2021 Offseason Report Cards for Every NFL Team
Technically, we're not even halfway through the 2021 NFL offseason.
But the reality is most of the work and/or damage has been done. The heart of free agency is behind us, as is the draft. And now, we have a pretty good idea of what each roster will look like come September.
With that in mind, let's put it all together and issue big-picture grades based on how each team has fared the last few months.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: DL J.J. Watt, C Rodney Hudson, CB Malcolm Butler, WR A.J. Green, G Brian Winters
Key Draft Additions: LB Zaven Collins, WR Rondale Moore, CB Marco Wilson
Key Departures: CB Patrick Peterson, RB Kenyan Drake, Edge Haason Reddick, TE Dan Arnold
In Year 3 for head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray, the Arizona Cardinals are going all-in. And why not?
There's little reason to believe Murray can't become a superstar, and now he's much better supported with the additions of Hudson (a three-time Pro Bowler whom they acquired for just a third-round pick), Green (who is five years younger than Larry Fitzgerald) and Moore (who looks like a perfect fit for Kingsbury's offense).
They could miss Reddick if he continues to rise, but Watt is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year who could excel next to returning standout pass-rusher Chandler Jones. And while the Collins selection was curious with 2020 top-10 pick Isaiah Simmons already on board at that position, the front seven does look pretty stacked.
The Cardinals could have done more to bolster the secondary. Peterson looks low on gas, but the same applies to Butler, and Wilson will need time as a rookie fourth-round pick. That and the expensive risk they're taking on Watt rather than Reddick bring them down below an "A" grade.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: RB Mike Davis, TE Lee Smith, Edge Barkevious Mingo, Edge Brandon Copeland, CB Fabian Moreau, S Erik Harris, S Duron Harmon
Key Draft Additions: TE Kyle Pitts, S Richie Grant, OL Jalen Mayfield
Key Departures: G Justin McCray, C Alex Mack, S Keanu Neal, DB Damontae Kazee, S Ricardo Allen
Pitts makes the Atlanta Falcons better, but can one rookie tight end change a franchise overnight? That's the onus he faces after the team essentially slept through free agency as a result of cap constraints brought on by massive contracts belonging to quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones.
Atlanta is coming off three consecutive losing seasons and now has even more questions along the offensive line and on defense. Losing Mack and exchanging Neal, Kazee and Allen for Harris, Harmon and Moreau isn't likely to make the Falcons a contender, while Mingo and Copeland are unlikely to resurrect the pass rush (the two have a combined four sacks the last two seasons).
They also drafted Grant with the more polished Trevon Moehrig available, although they could have a superstar in Pitts and they got good value in Mayfield in Round 3. So their draft performance was solid overall, but it wasn't enough.
They could still trade Jones to save a bunch of dough, but it's hard to see that making them better in the short term. They've been mediocre the last few seasons, and that won't change.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: WR Sammy Watkins, G Kevin Zeitler, Edge Tyus Bowser, Edge Pernell McPhee, OT Alejandro Villanueva
Key Draft Additions: WR Rashod Bateman, Edge Jayson Oweh, OL Ben Cleveland, CB Brandon Stephens, WR Tylan Wallace
Key Departures: Edge Matt Judon, Edge Yannick Ngakoue, RB Mark Ingram, C Matt Skura, WR Willie Snead IV, OT Orlando Brown Jr.
The Baltimore Ravens could have done a lot more in free agency to support franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson, and there's a chance they'll rue letting top pass-rushers Judon and Ngakoue walk. But they've redeemed themselves a lot since the early stages of free agency.
They at least retained Bowser and McPhee on the edge, the experienced Zeitler upgrades the somewhat soft interior offensive line, Watkins and Bateman bolster Jackson's arsenal (as does Wallace, who was a high-value fourth-rounder), and they landed Oweh with the extra first-round pick they acquired in exchange for the disgruntled Brown.
The smooth Bateman should be able to make an immediate impact, and Oweh and Cleveland could too but won't face a lot of pressure early because they've got plenty of options in those spots.
Throw in the well-established Villanueva as Brown's replacement, and the Ravens offense looks better overall than it did in 2020. There's just a lot more up in the air up front on defense, particularly on the edge, which costs them a top grade.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: WR Emmanuel Sanders, QB Mitchell Trubisky, TE Jacob Hollister, OT Daryl Williams, G Jon Feliciano, LB Matt Milano, WR Isaiah McKenzie, LB Tyrell Adams, OT Bobby Hart, CB Levi Wallace
Key Draft Additions: Edge Gregory Rousseau, Edge Carlos Basham Jr.
Key Departures: WR Andre Roberts, WR John Brown, OT Ty Nsekhe, DE Quinton Jefferson, G Brian Winters, LB Del'Shawn Phillips
It was a relatively quiet offseason for the Buffalo Bills, which isn't a bad thing when you're a prime Super Bowl contender coming off a breakout season.
The Bills have quality veterans on the edge and at cornerback, but they brought back key starters in Williams, Feliciano, Milano and Wallace, and they smartly complemented veteran pass-rushers Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison with intriguing entry-level projects in Rousseau and Basham.
The former could need time but will get it in Buffalo, while the latter is more refined after a strong run at Wake Forest.
