Grading Every NFL Team's 2021 Free-Agency Performance

Alex KayContributor IMarch 25, 2021

Grading Every NFL Team's 2021 Free-Agency Performance

0 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    It's been over a week since the new league year started, and there have been myriad transactions. With the initial frenzy of signings, releases and trades in the rearview, it’s time to assess how all 32 teams performed.

    Each franchise was graded on its situation and how the moves it made helped its short-term goals.

    A rebuilding team that came to terms with an aging player on a big-money deal did not earn the grade of a contender that brought in a proven free agent to push it higher in 2021. Likewise, a playoff team that cut ties with a useful veteran and rolled the dice on a less heralded and cheaper talent was judged more harshly than a squad that did the same but that will pick early in the draft.

    The salary cap—which was lowered instead of raised for the first time since the uncapped 2010 season—also altered the projected courses of many franchises. Those clubs weren't dismissed for not having much to spend, but they were docked or credited based on how they made use of their limited budgets.

    Let's get to the grades.


    Transactions and salaries courtesy of Spotrac.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: WR A.J. Green, DE J.J. Watt, K Matt Prater, C Rodney Hudson (Trade)

    Grade: B+

    The Arizona Cardinals made the biggest splash of any team before the start of free agency by inking J.J. Watt to a two-year, $28 million deal after he was released by the Houston Texans. That was the club's biggest move, as it also signed veterans A.J. Green and Matt Prater plus traded with the Las Vegas Raiders for Rodney Hudson.

    The Hudson deal was a big one and upgraded a key position. He should help quarterback Kyler Murray continue to develop as one of the league's bright young stars.

    The Cardinals also hung on to right tackle Kelvin Beachum, who was consistent in 2020, and outside linebacker Markus Golden, who was great during his second stint with the team.

    The sum of these moves was good but not great, and there is still work to be done. Arizona has set itself up to compete and shouldn't be underestimated.

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: OLB Brandon Copeland, RB Mike Davis, S Erik Harris, OLB Barkevious Mingo, TE Lee Smith (Trade)

    Grade: F

    The Atlanta Falcons entered the offseason at a crossroads and decided against blowing things up. They could still opt to go in that direction during the draft, but Atlanta hasn't done anything noteworthy in free agency.

    Its biggest move was to sign Mike Davis, who was the Carolina Panthers' backup running back, to a two-year, $5.5 million deal. Davis, whom the Panthers claimed off waivers in November 2019, performed respectably while filling in for the injured Christian McCaffrey last year, but that is a lot of cash tied up in a 28-year-old. It's especially costly for a team that needs to overhaul its roster.

    Atlanta didn't have much flexibility but did restructure Matt Ryan's deal to get cap-compliant. The club should have used the savings on young, intriguing pieces instead of overpaying for Davis and inking aging pass-rushers in Brandon Copeland and Barkevious Mingo.

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    Larry Maurer/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: G Kevin Zeitler, S Geno Stone

    Grade: C

    The Baltimore Ravens have long avoided making flashy free-agency acquisitions and rarely panic by overpaying their own free agents, instead preferring to build via the draft and low-key signings. The organization did not deviate from that strategy, letting key veterans walk and finding value on the open market.

    Baltimore bolstered its offensive line with Kevin Zeitler and kept a few of its vaunted defensive front players under contract: Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee and Derek Wolfe. But it did lose several impact contributors the front office still has to replace.

    Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue signed elsewhere, and with most of the impact free agents already under contract, the Ravens have limited options outside of the draft. Baltimore also failed to ink a receiver, which many believed was its most pressing need this offseason.

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: WR Emmanuel Sanders, QB Mitchell Trubisky, TE Jacob Hollister, P Matt Haack, DE Efe Obada

    Grade: B+

    The Buffalo Bills kept together a core that just put together the franchise’s best season in nearly three decades. They re-signed Jon Feliciano, Matt Milano, Daryl Williams and several other key free agents to reasonable deals.

    Buffalo also improved the roster with a handful of notable free-agent signings. Veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders figures to replace John Brown, and Jacob Hollister is a proven tight end. The Bills also came to terms with Mitchell Trubisky, who will be one of the better backup options in the league.

    The Bills aren't done yet, but they earned a strong grade and are well positioned to build on their run to the AFC Championship Game.

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: C Pat Elflein, LB Denzel Perryman, OLB Haason Reddick, WR David Moore, OT Cam Erving, TE Dan Arnold, DE Morgan Fox

    Grade: C

    The Carolina Panthers are in the midst of one of the more intriguing offseasons as they try to build a contender without having a franchise quarterback.

    There have been plenty of rumors surrounding the club and a potential trade for Deshaun Watson. It does hold the No. 8 pick in the draft, but it is not guaranteed Carolina would be able to acquire one of the four noteworthy signal-callers without trading up.

    It's hard to fault the Panthers for not making too many big moves, but they notably released Kawann Short and now have a massive void to fill on the interior defensive line. Morgan Fox was the only signing in that area, but Carolina did deal with the other side of the trenches by inking Pat Elflein and Cam Erving while retaining Taylor Moton on a franchise tag.

    This grade may be closer to a TBD than anything else even though Carolina has made a slew of moves. It clearly needs to address its quarterback situation more than anything else, and once that is done, the rest of these transactions may make a bit more sense.

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: QB Andy Dalton, CB Desmond Trufant, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, DE Angelo Blackson, LB Christian Jones, RB Damien Williams

    Grade: F-

    The Chicago Bears have had one of the more puzzling offseasons, starting the league year by franchising star receiving Allen Robinson II in a move that now looks perplexing.

    It seems Chicago felt it was on the cusp of prying star quarterback Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks, but it appears to have missed its chance. Now it's stuck with Andy Dalton.

    Chicago gave up financial flexibility to tag Robinson, which spelled the end of Kyle Fuller's tenure. He has moved on, while the the Bears have come to terms with aging cornerback Desmond Trufant, linebacker Christian Jones and mid-range edge talents Jeremiah Attaochu and Angelo Blackson.

    The Bears slipped into the postseason last year and—just one week into the new league year—already seem to be reverting to a non-contender. It's hard to picture an offseason starting worse.

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    Kevin Sabitus/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: OLB Trey Hendrickson, OT Riley Reiff, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Mike Hilton, DT Larry Ogunjobi

    Grade: D-

    The Cincinnati Bengals should have come into the offseason with one goal: to improve the protection for last year's No. 1 pick, Joe Burrow. The future of the franchise was battered relentlessly before suffering a season-ending knee injury last year, and the Bengals failed to sign the marquee offensive line talent they needed to better protect him.

    While Cincinnati did land tackle Riley Reiff on a bargain one-year deal, it struck out with some more notable talents. That alone knocked down the team's grade, but the Bengals' puzzling decision to downgrade pass-rushers without saving money hurt them even more.

    The Bengals elected not to keep Carl Lawson and instead signed Trey Hendrickson. Both players are set to earn $15 million per season on their new deals, but Lawson is widely regarded as a better talent and is nearly seven months younger than Hendrickson, making this one of the more questionable moves Cincinnati made.

    The Bengals haven't addressed their receiving corps either—they parted ways with a pair of veterans in A.J. Green and John Ross—and will have to pick up a lot of slack during the draft to turn this offseason around.

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: S John Johnson III, DE Takkarist McKinley, CB Troy Hill, DT Malik Jackson, LB Anthony Walker

    Grade: A

    The Cleveland Browns are one of the early winners of the offseason, making a handful of savvy moves that addressed some of their most glaring holes.

    The most obvious was signing former Los Angeles Rams safety John Johnson III to a value contract despite Johnson's status as one of the best safeties on the open market. Cleveland was desperate for an impact player at his position and got one without breaking the bank. It was one of the best deals any team has made.

    The Browns further improved their secondary by securing Troy Hill and issued a one-year deal to Takkarist McKinley, who could help fill the edge-rushing void opposite of Myles Garrett. Malik Jackson will serve as the new lane-clogging tackle and will round out the line nicely.

    Cleveland is poised to make yet another playoff run and should be a contender for years to come if these acquisitions are any indication of the franchise's trajectory.

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: S Keanu Neal, OT Ty Nsekhe, DE Tarell Basham, DE Carlos Watkins, DE Brent Urban

    Grade: B

    The Dallas Cowboys finally ironed out a long-term contract with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott, crossing off their most glaring to-do item this offseason. That move alone got them back to contending status in the NFC East.

    With stability at the most important position assured, Dallas made a few non-flashy signings to aid the roster. It grabbed a veteran safety in Keanu Neal to improve last year's mediocre secondary, secured offensive line depth with Ty Nsekhe and scored a cheap edge-rusher in Tarell Basham.

    The Cowboys deserve credit for these acquisitions as well as keeping cornerback Jourdan Lewis, but they could have done a bit more. Fans would have liked the Boys to have made a bigger splash, which Dallas could have done via restructures and other financial moves.

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

    Notable Additions: CB Ronald Darby, CB Kyle Fuller, RB Mike Boone, S Kareem Jackson

    Grade: B-

    The Denver Broncos kept the core of their defense together by retaining safety Justin Simmons and pass-rushers Von Miller and Shelby Harris. They also worked to overhaul the cornerback position by acquiring Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller, a pair of veterans who should give them one of the better secondaries in the league.

    While those moves will make Denver competent on defense, it didn't bolster an offense that sputtered last year. The club clearly believes in quarterback Drew Lock, but without more weapons, it is going to be tough for the Broncos to hang with better offenses.

    If Denver can add some firepower via the draft, it has a chance to contend in the AFC West. Without that, this team will once again find itself tinkering with the roster after missing out on the playoffs.

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: DE Michael Brockers (Trade), RB Jamaal Williams, WR Breshad Perriman, QB Jared Goff (Trade), WR Tyrell Williams, QB Tim Boyle, K Randy Bullock, DE Charles Harris, TE Josh Hill, OLB Alex Anzalone

    Grade: B

    The Detroit Lions made it clear early in the offseason that they weren't going to continue floundering. The team opted to part ways with longtime quarterback Matthew Stafford in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, acquiring future assets and getting a chance to see what Jared Goff can bring to the table in his second stop.

    In free agency, the Lions kept Romeo Okwara in a move that helped give them one of the more exciting defensive fronts. The rest of the roster is a work in progress, which is to be expected during a massive rebuild.

    The team is shedding salary and dumping veterans while loading up on cheap vets to complement the picks and cash they plan to build around. The draft will be a pivotal one, but the Lions are on the right track just a week into the new league year.

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: N/A

    Grade: C

    It's not a huge surprise that the Green Bay Packers—coming off back-to-back NFC Championship Game appearances—didn't do anything major in free agency.

    The biggest deal for the club was retaining running back Aaron Jones, even though it cost a four-year, $48 million deal. The Packers put a tender on restricted free agent Robert Tonyan, keeping one of their promising young players under contract. Green Bay also elected to keep cornerback Kevin King despite his failures in the NFC Championship Game, securing the second starting corner it needed.

    The front office knows it is on the cusp of a Super Bowl run so long as it retains the core, but Green Bay may need to address the massive hole left by center Corey Linsley. The All-Pro signed a big contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, and his absence could set this squad back if it doesn't unearth an adequate replacement.

    Considering Green Bay still hasn't won a conference championship in four tries since 2014, it should be doing more to push this roster over the top.

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: OT Marcus Cannon (Trade), OLB Shaq Lawson (Trade), RB Mark Ingram II, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB Christian Kirksey, WR/KR Andre Roberts, QB Tyrod Taylor, DT Maliek Collins, QB Ryan Finley (Trade), RB Phillip Lindsay, CB Terrance Mitchell, OLB Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB Jordan Jenkins

    Grade: C

    No team is under more pressure this offseason than the Houston Texans. The league is investigating franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is being sued by more than a dozen women for sexual assault and misconduct. Prior to the allegations, Watson had made it clear he wanted out of Houston. Team brass must decide what to do while also attempting to overhaul the roster.

