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Grading Every NFL Team's Free-Agency Performance

Alex Ballentine

The first wave of NFL free agency is behind us. Most of the big-market names have determined where they will play next season, and the splashiest moves have been made.  

While the job of a general manager doesn't stop here—the next wave of signings will be important as well—we have enough deals (and cuts) to get a feel for which direction teams are going.

Every squad entered free agency with a different goal. Some entered this period with tons of cash to spend. Others had to get creative to just retain essential talent. 

In evaluating free agency, there are key questions to ask about each team's performance: 

All teams are at different stages. So the bottom line is whether the squad did right by its situation. It's also important to note that free agency is ongoing. In some cases, departures for teams include players who are still on the market and could eventually return.  

Considering all those factors, here's how each organization has done so far.      

                

Lefkoe and Producer Ingber are joined by the hilarious Kyle Brandt to discuss the most important topic of the day: What are the quarterbacks watching online right now, while locked inside their houses? Which Florida QB is watching Tiger King? Who needs the billionaire melodrama of Succession in their lives right now? It's all on display. Plus, they talk to Gabe, the champion of the inaugural Lefkoe Fantasy Gridiron League! Hope everyone's staying safe out there! Check out the latest episode of The Lefkoe Show here

Arizona Cardinals: A-

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

The Cardinals undoubtedly emerged as one of the big winners of the offseason. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury will love the addition of star wideout DeAndre Hopkins via a trade that sent David Johnson to the Houston Texans, but the team's investments in the defense will help it take the next step. 

De'Vondre Campbell (one year, $6 million) led the Falcons in tackles last season, while Devon Kennard (three years, $20 million) has been an underrated edge defender, racking up seven sacks in each of the last two seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Jordan Phillips (three years, $30 million) is an interior defender who can generate pressure inside, even though his 9.5 sacks from last season are misleading. According to Bill Barnwell of ESPN, Phillips had a pass-rushing win rate of 10.1 percent in 2019, which ranked just 71st leaguewide. 

Ultimately, the Cardinals have done a good job of putting pieces around second-year quarterback Kyler Murray. They needed a No. 1 receiver, and it's hard to do better than Hopkins.    

                             

Bottom Line

Arizona added solid defensive pieces who will be a net positive even if they don't play up to the money they'll be paid. They also retained important offensive pieces such as Kenyan Drake and D.J. Humphries. 

They are in position to take a top offensive tackle in the draft at No. 8 overall, and they adequately used their resources to fill most of their needs.     

Atlanta Falcons: B

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

The Falcons weren't in a position to do much in free agency. They entered the market with $3.9 million but they did get a little creative to make some moves in finding a way to upgrade their pass rush.

Vic Beasley Jr. was a disappointment for most of his time in Atlanta, and Dante Fowler Jr. is coming off a career-high 11.5 sacks with the Los Angeles Rams. 

Losing Austin Hooper was inevitable given the tight cap, but they did well to replace him with Hayden Hurst via a trade with the Ravens. Hurst showed promise in Baltimore but was stuck behind Mark Andrews. The 2018 first-rounder will produce right away in the Falcons' third-ranked passing attack. 

Releasing Devonta Freeman—who has struggled with injuries—may have been the Falcons' best move. Freeman was due $21 million in base salary over the next three years, and cutting him created $3.5 million in cap space. Releasing lineman Ty Sambrailo gave them another $3.7 million. That gave them enough room to ink Todd Gurley II to a one-year, $6 million contract. 

Unfortunately, the Falcons weren't able to recoup the losses of De'Vondre Campbell and Desmond Trufant, and they were 20th in defensive DVOA in 2019.             

                 

Bottom Line

It's hard to criticize the Falcons too much, given their limited resources. But they had to let some key guys walk, and releasing Trufant will leave them with more needs in a secondary that ranked 22nd last year and allowed a 96.9 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. 

Baltimore Ravens: A-

John McCoy/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

As a Super Bowl contender, the Ravens should be in win-now mode. As one of the better-run franchises in the NFL, they somehow found a way to also do some building for the future. 

Brockers and Campbell are major upgrades along the defensive line. Campbell is a five-time Pro Bowler who can help push the pocket, while Brockers will help a run defense that was exposed by Derrick Henry in the playoffs. The Ravens' decision to franchise-tag Matthew Judon and re-sign Jihad Ward shows the importance they have placed on the front seven. 

Hayden Hurst is a talented player. The emergence of Mark Andrews last season makes him more valuable to the Falcons, though. Netting a second-round pick in the package for the tight end allows Baltimore to address a position of need higher in the draft. 

     

Bottom Line

The Ravens kept who they needed to (Judon) while upgrading from Michael Pierce and Chris Wormley. They spent money and draft capital to improve the defensive line but ended up with more ammo in the draft by trading away a redundant asset in Hurst. General manager Eric DeCosta wins again.   

Buffalo Bills: A-

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

With Tom Brady leaving New England, the AFC East is more uncertain than ever, and the Buffalo Bills seized the opportunity to become the new favorite in the division. 

The headliner is the trade for Stefon Diggs. It wasn't a steal—they paid for him with their 2020 first-round pick and three other selections. He does, however, fill the need they likely would have used the pick on. He'll provide Josh Allen with a true No. 1 wide receiver as the Bills offense tries to improve upon its 26th-ranked passing attack. 

