Every NFL Team's Best and Worst Offseason Move
So did any of the 32 NFL clubs make All the Right Moves this offseason?
That’s a common statement during a game of chess or checkers. There’s also a game of constant moves called the NFL offseason. After all, couldn’t you now call the first three rounds of the draft in prime time the league’s version of Night Moves?
Get the picture? In tune with what we are saying?
Okay, enough with the word play. Here is the best and worst decision by each of the 32 clubs over the last few months.
Did a team’s best move come during the 2014 draft or was it via free agency or trade? Was a club’s best move not breaking the bank to retain an unrestricted free agent or perhaps getting one at a bargain price? Could a team have hit the jackpot with a new member of the coaching staff?
As far as the opposite side of the coin, did a team possibly overpay an incoming free agent or not make enough of an effort to retain one of their own? Will a salary-cap related departure come back to haunt a team? Did a club reach for someone in the draft?
Of course, it is always interesting to discuss what teams did right and wrong as they get ready for the season. So how could we resist?
Best Move: Signed WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Giving Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer another target was a terrific move, especially with the free-agent departure of Andre Roberts (Washington Redskins). Ginn eased some doubts in 2013 about his role as a wide receiver, totaling 36 catches for 556 yards and five touchdowns in his only season with the Carolina Panthers.
Considering Bruce Arians’ surging club was next-to-last in the NFL in both punt and kickoff return average this past seasons, Ginn (who knows a little something about returning kicks at University of Phoenix Stadium) is a great addition.
Worst Move: Releasing G Daryn Colledge
Yes, the return of 2013 first-round guard Jonathan Cooper, who missed his entire rookie season, made this move not so surprising. The Cardinals also invested a fourth-round pick on guard Earl Watford last year.
“They want to go young and cheaper,” said Colledge back in March, via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic. “You always hope there is an option to restructure. This is what you sign up for. Very few guys get the chance to leave on their own terms.”
In eight seasons, Colledge started 124 out of 128 regular-season games for both the Green Bay Packers and Cardinals, including every game for Arizona each of the past three seasons.
Best Move: Drafting T Jake Matthews
One of the top-rated tackles as well as players in this year’s draft, the former Texas A&M star is expected to team with free-agent pickup Jon Asamoah (Kansas City Chiefs) to give the Atlanta Falcons a new presence on the right side of the line. Hopefully that will aid the league’s bottom-ranked rushing game in 2013, as well as improve on those 44 sacks administered on quarterback Matt Ryan this past season.
Worst Move: Releasing FS Thomas DeCoud
A third-round pick in 2008, DeCoud started all but two games for the Falcons in his five seasons with Atlanta. A Pro Bowler in 2012, he totaled 14 interceptions with the club and made for an effective tandem with strong safety William Moore. While DeCoud comes off a down year, he will now be facing the Falcons perhaps twice (or more?) in 2014 after signing with the Carolina Panthers this offseason.
Best Move: Re-signing ILB Daryl Smith
With all the departures facing the Baltimore Ravens during the 2013 offseason, Smith was a welcome addition.
The veteran defender led the team with 123 tackles, totaled five sacks and three interceptions, knocked down 18 passes and forced a pair of fumbles.
However, as Pro Football Focus (subscription required) points out, the former Jacksonville Jaguars standout must dramatically improve his play against the run. Still, teaming Smith with rookie first-round draft choice C.J. Mosley could be a perfect fit.
Worst Move: Losing CB Corey Graham
This was one of those under-the-radar departures that could come back to haunt John Harbaugh’s club.
Graham led the Ravens with four interceptions this past season. He also totaled 74 tackles, one sack and knocked down a dozen passes in 16 games (five starts).
In his last three NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears and Ravens, he’s totaled nine interceptions. And that doesn’t include picking off Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning twice in the 2012 AFC Divisional Playoffs during the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII run that season.
Best Move: Hiring defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz
It’s been a long playoff drought for the Buffalo Bills, who haven’t been to the postseason since 1999. Can the former Detroit Lions head coach help end that dubious streak?
