NFL free agency tracker: Every signing and trade in 2021

The NFL free agency period is in full swing, and while the salary cap is lower in 2021, it hasn’t meant things have slowed down. If anything, the added pressure of a lower cap has forced teams to make a lot of tough decisions and that’s led to a ton of activity. We’re also seeing a lot more short-term deals than in past years, with players and agents accepting one year contracts, betting on their potential and a higher future cap to cash in later.

Here’s every free agent signing and player trade made so far. We’re focusing solely on players who have moved teams, rather than players re-signing with their prior organizations.

Arizona Cardinals

Markus Golden, OLB — 2 years, $5M (previously with New York Giants)

A.J. Green WR — 1 year (previously with Cincinnati Bengals)

JJ Watt, DE — 2 years, $28M (previously with Houston Texans)
The Cardinals were already one of the better pass rushing teams in the NFL in 2020, and adding JJ Watt is a case of the rich getting richer. The move will help the Cardinals balance out their offense-heavy system and help stop some Russell Wilson in the NFC West.
Grade: B+

Atlanta Falcons

Lee Smith, TE — Traded from Buffalo for a 2022 late round pick.

Baltimore Ravens

Kevin Zeitler, G — 3 years, $22.5M (previously with New York Giants)

Buffalo Bills

Matt Haack, P — 3 years (previously with Miami Dolphins)

Emmanuel Sanders, WR — 1 year, 6M (previously with New Orleans Saints)

Carolina Panthers

Pat Elflein, G — 3 years, $13.5M (previously with Minnesota Vikings)

Cameron Erving, OT — 2 years, $10M (previously with Indianapolis Colts)

Chicago Bears

Andy Dalton, QB — 1 years, $10M (previously with Dallas Cowboys)
A curious choice, the Bears missed out on trading for Russell Wilson and this was their backup plan. It’s expected Dalton will compete for the starting job with Nick Foles at least, but two mediocre quarterbacks doesn’t equate to one good passer.
Grade: D

Cincinnati Bengals

Chidobe Awuzie, CB — 3 years, $21.75M (previously with Dallas Cowboys)

Trey Hendrickson, DE — 4 years, $60M (previously with New Orleans Saints)
The Bengals too advantage of the Saints’ tight cap to poach a 13.5 sack defensive end from a year ago. The contract is high considering this market, but a steal when the cap increases in future years.
Grade: A+

Mike Hilton, CB — 4 years, $24M (previously with Pittsburgh Steelers)

Cleveland Browns

John Johnson, SS — 3 years, $33.75M (previously with Los Angeles Rams)
The Browns landing standout safety John Johnson is an great signing to solidify their secondary. Johnson broke out in 2020, and still in his mid-twenties he has plenty of room to grow in the resurgent Browns.
Grade: A

Dallas Cowboys

Jake McQuaide, LS — 1 year (previously with Los Angeles Rams)

Ty Nsekhe, OT — 1 year (previously with Buffalo Bills)

Denver Broncos

Ronald Darby, CB — 3 years, $30M (previously with Washington Football Team)

Detroit Lions

Josh Hill, TE — 1 year (previously with New Orleans Saints)

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Justin Britt, C — 1 year, $3.2M (previously with Seattle Seahawks)

Terrance Brooks, FS — 1 year, $2M (previously with New England Patriots)

Marcus Cannon, OT — Traded from New England for 4th, 5th, and 6th round pick swaps

Maliek Collins, DT — 1 year, $5M (previously with Las Vegas Raiders)

Kamu Grugier-Hill, OLB — 1 year, $2.5M (previously with Miami Dolphins)

Mark Ingram, RB — 1 year, $2.5M (previously with Baltimore Ravens)

Christian Kirksey, ILB — 1 year, $5.4M (previously with Green Bay Packers)

Shaq Lawson, DE — Traded from Miami for Benardrick McKinney

Terrance Mitchell, CB — 2 years, $7.5M (previously with Cleveland Browns)

Justin McCray, G — 2 years, $4M (previously with Atlanta Falcons)

Chris Moore, WR — 1 year, $2M (previously with Baltimore Ravens)

Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB — 2 years, $7M (previously with Washington Football Team)

Derek Rivers, OLB — 1 year, $3M (previously with New England Patriots)