Still, it was disappointing to see the Bills neglect the cornerback position until the sixth round of the draft, and there are still questions about the offensive backfield after they made no significant changes at the running back position. It wasn't a home run offseason but it was safe and smart for a team on the right track.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: QB Sam Darnold, WR David Moore, TE Dan Arnold, OT Taylor Moton, G Pat Elflein, OT Cameron Erving, DL Morgan Fox, Edge Haason Reddick, LB Denzel Perryman, CB A.J. Bouye
Key Draft Additions: CB Jaycee Horn, WR Terrace Marshall Jr., RB Chuba Hubbard, DL Daviyon Nixon
Key Departures: QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Mike Davis, WR Curtis Samuel, Edge Stephen Weatherly
The Carolina Panthers could have made this the summer of Justin Fields vs. Sam Darnold, greatly increasing their chances of possessing a franchise quarterback for years to come. Instead, they passed on the blue-chip former Ohio State signal-caller and took Horn eighth overall.
Horn has a very high NFL ceiling, but it was a risk taking him over fellow corner Patrick Surtain II as well as offensive tackle Rashawn Slater. Now, they're putting all of their eggs in Darnold's basket with questions surrounding the left tackle position.
Bringing back Moton was important, the Reddick signing could be a coup for just $8 million considering the way he performed down the stretch in 2020 (7.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in his last four games), and they got good value in Marshall, Hubbard and Nixon outside of the first round. But they spent a lot of money on "meh" veterans who are unlikely to make much of a difference, and there's a good chance the Horn selection will backfire significantly.
Darnold was the league's lowest-rated qualified passer last year, but he's Carolina's only viable option under center and there's a hole on his blind side. That's no good.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: WR Allen Robinson, QB Andy Dalton, RB Damien Williams, OT Germain Ifedi, DL Mario Edwards Jr., Edge Jeremiah Attaochu, CB Desmond Trufant
Key Draft Additions: QB Justin Fields, OT Teven Jenkins
Key Departures: QB Mitchell Trubisky, DL Roy Robertson-Harris, CB Kyle Fuller, OT Charles Leno Jr.
This is complicated.
The Chicago bears deserve a poor grade for letting go of the highly accomplished Fuller at a shallow position and wasting money on Dalton during a free-agency run that featured no other difference-making additions and cost a substantial amount of coin (Robinson alone carries a $17.9 million hit on the franchise tag).
However, they deserve a lot of credit for moving up to grab a sinking Fields 11th overall, even if that value was diminished by the fact that they gave up a 2022 first-round pick and two Day 3 selections for the right to take him there. And Jenkins was a tremendous value selection in Round 2, so there's a decent chance they transformed the offense with those two picks.
If Fields and Jenkins deliver quickly, nobody will care that they essentially cut a two-time Pro Bowler (Fuller) to make room for a journeyman quarterback, that they couldn't work something out with Robinson or that they spent even a dollar (let alone $4.3 million) to give another shot to the consistently disappointing Ifedi.
Still, there's a lot of risk there, and those poor decisions prevent them from earning a top grade.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: Edge Trey Hendrickson, CB Mike Hilton, CB Chidobe Awuzie, OT Riley Reiff, DT Larry Ogunjobi, S Ricardo Allen
Key Draft Additions: WR Ja'Marr Chase, OL Jackson Carman, Edge Joseph Ossai
Key Departures: WR A.J. Green, DT Geno Atkins, Edge Carl Lawson, CB William Jackson III, WR John Ross, OT Bobby Hart, C B.J. Finney, CB Mackensie Alexander
Ohio's two professional football teams have won a combined zero Super Bowls in more than half a century, but they're worthy of our best grades yet in this exercise.
We start with the Cincinnati Bengals, who reunited young franchise quarterback Joe Burrow with one of the most enticing wide receivers to enter the league in years, saved a bunch of dough replacing Jackson with the younger Awuzie at corner, added the underrated Hilton to the slot corner role at a reasonable rate and upgraded a weak offensive line with Reiff in free agency and Carman on Day 2 of the draft.
It's fair to remain concerned about the interior offensive line because Carman is a wild card, but they've got a lot of options inside now, and Reiff and Jonah Williams make up a solid two on the edge. With that in mind, it's fine that they passed on prized offensive tackle Penei Sewell in favor of Chase, who caught 20 touchdown passes from Burrow during a 1,780-yard 2019 season at LSU.
I do wonder if they'll miss the pressure-happy Lawson, and it's odd they're paying Hendrickson even more than Lawson got from the New York Jets, but Hendrickson put up 13.5 sacks to Lawson's 5.5 in 2020, so that's a nitpick as well.
They're doing it right in Cincy.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: CB Troy Hill, S John Johnson III, LB Anthony Walker Jr., WR Rashard Higgins, Edge Takkarist McKinley, DT Malik Jackson, LB Malcolm Smith, Edge Jadeveon Clowney
Key Draft Additions: CB Greg Newsome II, LB/S Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, WR Anthony Schwartz
Key Departures: OT Kendall Lamm, CB Terrance Mitchell, DT Larry Ogunjobi, CB Kevin Johnson, DT Sheldon Richardson
Earlier this month, yours truly delivered a sermon on why the Cleveland Browns have crushed the 2021 offseason.
The gist? An already-promising team has addressed every single weakness from 2020 thoroughly, retaining a strong offense and turning the defense from a liability into an asset.