    The Texans have made some smart moves—bringing in Marcus Cannon to shore up the tackle spot was one of their best—and inked a slew of veterans on the open market. They found the likely replacement for Watson in Tyrod Taylor and traded for a competent backup in Ryan Finley as well. Houston also inked several players to one-year deals, including running backs Mark Ingram II and Phillip Lindsay, giving the roster some much-needed depth at a cheap cost.

    But the Texans have to figure out what to do with Watson or risk losing out on value in the form of draft capital. They are going to remain in limbo until that situation is resolved.

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: QB Carson Wentz (Trade), DT Isaac Rochell, OT Sam Tevi

    Grade: C+

    The Indianapolis Colts had a massive need at the quarterback position after Philip Rivers elected to call it a career after a lone, successful campaign with the team. The organization reached out to the Philadelphia Eagles and swung a deal for Carson Wentz, who struggled mightily in 2020 and lost his starting job to rookie Jalen Hurts.

    While the jury is still out on Wentz, he could rehabilitate his career with a franchise that needs his help. If that trade doesn't pan out, the Colts will be in trouble.

    Their only other notable moves were to retain a pair of key free agents in Marlon Mack and Xavier Rhodes. While these were shrewd signings, they did not plug any of the holes the team has.

    If Indy can acquire a receiver, offensive line help and perhaps a pass-rusher before the offseason ends, it will be in much better shape.

Jacksonville Jaguars

15 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: CB Shaquill Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DE Roy Robertson-Harris, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Tyson Alualu, DT Malcom Brown (Trade), WR Marvin Jones Jr., WR Phillip Dorsett II, DE Jihad Ward, WR Jamal Agnew

    Grade: B-

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have been tinkering with their roster, drawing up a pile of contracts over the last week.

    The Jags splurged on a premier cornerback in Shaquill Griffin—giving him $40 million over three years—and grabbed a reliable safety in Rayshawn Jenkins to round out their secondary. The receiving corps was also overhauled with the additions of Jamal Agnew and Marvin Jones Jr., who will more than help make up for the loss of Keelan Cole.

    While Jacksonville didn't land many top-dollar targets, it is in much better shape than it was at the end of last year's miserable campaign. We'll see if it was a wise decision to round out the roster this early in the offseason with low- to mid-range contracts, but the club is now better situated for presumed No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence.

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: G Joe Thuney, G Kyle Long, TE Blake Bell

    Grade: A

    After missing out on becoming back-to-back Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs knew they had to fix their offensive line. They squandered the rare chance to defend their title largely because of the inability to protect superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and clearly the front office vowed to fix the issue.

    Kansas City scored the best interior lineman in this year's class when it doled out a five-year, $80 million deal to former New England Patriot Joe Thuney. It also inked three-time Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long, who came out of retirement. Those moves instantly and significantly improved Mahomes' protection.

    The Chiefs still need to unearth some tackles after parting ways with Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, but the draft should net them at least one starter at the position. With much of the team's championship roster under contract, Kansas City accomplished its goals with limited finances and is ready to make another run.

Las Vegas Raiders

17 of 32

    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: DE Yannick Ngakoue, WR John Brown, RB Kenyan Drake, DE Solomon Thomas, C Nick Martin, DT Quinton Jefferson

    Grade: D+

    The Las Vegas Raiders have been plagued by a lack of pass-rushing talent for years and finally went out and got their guy to fix it by signing Yannick Ngakoue. They also snagged a pair of decent veteran defensive linemen in Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson, providing a boost in what has been an area of major concern.

    Las Vegas now has to figure out how to patch up the offensive line after it traded a pair of starters in center Rodney Hudson and tackle Trent Brown. The squad did ink a replacement for Hudson in Nick Martin but still has to find a way to keep quarterback Derek Carr protected and open up rushing lanes after spending $11 million to sign running back Kenyan Drake for two years.

    The Raiders seemed to have ended up exactly where they started the offseason: with a roster full of holes—just different ones than before. Las Vegas isn't ready to be a contender yet and—barring a series of home runs in the draft—will likely fall short again.