Most of the other key investments were in a defense that was fourth in yards allowed per play last season. With Allen on his rookie deal and several other key players yet to be extended, the Bills had a ton of cap room and did well to resist spending too much of it and got guys who will make a difference next fall

Mario Addison will be 33 in September, but he has no fewer than nine sacks in each of the last four seasons. Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson will more than make up for the loss of Jordan Phillips on the inside. 

The Bills already have the fourth-ranked secondary, but bringing in Josh Norman on a one-year deal makes their ceiling even higher.        

                                                         

Bottom Line

The Bills had dueling missions this offseason. On one hand, they needed to make enough upgrades to give themselves a chance to win their division for the first time since 1995. On the other, they needed to save the money it's going to take to bring back foundational pieces Tre'Davious White, Allen and Dion Dawkins, whose contracts are all set to expire in the next couple of years. 

Trading for Diggs checks a big box. The additions to the defense should ensure Buffalo doesn't take a step back in 2020.          

Carolina Panthers: C+

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

New head coach Matt Rhule is beginning his tenure by clearly entering rebuild mode. The Carolina Panthers watched a lot of talented players leave this offseason. Many of those were older veterans. Greg Olsen, Mario Addison, Bruce Irvin, Gerald McCoy and Cam Newton are all on the wrong side of 30. 

The Trai Turner-for-Russell Okung trade remains a questionable move. They dealt a 26-year-old guard playing at an elite level for a 32-year-old tackle due $13 million this season. 

They also signed Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal, spelling the end of the Newton era after the former Auburn QB played in just two games last season after suffering a foot injury.  

Bridgewater went 5-0 as a starter when filling in for Drew Brees last year in New Orleans, and he was a promising quarterback in Minnesota before a traumatic knee injury prior to the 2016 campaign. He's earned another shot as a starter, but it's a considerable risk nonetheless.

The acquisition of Robby Anderson kicked things up a notch. He was one of the few receivers available who is a true vertical threat. His presence should help Bridgewater. 

     

Bottom Line

Bridgewater is the fulcrum on which this offseason pivots. Outside of his addition, there isn't much to love. The Panthers lost a lot of talent on their 23rd-ranked defense and didn't do much to make up for it. Boston is a good veteran re-signing, but he's just one guy. 

It might take a while for Rhule to build this team in his image.         

Chicago Bears: D

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

The Chicago Bears were one of the most disappointing players in free agency. When faced with the choice between Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski at linebacker, they opted for the older, less productive Trevathan, and the two went for nearly the same price. 

After the Bears gave Jimmy Graham $16 million over the next two years with a no-trade clause, you have to assume they haven't been paying attention. The former Green Bay Packers tight end had four catches for 30 yards against Chicago last season. His days as an elite option are over. 

Then there's the quarterback position. With plenty of veteran quarterbacks available to push Mitchell Trubisky, the Bears traded for Nick Foles, who has a $15.6 million cap hit in 2020. There is an out in 2021, but spending that much on a guy who will potentially be the backup isn't wise for a team that went 8-8 last season. 

Robert Quinn may be the lone upgrade. He'll likely outproduce the departing Leonard Floyd, who managed just 11.5 sacks over the last three seasons. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and cornerback Prince Amukamara were allowed to walk, while they re-signed Deon Bush and brought in Artie Burns. They'll be fortunate if those moves end up being net neutral.      

               

Bottom Line

It's hard to find the positive. Even their best signing is questionable. They signed the 29-year-old Quinn to a five-year deal. So while he's an upgrade now, the deal may not age well. 

Ultimately, this offseason may come down to Foles. If he beats out Trubisky for the job and the Bears get good quarterback play, they will improve from their 8-8 record. If not, they didn't do a whole lot to help themselves take steps forward next season.              

Cincinnati Bengals: B

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

Let's start with the good. Retaining A.J. Green on the franchise tag was the right call. Presumptive quarterback Joe Burrow will have a legitimate No. 1 receiving option, and the Cincinnati Bengals did not have to commit to the 31-year-old long-term. 

D.J. Reader is Cincinnati's best free-agent signing in recent memory. The team rarely opens the checkbook for proven talent hitting their primes. He will pair with Geno Atkins to create a formidable duo on the inside. 

Trae Waynes is less exciting, and the investment will likely come back to haunt the Bengals. They made him the sixth-highest-paid corner in the league, which is expensive for someone who was Pro Football Focus' 45th-ranked corner last season (h/t Eric Smith of the team's official website). 

Xavier Su'a-Filo (three years, $9 million) and Mackensie Alexander (one year, $4 million) were cheap options who will be good enough to fill important roles next season. 

      

Bottom Line

The Reader signing is exciting, but someone like Joe Schobert would have put this class over the top. Improving its 29th-ranked defense is one of the best things the franchise can do for Burrow under second-year head coach Zac Taylor.

Cincinnati could have done more to upgrade, but it is likely on a multiyear rebuild. It can afford to be a little more patient.            

Cleveland Browns: A

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Browns wasted little time in making big moves. They made Austin Hooper the highest-paid tight end in the NFL, giving Baker Mayfield yet another weapon. Then they made sure they could protect their signal-caller better by inking Jack Conklin to a reasonable contract. 

