NFL free agency: Best, worst signings for every team since 2018
With NFL free agency just around the corner, the negotiation window begins on Monday before players can be signed at the start of the new league year on Wednesday, March 15. This leads to multi-year contracts worth millions of dollars, press conferences and dizzy fans. and front office staff.
Sometimes that excitement turns into big games and epic victories. Sometimes it goes in the complete opposite direction. Our goal was to capture both sides of the free agent spectrum, which is why we asked our NFL Nation reporters to pick one free agent signed since 2018 from the teams they cover that really did well, and another that missed the mark.
Some names will make you smile and others will make you mutter under your breath, but either way, it will set you up for the free agent frenzy to come.
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | VALLEY | | TO | GB | HOW | IN
JAX | CS | LAC | LAR | LV | MIA | MY
northeast | NO | New York | New York | FI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | VS
Best Signing: Mitch Morse, C, 2019
While Von Miller is without a doubt the most colorful free agent signing in the past five years – and possibly more – having played in just 11 games, he doesn’t fall into that category. Instead, he will go to the anchor of the Bills offensive line, who was originally signed in 2019 and has been on the line ever since, despite injuries and problems in the positions around him. Morse took a pay cut in 2021 but signed an off-season extension and, most importantly, is working well with quarterback Josh Allen and is one of the leaders in the dressing room.
Worst signing: Star Lothuleley, DT, 2018
The Bills signed Lothulelei to a five-year, $50 million contract, but the costly deal did not produce the production Buffalo had hoped for. Although Lothulelei had valuable moments, the team had to restructure his contract in 2020. He only played three seasons at Buffalo after pulling out in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns and was affected by testing positive for COVID in 2021 before being released during the 2022 off-season of the year. The defensive tackle finished his Buffalo career with five sacks, 53 tackles and a run stop percentage of 27.2%. — Alena Getzenberg
Best Signing: Emmanuel Ogba, Delaware 2021
While the addition of tackle Terron Armstead in 2022 is an honorable mention, Ogba has been the centerpiece of the Dolphins’ aggressive passing since signing a two-year, $15 million contract, recording nine sacks in each of his first two seasons with the team and leading the league with 48 interrupted falls. for this period. He signed a massive four-year, $65 million contract minutes before free agency began last offseason, but was limited to just nine games in 2022 after tearing his triceps. Last season, Miami traded and subsequently signed linebacker Bradley Chubb, and he will form a formidable trio with Jaelan Phillips and Ogba once Ogba returns.
Worst signing: William Fuller V, WR, 2021
Following a 2020 season with the Texans in which he set career records in all major receiving categories, Fuller signed a one-year, $10.6 million contract with the Dolphins. However, he also received a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, a suspension that carried over into his only season with Miami. He served the last game of his suspension in the first week, but was inactive in the second week for personal reasons. He played in the team’s next two games but suffered a finger injury in Week 4 which kept him out for the remainder of the season. In total, Fuller finished with 26 yards on four receptions, earning a whopping $2.5 million per catch. –Marcel Louis-Jacques
New England Patriots
Best Signing: Matthew Judon, OLB, 2021
Judon is one of the team’s biggest signings since 2021, coming from the Ravens on a four-year, $56 million deal. Judon is finishing the 2022 season in which he set a career high with 15.5 sacks after 12.5 in his first year at the club. He has been voted in the Pro Bowl on the original ballot in each of the past four years, including his two years in New England.
Worst signing: Antonio Brown, WR, 2019
It will be hard to beat him when it comes to money spent, as Brown played one game in 2019 and received a $9 million signing bonus for it. He created more headlines off the field than on it as the franchise had to deal with the aftermath of his brief stint in the city. Four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown were his only field contributions in 13 days with the Patriots. — Mike Reiss
New York Jets
Best Performance: DJ Reed, CB, 2022
The Jets hit the jackpot as a free agent with Reid, who teamed up with rookie sensation Sauce Gardner to form one of the best cornerback duos in the league. Reid finished fifth in corner completion percentage (55%) as the closest defender according to Next Gen Stats (minimum: 500 cover shots). Playing bigger than his height (5’9), Reed did an amazing job against some of the NFL’s top receivers. He’s worth his three-year, $33 million contract.