There’s talent here and we know the Bills can rush the passer. Only the Carolina Panthers (60 sacks) topped Buffalo in 2013 when it came to circling opposing quarterbacks (57 sacks).
Schwartz hopes to help this team improve its play against the run, a weak spot for far too many seasons. Standout 2013 rookie standout Kiko Alonso moves to outside linebacker to make room for Brandon Spikes, who hopes to plug the middle. Under Schwartz this past season, only five teams in the NFL gave up fewer yards on the ground than his Lions.
Worst Move: Losing FS Jairus Byrd
Unfortunately for the Bills, there is a reason that the club hasn’t been to the playoffs for more than a decade and has finished last in the AFC East six straight years.
They keep losing good players.
The latest example is Byrd, who in five seasons in Buffalo was named to three Pro Bowls. Last season, he tied for the team lead with four interceptions despite missing the first five games of 2013. The head defender totaled 27 takeaways, forced 11 fumbles and added three sacks during his stay in Orchard Park.
Best Move: Franchising DE Greg Hardy
The Carolina Panthers couldn’t take the chance, regardless of the cost, of letting the emerging defender get away. Hardy finished third in the NFL with 15 sacks in 2013, seven of those coming in the team’s last two regular-season games.
The former sixth-round pick comes off his first Pro Bowl season and was one key to a defensive unit that led the NFL with 60 sacks and gave up the second-fewest yards in the league.
Worst Move: Releasing WR Steve Smith
Admittedly, there was a wave of big-name veterans released by teams this offseason, but you could argue that the team’s all-time leader in numerous offensive categories was perhaps the most disappointing (unless you are a Baltimore Ravens fan).
Smith, thanks to 836 career receptions, ranks 19th in NFL history with 12,197 receiving yards. He scored a franchise-record 75 total touchdowns and was named to five Pro Bowls during his stay with the Panthers.
Best Move: Signing DE Jared Allen
Does this guy ever slow down?
Fortunately for the Chicago Bears, there’s no chance of that anytime soon. More importantly, Allen will no longer be taking aim at quarterback Jay Cutler while still setting his sights on division rivals such as Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
Chicago was not only dead last in the NFL in 2013 when it came to stopping the run, it was tied for the bottom spot in the league with only 21 sacks.
Worst Move: Not re-signing OLB James Anderson
What to make of this? Pro Football Focus ranked 94 outside linebackers in a 4-3 defense in 2013 and Anderson ranked dead last in the league when it came to stopping the run.
But was it his play alone or the performance of battered and underachieving group? Anderson led the Bears with 102 tackles this past season, the third time in four years (twice with the Carolina Panthers) that the veteran defender had reached the century mark in stops.
Best Move: Drafting CB Darqueze Dennard
It is still hard to fathom how the Cincinnati Bengals managed to snag arguably the best cornerback in the 2014 draft with the 24th overall pick.
Of course, selecting a performer in the secondary in the first round was hardly newsworthy considering a record nine defensive backs were drafted in Round 1. Dennard will learn behind veterans Leon Hall and Terence Newman for now. But the physical defender should make his presence felt on one of the league’s best defensive units sooner than later.
Worst Move: Losing T Anthony Collins
The Bengals are one of the league’s deeper teams, not easy in this day of free agency and a salary cap.
And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made it tough for Cincinnati to keep Collins, a talented blocker who started seven games in 2013 and performed well. In six seasons with the Bengals, the 6’5”, 315-pound performer played in only 59 games, making 25 starts.
Best Move: Re-signing C Alex Mack
It’s never boring when it comes to the Cleveland Browns. But it looked like things could get interesting when the team gave Mack the transition tag and the Jacksonville Jaguars responded by signing the two-time Pro Bowler to an offer sheet.
General manager Ray Farmer and the team wasted little time matching the offer, keeping one of the team’s better players in recent seasons. The Browns’ offensive front also features seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. The pair are the cornerstone of an offensive line that hopes to pave the way for new running back Ben Tate as well as protect quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel.
Worst Move: Losing offensive coordinator Norv Turner
As it turns out, one of the league’s most respected assistant coaches will be tutoring rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014.
