March Madness, while previously reserved for college hoops, is an appropriate way to sum up the craziness that is NFL free agency. On Monday, mere hours after Tom Brady announced his return following a 40-day retirement, a flurry of moves were agreed upon during the NFL’s first day of legal tampering.
Monday’s big signings included the top-rated quarterback in free agency reportedly coming to terms with a perennial playoff contender, a record-setting contract for a defensive end and a bevy of moves by the Jaguars, who appear to be hellbent on getting out of the AFC South’s cellar. Speaking of Brady, the Buccaneers locked up two of their top in-house free agents on Monday, as Tampa Bay is gearing up for another title run.
Below are grades for each of the signings (expected to happen, not official until Wednesday) involving the top-100 fee agents according to CBS Sports senior NFL writer Pete Prisco. The two top-100 quarterbacks picked up on Monday can be found at the top, and then the remaining players are listed alphabetically by last name.
QuarterbacksSteelers land QB Mitchell Trubisky
Pittsburgh nabs the top-rated quarterback in free agency, and for a good price (a two-year, $14.25 million deal with up to $27 million in incentives, per NFL Network). A Pro Bowler in 2018 as a member of the Bears, Trubisky presents a formidable challenge to Mason Rudolph in the upcoming battle to be Ben Roethlisberger’s successor.
Dolphins sign QB Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater gives Miami a very capable and experienced backup behind Tua Tagovailoa. The only possible concern here could be if Bridgewater practices/plays well enough to start a quarterback controversy.
More signings Chargers acquire Pro Bowl CB J.C. Jackson
The Chargers’ big offseason now includes the addition of Jackson, who picked off eight passes for the Patriots last season. Jackson wasn’t cheap (he will reportedly sign a five-year, $82.5 million deal), so the pressure for him to perform will be on.
Carlton Davis staying in Tampa
Davis decided to stay in Tampa a day following Brady’s announcement. The four-year starter returns under a relatively affordable salary (a reported three-year, $15 deal), another win for Tampa.
Jaguars signing OL Brandon Scherff
Jacksonville’s big day included the signing of Scherff, a five-time Pro Bowler and the top-rated offensive lineman in free agency. While Scherff is an elite player, the Jaguars will reportedly pay $84 million (over four years) to a player who hasn’t played in more than 14 games in a season since 2016.
Packers retain OLB De’Vondre Campbell
Keeping Campbell was critical to the Packers, who on Monday decided to part ways with Za’Darius Smith. While he was sensational in 2021 (his first season in Green Bay), Campbell needs to play up to his new contract in 2022 and beyond.
Laken Tomlinson lands in New York
The Jets’ big Monday included the signing of Tomlinson, a 2021 Pro Bowler who was a staple on the 49ers’ offensive line for the last five years. Tomlinson should help provide much-needed protection for Zach Wilson.
Christian Kirk hits jackpot in Jacksonville
In Kirk, the Jaguars now have a 25-year-old receiver who appears to be coming into his own as a big-time player. But the price tag (a reported four years for as much as $84 millIon) is way too much money for a receiver who has yet to top 1,000 yards in a season.
Eagles land Haason Reddick
The Eagles were able to acquire a 27-year-old linebacker who racked up 23.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles over the past two years. They did so without breaking the bank, as Reddick comes to Philadelphia for a reported $45 million over three years.
Quandre Diggs stays in Seattle
This was a win-win for both parties. Seattle keeps their talented safety, while Diggs will make more per season under his new deal ($13.3 million) than he would have under the franchise tag ($12.9 million).
Ryan Jensen returns to Tampa
Instead of hitting the market, Jensen — the top-rated center who was slated to enter free agency — landed a reported three-year, $39 million deal to stay in Tampa. It was the first big signing by the Buccaneers following Brady’s big announcement.
