It was a wild free agency season in the NFL. Players signing huge contracts and blockbuster trades shook up the landscape of the league. Now that the dust has finally cleared, Reid grades each NFL team and how they did in free agency.
Note: This piece was done before Greg Hardy signed with Dallas. After some discussion, we decided to keep Dallas’ original grade you will see below due to the possible suspension of Hardy by the NFL.
This was operation disaster for this franchise. Player favorite coach John Harbaugh is out. Frank Gore is out. Stevie Johnson is out. Michael Crabtree is out. Patrick Willis retired. Chris Borland retired after one year. Reggie Bush is in, and that’s all they have to report. There was talk of Colin Kapernick getting traded, but that was only a rumor. They may end up needing to.
The bad news, they lost game changing cornerback Antonio Cromartie and DT Dan Williams. The good news is that they beefed up the line with signing Mike Iuapati from the Niners. Sure, $22.5million guaranteed sounds like a lot, but for a team that lost quarterbacks last season like they were a set of car keys, a blank check would suffice. There were also rumors that they would get rid of Larry Fitzgerald, but it appears that he is staying put.
The Sam Bradford trade was huge. It shows that they are ready to move on. Bradford can’t stay healthy to save his life, and Foles was ready for a change. Plus, they got a second round pick in the deal. The addition of Nick Fairly was big too as he beefs up an already stout defensive line.
They may not be losers, but they certainly aren’t winners. First, Marshawn Lynch is back and will get his fair share of carries, now that they realize what to do on the goal line. The trade for Jimmy Graham however, was not in their favor. Yes, they have the pass catching tight end they wanted. All it costed them was an All-Pro lineman and a first round pick. They tried to acquire Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas during the regular season and failed. Both were free agents this year. Could have had the tight end, Max Unger, and the first round pick. Not to mention they lost their star scout Scot McCloughlan.
They picked up Brooks Reed and Justin Durant, two solid linebackers at a pretty good price. They missed out on the high number of running backs that were available, however, after getting burned on the Steven Jackson deal a few years ago, who could blame them. They freed up some payroll by cutting Sean Witherspoon, Jackson, and Osi Umenyiora so they could be looking to extend some of their more valuable players.
Another quiet off season for Carolina while we all patiently await to see what happens . The only headline that they have made is letting long time running back Deangelo Williams go. They could still benefit from some receivers that would work well with Cam Newton, such as Michael Crabtree or Dwayne Bowe.
It all depends on Winston. I don’t know what the future holds for this team, but they are putting all of their eggs in a very sketchy basket.
The Jimmy Graham trade will define this off season. Personally, I think that New Orleans won that deal. To get an elite lineman like Max Unger AND a first round pick? I would take that deal any day of the week. Drew Brees has that Aaron Rodgers/Peyton Manning quality of “give me some guy who can fit this jersey, and I’ll make him famous.” I don’t think they will miss Graham, and they will be thankful for Unger. Brandon Browner gives this team an edge in the secondary, and CJ Spiller could be another Marshawn Lynch. If this team gives him enough carries, expect a big year.
Dez got tagged and Murray got dropped. Choosing between the two had to be tough, but running backs are a dime a dozen and you can’t trust DeMarco to stay healthy. Still, I’m sure they will hate facing him twice a year. It will also be fun to see what Darren McFadden can do when he isn’t carrying an entire team on his back.
Eagles/WHO FREAKING KNOWS?!!!
Wow. The off-season that will be talked about for ages. Trading your franchise back for an injured linebacker, your prized quarterback and picks for an unproven and often injured quarterback, letting your best receiver sign elsewhere, signing and overpaying for a quarter of the legion of boom, throwing an insane amount of money at an injury prone running back coming off his only monster season behind another team’s outstanding line. And after all of this, they could be going all in at a chance at Marcus Mariota. Chip Kelly is drinking his own Kool-Aid and using his own players as his pawns in this game. Who knows if this will work, but if he comes up short of less than 10 wins (his previous two seasons were 10 win years) expect him to be fired.
They needed a line, and sat on there thumbs. They needed a running back and got Shane Veeren. Might as well sat on their thumbs again. Another receiver would have helped too, this team isn’t looking good in 2015.
They made one significant move this off-season, and that was new GM Scot McCloghlan. The former Seattle head of scouting could turn this team around in 2015. They also removed all responsibility from inept coach Jay Gruden. Could be a big season from this team despite few on the field changes thus far.
This could have gone much worse, but who knows what they have planned. Marshall had to go. He is not the force that he used to be, and based off last season’s numbers (his lowest in his career) it appears as if Alshon Jeffery would get all of the attention. The addition of Antrel Rolle is an upgrade to a weak secondary, but after losing Stephen Peoa and Lance Briggs, don’t expect a Monsters of the Midway rebirth.
Losing Suh is a big blow, but considering how much he’s getting, I would rather pay Stafford and Megatron. But losing Fairley is rough too. The Ngata trade helps, but the defense will seriously suffer. They also could have benefited from adding one of the available running backs, a weakness they’ve had since Barry Sanders left.
So there are 57 active players for Green Bay right now. Julius Peppers is the only one to have played for a different team. That’s insane, and a testament to effective scouting. Bringing back Randall Cobb solidifies that they are going to have another monster season. They didn’t need anyone else, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
We are all playing with our thumbs trying to figure out what the Vikings are going to do with Adrian Peterson. Still an elite player, his contract is the main issue standing between him and a trade. It’s also halted any real action going on in Minnesota. The only news to report is they lost a FB (Jerome Felton), and they dropped Greg Jennings while acquiring Mike Wallace. Otherwise, its been a lackluster off season for the gold and purple.
