Grading Every NFL Team's Offseason So Far

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJune 19, 2017

Grading Every NFL Team's Offseason So Far

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    There's a saying in the NFL: There is no offseason.

    To an extent, it's a perception fed by the 24-hour news cycle. Given the number of cable outlets dedicated to sports, any news in the NFL is big news.

    Whether it's January or June, however, there's always something going on in pro football.

    Since March, all 32 teams have been focused on one thing only—getting better for the upcoming season. Some have done an outstanding job in that regard. Others, not so much. Many more fall in between.

    From Buffalo to L.A. and all parts in between, here are grades for every NFL team's offseason efforts to date.

Arizona Cardinals

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    The Good News

    The Arizona Cardinals fared well in the 2017 NFL draft, adding a pair of athletic and versatile defenders who should fit in well in the scheme of defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Linebacker Haason Reddick is already turning heads in OTAs and could be a Week 1 starter, especially if Deone Bucannon isn't ready to go after ankle surgery. Meanwhile, second-round pick Budda Baker could be the next in a growing list of excellent safeties who have passed through Arizona in recent years.

    Getting pass-rusher Chandler Jones locked up was also a plus. It wasn't cheap (five years, $82.5 million), but no one expected it to be.

    The Bad News

    Arizona endured a huge defensive exodus in free agency this offseason. The Redbirds lost no fewer than five players who were starters on defense by the end of the season, including a pair of stalwarts in safety Tony Jefferson and Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell.

    The Cardinals found replacements for Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger in Baker and Antoine Bethea, but there's immense pressure on Robert Nkemdiche to take a huge step forward in year two with Campbell gone.

    The Bottom Line

    The Cardinals did the best they could to tread water on defense, but patching holes prevented the team from addressing a need at cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. With tons of new faces on defense and an aging core on offense, Arizona's margin for error (or injury) in 2017 is slim.

    GRADE: C

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Good News

    Sometimes, the best news in an offseason is no news. That was the case for the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, as they made it through free agency without any major losses.

    Atlanta didn't have the resources to make many additions, either. But the Falcons did create enough wiggle room to add nose tackle Dontari Poe, and veteran pass-rusher Dwight Freeney could be coming back as well.

    Freeney could serve as a mentor of sorts for first-round pick Takkarist McKinley, a wildly athletic edge-rusher who could pair with 2016 sack king Vic Beasley as a powerful one-two pass-rushing punch.

    The Bad News

    The Falcons didn't have the cap space to be players in a free-agent market where the top offensive linemen cleaned up, and it was a weak draft class on the offensive front. Therefore, this may seem like nitpicking.

    But while the Falcons front performed well in their Super Bowl run a year ago, they were also fortunate in terms of injuries. The Atlanta line isn't especially deep, which could prove to be a problem this season.

    The Bottom Line

    The Falcons had the good fortune of not having any glaring holes that needed to be addressed this offseason. Regardless, the addition of Poe was a good one for a team that had to be frugal in free agency, and Atlanta had a solid albeit unspectacular draft.

    GRADE: B

Baltimore Ravens

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    The Good News

    Some days, it's better to be lucky than good.

    After the NFL draft, the Ravens were bad shape at wide receiver. But thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs' surprising release of Jeremy Maclin, the Ravens added an accomplished veteran wideout in June.

    It was a nice bookend to the offseason, which started with the free-agent acquisition of safety Tony Jefferson. In Jefferson and veteran Eric Weddle (who joined Baltimore in 2016), the Ravens now possess arguably the best safety duo this side of Seattle.

    The Bad News

    The Ravens lucked out at wide receiver, but there's still reason to be concerned.

    For the second straight year, Baltimore lost one of its best offensive linemen. Last year, it was guard Kelechi Osemele. In 2017, it was right tackle Ricky Wagner, who bolted for a big payday with the Detroit Lions.

    Things weren't much better on the defensive line. The Ravens re-upped nose man Brandon Williams, but they lost end Lawrence Guy in free agency and traded Timmy Jernigan to the Eagles for the equivalent of a bag of corn chips.

    The Bottom Line

    The Ravens made some quality additions in Jefferson, Maclin and veteran scatback Danny Woodhead, while the Maclin gift may have saved the passing game's bacon. Regardless, both fronts are going to be legitimate concerns in 2017.

    GRADE: B-

Buffalo Bills

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    The Good News

    It's rebuild time in Buffalo. And that rebuild was long overdue.

    For the past several years, the Bills were a mediocre team doing everything they could to be just good enough to sneak into the postseason and end the NFL's longest playoff drought. It seems as though they've finally figured out that isn't working, so they're starting over under new head coach Sean McDermott and new general manager Brandon Beane.

    In at least one regard, the Bills wisely chose to go with the devil they know. Tyrod Taylor isn't a world-beater at quarterback, but he's a capable starter. Bringing him back after renegotiating his deal made more sense than starting over.

    The Bad News

    One would think the Bills would be tired of hemorrhaging talent to the New England Patriots. But one of Doug Whaley's last acts as GM was screwing up the restricted free agent tender of tailback Mike Gillislee, who will now carry the rock for the Pats.

    Letting the AFC's leading tackler from a year ago (Zach Brown) leave in free agency was also a misstep. The Bills brought in Gerald Hodges as a replacement, but Brown is a far superior coverage linebacker—something the Bills could sorely use right now.

