Now that we are officially over a week into the 2012 NFL free agency period, it would be a good time to see how recent free-agent signings have shaken up the power rankings in the NFL world.
Have Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a contender? Did losing three defensive starters cause the Baltimore Ravens to become a mediocre team?
We'll answer all these questions and more with an early, early look at the 2012 NFL power rankings.
Key Losses: WR Pierre Garcon (Washington Redskins), QB Dan Orlovksy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), WR Anthony Gonzalez (New England Patriots), QB Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)
Key Signings: WR Reggie Wayne, DE Cory Redding (Baltimore Ravens), SS Tom Zbikowski (Baltimore Ravens), C Samson Satele (Oakland Raiders)
This was the worst team for the majority of the 2011 season, and right now they'll remain the worst team in the league through the first week of free agency. While Wayne and Redding are big signings, they've lost way more than they've gained.
Garcon and Manning are the two that will hurt the most, but even backup quarterback Orlovsky played well when called upon last year. These players will be missed greatly, as the Colts will likely struggle through another difficult season.
Key Losses: QB Chad Henne (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR Brandon Marshall (Chicago Bears), DL Kendall Langford (St. Louis Rams), FS Will Allen (New England Patriots)
Key Signings: NT Paul Soliai, CB Richard Marshall (Arizona Cardinals), RB Steve Slaton, QB David Garrard, DE Ryan Baker
The Miami Dolphins have made some decent moves, but have really missed out on some huge names. Neither Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn decided to play for them, which leaves them still searching for a quarterback.
Also, losing Marshall and Langford are going to impact both sides of the ball greatly. The Dolphins are left without a true No. 1 receiver and their defense will miss Langford's impact on all areas of the game.
This is a team that has had an extremely difficult first week of free agency.
Key Losses: None
Key Signings: QB Chad Henne (Miami Dolphins), DE Jeremy Mincey, WR Laurent Robinson (Dallas Cowboys), SS Dwight Lowery, CB Aaron Ross (New York Giants)
Even though the Jacksonville Jaguars haven't lost any key players through free agency, they haven't done enough to get out of the cellar as far as team rankings.
They paid Robinson No. 1 receiver money even though he isn't an elite receiver. He'll be a nice complement piece, but it's likely that he won't help much in the development of Blaine Gabbert.
Bringing back Mincey and bringing in Ross were both solid moves, but not game changers. Jacksonville still looks like one of the worst overall teams in the league.
Key Losses: CB Richard Marshall (Miami Dolphins)
Key Signings: G Adam Snyder (San Francisco 49ers), OT Levi Brown, WR Early Doucet
Not many changes to the Arizona Cardinals through free agency, but they'll take a major hit by missing out on Peyton Manning. Just the idea of Manning throwing to Larry Fitzgerald made me begin drooling, and it's too bad it won't happen.
Now the Cardinals will have to turn their trust back to Kevin Kolb, who didn't play so well when on the field in 2011. If Kolb can prove that he was worth the money Arizona paid him, this could be a surprise team in 2012 with young players like Chris Wells and Patrick Peterson leading the way.
However, as they sit right now, the Cardinals haven't done anything to make themselves a contender in the NFC West.
Key Losses: CB Brandon Carr (Dallas Cowboys), FB Le'Ron McClain (San Diego Chargers), QB Kyle Orton (Dallas Cowboys)
Key Signings: RB Peyton Hillis (Cleveland Browns), TE Kevin Boss (Oakland Raiders), QB Brady Quinn (Denver Broncos), OT Eric Winston (Houston Texans)
The Kansas City Chiefs have gained and lost quite a few players through the first week of free agency.
While I understand why they couldn't keep Carr, I was never a fan of their move to bring in Stanford Routt, and think they'll see a large diminish in their secondary play because of that. Also, losing Orton and McClain might be overlooked now, but those were two valuable players on this team.
Signing Hillis is another interesting move, as I can't see how Hillis and Jamaal Charles will function together in the backfield. Charles is coming back from an injury, but if he is fully healthy, which he should be, the Chiefs shouldn't give his carries to anyone.
