Grading Every NFL Team's Offseason Before the 2022 DraftApril 11, 2022
Grading Every NFL Team's Offseason Before the 2022 Draft
Each NFL offseason seems to get even more unpredictable every year. The sudden availability of franchise quarterbacks has changed the way the league operates. Even thinking of moving on from an average quarterback was too risky for front offices to consider prior to 2021.
The Los Angeles Rams opened the floodgates last year when they traded Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford. The rest of the NFL took notice, and we saw members of the AFC West go berserk with trades and free-agent signings as they look to reach the Super Bowl this season. The standard for what's considered a good team in the AFC has risen dramatically with all of their acquisitions.
Now that free agency has mostly played out and the remaining veterans on the market are holding out until after the draft to find their best opportunity, we have a strong sense of how rosters will look prior to the 2022 NFL draft. It's time to grade all 32 teams' offseasons to this point.
Teams that correctly addressed needs and spent efficiently will earn a higher grade. Those that lost significant talent and failed to fill those holes will be lower. With "C" being average, teams in that grade range are projected to finish with a record similar to their 2021 campaign.
Arizona Cardinals: D
Strapped with limited cap space to use this offseason but a laundry list of needs after years of poor draft hauls, the Arizona Cardinals were set to fail in free agency from the jump. Most teams wouldn't mind losing only two free agents 26 years old or younger, but the Cardinals lost the soul of their defensive identity: Chandler Jones.
Even at 32 years old, Jones is a massive loss in the short term. He totaled 10.5 sacks in 2021 and appeared to be the ideal partner opposite J.J. Watt. With him now gone, the Cardinals will turn to the draft to find his replacement.
It's hard to fault the Cardinals for not re-signing Christian Kirk at $18 million per year, but the receiver position wasn't one of strength and depth anyway. There are simply too many holes to fix on this roster, and the lack of upside signings is alarming.
The 1-4 end to the 2021 season squandered much of the goodwill that was built en route to an 11-6 season. A step back from last year looks likely after this roster got worse. It's fair to wonder whether major changes would come throughout the organization if they're unable to reach the playoffs in 2022.
Atlanta Falcons: B-
The decision to rebuild for the future took the Atlanta Falcons a year too long, as they likely cost themselves some draft equity by failing to make bold moves prior to the 2021 NFL draft. Trading Matt Ryan this offseason for just a third-round pick stings, especially after the Falcons missed out on Deshaun Watson. But the overall direction is a win.
Atlanta avoided paying too much for a bridge quarterback with a modest deal for Marcus Mariota. It also watched solid but non-star contributors Russell Gage and Foyesade Oluokun sign in Tampa and Jacksonville for $10 million and $15 million annually, respectively.
Losing good players hurts, but overpaying for replaceable talent for a team on a losing track is worse.
There wasn't much Atlanta could do about Calvin Ridley's suspension for gambling considering their lack of cap space and the timing of the announcement. They had received trade interest in Ridley but found out he'd be unable to play. Losing him as a trade chip and offensive playmaker was an absolute but unavoidable blow.
The Falcons will focus on giving their rookie class the chance to grow alongside quality veterans like Cordarrelle Patterson and Casey Hayward. Expect a bad year, but there's upside with Mariota and young, low-risk signings taking on larger roles.
Baltimore Ravens: C
It's difficult to remain a contender with an aging roster, and replacing quality veterans cheaply is extraordinarily difficult. Baltimore has a strong roster, but its list of free agents was headlined by players between 30 and 36 years old. Players such as Brandon Williams (33), Josh Bynes (32), Justin Houston (33), Jimmy Smith (33) and Pernell McPhee (33) should be thanked for their service but allowed to walk free.
The franchise wisely avoided running it back with an old roster, but the pressure is on to nail the draft.