Los Angeles Chargers

18 of 32

    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: C Corey Linsley, TE Jared Cook, OT Matt Feiler, OT Oday Aboushi

    Grade: B-

    It is hard to fault the Los Angeles Chargers for going all in on offensive linemen this offseason, especially after the team realized it has something special during quarterback Justin Herbert's rookie campaign in 2020. The Bolts had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year, and the organization was wise to make it a top priority to elongate its franchise signal-caller's career by getting him better protection.

    L.A. spared no expense when it inked the top center available in Corey Linsley, but the former Green Bay Packer is now being paid like one of the best players at his position after just one All-Pro nod in seven years. While the five-year, $62.5 million deal will be worth it if Linsley continues playing at a high level, there is a chance the Chargers overpaid for merely above-average performances from their marquee addition.

    It did help that the Chargers inked a starting right tackle to a more team-friendly deal with Matt Feiler's three-year, $21 million pact. They also added some depth in the form of Oday Aboushi, who signed a cheap one-year deal to serve as a backup tackle.

    Beyond that, L.A.'s only other big move was to replace the costly Hunter Henry with a serviceable veteran in Jared Cook. It's worth watching how Herbert performs without any new, experienced weapons in the arsenal, but at least he'll be better protected.

Los Angeles Rams

19 of 32

    Al Godlis/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: QB Matthew Stafford (Trade), WR DeSean Jackson

    Grade: B

    It became apparent that the Los Angeles Rams were being held back by their quarterback, so they decided to go all in on winning a Super Bowl by trading for Matthew Stafford.

    The blockbuster deal, in which they sent two first-round draft picks, one third-rounder and incumbent signal-caller Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions, should elevate the club to serious contender status. Beyond that trade, the Rams—who had to do numerous cost-cutting restructures and let several veterans walk to get cap-compliant—haven't done much.

    One wise decision was to re-sign linebacker Leonard Floyd to a four-year, $64 million extension. Floyd was a revelation for L.A. during his first season with the team, racking up 55 tackles and 10.5 sacks as a key part of the league-leading defense.

    Aside from the Floyd extension, the club has made only one other signing: a one-year deal for receiver DeSean Jackson, whom the Philadelphia Eagles had released. The Rams will try out the veteran, but it is a stretch to think the speedster still has much to offer.

    Even given their limited finances, the Rams still got better in free agency and deserve a respectable grade.

Miami Dolphins

20 of 32

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: LB Benardrick McKinney (Trade), CB Justin Coleman, WR William Fuller V, DT Adam Butler, C Matt Skura

    Grade: B-

    The Miami Dolphins nearly made the playoffs last year in the wide-open AFC East. Their goal this offseason was likely to make enough moves to take on the Buffalo Bills for the crown without committing too much cash to overpriced veterans. If that was the case, the Dolphins have succeeded and are in position for another solid run.

    The Fins dealt linebacker Shaq Lawson, swapping late picks with the Houston Texans to get a slight upgrade at the position with Benardrick McKinney, plus signed a couple of quality veteran defenders in Justin Coleman and Adam Butler.

    Their biggest free-agency news, however, was the decision to ink wideout William Fuller V to a one-year, $10.6 million contract. Fuller looked like one of the better receivers in football last year, but the oft-injured 26-year-old was hit with a season-ending PED suspension that derailed his breakout campaign. If the former Texan can stay on the field, he will be a major bargain at what was a huge position of need for the Dolphins.

    Expect more fireworks for this club in the draft, as it has the No. 3 pick, but for now Miami has accomplished what it needed to do on the open market.

Minnesota Vikings

21 of 32

    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: DT Dalvin Tomlinson, OLB Nick Vigil, CB Patrick Peterson, DE Stephen Weatherly

    Grade: B

    The Minnesota Vikings have had a polarizing offseason, highlighted by the loss of safety Anthony Harris—who inked a one-year, $5 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. They signed aging cornerback Patrick Peterson to a one-year, $8 million contract.

