Report Card Grades for Every NFL Front Office Entering the Preseason
Every NFL front office is ecstatic to watch its team continue preparing for the upcoming NFL season. With the regular season less than a month away, each NFL front office can finally be assessed for its work during the offseason.
Peyton Manning and Mario Williams were the notable free agent signings this offseason, but will their new teams receive a high grade overall?
Here are my official report card grades for every NFL front office entering the preseason.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The Jacksonville Jaguars front office receives the lowest grade possible after an offseason that was highlighted by contract disputes and legal troubles.
Mike Mularkey received another opportunity to become an NFL head coach, but was he the best option for the Jaguars? He faces the task of improving an offense around quarterback Blaine Gabbert. However, Mularkey struggled at the opportunity to create a dynamic offense with the Atlanta Falcons despite the amount of talent that was on the roster.
The Jaguars are standing by their belief that Maurice Jones-Drew should play under his current contract. As a result, the situation has escalated into a bigger dissension between Jones-Drew and Mularkey. Mularkey told CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco that he has not even met his All-Pro running back.
To help improve the passing game, the Jaguars drafted former Oklahoma State standout Justin Blackmon. It didn't take too long for him to run into legal trouble and create an uneasy situation with his new teammates by missing two weeks in camp due to a holdout.
This organization could not avoid offseason drama and will have a long year ahead in 2012.
31. Oakland Raiders
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
It may seem unfair to give a low grade to the Oakland Raiders front office, considering it just hired new general manager Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie was put in a tough situation with limited salary cap space and not many high draft picks.
In fact, his biggest acquisition is the hiring of first-year head coach Dennis Allen. From a talent standpoint, the Raiders didn't show enough improvement in comparison to the rest of the division. The defense is a major concern and Allen doesn't have enough quality personnel to work with during his first season as head coach.
The biggest question for the Raiders in 2012 is the future of Carson Palmer. There was no reason to believe that Palmer can perform at a level similar to his days while with the Bengals. Due to the limited resources available, the front office was unable to put Palmer in a better position to succeed this season.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
The Minnesota Vikings took a small step in what appears to be a very long rebuilding process.
The Vikings drafted Matt Kalil with the fourth overall pick in the draft, showing that protecting Christian Ponder is a top priority.
However, there are plenty of issues across the board when discussing the Vikings' roster. The defense has been hampered by injuries and declining players. Minnesota traded into the first round and drafted Harrison Smith with hopes that he can be the answer to a secondary that has ranked among the worst in football.
Kyle Rudolph will be a breakout player for the Vikings, and Percy Harvin could make an impact if he can stay on the field. Will either one of them become a consistent offensive threat for Ponder this year?
The Vikings did not show much activity in free agency and are relying on their draft picks to make an immediate impact. This will not turn out to be a good solution for the lack of talent on Minnesota's roster.
29. Miami Dolphins
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
The Miami Dolphins cannot be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to grading their offseason. They missed out on Peyton Manning and instead signed David Garrard and drafted Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill might develop into a good quarterback, but he will not be given the opportunity to start early on in Miami.
Instead, the job will likely be given to Garrard, a quarterback who usually impresses in practice but is nothing more than an average NFL quarterback at this point in his career.
Joe Philbin is a brilliant offensive coach who is trying to work with the current talent he has on the roster. However, the Dolphins traded Brandon Marshall and replaced him with Chad Johnson. Johnson is no longer capable of becoming a No. 1 receiver on any team, which could be troubling for Miami's offense.
A last-place finish in the AFC East seems likely for the Dolphins.
28. New York Jets
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
The New York Jets were able to stay in the headlines this offseason, but that doesn't mean it was a result of good front office decisions.
How much better is this Jets roster from a year ago? The only minor upgrade was on the defensive front by drafting Quinton Coples and potentially finding a gem in former Bills first-round pick Aaron Maybin. They signed injury-plagued safety LaRon Landry and veteran Yeremiah Bell. Are they going to help improve the Jets' chances of stopping Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez?
Mike Tannenbaum did no favors for Mark Sanchez. He didn't upgrade the offensive talent to help this team win now. Stephen Hill will need a season in the NFL to fine-tune his route-running.
Also, Tim Tebow is already creating drama in training camp, drama that will only magnify as the season progresses.
The Jets are at best a third-place team in an improving division.
27. San Diego Chargers
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The San Diego Chargers did not make many improvements to make them a threat in the AFC for this season. Vincent Jackson departed for free agency and eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
How did the Chargers replace him? They signed Robert Meachem, who never proved to be a top target of quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans. Eddie Royal leaves Denver hoping for a bigger role, but hasn't proved to be much more than a threat on special teams.