    The Bottom Line

    Things are going to get worse in Western New York before they get better. But beyond adding some young talent in the 2017 NFL draft, the Bills also picked up an extra first-rounder in 2018.

    You have to start somewhere.

    GRADE: B

Carolina Panthers

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    The Good News

    The Panthers' problems were evident last season—a lack of reliable targets in the passing game for Cam Newton, and a lack of time for Newton to find said targets.

    The Panthers addressed the former need early and often in the NFL draft. At No. 8 overall, Carolina drafted a do-it-all tailback who thrives catching the ball in Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, They then doubled down in the second round, adding a similar talent in Ohio State scatback Curtis Samuel.

    Carolina also nailed down one of the cornerstones of their defense, inking defensive tackle Kawann Short to a contract that will pay the 28-year-old a whopping $44 million over the first three years of the deal.

    Nice work if you can get it.

    The Bad News

    It's understandable that the Panthers pursued offensive tackle Matt Kalil. They lost Mike Remmers in free agency, Michael Oher still hasn't cleared the concussion protocol, and with Kalil's brother Ryan on the line, perhaps they figured they could milk the potential from the former top-five pick he never showed in Minnesota.

    But giving Kalil a five-year, $55.5 million contract is a massive overpay. Sure, he won't see all of that money, but Kalil will get more coin over the first two years of his new deal than Andrew Whitworth will see in Los Angeles.

    The Bottom Line

    Carolina's skill position additions in the draft will help Newton, and Carolina bolstered its defense by signing a couple of veterans in safety Mike Adams and Julius "You Really Can Go Home Again" Peppers. But the line in front of Newton barely kept its head above water at best.

    GRADE: B-

Chicago Bears

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    The Good News

    If you were hoping to see quarterbacks here, you're going to be disappointed.

    Otherwise, the Bears did upgrade their leaky secondary without having to splurge. Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper are a pair of capable veteran cornerbacks, and Quintin Demps is an experienced strong safety coming off one of the better seasons of his career.

    They weren't "splash" signings, but the trio should go a long way toward bolstering a secondary that finished second-to-last in the NFL with just eight interceptions last season.

    The Bad News

    The Bears botched their quarterback situation.

    While the three-year, $45 million contract they gave Mike Glennon wasn't as bad as it first appeared, Chicago is on the hook for $18.5 million in 2017. That's a lot for a guy who the team was ready to replace before he ever took to the practice field.

    Then the Bears needlessly traded up one spot to draft North Carolina signal-caller Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall. In theory, Trubisky will have a year to learn behind Glennon, but he now has to live up to his draft slot plus what the Bears sacrificed to move up that one spot.

    The Bottom Line

    If Trubisky turns out to be the real deal three years from now, that trade will look far less egregious. But this offseason, Chicago GM Ryan Pace looked like a man who knows he's standing on thin ice.

    It's hard to see how Pace or head coach John Fox survives another dismal season in Chicago, and a new regime may decide they aren't crazy about either of the Bears' primary quarterbacks.

    GRADE: D

Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Good News

    There's good news for Andy Dalton in the Queen City.

    The Bengals spent their first two draft picks this year on skill position talent. In Round 1, they took Washington speedster John Ross, who set a 40-yard dash record at the combine in February. In Round 2, they grabbed Oklahoma tailback Joe Mixon, who could be their lead back in short order.

    Cincinnati also got better defensively. The Bengals brought in a pair of talented young edge-rushers in Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis, and they got faster and younger at middle linebacker with the signing of free agent Kevin Minter.

    The Bad News

    There's also bad news for Andy Dalton—quite a lot of it.

    Dalton struggled last year, in large part because his line also did. That isn't likely to get better in 2017. 

    Cincinnati lost its two best linemen in free agency, with tackle Andrew Whitworth departing for the Los Angeles Rams and guard Kevin Zeitler signing with the Cleveland Browns. That puts enormous pressure on youngsters Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi to make major strides.

    The Bottom Line

    In A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Ross and tight end Tyler Eifert, Dalton has a talented and diverse array of weapons at his disposal. Add in Mixon and the Bengals have the skill talent to move the chains.

    That is, assuming Dalton has time to deliver the ball or the Bengals' backs have holes to run through. Right now, it's hard to have much confidence they will.

    GRADE: C-

Cleveland Browns

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    The Good News

    Overhaul city.

    The Cleveland Browns have been one of the league's more active teams this offseason. They spent huge money on the offensive line, adding center JC Tretter and making guard Kevin Zeitler the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

    The Browns also added three first-round picks this year in edge-rusher Myles Garrett (the No. 1 overall pick), Miami tight end David Njoku and Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers. They'll likely count on all three to contribute early.

    Additionally, Cleveland brought in two new quarterbacks in veteran Brock Osweiler and rookie DeShone Kizer—picking up a second-round pick in 2018 to go along with the former just for taking on his contract.

    The Bad News

    The Browns upgraded in a number of areas, but they took a step back in one notable department.

    Though Kenny Britt wasn't much less productive than Terrelle Pryor last year—both young receivers notched the first 1,000-yard seasons of their careers—Pryor has more upside, while Britt received the bigger financial commitment this offseason.

    That seems backward.

    The Bottom Line

    Beyond the Pryor snafu, Cleveland had its best offseason in years. The Browns added more starters than you can count on one hand while picking up both an extra first- and second-round pick in 2018.

    It would have been nice if they had drafted Deshaun Watson, though.