    While that move may be questionable, the team did secure two other defensive upgrades in Dalvin Tomlinson and Nick Vigil. Those signings will give the defense the boost it needs to open things up for the pass-rushers, including Stephen Weatherly.

    Team brass should be far from finished, however, as there are new holes to fill with the departures of offensive tackle Riley Reiff, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo and tight end Kyle Rudolph. If the Vikings can plug those with some combination of veteran free-agents and draft picks, they will be in the running for a playoff spot.

New England Patriots

22 of 32

    David Becker/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: TE Jonnu Smith, TE Hunter Henry, OLB Matt Judon, S Jalen Mills, WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, DT Davon Godchaux, OT Trent Brown (Trade), DE Henry Anderson, C Ted Karras, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Montravius Adams

    Grade: A-

    The New England Patriots didn't get into the postseason for just the second time since Bill Belichick took the reins of the organization at the turn of the millennium, and it appears he is doing just about everything in his power to avoid missing out for a second straight year.

    The Pats were one of the biggest forces on the open market, not afraid to splurge, drastically reshaping a roster that was already limited before it was gutted by COVID-19 opt-outs last year.

    New England's biggest signings include a pair of tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, who will overhaul a position that didn't produce anything of value in 2020. Their presence alone will open up much more creativity for coordinator Josh McDaniels, who will be working with re-signed quarterback Cam Newton.

    The defense also got an injection of talent in the form of Matt Judon and Jalen Mills. Judon is a versatile pass-rusher who will likely be deployed several different ways, while Mills is a defensive back who can do a bit of everything.

    While the franchise still needs to find a long-term solution at quarterback, the Pats have acquired weapons who will allow them to put up a fight against almost any opponent.

New Orleans Saints

23 of 32

    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: FB Alex Armah

    Grade: C+

    No team had more work to do to get cap-compliant than the New Orleans Saints. The organization was saddled with a ton of baggage salary and simply could not afford to make any flashy signings in free agency, but New Orleans retained a handful of players who will help it stay competitive.

    The biggest decision the Saints made was to re-sign quarterback Jameis Winston, who came to terms on a team-friendly one-year, $5.5 million pact.

    While it's not guaranteed Winston will be the starter in the wake of Drew Brees' retirement—New Orleans also has Taysom Hill—he represents a decent option to fill the void, especially considering the $10 million contracts Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick signed for 2021.

    New Orleans' only free-agent acquisition was to bring in fullback Alex Armah, who won't have much of an impact. There are other roster issues to iron out, but it appears team brass is content to wait until the draft to address them.

New York Giants

24 of 32

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: WR Kenny Golladay, TE Kyle Rudolph, RB Devontae Booker, WR John Ross, QB Mike Glennon, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, CB Adoree' Jackson

    Grade: A-

    Being patient during the free-agent process can be rewarding, which the New York Giants found out when they landed their top target to start what is a pivotal offseason.

    The G-Men scored the best wideout in Kenny Golladay, who agreed to a big four-year, $72 million deal despite his market materializing slowly. With most of Golladay's contemporaries coming to terms before him, the former Detroit Lion took his time and came away with the biggest payday of anyone at the position and one of the biggest overall. If he can stay healthy after an injury-plagued 2020, Golladay projects to be a major weapon for a franchise that sorely needed to bolster its receiving corps.

    Big Blue didn't stop there, snagging a marquee cornerback in Adoree' Jackson after the 2017 first-rounder was released by the Tennessee Titans. Those two flashy signings were rounded out by a handful of value deals for players such as Ifeadi Odenigbo, John Ross and Kyle Rudolph, who should play significant roles on relatively cheap contracts.

    With New York also hanging on to elite pass-rusher Leonard Williams, it appears ready to return to the postseason and should be fun to watch.

