2023 NFL Free Agency Day 4’s Grades: Miles Sanders, Orlando Brown Jr., and Darius Slayton All Ink Deals

NFL free agency grades are back on Day 4. Even though there wasn't a ton of action on Thursday, a few teams took steps forward.

If you thought that things would heat up after Aaron Rodgers made his decision, I have bad news for you. It appears the wild, wild west of NFL free agency has settled down to a crawl.

In fact, we will use some of the action from Wednesday evening in our Day 4 grades since the moves happened after we graded Day 3’s action. NFL free agency grades are an easy way to break down what teams made solid moves each day.

Teams seem to have seized back some control of the market this season. Aside from a few of the defensive and right tackle contracts, many of the deals inked have been incredibly team-friendly. Some, like one we’ll discuss in the grades, were a win for everybody involved across multiple organizations.

Looking for more grades? Check out our Day 3 (Wednesday) Free Agency Grades.

2023 Free Agency Day 4’s Grades

Carolina Panthers Get Value in Miles Sanders

The running back market appears to be plummeting toward obscurity, just as nerds around the world would like it to. Miles Sanders was the 52nd-ranked player on PFN’s Top 100 free agents and the fourth RB overall. And he received just a hair over $6 million on average over four years.

Just a season ago, Sanders ranked first among RBs in EPA and second in EPA per rush B. He is a quick player with good vision and great acceleration. The only thing keeping him from becoming one of the truly elite backs in the league is he lacks the type of contact balance many of the top runners possess.

Whoever Carolina drafts first overall will be mobile enough to be a weapon in the QB run game from the gun, which Sanders has a bevy of experience with from his time with Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. While many will claim paying any RB a second contract is an insult to humanity, paying a good football player $6 million (2.6% of the cap) is never a bad investment.

Grade: B

Bengals Get Free Agency Steal With Orlando Brown Jr.

Getting Orlando Brown Jr. for only $16 million annually is a great deal for Cincinnati. Front-loading the contract was a thing of beauty, considering they’ll soon foot the bill to pay Tee Higgins, Joe Burrow, and Ja’Marr Chase.

Brown is an immediate upgrade to Jonah Williams, and it allows Kansas City to move on to more athletic edge pass protectors, which is why they paid Jawaan Taylor so much money.

MORE: Best Remaining Free Agents

Speaking of Williams, the move also gives Cincinnati freedom over what happens next for the former first-round pick. He could move to right tackle or left guard, or the Bengals could trade him and create about $12.6 million in salary cap space.

That money could be added with a pre- or post-June 1 trade. That means the Bengals could work through all of free agency and the NFL draft before deciding Williams’ fate for 2023.

Brown isn’t a great athlete, but he is a technically sound pass protector and a very good run blocker. Having Joe Burrow will be a great fit for Zeus because he is a great inside-out blocker, and Burrow has a knack for getting the ball out quickly and without fading in the pocket.

Grade: A+

Giants Sign Pair of Speedsters in Parris Campbell and Darius Slayton

The wide receiver group in free agency was underwhelming from the start. However, because of supply and demand, many felt some of the receivers would end up being a bit overpriced on the open market.

That couldn’t have been further from the truth. None of the receivers on the market have gotten big bucks, and the Giants capitalized on that by adding Parris Campbell and re-signing Darius Slayton.

Slayton has already found success with the G-men. In his four NFL seasons, he has caught 170 passes for 2,554 yards and averaged over 13 yards per catch in each season. He is a downfield threat with good speed and separation quickness.

A two-year, $12 million deal for someone the Giants can expect to give them 700 yards is a bargain. Daniel Jones should certainly be happy about the move. He had this to say about Slayton during this past season: “Darius is a guy I have a lot of trust in, a lot of faith in, and I know he’s working hard.”

Meanwhile, Campbell had himself a mini breakout in 2022 in his first healthy NFL season since entering the league in 2019. He finished with 623 yards on 63 catches. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver has always had a knack for finding space crossing the middle of the field dating back to his time at Ohio State.

Crossing patterns from one side of the offense to the other have become mandatory in a world quickly becoming more split-field coverage heavy. For under $5 million, he has every opportunity to prove himself worthy of a long-term deal next offseason with a good year in 2023.

Grade: A

Shane Steichen Gets a Familiar Mustached Face in Gardner Minshew

While Gardner Minshew hasn’t been a starting-caliber quarterback during his time with the Philadlephia Eagles, he’s proven worthy of the title of elevated backup. He is someone who can come into a game and not actively lose it for your football team, and that’s a lot harder to come by than it sounds.

Minshew lacks the requisite arm talent to be a consistent starter, but he knows Shane Steichen’s offense well, and he will have an important job helping whatever rookie Indianapolis drafts to learn the offense quickly. Backup quarterbacks often follow QB coaches and coordinators to new jobs, so it should come as no surprise to see Minshew land with the Colts.

MORE: Ranking the NFL’s Cornerback Duos

The question is, will Steichen throw him out there to start the season while spoon-feeding the rookie slowly, or will he throw that rookie into the fire right away? Either way, adding Minshew makes a ton of sense from a familiarity perspective. Steichen had this to say about Minshew while Hurts was injured:

“When you’re around people for a while, you build those relationships, you see what they do well, and then you go from there. I think that’s a big point. Just in the meetings, all those different things that you talk about, what certain guys like, what type of plays they like, what they’re good at, all those conversations have been had over the last couple years, so it’s been good.”

Grade: B

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles