There were plenty of interesting moves in the early portion of NFL free agency, but there were definitely some head-scrathers, too.
Here’s a look, in no particular order, at the 5 best and worst NFL free-agent fits so far.
BEST: 1. WR Brandon Marshall to the Giants
The Giants grabbed Brandon Marshall on a deal worth $12 million over two years, which feels like a steal. The 32-year-old will be content with a reduced role in his 12th NFL season, and he finished 2016 with 59 catches for 788 yards and 3 TDs from Jets quarterbacks. He should be even better with Eli Manning throwing him the ball.
2. CB A.J. Bouye to the Jaguars
The price tag on Bouye ($13.5 million per season over the next five) may give Jags fans pause, considering he’s really had only one stellar NFL season. But if he can sustain the level of play he showed in 2016, the defensive future should be bright in Jacksonville for the next few seasons as Bouye plays alongside another potentially great cornerback in Jalen Ramsey.
3. S Tony Jefferson to the Ravens
The Ravens should have one of the best safety duos in the league after signing Jefferson to a deal worth $36 million over the next four years. He’ll play alongside Eric Weddle, who finished 2016 graded second at his position by Pro Football Focus. Jefferson, by the way, came in at sixth.
4. LT Andrew Whitworth to the Rams
The 35-year-old veteran won’t be a long-term solution for the Rams, but he’ll provide Jared Goff a chance to get comfortable in the pocket in his second NFL season. Goff was sacked 26 times in just eight appearances in 2016.
5. WR DeSean Jackson to the Buccaneers
Tampa Bay will sign Jackson to a deal worth $32 million over three years, which is more than reasonable for the 30-year-old given his ability to produce. Jackson finished 2016 with 56 catches for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns, while leading the league in yards per reeption with an average of 17.9. He’ll be a fine complement to Mike Evans, who was the Buccaneers’ leading receiver last season.
WORST: 1. WR Robert Woods to the Rams
The Rams just can’t seem to resist overpaying wide receivers based on potential. L.A. signed Tavon Austin to a contract extension worth $42 million last summer, only to see him finish 2016 with 509 yards and 3 touchdowns in 15 appearances.
The Rams appear to be doing something similar with Woods, agreeing to a deal worth $39 million over five years with $15 million in guarantees — despite the fact that the former Bills wideout has never reached even 700 yards receiving in any of his four NFL seasons.
2. LT Matt Kalil to the Panthers
This one seems to make very little sense. Kalil had a decent rookie campaign that landed him a Pro Bowl selection, but his performance has declined ever since. According to Pro Football Focus, Kalil has allowed an average of almost six sacks per season, 40 total quarterback pressures and seven penalties over the past four years, and his 2016 was limited to just two games due to injury.
Despite all of this, the Panthers handed him a deal worth $55 million over the next five years, which includes $25 million in guaranteed salary.
3. WR Pierre Garcon to the 49ers
Garcon will be 31 when the 2017 season begins, and that fact alone makes handing him $17 million in guaranteed salary a questionable decision. He had a fine season in Washington last year, finishing with 79 catches for 1,041 yards and three touchdowns.
Garcon led the league in receptions in 2013 with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator, and if they can recreate that kind of magic, the money won’t seem so bad. But until we see that happen, the move appears to come with it an unnecessary amount of risk.
4. LB Malcolm Smith to the 49ers
Malcom Smith was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII, but that was a long time ago, and his play simply doesn’t warrant a deal worth $24.5 million over five years with $13 million in guarantees. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed six touchdowns in coverage in 2016 — one less than than the worst mark in the league among players at his position.
5. QB Mike Glennon to the Bears
There’s no question it was time for the Bears to move on from Jay Cutler, who guided the team to exactly one playoff appearance during his eight seasons in Chicago. And while Mike Glennon’s reported contract isn’t as bad as it seems considering it guarantees him just $19 million over three seasons, it still feels like a lot for someone who hasn’t been a regular starter since 2013, and has appeared in only eight games in total over the past three seasons.