They let Juston Burris and Eric Murray walk, while Damarious Randall remains unsigned; however, they addressed the safety position with Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo. Cornerback Kevin Johnson should help in the slot. 

Linebacker is the one area where the Browns failed to improve. Joe Schobert would have been an expensive investment, and the team was ready to move on from Christian Kirksey. But B.J. Goodson can only account for so much. The Browns will miss Schobert's coverage ability. 

      

Bottom Line

Hooper's four-year, $42 million contract is the only dubious one from a money standpoint. Once the likes of George Kittle and Travis Kelce get their next deals, there's a good chance that money won't look as bad. Conklin was a great value at three years and $42 million, considering he was the best tackle on the market. 

With a new coaching staff, it makes sense that the Browns have outgoing talent. Head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry will want to bring in familiar guys like Sendejo, who spent time in Minnesota with Stefanski and in Philadelphia with Berry.         

Dallas Cowboys: C

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

Dak Prescott has been the primary storyline in Dallas this offseason, but the Cowboys have had to make major decisions. They spent a lot of their cap space on Amari Cooper, who signed a five-year deal worth $100 million. Prescott, meanwhile, received the exclusive franchise tag as the two sides negotiate a long-term extension. 

A lot of the change has occurred on defense. Byron Jones signed a lucrative deal with the Miami Dolphins, and the Cowboys brought back Anthony Brown, who played just 282 snaps for them last season. 

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a solid signing. Dallas will be his fourth team in the last three seasons, but he'll allow the organization to focus its draft on other needs. Gerald McCoy is still a pass-rushing asset despite being 32. He's a strong replacement for Maliek Collins. 

The area of concern is at receiver and edge defender. Cobb was the third-most targeted pass-catcher last season, and Quinn produced as a pass-rusher with 11.5 sacks. 

      

Bottom Line

The Cowboys needed to bring back Cooper and Prescott, both of whom would have been impossible to replace in the offseason. After that, their moves are harder to appreciate.

Allowing Jones to walk was understandable. They only had so much money to shell out, but adding a cheaper option other than Brown would have helped address their need at the position. Combine that with their losses at receiver and edge defender—and with the retirement of franchise center Travis Frederick—and the Cowboys have less talent than they did last season.      

Denver Broncos: B-

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

Smart teams build in the trenches, and it was important for the Denver Broncos to do so as they move forward with Drew Lock as their quarterback. They did that by signing Graham Glasgow, one of the best interior offensive lineman available. They also traded a seventh-rounder for Jurrell Casey. 

The team lost Chris Harris Jr., but it traded for A.J. Bouye before Harris officially walked. The Broncos franchise-tagged Justin Simmons (four interceptions, 15 pass breakups in 2019), giving themselves extra time to work on a long-term deal. 

Cutting Joe Flacco was important for cap flexibility. The move saved them $10 million against the cap even if it meant $13.6 million in dead money. 

Melvin Gordon III doesn't necessarily address a need—not with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman on the roster—but he came at a good price (two years, $16 million).               

                            

Bottom Line

Prior to the start of free agency, the Broncos sat in the top 10 in projected cap space, so they could have been bigger players. But the moves they did make were good. 

Retaining Simmons while bolstering their offensive and defensive lines and maintaining cap space is a good way to head into the draft. With Drew Lock only entering his second season, they are better off playing the long game rather than spending all of their cash right now. 

Detroit Lions: B-

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

Head coach Matt Patricia put his stamp on the Detroit Lions with these free-agency moves, adding former Patriots Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton. Collins appears to be a good signing, but his lack of results the last time he left New England is a reason for pause. Shelton should provide much-needed run-stuffing after Detroit lost A'Shawn Robinson and Damon Harrison. 

Darius Slay would have been costly, but the Lions got two draft picks for sending him to Philadelphia. Signing Desmond Trufant was a good move to soften that blow. 

There's no way around it. The offensive line got worse. Rick Wagner is by no means a great tackle, but Graham Glasgow was one of the best interior offensive linemen on the market. The Lions replaced Wagner by overpaying for Halapoulivaati Vaitai (five years, $45 million) and didn't get a replacement for Glasgow. 

Duron Harmon is an upside signing who could turn out to be a steal at four years, $17 million. His familiarity with Patricia could make him a guiding veteran presence. 

       

Bottom Line

The Lions should be lauded for investing in their defense, which allowed the second-most yards per game in 2019. They had a lot of outgoing talent but did well to bring in players that Patricia is comfortable with. However, if Collins doesn't pan out, Detroit is short on impact players outside of Trufant, who is already a downgrade from Slay. 

The offensive line will miss Glasgow. Vaitai should be an upgrade over Wagner, but he was never a full-time starter in Philadelphia. A five-year, $50 million deal is a lot to hand out to a player with 20 starts in four seasons.      

Green Bay Packers: C

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Packers were a huge player in free agency last offseason with the signings of Preston Smith, Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner. They are paying for that spending spree this offseason, as they mostly sat free agency out. 

They let linebacker Blake Martinez walk and replaced him with Christian Kirksey. The 27-year-old has played in only nine games over the past two seasons because of multiple injuries, although he's been productive when healthy.

Rick Wagner was the Packers' only other major signing. The former Detroit Lions tackle is not as good as Bryan Bulaga, who signed the Los Angeles Chargers, but he came cheap for an experienced NFL tackle.

