Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Judging a Frantic NFL Offseason for Every Team

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterMarch 25, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Philadelphia.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

NFL free agency is always electric, but the first wave of it this year has teams saying they haven't seen such a massive transfer of franchise-changing talent in such a short period of time perhaps ever.

And though it wasn't the first transaction, Tom Brady's decision to leave the Patriots to join the Buccaneers was emblematic of the dramatic shift in power. In some ways, it was reminiscent of the time Peyton Manning left Indianapolis for Denver in March 2012, though the courting of Manning took weeks. Brady signed in a matter of days.

Indeed, this year's offseason has moved quickly and been filled with huge, historic names, most of whom are not just looking to stay in the game, but could radically transform the look of the NFL power structure once the season gets going.

There's Brady, of course. But there's also Buffalo getting Stefon Diggs, who could help transform not just the AFC East but also make the Bills competitive with the Chiefs and Ravens (you read that right). It's the same in the NFC with DeAndre Hopkins going to the Cardinals. They could end up competing with the 49ers and Packers (you read that right, too).

The first wave is over. Let's take a deep look at what happened and what it could mean, division by division, in this special edition of the 10-Point Stance.

Because that second wave will be here soon. 

    

AFC East

Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

Bills: Adding explosive receiver Stefon Diggs will go down as one of the best offseason moves the Bills have ever made. Diggs is vastly underrated. Said one NFC West scout, "He will turn Josh Allen from solid to really good." Stock: Up

Dolphins: Miami has transformed its team practically overnight. The Dolphins have made a number of excellent signings, including linebacker Kyle Van Noy. But one of the most underrated additions by any team during this first wave of free agency is running back Jordan Howard. He's rushed for almost 1,000 yards a season over the past four and is only 25 years old. Stock: Way up

Patriots: They lost Tom Brady. That's it. That's all. That's everything you need to know. Don't be stunned if the Patriots make some type of bonkers trade like acquiring Deshaun Watson. Or, taking a shot at Cam Newton, who was released on Tuesday. That's because New England's quarterbacks are Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler. Stock: Way down

Jets: They lost wide receiver Robby Anderson, one of the more quietly effective wide receivers in the sport, to the Panthers. Keeping him was one of the Jets' main priorities. Stock: Down

    

AFC North

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Ravens: The initial dips into free agency have been few, but the trade for defensive lineman Calais Campbell has made up for the relative lack of signings. Where the Ravens will really dominate is the draft. They have nine picks, with five in the opening three rounds. Stock: Up

Steelers: The team went 8-8 last year with Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph at QB. It's one of the best coaching jobs Mike Tomlin has ever done. But do you know what the greatest news of Steelers free agency is? Ben Roethlisberger is healthy. Nothing from the offseason will beat that. Stock: Up

Browns: The Browns can't help but improve with Freddie Kitchens gone. They added tight end Austin Hooper to an already loaded offense. There are no more excuses for Baker Mayfield, but I don't think he'll need any. Stock: Up

Bengals: The following words have not been written in decades...the Bengals are being aggressive in free agency. Red alert. Whoop whoop! Defensive lineman D.J. Reader and cornerback Trae Waynes were excellent signings. Stock: Up

    

AFC South

KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 19:  Running back Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans runs up field against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by
Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Texans: One NFC East front office executive put it this way: "The Texans are a rudderless ship." Trading DeAndre Hopkins will go down as one of the worst personnel moves in the recent history of the NFL. Stock: Way down

Titans: They signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to a long-term extension and franchise-tagged the NFL version of Juggernaut in running back Derrick Henry. Keeping the crux of the offense is a job well done in itself. Stock: Up

Colts: Last season Philip Rivers looked, well, done. He threw 20 interceptions, and his deep passes resembled ducks flying on one wing through a thunderstorm. Yet the Colts have a number of weapons on offense and a better offensive line than the Chargers. It's worth the risk. Also, getting defensive lineman DeForest Buckner was big. Stock: Up

Jaguars: Traded Calais Campbell, quarterback Nick Foles and cornerback A.J. Bouye. More trades likely coming. This is a classic rebuild. Stock: Down

    

AFC West

Ben Margot/Associated Press

Chiefs: Losing cornerback Kendall Fuller to Washington was a bigger loss than people realize. They added a solid special teams player in Antonio Hamilton and offensive tackle Mike Remmers but made no spectacular signings. You know why? They don't really need any. Their roster is already stacked. Stock: Steady

Broncos: Added defensive lineman Jurrell Casey for a late-round pick and signed running back Melvin Gordon III. There's a chance Gordon, only 26, turns his career around. Stock: Up 

