Progress Reports for All 32 Teams NFL Offseason so Far
The NFL draft is a little over two weeks away, making now as good a time as ever to take the temperature of all 32 franchises as it concerns their offseasons.
Not every team's offseason is the same—some clubs have new head coaches and general managers, others are building for the future and the lucky ones are putting the finishing touches on a potential championship-caliber roster. But regardless of the situation, enough time has passed—and enough transactions have been made—that we can judge the success (or lack thereof) of each team thus far in the offseason.
Here is a progress report for each NFL team's offseason so far.
Arizona Cardinals: B
The Arizona Cardinals have a fantastic head coach (Bruce Arians) and general manager (Steve Keim) combination, so it's no surprise that the team has enjoyed a positive offseason thus far.
After back-to-back seasons with 10 and 11 wins, it's time for the Cardinals to make a run at the Super Bowl, and the signing of guard Mike Iupati—away from division rival San Francisco, no less—is the type of move that could aid progress when the calendar turns to January. Iupati is a road grader in the run game and should help the league's lowest-ranked rushing attack.
Linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and LaMarr Woodley were also brought in, and quarterback Carson Palmer continues to recover from the torn ACL he suffered last season. Plus, the club reworked the contract of star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald should now spend the rest of his career in the desert.
Losing quality players like defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and cornerback Antonio Cromartie always hurts, but Arians and Keim have built a strong enough roster to absorb those blows.
Atlanta Falcons: B-
The most important move the Atlanta Falcons made this offseason was the hiring of new head coach Dan Quinn, who replaced the deposed Mike Smith. Quinn most recently served as Seattle's defensive coordinator, and we believe he can help fix Atlanta's defense in short order.
In that vein, general manager Thomas Dimitroff made a spate of signings on the defensive side of the ball in en effort to improve the unit, including end Adrian Clayborn, cornerback Phillip Adams and pass-rushers Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield. Plus, the re-signing of explosive running back Antoine Smith shouldn't go unappreciated.
Receiver Harry Douglas and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon are among the notable players lost in free agency, but neither is a world-beater.
If the Falcons are to win in 2015, Dimitroff and Quinn will have to ace the upcoming draft—but as it concerns the offseason up to this point, it's so far, so good.
Baltimore Ravens: B
When analyzing the Baltimore Ravens' offseason—or really anything the team does—it's best to do so with the understanding that their general manager, Ozzie Newsome, is among the best in the league at what he does. So while it might not seem like the team has had a fantastic offseason, we have faith that Newsome knows what he's doing.
The Ravens lost a number of quality football players to free agency, including pass-rusher Pernell McPhee and speedy receiver Torrey Smith. Plus, Newsome dealt star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (and a seventh-round pick) to the Lions for fourth- and fifth-round picks in this month's draft. Losing players of that caliber always hurts, but Newsome can be counted on to replace them.
Re-signing running back Justin Forsett was much-needed, and quarterback Matt Schaub was brought in to back up starter Joe Flacco. Plus, former Bears coach Marc Trestman was hired as offensive coordinator, as Gary Kubiak left to become head coach of the Broncos. While Trestman failed as the leading man in Chicago, he has a strong offensive mind that should help the Ravens offense.
Buffalo Bills: A
Whether you're a lover or hater of the Buffalo Bills, one thing is for certain: They've absolutely aced the offseason thus far. Does that mean they'll make the playoffs for the first time since 1999? No. But on paper, they're closer now than they've been in a long while.
The first major transaction was the hiring of Rex Ryan as new head coach, replacing Doug Marrone. Ryan is a brilliant defensive mind who should have that side of the ball humming from day one. He brought in Greg Roman to run his offense, and the unit should be improved. The likely new quarterback is Matt Cassel, who was brought in via a trade with Minnesota.
The trade for Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was a blockbuster and should greatly help the club's ground attack. The Bills also re-signed defensive end Jerry Hughes, who tallied 10 sacks in each of the last two seasons.
