The Best (and Worst) Moves of NFL Pre-Free Agency

Cowboys CB Stephon Gilmore
Cowboys CB Stephon Gilmore
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - The following list of the 10 Best and Worst Moves of (Pre) Free Agency contains no references to Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers, or the New York Jets. Except for that one. And the ones in the next paragraph.

The Rodgers trade and its many subplots, still unconsummated when this feature went to press, are beyond the scope of mere in-the-moment sports-transaction analysis. The Rodgers saga practically deserves its own multi-volume encyclopedia at this point. Also, we have spent weeks pre-discussing it and will spend months/years/lifetimes dissecting it. (You can dissect it further here, in fact.) So let’s allow this humbler feature full of smaller transactions to breathe on its own, shall we?

This rundown of pre-tampering moves also includes trades and contract restructurings, in addition to free-agent comings and goings. Basically, its scope starts just after the Panthers traded up for the first overall pick in the 2023 draft, and it ends the moment that Pat McAfee podcast began on Wednesday.

Enough with the disclaimers. Let’s get to the countdown, starting with the 10 Best Moves of Free Agency So Far.

Best Moves So Far

10. Kansas City Chiefs Sign Offensive Tackle Jawaan Taylor

Yes, Taylor comes with a beefy four-year, $80-million (reported) contract. Yes, he’s a right tackle who will move to left tackle in Kansas City. But the Chiefs found a way off Orlando Brown’s financial not-so-merry-go-’round. Placating Brown while keeping the rest of the Patrick Mahomes/Travis Kelce/Chris Jones core intact would have been impossible, and Brown’s play didn’t always line up with his highest-paid-being-in-galaxy expectations.

Taylor is durable/dependable/experienced, he’s better than any rookie the Chiefs could have grabbed late in the first round, and Andy Reid’s staff knows what it’s doing when it comes to moving offensive linemen around. 

9. Chicago Bears Sign Guard Nate Davis

The DJ Moore-headlined Panthers trade was brilliant, but many of the Bears’ moves since have been little more than splashy water-treading. The Tremaine Edmunds deal, for example, was just an expensive attempt to undo last year’s Roquan Smith drama. But Davis is an absolute steamroller of a run-blocker who can help the Bears offense find a better identity than "10 guys watching Justin Fields run around."

Davis’ arrival means Teven Jenkins, a failed left tackle prospect, must move from right guard to either left guard or right tackle. If such a move succeeds, the Bears have solidified two line positions for the price of one. If it fails, well, keeping a player like Jenkins at the position where he's least likely to do damage isn't a sound rebuilding strategy. 

8. Cincinnati Bengals Re-Sign Linebacker Germaine Pratt

Letting Jessie Bates (Falcons) and Vonn Bell (Panthers) walk was regrettable but inevitable as the Bengals bust open their piggy banks in search of Joe Burrow money. But at least they retained Pratt—an all-purpose off-ball linebacker who is solid in coverage and has a knack for timely big plays—at a reasonable $7 million per year price in an escalating linebacker market. 

7. New Orleans Saints Renegotiate Wide Receiver Michael Thomas’ Contract

Mickey Loomis has discovered a new salary cap magic trick: he waves his wand and the entire back ends of contracts disappear! Why worry about dead money and prorated bonuses when you can just ask the player to rip up his old contract and start over! It’s a cross between a debt consolidation loan, filing for bankruptcy, and begging your brother-in-law for money, and it only works if a player’s market value has plummeted on your dime, but it still works!

The Saints rewrote Thomas’ $96-million 2019 contract earlier in the offseason so he could be affordably released. When Derek Carr’s arrival piqued Thomas’ interest in not being injured anymore, the Saints ripped up that whole deal and replaced it with a one-year, incentive-heavy deal. Dead money, shmed shmoney.

Thomas may be motivated to overcome his aches and pains and restore some of his 149-catch, Offensive Player of the Year luster from the late-2010s now that he is on a prove-it contract. If that happens, the Saints will win the NFC South and can try to sign Thomas to a long-term deal … assuming Loomis can convince Demario Davis, Cameron Jordan, Taysom Hill, and Wil Lutz’s grandpa to rip up their contracts in future years, too.

6. Houston Texans Trade for Guard Shaq Mason

One of the best ways for a rebuilding team to grab cheap talent is to line up for the estate auction when a former contender begins downsizing. Mason provides stability/durability/consistency at a price the Texans can afford (but the Buccaneers could not), and the pile-driving SOB we saw in New England could reappear now that Mason isn’t blocking for a senior citizen and a bunch of dump-truck running backs. 

The Texans clearly plan to draft Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, so they need interior offensive linemen who can blast open sightlines for a short king. They will probably end up drafting a center and another guard. Mason will be invaluable as the anchor and veteran leader of that young line. 

5. Seattle Seahawks sign Defensive Lineman Dre’Mont Jones

While we're discussing best practices: a great free-agency approach for a team on the wild-card tier that has some money to spend is to target one or two young, high-upside players at need positions, even if it means paying a modest premium for them. Such players could still be on the rise, making them potential additions to a Super Bowl nucleus. 

Jones, officially a defensive end but more of an interior rusher in the Broncos system, just turned 26 years old and recorded 35 pressures in only 13 games last year. He’s a disruptor who makes the pass-rushers around him better, and he’ll have a greater impact when he’s playing for a defense that isn't always playing from behind. 

The Seahawks have extra first- and second-round picks with which to make other long-range roster upgrades. They didn’t need to solve all of their problems in free agency. Solving one big one is just fine.  

4. Miami Dolphins trade for Jalen Ramsey

The Dolphins, like at least one other team on this list, are trying to build a super secondary so they can keep pace with the high-powered offenses at the top of the NFL’s food chain. Scoring Ramsey from the Rams sheriff’s auction was a brilliant move, and this trade would rank first if:

  • Ramsey wasn’t such a pill who suffers periodic bouts of disinterest/disgruntlement;
  • Xavien Howard, who just signed a new extension last April, wasn’t perma-dissatisfied with his compensation (and also starting to decline); and 
  • The Dolphins didn’t have an established track record for mistiming their playoff windows badly.

