Some teams in the NFL have made blockbuster moves for the fate of the organization’s franchise. Some teams decided to start over and rebuild while others have the intention of becoming a contender for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For these transactions and acquisitions, each team in the NFL will be given a certain letter grade depending on how beneficial or useless the new member will be to the team offensively and defensively. First is offense. Second is defense. AFC: Jim. NFC: Randy.
Buffalo Bills: B; B-
With a new head coach in Rex Ryan, The Buffalo Bills are looking to ignite their defense. While they did not acquire anyone defensively, they still have a powerful pass rush and secondary. Offensively, the Bills may explode this season with a solid TE in Charles Clay, a speedy and possible flex WR in Percy Harvin and an elusive and quick RB in LeSean McCoy. The only question is who will start at QB? Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel or possibly Tyrod Taylor. Bills’ OTAs could help make that decision clear.
Ndamukong Suh was a monster pick-up for the Dolphins’ scary defensive line. Suh will be on the defensive line with Pro-Bowl DE Cameron Wake, who is a nightmare for quarterbacks and opposing offensive linemen. Their defense could be at the top of the league if those players stay healthy, however, the Dolphins offense is in a recession as they lost three talented wideouts (Mike Wallace, Brandon Gibson and Brian Hartline). The Dolphins were able to acquire former Browns TE Jordan Cameron and New Orleans Saints’ deep ball threat Kenny Stills, who may fill in the void of speedster Mike Wallace with his agility and speed.
After winning Super Bowl 49, the Patriots lost two vital DB’s in Darelle Revis (NYJ) and Brandon Browner (NO). Their offseason free agency was not too great as they signed mostly practice players and players at second or third string positions. The Patriots also lost their effective flex threat in RB Shane Vereen (NYG) but they signed former Saints RB Travaris Cadet, who can possibly pick up the ground game for New England. The Patriots also picked up former Bills TE Scott Chandler, but it’s obvious that TE Rob Gronkowski has the upper hand in that position.
The Jets have hired former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as their coach and have redefined their defense this offseason, changing up their whole entire secondary. The organization is relieved and excited to be reunited with DB’s Antonio Cromartie and Darelle Revis. Also, they acquired lockdown DB from the Cleveland Browns Buster Skrine and former San Diego DB Marcus Gilchrist. Offensively, the Jets signed RBs Stevan Ridley and Daryl Richardson, along with a trade for stud WR Brandon Marshall and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The AFC East is going to be highly competitive this year.
The Texans’ defensive strategy for the offseason did wonders for their organization. Already having J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on the defensive line, the Texans went big as they signed veteran Pro-Bowl DT Vince Wilfork. But, the Texans struggled offensively, losing star WR Andre Johnson (IND). They picked up WRs Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts, who are getting old in their careers. They also signed former Browns starting QB Brian Hoyer, who remains inconsistent at his position.
The Indianapolis organization has struggled immensely with RBs over the years, but the key acquisition to possibly fix that issue is veteran RB Frank Gore. Plus, they picked up Olympic speed demon RB Jeff Demps. With the acquisition of WR Andre Johnson, the Colts WRs look filthy with T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, but they might lose Reggie Wayne to retirement. The Colts also did a great job picking up stellar LBs in Nate Irving and Trent Cole, who will impact their pass-rush threat.
The Jaguars did a solid job of picking up a consistent TE with tremendous upside in Julius Thomas. Also, Jacksonville decided to acquire former Ravens RB Bernard Pierce, who could possibly make a solid backfield duo with RB Denard Robinson. Defensively, the Jaguars picked up some big names at DB with Davon House and Sergio Brown. The Jaguars really struggled last year defending the deep ball, but House and Brown should make an impact in decreasing and diminishing that issue.
The Titans also decided to load up on solid defensive players. Their defense struggled tremendously last season, but they acquired DBs Perrish Cox, Da’Norris Searcy, and Yawin Smallwood who can all defend the football and hit extremely well. Speaking of hitting well, the Titans also picked up LB Brian Orakpo who made a name for himself playing for the Washington Redskins. Offensively, the Titans needed WRs and got Dorin Dickerson and Harry Douglas. They also have a dynamic TE duo with Anthony Fasano and Delanie Walker.
Denver Broncos lost TE Julius Thomas in free agency, but picked up TE Owen Daniels to replace his spot. Their offense was not really an issue, so they did not do too much work in changing the offense this offseason. Defensively, they got some tough players in DT Vance Walker, LB Reggie Walker, DEs Gerald Rivers and Antonio Smith and stellar DB Darian Stewart. They are looking to wear out opposing offenses with these offseason acquisitions.