Johnson was the third-highest-graded safety in the NFL at Pro Football Focus in 2020, while Hill surrendered a 61.3 passer rating on throws into his coverage in 2019 and intercepted three passes and scored twice in 2020. Those two and Newsome, who according to PFF allowed the lowest passer rating in coverage among all Power Five defenders in 2020, complement standout Denzel Ward in the secondary.
Meanwhile, they got ridiculous value in potential first-round pick Owusu-Koramoah deep in Round 2. He and Walker should give them some much-needed range and oomph off the ball, while McKinley and Clowney give them young, highly talented options opposite star pass-rusher Myles Garrett.
You couldn't have dreamed up a better two months for the Browns.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: QB Dak Prescott, S Keanu Neal, Edge Tarell Basham, DL Brent Urban, OT Ty Nsekhe, DB Damontae Kazee, CB Jourdan Lewis
Key Draft Additions: LB Micah Parsons, CB Kelvin Joseph
Key Departures: QB Andy Dalton, S Xavier Woods, CB Chidobe Awuzie, OT Cameron Erving, LB Joe Thomas
The draft is a crapshoot, and the Dallas Cowboys get some credit for accumulating as many dice as possible with five picks on Day 1 and Day 2 and 11 selections in total. That haul is highlighted by Parsons, who came after a trade down in the No. 12 spot and should make an immediate impact on a defense that needs it.
It was at least a positive all-around draft for a team that absolutely loaded up on defensive players and addressed weak spots across the board.
The problem is they were merely trying to make up for the fact that free agency was once again rough for a cap-strapped franchise that mortgaged its future to sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a monster contract. I'm not convinced Prescott can carry this team deep in the playoffs. He hasn't yet, and now he's losing support because the Cowboys don't have money to spend.
The defense could be improved just because they've added so many bodies (the Neal signing was relatively inexpensive and could easily become a hit), but that might not be enough for a unit that surrendered 29.6 points per game last season and lost its top cornerback for the second offseason in a row (Byron Jones in 2020, Awuzie in 2021).
Key Additions/Re-Signings: S Justin Simmons, OLB Von Miller, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Ronald Darby, DE Shelby Harris, S Kareem Jackson, QB Teddy Bridgewater
Key Draft Additions: CB Patrick Surtain II, RB Javonte Williams, LB Baron Browning
Key Departures: RB Phillip Lindsay, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, OL Elijah Wilkinson, CB A.J. Bouye
The Denver Broncos totally replenished their secondary after locking up star safety Simmons by adding Fuller, Darby and Surtain in free agency and the draft. With Miller back to work with Bradley Chubb on the edge and the rest of the offense and defense mainly set, that would be fine if not for the fact that Justin Fields was on the board when they took Surtain.
I mean, did they really need another corner? Keep in mind Bryce Callahan and Duke Dawson Jr. were already on the roster and that they have pretty glaring holes at quarterback and offensive tackle (Rashawn Slater was also on the board in that No. 9 spot).
It shouldn't be held against them that they passed on Slater, because it wasn't until after the draft that Ja'Wuan James suffered an Achilles injury, but why not take a swing with Fields when he'd represent good value in that spot and the rest of your roster is in pretty fine shape?
Maybe they resisted because they thought they'd land Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers, but that hasn't happened yet, so they don't get credit for it. And if they didn't draft Fields because they believe that strongly in Drew Lock and/or Bridgewater, that'd be a mistake. Lock often looked like a train wreck during a 15-interception sophomore season, and Bridgewater made it obvious in Carolina that he doesn't have what it takes to carry an offense.
Their handling of the quarterback situation cost the Broncos a high grade, even if the secondary looks pretty sick and I believe they could have something special in Browning out of Round 3. In fact, the defense might be very good in 2021, but will it matter?
Key Additions/Re-Signings: QB Jared Goff, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Tyrell Williams, WR Breshad Perriman, Edge Romeo Okwara, DT Michael Brockers, CB Quinton Dunbar
Key Draft Additions: OT Penei Sewell, DL Levi Onwuzurike, DT Alim McNeill, CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, LB Derrick Barnes
Key Departures: QB Matthew Stafford, WR Kenny Golladay, WR Marvin Jones Jr., WR Jamal Agnew, TE Jesse James, DT Danny Shelton, LB Jarrad Davis, CB Desmond Trufant, CB Justin Coleman
It might have been time for a fresh start after 12 seasons and no playoff victories with Stafford at quarterback for the Detroit Lions, but Jared Goff? The dude has completely lost it ever since bombing in the Super Bowl two years ago, and his and Stafford's dead cap charge total $29.7 million this year and $31.2 million in 2022.
Beyond that, the Lions downgraded by replacing Golladay and Jones with Williams and Perriman, although St. Brown was a steal in Round 4 and could help that receiving corps immediately.
The offensive line admittedly looks stacked now that Sewell is joining Taylor Decker, Frank Ragnow, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jonah Jackson, but it remains tough to get excited about that offense in general.
The defense at least gets Okwara back and brings in Brockers to work with Trey Flowers on the edge, and they added a bunch of bulk and ferocity to that unit with three Day 2 selections up front and at corner. But the jury is still very much out on those guys, and there are still major questions about the linebacking corps and secondary.
Altogether, this Lions team doesn't look significantly better than the one that won just five games in 2020.
