Dallas Cowboys: C- Acquired: FB Jamize Olawale, WR Allen Hurns, WR Deonte Thompson, OT Cameron Fleming, DE Kony Ealy, LB Joe Thomas. Lost: RB Alfred Morris, FB Keith Smith, WR Dez Bryant, WR Brice Butler, G Jonathan Cooper, OLB Anthony Hitchens, OLB Kyle Wilber, CB Orlando Scandrick.
The Cowboys haven't really been able to do anything this offseason because of severe cap implications. There was actually a belief that they would cut Dez Bryant, but that hasn't occurred yet.
Dallas deserves a terrible grade, as it hasn't improved its roster at all (update: Allen Hurns doesn't change anything.) The team lost depth in the back seven and failed to acquire proper replacements.
New York Giants: C Acquired: RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Cody Latimer, OT Nate Solder, G Patrick Omameh, DE Kareem Martin, LB Alec Ogletree, S William Gay, S Michael Thomas. Lost: QB Geno Smith, RB Orleans Darkwa, RB Shane Vereen, WR Brandon Marshall, OT D.J. Fluker, G Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Jay Bromley, OLB Devon Kennard, CB Ross Cockrell, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Giants haven't enjoyed the best free agency, to put it nicely. Most of the players they've signed are old and/or injury-prone, and the player they acquired in a trade is an underachiever.
Nate Solder was the big signing, and if healthy, he'll improve the offensive line. However, Solder has been banged up in recent seasons, so it'll be difficult to trust him. Outside of Solder, the offensive line wasn't really addressed. In fact, it could be argued that the blocking unit is worse because Justin Pugh is gone.
New York lost some prominent players on defense as well. Jason Pierre-Paul, Ross Cockrell and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were all contributors last season, but they're gone. Alec Ogletree was obtained in a trade with the Rams, but Los Angeles dealt him because he didn't perform up to standards in their 3-4. The Giants are switching to a 3-4, so Ogletree could have the same issues.
Philadelphia Eagles: A Acquired: WR Mike Wallace, TE Richard Rodgers, DE Michael Bennett, NT Haloti Ngata, OLB Paul Worrilow, LB Corey Nelson. Lost: RB LeGarrette Blount, RB Kenjon Barner, WR Torrey Smith, TE Trey Burton, TE Brent Celek, DE Vinny Curry, NT Beau Allen, CB Patrick Robinson, CB Corey Graham, K Caleb Sturgis, P Donnie Jones.
Howie Roseman is arguably the best general manager in the NFL. The Eagles went into the offseason with the second-worst cap figure in the NFL (Dolphins), and yet they've improved several areas of their roster. Only Roseman could have done this.
Philadelphia lost two defensive linemen, yet won't be any worse up front in 2018. The team was forced into cutting Vinny Curry, but was able to acquire the talented and versatile Michael Bennett from the Seahawks for minimal compensation. Signing Haloti Ngata helped replace Beau Allen as well.
Roseman also improved the receiving corps. He cleared cap space by dealing the inconsistent Torrey Smith for a young, promising cornerback Daryl Worley, and then managed to upgrade Smith by signing Mike Wallace to half the money Smith commanded.
The Eagles did lose Patrick Robinson, so the secondary won't be as good. However, second-year Sidney Jones will be 100 percent in 2018, and Worley might live up to his third-round billing, so it's not like the defensive backfield will be taking that much of a hit.
Washington Redskins: C+ Acquired: QB Alex Smith, QB Kevin Hogan, WR Paul Richardson, DE/OLB Pernell McPhee, CB Orlando Scandrick. Lost: QB Kirk Cousins, WR Terrelle Pryor, WR Ryan Grant, TE Niles Paul, G Shawn Lauvao, C Spencer Long, DE Trent Murphy, DE/OLB Junior Galette, ILB Su'a Cravens, ILB Will Compton, CB Kendall Fuller, CB Bashaud Breeland.
The Redskins began their offseason in confusing fashion, downgrading their quarterback, all while also worsening their secondary. I understand that Kirk Cousins didn't want to negotiate with the front office, but that didn't mean that Washington had to surrender young, talented cornerback Kendall Fuller for the perennially overrated Alex Smith, who has yet to win multiple playoff games in the same season.
Washington also lost a couple of other key players in Trent Murphy and Bashaud Breeland. It signed mediocre receiver Paul Richardson to a bloated contract, then did nothing until acquiring Orlando Scandrick to a short-term "prove it" contract. The Scandrick signing was a decent one, but it's possible that the former Cowboy could continue to struggle. Either way, the Redskins are worse off now than they were when they began the offseason, so they deserve a poor grade.