The additions of safety Marcus Williams and right tackle Morgan Moses are headlining moves for a team in desperate need of an upgrade at both positions. The lack of a reliable pass-rusher is extremely concerning, though. The change at defensive coordinator from Wink Martindale to Mike Macdonald also figures to put more of a premium on individual talent, since Martindale used blitzes to overcome an otherwise limited set of defenders.
Considering the holes left on the roster and the failure to sign Lamar Jackson to an extension, the Ravens are treading water for now. Their draft class will be more important in 2022 than most contenders. Luckily, this front office has continually drafted well and earned trust.
Buffalo Bills: A-
The benefit of having a young star quarterback and infectious energy around a team only two years removed from advancing to the AFC championship is a draw for free agents. Landing Von Miller was a massive achievement for the Buffalo Bills considering his affinity for Los Angeles and Denver alike. He was exactly what this defense needed to get over the hump in 2022.
Value signings like Rodger Saffold, Jamison Crowder, DaQuan Jones, O.J. Howard, Duke Johnson and Isaiah McKenzie filled out an impressive list of transactions on a budget. The Bills were able to get better at the majority of positions they needed to without spending way too much. This franchise still has flexibility for the future.
The second cornerback spot and defensive tackle need more talent injected into them as the draft approaches. It's not time to panic yet over these areas, though. This staff has shown it can unearth decent stopgap talent from late-rounders or cheap veterans if it needs to.
Carolina Panthers: C+
The primary goal of the Carolina Panthers offseason was to acquire a viable long-term quarterback. By whiffing on Deshaun Watson, the Panthers have thus far failed the task that could save the current regime. However, by owning the sixth overall pick in 2022 and a full chest of draft picks in 2023, there are still a few avenues for the Panthers to succeed with a rookie or by trading for a veteran.
Carolina has done a nice job of balancing upgrades along the offensive line and retaining the younger free agents that were set to depart without overspending. Edge-rusher Haason Reddick is the lone notable loss, but paying him $15 million a year would've been tough to swallow while the need for a quarterback still exists. Signing offensive linemen Austin Corbett and Bradley Bozeman was more important.
Smart extensions for receiver DJ Moore and cornerback Donte Jackson headline the Panthers' internal transactions. It's hard to say if the Panthers will be significantly better in 2022 as a result of these moves, though. This team is the perfect fit for a Jimmy Garoppolo trade considering its need for offensive competency and consistency at quarterback.
Chicago Bears: F
It's impossible to be envious of the project new general manager Ryan Poles inherited when he accepted the Chicago Bears job. As appealing as quarterback Justin Fields is, the Bears had an expensive, aging roster that needed an overhaul to become manageable. The decision to trade Khalil Mack for two draft picks was a wise one, but everything that came after that became tougher to stomach.
Losing Allen Robinson II, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and James Daniels for one 2023 compensatory pick is hustling backward for a rebuilding team. If Poles' original plan of signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi for $10 million per year hadn't been nixed because of a failed physical, the Bears would have zero compensatory picks coming in 2023. Poles is paying for some of the sins of the previous regime but it's fair to question signings that negated potential compensatory picks being awarded, such as Nicholas Morrow.
Morrow spent 2021 on injured reserve, so paying him $3 million not only offset the loss of Jakeem Grant in the compensatory pick calculations, but was needless spending on an unproven player likely with a limited market.
The pathway to improving was to shrewdly acquire fliers with upside in free agency, as the Bears don't have a first-round pick this year. While receiver Byron Pringle and corner Tavon Young qualify, the Bears have the worst starting lineup in the NFL right now.
The lack of proven blockers, receivers and defensive line talent is glaring. That means the Bears will have burned through two years of Fields' rookie deal by the end of 2022. There will be immense pressure on the front office to reach competency next year following the inactivity this offseason.
Cincinnati Bengals: A
The edict in Cincinnati entering this offseason was clear: protect Joe Burrow significantly better than in 2020 and 2021. After signing Alex Cappa, La'el Collins and Ted Karras, the Bengals not only accomplished the goal but hit home runs without spending more than necessary. Three new starters known for their pass-blocking will completely change Burrow's comfort level in the pocket.
