Re-Grading Every Team's 2017 Offseason Moves

Sean Tomlinson@@SeanGTomlinsonNFL AnalystOctober 6, 2017

Re-Grading Every Team's 2017 Offseason Moves

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    Mitchell Trubisky
    Mitchell TrubiskyJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Every NFL team enters the offseason with a shopping list. As each wanders down the free-agency and draft aisles, those needs are checked off and hopefully never spoken of again.

    Sometimes it works that way. Sometimes you're the Buffalo Bills, a surprisingly competitive team early in 2017 after inserting the right pieces in their defensive backfield. Or sometimes you're the Chicago Bears, a team that actually thought Mike Glennon could be a competent quarterback, and now first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky is set to make his debut already.

    A season can take many paths. The best intentions in March and April can be flushed away by October. Or a mid-round pick who didn't get much fanfare can turn into a rising talent right away.

    The pendulum can swing in either direction, or anything in between. But in the warp speed of an NFL season, the results of offseason plans are delivered quickly.

    We're now at the quarter mark of the 2017 season. So with that in mind, let's look back and re-grade the offseason moves for all 32 teams. Grades are based on how much the moves have impacted a team's standing and how well the acquired players have performed.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Karlos Dansby
    Karlos DansbyRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Grade: B


    The Arizona Cardinals felt the salary-cap sting when financial restraints led to the departures of several core defensive contributors. In the early days of free agency, defensive end Calais Campbell and safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger cashed out.

    The Cardinals were hoping to have an internal replacement for Campbell, and that hasn't worked well so far with Robert Nkemdiche battling a calf injury. But elsewhere, they've gone with a combination of youth and veteran savvy. The result has been mixed, though overall their defense remains intimidating.

    The Cardinals are trying to squeeze the most out of affordable moves after signing 33-year-old Antoine Bethea and slotting 35-year-old Karlos Dansby in at linebacker to replace Kevin Minter.

    Bethea has recorded three passes defensed and one interception over four games and seems to be rejuvenated. That means the Cardinals could get plenty out of a contract that guarantees Bethea only $4 million. Dansby, meanwhile, has been a liability at times in coverage and has a modest 26 tackles through four games.

    Eventually, first-round pick Haason Reddick will push Dansby aside permanently. But that day hasn't come yet because he also needs to find his way in coverage. His season has been lowlighted by a Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts when Reddick allowed four receptions for 51 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    Dontari Poe
    Dontari PoeJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Grade: B


    Defensive tackle Dontari Poe was the centerpiece of the Atlanta Falcons' offseason. They dumped money on him during free agency, hoping to inject more life into a pass rush that relied too heavily on defensive end Vic Beasley.

    So far the return on the $8 million Atlanta gave Poe over one year might not be showing up in box scores, but Poe's presence up the middle is being felt nonetheless. The Falcons were missing a reliable interior surge, and now that Poe is concentrating more on pass rushing, the 27-year-old is collapsing the pocket up the middle, which leads to opportunities for others.

    Consequently, the Falcons have piled up 12 sacks already, which puts them on pace for 48 sacks in 2017, far more than the 34 they finished with in 2016.

    One of those sacks has come from defensive end Takkarist McKinley, the Falcons' first-round pick who could need some time to emerge after offseason shoulder surgery. If he comes into his own this year, he'll relieve the pressure on Beasley and make the pass rush more well-rounded.

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    Brandon Carr
    Brandon CarrPatrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Grade: C


    The Baltimore Ravens are confusing. Little about the start to their season makes sense. That's especially true on the defensive side of the ball, which was the focus of their offseason.

    The Ravens invested plenty of time, energy and, most importantly, money into their defensive backfield. Between the draft and free agency, they added three key new faces: safety Tony Jefferson, along with cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey. Which is why that part of their offseason has been a success, as the Ravens lead the league in interceptions with nine and have allowed only 6.8 yards per pass attempt to opposing quarterbacks.

    But they've still given up 70 points over their last two games, mostly because of a 25th-ranked run defense. And although wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was added to an offense in dire need of pass-catching playmakers, the Ravens can't score with an frequency. They've scored just seven touchdowns (tied for 24th) and 60 total points (tied for 30th).