Update: I'm moving the Redskins to a C+ because of the Pernell McPhee signing. McPhee should be a solid replacement for Murphy.
2018 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC East
Buffalo Bills: C Acquired: QB A.J. McCarron, RB Chris Ivory, WR Jeremy Kerley, OT Marshall Newhouse, C Russell Bodine, DE Trent Murphy, DT Star Lotulelei, CB Vontae Davis, CB Phillip Gaines, S Rafael Bush. Lost: QB Tyrod Taylor, FB Mike Tolbert, WR Jordan Matthews, WR Deonte Thompson, OT Cordy Glenn, C Eric Wood, DE Ryan Davis, ILB Preston Brown, CB E.J. Gaines, CB Shareece Wright.
Buffalo's offensive line and secondary have gotten worse this offseason. The team traded Cordy Glenn to the Bengals after watching Eric Wood retire, and it also lost E.J. Gaines in free agency. Obviously, none of this is good.
That said, the Bills haven't endured a completely negative spring. Glenn was dealt to acquire draft picks for the quarterback of the future. A.J. McCarron was signed to a very cheap deal. Trent Murphy will help the pass rush, while Vontae Davis, if healthy, could be a decent replacement for Gaines in the short term. That's definitely quite the big "if," however.
I'd say the Bills deserve about a C+ or a "C." They've made some moves to position themselves for a quarterback, but lost some key players. I also hate the Star Lotulelei contract. Talk about an overpay. The Lotulelei deal itself makes me lean toward the "C" rather than the C+, as he'll be the next large defensive lineman to disappoint after signing a massive deal.
Miami Dolphins: F Acquired: QB Brock Osweiler, RB Frank Gore, WR Albert Wilson, WR Danny Amendola, G Josh Sitton, C Daniel Kilgore, DE Robert Quinn. Lost: QB Matt Moore, QB Jay Cutler, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Julius Thomas, C Mike Pouncey, DE Terrence Fede, DT Ndamukong Suh, ILB Lawrence Timmons, S Michael Thomas, S Nate Allen, K Cody Parkey.
I have no idea what the Dolphins are doing. They traded away their best offensive player and cut their best defensive player. If their aim was to rebuild, that would be fine, but then why would they sign and trade for veterans? Bringing in Frank Gore, Danny Amendola and Josh Sitton doesn't really accomplish much, and giving Albert Wilson and Daniel Kilgore more money than what they're worth doesn't benefit anyone but those individual players.
The Dolphins lack any sort of plan. It just seems like they're making random moves just for the sake of doing them. And I fear as though the veterans they've acquired will allow them to win enough games to avoid obtaining the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, which should be their goal right now.
New England Patriots: B Acquired: RB Jeremy Hill, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Jordan Matthews, TE Troy Niklas, OT Matt Tobin, C Luke Bowanko, DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Danny Shelton, CB Jason McCourty. Lost: RB Dion Lewis, WR Brandin Cooks, TE Martellus Bennett, OT Nate Solder, OT Cameron Fleming, DE/OLB James Harrison, OLB Shea McClellin, CB Malcolm Butler, S Johnson Bademosi.
The Patriots lost some key players from their AFC Champion roster. Their best running back (Dion Lewis), their left tackle (Nate Solder), and one of their starting cornerbacks (Malcolm Butler) are all gone. And yet, the Patriots made enough moves to remain the favorites in their conference.
I don't know how New England pulled it off, but it obtained Jason McCourty, a solid cornerback from the Browns, for next-to-nothing in a trade. McCourty isn't as good as Butler, but he'll be a decent replacement. Meanwhile, Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton will help the Patriots' poor run defense.
I would have liked to have seen the Patriots address their dreadful linebacking corps and shaky offensive line, but their offseason has been a positive one for the most part.
New York Jets: B+ Acquired: QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Isaiah Crowell, RB Thomas Rawls, WR Charles Johnson, C Travis Swanson, C Spencer Long, ILB Avery Williamson, ILB Kevin Minter, ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Trumaine Johnson, K Cairo Santos. Lost: RB Matt Forte, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, C Wesley Johnson, DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/OLB Kony Ealy, ILB Demario Davis, K Chandler Catanzaro.
The Jets surrendered way too many resources to acquire the third-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but that will be reflected in the draft grades I post in April.
As for the free-agency portion of the Jets' offseason, I'd say it's definitely a positive one. The best player New York acquired is cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who fills a huge need at a price that makes sense for a player of his caliber. However, Teddy Bridgewater is the player who had the most buzz. I love that signing. Bridgewater looked like he was on his way to becoming a franchise quarterback before blowing out his knee two years ago. He's long removed from that injury, so it's possible he could be close to 100 percent.
