2024 NFL free agency grades, Day 3: Cowboys get props to swipe Eric Kendricks from 49ers

After two days of fireworks (also known as the period of legal disorder), the NFL The first day of free agency began on Wednesday. This day isn't quite as fun as the previous two days, but it does include a huge free agent finding his new home.

That day, senior receivers Mike Williams and Hunter Renfrow were released by the Chargers and Raiders, respectively. Both players will now join the list of available free agents.

There were several notable signings, including at the quarterback and linebacker positions. We've broken down each of those signatures and more below while assigning a grade to each.

The Cowboys, who did nothing in the early stages of free agency, were able to land a highly productive linebacker who had 117 tackles and 3.5 sacks for the Chargers in 2023. As he turned 32, Kendricks' play last season was telling. He has plenty of gas in the tank. The fact that the Cowboys made Kendricks sign with them instead of the 49ers made this signing even sweeter.

Kendricks is a big win for Dallas. In addition to being a solid player, he helps replace Leighton Vander Esch whose career could end due to injuries.

Longevity is the question here. Will Kendricks' one-year Band-Aid be too much? This question will be answered in 2024.

Grade: A-

Elliott agreed to terms on a four-year, $24 million extension that ties him with Justin Tucker as the highest-paid player. NFL history, According to ESPN.

It's hard to argue against Elliott joining Tucker as the highest-paid kickers in league years. He made 93.8% of his field goal attempts last season, including 7 of 8 attempts of 50 or more yards. He made all but one of his attempts after his 46 points.

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Kickers are like good tires. You don't appreciate what you have until you have a problem. Elliott's long-term signing gives the Eagles peace of mind at an important position in the future.

Grade: A

Jackson agreed to a two-year contract worth $14.5 million. According to NFL Media. Given the money in this deal, it's safe to say the Panthers believe Jackson will be a starter after making 28 starts in his four years in Buffalo.

The deal makes sense because the Panthers recently traded former starting cornerback Donte Jackson to Pittsburgh in exchange for former Pro Bowl wideout Deonte Johnson. In Dane Jackson, the Panthers get a 27-year-old defensive end who picked off three passes and broke up 28 more during his time with the Bills.

This signing is somewhat of a risk, given the lack of coverage in Jackson's career thus far (it's worth noting that he's made 14 starts in 2022). Unfortunately for the Panthers, when you're an underachieving team, you have to pay more free agents to lure them to your team. That may have been the case here.

Grade: b-

The former Steelers quarterback agreed to a one-year contract worth $3.62 million. According to NFL Media. It's a great opportunity for Rudolph, who will have a chance to compete with Will Lewis, the Titans' starting quarterback.

The quarterback market isn't very strong, so the Titans decide to spend relatively little money on a 28-year-old quarterback. Rudolph completed over 74% of his passes in the opening quarter of the Steelers' 3-0 run last regular season. The Steelers went 8-4-1 in games Rudolph started.

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Grade: B+

Tennessee struck again moments after signing Rudolph, when they agreed to a four-year contract with Ridley, $92 million contract with $50 million guaranteed. According to NFL Media.

Ridley entered Wednesday as the best skill player still available. After missing all of 2022 while suspended, he proved he's still a top-tier talent last year. Ridley caught 76 passes for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns in his lone season with the Jaguars.

Ridley is certainly talented, but that's a lot of money to pay any player, let alone one who hasn't even been to a Pro Bowl. Ridley will also turn 30 in December. The Titans got a talented player here, but they could have done better by signing a less expensive wideout and/or drafting him in April.

Grade: C+

Flacco gives the Colts much-needed depth, but it came at a steep price. Last year's Comeback Player of the Year reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $8.7 million with $4.5 million guaranteed. For a statement.

A 39-year-old ex Super Bowl The MVP played well for Cleveland late in the 2023 season, but some feel he's a product of Kevin Stefanski's organization. Can the same success be achieved in indie? Time will tell.

Grade: C

Shortly after releasing DJ Humphries, the Cardinals signed former Bengals quarterback Jonah Williams to a two-year, $30 million contract. According to the NFL Network.

Although his career in Cincinnati was considered a disappointment, Williams — a 2019 first-round pick — has been a steady member of the Bengals' starting lineup. He was very durable while playing both left and right tackle during his time in Cincinnati.

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Arizona may have come here, but this is a good signing at a key position. The fact that Williams (he's 26) is entering his prime makes this signing even better.

Grade: A-

DJ As Reader explores free agency, the Bengals went ahead and signed Rankins to a two-year, $26 million contract. According to NFL Media.

The soon-to-be 30-year-old Rankins recorded six sacks in his 2023 season (his most since 2018), forced a fumble and returned a fumble for a score. Rankins will now try to help the Bengals six times a year, along with Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry.

That's a lot of money for a defensive tackle, so Rankins will need to play up to his 2023 form in Cincinnati for this signing to be considered a success.

Grade: B+

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