The Bengals also recovered from the loss of tight end C.J. Uzomah by grabbing former Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst for less than half the annual price. The only other notable departure is defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi. He's still on the market after failing a physical with the Bears.
Entering the draft with needs at defensive tackle and cornerback is much more manageable than several offensive line deficiencies. Trying to repeat their Super Bowl run will be difficult with the AFC gaining more stars. However, the Bengals have done as much as they can to give themselves a realistic shot.
Cleveland Browns: A-
The Cleveland Browns have only made two notable moves thus far this offseason, but they'll continue to be a hot topic around the league for years to come. The decision to trade three first-round picks and more for quarterback Deshaun Watson will be questioned until the star gets past his legal issues and delivers wins deep in the playoffs. However, at least in terms of on-field impact, going from Baker Mayfield to Watson is an incredible upgrade.
Trading a fifth-round pick for Amari Cooper was another aggressive move considering Cooper's $20 million salary. It made sense to secure Cooper after Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry departed over the last five months. Bringing Landry back has been talked about and would make sense for the right price.
There are still outstanding questions about what will happen with Mayfield and looming extensions for Denzel Ward and David Njoku. The Browns must also add talent at defensive tackle and edge-rusher. But with $20 million in cap space, they are well positioned to acquire veterans to fill those roles for 2022 and figure to be a major factor in the playoff race this fall.
Dallas Cowboys: D
Instead of taking advantage of a strong roster that needed to upgrade along the margins in order to compete again in 2022, the Dallas Cowboys took a significant step backward. The only thing that went right for the Cowboys is they retained both coordinators despite Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore interviewing for head coaching jobs. Otherwise, the Cowboys self-inflicted a ton of damage to what was a good roster.
The decision to offload Amari Cooper for a fifth-round pick was understandable if the team was sure to reallocate the salary savings elsewhere. Dallas tried but lost receiver Cedrick Wilson, offensive tackle La'el Collins and edge Randy Gregory instead of keeping these valuable pieces. Gregory's departure was especially bad considering he had committed to staying until a contract dispute caused him to sign with Denver.
With their lone notable addition being Dante Fowler Jr., it's hard to see Dallas being a serious threat to advance far into the playoffs in 2022. The Cowboys lack the special playmakers needed to overcome better rosters. We'll look back a year from now and clearly see that 2021 was the team's best chance to win a Super Bowl in a long time.
Denver Broncos: A
After six seasons toiling away with mediocre-or-worse passers since Peyton Manning's retirement, the Denver Broncos of course earned a top grade for acquiring Russell Wilson. The dynamic dual threat immediately makes the Broncos a Super Bowl contender. At 33 years old, Wilson is looking to be the next veteran who sees massive success with the franchise.
There was a stretch in 2021 after Wilson's premature return from a gruesome finger injury when some doubted his effectiveness. However, he quelled concerns by ending the season with nine touchdowns and one interception over his last three games. The Broncos, flush with receiving depth and a quality offensive line, will have a drastically better offense with Wilson.
Signing free agents Billy Turner, D.J. Jones, K'Waun Williams and Randy Gregory remedies the rest of the roster concerns. Each is average or better in their respective role.
Watch for Denver to be an extremely dangerous team in 2022.
Detroit Lions: B
Knowing the state of your roster and realistic ability to get better in free agency goes a long way toward winning the offseason. Winning free agency is relative, and for Detroit, it needed to make calculated investments without splurging on shiny names who are unlikely to push the team over the top. The organization accomplished this goal.
Bringing back Charles Harris and Tracy Walker at reasonable rates was an impressive feat considering how each developed under this staff in 2021. With only a handful of external free agents added to the team, the key is getting the most out of receiver DJ Chark Jr. and corner Mike Hughes. Chark has Pro Bowl upside with his speed and athleticism, and Hughes has had brilliant moments interrupted by inconsistent stretches.