      

Bottom Line

If Kirksey can stay healthy, he will be a key player on Packers defense. Wagner is a solid replacement for Bulaga, although Green Bay will lose some substance at the position. 

Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs more passing-game weapons as he continues to age, and the Packers haven't done much on that front. Luckily, there's still some receiving talent on the free-agent market, and this year's draft class is deep in that regard as well.

Houston Texans: D-

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

No team has had a more baffling offseason than the Houston Texans. Trading DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick for David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick is a deal that would end friendships if it was proposed in a fantasy football league.

Not only is Johnson an injury risk, having missed 18 games over the past three seasons, but his production has dropped off and he's expensive. He carries a cap hit of $11.2 million in 2020 and $9 million in 2021. 

Houston also let nose tackle D.J. Reader walk without getting anything in return. He was a key cog in its front seven. 

The Texans did shore up their secondary by extending Bradley Roby and signing Phillip Gaines, Vernon Hargreaves III, Eric Murray and Jaylen Watkins. They shouldn't need to spend much draft capital on that area of the field. 

      

Bottom Line

Given the haul the Vikings got for trading Stefon Diggs, the Hopkins trade is hard to understand. The Vikings landed a first-rounder and three other picks for Diggs. The Texans have to hope Johnson is one of the league's top running backs again for this deal even to come close to working out for them. 

Signing Randall Cobb is a step toward replacing Hopkins, but he was most recently Dallas' No. 3 receiving option. The Hopkins trade and inadequate response makes this offseason the most questionable of all. 

Indianapolis Colts: B-

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The main attraction for the Colts is Philip Rivers. The veteran signed a one-year deal that gives the Colts a proven commodity at the position. Rivers is more turnover-prone than the incumbent Jacoby Brissett, but head coach Frank Reich was once Rivers' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in San Diego. 

Re-signing offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo was key. Had he retired or moved on, the Colts would have struggled to find a similar player for the same cap figure. 

The Colts traded the No. 13 overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, but the cost makes sense. Had they stayed the course and used the pick on that position, they would have been left to hope Javon Kinlaw was still around. Instead, they got the proven version of what Kinlaw could be.

Buckner will cost far more, but he can anchor their defensive line for years to come. 

It's unfortunate that tight end Eric Ebron's relationship with the team seemed to unravel. He had a breakout season in 2018, but a more run-heavy approach left him underutilized in 2019. His departure leaves an opening on the roster for a second tight end, which is an important role in Reich's offense. 

       

Bottom Line

The grade here mostly depends on how you see Rivers vs. Brissett. The former Chargers quarterback is a lot more turnover-prone, but he's an aggressive downfield thrower.

Their respective 2019 stats bear that difference out:

However, the Colts didn't do much to help Rivers. Zach Pascal emerged as a nice complementary receiving option last season, but both Ebron and Devin Funchess left this offseason. 

The Colts front office isn't big on spending in free agency. That's an understandable philosophy, but with plenty of cash and talented receivers on the market, this would have been a good time to invest in the position.

Jacksonville Jaguars: C+

Jason Miller/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

        

Analysis

The Jaguars haven't been all that active in the free-agent market, but they've certainly been working the phones with other teams. They've traded Calais Campbell, Nick Foles and A.J. Bouye for draft picks as they lean further into a rebuild. 

To make up for those losses, they've mostly focused on signing young(ish) free agents. Joe Schobert, who signed a five-year, $53.75 million deal, should bring some athleticism to the linebacking corps. The 26-year-old has the coverage ability that teams covet at the position now. 

Rodney Gunter, 28, is just emerging as an NFL starter. The interior defender had 7.5 sacks over the last two seasons, so he can offer some pass-rushing ability along with his run-stuffing. Darqueze Dennard is also 28, but he's coming off a nine-game season in which he allowed only a 48 percent completion rate when targeted. 

      

Bottom Line

It's important to remember context when grading the Jaguars. Shipping off Campbell or Bouye for draft picks doesn't make sense at first glance, but the Jags aren't trying to win right now.

Bouye will carry a cap hit of around $13.5 million in each of the next two seasons. Campbell is set to make $10 million this season and $15 million next season. Meanwhile, unloading Nick Foles and his massive contract is nothing short of a miracle. 

Instead of paying out those big salaries, the Jaguars will have Gunter for $3.6 million and Dennard for an average of $4.5 million. If you're going to tank, you might as well do it cheaply. 

Yannick Ngakoue is in the "additions" column for now, but he is a candidate to be tagged and traded since he has made it clear that he won't re-sign with the Jaguars. That makes him another asset who will help them stockpile picks. 

The Jaguars haven't improved their outlook for 2020 this offseason, so they can't be graded too highly. However, their moves are at least aligned toward a vision of getting better in 2021.

Kansas City Chiefs: B

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

It's good to be the champs. The Kansas City Chiefs haven't been much of a factor in free agency, yet they will still be among the biggest favorites to hold up the Lombardi Trophy next season. 

The biggest move was franchise-tagging Chris Jones. The defensive tackle is the most disruptive force not named Aaron Donald at his position. Now the Chiefs can either re-sign him to a long-term deal, let him play on the one-year tag or trade him for a massive haul of draft picks. With a record-setting Patrick Mahomes extension likely coming up soon, they may be forced to go with the latter plan. 