    GRADE: A-

Dallas Cowboys

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    The Good News

    The Cowboys weren't in a position to make splash free-agent signings thanks to their annually tight salary-cap situation, and after winning 13 games in 2016, they picked toward the back of Round 1.

    Still, the Cowboys were able to hit on one of their biggest areas of need with the selection of Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton at No. 28. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has been making more out of less on the Dallas line for some time, but now he gets a first-round prospect to work with.

    Reports from OTAs have also been positive regarding the rehab of 2016 second-round pick Jaylon Smith. The linebacker told USA Today's Tom Pelissero that "I feel like me." If Smith is close to 100 percent, he's found money for Dallas this year.

    The Bad News

    The Dallas secondary wasn't elite in 2016, but it wasn't terrible either. Unfortunately, it might be in 2017.

    The Cowboys lost significant defensive backfield talent in free agency, as strong safety Barry Church, free safety J.J. Wilcox and cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne all departed. They selected three replacements in the first five rounds of the draft, but those rookies will need to grow up in a hurry.

    The Bottom Line

    Coming off one of their most successful seasons in years, the Cowboys have aspirations of a trip to Minnesota next February. But a number of young defensive pieces will be under enormous pressure in 2017, which could prevent that from happening. 

    GRADE: C+

Denver Broncos

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    The Good News

    The Broncos badly needed to upgrade their offensive line, and they were aggressive in that regard throughout the offseason.

    After watching tackle Russell Okung sign a gonzo contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, the Broncos signed free agent Menelik Watson to fill the void. Denver also added a quality guard in Ronald Leary, who made 12 starts for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.

    The Broncos continued their renovations right into the draft, selecting Utah's Garrett Bolles with their first-round pick. Bolles may not have been the most refined tackle in this year's class, but he has the highest ceiling of any of this year's prospects at the position.

    The Bad News

    The Broncos went oh-fer on impact signings in 2017, despite their best efforts. Team president John Elway claimed they were never all that interested in Tony Romo, but that wasn't the case for defensive end Calais Campbell. Romo decided to hang up his cleats and join the broadcast booth, while Campbell took more money and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Also, don't underestimate the potential impact of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' departure. The Broncos still have a ton of defensive talent, but losing the NFL's best DC still stings.

    The Bottom Line

    If either Bolles or Watson can step in opposite Donald Stephenson at tackle, it can only help the development of Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Ditto a ground game looking to rebound now that C.J. Anderson is healthy and Jamaal Charles is in town.

    That development under center and the offense's ability to be more consistent will have a bigger impact on the 2017 Broncos than any moves the team made this spring.

    GRADE: B-

Detroit Lions

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    The Good News

    The Lions took a buzzsaw to the right side of an offensive line that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in pass protection and 31st in run blocking last year, per Football Outsiders.

    The Lions signed perhaps the NFL's best right tackle in free agency, bringing Ricky Wagner over from Baltimore. It wasn't cheap—Wagner's massive five-year, $47.5 million deal reset the market at his position—but it was a much-needed gamble.

    The Lions also improved at guard with the arrival of nine-year veteran T.J. Lang. As an added bonus, signing Lang also hurt their NFL North rivals in Green Bay.

    The Bad News

    The right side of the line looks better, but the left side suffered a major and unexpected blow.

    Per Nate Atkins of, the Week 1 status of left tackle Taylor Decker is now in doubt after labrum surgery that will sideline him from four to six months.

    The Lions acquired former No. 2 overall pick Greg Robinson from the Los Angeles Rams as insurance after Decker went down, but losing their best O-lineman from a year ago to a training camp injury is a bummer.

    The Bottom Line

    It was curious to see Detroit ignore its offensive backfield after injuries tore through it a year ago, and the Decker injury was a crushing blow.

    But if Robinson can just tread water until Decker gets back, the additions of Lang and Wagner should significantly improve the Lions' biggest weakness from a year ago.

    GRADE: B

Green Bay Packers

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    The Good News

    Green Bay's biggest area of need was its defensive backfield, and the Packers made the secondary a point of emphasis in the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft.

    In Washington cornerback Kevin King, the Packers added a long, physical player who perfectly fits the mold of what NFL teams look for on the boundary. Green Bay then drafted North Carolina State safety Josh Jones, who is capable of playing both safety spots and even some cornerback.

    The crown jewel of free agency for Green Bay was tight end Martellus Bennett, who gives Aaron Rodgers yet another proven target in the passing game. Because as we all know, he clearly needed another one.

    The Bad News

    Ted Thompson doesn't overpay for free agents, whether it's bringing new faces in or keeping old ones in Titletown.

    But Thompson's conviction (or stubbornness) may come back to bite Green Bay in 2017. The Packers lost two starters from an offensive line that struggled at time a year ago when guard T.J. Lang and center J.C. Tretter departed for Detroit and Cleveland, respectively.

    Maybe he just doesn't like guys with abbreviated first names.

    The Bottom Line

    The Packers did hit their biggest area of need, and given the Packers' success under Thompson, he has generally received a pass for his annual unwillingness to be a big player in free agency.

    But the parade of offensive linemen out of town is a problem, and since Green Bay only one Super Bowl appearance under Aaron Rodgers, one could argue the team has underperformed in recent years.

    No. 12 isn't going to be under center forever. And he can't do it all himself.

    GRADE: B-

Houston Texans

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    The Good News

    The Houston Texans made no bones about their intention to upgrade at quarterback in 2017.