Dolphins retain Emmanuel Ogbah
Miami kept one of their top defensive players in Ogbah, who has collected 18 sacks over the past three seasons. It did come at a cost (a reported $65 million over four years), especially for a player who has yet to record a Pro Bowl berth or a double-digit sack season.
Foyesade Oluokun heading to Jacksonville
A slam dunk signing for the Jaguars. In Oluokun, they invested $45 million over three years for a player who last season recorded a league-high 192 tackles along with three interceptions, two sacks and a forced fumble for the Falcons.
Panthers pounce on Austin Corbett
If you throw enough money at a player, they’ll apparently leave the defending champions for a 5-12 team. That was the case with Corbett, as the former Ram will reportedly ink a three-year, $29.5 million deal with the Panthers.
Rams retain Joe Noteboom
Instead of hitting free agency, Noteboom returns to Los Angeles with a three-year, $47.5 deal. This is clearly an investment on a player who is expected to contribute more after netting 17 starts during his first for years in Los Angeles.
Alex Cappa coming to Cincinnati
The Buccaneers didn’t keep everyone Monday. They saw Cappa — a starting guard on their offensive line since 2019 — head to Cincinnati, which is certainly good news for Joe Burrow.
Rams to bring back Brian Allen
The defending champs were able to hang onto Allen to the reported tune of $24 million over three years. The veteran guard started 16 games last season after missing the entire 2020 season with an injury.
Ben Jones staying in Nashville
The extremely durable center has signed a two-year, $14 million deal to remain with the Titans. The 32-year-old has been integral to the Titans’ offensive success over the past several years.
Justin Reid lands in Kansas City
Instead of re-signing Tyrann Mathieu, the Chiefs instead decided to sign the former Texans’ safety to a three-year, $31.5 deal. Was this really an upgrade? Only time will tell.
C.J. Uzomah heading to the Big Apple
A big contributor to the Bengals’ AFC championship team, Uzomah capitalized by signing a three-year, $28 million with the Jets. The soon-to-be 30-year-old tight end will look to develop a rapport Wilson after having his career season with Burrow in 2021.
Dolphins land Cedrick Wilson
A $22.8 million contract for three years is a lot of money for a largely unproven player. It’s clear the Dolphins are banking on Wilson building off of last year’s career year that saw him catch six touchdowns from Dak Prescott.
Tim Settle to sign with Buffalo
Settle did little in Washington last season after racking up five sacks in 2020. This is a low-risk, high rewards move for the Bills, who are hoping this is the year that they break through as the AFC’s best team.
Xavier Woods heads to Carolina
For a reported $15.75 million for three years, the Panthers acquire a safety who last season racked up 108 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 10 passes defensed. At age 26, Woods should have a lot of good football left in him.
Cardinals keep James Conner
A Pro Bowler during his first season in Arizona, the Cardinals and Conner agreed to a well-deserved three-year, $21 million extension. As good as Conner is, he is not a bell cow, so the Cardinals need to find someone to replace the recently-departed Chase Edmonds.
Bears acquire former Bengal Larry Ogunjobi
Chicago agreed to sign one of the NFL’s top interior defensive linemen last season to a reported three-year, $40.5 million deal. Ogunjobi recorded seven sacks before a foot injury led to him missing most of the Bengals’ playoff run.
Bengals hold onto B.J. Hill
Cincinnati was expected to try to keep either Ogunjobi or Hill. They ultimately kept Hill, who played extremely well during the Bengals’ playoff run.
Braxton Berrios coming back to Jets
The receiver and special teams stud returns to New York for a cool $12 million over two years. While it may be a tad too much for a player with 89 career grabs, Berrios is among the league’s top returners who built a rapport with Wilson last season.
Giants land former Colts G Mark Glowinski
Big Blue needs help on the offensive line, so they went out and acquired a player who helped Jonathan Taylor emerge as one of the NFL’s top running backs. It’s not a massive move, but for $20 over two seasons, it’s a solid move from the Giants’ front office.