NFL Free Agency March Madness: Which Player’s Deal is Top Dog?

If NFL Free Agency was March Madness, which player’s deal wins free agency? This 16-signing bracket pits these deals against one another.

In honor of March Madness and the NCAA Tournament, we are going to break out some mini brackets this week to find the best (blank) of NFL Free Agency. First comes a battle between the best free-agent acquisitions thus far this offseason. On Wednesday will be a bracket of the top offseason moves (trades, releases, etc.). Then on Thursday we will bracket out the best players still available on the market.

Two brothers from New York,Dan Salem and Todd Salem, discuss NFL Free Agency March Madness in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

We begin our brackets with the Best Free-agent acquisitions. These aren’t the 16 richest free agents, but they form a great cross section of the action this March. Players are ranked based on total contract value. It is obviously a flawed ranking procedure since guaranteed money is not created equal. We needed some kind of baseline, though. Which player’s deal wins NFL Free Agency?

Sweet Sixteen

1. A.J. Bouye five years, $67.5 million
16. Terrelle Pryor one year, $8 million >>

Todd Salem picks Pryor: Are we sure Bouye is a definitive star after one good year?
Dan Salem picks Pryor: Stealing Pryor for only eight-mill is hard to beat, plus five years is a long commitment for the NFL.

8. DeSean Jackson three years, $35 million
9. Tony Jefferson four years, $34 million

Todd picks Jefferson: I don’t want to pay DeSean Jackson when there were more versatile receivers going for far less.
Dan picks Jackson: The Bucs steal Jackson on a three-year deal, placing him alongside Mike Evans, nearly creating the best receiver duo in the NFL.

5. Kevin Zeitler five years, $60 million >>
12. Martellus Bennett three years, $21 million

Todd picks Zeitler: The best offensive lineman on the market moves on.
Dan picks Zeitler: Offensive line is at a premium and Bennett is near the end of his career.

4. Nick Perry five years, $60 million >>
13. Alshon Jeffery one year, $14 million

Todd picks Perry: The best pass rusher on the market (non-franchise-tag division) moves on to a new team.
Dan picks Perry: I don’t love Jeffery, plus pass rusher is a hot commodity.

6. Brandon Williams five years, $54 million
11. T.J. Lang three years, $28.5 million >>

Todd picks Lang: Williams’ deal is too rich for a lineman who doesn’t rush the passer.
Dan picks Lang: I don’t like five year deals any more than you do.

3. Calais Campbell four years, $60 million
14. Brandon Marshall two years, $12 million

Todd picks Campbell: I love the Marshall signing, but Campbell was the best free agent who didn’t get franchised.
Dan picks Marshall: Sorry but Marshall is a steal at this price. Plus his value to the Giants is enormous.

7. Andrew Whitworth three years, $36 million
10. Logan Ryan three years, $30 million

Todd picks Whitworth: Whitworth is elderly, but not so much where he’s a worse deal than a low-upside corner.
Dan picks Ryan: A young corner who just won a Super Bowl is a much better value for three years.

2. Stephon Gilmore five years, $65 million
15. Charles Johnson two years, $9.5 million >>

Todd picks Johnson: The Gilmore deal is a little pricey. Johnson is also flat-out an insane bargain.
Dan picks Johnson: We agree on the pricey five year deal, especially when compared to under ten mill for two years.

Elite Eight

16. Terrelle Pryor >> vs. 9. Tony Jefferson OR
16. Terrelle Pryor >> vs. 8. DeSean Jackson

Todd picks Pryor: How could Pryor only garner a one-year deal? The dude is a special talent.
Dan picks Pryor: Considering his youth and ability to stand out on Cleveland, the Pryor deal is a steal for Washington.

5. Kevin Zeitler vs. 4. Nick Perry

Todd picks Zeitler: Offensive line trumps defensive line in this case. Zeitler is safer and better.
Dan picks Perry: Pass rusher is more valuable then O-line every time.

11. T.J. Lang vs. 3. Calais Campbell >> OR
11. T.J. Lang vs. 14. Brandon Marshall >>

Todd picks Campbell: Defensive line trumps offensive line in this case! Campbell is safer and better.
Dan picks Marshall: I love what Brandon Marshall brings to an offense.

7. Andrew Whitworth vs. 15. Charles Johnson >> OR
10. Logan Ryan >> vs. 15. Charles Johnson

Todd picks Johnson: I’m still surprised Whitworth has a three-year deal in place. I wouldn’t want him as a starting left tackle three years from now.
Dan picks Ryan: I’m taking the championship cornerback every time.

Final Four

16. Terrelle Pryor vs. 5. Kevin Zeitler >> OR
16. Terrelle Pryor vs. 4. Nick Perry >>

Todd picks Zeitler: This is where Pryor’s future hurts him. He is going to be a free agent again in a year. I would rather have a legit line asset like Zeitler locked up.
Dan picks Perry: I’m eliminating Pryor for the same reason, but instead in favor of a pass rusher.

3. Calais Campbell >> vs. 15. Charles Johnson OR
14. Brandon Marshall >> vs. 10. Logan Ryan

Todd picks Campbell: Johnson’s value is great, but his talent no longer holds up to comparisons with Campbell.
Dan picks Marshall: I didn’t intend for the former Jet to make it this far, but after a season “off” in New York, Marshall is hungry and a steal for two seasons.

Finals

5. Kevin Zeitler vs. 3. Calais Campbell >> OR
4. Nick Perry vs. 14. Brandon Marshall >>

Todd picks Campbell: Zeitler is a guard, not a tackle. He is also now the highest paid guard in the NFL. Campbell is a tackle who can also play end. His new contract also has a pretty easy out after two years if things aren’t working out. Is that enough to separate the value of these two players? I say yes. Campbell wins my free agency bracket.
Dan picks Marshall: With so many wide receivers available, its no wonder the first off the board was also the best free agent signing. Value plays a huge factor in winning free agency, and the New York Giants made an amazing deal getting Marshall. They forced other teams to pay too much for the other wide receives. Well played.

This article originally appeared on