NFL free agency grades 2023: Live analysis of every free agent signing and trade

The NFL free agency and trade madness is here for 2023 with the unofficial tampering period starting on Monday, March 13 and the new league year set to go into effect on Wednesday.

Although, as usual, several players are staying off the market, either re-signed or franchise-tagged by their teams, many others are set to change teams, by either agree to terms with another team or being traded.

As the news happens, Sporting News will provide the latest analysis of the most significant moves around the NFL. Keep track of all the signings and trades during 2023 NFL free agency below.

Live tracker | Ranking the top 60 players overall, best by position

NFL free agency 2023: Grading the latest signings, trades

Top 60 overall free agent signings

  • 49ers sign Eagles DT Javon Hargrave for 4 years, $84 million

Grade: A

The 49ers boost their defensive interior with another Javon (2020 first-rounder Kinlaw) struggling to be effective after a rash of injuries. Hargrave boosts their pass rush more in the DeForest Buckner vein next to Arik Armstead.

  • Raiders sign 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo for 3 years, $67.5 million

Grade: A

The Raiders needed to secure at least a bridge veteran ahead of the draft. Getting Garoppolo at a reasonable starting price for him to execute in a Josh McDaniels offense he knows well was smart. With that scheme knowledge, he’s a sneaky upgrade over Derek Carr for Las Vegas’ purposes.

  • Falcons sign Bengals TE Jessie Bates III for 4 years, $64 million

Grade: A

The Falcons needed to shore up the middle of their secondary and got the game-changing well-rounded safety from an AFC powerhouse.

  • Bears sign Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds for 4 years, $72 million

Grade: A

The Bears have rebuilt the middle of their defense in a couple moves with more active playmaking overall. Edmunds and T.J. Edwards provide a big 1-2 punch upgrade,

  • Broncos sign 49ers RT Mike McGlinchey for 5 years, $87.5 million

Grade: A

Sean Payton gets an upgrade opposite hopefully soon healthy left ttackle Garett Bolles to improve the protection for Russell Wilson but also further boosting the run blocking for Javonte Williams outside.

  • Bears sign Eagles LB T.J. Edwards for 3 years

Grade: A

GM Ryan Poles started his big spending by working to shore up the second level post Roquan Smith. Edwards is just one of may key defensive holes the Bears will fill.

  • Steelers sign Vikings CB Patrick Peterson

Grade: B

Peterson joins his third team still as a savvy starting-caliber cover man despite losing a few steps of top-end speed. He will replace the player below.

  • Lions sign Steelers CB Cameron Sutton for 3 years, $33 million

Grade: A

The Lions wanted to secure a solid No. 2 experienced corner opposite Jeffrey Okudah and Sutton can help stabilize outside coverage in Aaron Glenn’s scheme.

Notable player trades

Grade: C

The Dolphins have invested in ton at corner of late with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones and still got limited returns from their pass defense. Now they’re getting Ramsey ahead of him fading at 28. His value is in line what the Rams got in return, a third-round draft pick and tight end depth.

Grade: A+

The Bears made full use of the Panthers’ desperate trade up for the No. 1 overall pick to get Justin Fields a much-needed No. 1 go-to wide receiver all over the field.

  • Jets trade for Ravens S Chuck Clark

Grade: C

The Jets gave up a seventh-rounder next year to address some of its issues with safety, but Clark is more of a depth-related contingency than a starting upgrade.

  • Falcons trade for Patriots TE Jonnu Smith

Grade: C

The Falcons give up only a seventh-rounder for some depth for Pitts and Smith knows Arthur Smith’s offense from Tennessee. The Patriots make an easy cap-clearing move behind Hunter Henry.

More notable free-agent signings

  • Chiefs sign Jaguars OT Jawaan Taylor for 4 years, $80 million

Grade: B+

The Chiefs have their replacement for Orlando Brown Jr. as they will flip Taylor from right tackle to left tackle to protect Patrick Mahomes. It’s interesting how they wanted to splurge on him in a position change vs. brining back Brown.