New York Jets

25 of 32

    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: WR Corey Davis, DE Carl Lawson, LB Jarrad Davis, WR Keelan Cole, S Lamarcus Joyner, G Dan Feeney, CB Justin Hardee, DT Sheldon Rankins, TE Tyler Kroft, LB Del'Shawn Phillips

    Grade: A-

    The Giants weren't the only team in the Big Apple to have a fantastic start to their offseason as the New York Jets also made great use of the mountain of cap space on which they were sitting at the start of the new league year. This roster had a litany of issues going into free agency, but the club was able to address many of them within the first week.

    The Jets had to make improvements to their receiving corps to give quarterback Sam Darnold a real shot at turning his career around—or at least assist whichever signal-caller they end up taking at No. 2 in the upcoming draft—and they were able to do exactly that by securing both Davis and Cole on the open market.

    The secondary was also shored up with the acquisition of Joyner, who joins Marcus Maye (hit with the franchise tag for 2021) in an overhauled unit. The defensive front will also be rejuvenated with the Rankins signing, which was a big score for this franchise. 

    Lawson will likely make the biggest impact of all the signings as the former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end has the talent to be one of the league's better pass-rushers. Getting him for just $15 million annually should give the Jets a great return on investment and help get them on the right track to exit their rebuild soon.

Philadelphia Eagles

26 of 32

    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: S Anthony Harris, QB Joe Flacco, S Andrew Adams

    Grade: B+

    It's hard to judge the Philadelphia Eagles' offseason given the ugliness of their salary-cap situation. The team had to clear the decks and rid itself of a ton of veteran talent in order to get compliant, but it still made at least one solid move on the open market.

    The Eagles managed to free up enough finances to ink Harris to an extremely reasonable contract, giving them a starter at safety who can replace the departed Jalen Mills. That move alone won't change the franchise's fortunes, but it deserves accolades given how little the front office had to work with. Andrew Adams, signed away from the Buccaneers, brings some depth to a depleted secondary, too. 

    Philly was able to snag a Super Bowl-winning signal-caller in Joe Flacco, as well, and he could potentially mentor young quarterback Jalen Hurts or whichever prospect they take in the upcoming draft.

    Philadelphia must now get the most out of its upcoming draft class to patch up the roster and field a semi-respectable squad for the coming campaign.

Pittsburgh Steelers

27 of 32

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: OT Joe Haeg, S Miles Killebrew, C B.J. Finney, WR Tyler Simmons

    Grade: B

    The Pittsburgh Steelers could have had an ugly offseason, but they managed to retain many of their key free agents and are sitting pretty after a hectic week.

    No team benefitted more from a cold receiver market than Pittsburgh, which was able to hang onto JuJu Smith-Schuster on a team-friendly one-year, $8 million deal. That move, coupled with re-signing cornerback Cameron Sutton, wide reciever Ray-Ray McCloud, defensive tackle Chris Wormley and offensive tackle Zach Banner, greatly bolstered the Steelers' depth at several key positions.

    Pittsburgh didn't bring in any name-brand free agents from outside the organization but did make a few nice scores on the open market in Haeg, Killebrew and Finney. Those players should see plenty of rotational snaps and make the Steelers one of the deeper squads in the league.

    It hasn't been the type of offseason that wins a Super Bowl, but these moves get the Steelers a step closer, and they deserve to be commended for it.

San Francisco 49ers

28 of 32

    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: OLB Samson Ebukam, C Alex Mack, DE Zach Kerr, S Tavon Wilson

    Grade: B

    The San Francisco 49ers did an incredible job convincing most of their key free agents to stick around the Bay Area.

    Simply getting Trent Williams—their future Hall of Famer left tackle—to agree to an eye-popping six-year, $138 million contract shores up the offensive line for the foreseeable future, but the Niners went a step further and brought in Mack—one of the greats of his generation—on a bargain three-year, $15 million deal.

    With Jimmy Garoppolo now looking like a stopgap option under center, the Niners can begin focusing on finding a franchise quarterback to replace him, knowing they will have one of the better offensive lines in the league. They also held onto one of the NFL's most unique weapons in fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who can block and serve as a safety net out of the backfield for whoever is slinging the rock.

