By Chris Ross @DraftScout_NFL on April 20, 2014
This offseason in the NFL has been unlike any other. Between coaching changes, player signings and off-field issues, it has been quite the ride so far for both NFL teams and their fans. With that said, let's take a look at every NFL team's offseason report card so far.
Last season, under new head coach Bruce Arians, the Arizona Cardinals returned to respectability with a 10-6 season. That said, the team went into this offseason with some major needs. The signing of left tackle Jared Veldheer filled the team’s biggest need, and the signing of Antonio Cromartie helped fill out the secondary. However, the losses of Karlos Dansby, Andre Roberts and several others bring this grade down slightly.
Although the Atlanta Falcons have made a few underrated signings this offseason, the fact is the team really hasn’t done too much to improve the roster. Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai and Jon Asamoah are all nice players, however, the team’s failure to find a replacement for departed tight end Tony Gonzalez, as well as the the loss of Thomas DeCoud makes this grade suffer.
Despite the signing of former-Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith, the Baltimore Ravens have had themselves a rough offseason thus far. Michael Oher was a solid, albeit overrated right tackle for the team, while Arthur Jones and Corey Graham were solid starters and hard players to watch leave.
Had the Buffalo Bills not lost star free safety Jairus Byrd, this grade would be much higher. However, despite the signings of Corey Graham and Brandon Spikes, the loss of Byrd really brings this grade down.
This has been a rough offseason for the Carolina Panthers, to say the least. After losing receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon, the team decided to replace that production with Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood. Not to mention, the team did little to address the losses of Jordan Gross and Captain Munnerlyn. Needless to say, this offseason definitely could have gone better for the Panthers.
As rough as the Panthers' offseason was, the Chicago Bears' offseason was the polar opposite. Although the team lost Julius Peppers and Henry Melton, the additions of up-and-coming pass-rushers LaMarr Houston and Willie Young, as well as the signing of veteran Jared Allen, made this offseason a resounding success in the Windy City.
The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990, and if the team’s offseason moves are any indication, that trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. Losing Michael Johnson was a difficult blow for the defensive line to take, and along the offensive line, the loss of Anthony Collins could prove to be costly.
The only problem with the the Cleveland Browns' offseason thus far isn’t necessarily the players they have signed, but the prices those players have come at. Donte Whitner was brought in for more money than it took for the Denver Broncos to sign T.J. Ward, and Karlos Dansby feels a lot like an overpay. That said, the Browns did well to add talent, and for that reason, they enter 2014 with reason for hope.
Had the Cowboys not lost star pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, this grade would be much higher. Henry Melton is a solid signing, and while Brandon Weeden fizzled out as a starter with Cleveland, he could end up becoming a capable backup. That said, the loss of Ware really hurts this grade.
This offseason, the Denver Broncos stressed quality with their free-agency signings. Demarcus Ware is an upgrade over departed Shaun Phillips, and Aqib Talib is a nice fit for Champ Bailey’s old role. Overall, this has been quite the offseason for the Broncos.
The signing of Golden Tate was one of the most underrated signing of the entire free-agency period, so too were the pickups of both Daryll Tapp and James Ihedigbo. The loss of Willie Young hurts, but overall the Lions have had a solid offseason so far.
Predictably, the Green Bay Packers focused mainly upon re-signing their own players. That said, this offseason, the team went out and signed pass-rusher Julius Peppers, adding a solid veteran presence that their defensive line previously lacked. Throw in the re-signing of Sam Shields, B.J. Raji and John Kuhn and it’s easy to see why the Packers’ offseason has to be considered a success.
Unlike the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason, the NFL’s worst team in 2013 failed to make much of an offseason impact. Matt Schaub, Ben Tate and Owen Daniels are all gone, and the Texans’ best chance to turn this offseason around is through the draft.
The Indianapolis Colts made one of the offseason’s most underrated signings in former-New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks. A low-risk, high-reward type of signing, Nicks could surprise a lot of people. Throw in the signings of Arthur Jones, Phil Costa and D’Qwell Jackson, and the Indianapolis Colts have had themselves a decent offseason thus far.
Perhaps the NFL’s least talented roster in the 2013-14 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made great progress this offseason in an effort to add talent to the roster. Toby Gerhart is an upgrade over the 2013 version of Maurice Jones-Drew, and Chris Clemons, Ziggy Hood and Red Bryant bring in three very unique playing styles and all three are a great fit in Gus Bradley’s system.
Unlike last offseason when the Chiefs made a big splash by trading for Alex Smith and signing head coach Andy Reid, this offseason has been considerably slower for the team. Losing several key players, including two starting-caliber guards, really brings this grade down.
