2023 NFL free agency grades: Eagles get ‘A-‘ for Marcus Mariota signing; Patriots get ‘B’ for Mike Gesicki
The NFL’s annual musical chair game is in full swing, with legal manipulation beginning on Monday and the official free agent period opening on Wednesday. In just a few days, dozens of big names have already found new homes and great deals.
Day one saw arguably the biggest free agent on defense go off the board when former Eagles guard Javon Hargrave signed a monster deal with the San Francisco 49ers. Speaking of the Nines, their former quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to join the Raiders, reuniting with Josh McDaniels.
As of Day 2, the Raiders remained active and gave their new quarterback another weapon to catch passes while the Browns bolstered their defensive line. The Eagles had a great day when they re-signed James Bradbury and signed Rashaad Penny, who became the number one running back.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Buccaneers found a potential successor, Tom Brady, and the Bills came up with a surprise by re-signing one of their Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
Free agency slowed Thursday and Friday, but quarterbacks are shrinking. Marcus Mariota, Gardner Minshew and Cooper Rush are out of the tournament as the NFL waits for Lamar Jackson’s decision.
And much more to come.
Below you will find the scores for each completed deal involving top 100 free agents, according to CBS Sports NFL Senior Columnist Pete Prisco, as well as other notable open market players. We’ll start with our quarterback estimates, then Friday’s moves and previous days’ activity.
Scores for all QB moves
Eagles sign Marcus Mariota
Philadelphia lost Minshew to the Indianapolis Colts earlier Thursday, but it only took the Eagles a few hours to become a backup quarterback. The Eagles signed Mariota to a one-year contract worth up to $8 million, giving them a quality backing after Jalen Hurts.
Mariota has a skill set tailor-made for Brian Johnson’s offense as his mobility can leave the defense guessing. The Eagles paid good money for a quality upgrade in QB2.
Cowboys Bring Back Cooper Rush
The move made a lot of sense for the Cowboys, especially with Rush filling in for Dak Prescott for a year. It wasn’t difficult for Dallas, and Rush received a significant raise (while Dallas only pays him $2.5 million a year).
A rare deal that suits both parties.
Jimmy Garoppolo lands in Sin City
The Raiders found a replacement for Derek Carr by drawing Garoppolo to a three-year deal worth $67.5 million, including a guaranteed $34 million.. Of course, Garoppolo has a relationship with head coach Josh McDaniels, who was his offensive coordinator during their New England days together. So there is an acquaintance between these two parties. Garoppolo is slightly better than Carr, but the big issue will be whether he can stay healthy. If he can, he could take the Raiders to the AFC Playoffs. Meanwhile, the short-term deal still leaves open the possibility for Las Vegas, which owns the seventh pick in the NFL Draft, to pick and develop a quarterback after Garoppolo, which is interesting.
Taylor Heinicke joins the Falcons
Former Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke leaves DC and heading to Atlanta join the Falcons. The veteran has reportedly agreed to a two-year contract worth up to $20 million. The Falcons have been looking for another quarterback since the release of Mariota and having only Desmond Ridder and Logan Woodside on the roster, and Heinicke really gives you a quality backup that can start in a pinch. The Old Dominion product should be a valuable mentor to Ridder if this is indeed the path the Falcons will take in 2023.
Jameis Winston stays with Saints
Jameis Winston reportedly decided to stay with the Saints as they made a new deal. This is a great move for both sides. The Saints have a known merchandise supporting the new starting Carr. Winston is left to live in New Orleans, instead of trying to get settled somewhere else.
Andy Dalton moves to the Panthers
Andy Dalton, a three-time pro bowler, signed a two-year contract with the Panthers. This is a great move for both sides. The Panthers are getting a very experienced quarterback who had some decent stats for the Saints last season. Carolina also gets a veteran who can serve as a mentor to anyone the team decides to take with the No. 1 overall pick.
Baker Mayfield moved to Tampa
Baker Mayfield signed $8.5 million one-year contract to join the Buccaneers. It’s been a bumpy ride for the former No. 1 overall for the last calendar year-plus, but he’s found himself on a team that has a plausible path to start. He’ll have to beat former second-round pick Kyle Trask, but there’s a chance he could be Tom Brady’s successor in Tampa Bay. While it’s not exactly a reliable succession plan, the Bucks are throwing the dice with short-term spending on QB, who is only 27 years old.