    First, it was addition by subtraction. Though it cost the Texans a second-round pick in 2018 to rid themselves of the abomination that is Brock Osweiler's contract, they were willing to bite that bullet.

    Then the Texans played Monty Hall again, sending the No. 25 overall pick and their first-rounder in 2018 to Cleveland for the right to move up and draft Clemson's Deshaun Watson at No. 12. If Watson pans out as expected, the Texans will be glad they made that deal.

    The Bad News

    Even if Watson proves he's worth the price Houston paid to acquire him, digging out from under the Osweiler fiasco has been a wildly expensive endeavor. The Texans have now surrendered their first two picks in the 2018 draft—to the same team, no less.

    It's a calculated risk from a team that won a playoff game in 2016, especially since it may take Watson a while to be NFL-ready. In the meantime, Tom Savage will likely be Houston's starter under center to begin the season.

    The Bottom Line

    The Texans might not be much better in the short term than they were a year ago. And they aren't positioned to improve markedly in next year's draft, either.

    But their long-term prospects under center are better now than they were a year ago, and a healthy J.J. Watt and rookie linebacker Zach Cunningham should help a Houston defense that was already elite.

    GRADE: B-

Indianapolis Colts

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    Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

    The Good News

    The best move the Colts made in the offseason didn't involve players. It involved the man who picks them.

    The Colts finally ended the disastrous tenure of general manager Ryan Grigson and replaced him with Chris Ballard, who then quickly went about replacing basically the entire defense. In edge-rushers John Simon and Jabaal Sheard, inside linebacker Sean Spence, rookie safety Malik Hooker and tackle Johnathan Hankins, the Colts will likely have at least five new starters on that side of the ball in 2017.

    The Bad News

    The Colts renovated their defense, but that meant getting little done along an offensive line that also needed work.

    It's not that the Colts didn't add anyone up front. Free agent Brian Schwenke showed flashes while in Tennessee. Ditto for mammoth lineman Zach Banner during his time at USC. But Schwenke has problems staying healthy, while Banner's weight was a major issue in college.

    The Colts don't have a terrible offensive line, but they struggled to protect Andrew Luck in 2016. That issue remains unresolved.

    The Bottom Line

    The Colts have no shortage of skill position talent on offense, and Luck remains a star. But in recent years, Luck has been under too much pressure to win shootouts every week because the defense can't stop anyone.

    In that regard, Ballard has improved the team considerably heading into 2017.

    GRADE: B+

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Good News

    What didn't the Jaguars do in the offseason?

    On defense, the team spent a fortune in free agency for the second straight year, bringing over defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Barry Church and cornerback A.J. Bouye on lucrative contracts.

    On offense, the Jaguars traded for offensive tackle Branden Albert and paired him with second-round pick Cam Robinson as their new bookends. Said bookends will be opening holes for the Jaguars' new featured back, LSU star Leonard Fournette, who Jacksonville drafted fourth overall.

    The Bad News

    All of the Jaguars' offseason additions are great. But they will also mostly be pointless if Blake Bortles plays in 2017 like he did in 2016.

    Per NFL Network's Mike Garafalo, new Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone didn't mince words about his quarterback, saying, "If you continue to turn the ball over, you won't be our quarterback. It's that simple. Everything else we can work on, but that is non-negotiable."

    Across his three NFL seasons, Bortles has averaged 17 interceptions per year.

    The Bottom Line

    This marks the second straight year the Jaguars added several notable pieces on defense. While they finished sixth last year in total defense, they were 25th in scoring defense, partly because Bortles kept putting them in untenable positions.

    The Jaguars now have talent at all three levels of the defense, an improved offensive line and a tailback who seems like a sizable upgrade over TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory.

    Winning the offseason and winning games aren't mutually inclusive, but it's been a great few months for Jacksonville's beleaguered fans.

    GRADE: A-

Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Good News

    If you're a believer in Patrick Mahomes, the aggressiveness the Kansas City Chiefs showed in acquiring the Texas Tech signal-caller is good news. They traded their 2018 first-round pick to the Buffalo Bills so they could move up to No. 10 for Mahomes.

    Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt told ESPN's Adam Teicher he's confident Andy Reid can mold the young spread quarterback: "I think Andy has a tremendous history of developing young quarterbacks. He really felt Patrick's skill set and his personality and his mental approach to the game were some things that he could work with and really turn him into a great quarterback."

    Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar shares that confidence

    The Bad News

    The question now is who Mahomes and Alex Smith will throw the ball to—at least in 2017.

    Yes, the Chiefs have an elite tight end in Travis Kelce and a rising young wideout in Tyreek Hill. But though they were tight against the salary cap, it was still a surprise them begin June by giving veteran wideout Jeremy Maclin his walking papers.

    The move makes Hill a No. 1 wide receiver, whether he's ready to be or not.

    The Bottom Line

    Five years from now, we may look back on the Mahomes deal as a masterstroke. 

    But in its totality, the Chiefs' offseason didn't feel like a 12-win team gearing up for another playoff run. It felt more like a team that believed last year's success was a mirage, so it thus decided to get a head start on an imminent rebuild.

    GRADE: C-

Los Angeles Chargers

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    The Good News

    The Chargers have struggled in recent years largely due to offensive line play that has been offensive. But the Bolts were bullish on bolstering their blockers in 2017.

    First, the Chargers dished out big bucks in free agency, making Russell Okung the highest-paid left tackle in football. They then double-dipped at guard on Day 2 of the 2017 draft, selecting Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp and Indiana's Dan Feeney.

