Stock Up, Stock Down for NFL Teams After First Week of Free Agency
It’s been a full seven days since the NFL free-agency process began for all 32 teams. Legal tampering started on March 7. Signings and trades became official at 4 p.m. ET two days later.
There’s a long time between now and the draft. So which clubs are headed in the right direction, and which teams seem to be headed in the wrong direction?
Based on the use of cap space and current roster construction, let's dive into how your team did last week.
Arizona Cardinals: Stock Down
- S Tyvon Branch (from Chiefs)
- LS Mike Leach (retired)
- T Bobby Massie (Bears)
- ILB Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons)
In 2015, the Arizona Cardinals would eventually have a fairly steady flow of veterans joining the team. The list would eventually include guard Mike Iupati, running back Chris Johnson and pass-rushing specialist Dwight Freeney.
This year, the signing of safety Tyvon Branch has been the lone addition to date. He adds experience to the defense and gives Bruce Arians some insurance in the secondary.
According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, safety Rashad Johnson is scheduled to visit with the Tennessee Titans on March 14. Branch’s arrival is also a nice backup plan should Tyrann Mathieu not be fully recovered from a torn right ACL suffered in late December.
Unless the Cardinals get busy, the team stands to lose some of its veteran depth. That would include Freeney, who led the team with eight sacks, and Chris Johnson—the team’s leading rusher despite missing the final five games of 2015.
Atlanta Falcons: Stock Up
- C Alex Mack (from Browns)
- QB Matt Schaub (from Ravens)
- DE Derrick Shelby (from Dolphins)
- WR Mohamed Sanu (from Bengals)
- ILB Sean Weatherspoon (from Cardinals)
- WR Roddy White (released)
- SS William Moore (released)
- LB Justin Durant (released)
- DT Paul Soliai (released)
Who can argue with the addition of three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack? The Atlanta Falcons will also get a better version of the player, who this past season was coming back from a broken leg suffered in October of 2014.
The heir (or air) apparent for the moment with regard to wide receiver Roddy White is Mohamed Sanu. He caught 33 passes in 2015 and failed to score a touchdown but has been known to actually throw for a score or two.
In terms of nostalgia, the franchise brought back Matt Schaub—who’s made the rounds since Atlanta dealt him to the Texans in 2007—as well as Sean Weatherspoon, a member of the Arizona Cardinals this past season.
Defensive end Derrick Shelby brings a bit of promise. His 3.5 sacks with the Dolphins in 2015 would have ranked second on the Falcons.
Baltimore Ravens: Neutral
- TE Benjamin Watson (from Saints)
- ILB Daryl Smith (released)
- G Kelechi Osemele (signed with Raiders)
- QB Matt Schaub (Falcons)
The Baltimore Ravens come off a losing season for the first time since 2007.
John Harbaugh’s team has missed the playoffs two of the last three years following the team’s Super Bowl XLVII championship campaign of 2012.
General manager Ozzie Newsome isn’t usually all in when it comes to adding players via free agency. The team did sign veteran tight end Benjamin Watson—who totaled career highs in catches (74) and receiving yards (825), and tied his personal best in touchdowns (six) this past season with the New Orleans Saints.
The loss of versatile Kelechi Osemele, a 14-game starter at left guard (10) and left tackle (four) in 2015, can’t be easily dismissed. But neither is the notion that Newsome will find a capable replacement over the next month or so.
Buffalo Bills: Stock Down
- CB Javier Arenas (did not play in 2015)
- DE Mario Williams (released/Dolphins)
- RB Anthony Dixon (released)
- G Kraig Urbik (released)
- CB Leodis McKelvin (released/Eagles)
- ILB Nigel Bradham (Eagles)
- CB Ron Brooks (Eagles)
- WR Chris Hogan (Patriots)
With the exception of re-signing Pro Bowl left guard Richie Incognito, the skinny on the financially-strapped Buffalo Bills ($5.64 million under the salary cap) has been more about trimming the fat.
General manager Doug Whaley and head coach Rex Ryan headed into free agency alleviated of the contracts of performers such as defensive end Mario Williams, cornerback Leodis McKelvin and running back Anthony Dixon. The Bills also opted not to match the New England Patriots’ three-year, $12 million offer sheet to restricted free-agent wideout Chris Hogan.