There’s a slim but real chance that Ramsey gives up two touchdowns against the Bills and goes into a midseason mini-funk at the same time that Howard demands a trade. But let’s not dwell too long when there’s a greater chance that the Dolphins win lots of shootouts with the Bills/Bengals/Chiefs in the regular season and playoffs thanks to fourth-quarter interceptions. 

3. San Francisco 49ers Sign Defensive Tackle Javon Hargrave

The 49ers quietly did not get all that much production from their interior defensive line in 2022. Arik Armstead was hurt for most of the year. So was Javon Kinlaw, who has been a disappointment for three seasons. Lots of journeymen got pressed into regular service, and none were all that spectacular, but it didn’t hurt the 49ers defense all that much because they were awesome in other areas. 

Hargrave and Armstead, lined up inside of Nick Bosa, may be the most terrifying tackle tandem in the NFL, especially on passing downs. Hargrave offsets the free-agent loss of edge rusher Samson Ekubam, and 2022 second-round pick Drake Jackson further offsets that loss. Throw in a dozen third-round picks and the 49ers defense could be even better in 2023 than it was last year. If that's the case, they could play Trey Lance on first downs, Sam Darnold on second downs, and Brock Purdy on third downs and still win a dozen games. 

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Re-sign Cornerback Jamel Dean

A salary purge is a delicate thing. It’s easy to toss the baby out with the bathwater. Or, in the Buccaneers’ case, it’s tempting to toss the solid young starting cornerback out with the geezers because his open-market value makes him too expensive to keep. So give Jason Licht credit for making cuts elsewhere so he could retain Dean on a reported four-year, $52-million deal. 

Dean allowed a completion rate of just 46.6% to his receivers, the ninth-best figure in the NFL per Sports Info Solutions. He allowed 5.9 yards per attempt (13th) and 0.7 yards per coverage snap (tied with many for 11th). Sure, facing NFC South quarterbacks six times per year can gingerbread a cornerback's coverage numbers a bit. What’s important is that Dean is young, capable, and plays a key position. He will still be good when the Buccaneers awaken from their cap coma and start trying to win again. 

1. Dallas Cowboys Trade for Cornerback Stephon Gilmore 

Gilmore’s charting metrics for the 2022 Colts were strong if unspectacular: a 54.9% completion rate allowed (32nd among cornerbacks with 50-plus targets), 6.8 yards per target (29th), 0.9 yards per coverage snaps (tied with many for 21st). He appears to have arrived at a second late-career plateau just a notch below his All-Pro peak, and that’s all the need from a corner-for-hire who will line up across from Trevon Diggs for a defense fueled by a Micah Parsons-led pass rush.

Gilmore provides answers for dealing with the Eagles offense and cuts off any potential avenues of victory for just about every other NFC opponent. And he comes for the low price of a fifth-round pick and the sort of cap space a playoff team should spend on a veteran leverage-position starter. 

Cowboys optimism? That cannot last. Let's move on to the Ten Worst Moves of Free Agency (So Far).

Worst Moves So Far

10. Dallas Cowboys Expected to Release Running Back Ezekiel Elliott

The issue here is that this move is overdue and dovetails with the decision to franchise Tony Pollard. The Cowboys will now eat over $11 million in dead Zeke money—which they will probably spread across two years to ease the pain—while spending another $10 million on Pollard, who is coming off an ankle injury. Keeping the Zeke-Pollard committee intact for another year actually makes more on-field sense for a team with Super Bowl aspirations than releasing Zeke, but there are limits to what even Jerry Jones can do cap- and cash-wise.

On the bright side, we all get to mock draft Bijan Robinson to the Cowboys for six weeks! But seriously: the Cowboys are likely to spend real draft capital on a running back come April. That’s fine—there are plenty of running backs in the draft pool who can rotate with Pollard effectively and affordably—but that’s one less asset at the Cowboys’ disposal as they strive to keep up with the Eagles.

9. Los Angeles Chargers Release Guard Matt Feiler

Feiler is coming off a down year, though it’s hard to evaluate a guard who spent much of the season wedged between a backup center and a mid-round rookie left tackle in a dump-'n'-shrug offense. The Chargers re-signed right tackle Trey Pipkens and will move Jamaree Salyer from tackle to guard with Rashawn Slater healthy, which all sounds good on paper, but since when do the Chargers get through any season without some sort of depth-sapping catastrophe?

Feiler, who plays guard and right tackle, would have been a fine candidate for some sort of re-worked extension, but the Chargers have Justin Herbert to pay and are already pushing a lot of dough into future years.

Feiler cracks this bottom 10 in part because Austin Ekeler is also unhappy and seeking a trade. The Chargers should be propelling themselves deeper into the playoffs, not losing veteran pieces who helped the team get to where they are now.

8. Houston Texans Sign Wide Receiver Robert Woods

On the one hand, the Shaq Mason trade illustrates that the Texans are acting more like an all-grow'd-up NFL franchise than they did during the Easterbunny administration. On the other hand, signing Woods to a reported two-year, $15-million deal is a sign that they still think of themselves as a sort of halfway house between a veteran’s steep decline phase and retirement. 

Woods ranked 78th in DYAR last year. He’s more likely to be an impediment to a younger receiver’s playing time than an asset at this point in his career. 

7. Washington Commanders Lose Quarterback Taylor Heinicke

At first, the Falcons signing of Fire High Heinicke looked like a big deal: did they plan to let him compete with Desmond Ridder for a starting job? Once the real details of his modest new contract were revealed, it became clear that he’s either Ridder’s backup/emergency fallback plan or, just as likely, the veteran bridge the Falcons will use if they move on to Anthony Richardson.

Heinicke’s departure, however, leaves the Commanders with only Sam Howell at quarterback. Howell has his charms and his boosters, but he's a Plan C for a team that needs Plans A and B (and won't be rebuilding so long as Ron Rivera is head coach). Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield-level contingency plans are drying up.