    The offseason focus should have been a little more widespread, as the Ravens' offensive holes have been exposed.

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Jordan Poyer
    Jordan PoyerJeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Grade: A


    We were told the Buffalo Bills would be awful. We were told that by trading away wide receiver Sammy Watkins and linebacker Reggie Ragland, the Bills would begin their mission to rebuild and tank.

    Yet here they are at 3-1 entering Week 5, largely because risky offseason moves have worked out just fine.

    As part of the trade that sent Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams, the Bills received cornerback E.J. Gaines. He's been a quality addition while recording five passes defensed and one interception.

    Flanking Gaines on the other side is rookie first-round pick Tre'Davious White. He's quickly turning into a star with Defensive Rookie of the Year potential. His most impressive performance came during an upset win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4 when White allowed just 18 yards in coverage on eight targets, per PFF.

    Alongside them are safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, two free-agent signings who both have the position versatility to play cornerback as well. Poyer and Hyde have combined for four interceptions, and they've provided the backbone for a defense that's allowed just one passing touchdown.

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Julius Peppers
    Julius PeppersEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Grade: A-


    The Carolina Panthers didn't do a whole lot in free agency. Their one move of note was to bring back a franchise legend for one last ride. And Julius Peppers has exceeded expectations during a time when he should be slowing down.

    The 37-year-old has already logged 4.5 sacks over four games. That stat looks even more incredible when we look at his snap count and remember Peppers is a rotational pass-rusher who's been on the field for only 49.8 percent of the Panthers' defensive snaps. The effectiveness from Peppers alone makes Carolina's offseason a success.

    Elsewhere, running back Christian McCaffrey has made a big difference in the passing game with 22 catches for 206 yards, but he's been bottled up in the running game, averaging 2.9 yards per carry. He is too talented to be contained for much longer. And slot receiver Curtis Samuel, the Panthers' second-round pick, has been quiet with only four receptions.

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Mitchell Trubisky
    Mitchell TrubiskyJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Grade: C


    For reasons that remain unclear, the Chicago Bears thought it was a fine idea to give quarterback Mike Glennon $18.5 million in guaranteed money.

    That's the same Mike Glennon who hadn't started since 2014. And the same Mike Glennon who proceeded to throw five interceptions and average six yards per attempt over the first four weeks. Glennon earned himself a spot on the bench, even though the Bears will still pay him borderline-starter money.

    Any offseason with a massive financial whiff at the most important position in football already comes with potential failure. Now Trubisky will step in for Glennon, and although he was impressive throughout the preseason (364 yards on 53 attempts with a passer rating of 106.2), it's difficult to forecast how the 23-year-old will react to a higher caliber of defense.

    Remember, he only made 13 starts in college and throughout August was feasting on mostly second- and third-team defenses. Despite that inexperience, the Bears still deemed him worthy of a major draft sacrifice when they traded four picks to the San Francisco 49ers.

    If Trubisky adapts well, the Bears will have two core young assets from their 2017 draft class already making major contributions. The other is running back Tarik Cohen, who has recorded two games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage.

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    Joe Mixon
    Joe MixonDylan Buell/Getty Images

    Grade: D


    The Cincinnati Bengals didn't score an offensive touchdown until Week 3. At the quarter pole of the season, they have one of only two offenses in the league still without a rushing touchdown.

    That all comes after an offseason when the Bengals took a character risk by using a top-50 pick on running back Joe Mixon. Mixon's rookie year is being derailed by a poor offensive line, the same unit that's dragging the entire offense down.

    The Bengals weren't able to retain tackle Andrew Whitworth, who's still among the best at a highly in-demand position. They also let guard Kevin Zeitler walk, and the resulting offensive-line holes have contributed to an offense averaging only 3.3 yards per carry and quarterback Andy Dalton getting sacked three-plus times in every game (14 in total).

    Toss in first-round pick John Ross playing just five snaps because of injury, and the Bengals offseason has been a failure so far. 