Andre Roberts, WR — 2 years, $5.5M (previously with Buffalo Bills)

Tremon Smith, CB — 1 year, $1.13M (previously with Indianapolis Colts)

Tyrod Taylor, QB — 1 year, $12.5M (previously with Los Angeles Chargers)
One of the more bizarre signings this offseason, it’s not that Taylor doesn’t deserve to be signed, and everything to do with the money involved. This is not money paid to a backup quarterback, and could signal movement on the Deshaun Watson trade front. If this is a potential caretaker starter it’s a great signing, if Houston doesn’t move Watson it’s an atrocious deal.
Grade: B+ as a starter/ D as a backup

Vincent Taylor, DT — 1 year, $2M (previously with Miami Dolphins)

Joe Thomas, ILB — 1 year, $1.5M (previously with Dallas Cowboys)

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jamal Agnew, WR — 3 years, $14.25M (previously with Detroit Lions)

Tyson Alualu, DE — 2 years, $6M (previously with Pittsburgh Steelers)

Malcolm Brown, DT — Traded from New Orleans

Philip Dorsett, WR — (previously with Seattle Seahawks)

Jonathan Ford, S — 2 years, $4.2M (previously with Arizona Cardinals)

Shaquil Griffin, CB — 3 years, $40M (previously with Seattle Seahawks)
The Jaguars know that it’s time to put the pedal down. Eager to start the Trevor Lawrence era off to a good start, Jacksonville landed arguably the best defensive back in free agency. Griffin will solidify the defense, and will really help Lawrence get some wins in his first season.
Grade: A+

Carlos Hyde, RB — 2 years, $4.5M (previously with Seattle Seahawks)

Rayshawn Jenkins, S — 4 years, $35M (previous with Los Angeles Chargers)

Marvin Jones, WR — 2 years, $14.5M (previously with Detroit Lions)

Chris Manhertz, TE — 2 years, $6.65M (previously with Carolina Panthers)

Roy Robertson-Harris, 3 years, $23.4M (previously with Chicago Bears)

Jihad Ward, DE — 1 year, $2.5M (previously with Baltimore Ravens)

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

John Brown, WR — 1 year, $3.75M (previously with Buffalo Bills)

Yannick Ngakoue, DE — 2 years, $26M (previously with Baltimore Ravens)
Ngakoue may not have made the impact either the Vikings or Ravens hoped for in 2020, but if he’s able to recapture his lightning this could be one of the best signings of the year. There is a little risk involved, and this is a lot of money if Nagakoue doesn’t return to being a 10+ sack defender.
Grade: B

Los Angeles Chargers

Matt Feiler, OT — 3 years, $25.3M (previously with Pittsburgh Steelers)

Corey Linsley, C — 5 years, $62.5M (previously with Green Bay Packers)
The Chargers have their quarterback in Justin Herbert and know they need to fix the line. Getting an All-Pro center like Corey Linsley does a lot to help that situation. A great signing by a team in need of help, there’s little to dislike about this deal, aside from its length — which is pretty drastic considering he’s already 29.
Grade: A-

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Jacoby Brissett, QB — 1 year, $7.5M (previously with Indianapolis Colts)

Malcolm Brown, RB — 1 year, $1.75M (previously with Los Angeles Rams)

Cethan Carter, TE — 3 years, $7.8M (previously with Cincinnati Bengals)

Justin Coleman, CB — 1 year, $2.75M (previously with Detroit Lions)

Benardrick McKinney, ILB — Traded from Texans for Shaq Lawson

Michael Palardy, P — 1 year (previously with Carolina Panthers)

Adam Pankey, OT — 1 year, $2.13M (previously with Green Bay Packers)

Minnesota Vikings

Dalvin Tomlinson, DT — 2 years, $21M (previously with New York Giants)
The Vikings needed help in the trenches on both sides of the ball, so spending a large amount of their available cap on a nose tackle is curious at best. It’s not that Tomlinson is bad, or that this is a bad signing, it’s more than with limited resources I don’t love going so far in on one player like this.
Grade: C

Nick Virgil, OLB — 1 year, $1.75M (previously with Los Angeles Chargers)

New England Patriots

Nelson Agholor, WR — 2 years, $22M (previously with Las Vegas Raiders)

Henry Anderson — 2 years, $7M (previously with New York Jets)