The draft remains the key pipeline for the Lions in 2022 and beyond. By trimming some fat contracts like Trey Flowers', this franchise appears to be heading in the right direction. Whomever they select with the second and 32nd overall picks will go a long way toward shaping their future.
Green Bay Packers: C-
The Green Bay Packers offseason was obviously rough after losing key pieces Davante Adams and Za'Darius Smith. It's impossible for the Packers to replace Adams' impact in 2022 despite the haul of draft picks received from Las Vegas. Even considering these departures, Green Bay avoided a worst-case scenario when Aaron Rodgers re-signed for three more years.
Adams' desire to leave plays a part in this grade. Getting a first- and second-round pick in return for the veteran is a great haul. Clearing his cap hit also allowed the team to retain Preston Smith, De'Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas.
The offense's identity will be tied to an unknown cast of newcomers. Keeping Robert Tonyan and Randall Cobb are nice, but Tonyan is coming off a torn ACL and Cobb had just 375 yards in 2021. Losing Marquez Valdes-Scantling in addition to Adams means Allen Lazard and a rookie will need to be ready to assume large roles on offense.
It's hard to envision the Packers being a top seed again in 2022 or even being a serious contender after losing Adams, but they'll be competitive. Winning the NFC North will give them a shot to progress in the playoffs. Once again, Green Bay's path for improvement will be through the draft.
Houston Texans: D+
Getting a haul headlined by three first-round draft picks for controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson was certainly nice for a front office desperate to move on from the relationship. Houston's rebuild is set up nicely, especially if quarterback Davis Mills ends up being an above-average starter over the remaining three years of his rookie deal. But the rest of the Texans offseason has been unimpressive.
The decision to fire head coach David Culley just to hire Lovie Smith was dubious at best. The Texans hadn't interviewed Smith until right before hiring him, supposedly after they had already narrowed their search down to two others. Their process has been baffling for two straight coaching searches.
It's hard to praise their free-agent haul as well. Their only notable acquisitions are running back Marlon Mack (who suffered a torn Achilles in Week 1 of 2020) and 30-year-old guard A.J. Cann. Allowing safety Justin Reid to depart for nothing was a blunder for a roster needing young talent.
The Texans' vision must come together quickly with their 2022 draft class, or else ownership must reevaluate whether this current regime has any clue what it's building.
Indianapolis Colts: B
The Indianapolis Colts have improved this offseason simply by swapping out Carson Wentz for Matt Ryan. The level of consistency, reliability and professionalism within the building made a massive jump. Ryan played well in 2021 despite fetching only a third-round pick and turning 36 years old. Acquiring him was a no-brainer considering the cost.
General manager Chris Ballard did well in trading inconsistent cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to Las Vegas for Yannick Ngakoue to help his pass rush. Signing former Raiders corner Brandon Facyson was also a shrewd move as he searched for value at the position. The rest of their haul leaves something to be desired.
The remainder of the Colts' free-agency period is "to be determined." Bringing back veteran left tackle Eric Fisher and receiver T.Y. Hilton would shore up concerns at key positions, although receiver must be addressed through the draft either way. The Colts aren't a true contender but raised their ceiling this season with their moves so far.
Jacksonville Jaguars: B
Once again, the Jacksonville Jaguars flexed their spending power in free agency. Armed with the most cap space in the league despite multiple massive investments over the last decade, the Jaguars were anything but frugal. In total, Jacksonville guaranteed $155.25 million in multiyear deals.
The offensive line will be better with Brandon Scherff added and Cam Robinson retained. The receiver room improved after acquiring Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram. The defense will benefit from key additions Foyesade Oluokun, Folorunso Fatukasi and Arden Key.
However, the money matters for these deals, too. The Jaguars completely reset the linebacker and receiver market by recklessly throwing cash at the top names. 2022 will be better for this franchise, but some of these top deals will likely look worse over the next 24 months.
