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    2023 NFL Free Agency Day 2’s Grades: Rashaad Penny to Eagles, Allen Lazard to Jets, and More

    Day 2 of NFL free agency -- at least, the legal tampering period -- has reached its conclusion. Let's grade every notable signing from Tuesday's action.

    The second day of the NFL‘s legal tampering period wasn’t as exciting as Day 1, but plenty of teams made moves to shore up their rosters in free agency. Let’s run through Tuesday’s reported contract agreements and grade each signing.

    Looking for the most up-to-date grades? Check out our Day 3 (Wednesday) Free Agency Grades.

    2023 Free Agency Grades: Day 2 of Legal Tampering

    Falcons Sign QB Taylor Heinicke

    The Falcons gave Heinicke a two-year deal with a base value of $14 million, right in line with the contracts signed by fellow high-profile backup quarterbacks like Mitchell Trubisky and Teddy Bridgewater in 2022. It’s legitimate money for a No. 2 signal-caller and likely ensures that Atlanta will move forward with Desmond Ridder as its starting quarterback and use the eighth overall pick at a different position.

    Heinicke was well-respected in the Commanders’ locker room, so it makes sense for a young team like the Falcons to add him to their roster, especially after last year’s veteran Falcons quarterback — now-free agent Marcus Mariota — left the team after being benched with four games left in the season.

    Grade: B-

    Panthers Sign QB Andy Dalton

    Nearly everyone expected Frank Reich to opt for familiarity and sign Jacoby Brissett as the Panthers’ bridge quarterback, but Carolina instead gave Dalton a two-year pact worth $10 million. Dalton posted a 50.7 QBR in 14 starts for the Saints season, making 2022 his most productive campaign in years.

    Depending on whom the Panthers select with their newly-acquired No. 1 overall pick, Dalton could start several games to begin the 2023 season. He’s a dependable veteran who’s well-liked by his teammates and won’t cause a fuss when he inevitably gets demoted to No. 2 on the depth chart.

    Grade: C+

    Eagles Sign RB Rashaad Penny

    Let’s start with the downsides. Penny can’t stay healthy — his career-high in games played is 14, which came during his rookie campaign. He’s appeared in only 18 games over the past three years and is coming off a fractured fibula suffered in Week 5.

    But Penny has been electric when he’s been able to stay on the field. He averaged more than six yards per carry in 2021 and 2022. Over that span, Penny was the only running back with at least 100 carries to post more than three yards after contact per attempt — Nick Chubb and Tony Pollard ranked second at 2.6.

    We don’t know the details of Penny’s contract with the Eagles, but we’re assuming it will be relatively cheap based on his injury history and how Philadelphia values the RB position. The Eagles never seemed likely to retain Miles Sanders, and Penny will give them a high-upside option who could post a career year behind the NFL’s best offensive line.

    Grade: A

    Dolphins Re-Sign RBs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.

    The Dolphins brought back their top two running backs on Tuesday. Mostert received $5.6 million over two years, while Wilson can max out at $8.2 million on a two-year pact of his own.

    Miami has made significant investments at wide receiver (Tyreek Hill), left tackle (Terron Armstead), edge rusher (Bradley Chubb), and cornerback (Jalen Ramsey). They could begin working on an extension for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the near future.

    Running back was the last place the Dolphins could afford to spend, especially when they can rely on Mike McDaniel to scheme a competent rushing attack. Re-signing Mostert and Wilson for $6-7 million in annual salary is a win.

    Grade: B+

    Raiders Sign WR Jakobi Meyers

    Meyers followed former Patriots Josh McDaniels and Jimmy Garoppolo to Las Vegas, signing a three-year, $33 million pact to join the Raiders. In reality, it’s more like a one-year, $11 million deal with two team options tacked on at the end.

    That’s a good value for Meyers, who had been projected to earn close to $15 million annually as this year’s top free agent receiver. However, it’s difficult to assess the addition of Meyers without acknowledging Darren Waller’s departure from the Raiders’ offense. Overall, the swap is likely a net negative.

    Grade: C+

    Jets Sign WR Allen Lazard

    Lazard looks like part of the cost of acquiring Aaron Rodgers from the Packers, as the veteran quarterback reportedly requested that the Jets sign his former Green Bay teammate. If adding Lazard was a requirement to land Rodgers, that’s fine, but Lazard probably isn’t worth $11 million annually.

    That’s the same price the Raiders paid for Meyers, a better and more well-rounded receiver. Lazard is an excellent blocker, but he’s never posted a breakout receiving season. Given a chance as Green Bay’s No. 1 target after the Packers traded Davante Adams, Lazard managed fewer than 800 yards on 100 targets.

    If signing Lazard leads to the Jets trading a young WR like Elijah Moore, I’ll like this move even less.

    Grade: D

    Saints Re-Sign WR Michael Thomas

    The Saints had already reworked Thomas’ contract on the assumption that he wouldn’t be back in 2023. New Orleans had slashed his base salary to the league minimum with the intent of designating Thomas a post-June 1 release and spreading his dead money out over two seasons.