Overall, the Chiefs look like they're reaching a little too far to bolster their already struggling roster.
Key Losses: CB Cedric Griffin (Washington Redskins), G Steve Hutchinson (Tennessee Titans),
Key Signings: TE John Carlson (Seattle Seahawks)
The Minnesota Vikings haven't many key moves this offseason, so they'll remain near the bottom of the rankings for now.
Both Hutchinson and Griffin were contributors in 2011 and the Vikings don't have anyone to replace either of them. It would have been nice to see Minnesota at least make an effort to land players like Brandon Carr, Cortland Finnegan, Carl Nicks or Ben Grubbs, but they simply didn't have the firepower.
Now they're stuck with a weaker offensive line to protect Christian Ponder, and a worse secondary to defend against the pass-happy NFC North.
At least they brought in Carlson.
Key Losses: QB Jason Campbell (Chicago Bears), TE Kevin Boss (Kansas City Chiefs), WR Chaz Schilens (New York Jets), OLB Kamerion Wimbley (Tennessee Titans), C Samson Satele (Indianapolis Colts), CB Stanford Routt (Kansas City Chiefs)
Key Signings: CB Ron Bartell (St. Louis Rams), DB Pat Lee (Green Bay Packers)
Just take a look at who the Oakland Raiders have lost and who they have gained and you'll understand why they're ranked so low.
The three losses that will hurt the most are Campbell, Wimbley and Schilens. I know Campbell wasn't going to start because of Carson Palmer, but he's a fantastic insurance policy and Palmer didn't dispel doubts about his game the second half of 2011.
Losing Wimbley is a huge loss to a defense that struggled getting pressure on the quarterback. With no draft picks in the first round, the Raiders will struggle to replace him through the draft.
As far as Schilens goes, he really stepping his game up late in the year. Even though he finished the season with only 23 receptions for 271 yards, he showed flashes of being a very good receiver in the red zone.
It's been a hard in free agency so far for Oakland, and it doesn't appear like it will be getting much better.
Key Losses: WR Brandon Lloyd (New England Patriots), CB Ron Bartell (Oakland Raiders)
Key Signings: CB Cortland Finnegan (Tennessee Titans), C Scott Wells (Green Bay Packers), DL Kendall Langford (Miami Dolphins)
I really debated putting the St. Louis Rams higher than this because I believe they've had a superb free agency so far.
Each of their key signings will make an instant impact on this roster. Finnegan and Wells are two of the best at their respective positions, and Langford is no slouch either.
However, losing Lloyd is going to hurt as the Rams desperately need a top target for Sam Bradford. If this team can't draft either Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd, their big signings may not make much of a difference.
Key Losses: RB Peyton Hillis (Kansas City Chiefs), FS Mike Adams (Denver Broncos)
Key Signings: TE Alex Smith, DE Frostee Rucker (Cincinnati Bengals), DE Juqua Parker (Philadelphia Eagles)
While the Cleveland Browns have been active throughout free agency, they'll been unable to land any impact players other than Rucker from the Bengals.
Even though Rucker will make an already dangerous defense better, the Browns have really needed to improve their offense, and that simply hasn't happened yet.
Colt McCoy hasn't proven to be the quarterback of the future, Greg Little is far too inconsistent to be a No. 1 receiver, and the offensive line has some major holes.
With two first-round draft picks, the Browns could address their needs and greatly improve their team. I'm just not confident that they'll spend those picks wisely.
Key Losses: CB Cortland Finnegan (St. Louis Rams), DE Jason Jones (Seattle Seahawks)
Key Signings: SS Jordan Babineaux, G Steve Hutchinson (Minnesota Vikings), OLB Kamerion Wimbley (Oakland Raiders)
The Tennessee Titans swung and missed on Peyton Manning. It was a bold move to try and bring Manning "home," and now the Titans are going to have to live with who they've got on their roster.
Losing Finnegan and Jones could prove to be extremely costly to this team. Those were arguably the two best players on the defense, and there is no doubt that they'll be missed instantly.