Green Bay Packers
Key Additions/Re-Signings: RB Aaron Jones, CB Kevin King, TE Robert Tonyan
Key Draft Additions: CB Eric Stokes, C Josh Myers, WR Amari Rodgers
Key Departures: RB Jamaal Williams, OT Rick Wagner, C Corey Linsley, LB Christian Kirksey, CB Tramon Williams
It's really easy to pile on the Green Bay Packers right now, but Aaron Rodgers remains on the roster, they got good value in new receiver Amari Rodgers in Round 3, and they addressed needs with Stokes and Myers (potential replacements for the disappointing King and the departed Linsley, respectively) in Rounds 1 and 2.
Toss in that they brought back the tremendous Jones at running back, and this has been a quiet but non-disastrous offseason for a Green Bay team that was never expected to make waves with limited salary-cap space and a low draft position.
Only bones to pick: Stokes felt like a slight reach with Tyson Campbell and Asante Samuel Jr. available at the bottom of Round 1, and they should have prioritized Linsley over Jones because running backs are easier to replace than All-Pro centers and offensive line continuity is critical. If Rodgers returns, he'll be working with a very different line, which is far from ideal.
Still, so long as they find a way to kiss and make up with their MVP quarterback, this won't be a bad offseason for the Packers.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: OT Marcus Cannon, Edge Shaq Lawson, RB Mark Ingram II, QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Phillip Lindsay, LB Christian Kirksey, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, Edge Jordan Jenkins, CB Desmond King, CB Terrance Mitchell, WR Andre Roberts
Key Draft Additions: QB Davis Mills, WR Nico Collins, TE Brevin Jordan
Key Departures: DE J.J. Watt, WR Will Fuller V, DL Carlos Watkins, C Nick Martin, LB Benardrick McKinney, LB Tyrell Adams
The Houston Texans' free agency/trade haul is heavy on quantity but low on quality, and their draft class lacks both.
That's what happens when you've buried yourself with poor decisions. They didn't have much money to spend and were handcuffed by Deshaun Watson's legal situation, casting a cloud over the entire offseason.
Houston lost and didn't really replace its top receiver in Fuller, its most legendary defensive player in Watt and the reliable Martin at center. Cannon should help the offensive line, and there's still room for Lawson to live up to expectations as a 2016 first-round pick, but it was mainly spare pieces outside of that. And they inexplicably invested in two more veteran running backs despite David Johnson's presence on the roster.
Collins was a bit of a reach, but he addresses a need in a relatively low-stakes draft slot, and they got great value in the intriguing Jordan in Round 5. It's wild, though, that they had to use their first draft pick on a quarterback after signing a veteran passer in free agency as well.
Just plain ugly.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: QB Carson Wentz, OT Sam Tevi, WR T.Y. Hilton, CB Xavier Rhodes, RB Marlon Mack, OT Julie'n Davenport, S Sean Davis, OT Eric Fisher
Key Draft Additions: Edge Kwity Paye
Key Departures: QB Philip Rivers, LB Anthony Walker, DL Denico Autry, QB Jacoby Brissett, S Tavon Wilson, OT Anthony Castonzo
What happened here?
The Indianapolis Colts entered the offseason with plenty of salary-cap space and decent early draft capital, but they invested in Wentz and then sort of stood on the sideline. Sure, general manager Chris Ballard has never been a big spender on the open market, but if you're going to gamble on Wentz, you'd better support the guy after a horrific 2020 season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Instead, the Colts replaced the retired Castonzo with the backup-caliber Tevi, the barely roster-worthy Davenport and the injured Fisher (he may not be ready for Week 1). They did nothing to replace the departed Walker, they neglected to upgrade a so-so receiving corps, and they didn't touch a mediocre pass rush until landing Paye in Round 1 of the draft.
Thank goodness for that, because Paye is a quality prospect more than worthy of his draft slot. But that doesn't completely compensate for the fact that the Colts just didn't do enough for Wentz. Wentz is a decent bet considering his history with Frank Reich and his ceiling, especially considering they had little to lose with Jacoby Brissett in the QB1 spot, but you can't put it all on Wentz and walk away.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: CB Shaquill Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, WR Marvin Jones Jr., WR Jamal Agnew, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Malcom Brown, OT Cam Robinson
Key Draft Additions: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, CB Tyson Campbell, S Andre Cisco
Key Departures: WR Keelan Cole, DT Al Woods
With all the draft and financial capital they possessed, it would have been hard for the Jacksonville Jaguars to flunk the 2021 offseason.
At times, it felt like they could come close. They overpaid for Griffin, they could regret doubling down on the disappointing Robinson at left tackle, and using a first-round pick on a running back was an especially glaring mistake with undrafted 2020 rookie sensation James Robinson on the roster at a cheap rate.
That said, there's no doubt Griffin, Jenkins, Campbell and Cisco bolster a secondary that was in horrendous shape, and at least they didn't overthink the Lawrence selection at the top of the draft.
Lawrence alone changes their trajectory, and he'll be well-supported by Jones, Robinson, Etienne, DJ Chark Jr. and 2020 second-round pick Laviska Shenault Jr. Meanwhile, the D now has a good mix of experience and tantalizing young talent.
They could have been better with their money, and it's a shame they took Etienne rather than Trevon Moehrig, Christian Barmore, Teven Jenkins or Liam Eichenberg, but it could have been a whole lot worse.