Other players signed were receiver Percy Harvin, tight end Charles Clay and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
If Cassel can play even decent football—or if incumbent passer EJ Manuel can finally put it all together—the Bills will have a real chance to make the postseason.
Carolina Panthers: C-
While Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has finally navigated the team out of the treacherous waters of salary-cap hell, he still hasn't loosened the purse strings to attract top free agents.
The Panthers allowed defensive end Greg Hardy to sign elsewhere, and while it's hard to criticize them for that decision—given Hardy's legal issues—losing a player of his caliber will undoubtedly hurt the on-field product. The decision to part ways with running back DeAngelo Williams also theoretically hurts the 53-man roster.
Gettleman did make a number of signings to fortify the roster, including tackle Michael Oher, cornerback Charles Tillman, tackle Jonathan Martin, returner Ted Ginn Jr. and receiver Jarrett Boykin, but none of those players possesses game-changing skill.
The draft still remains as a means to inject playmaking ability into the roster, but as of now, Gettleman hasn't done enough to push Carolina to the next level.
Chicago Bears: B-
With apologies to the great fans of the Chicago Bears, there's simply no way to give the team anything higher than a "B-" for the offseason when Jay Cutler remains the franchise quarterback.
So while we love the appointments of Ryan Pace as general manager and John Fox as head coach, it's hard to get overly excited when Cutler will once again be the starter. And yes, we understand that moving Cutler proved to be an extremely difficult task, bit the fact remains that Cutler is still "The Guy," and that's not good for the team.
Notable signings via free agency include pass-rusher Pernell McPhee, defensive end Ray McDonald, safety Antrel Rolle and receiver Eddie Royal. All four should help the team immediately.
Longtime cornerback Charles Tillman signed in Carolina, while stalwart linebacker Lance Briggs remains on the market. The 2015 Bears will have a significantly different look and feel.
There's no question the Bears are moving in the right direction—but the fact that Cutler is still on the roster doesn't help matters.
Cincinnati Bengals: B-
The Cincinnati Bengals' 2014 season ended just like their previous three did—with a mostly noncompetitive loss in the Wild Card Round. So it stands to reason that the club's goal this offseason needs to be to push the roster over the top to allow for a deeper postseason run.
In that vein, the team made a number of smart signings in free agency, including bringing defensive end Michael Johnson back into the fold. Other notable acquisitions include inside linebacker A.J. Hawk, receiver Denarius Moore and defensive tackle Pat Sims.
The team re-signed guard Clint Boling and tackle Eric Winston as well, keeping continuity along the offensive line.
The success—or failure—the team finds in the draft will go a long way toward determining whether a playoff run is possible. For now, though, the offseason should be viewed mostly as a success.
Cleveland Browns: D
To say that the Cleveland Browns haven't experienced a positive offseason would be like saying Steph Curry has been just OK for the Golden State Warriors this year.
Any way you slice it, it's been a disaster for the Browns. Star receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for the entire 2015 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Quarterback Johnny Manziel—one of the team's two first-round picks last year—entered a rehabilitation clinic and was recently released from said clinic, per Jim Corbett of USA Today. General manager Ray Farmer was suspended for four games—and the club fined the team $250,000—for his role in Textgate.
And that's just the off-field issues.
With the passing game desperately needing an infusion of speed, the Browns instead added plodding receivers Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline. They also watched as quarterback Brian Hoyer, tight end Jordan Cameron, cornerback Buster Skrine, receiver Miles Austin and pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard bolted for other teams.
While the signings of cornerback Tramon Williams and defensive tackle Randy Starks were smart, it's not enough to save Cleveland's rating here. If the team can ace the upcoming draft, the grade could improve, but as of right now, the organization is lucky to have earned a "D."
Dallas Cowboys: D
The Dallas Cowboys could have aced this offseason by making two simple and obvious moves: retain the services of star receiver Dez Bryant and running back DeMarco Murray, both of whom were scheduled to be free agents.
Owner Jerry Jones got it right by slapping Bryant with the franchise tag. Despite Murray's greatness, Bryant is the better player and was the higher priority. But Murray needed to be kept, and the fact that he was allowed to sign with rival Philadelphia should make Cowboys fans sick.
