2023 NFL Free-Agent Signing, Trade Grades for Thursday’s Latest Moves

On the first official day of the 2023 NFL league year, a number of teams signed notable free agents without breaking the bank.

Late Wednesday, the Cincinnati Bengals made a big splash that should put a smile on quarterback Joe Burrow’s face. They strengthened their offensive line by adding a four-time Pro Bowl tackle who ranked as the No. 1 player on Bleacher Report’s free-agency big board.

Going into the fourth day of negotiations, teams can still land quality starters. Check out our Thursday free-agent big board for the biggest names available on the open market.

Keep an eye on the running back and tight end markets. Clubs with needs on offense can add high-end playmakers at those positions.

Ball-hawking defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson and battle-tested front-seven defenders such as Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner, Jadeveon Clowney and Leonard Floyd should draw widespread interest as well.

We’ll grade Thursday’s signings and trades below. For anyone who needs a refresher up to this point, you can look back at grades for Wednesday’s deals.

Darius Slay Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 2 years, $42 million (h/t NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport)

Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles allowed Darius Slay permission to seek a trade, per ESPN’s Dianna Russini. Now, he’s back on a two-year extension, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, the Eagles had a “hard time letting go” of Slay, who’s been one of the league’s top cornerbacks for most of the past six seasons. In that span, he’s garnered All-Pro and five Pro Bowl honors.

Slay’s coverage numbers slipped a bit last season, as he allowed five touchdowns and an 83.9 passer rating in coverage. But he had a key role in the Eagles’ No. 1-ranked pass defense, recording three interceptions and 14 pass breakups while on the field for 91 percent of the defensive snaps.

Going into his age-32 term, Slay wanted a new contract, per Geoff Mosher of the Inside the Birds podcast. He’ll sign a new deal that satisfies his demand and lowers his previous $26.1 million cap hit.

In the big picture, the Eagles have retained their starting boundary cornerbacks from last season in Slay and James Bradberry, who re-signed with the team on Tuesday.

Grade: A-

Greedy Williams Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 1 year, TBA

The Philadelphia Eagles worked out an extension with cornerback Darius Slay, but they didn’t stop there in terms of addressing the cornerback position. Per Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, they signed Greedy Williams.

The Browns phased Williams out of their cornerback rotation over the past couple of years. Keep in mind that the previous regime selected him in the second round of the 2019 draft. Cleveland hired general manager Andrew Berry in 2020.

Under Berry, the Browns selected Greg Newsome II in the first round of the 2021 draft and took Martin Emerson Jr. in the third round last April.

On top of that, Williams missed the entire 2020 campaign because of a shoulder injury and then lost his grip on a starting role with the addition of Newsome and Emerson. Yet the LSU product had a solid 2021 season, logging 10 pass breakups and two interceptions while allowing a 55.2 percent completion rate and a 74 passer rating in coverage.

Just 25 years old, Williams could showcase some of his upside in a new environment. He’s not going to start over Slay or James Bradberry, but both of the Eagles’ top cornerbacks will be 30 years or older by Week 1 of the 2023 season. Behind them, Williams could stand first in line for meaningful snaps in the short-term future.

Grade: C+

D’Onta Foreman Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 1 year, $3 million

The Chicago Bears allowed running back David Montgomery to walk in free agency, but they found a viable replacement who has a similar physical running style. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bears signed D’Onta Foreman to a one-year deal.

Foreman rushed for a career-high 914 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry with the Carolina Panthers last season. The Bears found great value in a soon-to-be 27-year-old ball-carrier who’s trending in the right direction.

Foreman will likely split touches with Khalil Herbert, who ran for 731 yards and four touchdowns on only 129 carries in 2022. The Bears have another solid running back duo to lighten quarterback Justin Fields’ rushing workload, assuming he clicks with his new pass-catchers.

Once Carolina signed Miles Sanders on Wednesday (h/t ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler), Foreman had to look for a new landing spot. He should have a chance to handle 12-15 touches per game out of the backfield in Chicago.

Grade: B

Robert Tonyan Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 1 year, TBA

The Chicago Bears turned a division rival into another cog in their revitalized aerial attack by signing former Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

After the Bears traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, they’ve focused on upgrading quarterback Justin Fields’ supporting cast. With Tonyan and fellow tight end Cole Kmet, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy can run more 12 personnel this season.