This offseason, the Miami Dolphins finally went out and fixed the left tackle position with the signing of Brandon Albert, effectively giving the team their first starting-caliber player at the position since Jake Long left. Not to mention, with the signings of Knowshon Moreno, Shelley Smith and Louis Delmas, the Dolphins improved their roster for the second-straight offseason, and this grade is indicative of that.
In 2013, the Minnesota Vikings had one of the NFL’s worst defenses. Therefore, it makes sense that almost all of the Vikings offseason acquisitions have been on the defensive side of the ball. The signings of players like Linval Joseph, Jasper Brinkley and Captain Munnerlyn have been solid. However, this grade is affected by the fact the team failed to add any sort of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Although the New England Patriots haven’t brought in a lot of new talent, it’s the quality of the talent they have brought in the matters. Darrelle Revis is among the best corners in the game, while Brandon Browner has the type of veteran savvy that the team’s secondary has lacked. This offseason, the Patriots again showed what makes them one of the league’s most consistent teams.
Despite losing several productive players this offseason, the New Orleans Saints have still managed to avoid total disaster with the signings of star safety Jairus Byrd, and a veteran presence in Champ Bailey. That said, the losses of guys like Darren Sproles, Lance Moore and Brian de la Puente keep this grade from being an A.
If the New York Giants' primary objective this offseason was to add talent in the secondary, consider it mission complete. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie headlines a group of players that also includes underrated Walter Thurmond and Zackary Bowman. When you throw in the fact that the team was also able to bring in guard Geoff Schwartz and running back Rashad Jennings, it’s easy to see why this offseason has been a solid one for the Giants.
For someone who was supposedly a last-ditch signing, New York Jets general manager John Idzik has actually done a great job since taking over the position. This offseason, Idzik knew he had to upgrade the offense, and he has done just that. Chris Johnson is the most recent signing of a haul that also includes Eric Decker, Michael Vick and Jacoby Ford, and with the talent they’ve added thus far, the Jets may return to offensive respectability.
Although the Oakland Raiders have made a splash this free-agency period, I’m not sure it’s the right kind of splash. The team went into this offseason with money to spend, then effectively spent that money on veterans that seem to be on the downsides of their respective careers. Now that’s not to say Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Maurice Jones-Drew won’t help, however, there were better options out there for a similar cost.
If it weren’t for the trade that netted them the playmaking Darren Sproles, this grade would be much lower for the Philadelphia Eagles. The team released receiver DeSean Jackson due to “character concerns,” then replaced him with often-injured Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper. Needless to say, things could have gone much better this offseason for the Eagles.
For a team that is normally quiet during free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been unusually active this offseason. Although they lost LaMarr Woodley and a few other solid contributors, the team did well by adding LeGarrette Blount, as well as players like Lance Moore and Cam Thomas.
If the St. Louis Rams played in any other division, chances are they would be a playoff team. However, it’s because of the division’s success that the Rams need to nail every offseason just to have a fighting chance. Unfortunately, it’s unclear just how successful this offseason will turn out for the team. Shaun Hill adds depth and Kenny Britt adds talent, but it might not be enough.
The San Diego Chargers surprised a lot of people last year with a run that included a playoff berth and subsequent wild card win. That said, this offseason was going to be critical to the team’s future success. And while the team lost an underrated player in Cam Thomas and a solid contributor in Derek Cox, this offseason still is classified as a win.
If it weren’t for the offseason trouble that has plagued the team thus far, this grade would likely be much higher. That said, the on-field additions the San Francisco 49ers have made so far have been adequate. Antoine Bethea is an upgrade over Donte Whitner, and guys like Jonathan Martin and Chris Cook add nice depth to the roster.
As Super Bowl XLVIII champions, the Seattle Seahawks predictably have been robbed of some of their key contributors this season. Players like Golden Tate, Chris Clemons and Brandon Browner are all tough players to replace, and it’s up to some of the Seahawks' younger players to step it up in 2014.
This offseason has gone every bit the way the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would’ve liked. It started off by bringing in Lovie Smith to coach the team; then from there, it turned into the team spending money on some of the bigger-named free agents. Guys like Alterraun Verner, Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson and Josh McCown could finally put the Buccaneers over the hump.
Despite releasing former 2000-yard rusher Chris Johnson, the Tennessee Titans have still enjoyed a relatively solid offseason so far. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt is an upgrade over Mike Munchak, and with signings like Shaun Phillips, Dexter McCluster and Wesley Woodyard, the Titans have added some nice talent.
New head coach, new team identity. That seems to be the way the Washington Redskins' offseason has been so far, as since bringing in new head coach Jay Gruden, the team has spent money wisely this offseason. DeSean Jackson is obviously the biggest signing, but players like Tracy Porter, Jason Hatcher and Ryan Clark will help add talent to a defense that needed it.
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