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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

2024 NFL free company grades, Day 2: Vikings, Ravens each get an ‘A’ for signing veteran working backs

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The free company wheel continued to roll on Tuesday for Day 2 of the authorized tampering interval. Whereas Monday’s unofficial opening of free company introduced with it a wide selection of main names coming off the board (like Kirk Cousins, Saquon Barkley and Christian Wilkins), Day 2 additionally noticed its fair proportion of stars discover new properties. 

After the Cousins domino fell on Day 1, a big contingent of backups began to come back off the board, together with the highest two picks within the 2015 NFL Draft in Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. In the meantime, Aaron Jones — recent off his launch from the Packers on Monday — opted to remain within the NFC North by agreeing to phrases with the Minnesota Vikings

As we proceed to see the free agent items fall into place, let’s undergo the entire main agreements that had been made on Day 2 and grade them. 

Vikings signing Aaron Jones

One of many mini themes of this free agent cycle is fan-favorite working backs touchdown with division rivals. It occurred when Saquon Barkley agreed to signal with the Eagles on Monday and now it is Aaron Jones delivering his cheesehead for a Vikings helmet. The veteran again agreed to phrases with Minnesota after he was launched by the Packers on Monday after they agreed to phrases with Josh Jacobs. Whereas Jones is creeping towards 30, he’s nonetheless a extremely impactful again judging by his five-straight 100-yard speeding video games to finish final season. On a one-year, $7 million deal, it is a great get for Minnesota, which struggled to run the ball in 2023. 

Grade: A

This has been a wedding lengthy within the making relationship to the commerce deadline and it has lastly come to fruition. Henry has agreed to a two-year, $16 million take care of the Baltimore Ravens, forming one of many extra deadly backfields within the NFL. The mixture of Henry and Lamar Jackson offers Baltimore arguably the perfect speeding assault within the league. Henry’s capability to churn out arduous yardage might show to be very important come playoff time. 

Grade: A

Commanders signing Marcus Mariota

It is bizarre to present this signing as excessive of a grade as I’m particularly contemplating that no Commanders fan hopes Marcus Mariota sees the sphere in 2024. Nevertheless, I do suppose he’s a top quality backup and may very well be of specific worth to Washington. The membership possesses the No. 2 general decide at this 12 months’s draft and is broadly assumed to pick out a quarterback. You recognize who is aware of a factor or two about being a No. 2 general decide and handed the keys to a corporation? Marcus Mariota. On high of serving as a veteran presence in that QB room, Mariota’s distinctive upbringing within the NFL may very well be precisely the kind of sounding board the Commanders might use to arrange their rookie for fulfillment, which makes this an excellent signing. 

Grade: B

Browns signing Jameis Winston

It is slightly shocking the Browns did not decide to deliver Joe Flacco again after his heroics down the stretch final season, however Winston offers them a youthful possibility on the place backing up Deshaun Watson with loads of beginning expertise. 

Grade: B-

The Jets desperately wanted a succesful backup quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers and located one in Tyrod Taylor. Whereas he does not current a excessive ceiling {that a} younger QB presumably might, the ground is not as little as it was for them a 12 months in the past after Rodgers suffered his torn Achilles. Taylor was 2-3 in his 5 begins for the Giants final season and accomplished 64.4% of his passes with an 89.1 passer score. 

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Grade: C+

Minnesota was unable to retain Kirk Cousins and shortly pivoted to Sam Darnold as their subsequent possibility beneath middle. In actuality, that is in all probability simply step one in what the Vikings plan to do at quarterback with a rookie doubtless on the best way with a range within the 2024 NFL Draft. Darnold spent final season because the backup in San Francisco and has largely struggled when given the reins because the starter, so if he finally ends up because the man beneath middle for Minnesota it is arduous to see them taking a step ahead within the first 12 months post-Cousins. 

Grade: C

The Falcons solidified their quarterback place with Kirk Cousins on Monday and gave him a brand new weapon on Tuesday in Darnell Mooney. The previous Bears wideout was in a troublesome state of affairs over the previous couple of seasons with Chicago’s lackluster passing assault, which helped result in a lower in manufacturing. Nevertheless, Mooney is simply 26 years outdated and already has a 1,000-yard season beneath his belt. With improved quarterback play and different proficient skill-position gamers round him, this might show to be a savvy signing by Atlanta. 

Grade: B+

Dolphins signing Shaq Barrett

It was an enormous want for the Dolphins so as to add some depth to its pass-rushing unit, particularly after the occasions of final season the place they misplaced each Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb because of damage. Barrett involves the Dolphins as a robust rotational piece who’s a two-time Tremendous Bowl champion and a former All-Professional. On high of including depth behind Phillips and Chubb, he additionally cushions the blow of dropping Andrew Van Ginkel in free company as properly.

Grade: B

It wasn’t that way back that Gesicki posted back-to-back 700-yard receiving seasons, however the tight finish has fallen off in recent times. A bit of that’s merely because of an absence of taking part in time in his remaining 12 months with the Dolphins in 2022 after which with the Patriots in 2023. If he can return to the shape we noticed again in 2021, he’ll be a stable possibility for Joe Burrow within the Bengals passing recreation, particularly in the event that they in the end grant vast receiver Tee Higgins‘ commerce request. On an inexpensive one-year deal, it is a worthwhile signing for Cincy. 

Grade: B-

Smith has but to reside as much as his second-round draft standing, however he’ll have an amazing alternative to take action with Patrick Mahomes throwing him the soccer. He is but to high 400 receiving yards in a season and had simply 115 receiving yards on 18 catches final season. That stated, Andy Reid’s offense has been very tight finish pleasant over time even exterior of Travis Kelce, so there may very well be a window of alternative right here for Smith to have a profession 12 months. He’ll additionally solely be 26 by the beginning of subsequent season. 

Grade: C



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