Worst Signing: Le’Veon Bell, RB 2019
After signing the former Steelers star to a four-year, $52.5 million contract in 2019, the Jets thought they were tough, but it was a complete disaster. Bell lost a step after missing the 2018 season due to a contract dispute and ended up playing just 17 games for the Jets in two seasons. He ran into then-manager Adam Geise, who never wanted to sign him. Bell, fired early in the 2020 season, walked away with $28 million after four touchdowns and zero 100-yard games. — Rich Jiminy
Best Autograph: Mark Ingram II, RB, 2019
In 2019, Ravens fans got very excited when Baltimore signed Ingram instead of Le’Veon Bell. But Ingram became an integral cog and leader in the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, setting the tone with his physical and explosive run. Signing a modest three-year, $15 million contract, he rushed for 1,018 yards, set a single-season franchise record with 15 total touchdowns, and coined the team’s “Big Farm” mantra. Not bad for a man who wasn’t in the top 10 highest paid runners that season.
Worst signing: Earl Thomas III, C, 2019
The Ravens knew they were getting a very volatile quarterback when they signed Thomas to a four-year, $55 million contract, the largest deal they had ever done with a free agent. A year later, Baltimore abruptly cut Thomas three weeks before the start of the regular season because he hit a teammate in practice. He also missed or was late to several meetings during his 17 months in Baltimore. One of the enduring images of Thomas with the Ravens was the Titans running backwards clasping his hands. Derrick Henry in a shocking playoff loss to Tennessee. — Jamison Hensley
Best Performance: DJ Reader, DT, 2020
Reader is arguably the best signer in an era filled with valuable additions, which speaks volumes for his game. While the number of sacks may not show it, Ryder was an absolute force on the line of scrimmage. His ability to absorb gaps, be disruptive, and free teammates to play influenced the team’s defensive success as he signed a four-year, $53 million contract.
Worst signing: Trae Waynes, CB, 2020
Waynes, a former Vikings first-round pick in 2015, was a big deal for the Bengals. But after missing the entire 2020 season with a torn chest, a hamstring problem kept him in five games in 2021 before he was ultimately released. Waynes did not sign in 2022 as he indicated he was retired. — Ben Baby
Best Signing: Jack Conklin, OT, 2020
Conklin has only played 21 games in the past two years with a torn patella. However, when he was healthy, he solidified a proper tackle position, which was a major problem for the Browns before he moved from the Titans on a three-year, $30 million contract. Conklin was selected All-Pro in 2020, and the Browns clearly believe the 28-year-old still has plenty of balls to spare, as they granted him a four-year, $31 million full-guaranteed extension in December.
Worst Signing: Austin Hooper, TE, 2020
The Browns signed Hooper to a four-year, $23 million guaranteed contract. But after 75 receptions in his final season in Atlanta, Hooper had just 84 receptions in his two seasons in Cleveland. The Browns released Hooper last offseason, earning $11.25 million. — Jake Trotter
Best Signing: Mason Cole, C, 2022
The Steelers aren’t making big changes to free agency, instead choosing to rely heavily on recruiting and developing their own players. Cole, who signed a three-year, $15.7 million contract last year, could be considered the best of a small group of outside players signed with free agents because of how he helped move the offense from Mitch Trubisky to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. . Through his constant presence at center, Cole also helped the line improve as the season progressed and ensure a solid run into the second half of the season.
Worst signing: Eric Ebron, TE, 2020
Because they are one of the least aggressive teams among free agents, the Steelers’ worst signing is also a little held back. Ebron signed a two-year, $12 million contract in 2020 to complement Ben Roethlisberger’s offensive playmakers. Ebron hasn’t matched the Pro Bowl performance he posted in 2018 with the Colts, instead throwing 56 catches for 558 yards with five touchdowns in 2021. Plagued by falls and inconsistencies in his blocking game, he was quickly eclipsed in the second round of 2021. tight end Pat Freiermuth. Ebron not only ended his final season in Pittsburgh on the IR after suffering his only touchdown of the year with a knee injury, but also finished with 12 catches and 84 yards. — Brook Pryor
Best Autograph: Tyranne Mathieu, S, 2018
The Texans haven’t signed a Pro Bowl caliber player in a long time. But in 2018 they signed Mathieu with…