium money for a player at the position is questionable. At the end of the day, though, it is a surefire upgrade, so it's difficult to be too hard on the Commanders with grading this move.

Grade: B-

EDGE Leonard Floyd signs with San Francisco 49ers (2-year, $20M)

With Chase Young likely out of the picture after trading for him last year before the deadline, new 49ers defensive coordinator Brandon Staley gets a player he loves and is familiar with in Floyd. It's a relatively cheap deal for a still-productive player, but it's not the biggest needle-mover in the world either.

Grade: B

QB Gardner Minshew signs with Las Vegas Raiders (2-year, $25M)

Fascinating stuff from the Raiders here. Instead of pursuing a Justin Fields trade, they're going with a veteran stopgap in Gardner Minshew to compete with Aidan O'Connell. But in reality, I don't hate it. This is cost-effective to help aid building up the rest of the roster and we've seen Minshew provide a steady baseline for multiple teams. For a Raiders team trying to simply right the ship, this makes some real sense.

Grade: A-

S Xavier McKinney signs with Green Bay Packers (4-year, $68M)

Big splash from the Packers and a smart one. Xavier McKinney has been a stud for the Giants while Green Bay's safety room has started to fall apart with Darnell Savage's inconsistency and Adrian Amos aging out. McKinney solidifes the back end of the defense in a huge way and helps Jeff Hafley really start to level up that unit as he takes over for Joe Barry.

Grade: A+

OG Robert Hunt signs with Carolina Panthers (5-year, $100M)

Robert Hunt was the top guard on the market to many people in free agency, so the Panthers went all-in to grab him. Bryce Young never stood a chance as a rookie thanks to a porous offensive line, so this is a step in the right direction to help their club. It's probably a bit of an overpay at this price tag, but getting him into the fold to help a young QB develop properly is worth paying up a bit.

Grade: B+

RB Saquon Barkley signs with Philadelphia Eagles (3-year, $37.75M)

Yes, this is a splash move for the Eagles as they've ostensibly upgraded their running back room with the uber-talented Saquon Barkley. When you zoom out, though, the fact of the matter is that spending big on running back doesn't appear to be what Philadelphia needed. Now they have $26 million guaranteed and a $12 million per season deal before incentives on the books. In terms of process, I'm not buying into this.

Grade: C+

RB Josh Jacobs signs with Green Bay Packers (4-year, $48M)

Talk about a shocking one. For one, it pushes Aaron Jones out the door as he's set to be released, but it could still be a big move for the Green Bay offense. Jacobs has largely been healthier than Jones and just as effective in a worse situation. It's still an expensive deal, but Jacobs was the NFL's rushing leader in 2022 and now walks into a substantially better situation.

Grade: B

QB Kirk Cousins signs with Atlanta Falcons (4-year, $180M)

The most obvious move on the table for the Falcons, they got their guy in Kirk Cousins. As Raheem Morris and new OC Zac Robinson come into the fold, the veteran coming off of an Achilles tear seems like the perfect option to maximize a roster that includes Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts behind a strong O-line. Yes, four years is lengthy, but I'm all in on this move for Atlanta.

Grade: A-

EDGE Bryce Huff signs with Philadelphia Eagles (3-year, $51.1M)

The Eagles' plans on the edge of the defense had been forecasted a bit with trade buzz around Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat. That plan was Bryce Huff and they got him on a relatively cost-effective deal for a player who has graded out as one of the best pass-rushers in the league over the past two seasons. Paying that type of player just $17 million in AAV is a clear win for Philly.

Grade: A

OG Jonah Jackson signs with Los Angeles Rams (3-year, $51M)

Jonah Jackson can be a real game-changer for the Rams. It's certainly an expensive upgrade that LA is making to fortify the offensive line, but it makes perfect sense. Jackson should thrive in the Sean McVay offense and it helps to fortify an offensive front that, frankly, over-performed throughout most of last season.

Grade: A-

Christian Wilkins NFL Free Agency
Christian Wilkins Miami Dolphins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

DT Christian Wilkins signs with Las Vegas Raiders (4-year, $110M)

Make no mistake, the Las Vegas Raiders are getting a phenomenal player in Christian Wilkins, and they paid handsomely to do so. But because of the former Dolphin's quality, I can only be but so harsh, especially since they needed a disruptor up front beside Maxx Crosby. Having said that, this feels somewhat like a win-now move, which I'm not sure the Raiders are a team that qualifies for such a label, which sours me on the signing just a bit.