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    DeShone Kizer
    DeShone KizerJason Miller/Getty Images

    Grade: C+


    Eventually the Cleveland Browns have to start winning football games. No one who's sane expects them to be playoff contenders in 2017, and they're also unlikely to contend in 2018. But they still need to start showing some progress, because otherwise the coaching staff will be at risk of being jettisoned.

    That staff has some promising pieces to work with, even if the results aren't showing up on the field yet. The Browns used first-round picks on defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Jabrill Peppers and tight end David Njoku, and they're all overflowing with athleticism.

    In time, they should develop into quality starters. But there are two major mistakes from the Browns offseason set to drag the team down in 2017, and possibly beyond.

    The first is wide receiver Kenny Britt, who was signed to a four-year contract worth $32.5 million. He has yet to break even the 60 receiving yards mark in a game.

    And the second is quarterback DeShone Kizer, who earned the starting job after being a second-round pick. Kizer has flopped hard early, with eight interceptions already while averaging 5.4 yards per attempt and connecting on only 51.4 percent of his throws.

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Jourdan Lewis
    Jourdan LewisDustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Grade: B


    The cap-crunched Dallas Cowboys weren't able to do much in free agency, other than watch as four key defensive backs departed (cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, along with safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox).

    After that mass exodus, the Cowboys pursued young talent and depth in their defensive backfield. They used two of their first three picks in the draft on defensive backs, and Dallas is getting quality play from one of those selections already. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis has recorded two passes defensed and an interception, all while playing a modest 59.5 percent of the Cowboys' defensive snaps.

    Taco Charlton, their first-round pick out of Michigan, has been quiet early in his rookie season. But the defensive end has too much talent to stay silent for much longer after finishing his final college season with 10 sacks.

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    Garett Bolles
    Garett BollesBrett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Grade: A


    There were concerns about the Denver Broncos run defense even after defensive tackle Domata Peko was signed. Those worries have faded away fast.

    The Broncos run defense took a step back in 2016, allowing an average of 130.3 yards per game. Now that's down to 50.8 yards through a quarter of the season.

    Peko has contributed to that turnaround, and on the other side of the ball, fellow free-agent signing Ronald Leary has opened up space as an interior lineman. Leary has been a needed addition to an offensive line that's helped to pave the way for the third-ranked rushing offense.

    Tackle Garett Bolles, the Broncos' first-round pick, has been another quality piece plugged into that powerful offensive line. Bolles allowed one sack and three hurries over his first two games, per PFF, and he has the look of a solid offensive-line pillar for years to come.

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    T.J. Lang
    T.J. LangPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Grade: B-


    The Detroit Lions are one yard away from being undefeated after the first month of the season. But in the process of winning three games, they've masked a problem from 2016 that hasn't gone anywhere yet.

    The Lions threw money at that problem during the offseason by signing guard T.J. Lang and tackle Ricky Wagner. They pursued those two with the hope they'd boost a sputtering 30th-ranked rushing offense. After averaging 3.7 yards per carry in 2016, the Lions are averaging 3.6 in 2017.

    There are few running lanes available, which means opposing defenses can tee off on quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was sacked six times in Week 4.

    Lang and Wagner were the centerpieces of the Lions' offseason. However, they also stockpiled promising talent during the draft, highlighted by linebacker Jarrad Davis and wide receiver Kenny Golladay. But they've both missed time with injuries early, though Golladay did impress during his regular-season debut with two touchdown catches and 69 yards on four receptions.

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Kevin King
    Kevin KingKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Grade: A-


    The Green Bay Packers did what most successful teams do during free agency. They sat back and watched the carnage.

    They do that most years, and the only exception in 2017 was signing tight end Martellus Bennett to replace the departing Jared Cook. He's been a solid addition so far with 141 receiving yards after four weeks.

    As always, the Packers looked to do their damage by adding a difference-making starter during the draft. And they found one in cornerback Kevin King.

    The 6'3" and 200-pound corner has the size to match up well against the towering and physical wide receivers scattered around the NFL. He's been an immediate starter while playing 73.7 percent of the Packers' defensive snaps, and he allowed just one catch for 12 yards during his first extended action in Week 2, per PFF.