For a franchise that hasn’t been to the playoffs this century and a club that was a huge disappointment on defense this past season, it wasn’t an encouraging week.
Carolina Panthers: Neutral
- C Gino Gradkowski (from Falcons)
- DE Jared Allen (retired)
- P Brad Nortman (Jaguars)
There’s simply not a lot going on when it comes to the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers.
The team lost free-agent punter Brad Nortman to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Veteran defensive backs Roman Harper, Cortland Finnegan and Charles Tillman can test the open market. The club would love to get a long-term deal done with All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, who was slapped with the franchise tag.
Other than the departure of a kicker, a visit from free-agent defensive tackle Paul Soliai (courtesy of Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer) and the addition of a backup center (Gino Gradkowski), the biggest buzz out of Carolina at the moment is the Tar Heels being the No. 1 seed in the East region of the NCAA basketball tournament.
Chicago Bears: Stock Up
- ILB Danny Trevathan (from Broncos)
- ILB Jerrell Freeman (from Colts)
- DE Akiem Hicks (from Patriots)
- T Bobby Massie (from Cardinals)
- T Jermon Bushrod (released/Dolphins)
- RB Matt Forte (Jets)
- DE Jarvis Jenkins (Jets)
Talk about cutting to the chase?
After ranking 30th in the NFL in total defense in back-to-back seasons, the Chicago Bears hired defensive whiz Vic Fangio—who brought his version of the 3-4 to the Windy City.
The Chicago Bears improved to 14th in the league in fewest yards allowed, but the team struggled when it came to stopping the run. Fangio’s unit limited just five opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing.
Chicago addressed this shortcoming by adding inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman (Indianapolis Colts) and Danny Trevathan (Denver Broncos). Pro Football Focus ranked the duo second and sixth, respectively, in the league at their positions. The site also gave negative grades to all five of the Bears’ inside linebackers in 2015.
Things got even better for the team on Sunday night, as Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Bears had inked defensive linemen Akiem Hicks to a two-year deal.
Cincinnati Bengals: Stock Down
- WR Marvin Jones (Lions)
- WR Mohamed Sanu (Falcons)
- OLB Emmanuel Lamur (Vikings)
The Cincinnati Bengals entered free agency with a number of key players to re-sign. The list included the club’s top tackler, its second-leading receiver, four members of the secondary and a reliable kick returner.
The franchise managed to retain linebacker Vincent Rey (team-high 98 stops in 2015), strong safety George Iloka, cornerback Adam Jones and special teams standout Brandon Tate.
However, wide receiver Marvin Jones left for Detroit and starting defensive backs Reggie Nelson and Leon Hall remain on the open market. Wideout Mohamed Sanu departed for Atlanta, leaving Cincinnati a bit depleted in terms of pass-catchers.
Not surprisingly, the Bengals have not signed any new free agents. A year ago, their biggest pickups were former members of the team (Michael Johnson, Pat Sims) that returned to the organization after going elsewhere.
For now, the club sits with just under $30 million in cap room and still has six of its own free agents to re-sign, including a player (Nelson) who tied for the NFL lead with eight interceptions in 2015.
Cleveland Browns: Stock Down
- QB Johnny Manziel (released)
- DT Randy Starks (released)
- TE Jim Dray (released)
- WR Travis Benjamin (Chargers)
- T Mitchell Schwartz (Chiefs)
- C Alex Mack (Falcons)
- FS Tashaun Gipson (Jaguars)
- CB Johnson Bademosi (Lions)
That’s a good thing. Because after one week of free agency, it doesn’t appear that too many other people want to work for the organization.
The team watched four starters take the free-agent highway out of Ohio, including offensive line stalwarts Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz. Wide receiver Travis Benjamin enjoyed a breakout 2015 and then broke out of town, signing with San Diego.
Only three teams in the league have more money to spend right now than the Browns. Yet, the team sits quietly and is watching key personnel head out of town. It’s a perplexing stance for a franchise that hasn’t posted a winning season since 2007.
Dallas Cowboys: Stock Up
- DE Cedric Thornton (from Eagles)
- QB Matt Cassel (Titans)
- G Mackenzy Bernadeau (Jaguars)
What a contrast from a year ago.