Murray helped the team nearly qualify for the NFC Championship Game, and his success helped quarterback Tony Romo author a magnificent season. Losing Murray is a move that will undoubtedly come back to haunt the Cowboys.
The signing of defensive end Greg Hardy was a worthwhile gamble, and re-signing linebacker Rolando McClain was smart. Bringing in running back Darren McFadden does nothing for anyone, though, except fans of injury-prone and declining rushers.
Detroit Lions: D+
While longtime fans of the Detroit Lions might be annoyed with this grade, it's justified for one reason and one reason only: The team watched as star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh took his talents to South Beach—and out of the Motor City.
Suh—who is one of the three best free agents ever (joining Peyton Manning in 2012 and Reggie White in 1993)—signed with Miami, and while the Dolphins paid him big money, it's hard to imagine the Lions not keeping him in town if they had planned better for his potential departure.
The team watched as Suh's battery mate, Nick Fairley, left via free agency as well. General manager Martin Mayhew did swing a deal for Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (and a seventh-round pick in exchange for fourth- and fifth-round picks in this month's draft), but if Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome gives away a player of that caliber, it's fair to wonder if that player can still perform at an elite level.
The Lions still have the draft to improve the roster, and there's no reason to believe that coach Jim Caldwell's team can't make another playoff run in 2015. But there's no question that the club has gotten worse since the new league year started.
Denver Broncos: B+
Once the Denver Broncos' season ended in disappointing fashion at the hands of the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs, the question was whether star quarterback Peyton Manning would return for a fourth campaign in the Mile High City.
When Manning announced he would indeed be back—and take a pay cut in the process—Denver's offseason took a turn for the better.
General manager John Elway hired former Texans coach—and his old backup quarterback—Gary Kubiak to be the team's next head coach, and while Kubiak wasn't the most inspiring choice, he'll have a fantastic roster to work with. Bringing in Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator was a stroke of genius.
Denver did lose a number of quality players, including tight end Julius Thomas, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and guard Orlando Franklin, but bringing back star receiver Demaryius Thomas (via the franchise tag) was much-needed. Tight end Owen Daniels, defensive lineman Antonio Smith and guard Shelley Smith were among the notable free-agent signings.
If Elway had made a better hire than Kubiak, this grade would have been an easy "A."
Green Bay Packers: A-
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson is like a maestro conducting a symphony of offseason greatness year in and year out—and 2015 has proved to be no exception.
Thompson made two critical re-signings in star receiver Randall Cobb and tackle Bryan Bulaga. It was unclear if the Packers would be able to keep either, and the fact that Thompson re-signed both was nothing short of incredible—especially considering Cobb took less money to stay in Lambeau.
Thompson also re-signed quarterback Scott Tolzien, defensive lineman B.J. Raji and nose tackle Letroy Guion. Linebacker A.J. Hawk and cornerback Tramon Williams are among the players who signed elsewhere.
The only reason why the Packers don't earn a flat-out "A" is because we don't like coach Mike McCarthy's decision to give up the play-calling duties and surmise that decision could come back to haunt the club down the road in 2015.
Houston Texans: B+
In his first year as coach of the Houston Texans, Bill O'Brien led the team to a 9-7 record (an improvement of seven wins) and nearly qualified for the postseason. And if this offseason has been any indication, the Texans should be ready to get back into the playoffs next year.
O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith upgraded at quarterback when they traded Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Jets and signed Brian Hoyer in free agency. Fitzpatrick is a living, breathing (and bearded) turnover, and while Hoyer isn't the second coming of Warren Moon, he's better than Fitzpatrick. Re-signing quarterback Ryan Mallett also made a ton of sense, and now Hoyer and Mallett can compete for the job.
Meanwhile, signing former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork was a stroke of genius, as he'll join All-Pro J.J. Watt and 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney on what could be a devastating defensive line. And speaking of Clowney, his rehab from microfracture surgery is going swimmingly.