Elsewhere, the Jets made some decent signings like Avery Williamson and Cairo Santos. They lost a big name in Muhammad Wilkerson, but they had to cut him after his horrible display of lethargy in the wake of his big contract.
2018 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: NFC North
Chicago Bears: C+ Acquired: QB Chase Daniel, QB Tyler Bray, WR Allen Robinson, WR Taylor Gabriel, TE Trey Burton, DE Aaron Lynch, K Cody Parkey. Lost: WR Markus Wheaton, G Josh Sitton, DE/OLB Pernell McPhee, DE/OLB Willie Young, LB Jerrell Freeman, S Quintin Demps.
I had a ton of optimism for the Bears heading into the offseason, especially after the infamous cab driver who predicted an Eagles Super Bowl victory back in July told me that he loved Chicago's chances for 2018.
However, I'm not as optimistic now. The Allen Robinson and Trey Burton signings should help the offense, in theory. However, will Robinson give 100-percent effort? The last time he did that was 2015. With a big contract, he doesn't have any incentive not to slack off.
For the price of obtaining talented offensive players, the Bears were forced to deplete talent from their offensive line and defense. Cutting Josh Sitton seemed like a huge mistake. I don't mind letting go of Pernell McPhee and Jerrell Freeman because they have injury/suspension issues, but their absences will hurt unless Chicago can properly replace them in the draft.
Detroit Lions: C Acquired: QB Matt Cassel, RB LeGarrette Blount, TE Luke Willson, G Kenny Wiggins, DT Ricky Jean-Francois, DT Sylvester Williams, OLB Devon Kennard, OLB Jonathan Freeny, ILB Christian Jones, CB Deshawn Shead. Lost: TE Eric Ebron, TE Darren Fells, C Travis Swanson, DE Dwight Freeney, DT Haloti Ngata, DT Jordan Hill, OLB Tahir Whitehead, OLB Paul Worrilow, CB D.J. Hayden, S Don Carey.
It doesn't feel as though the Lions accomplished much this free-agency period. They added some role players, but that's about it.
That wouldn't be a big deal if Detroit didn't lose substantial personnel, but it did. Eric Ebron, despite being a bust, was cut, and Luke Willson won't be able to match his production. Center Travis Swanson hasn't been replaced either. There's also Haloti Ngata, whose run-stuffing presence will be missed, just as it was in the second half of 2017 when he got hurt.
The Lions definitely haven't endured a poor offseason, as their roster hasn't been downgraded substantially, or anything, but the fans can't feel overly optimistic about their 2018 chances unless the front office absolutely nails the draft.
Green Bay Packers: B+ Acquired: TE Jimmy Graham, DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson, CB Tramon Williams. Lost: WR Jordy Nelson, WR Jeff Janis, TE Richard Rodgers, G Jahri Evans, DE/OLB Ahmad Brooks, LB Joe Thomas, CB Damarious Randall, S Morgan Burnett.
The Packers, under new leadership, were more aggressive in free agency this offseason, though they still came away with just three signings. All of them, however, figure to be impactful.
Jimmy Graham is the big name, and he almost certainly will be an upgrade at tight end. Granted, that's not saying much considering what the Packers had at the position last year, but Graham will be a major red-zone threat for Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, Muhammad Wilkerson will look to rebound on his new "prove it" deal. Wilkerson hasn't tried hard in years, but he finally has the incentive to do so again.
Tramon Williams was a late pick-up. I haven't graded the move yet because the financials aren't known yet, but it seems like a strong signing. Williams has age concerns, but played well for Arizona in 2017.
Overall, this was a positive offseason for the Packers. They still have a lot of work to do in their secondary, and losing Morgan Burnett will hurt, but Green Bay deserves a B+ for its efforts this spring.
Minnesota Vikings: B Acquired: QB Kirk Cousins, QB Trevor Siemian, WR Kendall Wright, G Tom Compton, DT Sheldon Richardson. Lost: QB Case Keenum, QB Teddy Bridgewater, QB Sam Bradford, RB Jerick McKinnon, WR Michael Floyd, WR Jarius Wright, G/C Joe Berger, DT Tom Johnson, DT Shamar Stephen, CB Terence Newman, CB Tramaine Brock, CB Marcus Sherels.
The Vikings got rid of all three of their quarterbacks this past season, opting to sign Kirk Cousins instead. They gave Cousins an unprecedented, fully guaranteed contract worth $84 million, which seems like an unnecessary risk. Cousins isn't that much of an upgrade over Case Keenum, and Minnesota will be in quite the dilemma if Cousins suffers a major injury. Besides, the move reminds me a lot of when the 2001 Ravens thought they were upgrading their quarterback situation by replacing Trent Dilfer with Elvis Grbac. It backfired, and this decision may do the same thing.