The defense struggled last season and is still a concern heading into the regular season. Melvin Ingram was a smart pick for the Chargers, but will he make a major impact early in his rookie season?
General manager A.J. Smith didn't improve the roster enough to make this team a contender in 2012.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Matt Flynn was the most coveted free-agent quarterback behind Peyton Manning, but there is no guarantee he will be a very good quarterback in this league. Flynn has two career starts, both with a Packers offense filled to the brim with offensive talent.
In Seattle, the Seahawks are counting on veterans Braylon Edwards and newly-signed Terrell Owens to make an impact. Sidney Rice has been a disappointment since leaving Minnesota, and Golden Tate has not panned out as a top draft pick for the Seahawks.
This team will be battling for a second or third place in the division this year.
25. St. Louis Rams
Jay Drowns/Getty Images
There was plenty room for improvement, and the Rams addressed two key concerns by finding a veteran head coach and a notable defensive playmaker. However, the Rams continue to ignore addressing their biggest need: finding reliable receivers for Sam Bradford.
Steven Jackson is the only consistent offensive threat for the Rams, but his durability and age are a major concern.
With the departure of Brandon Lloyd, the Rams have less talent than they had last year on offense. First-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer could be in a for a long year.
The Rams appear to be heading for a last-place finish in the NFC West.
24. Detroit Lions
Al Bello/Getty Images
In an improving NFC conference, the up-and-coming Detroit Lions didn't have the ideal offseason they were expecting. Multiple off-the-field issues concerning a handful of their players have become a big concern, with many of the veteran players becoming fed up with the lack of leadership from the front office and the coaching staff.
Defensively, the secondary continues to be the biggest weakness on this team and will be a target of opposing offenses in 2012.
In the end, there are plenty of teams in the NFC that passed by the Lions as potential contenders in the conference.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
The biggest acquisition for the Cardinals was drafting Michael Floyd, creating a potential lethal receiver duo with Larry Fitzgerald. But there are still major question marks on the offensive line that were put on display in the team's first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, as Kevin Kolb suffered an injury early in the game.
The defense improved late last season, and by choosing not make major improvements to the unit, the Cardinals are clearly banking on it building off that momentum.
Time will tell if the Cardinals made enough changes to make a playoff push in 2012.
22. Washington Redskins
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Let me make this clear: Trading up for Robert Griffin III was a big gamble, but it was worth taking a chance on the former Heisman winner.
The biggest question is if the Redskins did enough to surround Griffin III with the supporting cast to help him develop as a quarterback going forward.
Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan have played good roles with their former teams, but can they be difference-makers in Mike Shanahan's offense?
Dan Snyder managed to overspend on two wide receivers yet neglected improving an offensive line that appears to still be a concern during training camp.
21. New Orleans Saints
Jason Miller/Getty Images
For all of the Bountygate drama this franchise endured, the front office managed to still make this team a playoff contender heading into the season.
Joe Vitt is the interim head coach and will create a more balanced offense that will limit Drew Brees' turnovers while still making the All-Pro quarterback a major threat in the passing game.
Despite losing Carl Nicks, the Saints signed former Ravens guard Ben Grubbs. Grubbs anchored Baltimore's offensive line his entire career.
Will the team suffer from the suspensions to a few of its defensive players, along with Sean Payton? Of course. However, the front office managed to sign Drew Brees to an extension and will keep this franchise in contention for quite some time.
20. Indianapolis Colts
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
The Indianapolis Colts unloaded the entire front office, coaching staff and majority of the roster after a two-win season. Despite the monumental losses, this historic franchise is already heading in the right direction.
Ryan Grigson has already proven to be a young, intelligent general manager who has made significant improvements in his first season.
First he hired Chuck Pagano, a defensive-minded coach who will bring an aggressive style to Indianapolis.
Grigson followed up that hire by drafting Andrew Luck, adding Coby Fleener, and re-signing Reggie Wayne. He also signed Cory Redding and Tom Zbikowski from Baltimore to join their former defensive coordinator.
This was a very underrated, yet successful offseason for the Colts.
19. Cleveland Browns
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The Cleveland Browns took a major step in the right direction by drafting the two big building blocks of their offense. Trent Richardson will eventually become an All-Pro running back, as he is a perfect fit for the AFC North division.
Brandon Weeden was drafted late in the first round and has already been announced as the starting quarterback.
The biggest disappointment in the Browns' offseason was not addressing a weak receiver corps highlighted by Greg Little. Ultimately, Cleveland's inability to address the rest of the offense keeps it at an average offseason grade.