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Deshaun Watson
    Deshaun WatsonJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Grade: A


    Bill O'Brien took over as the Houston Texans head coach in 2014. It feels like he's been around much longer than that because of the quarterback headache O'Brien has dealt with every season. Prior to 2017, the Texans cycled through eight starters during O'Brien's tenure, and yet they still somehow won their division twice.

    The Texans were desperate for even passable quarterback talent, knowing they could make some serious noise in a weak division with a signal-caller upgrade. So they sacrificed future draft capital to land Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick, trading their 2018 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns in the process.

    It was a leap fueled by bitter frustration after having to watch the likes of Brock Osweiler and Ryan Mallett throw wobbly passes in recent years. And their faith has paid off immediately.

    In just his second start, Watson nearly pushed the Texans to an improbable road win over the New England Patriots in Week 3, throwing for 301 yards at an average of 9.1 per attempt and adding 41 rushing yards. Then, in Week 4, he torched the Tennessee Titans, throwing four touchdown passes and completing 73.5 percent of his throws with a passer rating of 125.0. Once again, he added a rushing touchdown. 

    Watson has the early look of the franchise savior the Texans wanted and needed. Over time, we could look at the 2017 offseason and the decision to trade up for him as a defining moment in franchise history.

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Malik Hooker
    Malik HookerJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Grade: C+


    The Indianapolis Colts tried to find an economical solution to their annual pass-rusher problem. They did that by signing Jabaal Sheard and John Simon to affordable deals. Sheard was once effective but became a Patriots castoff when he didn't quite fit their system, and Simon had produced in a limited role with the Texans.

    But now at the quarter mark of 2017, the same problem persists. The Colts defense is still stuck on single-digit sacks, and that lack of pocket pressure has left the secondary exposed. The result has been a league-worst average of 34 points allowed per game.

    The Colts keep missing while searching for defensive solutions. The one shining jewel of their offseason was the easy decision to select safety Malik Hooker with the 15th overall pick. Hooker has soft hands and always seems to be around the ball to gobble up any deflections. That's led to three interceptions already, which is tied for the league lead.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Calais Campbell
    Calais CampbellDon Juan Moore/Getty Images

    Grade: A


    The Jacksonville Jaguars are the NFL's most baffling team, and that likely won't change as long as they're still calling Blake Bortles their starting quarterback.

    In their two wins so far, the Jaguars have come out on top by a combined score of 73-14. It's rare to be able to cherry pick two games throughout an entire season and land on a total that lopsided, and those two came in the first four weeks.

    Those wins were powered by a ferocious pass rush that's now logged 18 sacks, and 5.5 have come from defensive end Calais Campbell. The marquee free-agent signing set a Jaguars single-game record in Week 1 with four sacks.

    Campbell was part of a talented-loaded free-agency haul that also included cornerback A.J. Bouye. He's now combined with Jalen Ramsey to form arguably the league's best young cornerback tandem. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 28.5 when targeting either of them, according to PFF's Billy Moy.

    That's where the optimism lies for the Jaguars after an offseason when they brought running back Leonard Fournette aboard too. But the confusion stems from their other two games so far when they were blown out 37-16 by the Tennessee Titans and then dropped a game to the lowly New York Jets.

    Eventually the Jaguars will find their identity, and the defense will lead that search.

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Kareem Hunt
    Kareem HuntPeter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    Grade: A-


    The Kansas City Chiefs didn't do much in the offseason because they didn't need to do much. They now have a 27-9 record in the regular season since the beginning of 2015.

    But they still made two splashes during the draft. One was a trade up to get Patrick Mahomes, the presumed quarterback of the future in Kansas City, though Alex Smith has something to say about that. If Smith maintains his current play, the Chiefs could have the best problem ever in the offseason and a difficult decision to make.

    The other draft cannonball came when the Chiefs selected running back Kareem Hunt in the third round. They traded up to get him too, and at No. 86 Hunt became the highest running back selected by the Chiefs during the Andy Reid era. All he's done so far is set a record for yards from scrimmage in an NFL debut (246 yards) and run for 500-plus yards before any other running back even hit the 400-yard mark.

