NFL Free Agency 2020: Grading some of the early player moves

The 2020 NFL free agency period is underway with negotiations between players and teams allowed remotely. We grade some of the bigger moves so far.

The 2020 NFL free agency period is underway with teams and player able to negotiate contracts, though nothing can become official until Wednesday, March 18.

Although teams aren’t required to make moves immediately, some huge names are off the free agent market already.

The Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans came together for the most notable move of the day which involved superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back David Johnson.

Let’s take a look at some of the huge moves made around the NFL and evaluate the impact they might have.

Cardinals acquire WR DeAndre Hopkins for RB David Johnson, 2nd round pick

Cardinals grade: A

Texans grade: D-

The Arizona Cardinals picked up Hopkins and a fourth-round pick for David Johnson, a second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

This trade was a near-disaster for the Houston Texans, who add David Johnson to the backfield with Duke Johnson and a second-round pick this year, which will put them in much better position than they were in previously for the 2020 NFL Draft with nothing until pick 57.

For Arizona, this is a humongous trade on the heels of keeping running back Kenyan Drake with a transition tag. The Cardinals have a talented offense now led by the duo of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins.

49ers trade DL DeForest Buckner to Colts for 13th overall pick

49ers grade: B+

Colts grade: B-

The 49ers get a nice first-round pick in exchange for a defensive lineman they might have otherwise lost for a compensatory draft choice. San Francisco’s draft capital was previously depleted from other trades they had made, so this gives them some much needed flexibility to move up or down the board as they see fit. Still, losing Buckner hurts a bit.

The Colts fill a massive hole on their defensive line with Buckner, who is now being paid like one of the best defensive players in football. He’s going to have to go from being a really good player to being a superstar for that price tag.

49ers re-sign DL Arik Armstead (5 years)

49ers grade: B+

The 49ers don’t have a lot of cap space to work with right now, which is likely a big reason why they spread out this extension over five years.

They keep Armstead in the fold for the foreseeable future with the trade of DeForest Buckner now making this move more understandable.

Armstead is a fantastic player who struggled with injuries his first couple of years in the league, but he’s really come on in the last couple of seasons.

Ravens trade TE Hayden Hurst to the Atlanta Falcons

Ravens grade: A

Falcons grade: C-

The Baltimore Ravens, who recently also traded a fifth-round draft pick for defensive end Calais Campbell, have now traded former first-round pick Hayden Hurst and a fourth-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick and fifth-round pick.

Considering the fact that Atlanta is picking high in the second round (47th overall) this trade is an incredible value for Baltimore, which found Mark Andrews in the same draft as Hurst.

The Falcons made this move after watching Austin Hooper go to the Cleveland Browns. Did they really need to pay up a second-round pick for Hurst? That is a very high price to pay for a guy who has 43 catches in his first two NFL seasons.

Browns sign TE Austin Hooper (4 years, $44 million)

Browns grade: C

Austin Hooper has been productive the last couple of seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, but making him the highest-paid tight end in football?

That’s a stretch.

Cleveland adds a very solid all-around tight end to Kevin Stefanski’s new-look offense and apparently they are leaning toward keeping David Njoku as well. Stefanski did good work in Minnesota with both Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr.

Miami Dolphins sign OG Ereck Flowers, DE Shaq Lawson

Dolphins grade: C+ (both moves)

The Dolphins made a couple of solid investments here in former first-round picks whose careers seemed lost early on, but both Ereck Flowers and Shaq Lawson have turned things around in recent years.

Flowers flourished at guard for the Washington Redskins last year while Lawson became a key piece of the Buffalo Bills’ defense.

They will both obviously be expected to play critical roles in Brian Flores’ defense moving forward.