Tonyan has hauled in 52-plus passes in two of the last three seasons. As a 6’5″, 240-pound pass-catching threat, he can immediately make an impact in the red zone along with Kmet, who had seven touchdown receptions in 2022. Tonyan had 11 touchdown catches in 2020.

This offseason, the Bears have added perimeter speed with former Panthers wideout DJ Moore. Now, they have another big-bodied target who can pluck the ball out of the air even if Fields is slightly off-target with some of his throws downfield.

Grade: B-

Gardner Minshew AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Contract Terms: 1 year, $3.5 million

While the Indianapolis Colts will likely draft a quarterback in April, new head coach Shane Steichen has his potential stopgap veteran. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the club agreed to terms with Gardner Minshew on a one-year deal.

For the past two seasons, Minshew served as a backup behind Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Steichen was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator before he moved on to Indianapolis.

As a fill-in starter in four games for the Eagles, Minshew threw seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He racked up at least 240 passing yards in three of those outings. With his knowledge of Steichen’s system, he’ll have a chance to open the 2023 season under center, presumably over a rookie signal-caller.

The Colts released quarterback Matt Ryan on Tuesday. They can also cut Nick Foles and save $2.1 million, per Over the Cap. Sam Ehlinger only has three starts on his resume compared to Minshew’s 24 starts, which dates back to his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2019 and 2020).

Minshew seems like the Colts’ placeholder for the future at quarterback, though we know he can sling the football in the meantime.

Grade: C+

Darius Slayton Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 2 years, $12 million (h/t NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo)

The New York Giants are re-signing Darius Slayton, who led them in both receiving yards (724) and yards per reception (15.7) last season, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo.

Slayton’s return will give quarterback Daniel Jones a familiar target on the perimeter as he tries to build on a solid first season under head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.

Slayton had a slow start to the 2022 campaign under the Giants’ new regime, but he became a steady target between October and early December before Isaiah Hodgins made his presence felt in the passing game. Perhaps Slayton will post even better numbers with a quicker start in 2023.

With Slayton and Hodgins on the outside and the addition of slot wideout Parris Campbell, per Jordan Schultz of The Score, the Giants have a healthy three-wide receiver set as Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson recover from torn ACLs.

Grade: B

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 1 year, TBA

Whether quarterback Ryan Tannehill remains the Tennessee Titans’ starting quarterback or they eye his replacement, they have to bolster their receiving corps.

They started by re-signing in-house free agent Nick Westbrook-Ikhine to a one-year deal.

Westbrook-Ikhine went undrafted in 2020, but he made the Titans’ final roster that year. Following a nondescript rookie season, the Indiana product has flashed in short spurts, using his 6’2″, 215-pound frame to shield the ball away from defenders on tough grabs.

Over the last two campaigns, Westbrook-Ikhine has caught 63 passes for 873 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2022, he averaged a career-high 15.9 yards per reception.

The Titans cut wideout Robert Woods this offseason, which may allow Westbrook-Ikhine to see more targets in 2023. He could see a spike in production if Tannehill holds on to the starting job in Tennessee since the two have developed a decent rapport over the past two seasons.

Grade: C

Evan Brown Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 1 year, TBA

The Seattle Seahawks may have filled a hole at center by signing Evan Brown to a one-year deal, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe.

Over the past two seasons with the Detroit Lions, Brown took advantage of opportunities to fill in for injured starters. He took over for Frank Ragnow at center in 2021 and did the same for Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right guard this past year.

Brown didn’t garner any accolades for his play, but he held his own in lead roles after serving as a backup for the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Cleveland Browns in his first two NFL campaigns.

In Seattle, Brown may replace center Austin Blythe, who retired in February. Kyle Fuller is a free agent, which clears the path for the former Lion to become the front-runner for the vacancy at the pivot.

Grade: C+

Andrew Billings AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Contract Terms: 1 year, $3.5 million

The Chicago Bears addressed a defensive need by signing Andrew Billings to a one-year deal, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The 300-plus-pounder can plug holes in their 31st-ranked run defense that also surrendered the most touchdowns on the ground (31) last year.

After exercising the COVID opt-out in 2020 and a forgettable 2021 campaign (six appearances) with the Cleveland Browns, Billings bounced back in a first-string position with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022. He had a career-high 39 tackles, three for loss and a sack in 14 starts.