On the positive side, Wimbley should be able to replace some of the impact that Jones had while Hutchinson will improve the offensive line.
All in all, the Titans look like a team that could contend in a weak AFC South division.
Key Losses: S LaRon Landry (New York Jets), WR Donte Stallworth (New England Patriots)
Key Signings: WR Pierre Garcon (Indianapolis Colts), DE Adam Carriker, WR Josh Morgan (San Francisco 49ers), CB Cedric Griffin (Minnesota Vikings), FS Brandon Meriweather (Chicago Bears), QB Rex Grossman
Few teams have been as active in free agency as the Washington Redskins have. The loss of Landry will be felt, but Washington has done a solid job of improving their overall roster.
Garcon, Griffin, Carriker and Meriweather are all very solid signings. Each of those players will make an instant impact on both sides of the ball.
If these rankings were after the Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III, they'd be much higher. However, they've at least taken themselves out of the cellar and have a chance to surprise some teams next year.
Key Losses: TE John Carlson (Minnesota Vikings), SS Atari Bigby (San Diego Chargers), G Robert Gallery (New England Patriots), QB Charlie Whitehurst (San Diego Chargers),
Key Signings: DE Red Bryant, QB Matt Flynn (Green Bay Packers), DE Jason Jones (Tennessee Titans)
The one move that the Seattle Seahawks had to make this offseason was sign a franchise quarterback, and they did just that with Flynn. That move alone makes the Seahawks a dangerous team next year.
Adding a pass-rushing virtuoso like Jones is another solid move and makes their defensive line a dangerous unit. Overall, this defense could be one of the best in the league.
The Seahawks did lose a good chunk of players, and while none of them are "superstars," they were solid contributors who will be missed.
This has been a solid week for the Seahawks, and their fans should be excited about 2012.
Key Losses: OG Ben Grubbs (New Orleans Saints), OLB Jarret Johnson (San Diego Chargers), DE Cory Redding (Indianapolis Colts), DB Haruki Nakamura (Carolina Panthers), SS Tom Zbikowski (Indianapolis Colts)
Key Signings: C Matt Birk
No team has been hit as hard as the Baltimore Ravens have been hit during free agency. Grubbs, Johnson and Redding were key players last year and Nakamura and Zbikowski added great depth to their defensive unit.
What is even harder to believe is that the only move that the Ravens have made during free agency is re-signing Birk. Either the Ravens are extremely confident in their current roster or they're losing ground in the AFC.
Right now it looks like the latter of the two, as the Ravens could struggle mightily in 2012.
Key Losses: WR Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), RB Mike Tolbert (Carolina Panthers)
Key Signings: WR Robert Meachem (New Orleans Saints), OT Jared Gaither, OLB Jarret Johnson (Baltimore Ravens), FB Le'Ron McClain (Kansas City Chiefs), SS Atari Bigby (Seattle Seahawks), WR Eddie Royal (Denver Broncos), QB Charlie Whitehurst (Seattle Seahawks)
Yes, the San Diego Chargers have made a huge splash in free agency, but I'd still take their two lost players over all their newly signed players.
Jackson has the ability to be one of the best receivers in the game and neither Meachem or Royal, or even the combination, will be able to replace his production.
As far as Tolbert goes, the man was an absolute beast near the end zone, which is something that will be difficult to replace.
Their best move so far might have been bringing back Gaither, who played exceptionally well during the second half of the season. He was a big reason why Philip Rivers began to turn around his season.
The Chargers should compete for a divisional crown, like always, but it will be a difficult road for them.
Key Losses: SS Brodney Pool (Dallas Cowboys)
Key Signings: K Nick Folk, OLB Bryan Thomas, S LaRon Landry (Washington Redskins), WR Chaz Schilens (Oakland Raiders), NT Sione Pouha, QB Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos)
While the New York Jets have made some solid moves (Landry, Schilens, Pouha), this team has disaster written all over it. If you thought the locker room was testy with just Mark Sanchez in it, wait until Tebow gets there and the fans start chanting his name.