The Dallas Cowboys were torn between losing the NFL’s leading rusher or the player who totaled a league-high 16 touchdown receptions.
The team would choose franchise wide receiver Dez Bryant and leave running back DeMarco Murray exposed to the open market. The latter would leave for Philadelphia, while Bryant eventually signed a long-term deal.
The only drama in Big D right now is how long it will take quarterback Tony Romo to recover from his latest medical procedure. Dallas did re-sign middle linebacker Rolando McClain, while sack artist Greg Hardy isn’t in the team’s plans for now.
It was a low key week for the club, and in this case, little news is good news. The Cowboys don’t have a lot of money to spend, but at the same time, they don’t have any pressing needs in terms of their starting lineup.
They just need their starting signal-caller to heal…quickly.
Denver Broncos: Stock Down
- QB Mark Sanchez (trade/Eagles)
- DT Phil Taylor (did not play in 2015)
- T Donald Stephenson (from Chiefs)
- QB Peyton Manning (retired)
- G Louis Vasquez (released)
- TE Owen Daniels (released)
- DE Malik Jackson (Jaguars)
- QB Brock Osweiler (Texans)
- ILB Danny Trevathan (Bears)
Just when it appeared that this offseason was looking like a total disaster for the defending Super Bowl champions, there were a few glimmers of hope. Emphasis on glimmers.
Jeff Legwold of ESPN was the first to report that the club restructured the contract of outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, opening up some much-needed cap space. With Peyton Manning retiring and Brock Osweiler signing with the Texans, general manager John Elway still managed to get a veteran quarterback by obtaining Mark Sanchez in a trade with the Eagles.
The free-agent defections of defensive end Malik Jackson and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan were significant. The Broncos must still get Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller under contract after giving him the exclusive franchise tag. Elway must make a decision this week if the Broncos are going to match the Miami Dolphins' offer sheet for restricted free-agent running back C.J. Anderson. The team’s leading rusher from 2015 (Ronnie Hillman) and starting left guard Evan Mathis remain unsigned.
It’s been far from an encouraging week for Elway and Co.
Detroit Lions: Stock Up
- T Lamar Holmes (played with Falcons in ’15)
- WR Marvin Jones (from Bengals)
- SS Tavon Wilson (from Patriots)
- FS Rafael Bush (from Saints)
- CB Johnson Bademosi (from Browns)
- WR Calvin Johnson (retired)
- RB Joique Bell (released)
- CB Rashean Mathis (retired)
- DT C.J. Wilson (released)
- ILB Travis Lewis (Vikings)
- FS Isa Abdul-Quddus (Dolphins)
The Detroit Lions entered free agency on March 9 with 16 unrestricted free agents. The team managed to retain defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, cornerback Crezdon Butler and backup quarterback Dan Orlovsky, to name a few.
That means the franchise wasn’t going to go zero-for-16 (pun intended) when it came to bringing back its own.
The day before the start of the new fiscal year, Calvin Johnson made his retirement official. Hours later, Detroit inked former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones to a five-year, $40 million deal.
The club also spent some money this week shoring up the secondary. The Lions opted not to bring back strong safety James Ihedigbo and replaced him with Tavon Wilson.
The departure of “Megatron” was a blow. But kudos to the team for addressing this and other matters quickly while still having ample salary-cap room ($26.5 million).
Green Bay Packers: Neutral
- QB Scott Tolzien (Colts)
- CB Casey Hayward (Chargers)
A source for Green Bay Packers beat writer Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had this to say.
“The Packers might have too many corners, realistically,” an AFC personnel director told McGinn earlier this month. “But I'm not sure if there's such a thing in the NFL.”
In any case, the team has one less now that Casey Hayward has signed with the San Diego Chargers. A second-round pick in 2012, he inked a three-year deal, according to McGinn. The four-year pro became somewhat of a luxury after general manager Ted Thompson used his first two picks in 2015 on cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins.
Per usual, the Packers have sat back when it comes to shopping for other teams' players. It made for an uneventful but typical week for a franchise that’s been to the playoffs seven straight years, and counting.