    All three could find themselves in the starting lineup in Week 1.

    The Bad News

    The Chargers used this year's No. 7 overall pick on Clemson wideout Mike Williams, in part because he's an immensely talented young receiver. One can only assume it was also a measure of insurance against another Keenan Allen injury.

    About that.

    Williams was sidelined throughout OTAs with a "mild" disc herniation in his back. The Chargers hope he'll be ready for training camp, but it's far from assured. Regardless, every missed workout puts Williams' acclimation to the NFL that much farther behind.

    The Bottom Line

    On paper, the Chargers have the makings of an interesting team this season, perhaps even a dark-horse playoff contender. They have impressive young talent on both sides of the ball.

    But the Williams injury underscores the biggest issue the Bolts have endured over the past few seasons. No NFL team has experienced worse luck with injuries to key players of late than the Chargers.

    GRADE: B

Los Angeles Rams

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    The Good News

    The biggest addition the Rams made will be on the sidelines, not between them. After years of treading water with Jeff "7-9" Fisher as head coach, the Rams made a bold move by installing Sean McVay as the NFL's youngest head coach.

    The Rams also executed a badly needed upgrade along the offensive line with the addition of veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. Though he's 35, Whitworth was one of the NFL's most effective blindside protectors last year in Cincinnati.

    The Bad News

    The Rams still have a roster full of holes—many of which the team didn't do a lot to address. While Kenny Britt wasn't a worldbeater at wideout, he was the best they had. That title now belongs to Robert Woods—an underwhelming No. 1 who's better known for blocking than catching the rock.

    You won't find a better defensive coordinator in the NFL than Wade Phillips, as he's had success all over the place. But while the Rams have talent on defense (including Defensive Player of the Year contender Aaron Donald), the Rams would have been well-served to add players with some experience in the 3-4.

    The Bottom Line

    Maybe the Rams are going to be better in 2017, but it's hard to argue that as a certainty. The defense should be decent, but the offense is weak from the line and the skill positions to the quarterback. They may have been the first team back to L.A., but they had a second-rate offseason.

    GRADE: C-

Miami Dolphins

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    The Good News

    After a surprising run to the playoffs in 2016, the Miami Dolphins appear to be intent on a repeat trip.

    Miami added a plethora of players on defense, such as veterans like defensive end William Hayes, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and safety T.J. McDonald. They also spent early-round draft picks on Missouri edge-rusher Charles Harris and Ohio State outside linebacker Raekwon McMillan. All should help Miami's 30th-ranked run D from a season ago.

    The Dolphins also executed a great "buy low" trade, obtaining tight end Julius Thomas from the Jaguars. If Thomas can come close to recapturing his form from the Denver Broncos, Ryan Tannehill will have an embarrassment of riches in the passing game.

    The Bad News

    The Dolphins spent big to re-up their own players in 2017—in many cases, too big. Defensive end Andre Branch, linebacker Kiko Alonso and Kenny Stills all got deals that are either at or above market value for players of their talent and experience levels. So did safety Reshad Jones, although he deserved the elite safety money he received.

    And for all the wheeling and dealing the Dolphins did this offseason, they paid little attention to the offensive line. With Branden Albert shipped off to Jacksonville in the Thomas trade, that could come back to bite the team later on.

    The Bottom Line

    If you look at the Dolphins' offseason strictly through the lens of its impact in 2017, it looks great. If the Dolphins don't live up to their increased expectations this season, however, they could soon face some difficult decisions.

    GRADE: B

Minnesota Vikings

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    The Good News

    The Minnesota Vikings were a hot mess in the run game in 2016, ranking 30th in the NFL in run blocking, per Football Outsiders, and dead last in rushing offense.

    That run game was the focus of Minnesota's offseason. The Vikings brought in a pair of bookends on the offensive front, signing Riley Reiff (Detroit Lions) to man the left side and bringing in Mike Remmers (Carolina Panthers) to start at right tackle.

    The Vikes also shook up their backfield. Minnesota moved on from the Adrian Peterson era with a double-barreled approach, first signing Latavius Murray in free agency and then selecting Florida State's Dalvin Cook in Round 2 of the 2017 draft.

    The Bad News

    It would be more appropriate to say that Minnesota tried to get better on the offensive line. While the Vikings threw a ton of money at the line in adding Reiff and Remmers, their return on investment may not be high.

    Reiff played so well at left tackle in Motown that the Lions moved him to right tackle. And while Remmers was capable in Carolina, he wasn't much more than that.

    The Bottom Line

    Minnesota's offseason grade will depend largely on how their new pieces perform in 2017. The Vikings have a formidable defense, but their woefully one-dimensional offense from a season ago put too much pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford.

    If Remmers and Reiff can play anywhere close to their paychecks in 2017 and underrated third-round pick Pat Elflein emerges as a draft-day steal, Murray and Cook will see something new in the Twin Cities.

    They're called holes.

    GRADE: B

New England Patriots

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    The Good News

    Where to begin? No, seriously.

    In the offseason, the New England Patriots managed to take the NFL's best roster and make it substantially better. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore will pair with Malcolm Butler to form one of the league's best duos at the position. The team traded for tight end Dwayne Allen, edge-rusher Kony Ealy and 1,000-yard receiver Brandin Cooks.

    As if that wasn't maddening enough, the Patriots then managed—despite not having a pick in the first two rounds—to pull off one of the biggest steals of the 2017 draft. Edge-rusher Derek Rivers is going to be a star in the NFL. Book it.