Maybe the Commanders will pursue Richardson or (ugh) Will Levis. Maybe they have some unprecedented bad idea up their sleeves. But keeping Heinicke would have been an affordable way to keep multiple options open. Which, come to think of it, is what the Falcons appear to be doing. 

6. Titans Sign Offensive Tackle Andre Dillard

The Titans are generally flailing as a franchise and were desperate for left tackle help, so grabbing a former first-round pick made some sense for them. But Dillard is getting a reported $29 million over four years. Even if those numbers are full of fluff (there’s certainly some fluff), the Titans are paying a premium for name recognition and a 2019 college scouting report. Dillard’s injury history alone suggests that the Titans could be right back to piling up sandbags by October.

What the Titans really need right now is a dignified rebuilding strategy. General Manager Ran Carthon probably knows this, which is why he sent out Derrick Henry trade feelers. But sometimes a team has few options except to duct-tape the roster together and wait for some contracts to expire. Dillard is some very pricey and not-so-sticky duct tape. 

5. New England Patriots Lose Jonnu Smith, Jakobi Meyers

Smith’s departure to the Falcons is no big deal, though his brief tenure in New England illustrates just how far the Patriots have fallen since Tom Brady’s departure. Meyers was the team’s most consistent passing-game weapon of the post-Brady era, however, and the current Patriots receiving/tight end corps is full of players your casual-fan brother-in-law had on his fantasy team in 2019.

Patriots fan logic dictates that DeAndre Hopkins will arrive and solve many of the team’s offensive problems. Does Nuk really want to play for Bill O’Brien again? Does Nuk alone really constitute a passing-game rebuild at this point in his career? These are pertinent questions. Would re-signing Meyers have really mattered? is also a pertinent question. Long story short: the Patriots are now paying for the goofy 2021 spending spree that brought in the likes of Jonnu and Nelson Agholor.

(Note: JuJu Smith-Schuster reportedly agreed to terms with the Patriots moments after this feature was filed. The snarky remark about a 2019 fantasy team still 100% applies.)

4. Denver Broncos Sign Offensive Tackle Mike McGlinchey

Overpaying B-tier players—McGlinchey is fine, but he’s not a great value at a reported $87.5 million over five years—makes some sense for a team in a Super Bowl window that cannot afford to open up a hole or spend time developing a rookie. It makes far less sense for a team in the midst of an all-hands-on-deck salvage operation for an overcompensated veteran quarterback who could scuttle the whole organization if things don’t turn around. 

McGlinchey could turn out to be an enormous sunk cost if the Russell Wilson/Sean Payton experiment goes thermonuclear. Even if McGlinchey plays to expectations and the Broncos turn things around, his contract could stand in the way of future upgrades. The Broncos are reportedly shopping Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, so it looks as though they are paddling their canoe in two directions at once. 

In short, this is no disaster, but it’s the type of panicky move a fractious organization makes when it’s unwilling to commit to a real long-range plan. 

3. Philadelphia Eagles Release Cornerback Darius Slay

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is doing a reasonable job of steering into the skid and keeping some of the team’s expensive Super Bowl nucleus from melting away. The Eagles have retained Brandon Graham, James Bradberry, and Jason Kelce (who was expected to retire) so far, as well as smaller pieces such as Boston Scott. Departures such as linebackers T.J. Edwards and Kazir White look more serious on paper than they will on the field, and not much could have been done about Javon Hargrave. But Slay’s departure will sting, especially since Roseman couldn’t find a way to swindle some team out of a mid-round pick in a trade. 

The good news for the Eagles is that they can grab a starting-caliber cornerback to replace Slay with the 10th overall pick in the draft if they chose to, then turn around and fill another hole with the 30th overall pick. The bad news is that there are a lot of holes opening up, and even with prospects such as Nakobe Dean and Jordan Davis in the pipeline, the Eagles are going to struggle to fill them all. 

2. Las Vegas Raiders Sign Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

Going from Derek Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo is a downgrade. When a team downgrades at quarterback, that means it should be rebuilding. But are the Raiders rebuilding? Heck no! Josh McDaniels is in HIZ GUYZ mode, which is a glowing red flag in any coach’s second season, let alone a Belichick Buddy (they love their "culture shifts") who has shown a lack of long-range vision in the past and is coming off a string of mismanaged losses in his inaugural season.  

The Garoppolo signing might have been justifiable if the Raiders planned to build some 49ers-like YAC attack around him (plus a real defense, but McDaniels will get to that in 2024). But just when it appeared that the Raiders planned to do just that with the addition of Jakobi Meyers…

1. Las Vegas Raiders Trade Darren Waller to the Giants

… they dealt Waller in what looks like a combination cost-/face-saving move.

McDaniels, you see, blabbed about Waller’s impending wedding to WNBA star Kelsey Plum during the coach’s combine press conference. Per Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Waller and Plum were hoping to keep the nuptials quiet and private. Thanks to McDaniels, the local press reported on the event.

You would think that it’s pretty easy to not disclose details about a player’s private life during a 12-minute podium interview with a bunch of reporters asking questions about your team’s quarterback situation, Josh Jacobs, and 100 other topics. You might also think that it’s easy to smooth over relations with one of your team’s stars after making what was probably just a thoughtless mistake. But McDaniels is too much of a faux Belichickian for your interpersonal dynamics! So Waller gets traded, Josh Jacobs gets mad, Plum fires shots on Twitter, and the whole organization looks unprofessional, disgruntled, and a little more ridiculous than usual. 

The Waller trade is a modest success for the Giants, who get a 31-year-old (at the start of the 2023 season) tight end coming off two years of injuries who is unlikely to be part of the team’s long-term rebuild. But it’s a disaster for the Raiders, who demonstrated that they are as directionless now as they were under Jon Gruden, if not more so, and that McDaniels hasn’t changed all that much in the decade since he mismanaged the Broncos.