    The defense still needs some work despite re-signing Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley to fill in the cornerback holes, and the front office began to address that by signing Ebukam and D.J. Jones to cheap contracts. Retaining cornerback Richard Sherman would be a nice next step for a team that wants to get back to the Super Bowl after a lost 2020 campaign.

Seattle Seahawks

29 of 32

    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: TE Gerald Everett, G Gabe Jackson (trade), CB Ahkello Witherspoon, DE Kerry Hyder

    Grade: C-

    The Seattle Seahawks needed to acquire offensive line talent this offseason to ensure the happiness of quarterback Russell Wilson, who hasn't been pleased with his protection over the last few seasons. They did exactly that by trading for Jackson, coughing up a fifth-round pick to the Las Vegas Raiders for the veteran guard's services.

    That move alone won't keep Wilson from getting pummeled, but it's a step in the right direction for the franchise. The team also brought in a new weapon for its quarterback in the form of Everett, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the divisional rival Los Angeles Rams.

    The Seahawks defense also had some issues last year, so the team went out and paid for Witherspoon to improve the secondary and Hyder to help rush the passer. Unfortunately for Seattle, those signings haven't exactly upgraded the roster. Instead, they filled voids left by departed free agents in tight end Jacob Hollister, cornerback Shaq Griffin and defensive end Carlos Dunlap.

    Plenty of free agents could still help this squad, but unless the Seahawks actually go out and sign them, they will likely end up taking a step back next season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30 of 32

    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: N/A

    Grade: A

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took that adage to heart this offseason, opting to go all-in to retain the key players from their Super Bowl-winning roster rather than splurge on new signings in free agency.

    Within the first week of the new league year, the Bucs were able to re-sign outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, linebacker Lavonte David, tight end Rob Gronkowski and kicker Ryan Succop and hit wideout Chris Godwin with the franchise tag. Those moves, plus the reported agreement with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, guarantee Tampa will remain a contender in 2021, though the club could still make a few moves to flesh out the roster.

    Decisions still need to be made on wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Leonard Fournette, two offensive talents who played key roles during the Bucs' championship run. But even if Tampa doesn't retain another free agent or sign anyone else this offseason, it is going to be a force this coming season and has a great shot at winning it all again.

Tennessee Titans

31 of 32

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: OLB Bud Dupree, DE Denico Autry, OT Kendall Lamm, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Kevin Johnson, LS Morgan Cox, WR Josh Reynolds

    Grade: B+

    The Tennessee Titans decided they had to improve their defense this offseason and spared no expense.

    The club came to terms on a massive deal with Dupree and gave some big money to Autry in a pair of moves that completely overhauled the defensive line. The cornerback spot will also look much different in 2021 after the team released Adoree' Jackson and Malcolm Butler, opening the door for new signings Jenkins and Johnson to take over their roles.

    The jury is still out on the Tennessee offense, which parted ways with tight end Jonnu Smith and wide receiver Corey Davis in free agency and has yet to find replacements for these skill-position talents. The draft is certainly an option, but it's a risky one for a team that has been on the verge of breaking through as a real contender over these last few seasons.

    Still, the Titans get credit for identifying their biggest weaknesses and taking care of them immediately. The front office can't rest on its laurels yet, however, and must continue to comb through the open market and find a few more veterans to round out the roster before the draft.

Washington Football Team

32 of 32

    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Notable Additions: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, CB William Jackson III, WR Curtis Samuel, C Tyler Larsen

    Grade: B+

    The Washington Football Team has a glaring issue at the quarterback position but made peace with the fact that there wasn't much they could do in free agency to address it aside from signing the best available veteran stopgap.

    Fitzpatrick represents a fine bridge quarterback for an organization that will likely be looking to unearth a prospect in the upcoming draft. His one-year deal should help the team remain competitive after winning the NFC East last year, while the rest of Washington's moves were savvy signings of younger players with upside.

    The team brought in Jackson on a reasonable deal after he failed to live up to lofty expectations in Cincinnati and inked a playmaking wideout in Samuel who can add a whole new dimension to the offense. 

    The Football Team won't be considered a real contender until it gets its man under center, but it improved this offseason and is better positioned for the future thanks to its signings.