Houston Texans: Stock Up
- QB Brock Osweiler (from Broncos)
- RB Lamar Miller (from Dolphins)
- G Jeff Allen (from Chiefs)
- C Tony Bergstrom (from Raiders)
- RB Arian Foster (released)
- S Rahim Moore (released)
- TE Garrett Graham (released)
- C Ben Jones (Titans)
- G Brandon Brooks (Eagles)
Talk about wasting little time filling needs?
Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien has had six different starting quarterbacks in two seasons. The club had already jettisoned the franchise’s all-time rushing leader in Arian Foster. On the first day of free agency, center Ben Jones and right guard Brandon Brooks were gone.
Thus, general manager Rick Smith inked Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million deal. He added productive running back Lamar Miller as well as offensive linemen Jeff Allen and Tony Bergstrom. All told, the Texans spent a combined $166 million in one afternoon to fix an offense that ranked 19th in the league this past season.
It will prove to be money extremely well spent.
Indianapolis Colts: Stock Down
- QB Scott Tolzien (from Packers)
- ILB Jerrell Freeman (Bears)
- TE Coby Fleener (Saints)
- FS Dwight Lowery (Chargers)
- QB Ryan Lindley (released)
- LB Jonathan Newsome (released)
- WR Andre Johnson (released)
- QB Josh Freeman (released)
- OLB Bjoern Werner (released)
- QB Matt Hasselbeck (retired)
So far this year, it’s been more about who is no longer with the Indianapolis Colts. That includes Jerrell Freeman, the team’s second-leading tackler and the No. 2 inside linebacker in the league in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus.
The team’s lone acquisition to date is the latest player to back up quarterback Andrew Luck. Scott Tolzien comes over from the Green Bay Packers.
For general manager Ryan Grigson, this offseason is shaping up as one that is less about free agency and more about rebuilding a struggling defense with youth. In 2015, five of the team’s eight draft choices were on that side of the football. Look for the Colts to remain somewhat quiet until late April.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Stock Up
- DE Malik Jackson (from Broncos)
- RB Chris Ivory (from Jets)
- FS Tashaun Gipson (from Browns)
- P Brad Nortman (from Panthers)
- G Mackenzy Bernadeau (from Cowboys)
- CB Prince Amukamara (from Giants)
- G Zane Beadles (released)
- DE Chris Clemons (released)
- RB Toby Gerhart (released)
- T Sam Young (Dolphins)
For what has become somewhat of a tradition, the Jacksonville Jaguars were once again big spenders early in free agency. And the team still has more salary cap room than any other team in the league.
The club will benefit greatly from the additions of defensive end Malik Jackson, free safety Tashaun Gipson and cornerback Prince Amukamara. All will combine to upgrade a pass defense that ranked 29th in the league in 2015 and, coincidentally, gave up 29 scores through the air.
More help comes via running back Chris Ivory, the AFC’s leading rusher this past season. Teamed with T.J. Yeldon, the Jacksonville offense will be less one-dimensional, and a little ball control will aid the defense as well.
The franchise cut loose some of its recent free-agent disappointments, such as Zane Beadles and Toby Gerhart.
If grades were given out this week, the Jaguars earned A-pluses across the board.
Kansas City Chiefs: Stock Up
- T Mitchell Schwartz (from Browns)
- WR Rod Streater (from Raiders)
- DE Jonathan Massaquoi (did not play in 2015)
- CB Sean Smith (Raiders)
- G Jeff Allen (Eagles)
- T Donald Stephenson (Broncos)
- G Ben Grubbs (released)
- QB Chase Daniel (Eagles)
- S Tyvon Branch (Cardinals)
It could have been a lot worse. Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs withstood the possibility of losing the core of last year’s seventh-ranked defense.
General manager John Dorsey managed to re-sign linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali to go along with nose tackle Jaye Howard. The team had already given free safety Eric Berry the franchise tag.
Free agency did cost the team standout cornerback Sean Smith, offensive lineman Donald Stephenson (a struggling starter at both tackle spots in 2015), reserve safety Tyvon Branch and backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
However, retaining those veteran defenders more than offset those departures. And the recent signing of ex-Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater may prove to be a quiet but effective move.
