NFL free agency has moved at a rapid pace once again this year. Signings and extensions have been announced throughout the week; keeping tabs on every move is nearly impossible.
Several stick out from the rest as great deals or questionable ones. Let’s look at the five best and worst NFL free-agency signings in the AFC. The list will only include players signings with new teams, meaning extensions will not be addressed.
First up are five of the worst:
5 of the Worst Free Agency Moves in the AFC
Did the Jacksonville Jaguars Overpay Christian Kirk?
After a career year, the receiver Christian Kirk was rewarded with a large contract in free agency; he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a 4-year, $72 million deal. As if Kirk’s $18 million annual salary isn’t enough, it can reach up to a 4-year, $84 million contract with bonuses, incentives, etc.
Kirk will reel in $39 million in the first two years of his contract. For a receiver that has not reached the 1,000-yard mark in a season, isn’t this an overpay? Maybe Jacksonville is simply this desperate for substantial speed from a wideout spot.
Kansas City Opts for Youth, Signing Safety Justin Reid
One of this offseason’s biggest storylines is Tyrann Mathieu’s impending departure from the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs’ defense has been led for Mathieu for several seasons, a massive hole needs to be filled.
The Chiefs began their attempt to replace Mathieu by signing the 25-year-old safety Justin Reid. He is a four-year pro that comes from the Texans. Reid’s first two seasons in the league were quite impressive, but since he’s been inconsistent.
His 3-year, $31.5 million contract is not necessarily bad. The Chiefs decided to move on from Mathieu and replaced him with Reid. This is the overall head-scratching decision by Kansas City.
Foye Oluokun Signs 3-year deal with the Jaguars
Jacksonville came storming out the gate when NFL free agency kicked off. Foye Oluokun — a 26-year-old linebacker from the Falcons — agreed to a 3-year, $46 million deal with the Jags.
Oluokun’s production dramatically increased in the last two seasons. In the 2020 season, he recorded 117 tackles and jumped to 192 tackles in 2021 with 102 solo tackles. Of course, these are fantastic numbers for a linebacker, especially for a young, up-and-coming backer.
However, Oluokun has $28 million fully guaranteed in his $46 million deal and has a yearly salary of $15 million. For comparison, De’Vondre Campbell, who was one of the league’s best middle linebackers last season, has a salary of $10 million annually in his new extension with the Packers.
Oluokun is a good starting linebacker and has the potential to keep improving. But this is a rather large contract for a linebacker, and that comes with big risks.
Miami Dolphins Attempt To Solve Offensive Line Woes with Connor Williams
According to PFF, Miami’s offensive line finished dead-last in offensive line rankings in 2021. The Dolphins looked to improve that problem area by signing guard Connor Williams. The contract is a 2-year, $14 million deal.
Paying Williams $7 million per year is okay, and that’s about it. This deal isn’t attractive and several concerns should be there.
Williams was one of the most penalized offensive linemen during the 2021 season. He was consistently called for holding and had several games with multiple holdings. The Dolphins need to do more on the offensive line, but maybe that happens in the draft.
Steelers’ QB Room Becomes More confusing after Signing of Mitch Trubisky
Pittsburgh’s 2-year, $14 million deal with Mitch Trubisky is confusing. There is no question the Steelers needed some kind of addition to their QB room this offseason. Bringing in Trubisky could signify the project of Dwyane Haskins is done.
This is exactly why the signing of Trubisky seems odd. Are the Steelers going to have a three-quarterback race for the starting job with Haskins, Trubisky, and Mason Rudolph? When’s the last time any NFL team did something like this? Plus, are any of these quarterbacks particularly good? Probably not. It could be a tank season in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s plan for quarterback only becomes hazier after signing Trubisky.
The majority of free agency moves labeled as “bad” is due to the contract size. Overpaying for players that do not have the pedigree is a consistent occurrence in the NFL. Other questionable moves are confusing for a variety of reasons.
