NFL News & Analysis

Grading all 32 NFL offseasons

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrates his first quarter touchdown. Usp Nfl Kansas City Chiefs At Tennessee Titans S Fbn Usa Tn

There is still time to tinker with NFL rosters as we head toward the start of training camps and the ramp-up for the 2022 regular season, but most of the roster construction of the offseason has already been completed. Teams have navigated through free agency, trades, and the draft, as the biggest means open to change their fortunes have come and gone.

In this article, we will combine those offseason periods and give all 32 teams an offseason grade, factoring in those big opportunities for change and what each team did with them.

For the free agency and draft grades, I have used the grades that PFF gave at the time of the draft and free agency, but the “Offseason Grade” is a new composite specifically for this article. It will also factor in hirings in the front office and coaching ranks.

JUMP TO A TEAM:

ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Offseason Grade: C+
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: B-

The news that DeAndre Hopkins would be suspended six games due to violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) likely threw a wrench into the team’s offseason plans and may have precipitated the trade for Marquise Brown on draft night. A first-round pick — even a relatively low one — for Brown is pretty rich given the contract he will be demanding soon, but there is good logic to believe he will be a more impactful player in the desert than he was for Baltimore. Brown was a star in college with Kyler Murray as his quarterback, and Murray led the league in big-time throw rate last season (7.9%). 

Most of the team’s focus in free agency was in re-signing its own players, though it failed to keep Chandler Jones — the team’s best pass-rusher. It’s also easy to criticize the money given to James Conner as a lapse in judgment. The year Conner just had is an argument against paying him, not one in support of the move. 

In the draft, Trey McBride adds to an already well-stocked tight end room, and then the team set about adding pass-rushers that can help replace the production lost in Jones’ departure. Overall, Arizona may not have deteriorated over the offseason, but it likely didn’t get a whole lot better, either.


ATLANTA FALCONS

Offseason Grade: B+
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: A

On one hand, the Falcons probably downgraded at quarterback in a fairly significant way and are eating a record-setting amount of dead money on the salary cap to do so ($40.5 million, per Over The Cap). On the other hand, once they created the situation by openly courting Deshaun Watson, it was time to rip the bandage off and begin a rebuilding process for a franchise that should have begun when the new regime was hired. 

From that latter perspective, the Falcons secured a solid bridge quarterback in Marcus Mariota and a rookie in the third round who could push to start sooner rather than later in Desmond Ridder. Their draft was one of the best in the NFL by any franchise. Ridder had a 90.7 PFF grade this past season for Cincinnati and had a year not dissimilar to Kenny Pickett’s in terms of building his draft stock. They also drafted a new No. 1 receiver in Drake London and defenders who should start and make an impact from the get-go, such as Arnold Ebiketie and Troy Andersen. The pathway is also clear for running back Tyler Allgeier to assume a major role in the backfield alongside a re-signed Cordarrelle Patterson.

Trading away a high-level quarterback is rarely a good move, but it may have been a necessary destructive step for this team to ultimately move forward long-term, and so their grade gets a little boost in that light.


BALTIMORE RAVENS

Offseason Grade: A
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: A+

Baltimore’s free agency period was quiet enough, with solid additions in the form of defensive tackle Michael Pierce, safety Marcus Williams and offensive lineman Morgan Moses, but the big moves the team made were in the draft.

Marquise Brown had grown dissatisfied with life in Baltimore and wanted out, so the Ravens were able to trade him to Arizona for a first-round draft pick. Brown eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards for the first time last season and has averaged just 1.75 yards per route run for his NFL career. He has been a big-play threat for the team but hasn’t been the kind of true difference-maker the Ravens expected when they drafted him. To get an equivalent pick back for him after three years of his career is great business.

In the draft, the Ravens took outstanding players. Tyler Linderbaum is the best center prospect PFF has seen enter the draft since 2014, and he could immediately become one of the best three centers in the game. Kyle Hamilton was being talked about as a player good enough to go No. 2 or No. 3 overall before some pedestrian 40 times killed his draft stock, but he has the kind of elite tape that overcomes the relative value of the safety position.

David Ojabo was a first-round talent before he blew out his Achilles during his pro day, and he represents a smart gamble by the Ravens in the second round. Additionally, Travis Jones is a phenomenal fit inside Baltimore’s defensive scheme. The Ravens had arguably the best draft this year.


BUFFALO BILLS

Offseason Grade: B+
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: B+

The AFC was a different landscape this offseason than the NFC. This conference featured an arms race between the contenders, and Buffalo wasn’t sitting on the sideline. Free agency brought nice additions such as Tim Settle and DaQuan Jones to the defensive line as well as Rodger Saffold to the offensive line, but then they dropped the bomb by signing Von Miller to a big deal to propel their pass-rush to a different place. Miller showed last season he still has juice, as he accumulated 82 pressures (including the playoffs) — 10 of which came in a single game against Tampa Bay in the postseason.

The Bills had a nice, steady draft. Kaiir Elam should be an immediate replacement for Levi Wallace at cornerback opposite Tre’Davious White. Elam’s stock slipped further than it perhaps should have because his best play came in 2019, but that play was outstanding, as he posted an 89.8 PFF coverage grade. Running back James Cook has the potential to bring a missing skill set to this offense and receiver Khalil Shakir should ensure that the weaponry around Josh Allen remains elite.