Kansas City Chiefs
Key Additions/Re-Signings: G Joe Thuney, G Kyle Long, Edge Taco Charlton, WR Demarcus Robinson, OT Mike Remmers, OL Andrew Wylie, DT Jarran Reed, S Daniel Sorensen, OT Orlando Brown Jr., C Austin Blythe, CB Mike Hughes
Key Draft Additions: LB Nick Bolton, OL Creed Humphrey
Key Departures: OT Eric Fisher, OT Mitchell Schwartz, RB Damien Williams, RB Anthony Sherman, WR Sammy Watkins, DL Tanoh Kpassagnon
The Kansas City Chiefs could be a case study for why you have to at least wait until the end of April to judge an offseason.
It looked bleak in March when they'd parted ways with veteran offensive tackles Fisher and Schwartz and hadn't re-signed several other key players, including Watkins, center Austin Reiter and cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
But since then, they've bolstered the line completely with Thuney, Brown, Long, Blythe and the rookie second-rounder Humphrey, turning an area of weakness that might have cost them Super Bowl LV into a strength that might have them on track to capture Super Bowl LVI.
Plus, Breeland is still out there, and it wouldn't be surprising if the Chiefs were to bring him back at a fairly cheap rate between now and the start of the 2021 campaign.
Throw in that Bolton was also a quality late-first-round selection who addresses a significant need and add the potentially awesome Reed to the mix, and the Chiefs look as potent as ever.
Las Vegas Raiders
Key Additions/Re-Signings: WR John Brown, RB Kenyan Drake, Edge Yannick Ngakoue, DT Quinton Jefferson, G Richie Incognito, C Nick Martin, DL Solomon Thomas, DL Johnathan Hankins, WR Willie Snead IV
Key Draft Additions: OL Alex Leatherwood, S Trevon Moehrig
Key Departures: OT Trent Brown, C Rodney Hudson, OL Gabe Jackson, WR Nelson Agholor, WR Tyrell Williams, DB Lamarcus Joyner, Edge Takkarist McKinley, S Erik Harris
Is the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line better? Worse? About the same after swapping out Brown, Hudson and Jackson for Martin and Leatherwood? It's pretty tough to argue that unit is better off now than it was in 2020, and it was a pretty strong area for Las Vegas last season.
Why mess with it like that? A lack of continuity could be a problem for quarterback Derek Carr and the offense in general, and Leatherwood was widely considered a reach anyway in the No. 17 overall slot.
At least they got good value for Moehrig in Round 2, and the front office deserves credit for the Ngakoue and Thomas additions because they have primo playmaking ability up front. The Raiders defense has the ability to become very good very soon, but the offense has taken a step backward, and overpaying Drake when you already have good backs in Josh Jacobs and Jalen Richard is ridiculous.
Plus, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock also reached several more times later in the draft (third-rounders Malcolm Koonce and Divine Deablo were ranked way lower than their draft slots on the final B/R Scouting Department big board).
Altogether, it's been a discouraging offseason in Vegas.
Los Angeles Chargers
Key Additions/Re-Signings: C Corey Linsley, TE Jared Cook, OT Matt Feiler, CB Michael Davis, CB Ryan Smith
Key Draft Additions: OT Rashawn Slater, CB Asante Samuel Jr., WR Josh Palmer, TE Tre' McKitty, Edge Chris Rumph II
Key Departures: TE Hunter Henry, LB Denzel Perryman, LB Nick Vigil, S Rayshawn Jenkins, G Dan Feeney, G Sam Tevi, CB Casey Hayward
This Los Angeles Chargers team has its priorities straight.
It completely bolstered the offensive line for young quarterback Justin Herbert by adding Linsley and Feiler in free agency and then landing Slater in Round 1. Now, a longtime liability has become a strength.
The 34-year-old Cook obviously doesn't have as much upside as the guy he's replacing, but he's been steady for a long time and is more durable than Henry. He scored 16 touchdowns the last two seasons with the New Orleans Saints.
The defense took a minor hit in losing Perryman and Hayward, but Samuel is an exciting second-round addition and Rumph presents solid value out of Round 4. He should be able to team up with Uchenna Nwosu to replace the still-unsigned Melvin Ingram III opposite Joey Bosa on the edge.
It's an exciting time to be a Chargers fan.
Los Angeles Rams
Key Additions/Re-Signings: QB Matthew Stafford, Edge Leonard Floyd, WR DeSean Jackson
Key Draft Additions: WR Tutu Atwell, LB Ernest Jones, DL Bobby Brown III, Edge Earnest Brown IV
Key Departures: QB Jared Goff, S John Johnson III, CB Troy Hill, Edge Samson Ebukam, TE Gerald Everett, RB Malcolm Brown, DE Morgan Fox, WR Josh Reynolds, G/C Austin Blythe, DE Michael Brockers
The cap-strapped and draft-capital-limited Los Angeles Rams once again had their hands tied in March and April, but there's a chance Stafford will excel in a new environment under Sean McVay. Regardless, Goff wasn't getting it done, so that's a positive move in a tough spot.
Adding Jackson and Atwell to the receiving corps helps, but the diminutive second-round pick is a questionable addition with Terrace Marshall Jr. on the board.
At least Jones and both Browns address key needs within the defensive front seven, and Brown IV presented good value as a fifth-round selection with a lot of upside. It wasn't a horrible draft under the circumstances, and the upgrade from Goff to Stafford could make up for some of those free-agent losses.