The Kansas City Chiefs were looking for a game changer at WR, and they found one in Jeremy Maclin. The Chiefs did not have one single touchdown last season caught by a wide receiver. Maclin is looking to spark that offense with his ability to score and make spectacular plays catching the football. On the defensive side, The Chiefs already had a pretty good core defense. Acquisitions like DBs Shaquille Richardson and Tyvon Branch should benefit the Chiefs secondary.
The Oakland Raiders last season were more than disappointing. They really had to find some RBs to fill in for former RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who announced his retirement this offseason. The Raiders picked up RBs in Roy Helu and Trent Richardson, who are both good flex RBs. Defensively, Oakland received some solid leverage with LBs Justin Jackson, Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Smith. Kansas City also added hard-hitting DBs Nate Allen and Vernon Kearney. The Raiders are still attempting to decipher their defensive identity.
The Chargers did not really make that many moves, but they did acquire some fast WRs in Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones. Last season, San Diego’s offense was up in the air, as they just missed a wild card spot in the AFC. These WRs could benefit their playoff chances. Defensively, The Chargers were looking at DBs, and they picked up Patrick Robinson and Jimmy Wilson, who both have tremendous awareness on the field.
The Cleveland Browns made some noise last year, but then died down in the latter half. With QBs Johnny Manziel in rehabilitation and Hoyer going to Houston, Cleveland was desperate to find a QB. They went with QBs Thad Lewis and Josh McCown, who both have the ability to throw the ball down field and throw out of the pocket. Also, the Browns went and picked up some WRs with Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline who are great at catching the football and yards per reception. The Browns on defense went for help on DB. They acquired Kendall James and Tramon Williams who are known for irritating WRs with smothering coverage.
The Steelers may have had the most disappointing offseason signings in the league. They decided to help their offense in signing QB Tajh Boyd, who is a great scrambler, but not an accurate passer. They also added DeAngelo Williams, who is an injury prone RB and getting old. On the defensive side of the football, Pittsburgh did not really find any big names, but they found DEs Joe Kruger and Alejandro Villanueva to see if they can make an impact on the team. Additionally, with the retirement of DB Troy Polamalu, the Steelers need to find a go-to DB.
The Bengals organization was in dire need of finding some WRs and they acquired Denarius Moore and Tevin Reese. Moore is more experienced while Reese is still young. Cincinnati is curious to see if they can make some noise. Defensively, the Bengals received a big time LB in A.J. Hawk, who will definitely intensify the pass rush and morale of the Bengals.
The Ravens did not do a very good job this offseason after losing some significant players on their roster. They lost DT Haloti Ngata, WR Torrey Smith and TE Owen Daniels. The Ravens biggest concern was searching for a TE, and they picked up two of them: Allen Reisner and Konrad Reuland, who can both block well but aren’t known for catching many passes. Defensively, the Ravens were also desperate to pick up some DBs, and they came to agreements with Kendrick Lewis and Quinton Pointer. Both of them are hard hitting and prone to making deflections resulting in turnovers.
RB Shane Vereen, who played for New England last season, should serve as helpful for a team that has majorly leaned on Eli Manning to create scores. Defensively, the Giants let up 15 rushing touchdowns and allowed the highest yards per rush with 4.9 on the season. The secondary had been shaky all year, but not much this offseason has been done to change that. We should see the Giants draft a defensive back in the NFL Draft.
This was a strong team last season. RB DeMarco Murray set a couple rushing records and led Dallas to a 12-4 finish. But with the loss of Murray to the Eagles through free agency, the Cowboys are stripped of the consistent scoring luxury. Although WR Dez Bryant was franchise tagged, it was pretty clear that Murray was Dallas’ offensive catalyst. We’ll see what newly acquired RB Darren McFadden can accomplish as Murray’s successor. On defense, they acquired DE Greg Hardy, but he will be suspended for the first 10 games.
This team has a long list of notable — maybe even blockbuster — transactions this offseason. RB LeSean McCoy left for Buffalo as DeMarco Murray swoops in to take his place in Chip Kelly’s unique offensive scheme. Also, the Eagles traded QB Nick Foles to the St. Louis for Sam Bradford. Additionally, DE Trent Cole and WR Jeremy Maclin made their departures.
Although their lacking offense wasn’t significantly improved this offseason, the Redskins’ defense has. Acquiring FS Dashon Goldson from Tampa Bay, CB Chris Culliver from San Francisco and DT Terrance Knighton from Denver should prove beneficial in a tough division. Closing in on the NFL Draft, Washington seems to be seeking a pass rusher or a core lineman to protect Robert Griffin III.