18. Tennessee Titans
Al Bello/Getty Images
The Tennessee Titans faced major uncertainty leading up to training camp with Kenny Britt, who has been dealing with to deal with legal troubles and injury issues this offseason.
Thus, the Titans made a smart draft decision by selecting former Baylor receiver Kendall Wright.
Wright has already emerged as the No. 1 receiver during Britt's absence and could create a dynamic duo once Britt is healthy enough to return to camp.
The Titans improved the offensive line with the signing of veteran Steve Hutchinson and improved the defensive front with Kamerion Wimbley, Zac Diles and Leger Douzable.
It is evident that the Titans are the only team that can dethrone the Houston Texans in the AFC South.
17. Kansas City Chiefs
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The Kansas City Chiefs made smart decisions this offseason, starting with officially naming Romeo Crennel the head coach moving forward.
General manager Scott Pioli added more depth to the defensive front by adding Dontari Poe in the first round. Meanwhile, Pioli did not waste time offering Eric Winston a contract after he was released by the Houston Texans.
Winston fills what appeared to be a major concern on the offensive line, increasing Matt Cassel's chances of playing an entire season.
This team is built to return to the playoffs by winning AFC West.
16. Carolina Panthers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Carolina Panthers continue to improve their young roster on both sides of the ball. With the addition of Luke Kuechly and the return of Jon Beason, the Panthers defense should make major strides under second-year head coach Ron Rivera.
The Panthers plan on keeping a balanced offense and added more versatility to their lineup with the addition of former Chargers running back Mike Tolbert.
Could the Panthers become a potential sleeper in the NFC? After another good offseason, this young team led by Cam Newton could take its game to the next level.
15. Houston Texans
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Houston Texans were not concerned with the departure of Mario Williams, Eric Winston and DeMeco Ryans. Instead, they were focused on continuing to build through the draft and added depth to the offensive and defensive lines.
Whitney Mercilus was a dominating pass-rusher in college and will be an immediate fit in Wade Phillips' defense.
The biggest concern heading into camp is the lack of offensive talent opposite Andre Johnson. With no legitimate No. 2 receiver, the Texans could face some challenges offensively as Matt Schaub returns as starter.
The Texans may be the clear-cut favorites to win the AFC South, but the Tennessee Titans could make the AFC South a two-team race.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers improved drastically in the offseason by signing top-tier free agents.
With a major hole at the receiver position, the Buccaneers inked former Chargers standout Vincent Jackson to a lucrative multi-year deal. Jackson is a tall, physical threat who will immediately improve the vertical game.
Josh Freeman is also fortunate to have an improved offensive line, as All-Pro guard Carl Nicks left the Saints to join the Bucs.
Through the draft, the Buccaneers upgraded the secondary with Mark Barron. Second-round pick Doug Martin could potentially play a role similar to how Ray Rice was used in Greg Schiano's offense at Rutgers.
13. Cincinnati Bengals
Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
The Cincinnati Bengals continue to pose as a threat in the AFC North for the near future due to the smart decisions from the front office.
Kevin Zeitler and Dre Kirkpatrick fill two gaping holes on the roster, while the free-agent signing of BenJarvus Green-Ellis adds more youth and speed to the Bengals' backfield.
The only task that was neglected by the Bengals was the inability to add a second receiver opposite A.J. Green. They are putting their faith in Brandon Tate, an unproven receiver who couldn't last with the Patriots.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The Pittsburgh Steelers prove once again that the winning formula is to build through the draft, and the plan was not much different in 2012.
Kevin Colbert addressed the glaring weaknesses on the offensive line, drafting rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams.
He also made arguably the boldest move of the summer by cutting off contract extension talks with Mike Wallace and giving Antonio Brown a long-term deal.
The Steelers may have some aging defensive stars, but this team will once again be a major contender in the AFC.
11. Baltimore Ravens
Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE
The Baltimore Ravens, led by Ozzie Newsome, appear to be Super Bowl contenders once again after an offseason highlighted by injuries and contract disputes.
There is no question the Ravens will have a tough task replacing Terrell Suggs, but Newsome has added youth to this elite defense over the last few seasons. The youth movement will be on full display on the defensive side after allowing Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding to bolt for free agency.
As a result, the Ravens now offer Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee an opportunity to start along with rookie Courtney Upshaw. Former second-round pick Sergio Kindle also appears to be ready to finally make an impact after recovering from his fractured skull.
Newsome added youth to the offense as well, with plenty of depth added to the offensive line and the wide receiver positions. However, the most underrated move could be the addition of Jim Caldwell, who is already making a positive impact in Joe Flacco's development.