Still, it's hard to argue they're a better team without Johnson, Hill, Brockers, Ebukam, Everett, Reynolds and Blythe. They appear to be headed in the wrong direction.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: WR Will Fuller V, QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Malcolm Brown, CB Justin Coleman, DT Adam Butler, LB Vince Biegel, K Jason Sanders, LB Elandon Roberts, LB Benardrick McKinney
Key Draft Additions: WR Jaylen Waddle, Edge Jaelan Phillips, S Jevon Holland, OL Liam Eichenberg, TE Hunter Long
Key Departures: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, OL Ted Karras, DT Davon Godchaux, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Shaq Lawson, OT Julie'n Davenport
The Miami Dolphins are taking a bit of a chance, essentially replacing Van Noy and Lawson with the intriguing but obviously unproven Phillips on the edge, but they still have plenty of other options there and have now loaded up at wide receiver while adding to the offensive line in support of sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Tua's line could use some more experience but is now stacked with young talent, the pass-catching corps is one of the best in the league with Fuller, Waddle and Long joining DeVante Parker, Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki, and Holland at least brings competition to the somewhat weak safety spot even if it would've been wise to take Trevon Moehrig in that draft slot.
Throw in Coleman in the slot and Roberts and McKinney at linebacker, and this has been an exceptional offseason for a team that has more or less completed its rebuild and should contend in 2021. Now, it all has to come together for Tagovailoa, the extremely young line and offensive and defensive units that will be adjusting to a lot of changes.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: G Mason Cole, Edge Stephen Weatherly, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, LB Nick Vigil, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Mackenzie Alexander, S Xavier Woods
Key Draft Additions: OT Christian Darrisaw, LB Chazz Surratt, IOL Wyatt Davis, Edge Patrick Jones II
Key Departures: LB Eric Wilson, TE Kyle Rudolph, OT Riley Reiff, Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo, S Anthony Harris
If Darrisaw and Davis can hit relatively early for the Minnesota Vikings offensive line, this offseason will be a complete success regardless of the fact that they could miss Wilson, Odenigbo and Harris on defense.
At least they might also have replacements for Wilson in Surratt and Harris in Woods, although neither is likely to fill the shoes they're tasked with stepping into. And they're banking heavily on a healthy return from top pass-rusher Danielle Hunter, with only Weatherly and Jones providing support. Weatherly is not an ideal starter, and Jones might need time.
That said, Darrisaw and Davis were tremendous value picks in Rounds 1 and 3, respectively, and the cap-strapped Vikes have at least kept themselves in a position to compete if quarterback Kirk Cousins and star back Dalvin Cook can excel in 2021.
Plus, even with Harris gone, the secondary looks stauncher on the whole.
New England Patriots
Key Additions/Re-Signings: TE Jonnu Smith, Edge Matthew Judon, DT Davon Godchaux, DB Jalen Mills, TE Hunter Henry, WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Nelson Agholor, OL Ted Karras, LB Kyle Van Noy, QB Cam Newton, C David Andrews, RB James White, DL Lawrence Guy, DL Henry Anderson, OT Trent Brown
Key Draft Additions: QB Mac Jones, DL Christian Barmore, Edge Ronnie Perkins
Key Departures: OL Joe Thuney, DT Adam Butler, S Patrick Chung, RT Marcus Cannon, WR Julian Edelman, Edge Brandon Copeland
The New England Patriots might have been able to do more to address the quarterback position this offseason, but that's really the only reason they didn't earn an "A+" after loading up on both sides of the ball in free agency and the draft.
Whether they start Newton or Jones at quarterback, they'll be in a lot better shape with Smith and Henry at tight end and Brown back at right tackle. Will they miss Thuney? Sure, but they at least re-signed Andrews and brought back Karras after a one-year stint in Miami. Ditto for Van Noy, who along with Judon, Godchaux and Anderson should bolster a defense that was already in fine shape.
Speaking of that D, Barmore was a steal outside of Round 1 and gives them yet another weapon up front, as does the intriguing Perkins from Round 3.
It would have been nice to see them land Stafford or Darnold at quarterback because Newton is done, but kudos to Bill Belichick and Co. for bringing in the pro-ready Jones without moving up in Round 1. He looks like a good fit, and that's the icing on the cake for a team that looks primed to contend again in 2021.
New Orleans Saints
Key Additions/Re-Signings: QB Jameis Winston, OT James Hurst, S Marcus Williams, CB P.J. Williams, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon
Key Draft Additions: Edge Payton Turner
Key Departures: QB Drew Brees, WR Emmanuel Sanders, TE Jared Cook, TE Josh Hill, Edge Trey Hendrickson, DT Malcom Brown, DT Sheldon Rankins, CB Janoris Jenkins
It's inevitably going to become increasingly difficult for the New Orleans Saints to remain a perennial Super Bowl contender. Not only is the Drew Brees era over, but they've been in cap purgatory with limited draft capital in recent offseasons, and this one is no different.
At least they brought back Winston to compete with Taysom Hill, and at least they somehow found a way to tag the underrated Williams, but Cook and Hendrickson won't be easy to replace, and they're also down two veteran defensive tackles as well as Jenkins in the secondary.
Losing Brees isn't on them, but years of mortgaging the future to make Super Bowl runs has left them in a tough spot now that he's retired. Factor in that Turner looks like a tremendous reach late in Round 1 and that the rest of their 2021 draft class doesn't look like it'll make much of a difference right off the bat, and it's hard to see the Saints hanging around unless Winston or Hill takes a huge step forward.
They get credit for keeping it together this offseason, but there's no way this can be a positive grade.