Los Angeles Rams: Stock Down
- DE Chris Long (released)
- LB James Laurinaitis (released)
- TE Jared Cook (released)
- CB Janoris Jenkins (Giants)
- S Rodney McLeod (Eagles)
If the Los Angeles Rams have a plan for 2016, the team is keeping it to itself.
The club watched defensive backs Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod sign elsewhere. Last month, the franchise waived goodbye to veterans Chris Long, James Laurinaitis and Jared Cook. On a positive front, franchised cornerback Trumaine Johnson did sign his tender.
General manager Les Snead now has $27.3 million of cap space to play with. But the Rams were more than a little quiet this week. Jeff Fisher’s squad could use all the help it can get on offense. No team in the league gained fewer total yards and passing yards in 2015, and yet, the organization has yet to make any kind of an attempt to bolster its attack.
So far, the only move the Rams have made this offseason has been to the City of Angels. And that was weeks ago.
Miami Dolphins: Stock Down
- DE Mario Williams (from Bills)
- CB Byron Maxwell (trade/Eagles)
- ILB Kiko Alonso (trade/Eagles)
- FS Isa Abdul-Quddus (from Lions)
- T Sam Young (from Jaguars)
- T Jermon Bushrod (from Bears)
- RB Lamar Miller (Texans)
- DE Olivier Vernon (Giants)
- T Jason Fox (released)
- CB Brice McCain (released/Titans)
- DE/OLB Quinton Coples (released)
- WR Greg Jennings (released)
- WR Rishard Matthews (Titans)
- CB Brent Grimes (released/Buccaneers)
- DE Derrick Shelby (Falcons)
In a league where continuity means success, the Miami Dolphins are continually making changes to their roster.
Fair or unfair, this is a franchise in pursuit of winning when it comes to offseason headlines. It’s little wonder with the constant alterations to the talent base that this club hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2008.
The team moved down five spots (from No. 8 to No. 13) in the first round of April’s draft to obtain defenders Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso from the Philadelphia Eagles. The Dolphins are also counting on defensive end Mario Williams to rebound from a five-sack season in Buffalo.
All these moves, and the organization still has cap room ($22.4 million) to spare—meaning there could be more changes ahead.
To quote author George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Minnesota Vikings: Neutral
- G Alex Boone (from 49ers)
- ILB Travis Lewis (from Lions)
- FS Michael Griffin (from Titans)
- OLB Emmanuel Lamur (from Bengals)
- WR Mike Wallace (released)
This past week, arguably the flashiest player the Minnesota Vikings added to their roster was veteran safety Michael Griffin. As is well known, the franchise is stocked with a lot of homegrown talent, and the maturation of those players resulted in a division title for the Purple Gang in 2015.
Veteran Alex Boone steps in at right guard, while Emmanuel Lamur could be in the starting lineup if the club opts not to bring back outside linebacker Chad Greenway.
The Vikings have yet to make decisions on cornerbacks Terence Newman and Josh Robinson. Those moves could be coming soon, and the team does have $32 million in terms of salary-cap room. But at least for the first week, it was a very unspectacular few days for general manager Rick Spielman.
New England Patriots: Neutral
- WR Chris Hogan (from Bills)
- DE Frank Kearse (from Redskins)
- LB Jerod Mayo (retired)
- WR Brandon LaFell (released)
- TE Scott Chandler (released)
- SS Tavon Wilson (Lions)
- DE Akiem Hicks (Bears)
When it comes to free agency, the New England Patriots are the equivalent of a holiday shopper who opts to go to the mall the day after Black Friday.
In other words, the league’s reigning dynasty looks for bargains after the big names on the market have been purchased. Who’s to argue with its formula for success?
The defending AFC East champions signed restricted free-agent wide receiver Chris Hogan to a three-year offer sheet, and the Buffalo Bills opted quickly not to match the price. Given the injuries suffered at the skill positions in 2015, he’ll prove to be a nice insurance policy.
As usual, it is quiet these days in Foxborough. It’s another year of this franchise standing “pat.”