That said, I'm not going to grade the Vikings harshly for doing what they did, as Cousins is a better quarterback overall. Plus, I loved the Sheldon Richardson signing. Minnesota acquired a dynamic talent for its defensive line, and the quartet of Richardson, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter could challenge the Eagles as the best defensive front in the business.
The Vikings also didn't really lose anyone this offseason, aside from Jerick McKinnon, and his absence won't be felt too much unless Dalvin Cook gets hurt again.
2018 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC North
Baltimore Ravens: C+ Acquired: QB Robert Griffin, WR Michael Crabtree, WR John Brown, WR Willie Snead. Lost: RB Danny Woodhead, WR Mike Wallace, WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Michael Campanaro, TE Ben Watson, TE Crockett Gillmore, OT Austin Howard, C Ryan Jensen, S Lardarius Webb.
The Ravens averted disaster, as they were able to somehow rescind the awful contract they gave Ryan Grant. It was a move made of desperation, and Baltimore would've earned a "D" grade or worse here if that transaction held up.
Instead, the Ravens made a couple of potential upgrades to the receiving corps, obtaining Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Of course, that's not a guarantee. Crabtree will turn 31 in September, while Brown has some major health concerns. Still, odds are that they will be better than what Baltimore had at the position in 2017.
The Ravens, however, failed to upgrade their offensive line, which had to be the top priority. Sure, there weren't many options, but giving James Hurst an absurd contract isn't going to help matters. The Ravens also lost Ryan Jensen, which will hurt Joe Flacco's protection.
Cincinnati Bengals: A- Acquired: OT Cordy Glenn, DT Chris Baker, ILB Preston Brown. Lost: QB A.J. McCarron, RB Jeremy Hill, OT Andre Smith, C Russell Bodine, DE Chris Smith, ILB Kevin Minter, CB Pacman Jones.
The Bengals aren't usually active in free agency, but the three moves they made this offseason all seem like positive ones.
Cordy Glenn was the big acquisition, as the Bengals moved down nine spots in the draft to obtain him. Glenn has injury concerns, but if healthy, he'll be a huge upgrade for them at left tackle. Meanwhile, Chris Baker will look to rebound from a poor season. He was a nice, bargain acquisition after failing in Tampa Bay. As for Preston Brown, he was a cheap option for the team's woes at middle linebacker.
I like what Cincinnati did this spring. The team made some potential upgrades while not breaking the bank. It also didn't really lose anyone too important, so the Bengals figure to be better in 2018.
Cleveland Browns: A- Acquired: QB Tyrod Taylor, QB Drew Stanton, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Jeff Janis, TE Darren Fells, OT Chris Hubbard, DE Chris Smith, CB E.J. Gaines, CB T.J. Carrie, CB Terrance Mitchell, S Damarious Randall. Lost: QB DeShone Kizer, QB Cody Kessler, RB Isaiah Crowell, OT Joe Thomas, DT Danny Shelton, CB Jason McCourty.
The Browns kicked off free agency by unleashing a flurry of trades. They acquired Jarvis Landry for almost nothing, then snatched Damarious Randall from the Packers for a project quarterback, then obtained Tyrod Taylor for a bit more than he's worth, and then they followed that up with trading two talented players, Danny Shelton and Jason McCourty, for less than what their market value should have been.
Still, it was a mostly positive offseason for the Browns, who acquired lots of talented players. Landry is going to be a potent weapon for Sam Darnold. E.J. Gaines is an upgrade over McCourty. Randall will provide needed help at safety. Carlos Hyde, if healthy, will pair well with Saquon Barkley. Chris Hubbard is an improvement for the right tackle spot.
I'd love to give the Browns something in the "A" range, but they lost Joe Thomas. That's not their fault, but his retirement is a definite downgrade to the roster.
Update: I'm bumping this up to an A- in the wake of Gaines' announced contract, which is a ridiculously cheap one year for $4 million.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B+ Acquired: LB Jon Bostic, S Morgan Burnett, S Nat Berhe. Lost: OT Chris Hubbard, DE/OLB Arthur Moats, S Mike Mitchell, S Robert Golden, S William Gay.
The Steelers typically don't do much in free agency, but when they sign someone, they make it count. That was once again the case this spring.
Pittsburgh's two additions will help the defense. Jon Bostic will be a two-down run-stopping linebacker, while Morgan Burnett will have much more of an impact. Burnett was the top safety available this offseason, so he'll provide a much-needed boost to the secondary. He was signed cheaply, which is an added bonus.
Furthermore, the Steelers didn't really lose anyone this offseason. Chris Hubbard was a valuable backup last year, but Pittsburgh had no plans for him to start. Mike Mitchell was a starter, but Burnett is a clear upgrade.