New York Giants
Key Additions/Re-Signings: WR Kenny Golladay, DE Leonard Williams, CB Adoree' Jackson, TE Kyle Rudolph, RB Devontae Booker, Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo, WR John Ross, QB Mike Glennon, DT Danny Shelton, LB Reggie Ragland, TE Kelvin Benjamin
Key Draft Additions: WR Kadarius Toney, Edge Azeez Ojulari, CB Aaron Robinson
Key Departures: G Kevin Zeitler, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Edge Kyler Fackrell, LB David Mayo
I'm all for the New York Giants pushing every chip in ahead of a make-or-break season for third-year quarterback Daniel Jones, who has a loaded arsenal with Golladay, Toney, Ross and Rudolph joining Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram.
They also collected an extra first-round pick next year by trading down before selecting Toney in Round 1, but that pick is still curious with Rashod Bateman on the board, and it would have made sense to see them add some talent and/or experience to an offensive line that struggled in 2020 and lost Zeitler.
There's a lot of young talent there, though, and the defense should be better with Jackson, Odenigbo and the awesome second-rounder Ojulari joining the fray up front and on the back end.
The Giants have at least positioned themselves to make a run if key cogs Saquon Barkley and Nate Solder can return to form and Jones can take off in Year 3.
New York Jets
Key Additions/Re-Signings: Edge Carl Lawson, WR Corey Davis, LB Jarrad Davis, RB Tevin Coleman, DT Sheldon Rankins, WR Keelan Cole, DB Lamarcus Joyner, TE Tyler Kroft, S Marcus Maye
Key Draft Additions: QB Zach Wilson, OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, WR Elijah Moore, RB Michael Carter
Key Departures: QB Sam Darnold, DL Henry Anderson, WR Breshad Perriman, Edge Tarell Basham
The New York Jets might have their quarterback of the future in Wilson, but it's concerning that they fell so hard so quickly for a potential one-year wonder who faced weak competition at BYU with Trey Lance and Justin Fields still available.
They could have a long-term offensive line starter in Vera-Tucker, but they paid a huge price there to move up for a player they may have been able to land with their original second first-round pick. That cost them depth when they handed two third-round picks over to the Vikings, who landed the similarly hyped Christian Darrisaw in Gang Green's spot.
So those selections could be problematic, but there's no doubt they're better off at quarterback and along the offensive line now than they were in 2020, and both Moore and Carter should help the offense immediately coming out of Rounds 2 and 4, respectively.
That's enough for them to earn a positive grade, and Lawson, Joyner, both Davises and the return of Maye all help as well. But they've taken some apparent risks, and they lose points for inexplicably neglecting the massive weakness that is the cornerback position until late in the draft.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: S Anthony Harris, QB Joe Flacco, LB Eric Wilson
Key Draft Additions: WR DeVonta Smith
Key Departures: QB Carson Wentz, DT Malik Jackson, CB Jalen Mills, WR DeSean Jackson, Edge Vinny Curry, LB Duke Riley, LB Nate Gerry
Cutting ties with Wentz is extremely costly for the Philadelphia Eagles, who are gambling that the 2017 MVP candidate truly lost it in 2020 and wasn't just the victim of an aberrational down year. They're paying him $33.8 million to play for the Colts in 2021, and immediate replacement Jalen Hurts is a wild card.
Of course, they could have had Justin Fields when they traded up for the 10th overall pick. Instead, they took Smith, who brought decent value in that spot but was also the team's second first-round selection at the receiver position in as many years.
Can they really afford that?
And speaking of potential aberrations, Harris shined with six interceptions in 2019 with Minnesota but hasn't stood out in any other season and is on the verge of his age-30 campaign. He and Wilson make the defense better, but they hardly make up for all the talent a cap-strapped Eagles team lost.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, OT Joe Haeg, C B.J. Finney, DL Tyson Alualu, CB Cameron Sutton, LB Vince Williams
Key Draft Additions: RB Najee Harris, TE Pat Freiermuth, OL Kendrick Green
Key Departures: Edge Bud Dupree, CB Mike Hilton, OT Matt Feiler, CB Steven Nelson, OT Alejandro Villanueva, C Maurkice Pouncey
This was never going to be an easy offseason for the cap-crunched Pittsburgh Steelers, but they made it harder on themselves by wasting a first-round pick on a player at the least valued regular position in the sport before using their second-rounder on a backup tight end.
No offense to Harris and Freiermuth, both of whom have high NFL ceilings at their respective positions, but the Steelers have bigger needs in order to protect 39-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger following the losses of Feiler, Villanueva and Pouncey, and Haeg and Finney just aren't going to cut it.
Harris helps, and at least they re-signed Smith-Schuster, but the Steelers offense should be expected to decline in 2021. And the same can be said of a defense that lost three key players and replaced none of them in satisfactory fashion.
A rebuild is on the horizon in Pittsburgh.
San Francisco 49ers
Key Additions/Re-Signings: OT Trent Williams, FB Kyle Juszczyk, C Alex Mack, Edge Samson Ebukam, DT D.J. Jones, S Jaquiski Tartt, CB K'Waun Williams, CB Jason Verrett
Key Draft Additions: QB Trey Lance, RB Trey Sermon, CB Ambry Thomas
Key Departures: Edge Kerry Hyder Jr., CB Ahkello Witherspoon, RB Tevin Coleman, WR Kendrick Bourne, DL Solomon Thomas
If Lance just happened to be on the board when the San Francisco 49ers were on the clock with their original first-round pick, I wouldn't have any qualms with that pick. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn't been durable or reliable and is essentially on a year-to-year deal, while Lance has a much higher ceiling.