New Orleans Saints: Stock Down
- RB Vick Ballard (did not play in 2014 and 2015)
- PK Josh Scobee (played with Steelers in 2015)
- TE Coby Fleener (from Colts)
- G Jahri Evans (released)
- CB Brandon Browner (released)
- LB David Hawthorne (released)
- WR Marques Colston (released)
- TE Benjamin Watson (Ravens)
- RB Khiry Robinson (Jets)
- FS Rafael Bush (Lions)
Perhaps it’s a matter of addition by subtraction. To date, the New Orleans Saints have brought anyone in to fix a defense that was next-to-last across the board in total, rushing and passing yards allowed. The team also permitted 45 scores through the air, a league record for ineptitude.
This offseason, the franchise released inside linebacker David Hawthorne and cornerback Brandon Browner. The main reason that the Saints haven’t brought in any replacements is that they are only $2.78 million under the salary cap.
Quarterback Drew Brees did get a new target in tight end Coby Fleener, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts. However, there was no movement on the other side of the football, and that’s a problem.
New York Giants: Stock Up
- CB Janoris Jenkins (from Rams)
- DE Olivier Vernon (from Dolphins)
- DT Damon Harrison (from Jets)
- ILB Keenan Robinson (from Redskins)
- LB Jon Beason (retired)
- T Will Beatty (released)
- OL Geoff Schwartz (released)
- CB Prince Amukamara (Jaguars)
- DE Robert Ayers (Buccaneers)
This past season, the New York Giants were ranked dead last in the league in total yards allowed. The team allowed an NFL-worst 298.9 per game through the air and was 24th in rushing defense. The G-Men racked up 23 sacks and gave up 31 touchdown passes.
So, what has the team done so far? It addressed all of these matters with help up front (defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Damon Harrison) and also added an inside linebacker (Keenan Robinson) and a playmaking cornerback (Janoris Jenkins).
The franchise also decided to re-sign defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul in hopes he can put a forgettable 2015 behind him and recapture his Pro Bowl form of past seasons.
It’s safe to call this a nice haul.
New York Jets: Stock Up
- RB Dri Archer (played with Steelers in 2015)
- RB Matt Forte (from Bears)
- RB Khiry Robinson (from Saints)
- DE Jarvis Jenkins (from Bears)
- CB Antonio Cromartie (released)
- RB Chris Ivory (Jaguars)
- WR Jeremy Kerley (released)
- TE Jeff Cumberland (released)
- DT Damon Harrison (Giants)
Wait a minute. The New York Jets are minus their starting quarterback from a year ago and the team has been given a thumbs up?
That’s because general manager Mike Maccagnan has revamped the rest of the backfield. Versatile Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson join Bilal Powell at running back. Chris Ivory, the AFC’s top ground-gainer in 2015, took his talents to Florida and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
How does Jets wideout Brandon Marshall feel about Forte, his former Chicago Bears teammate?
“Big pickup for us. He’s going to be great. Dependable,” said Marshall last week on The Rich Eisen Show (h/t Seth Walder of the New York Daily News). “He’s the most underrated running back in the history of our game. Most people say the last eight years since he’s been in the league. In the history of football, he’s the most underrated running back, ever.”
As for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, he remains unsigned, but Marshall is hoping he returns and cited plenty of positives. “The way we communicate, the way we practice together, the way we bring other guys together, I’ve never seen that anywhere else,” said Marshall to Eisen. “And I’ve been a lot of places. And I’ve had a lot of quarterbacks. So that’s the toughest thing for me when I think about him potentially putting on another jersey.”
Oakland Raiders: Stock Up
- G Kelechi Osemele (from Ravens)
- CB Sean Smith (from Chiefs)
- DE/OLB Bruce Irvin (from Seahawks)
- FS Charles Woodson (retired)
- DE Justin Tuck (retired)
- C Tony Bergstrom (Texans)
- ILB Curtis Lofton (released)
- WR Rod Streater (Chiefs)
There are a lot of encouraging signs (or should that read signings) when it comes to the Oakland Raiders these days.
While the 2015 edition finished 7-9, the team more than doubled its win total (three) from the previous year. Young players such as defensive All-Pro Khalil Mack, wide receiver Amari Cooper and quarterback Derek Carr are the team’s new foundation.