2018 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: NFC South
Atlanta Falcons: D Acquired: TE Logan Paulsen. Lost: WR Taylor Gabriel, WR Andre Roberts, TE Levine Toilolo, DE Adrian Clayborn, DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, NT Dontari Poe, NT Ahtyba Rubin, OLB Kemal Ishmael.
The Falcons opted to sit out free agency, only signing backup tight end Logan Paulsen. They watched some key players like Adrian Clayborn, Dontari Poe and Taylor Gabriel depart, so their roster will be worse next year. Fortunately, they get to avoid an "F" grade because they didn't do anything to cause long-term damage to their cap situation, so I guess that's good news.
Carolina Panthers: C+ Acquired: WR Torrey Smith, WR Jarius Wright, OT Jeremiah Sirles, NT Dontari Poe, CB Ross Cockrell, S Da'Norris Searcy. Lost: QB Derek Anderson, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Brenton Bersin, WR Charles Johnson, TE Ed Dickson, G Andrew Norwell, DE Charles Johnson, DT Star Lotulelei, CB Daryl Worley, S Kurt Coleman, S Jairus Byrd.
The Panthers began free agency with a strange trade, acquiring the overpriced Torrey Smith in exchange for a young, promising cornerback. The secondary was an issue, so trading Daryl Worley didn't make much sense. However, the Panthers made up for that on the 10th day of free agency, signing both Ross Cockrell and Da'Norris Searcy to help the secondary. Searcy will just be a decent reserve, ideally, but Cockrell is a solid, underrated cornerback who should help bolster the secondary.
Elsewhere, the Panthers also signed Dontari Poe, who will be an upgrade over the disappointing Star Lotulelei. Still, none of this makes up for the loss of guard Andrew Norwell. One of the top players at his position in the entire NFL, Norwell's departure will severely downgrade Cam Newton's protection and Christian McCaffrey's run blocking.
The Panthers aren't having a bad free agency by any means, but failing to replace Norwell will hurt the team's chances in 2018.
New Orleans Saints: A- Acquired: QB Tom Savage, WR Cameron Meredith, G Jermon Bushrod, ILB Demario Davis, CB Patrick Robinson, S Kurt Coleman. Lost: FB Zach Line, OT Zach Strief, G Andrew Tiller, G Senio Kelemete, DT Nick Fairley, ILB Gerald Hodges, CB Delvin Breaux, S Kenny Vaccaro, S Rafael Bush.
The Saints had a legendary draft class last year, so it would've been shocking had they disappointed in free agency this offseason. As expected, they made some solid moves to improve their roster.
Retaining Drew Brees to a reasonable contract was the most important thing the Saints did this offseason, but they also helped their defense, signing Patrick Robinson and Demario Davis. Robinson is coming off the best season of his career and should be able to help an improving New Orleans secondary. Davis, meanwhile, is an upgrade at linebacker.
New Orleans lost a couple of key players in Zach Strief and Kenny Vaccaro. Losing Strief wasn't their fault, as he opted to retire, while Vaccaro was deemed too injury-prone to retain. Thus, I think the Saints deserve something like an A- for what they've done in free agency.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C+ Acquired: C Ryan Jensen, DE Vinny Curry, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Beau Allen, K Chandler Catanzaro. Lost: RB Doug Martin, RB Charles Sims, DE Robert Ayers, DT Chris Baker, DT Clinton McDonald, CB Robert McClain.
The Buccaneers overpaid for several players this offseason, but I can't exactly blame them. The front office will be fired if Tampa doesn't make the playoffs this season, so general manager Jason Licht had to do whatever it took to strengthen the roster.
That said, I still can't give the Buccaneers a positive grade. Ryan Jensen and Beau Allen were signed for way too much money. Vinny Curry, less so, but he's in his 30s now, and he could regress in the near future. Jason Pierre-Paul was a nice trade target, so it wasn't all bad.
I'd say a C+ is fine. The Buccaneers will be better in 2018, but I'm not sure if this free-agency period help all that much. Hopefully their transactions don't hurt their long-term financial situation.
2018 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC South
Houston Texans: A- Acquired: QB Joe Webb, OT Seantrel Henderson, G Zach Fulton, G Senio Kelemete, CB Aaron Colvin, S Tyrann Mathieu, S Johnson Bademosi. Lost: QB Tom Savage, RB Alfred Blue, OT Chris Clark, OT Derek Newton, G Xavier Su'a-Filo, ILB Brian Cushing, CB Marcus Williams, S Marcus Gilchrist, S Eddie Pleasant.
The Texans made one of the best moves of the offseason, acquiring Tyrann Mathieu after the Cardinals inexplicably released him. Mathieu, who will now be two years removed from a knee injury, should have a great year for the Texans, benefiting from J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus putting lots of pressure on the quarterback.
