2023 NFL free agency grades: Raiders earn ‘B+’ for Jimmy Garoppolo addition, 49ers load up with Javon Hargrave

The NFL’s annual musical chair game continues as a legal intervention period began on Monday afternoon. This is truly the unofficial start of free agency, as teams are allowed to contact future free agents and negotiate contract terms before the start of the league’s new year – when those deals could become official – on March 15.

On Monday, we saw arguably the biggest free agent on defense go off the board when former Eagles defenseman Javon Hargrave signed a monster deal with the San Francisco 49ers, who are now even more formidable defensively. Speaking of the Nines, their former quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to join the Raiders, reuniting with Josh McDaniels. Meanwhile, Denver bolstered their offensive line with the addition of right tackle Mike McGlinchey and defenseman Ben Powers.

And the madness is just beginning.

Below you will find scores for each trade that has been matched with two participants. top 100 free agents, according to CBS Sports NFL Senior Writer Pete Prisco.

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 holds the seventh pick in the NFL Draft, to draft and develop a quarterback after Garoppolo, which is interesting.

Grade: B+

49ers loading up with Hargrave

It looked like the San Francisco defense couldn’t get any scarier, and then they came out and Signed by perhaps the best defenseman on the free agent market at Javon Hargrave. The former Eagles quarterback cashed in on a four-year, $84 million contract to join the 49ers and create one of the most feared defensive lines in the league. Hargrave ends the 2022 season with 11 sacks, 10 tackles for a loss and 16 quarterback hits, all mostly on the inside. He will now sit next to Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw while Nick Boza pushes himself to the limit.

Grade: A

Pillow Broncos O-line

Broncos made two basic steps to strengthen the line of attack before Russell Wilson and we combine them here for evaluation. Denver first agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with defenseman Ben Powers before signing a five-year, $87.5 million deal with one of the best forwards on the market, Mike McGlinchey. Defense and a right tackle were two of the Broncos’ biggest needs coming into the off-season after the 2022 season, when Wilson was fired 55 times, an NFL record. Now they just solved both of them in the blink of an eye.

Grade: A

Bears take on board Edwards

Chicago is expected to become a major player in the free agency market and struck its first blow by signing former Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards. $19.5 million three-year deal. The Bears defense needs to be improved wherever possible, and Edwards is someone who can cut into the middle of the defense without the ball. There is also some familiarity with Edwards, as Chicago assistant general manager Ian Cunningham was a former Eagles executive when he signed with the team in 2019.

Grade: B

Patriots save Jonathan Jones

New England turned to one of its key full-time free agents at the start of the legal intervention period, retaining defense attorney Jonathan Jones. He signed a two-year, $20 million contract with $13 million guaranteed. Jones has made it quite clear that he wants to stay in New England, so that was his preferred outcome while the Patriots retain the versatile part of their secondary roster. Jones first appeared as a corner slot but stepped outside in 2022 and played well in that role.

Grade: B

Lions perform second with Sutton

Detroit had one of the worst defenses in the league last year, so using free agents to fix that was expected. Their first step in trying support this group signed former Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton to a three-year, $33 million contract, including $22.5 million fully guaranteed. Sutton ends the best season of his career in 2022 with 15 assists and three steals. He also held opposing quarterbacks with a 65.3 passer rating, a massive improvement from the 104.9 passer rating he dropped in 2021. If the Lions get a 2022 player of the year, he should help their minor player a lot.

Grade: B-


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