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Monday marked the beginning of the NFL’s legal tampering period where teams can contact pending unrestricted free agents and agree to contracts. The deals don’t become official until NFL free agency starts on March 17 at 4 p.m. ET. While plenty of significant free agents haven’t reached deals yet, Monday saw a lot of names fly off the board.
Check out The Grueling Truth’s top 100 free agents and see who’s already taken.
This section includes All-Pros, Pro Bowlers, and the best players available at their positions. These are the splash signings of the offseason that generate the most hype heading into the season. Unfortunately, a few big ticket signings bust every year. Which team overpaid this time around?
The No. 10 free agent on TGT top 100 isn’t going anywhere. Head coach Bruce Arians wasn’t lying when he said he wanted everyone back for another run. General manager Jason Licht deserves a lot of credit for already securing Barrett, Lavonte David, and Chris Godwin this offseason.
The Chargers have their quarterback of the future in Justin Hebert, but the offense line in front of his was horrible. Linsley is the first piece in an extensive rebuild up front for Los Angeles. The former Packer was a First-Team All-Pro last year.
Johnson wasn’t at the top of the free agent board in a loaded safety class, but he’s the first member of the class to sign a long-term deal. Johnson was an underrated part of Los Angeles secondary last season and immediately transforms Cleveland’s back end.
Once the Washington Football Team franchise tagged Brandon Scherff, Thuney became the best interior offensive lineman available. Just days after cutting both of their tackles, the Chiefs have a deal in place to make Thuney the NFL’s highest-paid guard in terms of annual salary.
The NFL doesn’t feature many consistent pass rushers. While questions remain about Judon’s ability to thrive outside of Baltimore, the two-time Pro Bowler is on his way to New England. The Patriots are desperate for a star sack artist.
While Ngakoue hasn’t lived up to the promise he showed in 2017, the 25-year-old is still one of the league’s better edge rushers. Since entering the NFL five years ago, Ngakoue has 45.5 sacks. The Raiders finished 29th in the league in sacks last season with 21.
New England shelled out over $100 million in contracts on Monday. Belichick recognizes that his team can’t remain complacent, especially at key positions. The Patriots had no meaningful tight ends last year. Smith changes that immediately. He also becomes the third-highest paid tight end in annual salary.
Sometimes the biggest signings are the low-risk ones that pay off. Teams don’t fill out roster with Pro Bowlers after all. In a year where the salary cap went down by over $15 million, second-tier free agents won’t get overpaid. However, they’re arguably more valuable now than ever.
Drew Brees’ retirement cleared the way for New Orleans to find his heir. Winston isn’t far removed from throwing for 5,109 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions. He has a career 86.9 passer rating. After Hill floundered during his four starts last year, Winston probably has the inside track to the starting job.
The Washington Football Team needed a starting quarterback after releasing Alex Smith. While Ryan Fitzpatrick is a streaky starter and already 38 years old, he showed some magic in Miami last season. Over the past six years, the Harvard product has 15,704 passing yards, 100 passing touchdowns, and 68 interceptions.
Over the past three years, Lawson failed to surpass the 8.5 sacks he had as a rookie. However, the 25-year-old played in all 16 games last season, amassing 36 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 32 quarterback hits, and 44 pressures. According to Pro Football Reference, only Joey Bosa, Aaron Donald, Chris Jones, and T.J. Watt had more pressures than Lawson in 2020.
Cincinnati replaces Lawson with Hendrickson
The Bengals couldn’t afford to lose Carlos Dunlap and Lawson within 12 months of one another. Lawson was the only Cincinnati defender with over two sacks last season. They’ve replaced him with Trey Hendrickson, who tallied 25 tackles, 13.5 sacks, and 33 pressures with the Saints last year.
The Los Angeles Rams are keeping Floyd around long-term after the outside linebacker experienced a breakout season alongside Aaron Donald. Floyd tallied 55 pressures, 10.5 sacks, and 30 pressures.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have at least one more year together. The 31-year-old tight end is taking things one year at a time, but he clearly enjoyed catching passes again last season. Tampa Bay is pulling off one of the most impressive offseasons in recent memory, and they aren’t even adding any new pieces.
New York didn’t have to overpay for Davis. They landed the former fifth overall pick after his breakout season in 2020. In his final season with the Titans, Davis set or tied career-highs with 65 receptions for 984 yards and five touchdowns. He’s now the most accomplished receiver in New York.
Dupree is recovering from a torn ACL, but he’s on track to make a complete recovery. The 28-year-old former first-round pick thrived alongside T.J. Watt in his final years with the Steelers. After a slow start to his career, Dupree has 99 tackles, 19.5 sacks, and 56 pressures over the past two seasons.
The New York Giants came close to making the playoffs last year because of their defensive front. Tomlinson is a disruptive and consistent nose tackle. He recorded 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons.
Once a Pro Bowler for the Chargers, Verrett only has two seasons with over ten games played under his belt. Injuries are a constant concern for the former 25th overall pick, but he was gold for the 49ers last season.
If the Steelers don’t get a deal done with slot corner Mike Hilton, this contract with Sutton becomes essential. While he only has one season with over 500 defensive snaps, Sutton showed promise in the slot last year.