    Instead, he’ll be back on a one-year, $10 million deal. Thomas will pair with Chris Olave to give Derek Carr a solid set of weapons, but it’s incredibly hard to trust Thomas given that he’s appeared in just 10 games over the past three seasons.

    From a cap perspective, this is essentially more can-kicking from the Saints. They’ll eventually have to reckon with Thomas’ dead money — it just won’t happen this offseason. Is $10 million too much to pay for Thomas’ potential upside? In this WR-starved free agent market, maybe not.

    Grade: C-

    Chargers Re-Sign OT Trey Pipkins

    In a free agent market where Mike McGlinchey costs $17.5 million, retaining Pipkins for $7.25 million per year counts as a win for the Chargers. Pipkins essentially received the same contract as new Commanders right tackle Andrew Wylie, who is two years older than L.A.’s tackle.

    Pipkins is an ascending player who showed growth as a pass blocker last season. By keeping him in the fold, the Chargers can recalibrate their front five. With left tackle Rashawn Slater returning from injury in 2023, Los Angeles can move Jamaree Salyer inside to left guard and release veteran Matt Feiler, who struggled last season.

    Grade: B-

    49ers Re-Sign C Jake Brendel

    Brendel had made just three career starts before taking over as the 49ers’ top center last season. The 30-year-old fit well into San Francisco’s blocking scheme, and the 49ers rewarded him with a four-year, $20 million deal with $8 million guaranteed.

    Despite his limited experience, Brendel reportedly received free agent interest from the Jets, so San Francisco did well to lock him up. The 49ers already lost offensive tackle McGlinchey and were likely wary of allowing too many members of their front five to walk, especially given their uncertainty under center.

    Grade: C+

    Vikings Re-Sign C Garrett Bradbury

    I would’ve liked the Vikings to target improvement at center, but with Bradley Bozeman and Ethan Pocic re-signing with their respective clubs, Minnesota didn’t have a ton of options. Already rostering one struggling interior lineman in right guard Ed Ingram, the Vikings opted for continuity with Bradbury.

    A first-round pick in 2019, Bradbury showed improvement this past season but still has problems with power. But his three-year, $15.75 million contract matches what former Viking Mason Cole received from the Steelers in last year’s free agent period, so Minnesota isn’t exactly breaking the bank.

    Grade: C

    Cardinals Sign LB Kyzir White

    I’ve always been a fan of White, who has developed into an excellent coverage linebacker. Per Next Gen Stats, White is the only defender with at least 100 targets over the past two seasons who allowed fewer than five yards per target.

    Pass-defending linebackers often come at a premium, but the Cardinals signed White for just $11 million over two years. A $5.5 million salary is $1 million+ cheaper than what comparable linebackers such as TJ Edwards and Germaine Pratt went for on Monday. Plus, White offers scheme familiarity with new Cardinals coaches Jonathan Gannon and Nick Rallis.

    Grade: A-

    Eagles Re-Sign CB James Bradberry

    The Eagles paid Bradberry just $7.25 million in 2022 after picking him up as a street free agent in May. Philadelphia will retain him moving forward, but his salary will nearly double after he earned second-team All-Pro honors last season.

    Bradberry will collect $38 million on a three-year term, and his $20 million in full guarantees suggest he’ll be on the Eagles’ roster for at least two seasons. Provided Darius Slay is back in 2023, Philadelphia will again field one of the NFL’s best cornerback duos.

    Bradberry will be 30 years old when next season begins. I would have liked the Eagles to get a bit younger at cornerback this offseason, and while that’s a goal they can still accomplish in the draft, it’s a little surprising to see Howie Roseman pay market rate for a veteran who was essentially freely available less than a year ago.

    Grade: C

    Lions Sign CB Emmanuel Moseley

    After fielding the NFL’s third-least efficient pass defense in 2022, the Lions have added Cameron Sutton and Moseley to shore up their cornerback room. Detroit’s secondary struggled so much last season that the team fired position coach Aubrey Pleasant in October. Heading into the free agent period, the only cornerbacks on the Lions’ roster with pro experience were Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs.

    Moseley had shown development in recent seasons, allowing passer ratings below 70 in both 2021 and 2022. Because he’s coming off an ACL tear, the Lions were able to sign him for just $6 million on a one-year deal. Moseley is a solid addition, but I would have liked Detroit to grab another year of contractual control in case he breaks out in 2023.

    Grade: B-

    Cowboys Re-Sign S Donovan Wilson

    The Cowboys aren’t typically big spenders on the free agent market, but they’re never afraid to retain their own. Dallas re-signed Wilson to a three-year deal worth up to $24 million, including $13.5 million in fully guaranteed money.

    A 17-game starter in 2023, Wilson is versatile and capable in coverage, but he’s best moving downhill. He’s a favorite of Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has figured out how to get the most out of the former sixth-round pick. Keeping Wilson around will allow Dallas to continue playing three-safety looks that include Malik Hooker and Jayron Kearse, and his annual average won’t crack the top 20 at the position.

    Grade: B

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