Safety Rahim Moore and receivers Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington were signed as well, putting a bow on what's been an excellent offseason in Houston.
Indianapolis Colts: A
If a general manager's offseason is judged by whether or not he brings his team closer to a Super Bowl title, then Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts deserves an "A."
For years, people (including yours truly) have bemoaned the roster surrounding Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as being not good enough. This free-agent period, Grigson has brought in several talented players in an effort to elevate the roster, including running back Frank Gore, receiver Andre Johnson, pass-rusher Trent Cole, guard Todd Herremans, defensive tackle Kendall Langford and linebacker Nate Irving.
Gore, Johnson and Cole are the three marquee signings, and all three should contribute immediately. Johnson is still a stud at age 33, Cole can still rush the passer with aplomb (6.5 sacks last year) and Gore will give Luck his best back since he entered the league in 2012. Plus, the club parted ways with running back Trent Richardson, which is addition by subtraction.
The bottom line is that the Colts are a much better team now than when they got blown out by New England in the AFC Championship Game.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B
After two seasons with a combined seven wins, 2015 looms as a critical one for Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell. If they don't win in 2015, both will probably be out of a job.
In that vein, Bradley and Caldwell deserve some credit for improving the 53-man roster, giving the Jaguars their best team in a number of years. Caldwell was able to flex his financial muscles a bit, bringing in marquee tight end Julius Thomas on a big-money contract.
If the Jaguars are going to win this season, second-year quarterback Blake Bortles must play well, so it stands to reason that giving him as many weapons as possible is wise. Thomas presents a major red-zone target and should help Bortles immediately.
Also signed were offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell, defensive tackle Jared Odrick, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Sergio Brown.
It's unclear if the Jaguars will remain in the playoff hunt in 2015, but one thing is for sure: The roster is much better now than it was at the end of the 2014 campaign.
Kansas City Chiefs: C+
The first major move the Kansas City Chiefs made this offseason was their most important one: slapping the franchise tag on All-Pro pass-rusher Justin Houston. Houston led the NFL in sacks last year with 22, and the Chiefs simply could not afford to mess around with their best player.
Coach Andy Reid watched as his wide receivers caught a combined total of zero touchdown passes last year and then signed Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin to a big-money deal. While Reid might have overpaid for Maclin, there's no question that the offense needed an injection of speed at the position, and Maclin fits the bill.
Safety Tyvon Branch represented the team's other big signing, while receiver Dwayne Bowe, center Rodney Hudson and tight end Anthony Fasano were among the names who signed elsewhere.
Keeping Houston in the fold and signing Maclin represents an above-average offseason, but up until this point, there isn't that much to be terribly excited about.
Miami Dolphins: A
Anytime you can sign one of the three top free agents in NFL history, you are going to receive an excellent grade. It just is what it is.
Mike Tannenbaum, the new Miami Dolphins executive vice president of football operations, knocked it out of the park with the signing of former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. While Suh received an astronomical sum of money, there's no doubting his ability as a player, as he's one of the most disruptive linemen in the league and capable of turning games by his lonesome. The importance of his signing cannot be understated.
Tannenbaum also traded mercurial (and underachieving) receiver Mike Wallace (and a seventh-round pick) to Minnesota for a fifth-round pick in this year's draft. Tannenbaum then acquired speedy receiver Kenny Stills from the Saints for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick.
Tight end Jordan Cameron was signed to replace Charles Clay, who signed a big-money deal in Buffalo, while quarterback Matt Moore and safety Louis Delmas were re-signed.
If quarterback Ryan Tannehill can take the next step, the Dolphins could be looking at a playoff berth in 2015. And speaking of Tannehill, it should enthuse Dolphins fans to know that Tannenbaum wants to lock him up to a long-term extension, telling Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel, "If you have [a franchise quarterback] in the building you can win with, you want to pay him as reasonably as possible. The good thing is we have one."