Houston made two other quality signings, bringing in guard Zach Fulton and cornerback Aaron Colvin. Fulton is an upgrade to a horrible offensive line, while Colvin bolsters a shaky group of cornerbacks, as he happens to be a solid option in the slot.
I love what the Texans have done this offseason. I wish they would've signed another starting-caliber offensive lineman, but they've put themselves in a position to make a deep playoff run.
Indianapolis Colts: C Acquired: WR Ryan Grant, G Matt Slauson, DE Denico Autry, OLB Najee Goode, CB Kenneth Acker. Lost: RB Frank Gore, WR Donte Moncrief, WR Kamar Aiken, NT Johnathan Hankins, DE/OLB Barkevious Mingo, ILB Jon Bostic, CB Rashaan Melvin, S Darius Butler.
I loved the trade Indianapolis pulled off with the Jets, but that will be covered in the draft grades that will be published next month.
As for free agency, the Colts lost two of their best defensive players from last year's horrible stop unit. Nose tackle Johnathan Hankins was cut because he didn't fit the new 4-3 defense. Meanwhile, top cornerback Rashaan Melvin signed elsewhere. Melvin was Indianapolis' only viable cornerback, so without any additions, it remains to be seen what the team will do at the position. Numerous draft picks will need to be spent on cornerbacks.
The Colts, at the very least, bolstered their offensive line with Matt Slauson, so the offseason wasn't a complete waste. Still, it's fair to wonder why the Colts put themselves in a position where they had to cut the best player in their front seven.
Jacksonville Jaguars: C Acquired: QB Cody Kessler, WR Donte Moncrief, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Niles Paul, G Andrew Norwell, CB D.J. Hayden, S Cody Davis, S Don Carey. Lost: QB Chad Henne, RB Chris Ivory, WR Allen Robinson, WR Allen Hurns, TE Marcedes Lewis, G Patrick Omameh, LB Paul Posluszny, CB Aaron Colvin.
The Jaguars can't earn a positive grade by default because they re-signed Blake Bortles to a ridiculous contract to start the offseason. Rather than finally finding an upgrade over a guy who doesn't care about his playing career, they opted to give him more money. That made absolutely no sense. Bortles had trouble completing forward passes in a playoff game against the Bills. It's a joke that he's still a starter in the NFL.
Jacksonville also gave Marqise Lee too much money. However, there were plenty of positives as well. The signing of Andrew Norwell was extremely important, as it'll provide a huge upgrade to the offensive line. Cornerback D.J. Hayden, safety Cody Davis and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins were all nice additions as well.
The final grade is only a question of how much the Jaguars should be punished for the Bortles extension. I think that a potential A- needs to be knocked down to a "C," at the very least. Jacksonville had a golden opportunity to upgrade Bortles, but it opted to pass on the chance to do so.
Tennessee Titans: A- Acquired: QB Blaine Gabbert, RB Dion Lewis, WR Michael Campanaro, OT Kevin Pamphile, DT Bennie Logan, ILB Will Compton, CB Malcolm Butler. Lost: RB DeMarco Murray, WR Eric Decker, C Brian Schwenke, DT Karl Klug, DT Sylvester Williams, ILB Avery Williamson, CB Brice McCain, S Da'Norris Searcy.
The Titans signed just two players of note, but they will both have a huge impact in 2018.
Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis are both former Patriots who joined the Titans. Lewis will take DeMarco Murray's place as Tennessee's receiving back, serving as a great complement to Derrick Henry. Butler, meanwhile, is a tremendous upgrade for the secondary. Butler, Adoree Jackson and Logan Ryan will form a great trio of corners, and they'll give the Titans a fighting chance against Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
Tennessee's offseason has been a strong one, despite just three signings. The team lost a bunch of veterans, but most of the departures were old, washed-up players. Thus, I think the Titans deserve something in the neighborhood of an A-.
2018 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: NFC West
Arizona Cardinals: D Acquired: QB Sam Bradford, QB Mike Glennon, WR Brice Butler, OT Andre Smith, G Justin Pugh, CB Marcus Williams, CB Bene Benwikere. Lost: QB Drew Stanton, RB Adrian Peterson, WR John Brown, TE Troy Niklas, OT Jared Veldheer, DE Kareem Martin, NT Xavier Rhodes, ILB Karlos Dansby, CB Tramon Williams, CB Justin Bethel, S Tyrann Mathieu, S Tyvon Branch.
The Cardinals cut Tyrann Mathieu so they could pay for Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. That should tell you everything you need to know about Arizona's offseason.