Golden is one of the most confusing players in the NFL. He amassed double-digit sacks in 2016 and 2019 but hasn’t consistently held down a starting job. The former second-round pick registered 4.5 sacks and 30 pressures in 2020.
Raw statistics don’t explain Harris’ impact. The 29-year-old earned an 88.3 grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF) this past season, making him one of the most underrated players in the NFL.
Matt Feiler had a breakout season at right tackle in 2019, earning a 75.9 grade from PFF. He moved to guard this past season and received a slightly lower grade. The Chargers have several needs along the line and could play Feiler in multiple spots throughout the season.
The Chargers took Jenkins in the fourth-round in 2017. He became a starter two years ago, about the time that Nasir Adderley and Derwin James began suffering injuries. Jenkins has a history as a dynamic special teams player and on-field leader.
After an up-and-down five years in Philadelphia that saw him transition from corner to safety, Mills has a long-term deal with the Patriots. Between Patrick Chung returning from an opt-out season and Devin McCourty entering his age 34 season, Mills could see starting time.
While injuries limited Godchaux to five games in 2020, the former fifth-round pick amassed 75 tackles in 2019. He doesn’t accomplish much as a pass rusher, but Godchaux is a stout interior anchor.
Roberts is one of the NFL’s premier return men. He’s made three consecutive Pro Bowls and was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2020. Roberts accounted for 3,789 all-purpose yards over the past three seasons.
While he started nine games in 2018, Davis became a full-time starter in some aspects for the Chargers in 2019. He played over 900 defensive and 100 special teams snaps this past year. After releasing Casey Hayward the Chargers couldn’t afford to lose Davis.
We don’t have the numbers yet, but the Patriots aren’t letting Wise leave the building. He’s appeared in 62 games over the past four seasons and played over half of New England’s defensive snaps in 2020.
The Patriots aren’t messing around this year. Belichick’s team continues dishing out free agent contracts as they land the breakout vertical threat from Las Vegas. Agholor set a career-high with 896 receiving yards last season.
Darby’s lengthy injury history prevents him from earning more than ten million dollars per year, but the former second-round pick is coming off the first 16-game season of his career. Darby received a 76.0 grade from PFF last year.
Autry is an incredibly underrated defensive lineman. He’s started for the Colts over the past three seasons, amassing 102 tackles, 20 sacks, and 57 pressures. Tennessee finished 30th in the NFL in sacks last season with only 19.
Hyde ran for over 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in 2019. Between 2016 and 2019, he ran for 3,567 yards and 25 touchdowns. Hyde’s production plummeted in Seattle last year, but he’s a quality No. 2 option and comes at a low price.
Vikings add linebacker depth with Nick Vigil
Vigil served as a starter for three years in Cincinnati before seeing his role significantly reduced on the Chargers last season.
Booker entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick in 2016. His role eroded in Denver, but the 28-year-old found new life in Las Vegas last season. He ran for 423 yards while averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
The Lions used the 21st overall pick on Davis in 2017. The Florida product flamed out in Detroit before signing with New York. Davis is still only 26 years old.
Erving was a first-round pick in 2015 that never worked out. He’s a quality backup but could see starting time for Carolina.
The Jets parted ways with Anderson earlier this month. New England wasted no time snatching up the former division rival. Anderson had 102 tackles and 8.5 sacks over his three years in New York.
Elflein started all seven of his appearances with the Jets and Vikings last season. He has plenty of experience as a starter, but wasn’t particularly impressive during those reps.
Bourne experienced a career-year during the pandemic season, catching 49 passes for 667 yards and two touchdowns. The former undrafted free agent is 25 years old.
Hurst is a rotational offensive lineman with experience at guard and tackle. He played over 300 offensive snaps for the Saints in 2020.
Ebukam was a special teams ace for the Rams last year, playing over 50% of the team’s special teams snaps.
Collins recorded 14.5 sacks in four seasons with Dallas before vanishing in Las Vegas last year.
Agnew switched from cornerback to wide receiver last year. The star return man amassed over 1,000 all-purpose yards.
Roy Robertson-Harris started six of his eight appearances with the Bears last season.
The Jaguars needed help at safety. Rudy Ford hasn’t played over 100 defensive snaps in a single season in his career.
Brooks entered the NFL as a third-round pick in 2014. He’s primarily a special teams player.
Originally an undrafted free agent, McCray saw some starting time with three different teams over the past four years.
Smoot has 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons and led Jacksonville with 5.5 in 2020.
The Texans signed 2017 sixth-round pick Vincent Taylor. David Culley is stacking up along the center of the defense.
Houston continues adding to the bottom of its roster with experienced, backup veterans.
Jaguars continue preparing for Trevor Lawrence with Dorsett
Phillip Dorsett was the 29th overall pick in 2015 but never panned out for Indianapolis or New England. He’s still a fast receiver and produced 397 yards and five touchdowns in 2019.
A former undrafted free agent, Carter spent the last four years in Cincinnati primarily playing on special teams.
Pierre-Louis was mostly a special teams contributor until last year, when he played over 500 defensive snaps for the Washington Football Team.
Kendall Lamm spent the last two years in Cleveland as a backup tackle and special teams member. He was Houston’s starting right tackle in 2018.
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