With a 6-10 record last season, Atlanta made a lot of moves thus far in the offseason. Acquiring TE Jacob Tamme, LB O’Brien Schofield and DE Adrian Clayborn should provide improvements at those positions. But, it seems that RB Devonta Freeman is going to be the starter in September because Steven Jackson was released, and there are more important shoes than running back to fill through the NFL Draft.
They lost TE Jimmy Graham, and QB Drew Brees and WR Marques Colston are just getting older. Although the core of their impressive offensive line remains — in addition to the fact that the Saints acquired Max Unger in the deal — Drew Brees has simply lost his best target. And their defense isn’t much to brag about either, giving up the second most yards last season. Don’t be surprised to see the Saints choose a defensive back in the NFL Draft.
Carolina Panthers: C+; B-
The Panthers’ faith and patience for RB DeAngelo Williams’ running ability has come to a close. With Jonathan Stewart scheduled to get plenty of touches next season, Carolina continues to have faith in the double-back system. That’s why several analysts expect them to pick up a running back in the NFL Draft. With a somewhat effective running scheme, the pass game will open up more for Cam Newton.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C-; D
Mike Glennon has two fathomable targets downfield in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, but can he get it to them? Not as much as the Bucs would like,that’s for sure. Most analysts are sure that one of the top two quarterbacks in the NFL Draft will be chosen as the first overall pick by Tampa Bay. Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota might throw to the two giant wideouts in September… Or maybe the Bucs will opt to start Glennon in the end.
Green Bay Packers: A-; B-
QB Aaron Rodgers’ offense is fairly solid, but the Packers’ defense has needed some improvement in recent seasons. LB A.J. Hawk was released and has been declining. Regardless, inside linebacker is a position that Green Bay will look to improve before the NFL Draft. Offensively, they re-signed WR Randall Cobb, an important piece of their offense.
DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have departed elsewhere from Detroit this offseason. The veteran Haloti Ngata was signed to try and partially compromise the gap, but it should be expected that a defensive lineman or a cornerback will be chosen by the Lions in the NFL draft despite this defense’s fearful notoriety. Also, RB Joique Bell will take the reins in the backfield, since Reggie Bush signed with the 49ers.
The blockbuster talk of the Bears this offseason thus far is trading WR Brandon Marshall to the Jets. What that hopefully means for Alshon Jeffery is more targets. On the defensive side, some roster-improving changes are notable in DT Ray McDonald and FS Antrel Rolle. But this defense needs a lot of work. Chicago is undoubtedly selecting a renowned defensive player, which should improve this defense in relative terms.
WR Mike Wallace being traded to the Vikings from the Dolphins is notable despite the withering Greg Jennings’ departure. However, LB Casey Matthews is the lone addition to Minnesota’s starting defense. With star RB Adrian Peterson exploring his options, running back has been a mark of weakness for the Vikings. They should be able to snag a tier-one running back out of the NFL Draft if Peterson’s days as a Viking are done.
The acquisition of TE Jimmy Graham from New Orleans may be one of the NFL’s most magnitudinous transactions this offseason. Although C Max Unger was lost in the process, the Seahawks’ offensive line looks solid even without him. Although a lot of skepticism lingers among sports fans about how much time RB Marshawn Lynch has left in his career, maintaining him to complete the dominant offensive trio could be the difference between a championship and consolation. They lost second string CB Byron Maxwell to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency.
The Cardinals came to terms with G Mike Iupati, the three-time Pro Bowler, after his decision to leave San Francisco. Although their secondary is beyond exceptional, they lost starting CB Antonio Cromartie, and they still have some work to do regarding their defensive front-seven. In a defensively powered division, this may be more essential than any other roster quarrels.
Notable players like Iupati, LB Patrick Willis, RB Frank Gore, LB Chris Borland, DT Ray McDonald, CB Chris Culliver and CB Perrish Cox long with more left the 49ers thus far in the offseason. Although acquisitions, like WR Torrey Smith, G Erik Pears and DE Darnell Dockett, ensued, it’ll be difficult for San Francisco to compensate for all these key losses. An educated choice in the NFL Draft for the Niners would be an offensive or defensive lineman.
Following the trade for QB Nick Foles from Philadelphia for Sam Bradford, the Rams’ quarterback desires for the NFL Draft are presumably done with. Currently, RB Tre Mason is listed to run the backfield, and this surely doesn’t settle well with the St. Louis administration. So the Rams will most likely be searching for a running back this year in the draft despite defensive flaws.
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