The 28-year-old Billings can fill a rotational role on the interior of a defensive line and play quality snaps on early downs. He’ll likely line up alongside defensive tackle Justin Jones in the middle of a revamped Bears defense that needed more manpower up front.

In addition to filling a roster need, Chicago landed a “starter” at a good value on the open market.

Grade: C+

Jihad Ward Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 1 year, TBA

New York Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale may have found something in Jihad Ward. The play-caller worked with the versatile defender in Baltimore before the New York Giants signed him last offseason.

Big Blue will keep them together for at least another season, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.

Ward had his most productive year in 2022, registering 43 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and four pass breakups. He made a strong impression within the locker room as well, according to Raanan.

For the first time since his 2016 rookie season with the then-Oakland Raiders, Ward had a primary starting role with the Giants in 2022. In a familiar system, the 28-year-old is trending up after an underwhelming start to his career as a second-rounder out of Illinois.

The Giants didn’t make a flashy signing in keeping Ward, but he’s a potential building block in Martindale’s defense.

Grade: B

Graham Glasgow AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

Contract Terms: 1 year, $4.5 million

The Detroit Lions are reuniting with a familiar face, as they’re bringing Graham Glasgow back into the fold on a one-year deal, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Lions selected Glasgow in the third round of the 2016 draft. He played four seasons with them before signing a four-year, $44 million contract with the Denver Broncos during the 2020 offseason.

Between his first stint in Detroit and three years with the Broncos, Glasgow has significant starting experience at all three interior offensive line positions. Barring a corresponding move at guard or center, Glasgow will serve in a reserve role behind Pro Bowl guard Jonah Jackson, two-time Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow and right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who missed the entire 2022 campaign with a back injury that required surgery.

If Detroit cuts Vaitai to save $6.5 million, per Over the Cap, Glasgow is more than capable of sliding into the starting role. Regardless, the Lions should field one of the top offensive lines in the upcoming season.

Grade: B

Parris Campbell Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Contract Terms: 1 year, $4.7 million (h/t NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo)

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has some help on the way in the form of wide receiver Parris Campbell, per The Score’s Jordan Schultz.

Campbell couldn’t stay on the field in his first three years with the Indianapolis Colts. Plagued by injuries, he only suited up for 15 games between 2019 and 2021.

But last year, he avoided the injury bug and flashed the potential that made him a second-round pick out of the Ohio State. Campbell hauled in 63 passes for 623 yards and three touchdowns all of which were career highs.

He posted those numbers with instability at quarterback and in the coaching ranks. Matt Ryan (12), Sam Ehlinger (three) and Nick Foles (two) all made starts under Frank Reich and interim head coach Jeff Saturday.

As a playmaker out of the slot, Campbell should boost the Giants’ short passing game, which is something Jones excelled at this past season with a depleted group of receivers. The former Colt can provide an immediate boost while Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson recover from torn ACLs.

With that said, Campbell’s injury history remains a major concern.

Grade: C+

Elandon Roberts Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Contract Terms: 2 years, TBA

The Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to terms with Cole Holcomb on Wednesday, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, and they added another linebacker Thursday. The club signed Elandon Roberts, who spent time with the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins over the past seven years, according to NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe.

Roberts can provide run support on early downs and blitz effectively on the passing downs. In 2022, he led the Dolphins in tackles (107) and also logged career highs in sacks (4.5) and tackles for loss (10).

On the flip side, Roberts isn’t reliable when matched up against pass-catchers. He allowed an 80 percent completion rate and a 121.9 passer rating in coverage last season.

The Steelers lost Robert Spillane to the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency (h/t Pelissero), and Devin Bush will likely sign elsewhere as well. They also cut Myles Jack on Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Holcomb and Roberts will fill those voids on the second level of the defense.

Grade: C

Chase Edmonds AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Contract Terms: 1 year, $1.1 million

Running back Rachaad White will have competition for touches in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backfield. According to Fox Sports’ Greg Auman, the Buccaneers signed Chase Edmonds to a veteran minimum salary.

Edmonds will play for a third team in a year.

Last offseason, the Miami Dolphins signed Edmonds to a two-year, $12.1 million contract, but they quickly soured on him. In a blockbuster trade before the 2022 deadline, Miami sent the running back along with a 2023 first-rounder and a 2024 fourth-rounder to the Denver Broncos in exchange for edge-rusher Bradley Chubb and a 2025 fifth-rounder.