Grade: B-

WR Gabe Davis signs with Jacksonville Jaguars (3-year, $39M)

Maybe this is colored by Gabe Davis being the epitome of a breakout candidate who never broke out fully, but I'm not a fan of this. It's a manageable contract in the current market for a role player, so I don't hate the terms for the Jaguars. Having said that, this is just not exactly the way I would've reshaped the receiving corps. This reeks of the Christian Kirk deal, albeit with less of an egregious overpay.

Grade: C

RB Tony Pollard signs with Tennessee Titans (3-year, $24M)

The writing was on the wall that the Tennessee Titans were going to have to replace Derrick Henry this offseason. But was Tony Pollard the right choice to do so? Pollard, who was an eyesore for Cowboys fans last year, didn't look the same coming off a broken leg. Even at his best, though, his skill set is a bit redunant of Tyjae Spears. I do believe Pollard will bounce back, but this was still a bit of a head-scratcher.

Grade: C+

EDGE Jonathan Greenard signs with Minnesota Vikings (4-year, $76M)

Absolutely terrific start to free agency for Kwefi Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings. Being able to replace a departing Danielle Hunter for a player who likely comes cheaper at $19 million in AAV and who was just as productive with the Texans a season ago is a terrific deal. Minnesota needed to inject new life into Brian Flores' defense and this is a phenomenal start.

Grade: A

RB D'Andre Swift signs with Chicago Bears (3-year, $24M)

Looking at this contract, it feels like D'Andre Swift was a bit undervalued by the free agency market. As the Bears likely reshape their offense around Caleb Williams, though, I love him as a fit in Chicago. Swift is imperfect but highly talented and proved to be effective in Philadelphia last season. His pass-catching could be more utilized with Williams, but he's overall an upgrade for the Bears, even if he is a bit pricey. At least Chicago has money to burn.

Grade: B

Michael Pittman Jr. NFL Free agency grades
Indianapolis Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

WR Michael Pittman Jr. re-signs with Indianapolis Colts (3-year, $70M)

Complete no-brainer for the Colts when it comes to re-signing Michael Pittman Jr. The only reason this isn't top marks for Indianapolis is that Pittman has simply been good not great to this point in his career, but the flashes of greatness are there. Keeping this somewhat shorter term at three years is a win, but the AAV is still just slightly higher than I would've like to see for the Colts, but this new market is changing things.

Grade: A-

C Mitch Morse signs with Jacksonville Jaguars (2-year, $10.5M)

An unquestionable upgrade for the Jaguars here as they needed to find interior O-line help desperately this offseason. Mitch Morse is a Pro Bowl-caliber player at his best and was really just a cap casualty in Buffalo more than anything. Adding him at such a reasonable price will tremendously help Jacksonville moving forward.

Grade: A

QB Russell Wilson signs with Pittsburgh Steelers (1-year, $1.2M)

Look, Russell Wilson has been downright bad for the past few years now. But getting a quarterback to, at the very least, compete with Kenny Pickett for the Steelers is a win. If Arthur Smith can mine anything out of Wilson at the vetera minimum price, Pittsburgh will be lauded for their genius -- but they also aren't incurring a ton of risk here either.

Grade: B+

QB Baker Mayfield re-signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-year, $100M)

Tampa Bay always had to make this move after Baker Mayfield led the Bucs to the division title last season, and really seemed to come into his own. We know that the former No. 1 overall pick has some limitations, but the framework for the Buccaneers right now sets him up for success and this is a relatively reasonable price based on what he did in 2023 for the franchise.

Grade: A-

DT Chris Jones re-signs with Kansas City Chiefs (5-year, $158.75M)

The Chiefs always had to bring Chris Jones back and that was always going to cost them a record-setting deal for a defensive tackle. Kansas City still has a lot to sort out this offseason, but retaining Jones was priority No. 1 and they left no mistake about that with the agreed-upon deal.

Grade: A+

WR Mike Evans re-signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-year, $41M)

When the numbers were first reported at north of $60 million total for Mike Evans to return to the Bucs, I was dubious. Now learning that's the max value based on incentives, this is far more reasonable. Evans was a monster in the 2023 season and had a great rapport with Baker Mayfield, so getting him into the fold without the market pricing him up is a strong addition for Tampa.

Grade: B+

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