Kansas City Chiefs: D+
The Kansas City Chiefs team we've gotten used to seeing over the last four years is no more. With the departures of Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu and the Chiefs opting for more conventional players like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the creativity in Kansas City will die. Simplicity simultaneously makes things easier on the coaching staff but also increases the pressure on players to be reliable.
The offense will need to be more timing-based than reliant on unstructured creation from Patrick Mahomes to cater to a limited receiving corps without Hill. The defense will no longer have a chess piece in Mathieu who can line up all over. Justin Reid is very good in his role but lacks the game-breaker upside.
Losing Hill hurts more than Mathieu based on where each is in their respective careers. But the glaring issue with the Chiefs offseason is the lack of other acquisitions. General manager Brett Veach has ignored the defensive line and cornerback despite massive needs at those critical positions.
It's bad enough that the Chiefs should be penciled into fourth place in the division heading into the draft.
Las Vegas Raiders: A
Faced with the options of either bowing down to the rest of the AFC West or loading up to face it head-on, the Las Vegas Raiders welcomed the street fight. They deserve the utmost respect for their heavy investment in a roster that clawed its way into the playoffs last year. New head coach Josh McDaniels has immediately made his mark.
Headlining acquisitions Davante Adams and Chandler Jones are obvious names worth pointing out. They address the two weakest links on this team in 2021. Both the offense and defense received as significant an individual upgrade as they possibly could.
The front office also has to be commended for the depth and youth it added to the defense. Twenty-seven-year-old linebacker Jayon Brown and 28-year-old cornerback Anthony Averett are upside signings who can invigorate the unit. Look for the Raiders to be much more versatile and explosive in 2022.
Los Angeles Chargers: B+
If bold moves were the name of the offseason, the Los Angeles Chargers are certainly at the forefront. L.A. opted for expensive star power over efficiently plugging holes in the defense. Trading for Khalil Mack and signing J.C. Jackson and Austin Johnson erased massive needs on that side of the ball.
The win-now approach continued with the Chargers' investment in the passing game. The team overpaid receiver Mike Williams at $20 million a year before replaced aging tight end Jared Cook with the unproven but intriguing Gerald Everett. Los Angeles is better today than it was three months ago, but it came at a high cost.
Questions still remain at key positions, as the roster lacks a clear third receiver and starting right tackle. The draft now has major implications for the Chargers, who have had a strong but not quite perfect offseason so far.
Los Angeles Rams: D
It's hard to evaluate the Rams offseason without wondering what the reigning Super Bowl champions are doing. Losing Von Miller, Darious Williams, Austin Corbett, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Sebastian Joseph-Day is huge. The Rams took zero steps to replace them.
Instead, they opted to fill holes they created. Signing Allen Robinson II to then trade Robert Woods was a sign of a shift in offensive strategy, but it also allocated money to a position that wasn't in need at the start of the offseason. The only clear upgrade came when linebacker Bobby Wagner joined from the rival Seahawks.
There's now immediate pressure to figure out the second cornerback and pass-rusher spots. Maybe 2021 fourth-round corner Robert Rochell and 2020 third-round edge-rusher Terrell Lewis are ready for the spotlight. If they're not, the Rams are in for a bumpy road in their quest to repeat.
Miami Dolphins: A
At the end of the 2021 season, few would have guessed the Miami Dolphins would have hired a new head coach and added Tyreek Hill to the roster during the first waves of free agency. The aggressive decision to move on from Brian Flores makes sense after seeing Miami fully invest in its offense around Tua Tagovailoa. New head coach Mike McDaniel knew the unit needed high-upside stars to compete.
Miami acquired arguably the two best available players at their respective positions this offseason in Hill and left tackle Terron Armstead. After adding those two along with keeping Emmanuel Ogbah and Mike Gesicki, restructuring Xavien Howard and signing Cedrick Wilson, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Connor Williams, the Dolphins have a much higher ceiling in 2022. It was worth spending their first two 2022 picks and $180 million guaranteed on that group.
