Picking out the "best" moves in free agency is a surprisingly difficult task less than 72 hours into free agency. Sure, there are LOTS of moves, but they are also typically high-priced, headline-grabbing acquisitions that ultimately involve teams throwing piles of cash at a lower tier of player. 

No disrespect to those players, it's just the nature of the beast. The top tier of free agents are almost all retained by their teams through a variety of functions -- contract extensions, the franchise tag, etc. -- before free agency actually begins. Calvin Ridley hasn't signed as of this writing, but if Darnell Mooney is getting three years and $39 million, you'd have to think Ridley will get a bucket of bills on the open market. 

Imagine what Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman would get in true free agency. The latter reportedly earned a $70 million deal over three years from his team while on the tag -- he would have easily topped out above $25 million per year with a ton of guarantees on the open market. 

With all of that in mind, let's look at my five favorite moves in free agency so far. 

Kirk Cousins puts on his Dirty (Bird) khakis 

There's a reason people say "where there's smoke, there's fire." And there was a LOT of smoke around Cousins joining the Falcons in free agency, largely fueled by contract and cap concerns on the Vikings end of things. Cousins restructure last offseason was a stroke of contractual genius, because it forced the Vikings hand on signing Cousins before March 13 at 4 p.m. ET or else they'd be forced to deal with a massive dead cap hit in addition to Cousins contractual cap hits. 

Falcons new hires Raheem Morris and Zac Robinson pulled no punches when describing the quarterback they wanted: a veteran distributor who could get the ball quickly and correctly to their plethora of playmakers. They wanted someone who could win from the pocket, a la Matthew Stafford, both come from the Rams. All of it certainly seemed to rule out a guy like Justin Fields and point a spotlight on a guy like Kirk Cousins.

The Falcons offered a great landing spot for a variety of reasons -- easy division, solid team, good coaching staff, ownership bought in -- and a willingness to spend on the contract. They handed Cousins $180 million over four years with $90 million fully guaranteed and didn't blink at the idea of paying an elderly quarterback coming off an Achilles injury. When they build the NFL Business/Contract Hall of Fame, Cousins should be the first player inducted (Darrelle Revis, you're on deck). For Atlanta, this was a no-brainer. The Falcons have a good offensive line, elite-level playmakers (Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts are all top-10 picks over the last three years) and a defense that improved dramatically last year. Morris should keep that trend going. The Falcons truly were just a quarterback away. Now they've got their guy. 

Giants fleece Panthers for Brian Burns

Circumstances dictated the Panthers trade Brian Burns this offseason. It was VERY clear the two sides weren't going to find common ground on a contract and it sure seems like owner David Tepper instructed his front office to move on from Burns at the best possible price new GM Dan Morgan could get. 

The problem is the team acquiring Burns had to pay him and everyone interested knew the Panthers were caught between a rock and a hard place. Failing to trade Burns meant Carolina would likely have to let the edge rusher walk after this year and get nothing more than a late third compensatory pick for him. That would be unacceptable.

So, the Giants handed Carolina a second- and fifth-round pick for Burns, who is somehow still just 25 years old despite playing out a full-blown first-round contract. It's an outrageously cheap price for someone of Burns skillset, even when you factor in the high cost of the contract New York needed to give the former Florida State standout. 

Burns is now the second-highest-paid pass rusher in football, behind only Nick Bosa, whose contract looks very much like an outlier/top-of-the-market deal. The Giants not only landed Burns for a low cost (draft-pick wise), they were able to pair him with Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux on the defensive line which is going to be a *problem* for quarterbacks in 2024. Burns was a bad fit in Carolina's scheme and should have a bounce back season coming up. The Giants have plenty of questions at other positions, but their defensive line won't be their Achilles' heel this year. 

King Henry brings his crown to Baltimore 

The Ravens signing Derrick Henry unquestionably was the "signature" move of Tuesday's free agency action, even if there was a debate about the quality of the signing. Personally, I have zero reservations about the deal. Henry had a "down" year in 2023, rushing for "just" 1,167 yards and "only" 12 touchdowns.

I understand the skepticism around Henry -- he led the league in carries last season (280), he only averaged 4.2 yards per carry and he is now a 30-year-old running back. Assuming he'll continue to be dominant is somewhat a leap of faith simply given the history of players at the position. But it all comes back to this for me: Derrick Henry is different.

The former Heisman winner led the league in carries last year, but it wasn't a ridiculous number. He led the league in carries four of the last five years. In two of those years, he topped 340 carries. Specifically in 2020, he carried the ball 378 times and the following year, a fluke injury knocked out half his season. In 2022, he carried the ball 349 times and last year his production was diminished a little. So he should be more rested for 2024. Additionally, the Titans have been moving backwards the last few years, with a deteriorating offensive line and sub-par quarterback play the last two seasons. The Ravens will be playing from ahead, the offensive line is a much stronger unit and Lamar Jackson will be under center. Good luck stopping the read option! 

Revenge game running back signings

The running back market was wild through the first two days of legal tampering, led in large part to tons of franchise tags last year -- and consequently teams not wanting to go to salary increases of 120 percent this year -- and a meh crop of running backs in the draft coming up. Two in particular stand out to me given my love of REVENGE: Saquon Barkley to the Eagles and Aaron Jones to the Vikings. They're very different signings, with Barkley getting a massive deal from Philadelphia. The Eagles have quietly been big players in the running back market over the last decade or so, paying big deals to DeMarco Murray, drafting Miles Sanders early, trading for D'Andre Swift and now signing Barkley. A healthy Saquon would be absolutely dominant in Nick Siriani's offense alongside Jalen Hurts, even if his touchdown numbers could potentially suffer thanks to the Tush Push.

It's pretty obvious Giants fans aren't happy about where Saquon went! In this case it didn't feel like Saquon set out to spite New York, but you can bet he shows up big in those two games next year. The same can be said for Aaron Jones, who is a mortal lock for 100 yards and multiple touchdowns both times he plays the Packers next year. Green Bay flat-out ditched Jones after he wouldn't sign their latest pay cut offer, reportedly rescinding the deal and then going out and signing Josh Jacobs while cutting Jones. He (very) quickly latched on with the Vikings, jumping into a long line of former Pack stars to don the purple (led by Brett Favre) and leading me to believe this is indeed a revenge-based move. He got decent money but more importantly the chance to light up his old team twice next year. 

Raiders splash the pot for defensive help

There is usually no way a player like Christian Wilkins hits free agency (see: above) but the Dolphins cap situation forced their hand. Additionally it's largely believed Wilkins wanted a bigger contract than Miami was willing to hand out. Fortunately in free agency there are multiple bidders and someone is likely going to cough up the cash. 

The Raiders were that team once tampering was legal, giving Wilkins the third-biggest contract for an interior defensive lineman in football. Wilkins deal is worth $110 million with $57.5 million fully guaranteed and trails only Chris Jones and Aaron Donald in terms of average annual value. It's a hefty price to pay, but Wilkins is just 26 years old, he's got outstanding production and pedigree and now he's lined up with Maxx Crosby. The Raiders are going to be an issue for AFC West quarterbacks and you have to be in that division. I think you can argue maybe Las Vegas believes it's closer to being a contender than it actually is and that a big signing like Wilkins maybe doesn't fit their timeline. 

Additionally, going "all in" on Gardner Minshew while letting a guy like Josh Jacobs walk is a little confusing. But when a blue-chip player like Wilkins becomes available in his prime, spending big to acquire his services is something you won't see me complain about.