    Hunt has piled up an absurd 659 yards from scrimmage with six touchdowns over his first four games. As ProFootballTalk's Michael David Smith noted, the NFL single-season scrimmage yards record is 2,509 yards, and Hunt is on pace to break it.

    He's averaging 7.4 yards per carry, and he recorded at least one 50-plus yard play in each of his first three games. Hunt is a tackle-busting phenom who has made the Chiefs appointment television every week.

Los Angeles Chargers

17 of 32

    Mike Williams
    Mike WilliamsGregory Bull/Associated Press

    Grade: D


    The Los Angeles Chargers get a failing grade on their offseason, but mostly because the football powers high above seem to hate them passionately.

    They needed better targets for quarterback Philip Rivers, so the Chargers used their first-round pick on Mike Williams. He then promptly injured his back and hasn't played a snap yet.

    They also needed to improve their run blocking after they averaged only 3.8 yards per carry in 2016. So they drafted guard Forrest Lamp with the 38th overall pick, and then he tore his ACL in the beginning of August.

    Now the Chargers are in a familiar spiral. They often tease the 12 fans who show up to the Stubhub Center by coming so close to win but ultimately falling short. Dating back to the beginning of 2016, they have lost seven games three points or fewer. 

Los Angeles Rams

18 of 32

    Andrew Whitworth
    Andrew WhitworthSean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Grade: A

    The Los Angeles Rams had two glowing needs atop their offseason list, and they were both linked to young quarterback Jared Goff. They needed to keep him upright and supply him with better pass-catching talent.

    The first box was checked off when the Rams signed Andrew Whitworth, who's still among the league's best tackles even though he'll turn 36 in a few months. Over his first three games with the Rams, the three-time Pro Bowler allowed just one pressure, according to PFF's Nathan Jahnke.

    Goff was sacked 26 times in seven starts during the 2016 season. Now that he's able to scan the field more and breathe just a little bit, the 22-year-old has developed a rhythm with his new targets.

    The newest is wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who came over to the Rams after a trade with the Buffalo Bills. Health has always been a concern with Watkins, as he missed 11 games over the 2015 and 2016 seasons. But when he's in one working piece Watkins is a field-stretching weapon, and we saw that with his 106 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Week 3.

    Cooper Kupp, the Rams' third-round pick, has also been a valuable addition, turning his 21 targets into 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami Dolphins

19 of 32

    Jay Ajayi
    Jay AjayiTim Ireland/Associated Press

    Grade: D

    The Miami Dolphins have lost their last two games by a combined score of 40-6. Their lack of scoring stems from offensive issues that run deep, most notably the sudden disappearance of running back Jay Ajayi.

    Ajayi has averaged only 3.6 yards per carry while getting little room to work with after the Dolphins paid veteran guard Jermon Bushrod $3 million to stick around. They also re-signed wide receiver Kenny Stills to a contract that guarantees him nearly $20 million, and he hasn't eclipsed the 60-yard mark yet in 2017.

    Defensively, the Dolphins were dealt a tough body blow when second-round rookie linebacker Raekwon McMillan tore his ACL. But they're also receiving little so far from defensive end Charles Harris, their first-round pick who was expected to be an immediate-impact player. The Dolphins are making life warm and cozy for opposing quarterbacks, and have recorded just four sacks through three games.

Minnesota Vikings

20 of 32

    Dalvin Cook
    Dalvin CookAdam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Grade: B+

    The Minnesota Vikings' offseason centered around re-establishing their rushing offense. They installed three new offensive linemen by signing tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers and using their third-round pick on center Pat Elflein. And they jumped at the chance to add running back Dalvin Cook to their roster.

    That approach was working out fine early. The Vikings had won two of their first three games, even though quarterback Sam Bradford was only healthy for Week 1, and in the process, Cook posted 370 yards from scrimmage.

    Then Cook ripped apart both his ACL and the Vikings' offensive soul in Week 4.

    They'll likely have to win games in ugly fashion throughout the 2017 season now and do it by leaning on their defense to keep scores low. But the foundation they've laid out will still carry them in 2018 and beyond once Cook is healthy again.

New England Patriots

21 of 32

    Stephon Gilmore
    Stephon GilmoreWinslow Townson/Associated Press

    Grade: B-

    The New England Patriots walked up to the highest stakes table at the offseason casino and slammed down every chip they had.