68 comments, Last at 20 Mar 2023, 9:38am

#1 by Oncorhynchus // Mar 15, 2023 - 3:52pm

Yeah, Mike, no.

I think you mixed up your lists. The team that signed a soon-to-be 33 year old cornerback to an extension made a mistake. The team that cut a soon-to-be 33 year old cornerback rather than extending him made the right move.

Also Andre Dillard is a just fine as starting left tackle. He had some pretty solid reps last year against Brian Burns and Michah Parsons. $29M over 3 years is just over $9M APY. That's pretty CHEAP for a starting LT. That's like 18th in league. Depending on how it's structured (like if the non-guaranteed salary is backend loaded and they can get out in the 3rd year if he's suck), they could wind up spending less on him over the next few years then they would if they used the 11th pick on LT. So they could be protected on the downside and on the upside he only needs to better than the 18th best LT in the league for it be a contract with excess value. It's not a bad move at all.

Points: 2

#3 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 15, 2023 - 4:34pm

The concern is he's never played more than 340 snaps in a season.

Put it this way -- Garoppolo has topped that 4x.

Points: 0

#5 by Oncorhynchus // Mar 15, 2023 - 4:58pm

Well when Jimmy Garoppolo was a backup (3 seasons) he never played more than 150 snaps in a season. Yes, Dillard got injured in the preseason before the 2020 season, and before that, yes, he was in line to be the starting LT. He had won the competition over Mailata (recall Mailata was drafted in 2018 but had never played a snap of football in his life, so 2020 was after two years of training). Then Mailata won the job through his play in 2020. Not because Dillard was bad, but because Mailata was that good. He was a backup in 2021 and 2022. When he did play he was better than any backup LT in the league.

I don't believe he's "injury prone." Neither of his two injuries (a torn biceps and a broken arm) are the kind that should raise red flags for long term consequences. But a rookie could also get injured and lose a year of his contract. (Mekhi Becton, Dillard himself, Austin Jackson, etc.) A rookie could also suck. Dillard is less likely to suck because he's shown decent film against pros. Any other vet could also get injured. Dillard is cheaper than nearly any other vet.


Points: 1

#4 by halfjumpsuit // Mar 15, 2023 - 4:45pm

He's not good, he can't stay healthy, and Vrabel is going to hate him. Other than that, great signing.

Points: 1

#30 by Pat // Mar 16, 2023 - 7:49am

The team that cut a soon-to-be 33 year old cornerback rather than extending him made the right move.

Well, this comment aged poorly!

Points: 0

#57 by Oncorhynchus // Mar 16, 2023 - 7:57pm

It only aged poorly because Howie is not the genius I had him pegged to be. It turns out that, Slay got $23M in new guaranteed money for a 2 (or 3?) year extensions. Both teams can now be listed under the mistakes category. 

Points: 0

#2 by IlluminatusUIUC // Mar 15, 2023 - 4:15pm

It slipped under the radar, but Buffalo giving Deonte Harty (formerly Harris) a two year $13.5 mill/5 gtd deal in a year when every dollar counts is a bad, bad move. We are clearly looking to move on from Isaiah McKenzie, but we replaced him with someone who's
1) Shorter
2) Lighter
3) More expensive
4) Less productive as a wideout
5) Has worse fumble issues
6) Has yet to complete a season

Even if he's just a return man, we quite literally just traded for and re-did Nyheim Hines' deal for that exact role. Unless he has Tyreek Hill speed he hasn't yet shown, its a complete waste.

Points: 1

#6 by The Powers That Be // Mar 15, 2023 - 5:02pm

Trying to wrap my head around how the Cowboys cutting Zeke could be a bad move. Your first argument is that it should have happened a long time ago, not a great argument for why it's a bad move now. Your second argument is that they should pay a worse-than-useless player $17M vs. paying $11M in dead cap plus the rookie salary of a useful player. Do you honestly think "keeping the Zeke-Pollard committee intact fakes on-field sense?" I mean, it makes sense to the Eagles for the Cowboys to do that. We're talking about a guy whose last 50 rushes went for 100 yards. But he, he's also one of the worst receiving backs in the game, so there's that!

Points: 4

#20 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 15, 2023 - 7:25pm

It's bad in the sense that they went from the most expensive RB room to...well...still one of the most expensive RB rooms. But now with LESS bodies! Seriously. Tied for least amount of RBs under contract (w/Buffalo, 2, buuuut still much more expensive). 

I don't think Zeke will fall into unemployment for very long either. And now RB2 is an UDFA in Malik Davis. I see what he means. 

Points: 0

#38 by The Powers That Be // Mar 16, 2023 - 11:33am

But what's the alternative? It was a bad situation to start with. If you want to argue that the Zeke contract was one of the worst moves of that, or any, offseason, sure. But you either pay an extra $5M to keep Zeke, who I would argue has zero value, or you save that $5M and move on. For it to be one of the worst moves of the offseason, there has to be an alternative that was obviously better. And it seems incredibly obvious to me that this move was better than the alternative.

Points: 2

#39 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 16, 2023 - 12:10pm

To keep him? And not entirely rely on Pollard coming back healthy, an UDFA, and...gulp...tricking yourself into doing the Zeke thing again, and drafting a RB high. 

Keeping him almost assuredly stops them from making the Bijan mistake, which ironically, is better for the long term (and tbf Zeke did bounce back a bit last season). 

But I understand your point. Maybe it shouldn't have been in the article altogether. But I see Mike's POV.

Points: 0

#42 by guest from Europe // Mar 16, 2023 - 1:24pm

You have been arguing for several years that teams should release older players and try rookies or 2nd year players. Now that a team releases older RB and keeps the younger, better one, you don't like that. A bit controversial.

You also don't want Heinecke after 25 games. How should a team operate then? Start someone young for a year, maximum two years? If he is immediately not top 20 in the league, release him and start a rookie again? Like that at every position?


Points: 3

#44 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 16, 2023 - 1:59pm

What? I've never said that. 

Heinicke was an UFA and clearly ran his course. 

You're misremembering. 

