Grading The Biggest Moves of The NFL’s Craziest Free Agency Yet

Darren - March 19, 2024

Grading The Biggest Moves of The NFL’s Craziest Free Agency Yet

Darren - March 19, 2024

The 2024 NFL Free Agency period has arguably been one the craziest offseason ever. Teams are throwing money around like confetti as they try to fill the holes in their rosters. It’s an exciting time for fans as superstars move between franchises.

We took a look at some of the biggest moves so far and graded NFL GMs’ most dramatic decisions so far. From Kirk Cousins joining the Falcons to Derrick Henry’s emotional departure from Tennessee, there were many big storylines. Check out the most significant moves of the 2024 NFL Free Agency now.

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CBS Sports

Derrick Henry: B

This could be a brilliant move for the Ravens. or it could be a disaster. Henry has spent the better part of a decade as the marauding heartbeat of Tennessee’s ground-based offense. He was very productive in 2024 as he rushed for over 1,100 yards with 12 touchdowns. That’s why Baltimore added him as one of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s main weapons.

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Sky Sports

They gave the former Offensive Player of the Year a two-year deal worth $20 million. However, there’s one glaring issue with this contract. Henry is 30 and has many miles on his clock. If he can stay healthy, it will have been a great decision but there’s a risk that a decline is around the corner (via The Athletic).

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Fox News

Saquon Barkley: B+

This was painful for the Giants because they lost one of their biggest stars to one of if not their biggest rivals. The Eagles already had a productive running back in D’Andre Swift, who impressed in 2023 after arriving from the Lions. But they hope that the dynamic Barkley will bring their rushing game to an even new level.

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CBS Sports

Barkley’s injury record is a concern but he’s no doubt elite when he’s on the field. The former New York idol has had three 1,000-yard seasons in the past six years. Meanwhile, he’ll make almost $47 million if he meets all of his incentives. It’s an interesting deal that also shows Philly’s faith in Jalen Hurts (via USA Today).

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Fox News

D’Andre Swift: A

It’s been a strange couple of years for dynamic running back Swift, who now finds himself in Chicago. He had a decent individual year in Philadelphia in 2023 as he rushed for over 1,000 yards with five touchdowns. But they replaced him with Saquon Barkley after he tested free agency.

San Diego Union-Tribune

Now he’s with the franchise where quarterbacks go to die. However, his $24 million deal means he won’t worry too much about who is throwing passes. On paper, this is a good move for the Bears who needed to give their new incoming quarterback more weapons (via San Diego Union-Tribune).

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CBS Sports

Kendall Fuller: B+

Fuller was the top-rated cornerback to enter free agency in 2024. His age concerned some suitors and that’s why the Dolphins only gave him $16.5 million. However, he remains a top player and was a big part of Kansas City’s Super Bowl LIV journey (via NBC Sports).

Bleacher Report

Then he returned to Washington where he was a rare bright light. Fuller offers dependability and it’s a sensible decision for Miami to sign him. They didn’t have to break the bank either so they’ll be happy. Fuller isn’t the most glamorous player but he brings veteran quality.

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Sports Illustrated

Sam Darnold:  D

Kirk Cousins has his critics but he’s an infinitely better quarterback than Darnold. The only good thing we can say about the former USC star’s NFL career is that he’s making money. Otherwise, it’s been a disaster from start to finish. He was a bust in New York before doing nothing for the Panthers. Now he’s Minnesota’s problem.

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Bleacher Report

The Vikings are praying that Kyle Shanahan taught him something useful during his time in San Francisco. It’s a struggle to see how this works out well for either party. They only gave him a one-year deal worth $10 million so it’s not too desperate (via Bleacher Report).

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The Detroit News

D.J. Reader: B+

The Lions had one of the best rush defenses in the NFL in 2023. But Dan Campbell and Co. immediately enhanced it when they signed Reader. The veteran defensive lineman was one of the highest-ranked players in free agency. They agreed to pay him almost $30 million across two years.


One caveat is that the former Bengals star had injury problems in 2023 despite his 34 tackles and one sack. Furthermore, they signed him while rehabbing a torn quad tendon (via Detroit Free Press). There’s a slight risk but if he’s fit he could help them reach the promised land.


Tyrod Taylor: C

Taylor will be in familiar territory in 2024 because he’ll be playing in the same stadium. The former Pro Bowler joined the Jets after spending time as Daniel Jones’ backup. Now the veteran will fill the same role for Gang Green as they hopefully learn from their mistakes (via NBC New York).

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Sporting News

It won’t set anybody’s pulses racing but it is a sensible decision. The Jets had a disaster after putting all of their eggs in Aaron Rodgers’ basket. Now there are rumors of Robert Kennedy Jr. picking the quarterback as his running mate. Taylor is a better fallback than Zack Wilson whatever happens.

New York Jets

Bryce Huff: C

Huff was on course for a breakout season with the New York Jets in 2023. The young linebacker started the first six games for the Gang Green before injury stopped him in his tracks. Now he takes up the No. 0 jersey in Philadelphia after D’Andre Swift departs the franchise.