Minnesota Vikings: C+
The Minnesota Vikings are a team on the upswing, with a talented young quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater), a promising head coach (Mike Zimmer) and a general manager who's drafted well (Rick Spielman).
But with that said, the team's offseason will likely be judged on whether star running back Adrian Peterson is on the roster come Week 1. While Peterson's seven-month exile from the NFL could soon be nearing an end, per Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune, it's unclear where he'll play in 2015 and beyond, which doesn't exactly add clarity to Minnesota's offseason haul.
The Vikings signed Shaun Hill to be Bridgewater's primary backup, and Hill is among the best in the league at that job. Cornerback Terrence Newman and safety Taylor Mays were brought in to fortify the secondary, and Casey Matthews was signed to provide depth at linebacker.
Plus, Spielman traded a fifth-round pick for Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace and a seventh-round pick, giving Bridgewater an explosive deep threat. Spielman also released receiver Greg Jennings.
The Vikings might not have had the sexiest offseason thus far, but the team looks set to contend for a playoff berth in 2015.
New England Patriots: B
It's tough to give the New England Patriots anything less than an "A" considering they won the Super Bowl two months ago, but they've lost a few stud players, which brings the rating down. Don't get it twisted, though: This team will surely contend for yet another Lombardi Trophy in 2015.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis signed a big-money deal with the rival Jets, and while coach Bill Belichick was never going to break the bank in that way for Revis, his defection still hurts the on-field product. And cornerback Brandon Browner is gone as well, having signed with the Saints. Belichick can be counted on to fix the secondary, but Revis and Browner are both noteworthy players (particularly Revis).
Also gone are defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen and pass-rusher Akeem Ayers.
Belichick signed a number of players, including tight end Scott Chandler, pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard and cornerbacks Robert McClain and Bradley Fletcher. Plus, Pro Bowl safety Devin McCourty was brought back on a long-term deal, which was an important transaction.
New Orleans Saints: C
On one hand, we want to praise New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis for finally addressing the team's salary-cap issues and attempting to provide financial relief.
But on the other, we must mention that the team's roster is much worse now than it was at the end of a 2014 season in which the club went 7-9 and missed the postseason.
Loomis dealt All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham (along with a fourth-round pick) to the Seahawks for a first-round pick and center Max Unger. The Saints now hold the 13th and 31st overall picks in the first round, and they'll need as many picks as possible to replace the ultra-talented Graham, who could help push Seattle toward another berth in the Super Bowl.
Loomis also traded promising young receiver Kenny Stills for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick in this year's draft. That transaction hurts the current product but also allows the Saints to build for the future.
Signed players include running back C.J. Spiller, cornerback Brandon Browner and defensive end Anthony Spencer, while the team re-signed running back Mark Ingram.
Loomis deserves credit for getting the salary cap in better shape, but the roster isn't much better, making it a tough offseason to grade. The draft will go a long way toward determining whether the Saints can contend in 2015.
New York Giants: B
The New York Giants haven't made the postseason since claiming the Super Bowl following the 2011 season, but a spate of offseason moves could have Big Blue back in the playoffs in 2015.
The signing of running back Shane Vereen was an important one, as he'll provide quarterback Eli Manning with a security blanket out of the backfield on third downs. Other players general manager Jerry Reese signed include linebacker J.T. Thomas, receiver/returner Dwayne Harris and defensive end George Selvie.
Plus, the club placed the franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, which was an important move for a player coming off a 12.5-sack season.
It hasn't been the flashiest offseason, but Reese has improved the roster enough to put the Giants squarely in playoff contention in 2015.
New York Jets: A
The New York Jets have absolutely slammed the offseason out of the park. It's been a thing of beauty to watch.
First, the team parted ways with coach Rex Ryan. While we like Ryan and think he'll do well in Buffalo, this was a much-needed move to allow the franchise to move forward with a fresh start. Plus, hapless general manager John Idzik was shown the door, which was also important.
Replacing them are Mike Maccagnan (general manager) and Todd Bowles (head coach), and both were promising hires who could bring a quick fix to Gang Green. Maccagnan has had a wonderful offseason already, with the draft still to come.