Points: -2

#52 by guest from Europe // Mar 16, 2023 - 3:27pm

You wrote somewhere on this site yesterday or today about Commanders, that Heinecke was 12-12-1 in starts and good riddance to him and you think Brissett signing is "bleh" and you want S. Howell 5-th rounder "but whatever". I am quoting you.

How has someone ran his course after 25 games? In your opinion when is this point that a team after trying a player should discard him? After 1 year? 2 years? 20 games? 3 years? Is it like that for every position?

When Ryan was on Falcons you wrote for years get rid of him, get someone new, he can't win a super bowl. Look at Falcons now without Ryan.

On the other hand you wrote here yesterday that older CBs such as Gilmore, Hayward, Slay should be kept because they are still good.  (I agree with this)

So, in your opinion which older players should teams release?  You can explain in any way you want: giving examples, writing firm rules regarding age, positional grading... or do you think in this way only of QBs?

Points: 1

#58 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 16, 2023 - 8:36pm

 and you want S. Howell 5-th rounder "but whatever". I am quoting you.

No you're not. When have I EVER said they should release players. Point to it specifically. 

When Ryan was on Falcons you wrote for years get rid of him, get someone new, he can't win a super bowl. Look at Falcons now without Ryan.

Yeah you're literally making things up. 

On the other hand you wrote here yesterday that older CBs such as Gilmore, Hayward, Slay should be kept because they are still good.  (I agree with this)

How did you misunderstand that point? I literally said it was to treat good older players better than just discarding them and assuming they're going to be bad because they hit the magic 30 number. How do get that confused with NOT SIGNING (the opposite of releasing) a guy that's wasn't GOOD? 

Points: -1

#61 by guest from Europe // Mar 17, 2023 - 8:24am

Your comments about Commanders are here in this thread comment no. 17 so everyone can have a look! Heinecke was 25th in the league in DVOA last year with -9% DVOA and after 25 games you know he isn't good?  Brissett was no. 7 in the league last year in DVOA and your "blah" comment about him is in the small article "Brissett signed by Commanders". So who would be good enough for them to sign in your opinion? Only top 5 guys? Rookie? After 2 years another rookie?

The same applies to Packers. Who should they start? When will you know that Love is good or not good? After 25 games? After how many games or years?

You didn't write that Commanders should release those players, nor did i claim that, i wrote that you wrote something to the tune of "good riddance" to Heinecke and they can try Howell, that maybe he is bad, "but whatever".

My question about releasing players was pointing to your comments about older CBs  Slay, Gilmore etc. (i wrote that i agree with you),that Cowboys should keep RB E. Eliott (i disagree) and your many comments in years 2020, 2021, maybe 2019  about Ryan, maybe others. I will not search such comments. Perhaps i am making that up. Let's assume that if you want. You don't have to respond to that, let's assume i am wrong.

However, you can answer here what should Packers or Commanders do with QB position. You can give us a general rule what should any team do with that position and how and after how many games do you know this...? Does this apply to every position? You know this for every player after ? games because he is graded so and so? Because your comments about every player are very decisive.

Your comment about McGlinchey vs. Taylor was very good and i learned something from that.


Points: 0

#62 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 17, 2023 - 10:02am

Again, no links because you're misremembering. I've never talked about Ryan like that. 

Yeah, we know Heinicke/Jacoby are mediocre. You want to see them for 10 years before evaluating that's on you.

What does that have to do with explaining Mike's thinking into Dallas questionable yet still expensive RB room though? And how does explaining that a bunch of unrelated CBs last pro bowl year doesn't mean others are washed just because they're at/past that age? I never said op was wrong, I was just explaining Mike's POV!

Points: 0

#65 by guest from Europe // Mar 17, 2023 - 5:55pm

You have never talked about Ryan? Didn't write that he is washed up multiple times? For the record, what is your opinion of Ryan in 2019, 2020, 2021?

How do you know Brissett is mediocre? Give some data! 7th in DVOA is mediocre? You can write a complaint using the template "DVOA is clearly wrong about Brissett because..." Heinecke rating in 2022 is exactly the same as Tagovailoa in 2020. That -8% DVOA in 2020 developed 2 years later so much that you claimed the whole 2022 season that Tua is MVP. Heinecke can't develop like that?

You have used an argument that Gilmore was graded 9th (is that by PFF?) and that is very good by your standard. But you clearly know that the 7th rank QB Brissett is mediocre? 

When you claim you know something like that, burden of proof is on you. You can't just claim something is obvious. In the comments above you were the only one claiming Cowboys should keep Zeke. Zeke and Gilmore and Slay have in common that they were released or about to be released or "traded" for almost nothing and you commented on them all.

(Those were a bunch of your comments,  like you made a bunch of comments in comment no 17 about another bunch of players. I didn't respond to each one, just here. Didn't mean to confuse you.)  

You do like to play GM. You know that Chiefs made a mistake signing a tackle from Jaguars. etc. That's why i asked what should Commanders do at QB if Brisset is clearly mediocre. You can add Patriots, Cardinals, Browns, Broncos, Saints, Vikings, Bears, Rams, Giants, Titans, Chargers, too. All teams with a QB with more than 25 starts and worse DVOA than Brissett. I left out the teams that will draft top rookies and Rodgers to Jets. So, where do all these teams get a better QB than Brissett for 8 million? Please, show us your GM brilliancy.

Note: i am not trying to offend you in any way nor am i implying anything. If you know so much, just show us, explain, spread wisdom. Don't write, "it's obvious".

Points: 0

#66 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 17, 2023 - 6:24pm

Your connections are weird. 

You're really try to insist that there's some similarity to not signing a non rotating position to me explaining the Cowboys RB room from Mikes POV. Not the gotcha ya think it is. 

Points: -1

#46 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 16, 2023 - 2:29pm

How should a team operate then? Start someone young for a year, maximum two years? If he is immediately not top 20 in the league, release him and start a rookie again? Like that at every position?

That's New's basic take.