Turner was one year and out with the Browns, who are now under the guidance of head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. But it would have been nice to see what Turner could have done with Hoyer via another year on the job, as well as what he could have taught Manziel.
Best Move: Drafting G Zack Martin
Notice a trend when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys? It wasn’t long ago that the offensive line was considered a team weakness.
Dating back to 2011, Jerry Jones has used first-round picks on tackle Tyron Smith (2011), center Travis Frederick (2013) and now Martin, the 16th overall pick in May’s draft. Now let’s see if the team uses all that talent to reestablish a ground game that has not received enough work in recent seasons.
Worst Move: Releasing DE DeMarcus Ware
For a team that has been mediocre at best for nearly two decades, the decision to part ways with Ware remains more of a why.
Yes, the seven-time Pro Bowler had nine seasons under his belt and was commanding a healthy salary in 2014.
Injuries in 2013 shelved him for three contests and when it was all said and done, he wound up with a career-low six sacks.
But it was also the first time in his career that Ware had missed any games. The Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2005 amassed 117 sacks with Dallas but will now be taking the field for the Denver Broncos this upcoming season.
Best Move: Signing SS T.J. Ward
First things first, and that’s the current off-the-field status for Ward, who has some issues to deal with, as documented by Dan Hanzus of NFL.com.
As for his play on the gridiron, Ward should provide immediate help for the league’s 19th-ranked defense of 2013, one that finished 27th in the NFL in terms of passing yards allowed. This past seasons with the Cleveland Browns, he finished second on the team with 112 tackles, knocked down five passes and returned a pair of takeaways for scores.
Worst Move: Losing CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
The aforementioned Broncos defense had its issues in 2013, but Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't one of them. The well-traveled cornerback, who signed with the New York Giants this offseason, totaled 31 tackles and tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) and passes defensed (14) this past season.
Best Move: Drafting OLB Kyle Van Noy
The versatile defender and former BYU teammate of Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah was scooped up in the second round of the Detroit Lions and should push incumbent left outside linebacker Ashlee Palmer for the starting job. Van Noy could wind up contributing on the defensive front as well.
Worst Move: Releasing FS Louis Delmas
Injuries were certainly a factor throughout the career of the former second-round pick, who missed 15 games in his five seasons in the Motor City.
Delmas knocked down 24 passes and totaled 10 takeaways in his stint in the Motor City and will now apply his craft with the Miami Dolphins. But will the cost-cutting move eventually prove costly to the Lions?
Green Bay Packers
Best Move: Re-signing CB Sam Shields
Not allowing one of the best cornerbacks to hit the open market was a great move by Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson. The four-year veteran inked a four-year, $39 million contract this offseason, according to Spotrac (subscription required).
In 2013, Shields totaled 61 tackles and led Mike McCarthy’s club with four interceptions and 16 passes defensed. In four seasons, the productive defender has picked off 13 passes.
Worst Move: Losing C Evan Dietrich-Smith
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will likely be taking snaps from second-year pro J.C. Tretter this season. Or could rookie Corey Linsley, a fifth-round pick this month, wind up with the job in 2014?
It won’t be Dietrich-Smith, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March. The veteran center started all 16 games as well as the playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and helped the Packers ranked seventh in the league in rushing.
Best Move: Drafting QB Tom Savage
Selecting defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick in the 2014 draft was a no-brainer for the Houston Texans. Being patient and getting a solid quarterback prospect in the later round could prove to be a very smart move.
Savage, late of the University of Pittsburgh, lasted until the fourth round. He will watch and learn behind veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and reserves Case Keenum and T.J. Yates, all who have experience as starters.
Worst Move: Releasing TE Owen Daniels
Injuries to the two-time Pro Bowler have certainly been a concern in recent years, but it appears the Baltimore Ravens were more than happy to take a chance on the productive tight end.
Owens totaled 385 catches for 4,617 yards and 29 scores in eight seasons with the Texans but missed 11 games this past season.
Best Move: Signing DE Arthur Jones
Upgrading the Indianapolis Colts defense has been an ongoing process for the franchise for countless seasons.
Perhaps the addition of Jones, who played for Chuck Pagano briefly in Baltimore, will aid a unit that has finished 29th and 26th, respectively, in the league versus the run each of the last two seasons.