    The Patriots were so aggressive they traded away several early 2017 draft picks, including first- and third-round picks to get wide receiver Brandin Cooks, and a fourth-round pick for tight end Dwayne Allen. By the end of the draft they made only four picks, and that came after the Patriots also uncharacteristically threw money at cornerback Stephon Gilmore, giving him a five-year deal worth $65 million.

    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick surely changed his thinking because of the ticking clock hanging above his quarterback's head. Tom Brady is still playing at his usual Pro-Bowl level right now, but history tells us few quarterbacks have maintained that play past the age of 40.

    The Patriots' reward for that spending has been losing two games way earlier than expected and a quickly cratering defense.

    The Patriots are desperate for a pass rush, and they stand as an example or how even the most talent-rich secondaries can get torn apart by quarterbacks who have far too much time. From Jalen Collins to Chris Long, there are recent former Patriots pass-rushers who were difference makers during their time in New England, and now they're on other teams.

    As a result, the Patriots have gone from giving up a league-best average of 15.6 points per game in 2016, to 32 in 2017.

New Orleans Saints

22 of 32

    Alvin Kamara
    Alvin KamaraClive Rose/Getty Images

    Grade: B

    The New Orleans Saints annually face a salary cap nightmare, though in 2017 that relented a little and they were able to sign some quality second-tier free agents. Or at least it felt that way at the time.

    Wide receiver Ted Ginn can provide the deep speed to match quarterback Drew Brees' deep arm. But he hasn't done much of that yet so far while averaging only 13.3 yards per reception. And Adrian Peterson has been a complete afterthought on the running back depth chart with his 81 rushing yards. We've already reached the point where it wouldn't be surprising if he doesn't finish the season in New Orleans.

    The Saints' 2017 offseason would already be sunk by those failures if they hadn't connected on their two first-round draft picks. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is giving a struggling secondary the shutdown cornerback it desperately needs. His toughest matchup so far came in Week 2 against the Patriots and Brady. Lattimore responded by allowing only 28 yards on six targets, per PFF.

    Later in the first round, the Saints also selected tackle Ryan Ramczyk, and he's played every offensive snap so far while providing steady protection for Brees. Finally, in the third round the Saints called Alvin Kamara's name, and he's quickly becoming another quality Saints pass-catching running back. Kamara finished Week 4 with 10 receptions for 71 yards.

New York Giants

23 of 32

    Brandon Marshall
    Brandon MarshallRon Schwane/Associated Press

    Grade: D-

    What's most frightening about the New York Giants and their free fall? They're likely not even close to hitting rock bottom yet. That'll happen when Ben McAdoo is relieved of his duties as head coach around mid-November.

    If McAdoo is fired it'll be because he didn't adjust his offense to fit the woeful offensive line the Giants trot out every week. But really, that creaky line is the main issue, and the 2017 Giants are an example of a talented team being derailed by inept pass blocking.

    The Giants did little to address that line in the offseason outside of signing guard D.J. Fluker. They're still starting Ereck Flowers at left tackle, even after his disastrous Week 2 outing against the Lions when he allowed three sacks.

    Realistically there isn't an upgrade over Flowers elsewhere on the depth chart. So the winless Giants will keep forging ahead as wide receiver Brandon Marshall fades away. He was signed as a free agent after being released by the Jets and is averaging just 8.7 yards per catch.

New York Jets

24 of 32

    Josh McCown
    Josh McCownBill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Grade: C-

    The New York Jets spent an offseason trying really, really hard to be bad and get the first-overall pick in 2018. And now they're failing at being bad after winning two straight games.

    The Jets released center Nick Mangold, wide receiver Brandon Marshall and cornerback Darrelle Revis. Only Marshall might have something left, with an emphasis on might. But regardless, cutting so many veterans loose in one offseason leads to relying on a lot of youth, and that in turn leads to growing pains and rockiness ahead.

    There's always uncertainty when you're starting a 38-year-old quarterback, as the Jets are with Josh McCown after signing him in the offseason. But McCown has been surprisingly serviceable while completing 70.1 percent of his throws and averaging 7.1 yards per attempt.