There's still a possibility that Tagovailoa won't take a notable step forward despite the improved scheme and surrounding cast in 2022. However, the Dolphins have the assets to either double down on Tua or find an alternative option in 2023. Even the decision to sign Teddy Bridgewater will help insulate against another Tua injury or a surprising lack of growth, as Bridgewater is a proven capable stopgap starter.
Miami declined to play it safe and appears massively improved.
Minnesota Vikings: B
As the rest of the NFC seemed to slide backward because of cap constraints and unhappy stars fleeing to the AFC, the Minnesota Vikings stood pat and maintained most of their talent from 2021. Betting on the impact of a new coaching staff and full offseason to regain their health isn't a bad strategy. The Vikings could have sold off their talented veterans but opted to be a much more relevant team.
Adding defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Jordan Hicks will solidify a rebuilt front seven that had grown stale. The offense will largely look the same in terms of talent, but a fresh system from head coach Kevin O'Connell can do wonders to elevate the unit.
The draft could go in many directions now that Minnesota has addressed most of its immediate weaknesses. That general freedom is a luxury for now. A star corner or pass-rusher would be the cherry on top of this offseason.
New England Patriots: D-
One year after spending the most money in free agency we've ever seen from the typically frugal franchise, the Patriots were limited to minor moves and re-signing their own this offseason. The timing couldn't have been worse as the rest of the AFC continued to make substantial moves to improve. Meanwhile, New England's 2021 spending spree on specific scheme fits continued to age poorly.
Keeping veterans Devin McCourty and Trent Brown was nice, and trading for DeVante Parker slightly raised the receiving room's talent level. The losses are much more painful, though. J.C. Jackson walked away to a fellow AFC contender, and offensive linemen Shaq Mason and Ted Karras departed for just a fifth-round pick between the two. New England unnecessarily made its job that much harder.
Making matters worse is the list of personnel departing Bill Belichick's staff over the last three years. Josh McDaniels (former offensive coordinator) and Dave Ziegler (former director of player personnel) left for Vegas. Mike Reiss of ESPN reported that Matt Patricia and Joe Judge will have roles with the offense, but going from an elite offensive coordinator in McDaniels to the Patricia-Judge duo is questionable at best.
Climbing the regular-season mountain into the playoffs is difficult enough, but New England has made its trek next to impossible this offseason.
New Orleans Saints: B-
Everyone knew the day would come when the constant cap restructures and manipulation would cost the New Orleans Saints some talent. That day came in 2022 even as the franchise found itself as a finalist to land Deshaun Watson via trade. It's impressive New Orleans was even in the mix, and this grade would be dramatically higher had Watson chosen New Orleans.
Instead, Watson opted for Cleveland and Terron Armstead quickly signed with Miami. Losing Armstead isn't disastrous considering his injury history, but when coupled with the departures of Sean Payton and Marcus Williams, it's easy to forecast a lower ceiling for 2022 than 2021. There's a lot riding on new head coach Dennis Allen and Jameis Winston's recovering ACL.
Nevertheless, New Orleans could have a relatively simple path to an NFC wild-card spot. Allen should be able to maintain the defense's performance level, and retaining offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael should ease any transition concerns. And don't forget the return of star receiver Michael Thomas from ankle surgery will be a welcome boost to the offense.
New York Giants: C
Unable to spend in free agency after the disastrous spree former general manager Dave Gettleman went on throughout his tenure, the Giants needed to retain any reasonable contributor they could afford and then add depth wherever possible. By keeping Sterling Shepard, Blake Martinez and signing right guard Mark Glowinski, the Giants succeeded. This offseason is more about the team's two first-round picks (No. 5 and No. 7 overall).
Future flexibility is critical for the Giants as decisions loom on quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley. Evaluating Jones in the 11 games he played was challenging on account of the limited offensive line, poor offensive scheme and seemingly endless number of injuries to his playmakers. New head coach Brian Daboll will benefit from using one or more of the Giants' top picks on blockers.
