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#pounditWednesday, January 20, 2021

10 best NFL free agent signings so far

Tyrann Mathieu

NFL free agency officially got underway on Wednesday after the early contact period began two days earlier. Teams were quite eagerly handing out huge deals on Monday, and things haven’t slowed down since.

Some of these deals, at least on paper, certainly look better than others at first glance. Here are ten free agent signings that represent the best deals of the offseason so far.

10) Packers sign S Adrian Amos

Green Bay tried to rebuild its defense last year with little success. That meant it was back to the drawing board this offseason, and they’re off to a much better start by adding Amos from their division rivals in Chicago. Amos isn’t an elite player, but he’s a versatile safety just entering his primary years who should be an upgrade on everyone Green Bay tried to make work last season. In addition, compared to the Landon Collins contract, he looks like a relative bargain. It’s a nice bit of business for the Packers.

9) Bills sign WR John Brown

Quarterback Josh Allen has a big arm, but didn’t really have the receivers to use it on last season. Now he does. Brown is a former 1,000-yard receiver with speed to burn, and he had 715 yards and five touchdowns last season. Those numbers came despite a second half swoon while being thrown to by Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson, two quarterbacks who weren’t perfectly equipped to take full advantage of his skills. Allen is, and this move should be a boon for the Buffalo quarterback.

8) Rams sign S Eric Weddle

The Weddle deal came together quickly, and the Rams will be thrilled with that. He may not be in his prime anymore, and his numbers were down a touch last season, but he was still a regular starter for one of the league’s better defenses. He arrives in Los Angeles as a ready-made replacement for the departing Lamarcus Joyner. In addition, Weddle is experienced, has seen almost everything in his time in the NFL, and will be eager to win a ring before he hangs them up.

7) Bills sign C Mitch Morse

Young quarterbacks must be protected if they’re going to progress in any meaningful way, and the Bills seem to be aware of that after the center position was a rough one for them in 2018. Morse should go a long way toward addressing that. The former Kansas City Chief can lead an offensive line and set protections for his young quarterback, which is exactly what Allen needs at this point in his career. There’s a reason the Bills gave him north of $11 million annually.

6) Panthers sign C Matt Paradis

There are risks involved in this deal, as Paradis is 30 in October and coming off a fractured fibula. Assuming he makes a full recovery, however, this is a major win for the Panthers. They needed a center and got a very good one at a reasonable deal of $27 million over three years. The three-year pact works well for Carolina, and Cam Newton will be very happy that the Panthers acted aggressively early in free agency to bring in a top offensive lineman.

5) Ravens sign S Earl Thomas

The Ravens have definitely lost some talent on defense this offseason, but bringing in Thomas should stop the bleeding somewhat. When healthy, Thomas is one of the league’s elite safeties, an elite ballhawk who will force turnovers and help lock down the middle of the field. Health is the question here, as he’s broken both legs over the past three years and is still recovering from his most recent injury. If healthy — and his old self — this is a fantastic addition for Baltimore.

4) Lions sign DE Trey Flowers

The Flowers addition may be a slight overpay for the Lions, but the fact of the matter is their pass rush was abysmal in 2018 and the pressure is on for this organization to produce a winner. His knockdown numbers are on part with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney, and one has to figure that the sacks could follow in even greater number than they have previously. Pressure on the quarterback was one of the biggest weak points for the 2018 Lions. Flowers should do a lot to fix that.

3) Chiefs sign S Tyrann Mathieu

This led to the end of the Eric Berry era in Kansas City, but after a season marred by injuries that ended with the defense letting the offense down, the Chiefs were left with little choice but to make a big, aggressive move. Mathieu certainly qualifies as such an addition. An aggressive player who’s solid in coverage, Mathieu should bring talent and swagger to the Kansas City secondary. Injuries are the only real concern here — if he stays healthy, this should turn out to be a big win for the Chiefs and precisely what they needed.

2) Browns sign DL Sheldon Richardson

Sometimes you have to bet on talent, and that’s what the Browns are doing by adding Sheldon Richardson to their defensive line. He’ll significantly upgrade the interior of what should be a very good defensive line, and there’s reason to be encouraged after he had a solid year for Minnesota last year. Ultimately, the Browns had to continue to show that they were serious about contending, and making moves like this one drives that home in a big way.

1) Eagles sign DL Malik Jackson

The Eagles continue to be a very sharp organization that successfully replaces the players it loses. Tim Jernigan is heading out the door, so in comes Jackson to partner with Fletcher Cox. 2018 was a bit of a lost season for Jackson, but he’s a year removed from an eight sack season on the interior of the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Cox should take up a lot of the attention on this defensive line, freeing up Jackson to disrupt the interior. It’s a really smart deal by one of the NFL’s smarter organizations.

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