    The Bad News

    Bad news? What bad news?

    Let's put it this way. Despite touting perhaps the NFL's deepest backfield, with Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee joining Dion Lewis and Super Bowl hero James White, the decision to part ways with LeGarrette Blount could come back to haunt the Pats.

    New England has a stable of versatile and talented tailbacks, but they don't have a between-the-tackles grinder a la what Blount did for the team a year ago, unless Gillislee can fill that role.

    Aside from that, all is sunshine and rainbows in Foxborough.

    The Bottom Line

    You want a bottom line? Here's a bottom line: After the haul they pulled in, the Patriots are the NFL's best team on paper by a mile. They will be the overwhelming favorite to both represent the AFC in Super Bowl LII and win another Lombardi Trophy.

    And if they stay healthy, another run at a perfect season is a real possibility.

    GRADE: A

New Orleans Saints

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    The Good News

    It's hardly earth-shattering news that the Saints needed defensive help. They addressed that side of the ball numerous times this offseason, both in free agency and the draft.

    The Saints brought in multiple new linebackers, from veterans A.J. Klein (who will probably start in the middle) and Manti Te'o to rookie Alex Anzalone. They also added new defensive backs in first-round cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Day 2 safety Marcus Williams.

    In case you haven't heard, the Saints added a certain veteran tailback named Adrian Peterson. Perhaps even more surprisingly, they then traded up for Tennessee tailback Alvin Kamara in the 2017 draft.

    The Bad News

    The last thing any NFL team wants during OTAs is to suffer a major injury. But the Saints have already endured not one but two such setbacks.

    First, center Max Unger had to have foot surgery back in May. There's hope Unger will be ready for Week 1, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Advocate, but it's far from a sure bet at this point. 

    On Wednesday, the team lost left tackle Terron Armstead to a torn labrum that will require surgery, He might be back in October. Or it could be December. Or it could be 2018.

    Rookie tackle Ryan Ramczyk better be good, because the Saints' O-line has been chewed to pieces before training camp even begins.

    The Bottom Line

    The Saints whiffed on a potential trade for Pro Bowl corner Malcolm Butler and lost Brandin Cooks in a trade with the Patriots. But the roster in New Orleans looks substantially better than it did when last season ended—especially on defense.

    Or at least it did before the offensive line fell apart.

    GRADE: B-

New York Giants

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The Good News

    One year after bombing away on the defense in free agency, it was the offense that was the focus of attention in the 2017 offseason.

    First, the Giants added veteran wideout Brandon Marshall in free agency. Marshall's 33 and coming off an injury-marred season with the Jets in 2016, but he gives the G-Men a proven option opposite Odell Beckham in the passing game.

    General manager Jerry Reese wasn't done. In the first round of the 2017 draft, the Giants selected Evan Engram of Ole Miss, an athletic field-stretcher who looks to be (on paper) a sizable upgrade for the team at the position.

    The Bad News

    Eli Manning's going to need those weapons—because it doesn't look like the Giants will be any better running the ball than they were in 2016.

    Despite ranking 24th in run blocking last season, per Football Outsiders, the Giants essentially ignored the offensive line. It's hard to view the addition of D.J. Fluker and loss of Marshall Newhouse as a net gain—best-case the Giants got more of the same in return.

    They also didn't add much in the offensive backfield to boost the NFL's 29th-ranked ground game. Clemson's Wayne Gallman might be a decent between-the-tackles grinder, but he's not much more than that.

    The Bottom Line

    The Giants' passing-game additions were nice, and the G-Men should be solid on defense yet again in 2017. But their failure to do anything to get better running the ball could leave them in the same boat as 2016—a one-dimensional offense that's going to struggle with consistency.

    GRADE: C

New York Jets

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Good News

    Um…well…you see…

    The Jets finally figured out that they stink?

    With their veteran purge, it’s abundantly clear the Jets are in the early stages of a ground-up rebuild.

    They added at least one nice piece to that rebuild in the 2017 NFL draft. For the second time in three years, the No. 6 pick was very kind to Gang Green. In 2015, it was defensive end Leonard Williams. This year, it was safety Jamal Adams. Both young defenders will play in multiple Pro Bowls.

    The Bad News

    The Jets are a six-alarm dumpster fire of a football team.

    The quarterback situation is a disaster. So is the offensive line. And the secondary. And a wide receiver corps now headlined by Quincy Enunwa after the Jets cut bait on both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.

    The defensive line is the only position group on this team that’s above average. The Jets, simply put, are now the most talent-deficient team in at least the AFC and probably the entire NFL.

    If they win six games, Todd Bowles should be voted Coach of the Year.

    The Bottom Line

    The Jets are a bad team. A really, really bad team. A team that some have accused of tanking the 2017 season. But if nothing else, you at least have to give them credit for admitting they stink and blowing the whole mess up.

    I suppose that’s something, but it’s hard to credit a white flag.

    GRADE: C-

Oakland Raiders

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The Good News

    The Oakland Raiders were in the favorable position of not having many glaring needs to address this offseason. Even then, the team managed to nail two of the bigger ones.

    In free agency, it was the backfield—and an unexpected arrival. Marshawn Lynch may be on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a season away from football. But if that sabbatical recharged the “Beast Mode” batteries, behind Oakland's superior O-line Lynch could rampage across the AFC West.