The only other path the Giants could have taken was to sell off their veterans for the most draft capital. Barkley, James Bradberry and even Kenny Golladay may have fetched Day 3 picks. Instead of trying to replace them with risky draft picks from a weak class, the Giants have to hope each plays at a high level in 2022 and contributes to wins.
New York Jets: B+
Most bad teams have a considerable number of immediate needs to fill, and imagining how to address them in a single offseason can be overwhelming. The New York Jets, with the fourth-youngest roster in the league last year, couldn't justify chasing veterans at every unproven position before their recent draft investments have a chance to develop.
Alternatively, the Jets augmented positions that were clearly lacking. Despite their failed pursuit of Tyreek Hill, the Jets landed some serious talent at critical positions. Cornerback D.J. Reed has elite potential and headlines a list of quality starters.
Guard Laken Tomlinson, tight end C.J. Uzomah, safety Jordan Whitehead and tight end Tyler Conklin figure to take on major roles right away. Quarterback Zach Wilson theoretically has everything he needs now to lead a decent offense. And head coach Robert Saleh nearly has the talent required for an effective defense.
Adding the right pass-rusher and a receiver in the draft would cap off a strong offseason.
Philadelphia Eagles: C
No team had the draft capital to make a move for an established star quarterback quite like the Philadelphia Eagles. But as much as the Eagles publicly backed Jalen Hurts, they never had a chance at Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson. The fact that they're meeting with all of the top quarterback prospects indicates they're still exploring their options.
Even without an upgrade under center, the Eagles have maneuvered nicely with two key moves. Signing Haason Reddick fulfills a major need for a pure pass-rusher on a defense that was aging. Then, swapping a 2022 first-round pick for the Saints' 2023 first-round pick and an extra 2024 second-round pick was a great way to maintain flexibility.
Philadelphia's 2022 ceiling rises with a strong rookie class. Having two first-round picks helps a lot, and one figures to be a receiver in the middle of the round. Hurts should have everything he needs to thrive in a make-or-break season.
Pittsburgh Steelers: C-
Refreshing an aging, expensive roster while not completely bottoming out can be difficult without a treasure trove of assets. Pittsburgh did well to add strong schematic fits on defense in cornerbacks Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon and linebacker Myles Jack. The offense has massive question marks, though.
The Steelers raced out in free agency to sign Mitch Trubisky, who threw eight passes in 2021. Had Pittsburgh exercised more patience, it could have landed Matt Ryan for a mid-round pick, Jimmy Garoppolo when the 49ers had no trade leverage or maybe Baker Mayfield if he's released. The only upside to signing Trubisky is the possibility of adding a rookie signal-caller with their first-round pick still exists.
Grabbing guard James Daniels was an excellent signing, and center Mason Cole is serviceable for 2022. More talent is needed along the line, but it's a start toward competency. Pittsburgh will be a nuisance in 2022 because of the defense but is clearly lacking talent where it's needed to reach the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers: C
Getting to the brink of another Super Bowl appearance could have led to a panicked offseason from the San Francisco 49ers. Losing offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and several other assistants were as significant of losses as any players. If Kyle Shanahan's staff can remain the strength of the team and Trey Lance plays well in his second season, the 49ers will again be highly competitive.
The most notable free-agent departures were guard Laken Tomlinson and defensive tackle D.J. Jones. While they were solid players, the 49ers can focus on replacing them at a fraction of the cost their new teams paid. San Francisco lacks major holes, and neither spot is particularly valued in the draft or later in free agency.
On the flip side, adding cornerback Charvarius Ward gives a needed boost of playmaking to what was a mediocre secondary. This team didn't get clearly better and may have missed their window to trade Jimmy Garoppolo for maximum value, but they're also not much worse than 2021. It's been an average offseason.