This young man knows about adversity after he went undrafted in 2020. But this didn’t stop him from working hard and he signed a contract with the Jets. Huff had 10 sacks last season with the league’s highest quarterback pressure rate. Hopefully, he stays fit and steps up again (via SBNation).

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Danielle Hunter: A

The Texans struck gold when they landed Hunter in free agency. He was the leading edge rusher on the market so it was a coup to secure his services to an already good team. The four-time Pro Bowler had a career season in 2023 with the Vikings. But it made sense to move on because his old franchise is rebuilding.

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San Diego Union-Tribune

Houston offered him a two-year deal worth almost $50 million. Hunter hit double-digit sacks for the fifth time last year so it made sense. They wanted to juice up their defense after an encouraging season for the franchise. This signature puts Hunter and Houston at the top of the class (via The Athletic).


Marquise Brown: B+

‘Hollywood’ is a Kansas City Chief after agreeing a one-year deal with the franchise. Kansas City decided to boost their receiving corps and give Patrick Mahomes more weapons. They tried to address this lack of depth in the Draft in recent years, but it didn’t work out aside from rising star Rashee Rice.

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The Seattle Times

Former Ravens star Brown will earn up to $11 million in 2024. His final season in Baltimore saw him break 1,000 yards with 8 touchdowns. It’s a statement of intent from the Chiefs who showed that they’re not resting on their laurels. They’re playing to win a third straight Super Bowl, something no one has ever done in the NFL (via Sportsnet).

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Fox News

Christin Wilkins: A

The Raiders released a clutch of players including Hunter Renfrow and Jimmy Garoppolo in 2024. But they added Wilkins in free agency in a move that made a lot of sense. He was one of the best available tackles so they jumped at the chance to hand him a $110 million contract (via Fox Sports).

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Pro Football Network

This was one of the biggest deals of the offseason because Wilkins is a top performer. He had nine sacks in 2023 as he showed that he was entering elite territory. Miami didn’t want to lose him but they need the cap space. Wilkins will beef up Antonio Pierce’s defense in his first full season as head coach.

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CBS Sports

Jameis Winston: F

Many Cleveland fans can’t believe the Browns opted for Winston over Joe Flacco. The latter had an Indian summer as he won the Comeback Player of the Year award. He was a safe pair of hands who knew their offense and was arguably better than starter Deshaun Watson.

Jameis Winston

Winston is an interception machine who throws the ball away with wild abandon. It’s a gamble to go from Flacco to Winston after Watson’s well-publicized problems over the past couple of seasons. Injuries, suspensions, and poor form mean that they can’t rely on him either (via Browns Zone).

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Sports Illustrated

Sam Howell: C+

Drew Lock joined the Giants in free agency and left Seattle without a second quarterback. They surprisingly swooped for Washington’s two-season starter, Howell. It’s an interesting move because he’s got a strong arm and has plenty of big-game experience (via CBS Sports).

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Athlon Sport

However, he also throws interceptions like they’re going out of fashion, with 21 in 2023. The Seahawks maintain that Geno Smith is in the driving seat for now. Meanwhile, it gives Washington the chance to draft a quarterback with the second overall pick.

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San Diego Union-Tribune

Tony Pollard: B

The big question is whether or not Pollard can carry an offense on his back like Derrick Henry. Hopefully, he won’t have to but he has big boots to fill. The running back has been a consistent performer for the Dallas Cowboys with a pair of 1,000 yard seasons (via WCBD).

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NBC Sports

The 2022 Pro Bowler is dynamic but lacks Henry’s raw power. However, he adds something different to the Titans’ offense and is a cheaper option. They’ll pay him up to $24 million across four years. It’s a huge opportunity for Pollard to establish himself as one of the NFL’s best backs.

AP News

Za’Darius Smith: A-

We’re slightly cheating by including Smith on this list but the Browns won’t care. They are keeping their veteran edge rusher after he tested free agency. In the end, he decided that home is where the heart is as well as a lot of money. Cleveland offered him a two-year extension worth $23.5 million (via The Athletic).

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The Athletic

Smith recorded 5.5 sacks in 2023 with 27 tackles. He proved to be an excellent complement to the brilliant Myles Garrett. The Browns ranked sixth in defense so they didn’t want to fix what wasn’t broken. There was interest around the NFL so many analysts believe that the Browns did well to keep him.

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The Athletic

Arik Armstead: B+

The Bills thought that they were signing Armstead but the Jaguars beat them. They offered him a $51 million contract and this was enough to get the deal over the line. It’s no surprise that big teams wanted the powerful defensive lineman. The 30-year-old is entering his 10th NFL season.

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San Diego Union-Tribune

He’s also incredibly tough as he played through a torn meniscus in the 2023 playoffs. Jacksonville knows that they’re getting a quality player who can take them to the next level. Meanwhile, Buffalo went after a wideout in Curtis Samuel instead (via New York Post).