    In the NFL draft, it was the secondary. In Round 1, the Raiders got great value in Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, while Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu is a Swiss Army knife who can play all over the secondary.

    The Bad News

    The Raiders still have one potential area of weakness they didn't do a lot about.

    The inside linebacker spot is a huge question mark for the Silver and Black, as Oakland watched Malcolm Smith head across the Bay to San Francisco and has passed (to date) on re-upping Perry Riley.

    The Raiders did sign a potential starter at the position in free agency in Jelani Jenkins, and it wouldn't be even a little surprising if they bring in another veteran over the next month or so.

    The Bottom Line

    The Raiders aren't a flawless team. In addition to the issue at inside linebacker, there's also a lack of consistent edge-rushers not named Khalil Mack.

    But the edge-rusher named Khalil Mack does a great job of masking that problem, and given what the Raiders accomplished in the secondary and the surprise arrival of Lynch, it was a very nice offseason in Oakland.

    Well, except for the whole moving thing, anyway.

    GRADE: A-

Phildelphia Eagles

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Good News

    The Philadelphia Eagles' offseason was all about offering second-year quarterback Carson Wentz more weapons on offense.

    The Eagles added arguably the best free-agent receiver in the class of 2017, bringing in Alshon Jeffery on a one-year deal. Philadelphia also signed speedster Torrey Smith, turning a receiver position that had been a weakness last year into a strength.

    The Eagles weren’t done yet. The addition of bruising tailback LeGarrette Blount after a career year with the Patriots provides Philadelphia with (in combination with scatback Darren Sproles) a true “thunder and lightning” backfield.

    The Bad News

    The Eagles were every bit as hard up at cornerback in 2017 as they were at wide receiver. And where this year is concerned at least, the Eagles didn’t get a bit better.

    Granted, the Eagles didn’t really have the wiggle room under the cap to spend lavishly on the secondary, and no one is weeping over the loss of Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin. At least not yet—newcomers Patrick Robinson and Dwayne Gratz aren’t any better.

    Sidney Jones may be a star one day. But after tearing his Achilles at Washington’s pro day, that day isn’t going to be in 2017.

    The Bottom Line

    Yes, the Eagles secondary is a problem—especially at corner. But along with those improvements on offense, the addition of Tim Jernigan and first-round edge-rusher Derek Barnett was a boon for the front seven.

    If the pass defense can hold together at all, the Eagles could surprise some people in 2017.

    GRADE: B

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Peter Aiken/Getty Images

    The Good News

    The best news for the Pittsburgh Steelers wasn’t so much additions as the lack of subtractions.

    He probably was never all that serious about it, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t retire. Burner Martavis Bryant is back from a one-year suspension and ready to serve as the team’s deep threat. And superstar Antonio Brown isn’t going anywhere after inking a lucrative contract extension.

    There weren’t any free-agent splashes (there rarely are in Pittsburgh), but Pittsburgh added a couple of youngsters who could be early contributors in outside linebacker T.J. Watt and slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

    The Bad News

    When you’re coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game, the status quo isn’t such a bad thing. But for the Steelers, it does mean that the same issues the team had a year ago are still present in 2017.

    Even with the addition of Watt, the pass rush is still an uncertainty for a Steelers team that struggled with consistency in that regard a year ago despite ranking ninth in the NFL. And Pittsburgh’s middle-of-the-pack pass defense isn't going to be much better either unless Round 3 pick Cameron Sutton is a very quick study.

    The Bottom Line

    Given that the Steelers didn’t take a major step backward in any areas, it’s hard to find much fault with their offseason. However, they didn’t really take a big leap forward in any areas, either.

    I guess treading water’s not so bad, though, when you’re close to the front of the pack.

    GRADE: B

San Francisco 49ers

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Good News

    You can’t accuse John Lynch of sleeping through his first offseason as general manager. In addition to signing more free agents than any team, Lynch spent the first day of the draft doing his best Monty Hall impression.

    When Lynch plays “Let’s Make a Deal,” he doesn’t mess around. First, Lynch somehow convinced the Chicago Bears to move up a spot to get a player the 49ers had no interest in. Then, he used some of the haul from that deal to move back into Round 1. The end result? A pair of impact defenders in linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive end Solomon Thomas.

    It might seem a little odd to call the addition of Brian Hoyer "good news." Really odd, in fact. But the Niners wanted to blow up the quarterback position and move on from Colin Kaepernick but apparently didn't love any of this year's top prospects.

    As one-year placeholders go, they could do worse.

    The Bad News

    As well as Lynch fared on the first day of the draft, he may have locked up a bit on the second. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard may have the makings of an OK NFL backup, but a team with as many holes as the 49ers could make better use of a third-round pick.

    Also, while the 49ers added a number of free agents, it can be argued they overpaid for many of the bigger names they brought in. The five-year, $26.5 million deal the 49ers gave outside linebacker Malcolm Smith appears to be the worst of the lot.

    The Bottom Line

    The Niners may have had to pay a “bad team” premium to those free agents, and San Francisco is still going to be a bad football team in 2017. But it appears that Lynch has the 49ers headed in the right direction.

    GRADE: B

Seattle Seahawks

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Good News

    Frankly, the smartest thing the Seahawks did in the offseason may be something they didn’t do. Richard Sherman might be a pain in the tail feathers, but he’s still one of the best cornerbacks in the National Football League. The Legion of Boom’s days could be numbered, but there was no point in shortening that clock by trading him.