Seattle Seahawks: D+
The 2022 Seattle Seahawks offseason is far from complete based on what the direction has been thus far. The scary part is if Drew Lock enters the season as a starter and the massive need for two offensive tackles and an edge-rusher aren't properly addressed, Seattle could be in for a disastrous season.
Trading Russell Wilson for a decent package of draft picks, Noah Fant, Lock and 31-year-old Shelby Harris was fine, considering the star quarterback was ready for a change.
Releasing Bobby Wagner without notifying the franchise icon of the decision was in poor taste, though, and confusing based on their other investments. Re-signing 29-year-old safety Quandre Diggs and 35-year-old defensive tackle Al Woods but not 25-year-old corner D.J. Reed made little sense. Seattle also compounded their investment into the tight end position after acquiring Fant by re-signing Will Dissly to a three-year, $24 million deal.
The randomness in which the Seahawks operated didn't make them better, and it failed to make sense from a team-building perspective both short-term and long-term.
The team's direction may look better if the Seahawks walk away with a first-round quarterback or veteran after the draft. For now, this looks like a sinking ship with a 70-year-old head coach who is closer to the end of his career rather than preparing for a rebuild.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A
While the Green Bay Packers avoided planning for life without Aaron Rodgers this offseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers believed they had seen the last of Tom Brady for six weeks. Their answer at signal-caller may have been 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask or even Blaine Gabbert. Simply getting Brady back has earned them an "A."
The Buccaneers quickly went into attack mode as soon as Brady unretired. Re-signing receiver Chris Godwin, center Ryan Jensen, running back Leonard Fournette and cornerback Carlton Davis were key moves. Adding receiver Russell Gage and trading for guard Shaq Mason further strengthened their resume.
The surprise retirement of Bruce Arians is a bit of a blow in the big picture since there's more pressure on Todd Bowles to manage the staff and run the defense. Arians was known for letting his coordinators work independently of him, and Bowles' previous experience as a head coach will help ease the transition. How Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich operate without Arians could either become a nonissue or massive storyline depending on the performance of their units.
With the Rams and Packers taking clear steps backward, the Bucs have made the early argument to be the NFC favorite in 2022. Brady's reign of terror isn't quite over yet.
Tennessee Titans: C
Treading water in the AFC isn't the line any front office wanted to toe this offseason. There's not a lot Tennessee could have done, though. Their roster had 43 free agents to tend to, a number of whom were older or injured contributors. Retaining who they could was a more affordable route than chasing numerous upgrades.
Keeping star pass-rusher Harold Landry III on a five-year, $87.5 million was the biggest piece of this offseason puzzle. Tennessee did well to not only retain the 26-year-old's services but also to re-sign linebacker Zach Cunningham.
Trading for receiver Robert Woods was a bold bet on the veteran's potential coming off a torn ACL as he just turned 30 years old. Julio Jones didn't work out after injuries zapped his explosiveness. Woods is theoretically a great fit as a versatile No. 2 receiver for Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown if he can fully recover.
Washington Commanders: C+
Considering the reputation that Carson Wentz has created for himself over his last two teams, it's fair to criticize how quickly Washington surrendered several draft picks to acquire the faded star.
Their desperation to simply get an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke was reasonable, even if they may have lost out on more talented leaders who came available later. If nothing else, Wentz is a mediocre presence who raises the floor and ceiling of this team.
The rest of Washington's offseason has been relatively quiet. Replacing Brandon Scherff with Andrew Norwell at left guard may end up being shrewd considering the durability issues Scherff has endured. The only other external addition has been former Bills rotational edge rusher Efe Obada.
The draft will need to bring some help for the offensive line and secondary, but otherwise, the Commanders should be competitive in a middling NFC East division that has no clear favorite. Washington has just as many question marks as Dallas and Philadelphia right now.
It'd be wise for Washington to extend star receiver Terry McLaurin as well. Pushing off negotiations with "F1" will only cost them more money later.