NFL 2021 Free Agency Grades: NFC West
Seattle Seahawks: C
DE Carlos Dunlap (2yr / $13.6M)
DE Kerry Hyder (2yr / $7.6M)
TE Gerald Everett (1yr / $6M)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (1yr / $4M)
DT Al Woods (1yr / $3M)
CB Shaquill Griffen
DT Jarran Reed
WR David Moore
+ OG Gabe Jackson (3yr / $22.5M)
– 2021 NFL Draft Picks: 167 (5th Round)
I do not believe that the Seattle Seahawks got better as a whole during the 2021 NFL free agency period, which is a massive issue considering the team only has 3 picks in the entire draft and only No 56 in the first 100 picks. However, the reason this was not an entire disaster was the addition of some solid talent for Russell Wilson that will hopefully keep him in Seattle longer.
Gabe Jackson was by far the biggest move of the offseason, adding one of the best pass-blocking guards in the league to a team that seemingly tries to murder their star QB at times. Jackson signed a good deal for both him and the team, and it only cost Seattle a 5th to pick him up from the Raiders. The team also added Gerald Everett, a solid TE option for Wilson, and Everett will produce this year in this offense.
However, Seattle lost its best CB in Shaquill Griffen and is going to try and replace him with Ahkello Witherspoon, which is not a recipe for success. While the Seahawks added Woods, Hyder, and extended Dunlap to hopefully get more pressure on the QB, all four of these additions do not make up for losing Griffen, in my opinion.
The team did okay in free agency, but it had to do something special to compete in the NFC West next year, especially with the non-existent draft capital that it holds. Note that KJ Write is also likely out the door as he was not re-signed but has yet to sign with a team.
Los Angeles Rams: C+
WR DeSean Jackson (1yr / $4.5M)
S John Johnson
OLB Samson Ebukam
CB Troy Hill
DE Morgan Fox
TE Gerald Everett
WR Josh Reynolds
+ QB Matthew Stafford
– QB Jared Goff
– 2021 Draft Picks: 101 (Third Round)
– 2022 Draft Picks: 1st Round
– 2023 Draft Picks: 1st Round
+ 2023 Draft Picks: 7th Round
– DT Michael Brockers
The Los Angeles Rams have had a peculiar offseason thus far. If it were not for the Matthew Stafford trade, which I love and I think drastically increases their Super Bowl chances, I would have graded them out at an F.
The trade for Stafford was brilliant, and I do not believe that it was too much to give up. Stafford is an elite QB who will be playing with an elite offensive mind as his play-caller for the first time in his career. The Rams should be putting up tons of points, and the defense will still be good, not great, in 2021.
However, the actual free agency moves were mind-boggling. I am not sure why the team decided to extended Leonard Floyd for 4yr / $64 million. That is way too much money for a guy who simply was average last year. On top of this, the team was unable to make the cap room to re-sign some great players like John Johnson and Troy Hill. I would argue that both of these players could have come back instead of Floyd and DeSean Jackson, and it would have put the Rams in a much better position to win.
All in all, you have to at least give a C grade because of the Stafford addition, despite the fact that I strongly dislike all the other moves this team made with their free agents.
Arizona Cardinals: A
DE J.J. Watt (2yr / $28M)
K Matt Prater (2yr / $6.5M)
WR A.J. Green (1yr / $6M)
CB Malcolm Butler (1yr / $3.25M)
RB Kenyan Drake
CB Patrick Peterson
OLB Haason Reddick
TE Dan Arnold
DE Angelo Blackson
+ C Rodney Hudson
+ 2021 NFL Draft Picks: 247 (7th Round)
– 2021 NFL Draft Picks: 79 (3rd Round)
+ 2021 NFL Draft Picks: 223 (6th Round)
– G/C Mason Cole
The Arizona Cardinals had a masterful offseason. While the team did lose a couple of key components in Patrick Peterson and Haason Reddick, they simply upgraded those positions, and for cheap. The team brought in J.J. Watt, who is still one of the top-5 defensive ends in football, and will be a great scheme fit at DE. Then, the team recently just signed Malcolm Butler, who actually rated out significantly better than Patrick Peterson in 2020. While Butler cannot cover #1s every week, if the Cardinals land Surtain, Farley, Newsome, or Horn in the draft, then the DB room all of a sudden looks pretty strong heading into 2021.
Next, the team simply upgraded their offense with a top-3 center in Rodney Hudson for a very small cap hit and a 3rd round pick. The team also added A.J. Green, who could be a great addition to the weapons available for Kyler Murray. A full offseason of being healthy may allow A.J. Green to start producing again, and even a solid WR #2 would do wonders for this team as DeAndre Hopkins will be lined up across from Green.
Really, there is nothing to complain about when it comes to the team’s decision-making in the offseason. While the draft capital is now a bit thin in the middle rounds, the team still has two top-50 picks to improve the defense and/or offensive line. I imagine that a CB is the only position the Cardinals are looking at in the first, and then they could go DB again or go Oline in the second. Regardless, this free agency period was an absolute win for the front office.
San Francisco 49ers: A-
C Alex Mack (3yr / $14.8M)
OLB Samson Ebukam (2yr / $12M)
DT D.J. Jones (1yr / $3.5M)
DE K’Waun Williams (1yr / $2.33M)
+ 2021 NFL Draft Picks: 3 (1st Round)
– 2021 NFL Draft Picks: 12 (1st Round)
– 2022 NFL Draft Picks: 1st Round, 3rd Round
– 2023 NFL Draft Picks: 1st Round
The 49ers did pretty much as well as they could during this free agency period. On the offense, they got Trent Williams & Kyle Juszczyk to return, added Alex Mack, and traded up to number 3 overall to draft their future NFL QB without losing any capital in this year’s draft. Then on defense, they returned many of the depth pieces from last season as well as re-signed Jason Verrett & Jaquiski Tartt for cheap.
While there were some major losses on the defense, nothing is really going to hurt the 49ers besides the loss of Richard Sherman. Meaning that the 49ers danced this difficult free agency period with incredible grace and set themselves up for another run at the Super Bowl.
At this point, the team has negative cap space, but the estimated top 51 cap space is near $18M, not to mention that the team is likely going to trade Jimmy Garoppolo and only eat around a $2.8M dead cap. I believe that the team could sign another lineman like Lane Taylor to create an absolutely stacked offensive front.
I really have no complaints about the 49ers this offseason, as they have done just about a perfect job at keeping the team and core players they need together while moving up to get their guy and go for it this year.