For now, bringing him back keeps the pass rush looking title-worthy. The loss of Emmanuel Ogbah will hurt, but he was a complementary player. Bringing back Damien Williams was wise given his production down the stretch as the Chiefs' primary back. 

Mike Remmers was not a great starting tackle for the Giants, but he won't be expected to fill that role in Kansas City. He's a perfectly fine swing tackle and helps with line depth after they lost Stefen Wisniewski.

      

Bottom Line

There isn't a ton to grade here, as the Chiefs already have a Super Bowl-winning roster. Jones was the main issue to address this offseason, and they bought extra time to make a long-term decision by tagging him.

Las Vegas Raiders: A-

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

The Las Vegas Raiders came into free agency with money to spend, and that's exactly what they did. They were 31st in defensive DVOA last season, so they went to work on that side of the ball in particular. 

Gone is Tahir Whitehead, who struggled in coverage last season, and in are two of the most talented linebackers on the market in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. Littleton proved his worth as a three-down linebacker with the Rams, while Kwiatkoski shined in a rotational role with the Bears.

The Raiders didn't stop there. They brought in Maliek Collins on a one-year deal to play his age-25 season in Las Vegas. His age and experience as a starter for Dallas last year make him a candidate for a breakout season. 

They added more of a veteran presence in the secondary with Eli Apple and Jeff Heath, too. The duo will replace Daryl Worley and Karl Joseph, giving the defense close to a total overhaul. 

Offensively, the Raiders didn't make a huge splash, but a few of their signings could be important. Marcus Mariota could do to Derek Carr what Ryan Tannehill did to Mariota in 2019. That is to say, the Raiders might have found their next starting quarterback on a fairly cheap deal. 

Meanwhile, tight end Jason Witten will be a safety blanket for whoever starts under center. He has been for 16 years. Even in his post-retirement second run, he has been a consistent target in the passing game. He'll now bring that to Vegas. 

     

Bottom Line

The Raiders showed good self-awareness to identify needs and took big steps toward filling them. In a division with Hunter Henry, Travis Kelce and Noah Fant, coverage linebackers are important. Signing both Littleton and Kwiatkoski shows the Raiders know that and are building their defense accordingly. 

Taking a shot at Mariota is a perfect compromise of addressing the position without completely giving up on Carr.

Los Angeles Chargers: A-

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

After moving on from longtime starter Philip Rivers, the Chargers are about to embark on a new quarterback era. 

The Chargers did not resort to the free-agent market to replace Rivers. They missed out on Tom Brady. However, they did upgrade the offensive line by trading the aging Russell Okung for Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner. They then replaced Okung with Bryan Bulaga, which gives them an undeniable upgrade up front. 

Franchise-tagging Hunter Henry allows them either to give the tight end a year to prove he can stay healthy and live up to his vast potential or trade him away. 

They also stuck to their guns and let Melvin Gordon III walk after a disappointing holdout-shortened season in 2019. They signed fellow running back Austin Ekeler to a four-year extension, setting up an Ekeler/Justin Jackson backfield next season. 

Chris Harris Jr. highlights the defensive acquisitions. He was one of the best defensive backs available and will play slot corner at a high level. He can also chip in on the outside if necessary. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Linval Joseph is a good-not-great signing. The 31-year-old isn’t what he once was, but he can still provide value for a run defense that was middle-of-the-road last season. 

       

Bottom Line

The Chargers needed to do what they could to prepare for their quarterback transition. Whether it's Tyrod Taylor or a rookie under center next season, protection and weapons will be paramount for the Chargers to have success. They addressed both of those things this offseason. 

Harris and Linval will both contribute to a defense that's looking to take the next step and didn't lose much. 

Los Angeles Rams: D+

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Rams are starting to feel the financial stress of Jared Goff's huge contract. They entered free agency with just over $14 million in cap space and had a number of good players set to hit the market. 

The result was losing Littleton, Fowler and Brockers on defense, among others.

The Rams did try to get back some of what they lost through cheaper deals. They brought in Leonard Floyd, who has a first-round pedigree even if the results in Chicago were uninspiring. A'Shawn Robinson is an analog on the inside. He was a second-round pick for Detroit who has chronically underachieved.

Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was the one incumbent free agent the team was able to bring back. The 38-year-old is four years older than head coach Sean McVay but is still playing at a high level. 

Releasing running back Todd Gurley III created headlines, but it made sense for the Rams. His usage had dwindled, and cap space is precious to L.A. right now. 

      

Bottom Line

The Rams are in a bad cap situation because they had to pay stars. Most of those guys are homegrown talents (Goff, Aaron Donald and Gurley, who will still affect the cap with dead money). They'll have to go through the draft to restock the shelves with talent.

Still, the Rams clearly got worse in free agency. If Robinson and Floyd live up to the money they received, it will be because of the attention Donald and Co. attract in Los Angeles. Those two are more likely to be beneficiaries of good situations than assets in and of themselves. 

Miami Dolphins: A

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Dolphins came into free agency with more money to spend than any other team, and they chose to invest heavily in defense. Head coach Brian Flores, a former defensive coordinator, leaned into his New England roots with the acquisition of Kyle Van Noy, and Miami brought in pass-rushers Emmanuel Ogbah and Shaq Lawson as well. 