I don't understand why the Cardinals gave Bradford so much money. It's as if they were completely unaware of his extensive injury history. Bradford, when healthy, is a solid quarterback, but no team should ever count on him as a starter. Bradford, ideally, should've taken a 1-year "prove it" deal worth $8 million or so this offseason. Instead, Arizona gave him a ridiculous $40 million over two years.
The only think saving the Cardinals from an "F" is the Justin Pugh signing. Pugh provides the Cardinals with a much-needed upgrade on the offensive line, but he's not enough to prevent them from earning this "D" grade.
Los Angeles Rams: A+ Acquired: WR Brandin Cooks, DT Ndamukong Suh, ILB Ramik Wilson, CB Marcus Peters, CB Aqib Talib, CB Sam Shields. Lost: WR Sammy Watkins, TE Derek Carrier, DE Robert Quinn, DE Connor Barwin, LB Alec Ogletree, CB Trumaine Johnson, CB Kayvon Webster, S Cody Lewis.
The Rams now have the best secondary in the NFL. They made vast improvements to it, trading for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, franchising LaMarcus Joyner and signing Sam Shields. It's unclear what they'll get out of Shields, but Peters and Talib will form a tremendous duo that will be extremely difficult to throw against.
As for the departures, there are some big names on the list, including Sammy Watkins, Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree. However, Watkins didn't gel with Jared Goff, while Quinn and Ogletree were poor fits for Wade Phillips' 3-4. It made sense to trade them, so I won't penalize Los Angeles for moving on from them.
With that in mind, I'm giving the Rams an "A" grade for their free-agency period. I have some concern with Goff now that Greg Olson is gone, but the defense might just be as dominant as Denver's stop unit back in 2015. There's also talk that the Rams may sign Ndamukong Suh. If they land him, this grade will be bumped up to an A+.
Update: The Rams signed Suh, so as promised, I'm moving this up to an A+.
San Francisco 49ers: B Acquired: RB Jerick McKinnon, G Jonathan Cooper, C Weston Richburg, DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, CB Richard Sherman. Lost: RB Carlos Hyde, C Daniel Kilgore, DE Aaron Lynch, DE Tank Carradine, DE Elvis Dumervil, CB Dontae Johnson, S Eric Reid.
All discussion of San Francisco's offseason has to begin with Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers were able to retain him to a long-term contract, which was obviously a great move because failing to do so, after his great finish in 2017, would've been disastrous.
John Lynch worked hard to add some talent around Garoppolo. He worked a little too hard in one instance, however, overpaying for Jerick McKinnon. Lynch said he loved what he saw from McKinnon on tape, but perhaps he should've studied the 2018 NFL Draft running back class first because it's loaded with talent. McKinnon's not a bad player, but there are so many comparable or better talents available in this upcoming draft.
Lynch, however, made up for his mistake by signing Weston Richburg. The 49ers were desperate for a center, and Richburg will solidify that position, provided he stays healthy. Meanwhile, San Francisco didn't lose much outside of Eric Reid, so I'd say its offseason was mostly positive.
Seattle Seahawks: F Acquired: WR Jaron Brown, TE Ed Dickson, G D.J. Fluker, DT Tom Johnson, DT Shamar Stephen, OLB Barkevious Mingo, CB Dontae Johnson, K Sebastian Janikowski. Lost: QB Trevone Boykin, RB Thomas Rawls, WR Paul Richardson, TE Jimmy Graham, TE Luke Willson, G Luke Joeckel, DE Michael Bennett, DT Sheldon Richardson, OLB Michael Wilhoite, CB Richard Sherman, CB Jeremy Lane, CB Byron Maxwell, CB Deshawn Shead, K Blair Walsh.
The Seahawks have endured a horrible offseason, and I have to imagine that their fans just want it to end. Then, when they see the finished product, they'll want a new offseason again, so they should be careful what they wish for.
Seattle lost so many key players this spring. Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson are gone from a once-impressive offensive line. Richard Sherman will no longer be around. Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham are two offensive weapons who departed as well.
So, what do the Seahawks have to show for all of this? Tom Johnson... Barkevious Mingo... D.J. Fluker... yuck. What a disaster.
2018 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC West
Denver Broncos: B- Acquired: QB Case Keenum, OT Jared Veldheer, DT Clinton McDonald, ILB Su'a Cravens, CB Tramaine Brock, P Marquette King. Lost: QB Trevor Siemian, RB C.J. Anderson, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Cody Latimer, TE Virgil Green, G Allen Barbre, CB Aqib Talib.
Denver's top priority this offseason was signing a quarterback. Kirk Cousins was the desired target, but not once the Broncos learned that the Vikings were crazy enough to give him a fully guaranteed $84 million contract. John Elway settled instead for Case Keenum, who isn't much worse than Cousins.