Kendrick Bourne, WR — 3 years, $15M (previously with San Francisco 49ers)

Davon Godchaux, DT — 2 years, $15M (previously with Miami Dolphins)

Hunter Henry, TE — 3 years, $37.5M (previously with Los Angeles Chargers)

Matt Judon, OLB — 4 years, $54.5M (previously with Baltimore Ravens)
The Patriots loosened their purse strings with numerous major signings including Judon, a defensive standout. Bill Belichick knows there’s a lot needed to overhaul the team, and Judon is a great choice to add leadership on defense.
Grade: B+

Jalen Mills, S — 4 years, $24M (previously with Philadelphia Eagles)

Jonnu Smith, TE — 4 years, $50M (previously with Tennessee Titans)
This seems like a lot of money, but it’s a sneaky good signing. Smith is the kind of goal-line receiver the Patriots need, and will offer a safety net for Cam Newton who has loved pass catching tight ends over the course of his career. At 25, Smith has plenty left in the tank and could fill a role similar to that of Rob Gronkowski when he was in New England.
Grade: A-

New Orleans Saints

Alex Armah, FB — 1 year (previously with Carolina Panthers

New York Giants

C.J. Board, WR — 1 year, $850K (previously with Jacksonville Jaguars)

Devontae Booker, RB — 2 years, $5.5M (previously with Las Vegas Raiders)

Cullen Gillaspia, FB — (previously with Houston Texans)

John Ross, WR — 1 year, $2.25M (previously with Cincinnati Bengals)

New York Jets

Corey Davis, WR — 3 years, $37.5M (previously with Tennessee Titans)
In a similar move to Jacksonville, the Jets realize they need weapons and got a good one. It’s unclear who will be throwing the ball for the Jets next season, but finally the team has a legitimate No. 1 receiver to offer whoever is given the ball.
Grade: A

Jarrad Davis, ILB — 1 year, $5.5M (previously with Detroit Lions)

Justin Hardee, CB — 3 years, $6.75M (previously with New Orleans Saints)

Carl Lawson, DE — 3 years, $45M (previously with Cincinnati Bengals)
Lawson is a solid defensive end, but this feels like a bit of an overpay. That said, if there’s anyone who can unlock Lawson’s full potential it’s Robert Salah, and he’ll have fun moving the versatile pass rusher around.
Grade: B-

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

B.J. Finney, C — 1 year (previously with Seattle Seahawks)

San Francisco 49ers

Samson Ebukam, OLB — 2 years, $12M (previously with Los Angeles Rams)

Alex Mack, C — (previously with Atlanta Falcons)

Trent Williams, OT — 6 years, $138M (previously with Washington Football Team)
The 49ers aren’t playing around with their need to help their quarterback and splashed big on getting one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. The only problem is that it’s unclear who will be playing QB for San Francisco next year. Either way, this is a good signing, assuming the team can get a passer to take full advantage of the protection.
Grade: A

Seattle Seahawks

Ahkello Witherspoon, CB — 1 year, $4M (previously with San Francisco 49ers)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Denico Autry, DE — 3 years, $21.5M (previously with Indianapolis Colts)

Bud Dupree, OLB — 5 years, $82.5M (previously with Pittsbugh Steelers)
Dupree is a curious case. On the one hand he’s an excellent defender who make the Titans better, but I’m not sure he’s the kind of player who really changes the team’s fortune. It’s a little puzzling to me right now, but could make more sense as time goes on.
Grade: B-

Janoris Jenkins, CB — (previously with New Orleans Saints)

Kendall Lamm, DE — 2 years, $6.8M (previously with Cleveland Browns)

Washington Football Team

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB — 1 year, $10M (previously with Dallas Cowboys)

William Jackson, CB — 3 years, $40.5M (previously with Cincinnati Bengals)
The bulk of Washington’s free agency money went to landing a prized cornerback, but I have questions. The issue wasn’t WFT’s defense last year, it was offense — and I think it would have been far more beneficial to beef up that side of the ball. That said, overwhelming with defense is a viable strategy, assuming the team can do just enough on offense to make it all work.
Grade: B-

Lamar Miller, RB — 1 year (previously with New England Patriots)

David Sharpe, OT — 1 year (previously with Las Vegas Raiders)

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