And let’s not forget how the Colts defense performed in the 2013 postseason. Pagano’s squad allowed a staggering 384 yards rushing in the playoff split with the Kansas City Chiefs (150 yards) and New England Patriots (234 yards).
Worst Move: Not adding a nose tackle
The team did not re-sign veteran Aubrayo Franklin and with only five selections in the draft, did not spend one of those selections on a defensive lineman.
General manager Ryan Grigson did add some help inside with the addition of veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who was released by the Cleveland Browns this offseason. But can third-year pro Josh Chapman and/or rookie free agent Zach Kerr get the job one in 2014?
Best Move: Signing DE Red Bryant
Not known for his pass-rushing ability, veteran defensive end Red Bryant should provide the Jacksonville Jaguars with something else they have been lacking in recent seasons.
Regarded as one of the top run-stopping players at his position, the former Seattle Seahawks defenders should aid a club that was ranked 29th in the league in rushing defense this past season, only slightly better than in 2012 when only two clubs in the NFL gave up more yards on the ground.
Worst Move: Signing DE/DT Ziggy Hood
A first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2009, the former University of Missouri product totaled only 11.5 sacks in 80 games with Mike Tomlin’s team but wasn’t much on impact plays. Hood was never credited with a forced fumbles in his days with the Steelers.
On the Jaguars’ revamped defensive line, the five-year pro figures to see action inside rather than at defensive end. Perhaps a slight change of position and scheme as well as venue can jump-start Hood’s career.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best Move: Drafting RB De’Anthony Thomas
When it comes to speed, seeing is certainly believing.
But don’t blink when it comes to running back De’Anthony Thomas, the Kansas City Chiefs' fourth-round selection earlier this month. He hopes to fill the void left by the free-agent departure of wide receiver/running back Dexter McCluster, now a member of the Tennessee Titans.
The former University of Oregon Duck will present Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was numerous options on both offense and special teams.
Worst Move: Losing G/T Geoff Schwartz
The veteran offensive lineman wound up supplanting right guard Jon Asamoah down the stretch with the Chiefs this past season and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ eighth-best guard in 2013. The well-traveled Schwartz, who has already played for three different teams in just five NFL seasons, is now the property of the New York Giants after signing a free-agent contract this offseason.
Best Move: Signing RB Knowshon Moreno
This past season, the Miami Dolphins fell short of the playoffs for a fifth consecutive year.
Their running game also fell short of expectations. Only six teams in the league gained fewer yards on the ground than Joe Philbin’s team, which ran for a total of 1,440 yards and eight scores in 2013.
Moreno comes over from the AFC champion Denver Broncos having run for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season. He also caught 60 passes for 548 yards and three scores. He should provide a jump start to the ground attack and give Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill another option.
Worst Move: Signing CB Cortland Finnegan
The Miami secondary has gone through its share of changes in recent seasons. And the team is hoping Finnegan can bounce back from an injury-shortened as well as disappointing campaign with the St. Louis Rams in 2013.
A former Pro Bowler with the Tennessee Titans, the numbers weren’t pretty according to Pro Football Focus when it came to Finnegan this past season.
Best Move: Drafting QB Teddy Bridgewater
Kudos to general manager Rick Spielman as he and the team remained their usual aggressive selves in the draft. Over the past three years, the Minnesota Vikings have selected seven players in the first round.
The latest of those picks is Bridgewater, whom the Vikings traded up to get via the final pick in the first round. He may have been the third quarterback taken in Round No. 1 but may be the most prepared to play right away.
Worst Move: Losing DE Jared Allen
New Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has remade the defense with plenty of youth and a smattering of talented veterans. But the non-stop motor known as Allen won’t be in the Twin Cities this season, save for a visit from the Chicago Bears later this year.
In six seasons with the Purple Gang, the 10-year NFL veteran played in all 96 games, totaled 85.5 sacks and racked up at least 11 sacks in each of those seasons. We should all slow down as much as Allen.