Friday move scores
The Patriots have signed Mike Gesicki.
The Patriots are a perfect fit for Mike Gesicki as they often use the offensive tight end, even though New England pays up to $9 million for a pass catch tight end. Gesicki should complement Hunter Henry well and could take his place – a valuable asset for Mack Jones.
The price tag is a little high for a tight end, but the Patriots clearly believe it will be worth the paycheck.
Seahawks sign Julian Love
The Seahawks signing insurance when they have Ryan Neal and Jamal Adams is puzzling, even if Seattle needs more assets in the minor roster. Maybe Love will be a safe boxer, but why is Adams on the list?
Paying $6 million a year for love is confusing given what Seattle has on the roster, even if he’s a rising player.
Dolphins Land by Jake Bailey
Jake Bailey signed with the Dolphins after a bad year with the Patriots, which resulted in him being released. The weather in South Florida could be very favorable for Bailey, who is working to regain his All-Pro form from 2020.
A low-risk move for a player who needed a change of scenery.
Thursday move scores
Bears sign D’Onta Foreman
I love this move. It’s a one-year, $3 million deal, and the signing could help Chicago once again have one of the NFL’s best fast offenses. D’Onta Foreman completes a year of career. In fact, both of his last seasons were pretty outstanding. Not the biggest name, but the 26-year-old still has plenty of tread on his tires if he can stay healthy. Fits well in my opinion.
Bears sign former Packer Robert Tonyan
Robert Tonian caught 53 passes for 470 yards and two touchdowns in 17 games played last season after tearing his ACL in 2021. In 2020, he had a career year with Aaron Rodgers, catching 52 passes for 586 yards and a whopping 11 touchdowns. It’s only a one-year deal for Chicago, but Tonyang is probably one of the best TE2s in the league if we want to break him that way. We don’t have any information about the money yet, but I bet it’s a good deal.
Giants re-sign Darius Slayton
One of Joe Sean’s goals this offseason has been to shore up Daniel Jones’ wide receiver. At the same time, it is important to keep some key elements. Darius Slayton is one such key figure as he led the Giants last year with 724 receiving yards. Deal reportedly for two years, has a base cost of $12 million and a maximum cost of $16.5 million.
Giants sign Parris Campbell
Daniel Jones has another weapon in the form of Parris Campbell, who arrives on a deal in the form of a $3 million one-year contract and is positioned as a slightly more reliable successor to Kadarius Tony. Quick, agile and able to move all over the formation, his only real difficulty is staying on the field, although he finally had a full season with the Colts in 2022. No, he’s not quite the #1 they still need. But at modest stakes, he is a tantalizing chess piece for Brian Daball.
Wednesday Move Marks
Panthers signed Hayden Hurst
The Carolinas are giving any rookie quarterback they pick in the 2023 NFL Draft veteran tight end Hayden Hurst as a passer for the club. expected signing former first round selection for the deal. Despite having a first-round score, Hurst is not among the league’s elite tight ends, but is certainly a useful player in that position. Last season in Cincinnati, the 29-year-old was a great outing for Joe Burrow, throwing 52 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. Without knowing the details of the contract, this is a solid signing for a Carolina club who know they will need their future rookie QB in midfield.
Bills save Jordan Poyer
Surprisingly, the Bills were able to re-sign star quarterback Jordan Poyer by agreeing to All-Pro retention terms. It seemed that Poyer almost left and even hinted that he may want to join rival AFC East Dolphins, but after seeing the open market, he returns to the team in which he spent the last six seasons. For Buffalo, this is a major coup aimed at bringing Poyer back to the bottom line.
Patriots add JuJu
New England added to their reception room signing former Chief Juju Smith-Shuster. The Patriots reportedly signed a three-year, $33 million contract. This is essentially the same deal that Jacobi Meyers agreed to with the Las Vegas Raiders and, judging by the activity of Meyers in social networksThe Patriots didn’t want…