The Dolphins' splashiest signing was Byron Jones. They paid out big money (five years, $82.5 million) to get their own lockdown corner and improve their pass defense. 

The offense wasn't as big of a priority, but Miami still made moves to bring it up to speed. Jordan Howard gives the Dolphins a power back after options at the position became thin for them last year. 

Ereck Flowers redeemed some of his value as a guard last season with Washington, but the Dolphins may have overspent on him. They can afford to do that with all the cap space they had this offseason.

      

Bottom Line

The Dolphins figured to be one of the biggest spenders in free agency, and they didn't disappoint. It's easy to like where they spent their money, too. After sporting one of the league's worst defenses at pressuring the quarterback last year, they got multiple players who can help them get after passers in 2020. 

The defense should be much improved after these signings, and Miami still has three first-round picks to fix the offense. 

Minnesota Vikings: D-

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Minnesota Vikings experienced a mass exodus of players this offseason. Some won't be missed. Xavier Rhodes was a liability in the secondary (the 106th-ranked corner, per PFF), and Linval Joseph had been providing diminishing productivity (fewer tackles in each of the last three seasons and only 7.5 combined sacks. However, Everson Griffen was productive as a pass-rusher (35 pressures, eight sacks last season), and the secondary will need to be almost entirely rebuilt.

Tagging Anthony Harris kept at least one foundational piece of the secondary in place. As long as the team doesn't trade him, he will be a stabilizing presence.

Michael Pierce figures to be an upgrade over Joseph. He's a great run-stuffing defensive tackle, but he won't offer a ton of help in the pass rush.

      

Bottom Line

The Vikings made a huge commitment to Kirk Cousins with a two-year extension worth $66 million. He will carry a cap hit of $21 million in 2020, but that number jumps up to $45 million in 2022. That's not a typo.

That kind of obligation tells you the Vikes are all-in on the next few years. But the rest of their moves made Minnesota look like a team in rebuilding mode. It lost a ton of talent on the defense and didn't (couldn't) do much to replace it. Trading Stefon Diggs for a first-round pick would have made sense if the team acknowledged it was rebuilding. It didn't in light of the Cousins extension.

New England Patriots: C-

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

        

Analysis

The loss of Tom Brady was obviously a big deal. More than anything, the New England Patriots are losing the continuity and stability of having the same quarterback for 20 years. But they also took big losses on the defense too.

Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton and Duron Harmon were all key contributors to one of the league's best defenses.

Devin McCourty will be back. He's 32 years old but is still playing at a high level (PFF ranked him eighth at the position in 2019). That move was key for the continued play of what was a good defensive backfield. New England did also get Adrian Phillips to help bolster the secondary and presumably replace Harmon.

Tagging Joe Thuney allowed the Pats to keep one of the best guard combinations in the league with Shaq Mason. That will be important as they try to protect their new quarterback.

Instead of getting in on free-agent options such as Cam Newton and Jameis Winston, New England brought back Brian Hoyer. He will at least provide a veteran option if Jarrett Stidham doesn't perform well.

      

Bottom Line

There isn't a whole lot of long-term value in this class. Thuney has yet to sign beyond his one-year franchise tag. And Hoyer is certainly not a solution at quarterback.

The Brady era was never going to last forever. While it's difficult to label the Patriots a rebuilding team after years of Super Bowl contention, these moves certainly make them look like they're tearing down to shape a new identity.

New Orleans Saints: A-

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The fact that Drew Brees is coming back all but guarantees the New Orleans Saints will once again be a playoff team with Super Bowl aspirations. That Teddy Bridgewater joined the Panthers wasn't great, but he got starter money, and the Saints seem to believe Taysom Hill is the future anyway.

They watched a trio of defenders leave in Vonn Bell, Eli Apple and A.J. Klein, but they retained promising defensive tackle David Onyemata and signed Malcolm Jenkins, who should help at safety.

Andrus Peat's five-year extension might be the only outright negative of what the Saints did. He hasn't been great, and they shelled out a lot of money to keep him. They probably could have found a replacement for much cheaper in the draft.

The bonus signing that puts this class over the top was Emmanuel Sanders. Drew Brees has needed a receiver he can trust outside of Michael Thomas, and Sanders should fit the bill. He recorded 66 receptions, 869 yards and five touchdowns last season.

      

Bottom Line

The Saints did a lot of good work. Other than overpaying Peat, the deals they made were in line with market value. Peat isn't even a bad player, so the signing was justifiable.

They also did a good job of letting their outbound talent walk. The trio of defenders who left won't hurt the defense. Finally, Sanders is the kind of veteran asset who could make a difference down the stretch, and he'll ensure the Saints have one of the best passing games in the league again.

New York Giants: B

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The New York Giants had around $79 million to spend heading into free agency and plenty of needs to fill.

James Bradberry was the marquee signing. He will be a huge upgrade at corner. Then they went to work on the linebacking corps. David Mayo was re-signed after a breakout season in 2019 (13 starts, 82 tackles, two sacks). He has proved to be a valuable run-stuffer who needs to improve in coverage. New York also brought in Blake Martinez to play alongside him.

