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NFL free agent grades: Dolphins, Browns, Bears make big plays on 1st day

Mike Wallace and Paul Kruger will each make a big impact on their new teams, the Dolphins and the Browns, and both teams also made other plays on the free agent market that will help their team.

Gregory Shamus

The first day of free agency was an absolute whirlwind. Teams moved quickly to sign free agents ranging from the most expensive, high-profile players to the role players who will fill out the fringes of the roster. The day also saw teams cutting their players, as Nnamdi Asomugha, Ryan Fitzpatrick and a variety of others hit the market.

Let's take a look at who did well to make big moves and who made some more questionable decisions.


Miami Dolphins

Miami made the biggest splash on the first day of free agency, and it was a pretty smart move from their perspective. Ryan Tannehill is a developing quarterback, but his top receiver in his rookie season was Brian Hartline -- not exactly a marquee name. Adding an elite wideout in Mike Wallace changes that. They also added Dannell Ellerbe, who showed his worth while winning the Super Bowl with the Ravens this past season, and made a deal to hang on to Chris Clemons.

Chicago Bears

The biggest issue for Chicago in free agency was finding some strong offensive line players. Landing Jermon Bushrod fills that hole and, at about $7 million a year, they didn't break the bank to do so. Adding a solid receiving option for Jay Cutler in Martellus Bennett doesn't hurt either, and perhaps Cutler will actually have time to throw to him this season.

Cleveland Browns

It's a new system under Rob Chudzinski and a new defensive stud in Paul Kruger, who showed what he can do as a pass-rusher in a 3-4 defense with the Ravens. The Browns also added Desmond Bryant to provide more help up front.


Indianapolis Colts

The Colts were easily the most active playoff team on the first day of free agency, and some moves were head-scratchers. They were starting to improve their offensive line, signing Gosder Cherilus at right tackle and Donald Thomas at guard. Let's not take away from those moves -- Andrew Luck needs better protection, and those guys will provide it. But $4 million a year to Erik Walden at outside linebacker and $5 million a year to Greg Toler at cornerback seems pricey for guys who haven't necessarily proven themselves.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs went into this offseason knowing they needed a franchise quarterback, and that they probably wouldn't get one in the draft despite having a No. 1 pick. They've gone out and acquired Alex Smith and now have signed Chase Daniel, which is a start. The deal they gave Daniel -- three years, $10 million -- isn't particularly egregious, but backup quarterback isn't where a team that had the worst record in the league last year needed to start, especially after just landing its starter.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos wanted to land some offensive line help for Peyton Manning, but they couldn't land Andy Levitre -- he went to the Titans -- so they're going to spend $6 million per season for Louis Vazquez, the second-best guard available. Again, not an awful move, but nothing to get particularly psyched about.

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