But the funny thing is Lance might have been up for grabs in San Francisco's original draft spot (12th overall), and Justin Fields certainly was. Spending three first-round picks and a third-round selection on a quarterback who threw 318 college passes, none of which came against FBS competition and only 30 of which came in 2020, is absurd.
Sermon and Thomas are quality picks who fill needs, and they generally kept the band together in free agency, but the silly and potentially unnecessary risk they took on Lance ruined an otherwise quiet but satisfactory offseason for a team that was in the Super Bowl 15 months ago.
That said, this is a grade that has a lot of room to change over time. It's all about Lance.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: Edge Carlos Dunlap II, RB Chris Carson, G Gabe Jackson, Edge Kerry Hyder Jr., TE Gerald Everett, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, C Ethan Pocic, OT Cedric Ogbuehi, G Jordan Simmons, Edge Benson Mayowa
Key Draft Additions: WR D'Wayne Eskridge, CB Tre Brown, OL Stone Forsythe
Key Departures: CB Shaquill Griffin, TE Jacob Hollister, TE Greg Olsen, RB Carlos Hyde, WR David Moore, WR Phillip Dorsett II, DT Jarran Reed, CB Quinton Dunbar
The draft additions noted above constitute the Seattle Seahawks' entire 2021 draft class. Not ideal, especially with Griffin and Dunbar getting away and Moore and Reed already off the roster.
Still, Jackson helps the offensive line, which should please the apparently frustrated Russell Wilson, and at least there's some upside with Eskridge and Everett and Witherspoon and Brown essentially battling to replace Moore, Hollister and Olsen in the pass-catching corps and Griffin and Dunbar in the secondary.
Are the Seahawks better overall? Absolutely not, and they'll likely continue to have trouble keeping up with the Cardinals in the NFC West. But that's what you sign up for when you hand a pot of gold to your franchise quarterback.
Nevertheless, that's what you do when you've got a special quarterback, and Seattle did the best it could under tough circumstances this offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Key Draft Additions: Edge Joe Tryon, QB Kyle Trask
Key Departures: OT Joe Haeg, CB Ryan Smith
The defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost no difference-makers and gained no players who should be expected to make an impact in 2021. And that includes a draft class that added depth but doesn't include any likely rookie starters.
Ordinarily, a "neutral" offseason like that wouldn't be worthy of an "A" grade, but the Bucs had in-house free agents up to their chin. It's a football miracle that they were able to keep everyone and gain the luxury of being able to take a quarterback on Day 2 of the draft.
Repeating is tough in this league. Hasn't happened in a decade-and-a-half for a reason, and it usually requires getting better in the offseason. Tampa Bay didn't do that on paper, but the roster is loaded with young talent who should continue to improve on both sides of the ball.
The Buccaneers might be an exception to the rule.
Key Additions/Re-Signings: Edge Bud Dupree, DL Denico Autry, OT Kendall Lamm, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Kevin Johnson, WR Josh Reynolds, LB Jayon Brown
Key Draft Additions: CB Caleb Farley, OL Dillon Radunz, CB Elijah Molden
Key Departures: TE Jonnu Smith, WR Corey Davis, WR Adam Humphries, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Adoree' Jackson, Edge Jadeveon Clowney, S Kenny Vaccaro
The Tennessee Titans desperately needed pass-rushing help after posting the lowest sack rate in the league last season, and Dupree should help with that. But he's coming off a torn ACL and will cost an average of $16.5 million a year, and they could have had Yannick Ngakoue, Trey Hendrickson, Carl Lawson, Matthew Judon or Haason Reddick for a lot less.
That's far from ideal when you've got as many prime in-house free agents as the Titans, who lost key starters Smith, Davis, Butler and Jackson and didn't do enough to replace those guys on the open market or in the draft.
Jenkins, Johnson, Farley and Molden could transform the secondary, but Jenkins is 32, Johnson has had a disappointing career, Farley enters the league with questions about his durability and technique, and nobody wants to rely on a third-round pick like Molden.
On top of that, they're going to miss Smith, one of quarterback Ryan Tannehill's favorite red-zone targets—there's no way this is a good grade.
Washington Football Team
Key Additions/Re-Signings: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Curtis Samuel, CB William Jackson III, CB Darryl Roberts, WR Adam Humphries, C Tyler Larsen
Key Draft Additions: LB Jamin Davis, OT Samuel Cosmi, WR Dyami Brown
Key Departures: CB Ronald Darby, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Fabian Moreau
Don't tell anyone, but I think Darby (who's making $10 million a year in Denver) is a better player than Jackson (who's making $13.5 million a year in Washington and is a year older). The Washington Football Team was silly to take Davis over Christian Darrisaw, Rashod Bateman and even second-round linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
Oh, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is a ridiculous purchase at $10 million. We all know his ceiling, and it isn't what the WFT should be aiming for based on the talent they have on defense.
They got good value for Cosmi in Round 2, but he's going to need time, and not enough was done in general to boost the offensive line, the receiving depth or the secondary.
Washington didn't get significantly worse, but I'm not sure it got much better, which is a shame because there was room to do exactly that.
Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.