It was a worthwhile move to bring in edge-rusher Kyler Fackrell. He had a down year with the Packers but recorded 10.5 sacks in 2018. Franchise-tagging Leonard Williams ensured the Giants will see their investment through after they traded for him in October.

The Giants shouldn't be too disappointed with who is leaving. Daniel Jones is the heir to Eli Manning, so his retirement was accounted for. Mike Remmers was not good as a starting tackle, and his replacement, Cameron Fleming, is 27 years old with some upside.

      

Bottom Line

The Giants earned a positive grade because they made some impact signings. The defense should be better next season because of the investments. It is, however, strange they didn't spend more of their money on an edge-rusher and offensive line help.

Those were the two biggest areas of need, and they will enter the third phase of free agency and the draft still looking for help in both regards.

New York Jets: C+

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The New York Jets needed to address the offensive line this offseason. They haven't done a good job of protecting Sam Darnold in his two seasons, allowing 63 sacks in his first 26 games, and keeping him upright should be priority No. 1 next season.

They invested heavily to do just that. They signed George Fant and Connor McGovern for a combined $57 million over the next three years. McGovern was an easy signing to like since he was solid in pass protection for the Broncos (one sack allowed in 2019, per PFF). Fant, on the other hand, was a swing tackle in Seattle, and trusting him as a full-time starter will be a leap of faith.

Greg Van Roten was another solid addition. He gave up only one sack with the Panthers last season, per PFF.

Brian Poole was a bright spot for the Jets secondary in the slot, so bringing him back on a reasonable deal was a good move. Jordan Jenkins was another important re-signing. He led the team in sacks last season with eight and has 15 over the past two seasons.

      

Bottom Line

The Jets may have been hesitant after making big moves in last season's free-agency period. They made no Le'Veon Bell- or C.J. Mosley-level signings in this class, but maybe they should have.

The Jets had cash to spend and clear needs with the offensive line and pass rush. They addressed the line with players—outside of McGovern—who have yet to prove they are consistent starters. Retaining Jenkins was smart, but they could have helped him and gave the defense more teeth with another edge defender.

Philadelphia Eagles: B+

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

        

Analysis

The Philadelphia Eagles entered free agency with a need at cornerback. They missed out on James Bradberry and Byron Jones but pivoted and acquired Darius Slay. Then they added a three-year, $50 million extension to his deal.

The investments in the defense weren't focused on the secondary, though. Javon Hargrave added some bite to the front. He was a consistent force for Pittsburgh and played 63 percent of the snaps last year, showing he can be more than just a lane-clogging nose tackle.

The Eagles let Malcolm Jenkins walk but are planning on playing Jalen Mills more at safety, which is a creative way to keep Mills and give him a chance to provide value while making up for Jenkins' departure.

Rodney McLeod also became an important piece of the puzzle with the club's decision to let go of Jenkins.

The losses primarily occurred on offense, but all will be easily remedied. Jordan Howard was largely a disappointment, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai was a swing tackle.

      

Bottom Line

Slay and Hargrave anchor the positive grade. Both should have a big impact on the defense next season in a division that is up for grabs. They earned points for staying out of bidding wars for Howard and Vaitai, who weren't worth the prices the team would have needed to pay.

Releasing Jenkins was a bit of a head-scratcher, but if the team has confidence in playing Mills at safety, it makes sense.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Pittsburgh Steelers had to be resourceful if they wanted to have a successful offseason since they were one of the teams with the least to spend. Yet they still found a way to make up for most of the talent they lost.

Essentially faced with choosing between Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave, the team opted to tag Dupree. He'll once again team with T.J. Watt to create one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league (26 sacks last season).

While Hargrave left, Pittsburgh worked an intradivision trade to get Chris Wormley. The former Raven has never been more than a rotational player, but that's likely what he'll be asked to do with the Steelers.

Eric Ebron was an underrated signing. He flashed his talent as an athletic receiver who can create mismatches downfield in 2018. With a change of scenery and Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball, it's easy to envision a rejuvenation.

The Stefen Wisniewski signing showed the eye the Steelers have for value. He came to the club on the cheap and can play guard or center at a high level.

      

Bottom Line

This class was nothing special, but considering the situation, the Steelers did their best MacGyver impression. They haven't had a losing season since 2003, so they've earned some trust that these signings will work out.

San Francisco 49ers: B+

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

The San Francisco 49ers spent the offseason doing what good teams end up having to do: deciding which one of their uber-successful draft picks was worth extending and which one could walk.

They decided to keep Arik Armstead while flipping DeForest Buckner for a first-round pick. While it's never fun when a player as talented as Buckner leaves, the 49ers are well stocked with defensive line talent, and the pick can be used to replace him or help them replace Emmanuel Sanders.

They also decided to hold on to Jimmie Ward. After injury issues, the versatile safety showed he can be one of the best in the league. He was the sixth-best player at his position in 2019, per PFF. Re-signing injury-prone players is always risky, but it's hard to find a player with Ward's skill set.

      

Bottom Line

This is the kind of offseason that should be the goal for most franchises. The Niners didn't "win the offseason" with flashy signings, but they did retain key talent while getting a good return on the talent they had to let leave.

Winners have to make these kinds of decisions, and San Francisco navigated things as well as it could.

Seattle Seahawks: C

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Seattle Seahawks set out to rebuild their offensive line, and they succeeded in doing so, but whether that will mean improvement is questionable.