When you have Peyton Manning at the helm, you can seemingly do no wrong. Last year, they let Eric Decker sign with The Jets and brought in the lesser known Emmanuel Sanders. I’ll let you guess who had the better season. Letting Julius Thomas go was the right choice, Peyton can just turn someone else into an all world TE.
They made a few strong moves but they spent a lot in the process. Guard Orlando Franklin and WR Stevie Johnson cost them over $45 million. They allowed Ryan Matthews to sign with Philly, but he knew he was out. They will most likely pick up a back in the draft, but with Philip Rivers recently saying that he wants out, they may be focusing on quarterbacks in the draft.
They are becoming a real contender when it comes to front office moves. Adding Maclin, although it was a lot of money, added some fire power to what was considered the weakest receiving core in the league. Dropping fan favorites like Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery was a necessary evil, and they upgraded at the safety position. Could still use some TE help though.
This was a win for Oakland. Why? Because they didn’t get worse. MJD retired, so they won’t have to waste a spot and cap room. The loss of McFadden isn’t as significant because he was overutilized in the system. Trent Richardson could quietly bounce back since expectations are so low. Roy Helu Jr. could also have a good season.
It’s clear that the Bills had one of the best off seasons thus far. First, hiring Rex Ryan will surely beef up that defense. Second, the trades for Shady McCoy and Matt Cassel show that they are ready to compete. Adding Percy Harvin on that one year deal will only want to make him work harder.
Not going to say they did the best, but they obviously tried. Ndamukong Suh took his talents to South Beach, and I hope he brought a wheel barrow big enough for all that money he got. He is that special player that makes everyone on his side of the ball better, and that should be no different in Miami. The only downside being, that his pay check had immediate effects: cutting RB Knoshawn Moreno after only one season, and trading away WR Mike Wallace to the Vikings to free up payroll. The addition of TE Jordan Cameron for a steal at $15 million over 2 years could make him a premier player.
They won the Revis sweepstakes. On top of that, they acquired Antonio Cromartie and Ryan Fitzgerald. Both solid pickups. Passing on Harvin and bringing in Marshall is one trouble maker for another. Still, no one’s gonna throw against them.
I don’t think they were going to resign Revis no matter what people say. He wanted a ring, and he got it. It was a “you help me, I help you, we go our separate ways” kinda deal. The loss of Shane Vereen should keep no Patriots fan awake at night. He wasn’t helping them at all, and LaGarrette Blount seems to have taken the starting job. Their most notable losses are Vince Wilfork and Brandon Browner, and even Wilfork has plenty left in the tank, I still don’t see this team missing either of them. They are still going to win.
This team wasn’t lacking a whole lot prior to the off season. Marvin Lewis can do a lot with AJ Hawk, and you can expect a big season from him. Bringing back Michael Johnson from Tampa isn’t a terrible move considering the price tag, but his best years are most likely behind him.
Cleveland has played a wait and see approach so far and what we’ve seen isn’t pretty. So far they have let go of Jordan Cameron and Brian Hoyer, two fan favorites, both signing elsewhere on cheap contracts. Still without a true number one running back or receiver, The Manziel area is looking gloomy.
They lost a lot of supporters of long hair and long beards that’s for sure. First dropping Brett Keisel and his versitality will most likely hurt them in the long term. Second, the only significant signing was De’Angelo Williams and with perhaps the best all around back in the league in Le’veon Bell they may have been better off getting a more reliable back. Third, and most important, Troy Polamalu situation has hurt them more than paying him to sit on the bench. He is the face of the franchise, and deserves better than this. Signing big Ben’s extension, prevented this off-season from being a total loss.
After resigning the prize gem of last years free agency, Justin Forsett, Baltimore didn’t have much to be excited about. They traded away fan favorite Hgati Ngata, let wideout Torrey Smith sign with the niners, and hasn’t brought anyone else in. Smith is considered to be an underachiever by some, and still developing by others. It will be interesting to see what they will do in the draft.
Indianapolis made some huge strides this off season, and are now a favorite to win the AFC. First, dropping bad investment runnings backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson. Second, they got a quality replacement in Frank Gore and adding a veteran wide out in Andre Johnson who despite his age still has at least one solid year left in him. And now that their defense has Trent Cole and Kendall Langford, they may be superbowl bound.
They are trying ok?! Buying high on a guy like Julius Thomas usually won’t work well. Players who work with Peyton always have inflated stats. However, his size and speed isn’t a product of Manning, and a solid TE is crucial to the development of young quarterbacks. They paid way too much for Jared Odrick and lost a quality receiver in Cecil Shorts. Could have done better, but we’ve seen them do a lot worse.
One of Houston’s busier off seasons has been a roller coaster. First, cutting perhaps the best player in team history in Andre Johnson leaves a hole on the offensive side of the ball. Second, Vince Wilfork can fill any hole, any size, any where. Having him, Watt, and Clowney on a defensive line is enough for a quarterback to say “Nope…. Nope-nope-nope-nope.”
Brian Orakpo is a high risk high reward signing. If used properly and if he stays healthy he is a game changer. On the other hand, he gets hurt… a lot. Derrick Morgan will be an upgrade as well. They missed out a lot on the other side of the ball however, as they lack any real offensive fire power.