    So he might be able to help the Jets avoid a complete embarrassment. In the process promising youthful defenders in the form of safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye—the Jets' first two picks in 2017—will keep flying throughout the defensive backfield and offering a shred of hope.

Oakland Raiders

25 of 32

    Marshawn Lynch
    Marshawn LynchAlex Brandon/Associated Press

    Grade: B-

    The Oakland Raiders brought in running back Marshawn Lynch hoping his violent style would add a much-needed dose of mean to their backfield. But so far he's looked like, well, a 31-year-old running back.

    Lynch has averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, and of his 151 rushing yards overall, just 30 yards have come over the past two games. He was really thumped in Week 4 by the Denver Broncos, with that YPC dropping to 1.3 yards.

    Consequently, a 2-2 Raiders team now playing without quarterback Derek Carr has the league's 24th-ranked rushing offense.

    With Carr out, the Raiders could lean more on tight end Jared Cook, a free-agent signing from the offseason who has put together a respectable start with the Raiders. The Oakland offense needed a more reliable large target at tight end, and Cook has supplied that by giving them three games with 40-plus yards.

Philadelphia Eagles

26 of 32

    Alshon Jeffery
    Alshon JefferyJae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Grade: A

    The Philadelphia Eagles needed to give their young quarterback Carson Wentz some fresh new pass-catchers, and preferably ones who don't have several layers of butter on their hands. That's what they did by signing wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, and the result has been a different quarterback and a different offense.

    There are still some inconsistencies and concerns surrounding Wentz, as his completion percentage has fallen just below 55 percent in two games. But overall he's been more accurate as a deep passer, which is reflected in a per-attempt average a yard higher than 2016. His passer rating has also jumped dramatically, going from 79.3 in 2016 to 90.5 now.

    The presence of Jeffery and Smith has helped to bring Wentz along. So has a deep and multi-faceted backfield led by LeGarrette Blount, who was also signed as a free agent. Blount has rumbled his way to an average of 5.9 yards per carry and exploded for 136 rushing yards in Week 4.

    Getting an immediate contribution from a first-round pick is always nice too, and the Eagles are already benefiting from defensive end Derek Barnett's pass-rushing skill. That might not be showing up in the box scores quite yet, as he's still without a sack. But as's Brian Baldinger noted, Barnett played a key role in a game-changing fumble against the Chargers in Week 4.

Pittsburgh Steelers

27 of 32

    T.J. Watt
    T.J. WattJoe Sargent/Getty Images

    Grade: A-

    The Pittsburgh Steelers were relatively silent in free agency, which is a mess top-tier teams often avoid. Instead, they focused their roster reinforcement efforts on the draft and snagged Day 1 contributors in the first two rounds.

    The first was outside linebacker T.J. Watt, the younger brother in a family that will be making opposing quarterbacks duck and run for a long time in the NFL. Watt erupted in his first NFL start, recording two sacks and an interception. He's quieted down a bit since, but that's mostly due to an injury that forced him to sit out Week 3.

    Meanwhile, wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster needed time to find his place in a loaded offense. But now the second-round pick has become a quality red-zone target after filling that role for USC with his 25 touchdowns over three seasons. Smith-Schuster has snatched two touchdown passes, the latest coming in Week 4 when he also averaged 15.7 yards per catch on his three receptions.

San Francisco 49ers

28 of 32

    Brian Hoyer
    Brian HoyerChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    Grade: B-

    We won't be able to fairly gauge the San Francisco 49ers' 2017 draft for a while yet. Yes, that's true with most drafts, but it's even more true in this case.

    Rookie 49ers general manager John Lynch did some nifty draft maneuvering to get two players he wanted in the first round. But linebacker Reuben Foster was one of them, and he suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 1. At this point, he's played only 11 snaps.

    However, defensive end Solomon Thomas has been healthy and a regular contributor to the 49ers' intimidating defensive line. The versatile lineman was the No. 3 overall pick, and over four games he's recorded 12 tackles and a sack. He's been slotted in alongside Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, which means there's a lethal blend of size and speed everywhere up front.