10. San Francisco 49ers
Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
The San Francisco 49ers will be Super Bowl contenders in 2012 after major additions to the offense.
Mario Manningham and a rejuvenated Randy Moss give the 49ers options in the passing game. Meanwhile, rookies A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James will add more explosiveness to the 49ers offense and play crucial roles with the special teams.
A main priority of the 49ers was to keep the vaunted defense in tact to keep up with the other contenders in the NFC. Luckily, they had no problem keeping this team at a championship level.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
The Philadelphia Eagles have elevated themselves to championship contenders after a quality offseason.
They took care of Desean Jackson's contract situation before training camp, which was an important task for the front office this year. They traded for former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans, a veteran tackling machine who could make a significant impact on the Eagles' defense if healthy.
Fletcher Cox highlighted a very successful draft for the Eagles, who continue to add pieces to an already vaunted defense.
However, losing Jason Peters for the season be a major issue, as free-agent acquisition Demetress Bell is a significant downgrade to the All-Pro left tackle.
8. Dallas Cowboys
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
The Dallas Cowboys addressed the biggest concern on their roster by getting two gifted corners. It was no surprise when Jerry Jones signed Brandon Carr, who was a consistent defensive playmaker while with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jones also seized the opportunity to draft Morris Claiborne, who was the best cover corner from this year's class.
The offensive line is still a concern, but the major improvements in the secondary make the Cowboys a big winner this offseason.
7. Atlanta Falcons
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The Atlanta Falcons are frustrated with their lack of success in the postseason and decided it was time for some new additions to the roster and coaching staff.
With the defense as the primary concern, the Falcons added defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to the staff. Nolan has proven to be a very successful defensive coordinator his career. The Falcons also took a gamble on Asante Samuel for a late-round draft pick.
Samuel improves a Falcons secondary that has been unable to stop high-powered passing attacks over the past two years.
The Falcons have become the favorites to win the NFC South after the improvements to their defense.
6. Denver Broncos
Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
The Denver Broncos receive a high grade for their offseason for the signing of Peyton Manning. This young roster managed to make the playoffs with Tim Tebow at the helm.
When looking at the team's ceiling, it is clearly better than the 2011 squad. The best-case scenario is for the Broncos to finish with around 12-13 wins and compete for the top seed in the AFC.
The worst-case scenario, as long as Manning stays relatively healthy for the season, is simply a 10-win season with either a division title or wild-card berth in sight.
5. New York Giants
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
The defending Super Bowl champions will enter the regular season as a championship contender once again. Eli Manning will continue to lead a high-powered offense, while the defense returns multiple starters in the secondary along with its dominant pass rush.
Once again, the Giants are still among the elite of the NFL.
4. Green Bay Packers
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
The defending NFC North champions are geared for another championship run after greatly improving their defense through the draft.
Ted Thompson realized the lack of depth on the defensive front and found great value in Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy in the first two rounds.
It was crucial for Thompson to add a veteran presence to the offensive line. He couldn't have found a better fit than former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday.
3. Chicago Bears
Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE
At the expense of a mid-round draft pick, Cutler was reunited with former Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall, who immediately adds explosiveness to what was an average passing attack.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice is committed to a balanced offense and needed Matt Forte as the key component. With the deadline nearing, the Bears front office and Forte agreed to an extension, completing one of the more successful offseasons in recent memory for this franchise.
2. Buffalo Bills
Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE
Have the Buffalo Bills become a playoff contender after an offseason filled with major free-agent signings and successful drafting?
The Bills managed to make the defense a clear strength of this team. Mario Williams now anchors a young defensive front that will only improve in 2012 due to the presence of the All-Pro defensive end.
Stephon Gilmore was highly coveted by many general managers, and the Bills did not hesitate selecting the former standout out of South Carolina.
With their recent improvements to the defense, the Bills are ready to challenge the New England Patriots for the division crown.
1. New England Patriots
Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE
The defending AFC champions managed to improve on both sides of the football while not losing any valuable starters to free agency.
With the addition of Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots offense becomes even more dangerous, music to the ears of returning offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
However, the Patriots realized the defense was a glaring issue last season that needed to be addressed through the draft.
The additions of Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower add more depth to a Patriots defense that is in need of impact players on the defensive front.
A Super Bowl championship cannot be guaranteed, especially with the lingering questions on the offensive line.
Ultimately, the Patriots are a much better team than they were six months ago.
Matt Miselis is an NFL Featured Columnist for BleacherReport. Follow him on twitter: @MattMiselisNFL