He's a GB fan. He's not old enough to remember Before Favre, and thinks HOF QBs grow on trees.

Points: 4

#7 by Cythammer // Mar 15, 2023 - 5:13pm

"Going from Derek Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo is a downgrade."

A DVOA of 30% versus a DVOA of 2%. First in the league versus 19th. I don't really get why Tanier writes for this site. He doesn't seem to even be familiar with the idea of metrics, much less to ever use them for writing his columns.

Points: 0

#8 by Rufus R. Jones // Mar 15, 2023 - 5:25pm

Do we have any evidence besides this past year?

Carr has been better, is better, and should be expected to be better.

Just another case of the Raiders playing in traffic.

Points: 4

#11 by Elephant1980 // Mar 15, 2023 - 5:45pm

Garoppolo was also better than Carr by DVOA in 2021 by about 8%. Carr was better by about 5% in 2020 (caveat that it's a small sample size for Jimmy that year) and about 8% in 2019. 

Points: 3

#26 by Cythammer // Mar 16, 2023 - 12:30am

He has been? When has Carr ever been considered an excellent QB? Garoppolo, meanwhile, seems to rank high in DVOA every year.

Points: 0

#10 by rh1no // Mar 15, 2023 - 5:42pm

Look at the stats beyond this year. Carr produced way more value and peaked higher than Jimmy G. He also has a better deep ball.

I'd argue that Carr's awful 2022 season was due more to having Josh McDaniels as his coach than any age-related decline, and that Garropollo's success is more due to his coaches and supporting cast than his inherent talent.

We will find out soon enough.

Points: 1

#13 by KnotMe // Mar 15, 2023 - 6:09pm

Will Jimmy actually led the league in DVOA last year. Part of that was certainly coaching/talent around him, but he needed enough innate ability to take advantage of it. 

I view that move as more about money for LV than improving honestly. 

The main way Jimmy G is a downgrade as it seems unlikely he can make it a whole year. 

Points: 3

#23 by rh1no // Mar 15, 2023 - 8:55pm

Brock Purdy would have ranked 5th on thr league by DVOA if he had a qualifying number of passes. There's quite a bit of evidence that quarterbacks in Shanahan's system play efficiently since he designs his system to take advantage of their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

SF has had a much better supporting cast and a much stronger defense than LV for the past few years, taking pressure off of Jimmy G. and allowing him to put up efficient numbers by throwing short crossing routes, handing the ball off, and letting his playmakers build and maintain leads.

That's not a knock on Jimmy G. or Shanahan, just an acknowledgement that there are more potential downsides to Garoppolo than his injury history.

Points: 4

#29 by guest from Europe // Mar 16, 2023 - 5:58am

I thought this too. But Shanahan's system only really worked with Ryan on Falcons and Garopollo and now Purdy. maybe Cousins on Redskins. With other QBs not so much.

Unfortunately, they don't play in a vacuum to be able to compare directly Carr and Garopollo. What we see in a limited number of plays/games on TV are more anecdotes than real data.

Garopollo should have great support on Raiders in WR talent and coach who he made it work with. Carr should have great O-line now and more time to throw. If M. Thomas comes back, who knows?

Points: -1

#32 by Tutenkharnage // Mar 16, 2023 - 9:26am

Uh, Tua looked pretty good in the same "diagnose it presnap and throw it to an area" system.

Points: 0

#48 by jackiel // Mar 16, 2023 - 2:34pm

Also Brian Hoyer and Josh Gordon made sweet music for a time when was the OC in Cleveland.  RG3 won ROY and had a great year in that offense in WAS.  The system works. 

Points: 3

#51 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 16, 2023 - 3:03pm

It just tends to get guys murdered.

Ryan survived two years, which I think is the longest stretch of one healthy QB.

Points: 0

#54 by guest from Europe // Mar 16, 2023 - 4:27pm

There is a point to this, as well. So next year will be a double probe experiment: Garoppolo out of Shanahan system and Shanahan with 3 QBs. I hope they don't all get injured.

Points: 0

#15 by coboney // Mar 15, 2023 - 6:35pm

He does use them


But the 30% versus 2% also is Jimmy Garoppolo in the SF offense with the SF weapons, versus Derek Carr in the Raiders Offense. DVOA doesn't allow for isolation from surroundings and there seemed to be some problems in Raiderville with McDaniels and Carr for whatever reason.

Points: 0

#21 by sharky19 // Mar 15, 2023 - 8:03pm

2016 Carr>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Any supporting cast a QB can reasonably ask for consistently. Again I really don't think you guys have ever watched him play. There's a cognitive dissonance between "Eternally shit on the Raiders for everything they do" (Understandable!) and "Carr was actually good and was a victim of McDaniels and poor supporting cast" lol

Points: 3

#22 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 15, 2023 - 8:10pm


I've watched them both play and I don't understand one can watch both, not rely on DVOA, and declare Jimmy better. 

Carr is no where near the best but I can see him pull off a Stafford. Watching Jimmy is just...rough. And he's been insulated like his whole career. 

Points: 1

#19 by Tutenkharnage // Mar 15, 2023 - 7:18pm

The best ability is availability. Garoppolo doesn’t have it. 

Points: 4

#41 by theslothook // Mar 16, 2023 - 12:56pm

I think its a downgrade in the sense that you cannot count on Jimmy G. 


TBH, I know Jimmy G's DVOA numbers are quite flattering, but I doubt most anyone here actually believes them. Rather, he feels like a good player who fits a system with a smart coaching staff and a terrific supporting cast. Its questionable if he gets the latter and highly unlikely he gets the former now in Las Vegas.


But the biggest kick in the nuggets is the fact that Jimmy G has proven that he can't stay healthy. Its just a matter of when, not if and its really really hard to plan your seasons knowing your starter is going to get injured. You live with that reality if he's a top 5 QB. I think Jimmy G is closer to the 10 so that makes counting on him much worse in the aggregate.

Points: 0

#67 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Mar 20, 2023 - 9:29am

"He doesn't seem to even be familiar with the idea of metrics, much less to ever use them for writing his columns."