On the positive side, Landry is a huge upgrade in the secondary and Schilens have the ability to develop into a real threat in the red zone.
One thing that will be certain in 2012 is that the Jets will be the most interesting team to watch.
Key Losses: MLB Dan Connor (Dallas Cowboys)
Key Signings: RB Mike Tolbert (San Diego Chargers), DB Haruki Nakamura (Baltimore Ravens)
The Carolina Panthers have done a great job at positioning themselves to succeed in 2012.
Bringing in a player like Tolbert was a great signing. Tolbert is a top-class individual who will help the offense mature. He'll also provide a sound option other than quarterback Cam Newton near the end zone.
The Panthers have to feel good about where this team is headed. It's unfortunate that they play in arguably the most difficult division in football (NFC South). If they played anywhere else, they would be a legitimate playoff contender.
Key Losses: DE Juqua Parker (Cleveland Browns), OT Winston Justice (Indianapolis Colts)
Key Signings: WR DeSean Jackson, DT Antonio Dixon, OG Evan Mathis, MLB DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans)
When players like Parker and Justice are your only two major losses so far, you've done pretty well.
Trading for a player like Ryans could potentially be a season-changing move. The fact that they only had to give up a mid-round pick makes this move an instant win for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The biggest problem this team had in 2011 was at middle linebacker, and now they've added a player who has what it takes to make impacts all over the field.
This offseason certainly hasn't been as exciting as the 2011 offseason, but considering how last year went for the Eagles, I'd say that is a good thing.
Key Losses: DE Frostee Rucker (Cleveland Browns), DE Jonathan Fanene (New England Patriots), OG Nate Livings (Dallas Cowboys)
Key Signings: FS Reggie Nelson, CB Jason Allen (Houston Texans), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (New England Patriots)
Picking up Green-Ellis was an absolutely fantastic move by the Cincinnati Bengals. He'll add a whole other dimension to an offense that looks poised to take the NFL by storm in 2012.
It will also allow the Bengals to address other needs than running back with their two first-round picks in the draft.
The Bengals also improved their secondary by bringing in Allen and re-signing Nelson. The secondary was a weaker part of the team in 2011, so it's nice to see them recognize that and make moves to improve.
Losing productive players like Rucker and Fanene will hurt, but Cincinnati should be able to replace their production via the draft.
Watch out, AFC North, the Bengals are the real deal.
Key Losses: OLB Mario Williams (Buffalo Bills), FB Lawrence Vickers (Dallas Cowboys), CB Jason Allen (Cincinnati Bengals), OT Eric Winston (Kansas City Chiefs)
Key Signings: C Chris Myers
It's been a tough offseason so far for the Houston Texans. Obviously, losing Mario Williams is going to hurt bad, even though Houston played well without him when he was injured in 2011. Still, Williams is a top-10 defensive player and he'll be missed.
Re-signing Myers was a great move by the Texans, who needed to keep their outstanding offensive line intact to continue to be a force on offense. There was speculation that Myers would leave, but Houston made the right move by bringing him back.
Thanks to a very weak AFC South, the Texans should enter 2012 as the favorite to win the division. However, an early playoff exit will be likely if they don't start making some noise in free agency.
Key Losses: None
Key Signings: WR Vincent Jackson (San Diego Chargers), OG Carl Nicks (New Orleans Saints), QB Dan Orlovsky (Indianapolis Colts), CB Eric Wright (Detroit Lions)
This may seem a little high for a team that finished so poorly in 2011, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made a huge splash during the first week of free agency.
Jackson is going to be a huge target for quarterback Josh Freeman. He's got the potential to be a Pro Bowl receiver and he'll bring the best out of Freeman, who struggled in 2011. Also, adding Nicks, who is one of the best in the game, will help Freeman greatly in 2012.
The Buccaneers haven't lost any key players, and they have a high draft pick in April. This is going to potentially be a scary team in 2012.
