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We’re almost a week into NFL free agency, and teams wasted no time in signing players once the 2021 league year began. The best of the edge rusher market went quickly, but the wide receivers had to wait a little while longer, and a few of them took discounted deals.
As with any free-agency period, some of these signings are being overlooked, while some are getting a bit too much praise. And given the first salary-cap decrease since 2011, some big-money contracts will face extra scrutiny in the coming weeks.
With that in mind, Pro Football Focus looks at each position and highlights the most overrated and underrated signings so far. In many cases, we’re using the true contract numbers and not the numbers that we’re reported, which are sometimes inflated and don’t always reflect the true guaranteed money. All stats are from PFF, which grades every player in every game.
SIX UNDERRATED DEALS
John Johnson III, S, Cleveland Browns
The deal: Three years, $33.8 million ($24 million guaranteed)
The Browns entered the offseason with one of the most well-rounded rosters in the NFL, and the addition of Johnson takes them a big step closer to contention status. The former Rams safety finished the 2020 season as one of the five most valuable defensive players in the NFL, according to PFF’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, and he did it while serving as the signal-caller for the No. 1 coverage unit in the league.
Johnson has proven to be capable of playing any role in any scheme. He has recorded PFF grades above 80.0 in three of his four seasons — all of which ranked 11th or higher at the position — and the one season he didn’t was in 2019, when he was limited to only six games due to injury.
This was a home run for the Browns and might be the best signing of the week.
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