Yeah, I've been ringing this bell for a couple years now. Tanier clearly doesn't watch much football, doesn't understand the advanced stats, and doesn't seem to be able to look at anything in an objective manner. He writes well, but hes an awful football analyst. 

Points: 0

#9 by Dan // Mar 15, 2023 - 5:34pm

DAL would've been out $10.9M in new money if they'd kept Zeke this year. That is a lot more than he's worth to them. Cutting him was a good move.

NE would've been out $11M in new money if they'd kept Jonnu Smith this year. That is a lot more than he's worth to them. Trading him was a good move. (Especially because $6.25M of that $11M is guaranteed, so they couldn't have saved that money by cutting him).

PHI would've been out $17.5M in new money if they'd kept Darius Slay this year. That is probably more than he's worth to them. Cutting him was a fine move.

Points: 4

#12 by KnotMe // Mar 15, 2023 - 6:06pm

For NE the Jonnu Smith move made sense. (He was mistake, so, well, at least you got something back). Switching Meyers for JuJu really doesn't. 

Points: 0

#53 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Mar 16, 2023 - 3:29pm

If NE had a chance to keep Meyers and instead chose to sign JuJu for the same price, then yeah, I'd agree, that makes no sense and lowers the quality of your team (especially since Jones seems to work well with Meyers and a little consistency in the guys he's throwing to should be good for a young QB).  I'm assuming that Meyers wanted out of NE and NE signed JuJu as the best available replacement for him, in which case it's still a negative for the team but somewhat less of a self-inflicted wound (their one good internally developed WR in years wanting out still suggests some element of self-inflicted damage from the way Belichick manages his team).

Points: 1

#59 by Dan // Mar 16, 2023 - 10:14pm

Reports are that Slay is back on a 3 year, $42M deal for 2023-25, with $23M guaranteed. That is less per year, $14M/yr instead of $17.5M, but with more guaranteed.

If the third year is a team option for about $14M, which is how these deals are usually set up, then this seems better for Philly than keeping him on his old contract. Instead of 1 yr $17.5M they'd get him for 2 yr $28M, with a team option for yr3.

Points: 0

#68 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Mar 20, 2023 - 9:38am

Tanier arguing that trading Jonnu was a mistake is just... absurd. 

There's an argument that a good part of his failure in NE was about coaching and not being used (and it has a good amount of truth) - but he hasn't produced at all for them. He's not worth anything to them. Trading him to Atlanta got them 5m worth of cap back this year, and 7m back next year (assuming they were going to just cut him next year). And they got a 7 back? Fantastic. 

When I heard that they'd traded him, I was expecting a "Jonnu, and a 3rd for a 7th" type trade. 

Points: 0

#17 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 15, 2023 - 7:15pm

Disagree with a lot.

  • Player A overall grades: 58.7, 60.4, 56.5, 63.7
  • Player B grades: 71.5, 69.8, 79.6, 67.4(, 74.8)

Grades from latest to oldest. Jawaan Taylor on the best and McGlinchey on the worst? Despite one being paid more per year and asked to switch to a different side? And that same ones best year never matching the others even worst? This seems like your putting far too much faith in Reid/Mahomes. Or rather they make Jawaan look better than he actually is because their margin for error is so much larger.

The Bears other 3 year deal. No the other one. The cheapest one, is their best and might be the best value overall. TJ Edwards returns home and reunites w/Sanborn at a great value. And is better (and cheaper!) than the Pratt signing. 

Robert Woods signing is fine. Can maybe quibble with the exact amount but Brandin Cooks wants out. And outside that they really only have Nico Collins (eh) and John Metchie (rookie year entirely wiped out, how much should you trust him...). I guess the Noah Brown signing complicates things but that was after Woods signed. 

Washington losing 12-12-1 Heinicke is absolutely whatever and a blessing in disguise truly. I will never understand the love for mediocre "bridge" QBs. Oh no, they're only left with an unused rookie (cheap) contract in Howell! How could he ever bridge to another rookie! Bah humbug. Move on! We know he's average at best! Maybe Howell is straight booty, but who cares! Get a higher pick then instead of staying in purgatory with Heinicke and delaying the inevitable! 

At least NE got something for Jonnu (but yeah that was always a bad contract). And Jakobi wasn't really moving many needles for them. Take the comp pick (aaaaand wipe it out with Juju for the exact same contract I guess).

I can make sense of the rest actually. 

Points: -2

#24 by mrh // Mar 15, 2023 - 9:14pm

I can see why you'd disagree with the McGlinchy on the worst vs. Taylor in the best list.  I don't think that much separates them.

I do think I see why the Chiefs prefer Taylor though:

  • He's three years younger - McGlinchy is 28, only one year younger than Taylor will be at the end of his contract.
  • Taylor is more durable - 4302 snaps in 4 years vs. McGlinchy's 4425 in FIVE seasons
  • PFF graded Taylor higher in pass blocking the past two seasons.
  • Taylor played in Pederson/Reid's offense this past year and the Chiefs could project him better into their offense than they could McGlinchey coming out of the Shanahan scheme.

McGlinchey is clearly a better run blocker per PFF's grades and has been the better overall tackle so far.  I can only assume the Chiefs looked at Taylor's run blocking and said we won't ask him to do the things he's not good at it.  And we'd really rather have the younger guy.

Points: 1

#25 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 15, 2023 - 10:30pm

Hard for me to accept all that when there's such a stark difference in ranking, when they're paying more for it and doing more projecting. 

If they wanted a LT they should've just traded for Tunsil. 

Aaaaaaaaaand OBJ goes for 4y/$64m. Yeah, IDK about Jawaans deal.

Points: 0

#27 by rh1no // Mar 16, 2023 - 1:40am

Orlando Brown Junior's contract is NUTS. He turned down way more on a longer deal from the Chiefs just a year ago.

But he promised his dad he would play left tackle in the NFL, and the Bengals are empowering him to do just that.