    The Seahawks offered up a couple of “prove it” deals that could pay big dividends for the team in 2017. If Eddie Lacy can stay healthy and keep his weight down, he could be a great fit for what the Seahawks like to do on the ground.

    The Bad News

    Seattle’s offensive line remains a huge question mark. The other “prove it” deal went to offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, who was a massive bust with the Jaguars. Counting on Joeckel to both stay healthy and be effective on Russell Wilson’s blind side is a huge gamble.

    Frankly, the Seahawks just didn’t really add any “impact” players in free agency or the draft. Given limited cap resources and that they didn’t pick until No. 35 that’s not a big surprise. But it’s not a best-case scenario, either.

    The Bottom Line

    The Seahawks are a good football team and likely still the class of the NFC West. If the O-line holds up and Lacy plays well, they could contend for a spot in Super Bowl LII. Those are sizable “ifs,” though—especially where the offensive front is concerned.

    GRADE: C

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Good News

    Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston must be clicking his heels, because the Buccaneers spent the offseason loading up on weapons at his disposal.

    In the 2017 NFL draft, the Buccaneers used their first pick on an athletic, field-stretching tight end in Alabama’s O.J. Howard. In Round 3, they added one of my favorite wide receivers in this class in Penn State’s Chris Godwin, who has been turning heads ever since arriving in Florida.

    Oh, and Tampa Bay acquired the No. 2 wideout it lacked in 2016, inking free-agent DeSean Jackson. Jackson topped 1,000 yards last year in Washington, and his deep-threat ability paired with Winston’s big arm is a match made in heaven.

    The Bad News

    There’s really not a lot not to like about the Buccaneers’ offseason. But if you want to get picky, it’s a bit puzzling that Tampa essentially ignored the running back position after the injuries that ravaged the backfield last year—especially with Doug Martin suspended to start the 2017 season.

    Yes, the Bucs selected Boise State tailback Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round of this year’s draft, but a Tampa team with playoff aspirations is woefully thin in the backfield to open the season.

    The Bottom Line

    Offseason additions are no guarantee of in-season success, but the upgrades the Buccaneers made on offense have a lot of folks talking playoffs in Tampa this year. It’s too early to make travel plans, but I like the moves the Buccaneers made.

    GRADE: B+

Tennessee Titans

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    The Good News

    The Titans entered the offseason with two primary needs—the secondary and the wide receiver spot.

    This is a fact that apparently did no escape them.

    Tennessee added a pair of veteran free agents in the defensive backfield, bringing over strong safety Johnathan Cyprien from the division rival Jaguars and poaching cornerback Logan Ryan from the world champion Patriots. They also used one of their two first-round picks on a cornerback, selecting Adoree Jackson of USC at No. 18.

    With their first pick in the 2017 draft the Titans took a player they hope will develop into Marcus Mariota’s No.1 receiver in Corey Davis of Western Michigan. They went back to the wideout well two rounds later, deciding on Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor in Round 3.

    The Titans weren't done though. They also pounced on a late opportunity to add a proven veteran presence at the position, signing Eric Decker to a one-year deal.

    The Bad News

    Frankly, it’s hard to find much fault with the offseason the Titans had. They drafted well, didn’t suffer any major personnel losses and didn’t spend like a drunken sailor in free agency despite having plenty of room to do so.

    However, if there’s one bone to pick it’s this. Given Mariota’s injury issues to date in his career and the Titans postseason aspirations the team would have been well-served to look at a dependable backup quarterback.

    Instead they re-signed Matt “Oh God He’s Going to Throw It” Cassel.

    The Bottom Line

    That the best criticism I could come up with was Tennessee’s decision to re-up their No. 2 quarterback speaks very well to the Titans' work this offseason.

    This is a team that didn’t have a lot of holes, didn’t spring more and did a fine job of addressing the ones they did have.

    I had Tennessee graded a bit lower than this when I started writing this piece. But to add Decker, after everything they've done this offseason?

    The Tennessee Titans are the real deal.

    GRADE: A

Washington Redskins

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The Good News

    The Redskins look to have gotten substantially better on defense, and in some ways the biggest adds were both gifts.

    Despite leading the AFC in tackles in 2016, linebacker Zach Brown encountered a tepid free-agent market that led to his signing a one-year “prove it” deal with Washington. The team also lucked out in the draft, filling its need on the defensive front in a big way when Alabama’s Jonathan Allen fell to Washington at No. 17.

    The Redskins were also fortunate at wide receiver, where Terrelle Pryor also encountered a cooler-than-expected market for his services. That landed the 1,000-yard wideout in the nation’s capital—also on a reasonably priced one-year pact.

    The Bad News

    The Redskins desperately needed Pryor after becoming the first team in NFL history to lose two 1,000-yard receivers from the year before in free agency when both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson left town.

    The contract saga of starting quarterback Kirk Cousins continues to hang over the team. The Redskins still insist they want to lock the 28-year-old up long-term, but it’s something that should have already happened. It’s a situation that’s been severely mismanaged.

    The Bottom Line

    Frankly, given the sideshow atmosphere in Washington just a few months ago (reports that Cousins wanted out and the firing of GM Scot McCloughan), the Redskins have been remarkably fortunate to have shored up their holes at receiver and running back and bolstered the defense.

    If Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson perform well opposite Pryor, then this grade might be a little low. But Washington also gets dinged, in my opinion, for how Cousins has been handled.

    Get the dang deal done.

    GRADE: B-


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