Not all has been bad, here are five of the best free agency signings in the AFC.
5 of the Best Free Agency Signings in the AFC
Alex Cappa Signs 4-year, $40 Million Deal with Cincinnati Bengals
If it wasn’t for a folding offensive line, the Cincinnati Bengals could have been the Super Bowl champs in the 2021 season. The Bengals got much-needed offensive line help by signing Alex Cappa to a 4-year, $40 million deal.
The Bengals’ offensive line had major issues at guard all season. At times, their tackles held up well, but at least one of the guard spots was always an issue. Bringing in the 27-year-old Cappa at guard adds consistency to one of their guard spots.
Cappa has been a solid guard for two straight seasons and has a reputation for bringing a nasty edge to the offensive line. This contract seems like a bargain, especially when Cappa has only $11 million guaranteed.
Broncos Add One of 2021’s Best Run Stuffers, D.J. Jones
Denver Broncos may have got a bargain after signing D.J. Jones to a 3-year, $30 million deal. Jones is a run-stuffing specialist; he was third in NFL’s Next Gen Stats’ run stuff percentage in 2021.
D.J. Jones tackled ball carriers for a loss or no gain on 6.6% of his run defense snaps last season, the 3rd-highest run stuff rate by a IDL in a single-season since 2016 (min. 250 run defense snaps).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 15, 2022
Bringing in a defensive tackle at this level of production at $10 million annually is a good deal. However, last year was the first time Jones was this good. Will he keep it up? If so, this should be a great deal for the Broncos as they continue to add pieces across the roster.
Jags Bolster Offensive Line with Brandon Scherff
Jacksonville gave another hefty contract to 7-year veteran guard Brandon Scherff. Scherff, formerly with Washington, agreed to a 3-year, $49.5 million contract. Among right guards, Scherff has the highest annual salary in the NFL. Is it worth it?
Scherff has been consistent. Every season he has played at least at a solid level, and recently he’s been one of the league’s best guards. Naturally, contracts are getting larger every offseason, so Scherff claiming this kind of money seems inevitable. Only time will tell if this ends up being a good deal for the Jaguars, but at least Scherff has the pedigree to back up the contract.
Chargers sign Sebastian Joseph-Day
The Los Angeles Chargers are rapidly approaching contender status after several notable moves in the offseason. The signing of Sebastian Joseph-Day is an under-the-radar move by the Chargers that deserves recognition.
Los Angeles’ rushing defense was putrid last season. The Bolts absolutely had to address their linebacker or defensive tackle positions during the offseason. Joseph-Day provides a good value with his 3-year, $24 million contract. Per PFF, he had one of the best run stop percentages in the NFL among defensive tackles last season. Pairing Joseph-Day with Linval Joseph should be a formidable run-stopping duo for Los Angeles.
Ravens Add Marcus Williams, Play-Making Safety
Two of the most notable signings in the AFC were J.C. Jackson signing with the Chargers and Marcus Williams heading to Baltimore. Jackson will be paid a massive $28 million in just the first year of his contract. The Jackson deal makes a ton of sense for Los Angeles and it was a solid deal, but the Ravens did better with Williams.
Williams has been one of the most consistent safeties in the league for several seasons. The deal is five years and includes $70 million. This comes out to roughly $14 million annually. For comparison, this annual pay is about seventh- or eighth-highest in the NFL for safeties.
Williams’ salary is lower than several safeties he is better than. In addition, he is still only 25 and is coming off his rookie contract. Williams could only get better as he enters the prime of his career in the NFL. Baltimore should have a stud safety for the perceivable future on a solid deal.
Most of the best signings in the AFC have been great values, like the deals of Cappa and Joseph-Day. Plus, all of these deals make sense for each franchise as they fit needs.
Plenty of free agency moves could still happen as the offseason progresses. For now, these were five of the best and worst NFL free agency moves in the AFC.