2023 NFL Free-Agent Signing, Trade Grades for Friday’s Latest Moves
In the NFL, free agency is perpetual motion. Once it starts rolling, you’d better get out of the way.
After two days of legal manipulation and two more days of “actual” free agency, we’ve seen dozens of players sign hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts. There are a few MVP quarterbacks who haven’t yet found a new home (although we have a pretty good idea of where they’re headed), but we’ve already seen a number of big names make bigger deals for a new helmet to put on.
It’s been a good week to be an offensive tackle. And a defensive tackle. Beefeaters on either side of the ball hit him big.
Some signings this week looked like relative bargains. Others were questionable. But as it has been all week, Bleacher Report covered the free-agency feeding frenzy on Friday with a breakdown of which deals were stolen and which ones might later spark buyer regret.
Caveat emptor and so on.
Terms of contract: One year, $9 million
Outside of Darren Waller’s trade, there hadn’t been much movement in the tight end position in the early days of free agency. But on Friday morning, one of the larger dominoes finally fell.
Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero, the New England Patriots signed veteran tight end Mike Gesicki to a one-year, $9 million contract. The 27-year-old Gesicki, who spent the first five years of his career in Miami, caught 32 passes for 362 yards and five scores a year ago.
Gesicki’s role on the Dolphins’ offense has waned over the past year, but it wasn’t until 2021 that he surpassed 70 receptions and 700 reception yards. As these five results show, it’s also a solid option in the red.
It’s a bit eye-opening to see the Patriots return to shelling out a decent chunk of cash for a tight finish after Jonnu Smith’s trade earlier this week, but the reality is that New England needs passing-game guns like they’re getting can.
Gesicki gives Mac Jones a big goal down the middle.
Terms of contract: One year, terms undisclosed
In 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded in the first round of the NFL draft in hopes that Devin Bush would be the franchise’s next big inside linebacker. Four years later, Bush is heading west to revive his career.
As reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Seattle Seahawks have signed 24-year-old Bush, who totaled 81 tackles in Pittsburgh in 2022, to a one-year contract. Terms were not disclosed.
To say Bush didn’t work out in Pittsburgh is an understatement — his passer rating against in-coverage has gotten worse season after season, and last year he played a career-low in 2022 with 62 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
However, Bush should have a clear path to gametime for a Seahawks team in dire need of help from off-ball linebackers, and assuming the money is reasonable, it’s at least a moderately interesting speculative signing from Seattle.
Terms of contract: Two years, $12 million
The Seahawks were a playoff team last year, but Seattle’s defense struggled — 26th in overall defense, 30th against pass and 25th in points allowed.
This defense has already been added by Dre’Mont Jones and Devin Bush. Now the team has also dealt with the secondary.
As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, The Seahawks have signed Julian Love to a two-year, $12 million deal. A fourth-round pick by the New York Giants in 2019, Love had by far the best season of his career with the G-Men last year, averaging 124 total tackles with two interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery scored
Love isn’t an elite safety talent, but he’s a capable pro who is solid against the run and decent at cover. Given the uncertainty the Seahawks face as a linebacker, even with Bush now in the flock, a back-end upgrade is a smart signing — especially when it comes with a reasonable price tag.
Here’s a look at some of Friday’s other signings.
Eagles sign QB Marcus Mariota
After losing backup quarterback Gardner Minshew on Thursday, the Eagles wasted little time finding his replacement. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Philadelphia signed Marcus Mariota to a one-year, $5 million deal. Considering the amount of money some other backup quarterbacks have received, this is a bargain deal — especially when you factor in Mariota’s 74 career starts, 13 starts in Atlanta last year and similar skill sets to Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Cowboys re-sign QB Cooper Rush
Cooper Rush filled in admirably for an injured Dak Prescott last year and the Cowboys rewarded him for it on Friday –per report, Dallas signed the 29-year-old to a two-year, $6 million deal that includes a fully guaranteed first season. This is a classic example of not fixing something that wasn’t broke — Rush knows offense and was 4-1 as a starter with Prescott on the shelf last year. At $3 million a season, Rush is a relative steal.
Lions re-sign PK Mike Badgley
According to Agent Brian McLaughlin, the Lions bring back place kicker Mike Badgley. The 27-year-old, who joined the Lions in the 2022 season after opening the year with the Chicago Bears, made 20 of 24 field goal attempts and all 33 of his extra point attempts for Detroit. No one will confuse Badgley with Justin Tucker, but assuming the Lions didn’t hand him a Matt Gay-esque bag of cash, he’s fine.
Chargers re-sign TE Donald Parham
Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, tight end Donald Parham has re-signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. Parham, 25, caught just 10 passes for 130 yards and one hit last season, but the 6’8″, 237-pounder blitzed enough when he offered the Cleveland Browns an opportunity to have them allegedly expressed “significant interest” in his commitment. Instead, Parham returns to Los Angeles, where he will serve as the No. 2 tight end behind Gerald Everett.