General manager Reggie McKenzie welcomed three more solid additions to the club. Seven-year veteran Sean Smith is the elder statesman of the team’s 2016 free-agent haul. Signing versatile blocker Kelechi Osemele fortifies the guard spot and gives the Raiders a backup plan should left tackle Donald Penn not return.
Outside linebacker Bruce Irvin played for current Oakland defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. in Seattle. Paired with Mack, the tandem will make a lot of quarterbacks sweat this year.
Three key components and still $29.7 million under the cap. Stock up indeed.
Philadelphia Eagles: Stock Down
- CB Leodis McKelvin (from Bills)
- ILB Nigel Bradham (from Bills)
- CB Ron Brooks (from Bills)
- G Brandon Brooks (from Texans)
- S Rodney McLeod (from Rams)
- QB Chase Daniel (from Chiefs)
- QB Mark Sanchez (traded to Broncos)
- WR Riley Cooper (released)
- LB DeMeco Ryans (released)
- CB Byron Maxwell (traded to Dolphins)
- ILB Kiko Alonso (traded to Dolphins)
- RB DeMarco Murray (traded to Titans)
- QB Thaddeus Lewis (49ers)
- DE Cedric Thornton (Cowboys)
Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman does deserve his share of praise. The team’s executive got what he could for a trio of failed experiments made by former team head honcho Chip Kelly last offseason.
The decisions to deal cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso and running back DeMarco Murray resulted in the club improving its draft position in both the first and fourth rounds of this year’s draft.
Elsewhere, the trade of quarterback Mark Sanchez gives the Birds a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017.
New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spent 2014 as the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator, hence the additions of Nigel Bradham, Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks.
Rodney McLeod will pair with Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary, and Chase Daniel will push Sam Bradford for the starting quarterback job. Do the math, and it’s another year of change on both sides of the ball.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Stock Up
- TE Ladarius Green (from Chargers)
- RB Daryl Richardson (did Not Play in 2015)
- TE Heath Miller (retired)
So far, it’s been the traditional business as usual for the Pittsburgh Steelers—meaning the team has spent more times re-signing its own players than pursuing those from other teams.
When general manager Kevin Colbert does add a free-agent, it has usually panned out pretty well. In 2015, it was the addition of veteran running back DeAngelo Williams. This year, look for tight end Ladarius Green to excel as a downfield receiving threat while attempting to fill the shoes of retired two-time Pro Bowler Heath Miller.
On a more somber topic, the Steelers will dare dealing with the continuous off-field issues of big-play wide receiver Martavis Bryant. Jeremy Fowler of ESPN recaps the latest news regarding the young pro, who is facing a one-year suspension from the league.
San Diego Chargers: Stock Up
- WR Travis Benjamin (from Browns)
- DT Brandon Mebane (from Seahawks)
- FS Dwight Lowery (from Colts)
- CB Casey Hayward (from Packers)
- TE Ladarius Green (Steelers)
- DE Kendall Reyes (Redskins)
- WR Malcom Floyd (retired)
- RB Donald Brown (released)
- ILB Donald Butler (released)
- ILB Kavell Conner released)
Following a 4-12 season, there was logically nowhere to go but up for a San Diego Chargers squad coming off its worst showing in more than a decade.
The franchise got off to a good start this offseason by jettisoning its disappointments while adding some upgrades—most notably on the defensive side of the football. Brandon Mebane should immediately help a team that ranked 27th in the league in rushing defense this past season.
Emerging wideout Travis Benjamin gives quarterback Philip Rivers an explosive option and takes the sting out of the retirement of Malcom Floyd. With the decision to bring back ageless tight end Antonio Gates for two more years, promising Ladarius Green became expendable.
It was a week of positives for a team that had little to cheer about in 2015.
San Francisco 49ers: Stock Down
- QB Thaddeus Lewis (from Eagles)
- G Alex Boone (Vikings)
The San Francisco 49ers won just five games this past season, the fewest by the club since 2007.
Speaking of few, that was the story this week in this Bay Area city. While the Oakland Raiders had their wallets open, the Niners were locked up tighter than Fort Knox.
Could a flurry of moves be in the works? Only the Jacksonville Jaguars currently sit with more available cap room than a team that now employs Chip Kelly as its head coach. Of course, he doesn’t wield the power that he did in Philadelphia a year ago, as general manager Trent Baalke is the team’s primary decision-maker.