Points: 0

#28 by guest from Europe // Mar 16, 2023 - 5:44am

Then this should be good for Bengals. At least Brown is better than Cappa and L. Collins that they signed last year, isn't he? The strength for each one of them is more in run blocking, isn't it? I don't know much about o-line play.

Points: 0

#56 by apocalipstick // Mar 16, 2023 - 5:40pm

Brown's greatest strength is run-blocking. He's really not an elite pass-blocking LT.

Points: 0

#60 by guest from Europe // Mar 17, 2023 - 7:25am

Yes, the phrase "each one" above includes Brown. His strength is also run blocking.

Is gramatically correct every one or each one? Perhaps "every one of them"? 

Points: 0

#31 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 16, 2023 - 8:11am

So were KC. The whole reason he was traded from Baltimore (still think they shouldve asked Stanley to switch sides). 

But what he got is cheaper than what Jawaan got. A big problem for teams participating in the first waves of FA. 

Hard for me to accept it as one of the best when the whole premise was to get off the OBJ merry go round. Which had nothing to do w/signing Jawaan. OBJ was already an UFA. And apparently Jawaans merry go round ended up being the most expensive anyway. 

Oh and Jawaan hasn't played LT in like 7 years. Such a leap just to be done w/a guy who helped you win the most recent SB.

Points: 0

#33 by jackiel // Mar 16, 2023 - 9:33am

You are assuming that Brown would’ve taken the contract that they gave to Taylor. As others have mentioned, Brown had already turned down a big extension last year and was looking to reset the LT market. The chiefs didn’t want to go down that path and decided to move on. Looks like Brown and his reps misread the market. 

Points: 1

#34 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 16, 2023 - 9:48am

Not assuming as much as KC. 

And with every other OT getting less, KC is misreading AND paying a premium for it themselves anyway. Which is something they don't have to do with Mahomes/Reid/Kelce. 

Points: 0

#35 by jackiel // Mar 16, 2023 - 10:34am

I don't know if you can view markets like that.  As available openings get filled during FA, the price tends to go down for the players who are still available. In short, Brown certainly wasn't taking the deal he eventually signed with Cincinnati on day 1 of FA.  It took the market to go against him and seats getting filled for him to view the Cincinnati deal as a reasonable one.  In that sense, yes, I guess KC got a little trigger happy and could have waited for the market to come to them a bit.  But then the player(s) that they were interested in may not have been available.  As a SB contender, I would hope that their focus is on getting the right player at a critical position over the money.  

Points: 0

#36 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 16, 2023 - 11:11am

Well I was going to say the same thing. Pretty sure Mglinchey came in first. Then Jawaan next, was higher. Then Mcgary, who was lower. Then back up with OBJ. 

And I would say the opposite of honing in on specific players too. You have Mahomes/Reid/Kelce! You dont need the best OT(s). As evidenced they weren't happy with OBJ long term, yet still won. Have to remain FLEXIBLE in their extended window.

Jawaan Taylor 4th in AAV and practically guaranteed among OTs is...just a stretch for his prior level. They're assuming a massive jump at a position he hasn't played since 2017.  

Points: 0

#47 by jackiel // Mar 16, 2023 - 2:31pm

But I think that positional flexibility was part of KC's calculus.  Fundamentally, Brown refuses to play RT whereas I would imagine that Taylor expressed a willingness to play either tackle spot, giving KC flexibility in how it builds the OL.  That has value.  Adding in the fact that Taylor is younger, I could see why KC believed that Taylor was worth a premium price overall.  You can be both player specific and flexible if the player's attributes facilitate roster flexibility.   

Points: 0

#49 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 16, 2023 - 2:41pm

But they're paying LT price. And still doesn't mean it's one of the best moves and Mcglinchey is one of the worst. 

And again, this is all assuming that the transition will be butter smooth.

Points: 0

#55 by guest from Europe // Mar 16, 2023 - 4:36pm

Chiefs have lost both starting tackles in free agency. Taylor might end up playing right tackle.

Points: 0

#64 by barf // Mar 17, 2023 - 3:01pm

You're right that both tackles left the team. However, I don't think the Chiefs would pay him what they did to have him play RT. We'll see. 

Points: 0

#37 by rh1no // Mar 16, 2023 - 11:15am

I don’t think Brown was looking to reset the market; I think he prioritized stability and guaranteed money over potential earnings and more years of contract renegotiations.

Kansas City's offer was big money over the course of six years, but it had no guaranteed money after year two ... which would be the end of this upcoming season. So he could be facing another year of "prove your worth" and restructuring to help out KC's cap, etc. 

Instead, he earned nearly $17MM last year on the franchise tag and will get more stability AND more guaranteed money with the Bengals. Doesn't seem like he misread the market so much as he wanted something different than the Chiefs were offering him.

Points: 1

#45 by jackiel // Mar 16, 2023 - 2:23pm

I'm not sure that I follow.  The Cincinnati signing bonus is about the same as KC offered last year.  The Cincinnati deal has about $40M in guarantees (link) and I would imagine that KC's offer contained more than just the signing bonus in total guarantees.   So the most charitable view is that Cincinnati offered $10M more in guarantees.  In exchange for that, he signed a shorter deal with an AAV of $16M while KC offer had an AAV of $24M.  This is not winning IMO.    

Points: 0

#63 by IlluminatusUIUC // Mar 17, 2023 - 11:51am

In exchange for that, he signed a shorter deal with an AAV of $16M while KC offer had an AAV of $24M.

Per Schefter, the 6th year of the deal would have been $44 million non-guaranteed base salary. Even with 5+ years of cap inflation that's a boffo number for a tackle, and there's no real chance he'd see it. Doubly so if his contract was re-structured and the added cap hits pushed it over 50 or 60 million.

Dropping off that final year of funny money, and it's 5yrs/$95 million/~30 at signing so AAV of 19 in the best case scenario. Considering he'll be able to hit FA again a year earlier, the Cincy deal is a dropoff but not a huge one.

Points: 3

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