Cedric Ogbuehi couldn't get on the field in Jacksonville and was a disaster in Cincinnati. Brandon Shell was tied for ninth among tackles in sacks allowed with seven last season, per PFF. So, neither is guaranteed to be an upgrade.

Greg Olsen and Phillip Dorsett are decent assets for the offense. Russell Wilson figures to elevate their stock, and each brings a veteran presence.

The club opted to keep Jarran Reed over Quinton Jefferson. Reed has demonstrated a higher ceiling with double-digit sacks in 2018, but Jefferson outproduced him in 2019. He generated 16 pressures and 3.5 sacks to Reed's 13 and two.

Bruce Irvin figures to help a pass rush that fell below expectations last season. Of course, the last puzzle piece could be Jadeveon Clowney. He hasn't re-signed with the club but remains on the market.

      

Bottom Line

Without the re-signing of Clowney, this offseason has been and will be underwhelming for the Seahawks. The offensive line remake was essentially a swap of shaky parts for questionable ones.

If Clowney re-signs, the Seahawks' bargain shopping will have paid off.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

Let's start with the obvious: Tom Brady was a great signing. Is there a chance his arm regresses and physical tools fall off a cliff? Yes. But it's worth the risk for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The opportunity to add a quarterback with Brady's reputation and resume could be a franchise-changer.

There's a temptation to say that everything else the Bucs did is just noise. However, that's not true. The Bucs are far from a perfect team. They struggled to protect Jameis Winston last season (47 sacks allowed), and the running game wasn't great either (95.1 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry).

Tampa Bay didn't do anything to address those problems, but it did, however, make sure Shaquil Barrett will be back to go after quarterbacks again. The 2019 breakout star was tagged, and Jason Pierre-Paul re-signed too.

That should help make up for the loss of Carl Nassib, who left for Las Vegas.

Breshad Perriman was the only other major loss. It was likely he was going to leave, though. He was the No. 3 receiver and will probably see more targets with the Jets.

       

Bottom Line

This grade is primarily based on the Brady signing. If he has anything left in the tank, pairing him with Bruce Arians and the receiving tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will make for one of the league's most dangerous passing attacks.

It's also predicated on the Bucs' $24.6 million in cap space. When players are added to the trade block or there are surprise cuts, Tampa Bay can be a player. With Brady on the roster, it should become a destination for free agents who want to chase a ring. That's the Brady effect—which made the Bucs an offseason winner regardless of what the rest of their class looks like.

Tennessee Titans: B+

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

       

Analysis

The Tennessee Titans committed to Ryan Tannehill in a way that was satisfactory to him and his camp, but they have outs if things go sideways. With that taken care of, they used the franchise tag on Derrick Henry.

Keeping Tannehill and Henry didn't come without cost. The team lost Jack Conklin among other key talents. The Titans cut Delanie Walker and Dion Lewis and traded defensive tackle Jurrell Casey.

Vic Beasley Jr. was Tennessee's lone notable new signee. After years of disappointment in Atlanta, he will try to salvage his career and help make up for the loss of Cameron Wake. He recorded 15.5 sacks in 2016 but has otherwise never topped eight.

      

Bottom Line

The Titans caught fire over the last half of 2019. When that happens, it can be both a blessing and a curse. The organization clearly wanted to keep the combination of Tannehill and Henry, which fueled its run to the AFC Championship Game, even if it might be unsustainable.

As long as Henry plays under the tag and doesn't hold out, the Titans likely made the right move. They can get another year out of their star running back without having to commit big long-term dollars.

The Titans didn't do much to get better outside of retaining their two key guys. Beasley is a reclamation project, and they are banking on Dennis Kelly to step right into Jack Conklin's shoes.

Washington Redskins: B

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Key Additions and Re-Signings

Key Departures

      

Analysis

The Washington Redskins' reputation for overpaying in free agency is well earned, but the Ron Rivera version of the team is off to a strong start in that regard.

Kendall Fuller's four-year, $40 million deal was the team's biggest financial commitment, but that was understandable given the market. The team is familiar with Fuller from his days in Washington before he was traded to the Chiefs, and Rivera has proved that he is good with defensive backs.

Outside of Fuller, the team shopped in the value aisle. Thomas Davis Sr. is a Rivera guy, and he'll bring veteran leadership to the defense. Kevin Pierre-Louis has upside but was stuck low on Chicago's depth chart at linebacker.

Tagging Brandon Scherff wasn't cheap, but it was necessary. He's capable of elite guard play, and the team has to protect Dwayne Haskins next season. Wes Schweitzer is a converted tackle who was PFF's 56th-ranked guard last season.

      

Bottom Line

This is a good-not-great batch of signings. Which might be the best news of all for the Skins. They didn't try to turn the team around in one offseason and instead opted to remain flexible. With the vast majority of the headlining talent spoken for, the Redskins have the third-most cap space in the league.

That may be more important than the team actually doing a whole lot to get appreciably better in one year. The team needs to focus on building through the draft and spending on talent worth keeping around rather than fix things in one offseason.

     

All reported moves via NFL.com's free-agency tracker. Salary-cap info via Spotrac. Pre-free-agency cap room via ESPN.com. Stats via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.

   
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