New England Patriots
Best Move: Signing CB Darrelle Revis
The fact that the New England Patriots were able to offset the free-agent defection of Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib with the addition of perhaps a better player can’t be overlooked. However, the disappointment here is that the franchise was only able to secure Revis to a one-year deal.
In his lone season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Revis totaled 50 tackles, two interceptions and a team-high 11 passes defensed. Not bad for a veteran who missed the final 13 games of 2012 (with the New York Jets) with a knee injury.
Worst Move: Failing to address the tight end position
The Pats used to make adding a tight end in free agency and/or the draft a tradition. We will see when we finally see former Pro Bowler Rob Gronkowski.
New England re-signed Michael Hoomanawanui this offseason and added rookie free agents Justin Jones and Asa Watson. It will be interesting to see if the club pursues a veteran such as Dustin Keller or Jermichael Finley in the coming weeks or months.
New Orleans Saints
Best Move: Signing FS Jairus Byrd
While the New Orleans Saints were dramatically improved on the defensive side of the ball this past season, they had one noticeable shortcoming that was the hallmark of the club’s 2009 Super Bowl title campaign.
In 2013, Sean Payton’s club was ranked near the bottom of the NFL with a mere 19 takeaways, including just a dozen interceptions.
In five seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Byrd picked off 22 passes and recovered five opponent’s fumbles.
Worst Move: Trading RB Darren Sproles
It should be noted that running back Pierre Thomas actually totaled more receptions (77) than Sproles in 2013. But the explosive performer brings a different dimension not only to an offense but special teams as well. He should make things very interesting for Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia this upcoming season.
New York Giants
Best Move: Drafting WR Odell Beckham Jr.
This past season, there are bakeries in this country that wish they could generate turnovers at the same rate that the New York Giants did during their disappointing 7-9 campaign.
Tom Coughlin’s club gave up the football an NFL-high 44 times in 2013. Quarterback Eli Manning led the league with 27 interceptions. But help for the passing attack comes in the form of Beckham, who should provide a spark for a team looking to push the ball downfield.
New York scored a dismal 294 points this past season and the former LSU standout could help change those fortunes. And don’t be surprised if Coughlin teams Beckham with free-agent pickup Trindon Holliday to make New York’s return game a little more dangerous.
Worst Move: Not drafting a tight end
It seems like we are beating a dead horse.
The Giants currently have five tight ends on the roster, including 2012 fourth-round draft choice Adrien Robinson (zero receptions in two seasons), Larry Donnell (three catches in 2013), free-agent pickup Kellen Davis (three receptions for the Seattle Seahawks in 2013), Daniel Fells (did not play in 2013) and rookie undrafted free agent Xavier Grimble.
This past season, Brandon Myers totaled 47 catches (four touchdowns) with the Giants, but he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March.
New York Jets
Best Move: Signing RB Chris Johnson
The New York Jets’ offensive unit scored a total of 25 touchdowns this past season (12 rushing, 13 passing) and only three teams in the NFL scored fewer points than this club in 2013.
Although he fell out of favor with the Tennessee Titans, Johnson has never failed to rush for at least 1,000 yards in six NFL seasons. He joins a backfield that includes Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, as well as a club that ranked sixth in the league this past season in rushing offense.
Worst Move: Releasing CB Antonio Cromartie
It almost seems like the Jets settled for cornerback Dimitri Patterson, released by the Miami Dolphins this offseason in early April.
As Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reminded us, Rex Ryan’s club swung and missed when it came to adding veterans such as Darrelle Revis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Vontae Davis. Of course, better play from former first-round picks like Kyle Wilson and 2013 rookie Dee Milliner would help.
Best Move: Drafting OLB Khalil Mack
Much has been made about the Oakland Raiders’ offseason additions in terms of experience and vintage. But the selection of Mack with the fifth overall pick earlier this month was a terrific addition for a club that looks to improve on 38 sacks and the league’s 28th-ranked pass defense. The talented rookie will learn from the likes of outside linebacker Kevin Burnett and veteran defenders LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck.
Worst Move: Losing DE Lamarr Houston
Entering the free-agency period, no team had more money to spend than the Silver and Black. So it was perplexing that the Raiders not only failed to re-sign the four-year pro but didn’t franchise him as well. You could easily insert tackle Jared Veldheer, who wound up signing with the Arizona Cardinals, in this spot as well.