The Broncos' second objective was to upgrade the offensive line to protect the new signal-caller, but that didn't happen (Jared Veldheer doesn't count.) Still, given the lack of options in free agency, they shouldn't be downgraded too much. Denver will likely spend the fifth-overall pick on Quenton Nelson, as seen here in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft, and that will help a ton.
Aqib Talib was the only player of note the Broncos lost. His absence will hurt, but given that he's now 32, he could have experienced regression. Still, this offseason might be seen as a slight disappointment, so something in the neighborhood of a B- or C+ makes sense.
Kansas City Chiefs: B+ Acquired: QB Chad Henne, WR Sammy Watkins, NT Xavier Williams, LB Anthony Hitchens, CB David Amerson, CB Kendall Fuller, S Robert Golden. Lost: QB Alex Smith, WR Albert Wilson, G Zach Fulton, NT Bennie Logan, DE/OLB Tamba Hali, DE/OLB Dee Ford, ILB Derrick Johnson, ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Marcus Peters, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Phillip Gaines, S Ron Parker, S Steven Terrell.
The Chiefs have taken some unnecessary criticism this offseason. The media seems to think that they'll be worse because they lost some key players like Alex Smith, Derrick Johnson and Marcus Peters. As usual, the media is wrong, and the reality is that Kansas City has put itself into a position to make a run at the Super Bowl this season.
Patrick Mahomes is going to be an upgrade over the perennially overrated Smith, who is always a colossal disappointment in the playoffs. The Chiefs are going to take advantage of Mahomes' massive arm by pairing him with Sammy Watkins. The former first-round pick has a dubious injury history, but if healthy, he'll form a great pair with Tyreek Hill to give Mahomes some potent downfield weapons.
As for the defense, it could be argued that Kansas City's secondary will be better in 2018. Eric Berry will return, while the acquisition of Kendall Fuller will give the Chiefs a tremendous slot corner. Meanwhile, Xavier Williams, Anthony Hitchens and David Amerson were nice additions for the stop unit as well.
This grade will surprise many, but I feel as though the Chiefs had a mostly positive offseason.
Los Angeles Chargers: C+ Acquired: QB Geno Smith, TE Virgil Green, C Mike Pouncey, CB Jaylen Watkins, K Caleb Sturgis. Lost: RB Branden Oliver, TE Antonio Gates, G/C Matt Slauson, G Kenny Wiggins, DE/OLB Jerry Attaochu, ILB Korey Toomer, S Tre Boston, K Nick Novak.
The Chargers didn't really do very much this offseason. They made one big splash by signing Mike Pouncey, but I'm not sure if that's going to work out very well. Pouncey has struggled the past couple of years because he needs a new hip. Still, he'll be better than what the Chargers had at center last year, so that's a slight positive.
I also liked that the Chargers upgraded their kicker with Caleb Sturgis. However, we're already talking about kickers, which should tell you how nondescript the Chargers' offseason has been. The good news is that they didn't really lose anything either.
Oakland Raiders: B Acquired: RB Doug Martin, FB Keith Smith, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Derek Carrier, DE Tank Carradine, OLB Tahir Whitehead, OLB Kyle Wilber, CB Rashaan Melvin, CB Shareece Wright, CB Daryl Worley, CB Leon Hall, S Marcus Gilchrist. Lost: FB Jamize Olawale, WR Michael Crabtree, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, OT Marshall Newhouse, DE Aldon Smith, DT Denico Autry, ILB NaVorro Bowman, CB T.J. Carrie, CB David Amerson, CB Sean Smith, S Keith McGill, K Sebastian Janikowski, P Marquette King.
Jon Gruden hasn't coached in a decade, so it makes sense that he would acquire players who have been playing for a decade. Gruden was criticized for obtaining Doug Martin and Jordy Nelson, but those signings could pan out. As Charlie Campbell pointed out on Twitter (@draftcampbell): "Remember when Jon Gruden rejuvenated the careers of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Keenan McCardell, Joey Galloway, and Antonio Bryant when everybody thought those guys were done? Keep that in mind in for Jordy Nelson in your fantasy drafts next season."
Nelson was terrible last season, but being another year removed from his ACL tear could help. Martin, meanwhile, has played well in the past, and he's not 30 yet, so he could have one more strong season remaining in the tank. Elsewhere, the Raiders made a great signing in Rashaan Melvin, who was very impressive for Indianapolis this past season. He's a much-needed boost for the secondary.
The Raiders didn't really lose anyone aside from Michael Crabtree and NaVorro Bowman, so I like what they've done overall this offseason. It hasn't been an overly strong free-agency period for them, but as you've seen above, so many teams have done worse.