The team brought back All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis after two seasons away on a big-money deal, and Revis' former battery mate, Antonio Cromartie, was also brought back. With the addition of nickelback Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Gilchrist, Maccagnan and Bowles have turned a position of weakness—the secondary—into one of strength.
Guard James Carpenter and running back Stevan Ridley were brought in as well, while the club parted ways with receiver Percy Harvin.
Oakland Raiders: B
While Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie missed out on acquiring some of the top names in free agency (notably Packers receiver Randall Cobb), he has certainly improved both the team and the coaching staff this offseason.
McKenzie hired Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio as the club's new head coach, replacing the deposed Dennis Allen. While Del Rio wasn't the sexiest choice available, he does have experience and an excellent defensive background.
The club also improved in free agency, with players like linebacker Curtis Lofton, defensive tackle Dan Williams, center Rodney Hudson, linebacker Malcolm Smith and running backs Roy Helu and Trent Richardson being brought into the fold. While none of those players is a household name, all will help improve the overall depth and quality of the 53-man roster.
If McKenzie can author a successful draft, the Raiders could end up making a lot of noise in 2015.
Philadelphia Eagles: B
No team in the NFL—and, really, in all of sports—has been as interesting as the Philadelphia Eagles have been over the past few months. And the man at the center of it all is coach Chip Kelly.
Kelly has become the NFL's version of the most interesting man alive, with the press jumping to attention whenever he decides to speak. His dramatic upheaval of Philadelphia's roster has been nothing short of stunning, and we find ourselves agreeing with most moves he's made.
Kelly made waves when he dealt star running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso, but he couched that move by signing Cowboys star running back DeMarco Murray and Chargers back Ryan Mathews. While McCoy was a fantasy football darling, the Eagles should be in better shape with both Murray and Mathews toting the rock.
In an effort to improve the secondary, Kelly also signed cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond, and receiver Miles Austin was brought in to help a pass-catching corps that lost Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City.
Kelly's biggest maneuver was trading quarterback Nick Foles and a second-round pick in 2016 for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and a fifth-round pick this year. Bradford clearly has talent but has been injury prone, and it's the one move Kelly made that we don't love.
The Eagles' offseason of intrigue will undoubtedly stretch into the NFL draft—particularly with Kelly's former college quarterback, Marcus Mariota, looming as a potential acquisition.
Pittsburgh Steelers: C
The Pittsburgh Steelers won the AFC North in 2014, ending a two-year playoff drought, so the offseason directive is clear: Construct a roster capable of returning to the postseason.
While general manager Kevin Colbert has been held back by salary-cap issues, he did extend the contract of star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which should keep Big Ben in the Steel City for the duration of his career.
The signing of running back DeAngelo Williams looms as an important one, especially when considering the three-game suspension handed to star running back Le'Veon Bell, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Williams will likely be counted on early in the season to carry the load.
San Diego Chargers: B-
After making a surprise run to the postseason in 2013, the San Diego Chargers barely missed out in 2014, making this an important offseason for coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco.
The offensive line improved with the signing of guard Orlando Franklin, and it was also stabilized with the re-signing of tackle King Dunlap. Other players signed include receiver Stevie Johnson, returner Jacoby Jones, cornerback Patrick Robinson and defensive tackle Mitch Unrein.
The team did lose a number of quality players, including running back Ryan Mathews, receiver Eddie Royal and safety Marcus Gilchrist.
Most concerning to Chargers fans has to be the contract status of star quarterback Philip Rivers, whose contract expires after the 2015 season. His situation looms as one to monitor, as any resulting move will make a major impact on the club's upcoming campaign.
San Francisco 49ers: D
When grading the San Francisco 49ers' offseason, one must immediately look to the situation at head coach, which has declined steeply since the end of last season.
Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula was promoted to replace the deposed Jim Harbaugh, and no, that isn't a fair trade. Harbaugh was among the best coaches in the league, and the unproven Tomsula will have his work cut out for him in winning over the 49ers faithful.