Best Move: Signing CB Nolan Carroll
Prior to the 2013 season, the Philadelphia Eagles welcome in a new head coach in Chip Kelly, a new defensive coordinator in Billy Davis and a ton of changes in the secondary.
Cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams signed with the Birds and neither stood out as the club finished dead last in the NFL in pass defense.
The team’s last line of defense has a new starter with the addition of former New Orleans Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins. Could Carroll, late of the Miami Dolphins, push Fletcher and Williams for a full-time job this year?
Worst Move: Releasing WR DeSean Jackson
Obviously, the Washington Redskins’ newest deep threat is the former Philadelphia Eagles standout that exited the City of Brotherly Love in a less-than-loving fashion. The bottom line is that Jackson comes off his most productive season of his career and has scored touchdowns over the span as a receiver, runner and punt returner in six NFL seasons. It’s a shame that Chip Kelly and the Philly hierarchy couldn’t somehow make it work or at the very least, find a trade partner for Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler.
Best Move: Signing RB LeGarrette Blount
Only four teams in the NFL gained fewer yards on the ground in 2013 than the Pittsburgh Steelers. That figures to change is a LeBig way this upcoming season. Mike Tomlin and company will supplement second-year running back Le’Veon Bell with Blount, giving the offense a little more oomph than in recent seasons.
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger entering his 11th season and the Pittsburgh offensive line coming off a strong finish this past season, the former New England Patriots power back is the perfect performer to spell Bell.
Worst Move: Losing WR Jerricho Cotchery
The team is hoping that second-year pro Markus Wheaton can replace free-agent defector Emmanuel Sanders, last year’s starter opposite Pro Bowler Antonio Brown.
But Cotchery was one of those dependable and sure-handed receivers that made the tough catch look easy and Roethlisberger was hoping to have him back, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Cotchery, now a member of the Carolina Panthers, caught 46 passes for 602 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns in 2013.
St. Louis Rams
Best Move: Drafting DT Aaron Donald
Talk about falling into your lap? In recent years, the St. Louis Rams have added defensive ends Chris Long (2008) and Robert Quinn (2011) and defensive tackle Michael Brockers (2012) in the first round. Now head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead may have turned the numeral 13 into a lucky number with the selection of Donald, who was thought to be long gone by the time St. Louis picked for the second time in the first round.
Worst Move: Signing WR Kenny Britt
The Rams have added a lot of young faces at the wide receiver spot in recent seasons, including Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Brian Quick. So why sign Britt to a one-year, $1.4 million contract with all that emerging talent?
After putting up solid numbers his first two seasons in the league, it’s been a rough three-year stretch for the former first-round pick. Britt missed most of 2011 with a knee injury and has played in just 29 games the past three seasons. In 2013, he caught only 11 passes in a dozen games.
San Diego Chargers
Best Move: Signing RB Donald Brown
In 2012, the San Diego Chargers finished 7-9, and one reason was a ground game that ranked just 27th in the NFL. It’s hard for a quarterback even as talented as Philip Rivers to succeed without support.
This past season, running back Ryan Mathews enjoyed a career year and the Bolts offense finished fifth in the league in total offense, including 13th in rushing. The addition of Brown, who led the Indianapolis Colts in rushing and total touchdowns in 2013 is a big plus for a club that will try to wear down opponents once again this season.
Worst Move: Losing NT Cam Thomas
The Chargers ranked a somewhat-respectable 12th in the NFL in rushing defense this past season, one year after giving up the sixth-fewest yards on the ground in the league.
Thomas was not a regular starter in 2013 and played just under 500 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. But he graded out well and had the ability to line up at several spots on the defensive front. He will now get that opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers going forward.
San Francisco 49ers
Best Move: Signing SS Antoine Bethea
Last offseason, the San Francisco 49ers lost starting free safety Dashon Goldson to free agency and would draft Eric Reid in the first round that April. This year, strong safety Donte Whitner took the free-agent highway to Cleveland and the Niners responded by adding Bethea, a former Pro Bowler with the Indianapolis Colts. He can now hold down the fort while first-round pick Jimmie Ward watches and learns and gets some on-the-job training when the time is right.
