Sports

The 10 Best Free-Agent Deals (So Far)

Former Cleveland Browns defensive end Jabaal Sheard signed with the Patriots Wednesday (AP Photo)
Former Cleveland Browns defensive end Jabaal Sheard signed with the Patriots Wednesday (AP Photo)

Bill Barnwell, GRANTLAND

 
(Grantland.com)—After running down the worst contracts of free agency last week, let’s look at the 10 deals that stand out as the best values. It’s no accident that I did the article on the worst deals first; most of the bad contracts in free agency come during the opening hours of the market, when teams are flush with cash and fall in love with chasing a player as opposed to an archetype. Once the market settles, players get desperate to sign and teams are far more likely to find bargains.

That’s not foolproof, of course. After Thursday’s column, deals were made with DeMarco Murray, Nate Allen, and Eddie Royal that would have been strong competitors for the list of worst contracts. And likewise, there are some bargains on today’s list who went to their teams before free agency officially opened. In general, though, you’ll notice that perennial contenders like the Ravens and Patriots seem to do their business well after free agency begins. That’s not a coincidence.

This isn’t a list of the best players who signed somewhere this offseason, but the players who are most likely to outperform their contracts. You’ll also note that this list mostly ignores skill positions, with nine of the 10 players touching the football only on turnovers. That’s also not a coincidence; there just aren’t many bargains to be had on wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks, and running backs. Let’s start with the one bargain who does tote the rock, a running back who finally received his due in 2014 after years of lurking on the bottom of NFL rosters.

 

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