While the 49ers undoubtedly needed a deep threat for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, general manager Trent Baalke overpaid for receiver Torrey Smith. Other signings include defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and cornerback Shareece Wright.
As of now, they look worse than they did in 2014 both on the field and in the coaching staff. That makes their "D" an easy grade to dole out.
Seattle Seahawks: B+
It's been a little over two months since the Seattle Seahawks lost Super Bowl XLIX in heartbreaking fashion, but the good news for fans is that the club looks ready to embark on another fantastic season.
General manager John Schneider pulled off a masterstroke by trading center Max Unger and a first-round pick for Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round pick. Graham will provide quarterback Russell Wilson with an incredible red-zone target, and that should greatly help Seattle's offense.
Cornerbacks Cary Williams and Will Blackmon signed with the team, along with defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin. Gone are cornerback Byron Maxwell, guard James Carpenter and linebacker Malcolm Smith.
The Graham trade easily gives Seattle a winning offseason grade.
St. Louis Rams: B
The St. Louis Rams are entering year four of the coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead regime, with zero playoff appearances to show for it, making this an extremely critical offseason for a club that could be looking to move to Los Angeles.
With that fact in mind, Fisher and Snead finally cut ties with injury-prone quarterback Sam Bradford, trading him and a fifth-round pick in this year's draft for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and a second-round pick in 2016. Foles owns a career 14-9 record as a starter to go along with 46 touchdown passes against 17 interceptions, and he'll be "The Guy" this year for the Rams.
St. Louis also added more talent to its already star-studded defensive line, bringing in defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Pass-rusher Akeem Ayers was also signed, and receiver Kenny Britt re-signed after reviving his career in 2014.
If Foles can step up his game, the Rams could make noise in 2015. The team's offseason—and 2015 campaign—hinges on that trade.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: D
Last offseason, new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht went on a spending spree in an attempt to fix one of the league's worst rosters. Players signed included tackle Anthony Collins, quarterback Josh McCown and defensive end Michael Johnson.
One year later, all three were released and have signed elsewhere. Yikes. So while Smith and Licht deserve credit for jettisoning their mistakes, the fact that those signings helped contribute toward a 2-15 record—and the No. 1 overall pick in the draft—stings.
The Bucs signed defensive tackle Henry Melton, safeties Chris Conte and Sterling Moore and linebacker Bruce Carter, and no, that haul isn't very impressive.
The team does have a promising young corps, and should add a quarterback (Florida State's Jameis Winston being the most likely candidate) with the top overall pick in the draft, so there's still room for massive improvement before Week 1. But as of now, the team's offseason hasn't been terribly impressive.
Tennessee Titans: B+
For a few seasons, the Tennessee Titans have held the unfortunate moniker of most nondescript team in the NFL. But that could finally be changing thanks to a spate of offseason signings and possession of the No. 2 overall pick in this month's draft.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Ruston Webster helped improve the pass rush by re-signing linebacker Derrick Morgan and bringing in linebacker Brian Orakpo, adding more oomph to coordinator Ray Horton's aggressive 3-4 scheme. Other players signed include safety Da'Norris Searcy, receiver Harry Douglas, tight end Anthony Fasano and cornerback Perrish Cox.
If the Titans can nail the draft and bring in more difference-making players, they could be a team on the up-and-up in 2015.
Washington Redskins: B
The Washington Redskins' biggest offseason move didn't come in the form of a player transaction, but instead materialized with the signing of Scot McCloughan as the club's new general manager.
McCloughan is a respected talent evaluator who helped build the 49ers and Seahawks rosters, so his employment in our nation's capital is noteworthy, and he's already paid some dividends.
Several players have already been brought in to improve the roster, including cornerback Chris Culliver and defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea, while quarterback Colt McCoy and tight end Niles Paul were re-signed.
The Redskins hold the fifth overall pick of the draft, and McCloughan can help reshape the franchise by making the right pick. But regardless of what happens, McCloughan's hiring and signings have made this a positive offseason for the Redskins.