Raiders: Derek Carr is still there, but the Raiders signed a junior Derek Carr in Marcus Mariota anyway. What that means is that the franchise will likely have the same problem they did last year: subpar quarterback play. Stock: Way down

Chargers: The Chargers got Chris Harris Jr., Bryan Bulaga, Linval Joseph and Trai Turner while also keeping Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry. Sounds good, right? But what if I also reminded you they lost Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon III and now have QB Tyrod Taylor leading the offense. That doesn't make for an attack anyone can count on. There's little question they're going to pick a quarterback in the draft, but few rookies are sure things. So for now, things from this vantage look a little bleak. Stock: Down

     

NFC East

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 28: Darius Slay #23 of the Detroit Lions plays against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on November 28, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Eagles: They got corner Darius Slay, one of the most talented players to change teams this offseason. This was one of the top moves in the past two or three free-agent periods combined. Stock: Way up

Cowboys: They kept Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Dallas' defense will be porous, but keeping those two was a must. Stock: Up

Giants: New York used its franchise tag on defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who had 0.5 sacks last year. It's one of the oddest moves any team has made during free agency. Stock: Down

Washington: Added corner Kendall Fuller but still need to sign guard Brandon Scherff to a long-term contract. However, to be blunt, nothing they do this offseason will match getting coach Ron Rivera. He's one of the most significant, and smart, additions the franchise has ever made. Stock: Up

    

NFC North

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 16: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the New York Jets makes a catch against Christian Kirksey #58 of the Cleveland Browns in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 16, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Packers: Signed linebacker Christian Kirksey. The Packers were on a budget, but given the fact that he's missed 23 games over the past two seasons, Kirksey's acquisition was puzzling. Stock: Down

Vikings: Went all-in on the average Kirk Cousins and traded Stefon Diggs. The offense could take a major step back. Stock: Down

Bears: New owners of perhaps the second- or third-worst quarterback situation in football. Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles aren't what the Bears are looking for. Stock: Down

Lions: Made some of the most uninspiring moves in the initial wave of free agency, including signing defensive lineman Danny Shelton and linebacker Jamie Collins and trading for safety Duron Harmon. It looks like it's going to be another three-win season in Detroit. Stock: Down

    

NFC South

Saints: When we look back at the entirety of free agency, something that will be said is that receiver Emmanuel Sanders was one of the best signings of the spring. It's not just that Drew Brees gets another weapon, but Sanders will also prevent defenses from loading up against Michael Thomas. And that should help open up the running game. Stock: Way up

Falcons: Signed Todd Gurley to a one-year deal after he was cast off by the Rams. One scout said he believes the Falcons will get the "good Gurley, not the sluggish one" from last year. If that happens, great. The bigger problem for the Falcons is that they haven't done enough to keep up with division rivals. The NFC South had perhaps the most dramatic change since its creation in 2002. Stock: Down

Buccaneers: They got Tom Brady, automatically making them a potentially championship team. The Bucs' interior line is solid, but watch those tackles. That's the weak point. Still, they got Tom Damn Brady. Stock: Way up

Panthers: The Saints privately raved about Teddy Bridgewater's smarts and skills, which should give the Panthers an excellent passing offense now that he's moved within the division. Bridgewater also should free up (somewhat) the pressure running back Christian McCaffrey gets from stuffed seven-man boxes. Then, on top of that, they added skilled wide receiver Robby Anderson. This team has some major firepower now. Stock: Way the hell up

    

NFC West

49ers: This is one of the toughest evals of the offseason primarily because they traded DeForest Buckner for the 13th overall pick in the draft. Buckner is one of those players whose impact goes beyond his play on the field. He's an incredible locker room guy as well. Yet if there's one thing the 49ers' front office has proved, it's that they deserve trust. Stock: Up

Seahawks: Traded for defensive back Quinton Dunbar and gave up just a fifth-round pick. Seattle hasn't made a lot of moves, but this was a solid one. Dunbar will fit right into what Pete Carroll does on defense. The only issue is his injury history. But it's worth the risk. Stock: Up

Rams: The biggest problem for the team wasn't fixed. Jared Goff is still the QB. Stock: Down

Cardinals: Probably the biggest winners in free agency outside of the Buccaneers. They got DeAndre Hopkins on the cheap, upgraded the offensive line, running back Kenyan Drake is talented and now the lead back, and Kyler Murray should quickly become an MVP candidate. Yes. That's right. This offense will be that dangerous. Stock: Way up

               

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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