Shortly after Edmonds arrived in Denver, he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 11, landed on injured reserve and returned in Week 16. Edmonds finished the season with 402 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns. The Broncos released him last week.

Now, Edmonds starts a new career chapter in Tampa Bay, where he’ll likely play a role on passing downs as a complement to White.

Grade: C-

Maurice Hurst AP Photo/Tony Avelar

Here’s a rundown of Thursday’s other signings.

Jets Sign IOL Wes Schweitzer

For those who have been living under a rock, quarterback Aaron Rodgers wants to play for the New York Jets. As Gang Green works with the Green Bay Packers on a trade agreement, general manager Joe Douglas has to fortify key areas on the roster.

With a 39-year-old quarterback on the way, the Jets added depth to the interior of their offensive line. The team announced that it signed Wes Schweitzer, who has experience at both guard positions and at center. He’s started in 60 out of 80 career games with the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Commanders.

The Jets have a question mark at center with Connor McGovern on the free-agent market. Because of his experience, Schweitzer has a shot to earn the starting job.

Grade: C+

Seahawks Re-Sign QB Drew Lock

The Seattle Seahawks will retain Geno Smith’s former competitor for the starting job. The front office re-signed Drew Lock on a one-year, $4 million contract, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

Unless Smith, who won 2022 Comeback Player of the Year, goes down with an injury, Lock will continue to hold the clipboard as an experienced backup with 21 starts in his career (all with the Denver Broncos).

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll hasn’t dismissed the idea of taking a quarterback in the first round. If that happens, Lock’s chance to see snaps in a backup role could evaporate well before Week 1 of the 2023 season.

Grade: D

Bengals Sign OL Cody Ford

After a late Wednesday splash, signing offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Cincinnati Bengals continue to put the finishing touches on their offensive line group. They signed a versatile backup in Cody Ford, the team announced.

In four seasons, three with the Buffalo Bills and one with the Arizona Cardinals, Ford has played both guard spots and right tackle, though he’s lined up mostly on the interior after his rookie term.

Last season, the Bengals dealt with injuries on the right side of their offensive line with guard Alex Cappa and La’el Collins sidelined late in the campaign. Ford gives them an insurance policy at both positions, but he’s shaky in pass protection, allowing three sacks while on the field for 350 snaps with the Cardinals in 2022, per Pro Football Focus.

Grade: D

Browns Expected to Sign DT Trysten Hill

In an effort to reshape their defensive line, the Cleveland Browns added another interior tackle. They’re expected to sign Trysten Hill, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Hill hasn’t played up to expectations after the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the second round of the 2019 draft. He started in five games in 2020 before he tore his ACL, which sidelined him from October through the remainder of the season.

In total, Hill has suited up for only 31 games in four years, and he’s yet to play more than 228 defensive snaps in a single campaign. The Browns can only hope to tap into the 24-year-old’s potential if he can stay healthy and maintain his composure.

Grade: D

Ravens Re-Sign S Geno Stone

The Baltimore Ravens opened up some opportunities at safety when they traded Chuck Clark to the New York Jets last week. According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, the club re-signed Geno Stone, who could soak up some playing time behind Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton.

In 2022, Stone started in seven out of 17 games, recording 38 tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble while on the field for 41 percent of the Ravens’ defensive snaps. Also a core special teamer over the past three seasons, the 23-year-old should take the field for a fair number of snaps in 2023.

Grade: C

Jaguars Re-Sign DB Tevaughn Campbell

The Jacksonville Jaguars will need some reinforcements at cornerback after they cut Shaquill Griffin. They announced Thursday that they’ve re-signed Tevaughn Campbell.

Between 2020 and 2021, Campbell had a knack for finding the football on the back end of the Los Angeles Chargers defense. He logged 62 tackles, seven pass breakups, three forced fumbles, a pick-six and a fumble return for a touchdown.

The Jaguars will likely add to their cornerback room via the upcoming draft, though Campbell has a shot to play a decent number of snaps on the boundary and in the slot.

Grade: C

Bengals Re-Sign PR/WR Trent Taylor, RB Trayveon Williams

The Cincinnati Bengals are retaining one the league’s top punt returners from last season.

