NFL free agency grades 2024: Live analysis of every key free agent signing and trade

The NFL free agency and trade insanity is here for 2024 with the unofficial tampering period starting on Monday, March 11, and the new league year set to go into effect on Wednesday.

Like every year, several potential free agents are staying off the market, either re-signed or franchise-tagged by their teams, but many others are set to change teams by either agreeing to terms with another club or being traded.

Sporting News will once again provide the latest analysis of the most significant moves around the NFL. Keep track of all the key signings and trades during 2024 NFL free-agency below.

NFL FREE AGENCY 2024:
Live tracker | Ranking the top 75 players overall

NFL free agency grades 2024: The latest key signings and trades

Grading 75 overall free agent signings

BEST FREE AGENTS AVAILABLE: QBs | RBs | WRs | Defense

With Chris Jones off the market, the best non-quarterbacks available to sign with any team include Dolphins DT Christian Wilkins, Vikings EDGE Danielle Hunter, and Texans EDGE Jonathan Greenard.

There should be some teams quickly making out with good values there and through the rest of the top unsigned players overall.

Grading other key free agent signings

Bears sign S Kevin Byard for 2 years, $15 million

B — The Bears needed to replace faded Eddie Jackson, and they get a solid upgrade for their defensive scheme despite the fact the former Titan gave the Eagles only limited late-season punch.

Bills sign QB Mitch Trubisky for 2 years, $5.25 million

B — The Bills got their previous backup for Josh Allen in a favorable system for him, even with Joe Brady now as the offensive coordinator.

Dolphins sign TE Jonnu Smith for 2 years, $10 million

C: — The Dolphins added some needed depth inline in the former Falcon.

Grading key free-agent re-signings 

Chiefs re-sign DT Chris Jones for 5 years, $160 million

A — It was a no-brainer to keep the third core member of the Super Bowl dynasty intact, as Jones is right up there with the league’s most indispensable defensive players.

Ravens re-sign DT Justin Madubuike for 4 years, $98 million

A — With Jones getting his deal, the Ravens could easily wrap it up for their inside pass-rushing disruptor.

Bears re-sign CB Jaylon Johnson for 4 years, $76 million

B — Although the price was surprisingly steep, the Bears had to make this move to keep their valuable shutdown-caliber corner.

Buccaneers re-sign WR Mike Evans for 2 years, $52 million

A — The Buccaneers want him to end his Hall-of-Fame career in Tampa, and the short-term splurge was rather reasonable to get the job done.

Buccaneers re-sign QB Baker Mayfield for 3 years, $100 million

A — There was little reason to doubt this deal getting done, and it was done at the right market price for the right length of time, making sure the Mayfield-Evans connection stays rolling in the new offense.

Rams re-sign G Kevin Dotson for 3 years, $48 million

A — Dotson was critical to the run-blocking resurgence to boost Kyren Williams, so he was a critical priority for Sean McVay.

Texans re-sign TE Dalton Schultz for 3 years, $36 million

A- — Schultz is solid all-around as a key target for C.J. Stroud and fits the offense, but the opportunity cost hurts a little.

Patriots re-sign TE Hunter Henry for 3 years, $30 million

B- — This move is OK because there’s not much else by way of veteran pass catchers in this offense, but the key now is finding a QB who can target Henry well with good chemistry.

Jaguars re-sign G Ezra Cleveland for 3 years, $28.5 million

C — The Jaguars didn’t want to further have offensive line issues, but they got a little desperate, overpaying an average-at-best starter.

Texans re-sign K Ka’imi Fairbairn for 3 years, $15.9 million

A — Fairbairn is one of the league’s most reliable big legs, and the Texans wanted to keep his range and accuracy intact.

Chiefs re-sign LB Drue Tranquill for 3 years, $19 million

A — Tranquill’s work as a cover linebacker guaranteed he would come back at a nice price for the champs.

Grading notable player trades

Jaguars trade sixth-round pick for Patriots QB Mac Jones

B+: While the Patriots wave the early white flag on Jones, who was taken 14 spots behind No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 draft, the Jaguars score a seasoned young vet to upgrade his backup.

Browns trade fifth, picks for Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy

C: Jeudy is the ultimate flyer for the Browns, and the Broncos should have been prepared to get nothing for him. It was a strange addition for Cleveland with similar types in the offense and a loaded WR draft class.

Franchise-tagged players

  1. L’Jarius Sneed, CB, Chiefs 
  2. Josh Allen, EDGE, Jaguars
  3. Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Buccaneers
  4. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Colts
  5. Tee Higgins, WR, Bengals
  6. Brian Burns, EDGE, Panthers

These were all smart moves because of their positional values and importance to their teams at the right non-quarterback positions. They will hope they can score pleasing long-term deals soon like Madubuike and Jaylon Johnson did right after being tagged. In addition, Patriots safety Kyle Dugger got the transition tag.

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