Key Losses: None
Key Signings: DE Mario Williams (Houston Texans), DE Mark Anderson (New England Patriots), WR Stevie Johnson
Some might say this is way too high for the Buffalo Bills, but I truly believe the signing of Williams will completely turn around this franchise.
I can't remember the last time that Buffalo landed made this huge of a move in free agency, and it shows that they are committed to winning. Also, the signing of Anderson officially makes the Bills' defensive line the scariest in the NFL.
It would have been nice to see the Bills add some weapons on offense, but you can't argue with their signings. This could be a sleeper team to make a deep playoff run come the regular season.
Key Losses: TE Martellus Bennett (New York Giants), WR Laurent Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Key Signings: CB Brandon Carr (Kansas City Chiefs), QB Kyle Orton (Kansas City Chiefs), SS Brodney Pool (New York Jets), FB Lawrence Vickers (Houston Texans), MLB Dan Connor (Carolina Panthers)
The Dallas Cowboys have certainly been active throughout free agency.
They did a great job at addressing their biggest need (secondary) by signing Carr and Pool. Bringing in Connor was another solid move to improve the front seven.
Signing Orton as a backup might be the most underrated move of the offseason. Orton will push Tony Romo to be a better quarterback, and if Romo would happen to get injured, they would have a solid backup to keep their season going.
The Cowboys positioned themselves to in the running for a division title in 2011 through their aggressive free agency signings.
Key Losses: QB Tim Tebow (New York Jets), TE Daniel Fells (New England Patriots), QB Brady Quinn (Kansas City Chiefs), WR Eddie Royal (San Diego Chargers), DT Brodrick Bunkley (New Orleans Saints)
Key Signings: QB Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts), FS Mike Adams (Cleveland Browns), MLB Joe Mays
Obviously, the signing of Manning is what boosted the Denver Broncos this high in our rankings. Whenever you add a Hall of Fame quarterback to your roster, you have done a good job in the offseason.
While the Broncos haven't really brought anyone else in, they didn't really need to. This was a playoff team in 2011, and Manning will keep them that way for the next three or four years.
One loss that could hurt in 2012 is defensive tackle Bunkley. He's an underrated player who was still developing. He could have a breakout year next season, and on a young defense like Denver has, he could have really been a special player.
The Broncos get an overall A+ in free agency simply because of Manning.
Key Losses: WR Eric Weems (Chicago Bears)
Key Signings: WR Harry Douglas, QB Chris Redman, DE John Abraham
Few teams have been as quiet as the Atlanta Falcons, as they haven't signed a single player from another team.
However, re-signing Abraham was the right move. While his production was down in 2011, there can be no doubting the impact he can make as a pass rusher.
The Falcons are already one of the most complete teams in the league, so limited action in free agency was expected. One name to keep an eye on in the coming days is linebacker Curtis Lofton. If he leaves, it will drop this team down a few spots.
Key Losses: CB Eric Wright (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), QB Drew Stanton (New York Jets)
Key Signings: OT Jeff Backus, P Ben Graham, CB Jacob Lacey (Indianapolis Colts), MLB Stephen Tulloch
The Detroit Lions are another team who has been quiet during free agency. Much like the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions have a rather complete roster without many holes already, so their lack of signings isn't too shocking.
Bringing back Backus and Tulloch were great signings, as both players are starters and key contributors for Detroit. They'll both continue to contribute greatly in 2012, too.
It would have been nice to see the Lions make an aggressive move at a top cornerback or safety, but signing their own players was their top priority, which is should be.
The Lions continue to move in the right direction and will be a difficult team to beat in 2012.
Key Losses: WR Robert Meachem (San Diego Chargers), OG Carl Nicks (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Key Signings: G Ben Grubbs (Baltimore Ravens), WR Marques Colston, DT Brodrick Bunkley (Denver Broncos)
Losing Nicks definitely hurt, but the New Orleans Saints got the next best available offensive guard in Grubbs at a much cheaper price. For that move alone, the Saints have had a positive free-agency period.
One move that could possibly hurt is losing Meachem to the Chargers. Meachem is an extremely talented receiver who was overshadowed at times because of the depth of the Saints' receiving corps.