Worst Move: Not re-signing C Jonathan Goodwin
The heir apparent to snapping the ball to quarterback Colin Kaepernick this season is Daniel Kilgore, a fifth-round pick by the Niners in 2011. And perhaps rookie Marcus Martin, a third-round pick this year, winds up winning the job in training camp.
Goodwin, an unrestricted free agent who currently remains without a team, was a reliable pivot and a 12-year veteran who started every game for the 49ers the last three seasons.
Best Move: Re-signing WR Sidney Rice
Four-year pro Golden Tate is now a member of the Detroit Lions. Speedy Percy Harvin wasn’t on the field very much this past season, but when he was, look out.
That brings us to Rice, who has battled injuries for a number of seasons and this past year caught just 15 passes for 231 yards and three scores. The defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks also have Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette, but a healthy helping of Rice (released and re-signed by the team this offseason) would do wonders.
Worst Move: Losing DT Clinton McDonald
Pete Carroll’s club finished tied for seventh in the league in rushing defense in 2013, giving up just 101.6 yards per game on the ground. However, it is also worth noting that seven of Seattle’s 13 opponents ran for at least 130 yards.
Second-year pros such as Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams and rookie Jimmy Staten will be counted on to step up and provide depth for starting defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel. Retaining McDonald would have been a huge plus. The sturdy defender signed a four-year, $12 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in March.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best Move: Signing CB Alterraun Verner
You could make a case for any number of the slew of free agents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed this offseason. From defensive end Michael Johnson to quarterback Josh McCown to center Evan Dietrich-Smith, no team was busier this offseason.
The point here is that the Bucs get Verner, a Pro Bowl performer in 2013, in his prime and with just four years of experience under his belt. This past season, the former UCLA product totaled 57 tackles, five interceptions and 23 passes defensed.
Worst Move: Releasing CB Darrelle Revis
What? Yes, with the money the Bucs saved in releasing the standout cover corner the franchise was able to enjoy free agency. But you can’t hide the fact that the organization gave up a first-round pick in 2013 and a fourth-round selection in 2014 for a performer that lasted just one year with the team.
Best Move: Hiring defensive coordinator Ray Horton
Back in 2012, the Tennessee Titans not only allowed a league-high 471 points, that was the most given up by the team in the franchise’s history that dates back to the days of the Houston Oilers in 1960. Hence, the Cleveland Browns’ latest loss is the Titans' gain. This past season, Tennessee was a mediocre 14th in the NFL in yards allowed and gave up 381 points.
Horton brings his 3-4 to Nashville and with additions such as outside linebacker Shaun Phillips, Wesley Woods and Al Woods the Titans may be a defensive force to be reckoned with in 2014.
Worst Move: Releasing PK Rob Bironas
Giggle all you want about kickers, but it was still surprising that the franchise released one of its most dependable players. In nine seasons with the Titans, Bironas scored 1,032 points and still owns the NFL record for most field goals in a game (eight), set versus the Houston Texans in 2007.
For his career, Bironas connected on 239-of-279 field-goal attempts, an impressive 85.7 percentage, and figures to find a new home before the 2014 season starts.
Best Move: Signing WR DeSean Jackson
Teaming the three-time Pro Bowler with 2013 NFL receiving leader Pierre Garcon has to bring a smile to the face of new Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.
Jackson, who led the Philadelphia Eagles with 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine scores, can now continue to terrorize the other teams in the NFC East. And it will be interesting to see how he fares in two meetings with his former club in 2014.
Worst Move: Releasing C Will Montgomery
The Redskins have made their share of solid moves this offseason and we may be nitpicking here. But why let Montgomery go?
The plan is to move Kory Lichtensteiger, who started every game for the team at left guard the previous two seasons, and who’s to argue? Washington also signed swingman Mike McGlynn this offseason.
Via Pro Football Focus, Montgomery played 1,172 snaps this past season for the Redskins and graded out as the league’s 15th-ranked center in 2013.