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the club re-signed Trent Taylor, who ranked third in yards per punt return (10.3) and fourth in total punt return yards (340) for the 2022 campaign. He’s back on a one-year deal.

The Bengals also re-signed Trayveon Williams on a one-year deal, the team announced. He played 58 percent of the Bengals’ special teams snaps last season.

Grade: C-

Dolphins Sign KR/PR/WR Braxton Berrios

The Miami Dolphins added an All-Pro special teamer to boost their return game by signing Braxton Berrios to a one-year deal, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Berrios played his previous four seasons with the New York Jets and led the league in yards per kick return (30.4) for the 2021 campaign. He also had the longest kick return (102 yards) that year.

In the passing game, Berrios can add a spark out of the slot. Between 2020 and 2021, he caught 83 passes for 825 yards and five touchdowns. He could see a lot of space in the middle of the field with speedy wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle drawing a lot of attention from safeties over the top.

Grade: C+

Patriots Sign LB Mack Wilson

The New England Patriots apparently liked what they saw in Mack Wilson after they acquired him from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Chase Winovich last March. The Patriots re-signed the linebacker on a one-year deal worth up to $2.2 million, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

This past season, Wilson started in three out of 17 contests, playing 21 percent of the defensive snaps (236 plays). He’s a two-down linebacker who will continue to fill gaps in the Patriots’ run defense.

In 2022, Wilson registered 36 tackles, two for loss, 1.5 sacks, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

Grade: C-

Dolphins sign IOL Dan Feeney

The Miami Dolphins added depth for their offensive line early Thursday. NFL Network’s Peter Schrager reported that the team signed Dan Feeney to a one-year deal.

Feeney spent his previous two years with the New York Jets in a backup role on the interior of the offensive line, taking snaps at both guard spots and center. With Gang Green, he started in seven out of 33 contests, though the 28-year-old has ample starting experience from his Los Angeles Chargers days between 2017 and 2020 (57 starts at left guard and center).

In 2022, Dolphins offensive linemen Liam Eichenberg and Robert Jones split time at left guard, but neither one solidified themselves as a bona fide starter. Feeney may be able to compete for that position at training camp.

Grade: C-

Rams Re-Sign IOL Coleman Shelton

The Los Angeles Rams retained a key offensive lineman by signing Coleman Shelton to a two-year extension, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue.

In 2022, Shelton made starts at both guard positions and center. He logged most of his snaps at the pivot as a replacement for Brian Allen, who missed several games while on the mend from a knee operation and because of thumb, ankle and calf injuries.

Shelton allowed four sacks and committed five penalties in 720 offensive snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus. He’s a borderline starter who may compete for the first-string job at left guard with David Edwards still available on the free-agent market.

Through his first three seasons with the Rams, Shelton started in only two out of 43 contests, but his versatility and playing experience from the previous campaign could lead to more time on the field in 2023.

Grade: C+

Browns Sign DT Maurice Hurst

The Cleveland Browns added some bulk to the interior of their defensive line by signing Maurice Hurst Jr. to a one-year contract, per Brad Stainbrook of Orange and Brown Report.

Hurst has had a two-year stroke of bad luck with injuries. He suffered a high ankle sprain during the 2021 preseason and suited up for only two outings that year. The 27-year-old then missed the entire 2022 season after tearing his biceps during training camp.

If Hurst can stay healthy, the Browns may see more glimpses of the player who flashed in his first two NFL campaigns with the Las Vegas Raiders. Between 2018 and 2019, he registered 7.5 sacks, 18 pressures and seven tackles for loss. As a rookie, Hurst led the Silver and Black with four sacks.

Grade: C

Dolphins Re-Sign CB Nik Needham

The Miami Dolphins maintained quality depth at cornerback to round out a unit that will feature Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard next season. The club re-signed 2019 undrafted gem Nik Needham on a one-year deal worth “just under” $2 million, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

Needham tore his Achilles in Week 6, which prematurely ended his 2022 campaign. He allowed only a 52.6 percent completion rate in coverage before the season-ending injury, though.

Needham recorded two interceptions in each of his first three campaigns with the Dolphins, showing off the ball skills that helped elevate his status on Miami’s depth chart early in his career. Assuming he fully recovers, look for him to push for snaps in the slot and on the boundary in a reserve role.

Grade: C


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