It’s already been a different offseason from a year ago for both Kelly and the 49ers for different reasons. You would think that a club that’s won just 13 games the last two seasons combined would have been a little more proactive this past week.
Seattle Seahawks: Stock Down
- RB Marshawn Lynch (retired)
- DE/OLB Bruce Irvin (Raiders)
- G J.R. Sweezy (Buccaneers)
- DT Brandon Mebane (Chargers)
The Seattle Seahawks have enjoyed quite a run the past four seasons. Now, we’ll soon find out if this franchise will continue to have the kind of staying power required to be a Super Bowl contender.
The team has the vast majority of its front-line players under wraps. But will general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll bring back key contributors, such as left tackle Russell Okung and wideout Ricardo Lockette? Seattle has just under $13 million in available cap space.
Quiet this week in terms of adding talent, look for the ‘Hawks to do a little bargain shopping down the road. As for this past week, it was disappointing due to the departures of guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Meanwhile, the free-agent defection of Bruce Irvin was a foregone conclusion.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Stock Up
- G J.R. Sweezy (from Seahawks)
- CB Brent Grimes (from Dolphins)
- DE Robert Ayers (from Giants)
- G Logan Mankins (retired)
- ILB Bruce Carter (released)
After a lot of back and forth between the parties, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did manage to hold serve when it came to running back Doug Martin, which means the NFL’s second-leading rusher in 2015 is back with the club, courtesy of a new five-year deal.
That was easily the biggest news for a club with an offense that finished fifth in the league in both total offense and rushing this past season. The return of Martin is also a huge positive when it comes to second-year quarterback Jameis Winston—off an encouraging debut campaign.
General manager Jason Licht added three players in guard J.R. Sweezy (who steps in for the retired Logan Mankins), defensive end Robert Ayers (9.5 sacks in 2015) and cornerback Brent Grimes, who should contribute immediately. The franchise is still $36.8 million under the salary cap.
But the Bucs’ biggest bucks went to Martin. It will prove to be a very sound investment.
Tennessee Titans: Stock Up
- RB DeMarco Murray (trade/Eagles)
- WR Rishard Matthews (from Dolphins)
- CB Brice McCain (from Dolphins)
- C Ben Jones (from Texans)
- QB Matt Cassel (from Cowboys)
- S Michael Griffin (released/Vikings)
It wasn’t long ago that running back DeMarco Murray was amassing a league-high 1,845 yards rushing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Suddenly, the 2014 NFL Offensive Player of the Year is with his third team in as many years. That’s because the Philadelphia Eagles opted to deal Murray to the Tennessee Titans this past week. The clubs swapped fourth-round picks this year.
New general manager Jon Robinson also gave young quarterback Marcus Mariota some additional help in wide receiver Rishard Matthews and guard Ben Jones. Veteran Matt Cassel makes young quarterback Zach Mettenberger not only expendable, but very tradeable as well.
All signs point to an excellent start for the Robinson era in Nashville. And this is a team with the first overall pick in April’s draft.
Washington Redskins: Neutral
- DE Ziggy Hood (played with Bears in 2015)
- DE Kendall Reyes (from Chargers)
- QB Robert Griffin III (released)
- DE Jason Hatcher (released)
- FS Dashon Goldson (released)
- S Jeron Johnson (released)
- ILB Keenan Robinson (Giants)
- DE Frank Kearse (Patriots)
It was a quiet week for the defending NFC East champion Washington Redskins. With the exception of the addition of defensive end Kendall Reyes and the release of quarterback Robert Griffin III, there wasn’t much going on.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t changes on the horizon, especially for the 28th-ranked defense in the league this past season. On March 7, the team opened up $13.29 million of cap space by cutting defensive end Jason Hatcher and safeties Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson.
General manager Scot McCloughan could eventually look for a bargain or two down the road. So far, it’s been pretty uneventful when it comes to this club.
Unless otherwise noted, all player and team statistics come from Pro-Football-Reference and ESPN.com. All player ratings courtesy of Pro Football Focus. All 2016 contract terms and 2016 transactions are courtesy of Spotrac.