Free agency is only hours old, which means it's the perfect time to overreact to what went down Wednesday given our lack of a big picture and knowledge of intended scheme fits, right? The Giants' record-breaking deal to acquire Olivier Vernon was the deal of the day, but it gets an incomplete grade in our book. We have no idea how he'll work alongside Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who was also signed to a big deal, and Johnathan Hankins. There are loftier questions at hand there. The team is betting on ascension and moving parts working together to create a multi-million dollar player.
In some respect, every deal is that way but some still manage to jump right off the page. We're here to break down the five we loved the most from the first day of the new league year.
Even if the Cowboys could not sustain a run-only game plan without Tony Romo last year behind their star-studded offensive line, there is nothing wrong with throwing money at good, versatile offensive linemen. The Raiders still have a ton of salary-cap space remaining and are in the mix to bring back star veteran Donald Penn. The Osemele signing gives them a chance to shift bodies around -- perhaps they can bump Austin Howard back to guard and ease Menelik Watson's comeback from injury. Worst case scenario, Osemele is paired with center Rodney Hudson and guard Gabe Jackson, and nothing can be better for a developing quarterback on the rise.
The Pierre-Paul signing was perhaps the best of the Jerry Reese era. The team benefitted from the fact that Pierre-Paul did not want to leave, but they also get one of the three best run-stopping defensive ends in football for one year way below market value. Pierre-Paul is a true three-down defensive end with explosive pass-rushing potential. Unlike Vernon -- don't misunderstand us, he's an excellent player but certainly benefited from need, a competitive market and buckets of available cash -- Pierre-Paul is a year-in, year-out commodity in terms of his run play. Vernon was the best 4-3 defensive end in football this season, but Pierre-Paul has been one of the best for the last four. Carolina's Charles Johnson deal was memorable for the same reasons, and Pierre-Paul is much younger.
A tough, nasty player that was overlooked on a lot of best available free agent lists. McLeod seems to get better with age, and allows the Eagles to strengthen a position that was already their best. McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins should be able to negate a lot of mistakes made by Philadelphia's developing secondary under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. If nothing else, he brings a presence and attitude that the Eagles should have had a year ago with some very explosive personnel. Unfortunately, the strengthening a strength mantra is not as easy to sell when you're doing the same thing with quarterbacks.
Bruce Irvin is more than your typical pass rushing specialist and can actually be a mean, three-down linebacker if given the right opportunity. He could also help negate the serious loss of pass rushers the Raiders have seen over the last year alone. This signing is about accentuating the skillset of Khalil Mack and allowing him the opportunity to do what he does best. Ken Norton, the legendary linebacker, former Seahawks coach and Raiders defensive coordinator understands this and can place Irvin in a position to be successful right away. We would like this signing a lot more if Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie could pair the signing with some serious run-stuffers across the defensive line to patch the loss of Justin Tuck.
The signing was panned pretty roundly given Ivory's violent running style, age, mileage and price. However, only $10 million of this deal is guaranteed, which is $5 million guaranteed less than the Buccaneers gave Doug Martin. Martin probably wasn't coming to Jacksonville, though. He is not going to be a primary back in this offense and neither will Ivory. But the signing pairs 2015 second-round pick T.J. Yeldon with an experienced power back, which can help extend Yeldon's lifespan in this offense as well. The Jaguars are banking on their offense to carry them through tight games in 2016, and they are leaving themselves no excuses.