    The offense is the next frontier for the 49ers, and specifically the quarterback. They signed Brian Hoyer to be a veteran bridge, and warm the seat until third-round pick C.J. Beathard is ready. That bridge is crumbling fast, as Hoyer is averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt, and has thrown only two touchdown passes.

    He's still getting decent enough support from the wide receivers assembled by Lynch though. Pierre Garcon, who was also one of the 49ers' top free-agent signings, went off for seven receptions and 142 yards in Week 3, which was the same game when Marquise Goodwin hauled in a 50-yard catch.

    The 49ers spent the offseason laying out plenty of quality building blocks. Now that foundation just needs to grow together.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Eddie Lacy
    Eddie LacyElaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Grade: D

    The cap-squeezed Seattle Seahawks weren't able to make much of a free-agency splash. Which is fine because they typically focus on the draft anyway. But they didn't get any immediate-impact players there either.

    That's partly due to injury, as 35th-overall pick Malik McDowell hasn't played yet due to concussion issues. But second-round pick Ethan Pocic hasn't been able to earn a snap, even though the Seahawks' offensive line has imploded again and they could use better interior blocking.

    Fellow third-round pick defensive tackle Nazair Jones has shown some promise, especially in Week 1 with his awareness to come down with an interception.

    Running back Eddie Lacy was the prize of the Seahawks' offseason by default, and he's plodded away while averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. He now has a chance to change the direction of his season after Chris Carson's season-ending injury.

Tennessee Titans

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Grade: B-

    Any time a team gives a cornerback $16 million in guaranteed money, as the Tennessee Titans did with Logan Ryan, and said team still has the league's fourth-worst pass defense, that signing is quickly trending toward being a failure.

    The Titans secondary has been torched early in 2017 and has already allowed 11 touchdown passes. Ryan can turn his play around quickly, and with the New England Patriots we saw him grow into a corner who thrived on physicality. But early on in Tennessee, he seems lost along with the rest of the Titans defense.

    An inconsistent offense isn't helping either, which has put the defense on the field too long. Wide receiver Eric Decker, who was signed as a free agent and looked at as perhaps the final offensive piece the Titans needed, has caught just 12 passes for 104 yards after four games.

    But plenty of promising talent from the 2017 draft should rise over time on that side of the ball, including wide receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor, and tight end Jonnu Smith. Davis has struggled with a hamstring issue and missed three games, but Smith has two touchdown catches, and Taylor showcased his deep speed with a 42-yard grab in Week 2.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    DeSean Jackson
    DeSean JacksonPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Grade: A-

    Between the draft and free agency, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was given plenty of new weapons to utilize. That began when the Bucs signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson and continued during the draft when they used early picks on tight end O.J. Howard and wideout Chris Godwin.

    Eventually, Winston will click with those new pass-catchers, and a youth-filled offense should go kaboom. But we're still waiting on that.

    Jackson has a modest 143 receiving yards through his first three games working with Winston. That includes two games when he didn't even reach the 40-yard mark. And although Howard opened eyes with his 58-yard touchdown, that play alone accounts for most of his 92 receiving yards on the season.

    Even with Jackson and Howard involved only sporadically, the Buccaneers still have the league's third-best passing offense while averaging 277.7 yards per game. They'll be just fine.

Washington Redskins

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    Terrelle Pryor
    Terrelle PryorHarry How/Getty Images

    Grade: B

    The Samaje Perine hype train was chugging strong in the spring, but then it careened off the tracks. The Washington Redskins' fourth-round rookie running back has averaged only 3.1 yards per carry as he stumbles along while unable to fight through contact.

    But defensive tackle Jonathan Allen is making the Redskins forget about a possible draft miss on Perine. The 17th-overall pick has been consistently disruptive, especially during a narrow loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 when he finished with three tackles. Allen is solid against the run and sheds blocks well to clog up the middle.

    Ultimately, the play of Terrelle Pryor is bringing the Redskins' offseason grade down. Washington minimized its risk with Pryor by giving him only a one-year contract. But he's averaging 46.5 receiving yards per game, though the 28-year-old did show some signs of life in Week 4 with a 44-yard touchdown catch.


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