CBS Sports

Mac Jones: D

Technically, we should be talking about Jacoby Brissett here because the Patriots signed him as a free agent. However, the story is really about Jones who leaves the franchise after three seasons. The 2021 Pro Bowler had a dream start to his NFL career but he accepted a ‘mutual parting of the ways.’

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NBC Sports

Now he’s Trevor Lawrence’s backup in Jacksonville after they exchanged him for a sixth-round pick. It’s a shocking fall from grace for a man that many thought was going to be the next Tom Brady. Meanwhile, Brissett is a solid option depending on who New England lands in the Draft (via New York Post).

Joe Mixon

Joe Mixon – A

Cincinnati fans bade farewell to Mixon with a heavy heart after he entered free agency. He played a big part in one of the NFL’s finest offenses over the past few seasons. His best season was in 2021 when he earned his first Pro Bowl selection. Now he wants a payday and that’s why he joined the Texans.

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CBS Sports

Houston will pay him up to $27 million across three years. He’ll team up with their exciting young quarterback C.J. Stroud as they hope to take the next step toward contention. This could be a match made in heaven for the Texans who find themselves dreaming big (via Houston Chronicle).

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Larry Brown Sports

Calvin Ridley: C

This was the blockbuster wideout deal of free agency in 2024. Everybody thought that Ridley was staying in Florida or going to Foxborough. Then the Titans swooped in and guaranteed him $92 million across four years. The 29-year-old has endured mixed fortunes over the past couple of years, with a nearly yearlong absence due to mental health followed by a gambling suspension.

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Fox News

On his best day, he’s one of the NFL’s top wideouts and that’s why Tennessee is paying him (via CBS Sports). He started 17 games for the Jaguars in 2023 with nine touchdowns with over 1,000 total yards. But the big question is are the Titans overpaying for the former Falcons star?

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Fox News

Xavier McKinney: A+

The Giants suffered some massive blows in 2024 as two huge names entered free agency. McKinney followed Saquon Barkley out the door but went north to Green Bay. The 24-year-old safety joins the Packers on a four-year deal worth up to $68 million (via Fansided).

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Pro Football Network

It’s a blockbuster move but a brilliant one for Green Bay. He instantly levels up their defense because he’s so good at zone coverage. Meanwhile, he proved his durability too because he didn’t miss a single snap in 2023. It will be exciting to see where this young Green Bay team goes.

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Joe Flacco: C

It says a lot about Flacco’s professionalism that Cleveland fans are sad to see him leave. The veteran pulled off a shock when he stepped in for the injured Deshaun Watson and posted elite numbers. This earned him the Comeback Player of the Year Award (via Give Me Sport).

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The Colts snapped him up on a one-year deal worth almost $9 million after he entered free agency. They want a stable presence behind Anthony Richardson. The former Super Bowl MVP is a curious choice because he has a very different style to Richardson. That’s why we’re not sure how much sense this makes.

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The Seattle Times

Chris Jones: A+

Kansas City fans can breathe easy because Jones isn’t going anywhere. The two-time first-team All-Pro entered free agency in 2024 after winning his third Super Bowl ring. Every NFL franchise sat up and licked their licks in anticipation because he’s an elite superstar.

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CBS Sports

However, the Chiefs knew that he was a difference-maker and guaranteed him $100 million. Patrick Mahomes even restructured his contract because he was desperate to keep Jones on the roster. The defensive tackle is a sack machine so this is a massive bonus for Mahomes and his teammates (via

Keenan Allen

Keenan Allen: B+

The Bears made some big moves during the 2024 Free Agency period. They had the most cap space in the NFL so this allowed them to sign the likes of Allen. The wide receiver only played 13 games for the Chargers in 2023 but still put up 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns.

Keenan Allen
L.A. Times

It’s a great move if they can keep him fit because he is an exciting and productive athlete. There’s speculation that the Bears may take Caleb Williams with the first overall pick in the Draft. Regardless, their starter will enjoy some elite weapons now after a productive offseason (via Bleacher Report).

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Russell Wilson: B

Many people will laugh at this grading because they think that Wilson is shot. However, the reality is that Pittsburgh effectively signed a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for free. Denver will continue paying Wilson in 2024 after accepting a record amount of dead cap space to release him.

Russell Wilson Must Cede Control Denvers Offense

That’s why Wilson agreed to play for the league minimum in Pittsburgh. He’ll compete with the recently-acquired Justin Fields for the starting job. It’s a smart move by Pittsburgh who aren’t bad enough to get anyone decent in the Draft. Meanwhile, many experts believe Arthur Smith’s offense is a better fit for the veteran (via Fox News).

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Sky Sports

Kirk Cousins: A-

Cousins was the best quarterback to test free agency in 2024. The Vikings didn’t want to lose their long-serving starter but they didn’t match Atlanta’s offer. Now Cousins will replace Desmond Ridder and give them a massive upgrade in the miserable NFC South.

Kirk Cousins

The former Washington star is commanding a guaranteed $100 million that could reach $180 million across four years. It’s a huge deal for a veteran but it shows how desperate teams are for top quarterbacks. This made sense for Cousins and the Falcons so it’s difficult to criticize them (via