It will be interesting to see if any of the other receivers on the roster are able to make an impact like Meachem was able to.
The Saints are still the favorites to win the NFC South.
Key Losses: None
Key Signings: None
The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed exactly one free agent so far, nose tackle Steve McLendon.
Pittsburgh loves to build through the draft, and that is what they will be doing in 2012. Don't expect any big-name signings for the rest of free agency.
Key Losses: FS Brandon Meriweather (Washington Redskins)
Key Signings: WR Brandon Marshall (Miami Dolphins), QB Jason Campbell (Oakland Raiders), CB Tim Jennings, WR Eric Weems (Atlanta Falcons), DE Israel Idonije
When the Chicago Bears traded for Marshall, Jay Cutler must have been the most excited man in the universe. Throughout his time with the Bears, Cutler has never had a receiver as talented as Marshall.
The other key signings the Bears haven't made as big of an impact, but they are solid signings nonetheless. Campbell is a valuable backup option at quarterback, and Weems will provide a second return man alongside Devin Hester.
The Bears have had an incredible offseason so far and have gotten back into Super Bowl discussions.
Key Losses: C Scott Wells (St. Louis Rams), QB Matt Flynn (Seattle Seahawks), DB Pat Lee (Oakland Raiders)
Key Signings: DB Jarrett Bush, TE Jermichael Finley
The Green Bay Packers haven't done much so far in free agency, and I don't expect them to do much more.
It was pretty much common knowledge that neither Wells or Flynn would return in 2012, so Green Bay wasn't too surprised by that.
While they may not miss Flynn much, Wells is an entirely different story. He was a Pro Bowl player in 2011, and Green Bay currently doesn't have anyone to fill his spot on the roster.
The Packers should still be one of the better teams in the NFL in 2012, thanks mostly to Aaron Rodgers.
Key Losses: WR Mario Manningham (San Francisco 49ers), CB Aaron Ross (Jacksonville Jagaurs)
Key Signings: TE Martellus Bennett (Dallas Cowboys)
Yes, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl last year, but they have lost more than they've gained in free agency.
Both Manningham and Ross were huge for the Giants during their Super Bowl run, and both will be sorely missed. While New York may have the depth to ultimately replace Ross and Manningham, none of the players that could replace them have the experience like they do.
The signing of Bennett proved just how good the front office for the Giants is. They desperately needed a tight end, and Bennett is an underrated player who will be a huge boost for their offense.
A solid offseason so far for the Giants will keep them as a top favorite to get back to the Super Bowl in 2012.
Key Losses: WR Josh Morgan (Washington Redskins), OG Adam Snyder (Arizona Cardinals)
Key Signings: CB Carlos Rogers, QB Alex Smith, WR Randy Moss, WR Mario Manningham (New York Giants)
You have to love what the San Francisco 49ers have done so far in free agency.
First, they bring in Moss on a one-year contract. Then, they bring in Manningham to add even more firepower to their offense.
They were also close on signing Peyton Manning, but didn't lose their starting quarterback in the process. While Morgan and Snyder both contributed in 2011, both can easily be replaced.
The 49ers look like the best team in the NFC right now.
Key Losses: DE Mark Anderson (Buffalo Bills), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cincinnati Bengals)
Key Signings: DE Jonathan Fanene (Cincinnati Bengals), OC Dan Connolly, TE Daniel Fells (Denver Broncos), G Robert Gallery (Seattle Seahawks), WR Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis Colts), WR Brandon Lloyd (St. Louis Rams), WR Donte Stallworth (Washington Redskins)
What can even be said about the New England Patriots? This is the best franchise during free agency year after year after year.
Gallery and Connolly add great depth to the offensive line. Fanene is an underrated signing to replace Anderson who went to Buffalo.
While Green-Ellis will be missed, the Patriots have a plethora of running backs to replace him.
Overall, the Patriots have a grade of A++++ through the first week of free agency and have separated themselves as the top team in the NFL.