  • Saints sign Derek Carr for 4 years, $150 million

Grade: B

Carr got $37.5 million per season to come to New Orleans to reunite with his former Raiders coach Dennis Allen after being released in Las Vegas. Although he provides a big stable upgrade over the Andy Dalton-Jameis Winston-Taysom Hill mess, he’s still more of a high floor vs. high ceiling passing option.

  • Falcons sign Saints DT David Oneymata for 3 years, $35 million

Grade: B-

The Falcons steal someone for their new Saints-like scheme to put next to Grady Jarrett up front who is decent vs. both run and pass but nothing more than that.

  • 49ers sign Panthers QB Sam Darnold for 1 year

Grade: B

San Francisco takes a worthy flyer on Darnold as a contingency for injured youngsters Trey Lance and Brock Purdy.

  • Panthers sign Saints DT Shy Tuttle for 3 years, $19.5 million

Grade: B-

Carolina was desperate for some nose tackle pop up front and like the Falcons, takes an inside starter away from a division rival. 

  • Panthers sign Bengals S Vonn Bell

Grade: B

Cincinnati loses both starters while Carolina gets some experienced help for Jeremy Chinn.

  • Bears sign Titans G Nate Davis for 3 years

Grade; C

The Bears started their offensive line rebuild by getting a starter, but Davis is about average overall.

  • Broncos sign Ravens G Ben Powers for 4 years, $52 million

Grade: C

Powers is a solid, durable starting guard but isn’t much of an upgrade from the released Graham Glasgow, better as a pass protector than run blocker.

  • Broncos sign Raiders QB Jarrett Stidham for 2 years, $10 million

Grade: B

Denver makes a smart and system budget move to upgrade the backup situation behind Russell Wilson.

  • Dolphins sign Jets QB Mike White for 2 years, $16 million

Grade: C

Miami, with Teddy Bridgewater being a free agent, land a QB who was in a 49ers-like system with Mike LaFleur last season to join Mike McDaniel’s version. White goes back to being a meh backup.

  • Commanders sign Chiefs RT Andrew Wylie for 3 years, $24 million

Grade: B

Washington brings a solid starter to fill a hole opposite Charles Leno Jr thanks to having Eric Bieniemy fresh from Kansas City to lead the offense.

Franchise-tagged players

  • Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants ($10.09 million)
  • Evan Engram, TE, Jaguars ($11.35 million)
  • Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens ($32.4 million)
  • Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders ($10.09 million)
  • Daron Payne, DT, Commanders (re-signed for 4 years, $90 million)
  • Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys ($10.09 million)

The three running backs here were no brainers based on that one-year, all-guaranteed tender price. Engram and Payne also were reasonable in relation to their positional markets and not going anywhere. The Commanders made quick work of a long-term commitment to Payne. Jackson, however, got undermined with the non-exclusive tag and shouldn’t play without a trade or a long-term deal from Baltimore.

Re-signings before free agency

  • Giants re-sign QB Daniel Jones for 4 years, $160 million

Grade: B-

The Giants, after not picking up his fifth-year option, believed Jones proved enough in a semi-breakout year to bring him back for considerably less than top market value for quarterbacks. But it’s still a high investment and commitment that Jones will deliver bigger return staying in a promising offensive scheme in which he should get more key personnel help.

  • Seahawks re-sign QB Geno Smith for 3 years, $105 million

Grade: A-

The Seahawks smartly locked into Smith for fewer years and less money than the Giants gave Jones given the reigning Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year will turn 33 in October. Seattle has the draft capitaln and youthful upside to win bigger as a surprise playoff team with Smith fitting so well in the offense.

  • Eagles re-sign DE Brandon Graham for 1 year, $6 million

Grade: A

Graham became too cheap to not bring back ahead of his Age-35 season after he was a great leader for the NFC champions while also producing a career-high 11 sacks.

  • Patriots re-sign CB Jonathan Jones for 2 years, $20 million

Grade: A

The Patriots keep a reliable staring corner through his prime to contribute and make more play with versatility.

  • Buccaneers re-sign CB Jamel Deal for 4 years, $52 million

Grade: A

The Bucs were trying their best to keep their best corner for Todd Bowles and this is a reasonable deal to lock him up.

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