CAROLINA PANTHERS

Offseason Grade: B+
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: A

The Panthers entered the offseason with their backs against the wall in terms of finding a quarterback. The Sam Darnold experiment in 2021 was a disaster (his 55.2 PFF grade for Carolina was lower than any single season with the Jets), and they needed to do everything possible to find a better solution for 2023. While other teams targeted veterans, Carolina added nobody. With the sixth overall pick, the Panthers grabbed an offensive tackle, and they weren’t scheduled to draft again for more than 100 more selections. To emerge with Matt Corral — a player who has, at least, a viable chance to compete with Darnold to start — is about as good as they could have done from that point, but it feels like a case of too little, too late overall.

Outside of quarterback, the team has done an excellent job attacking other areas of weakness — notably the offensive line. Ikem Ekwonu was many evaluators’ top tackle in the draft, and in free agency, they added two solid starters in Austin Corbett and Bradley Bozeman. All of a sudden, an offensive line that was four-fifths bad last year could be four-fifths solid this season, and one weak link is manageable.


CHICAGO BEARS

Offseason Grade: C
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: B-

The new regime in Chicago was in a tough spot when it took over. The Bears were not in a position with stockpiled resources and cap space to immediately take major strides in a positive direction, as there was some tearing down required before they could begin to build back up. Trading away Khalil Mack was one of the first significant moves they made. Allen Robinson also departed, removing two of the team’s best players in recent years with little in the way of ready-made replacements

Receiver Byron Pringle and offensive lineman Lucas Patrick represent the kind of low-price roll of the dice they were interested in making, as they were hoping to upgrade incrementally without much cash outlay while building through the draft.

When it came to draft time, the team went defense with their first two selections before finally finding some help for Justin Fields. Velus Jones Jr. looked excellent in his last season in college, but he is two years older than Fields and will be a 25-year old rookie. On Day 3, they added four different offensive linemen, hoping that one or more sticks and upgrades an ugly-looking unit on paper. The team didn’t have much room to maneuver this offseason, but it still feels like they did little to ensure their most important player (Fields) succeeds.


CINCINNATI BENGALS

Offseason Grade: A
Free Agency Grade: Good
Draft Grade: B+

The Bengals' offseason strategy this year could be taught in a clinic. They just made the Super Bowl but knew they needed to overhaul their offensive line. Rather than pay top-of-the-market money to the best offensive lineman they could find (Jacksonville…), they spread their investment in multiple Tier-2 free agents in the first hours of free agency. Guard Alex Cappa and center Ted Karras represented two clear upgrades. They had the patience to wait Dallas out and then recruit La’el Collins to play right tackle without surrendering a draft pick to make it happen. All of a sudden, four-fifths of the Bengals' offensive line is in good shape, giving the team the flexibility to draft any position.

That led to draft picks such as Daxton Hill — a versatile defensive back out of Michigan. Hill lined up primarily in the slot for the Wolverines, but nobody is quite sure where he fits in Cincinnati’s secondary because the team now has that luxury of just adding good players and piecing it together later. 

The Bengals with Joe Burrow at quarterback should remain contenders due to this offseason.


CLEVELAND BROWNS

Offseason Grade: B+
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: B

Obviously, the biggest move Cleveland made was acquiring Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Leaving the moral discussion on that subject for another article on another day, if Watson plays all season this year, he is a big enough upgrade over even a healthy Baker Mayfield to immediately propel this team back among the contenders. 

In addition to that, they also addressed the biggest weakness on the team by trading for receiver Amari Cooper. The draft was solid if unspectacular, as UAB’s Alex Wright was the most intriguing selection. Wright recorded a 91.1 PFF pass-rushing grade in 2021, 51 pressures and three batted passes, and he has the kind of athletic profile to replace Jadeveon Clowney opposite Myles Garrett.

Cleveland already had a contender’s roster, but Mayfield's injury last season meant they failed to capitalize. Now they have Watson, and the only big question remaining is whether they can trade away Mayfield or if they have to cut him, as they would rather do that than live through the awkward situation of keeping him as a backup all season.


DALLAS COWBOYS

Offseason Grade: C+
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: B+

Dallas started things off in a concerning fashion, trading away Amari Cooper for what seemed like pennies on the dollar. As much as Cooper may have been a relative underachiever for the team, he was an important part of the offense and far from the biggest discrepancy between pay and production on the Cowboys roster. The Cowboys' free agency period was largely spent trying to retain their own players, and that suffered a major blow when a misunderstanding over contract language caused Randy Gregory to pull out of a deal and take a similar contract with Denver.

Dallas redeemed its offseason well in the draft. Tyler Smith fills a need on the offensive line and has the kind of position flexibility to play guard or tackle right off the bat. Jalen Tolbert, who was selected in the third round, is potentially a huge addition to a receiving corps that can now maintain their three-wide threat, and the Cowboys got some excellent value in the mid-to-low rounds relative to PFF's big board.

Overall, Dallas may have had a slightly above average offseason, but one that feels like it could have been vastly improved with a little more foresight.


DENVER BRONCOS

Offseason Grade: A
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: B+

Few teams made a bigger move in the offseason than the Broncos, who finally found a franchise quarterback in Russell Wilson via trade. Last offseason, this roster was an elite quarterback away from contending, and while it isn’t quite the same roster, they will be hoping that enough of the important pieces remain so that the same thing is true.

Critically, the Wilson trade didn’t cost them any key components of the offense other than tight end Noah Fant, and they have a replacement already in house in Albert Okwuegbunam. Adding Randy Gregory in free agency also gives them a legitimate pass-rusher after trading away Von Miller last year.

In the draft, Denver added another pass-rush specialist in Nik Bonitto, who owns the best pass-rush win rate of any pass rusher in the draft class over the last two years. Greg Dulcich adds depth to that tight end room again, and now Denver has to hope that it has the system in place to maximize Wilson.


DETROIT LIONS

Offseason Grade: A-
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: A+

The only thing the Lions failed to do this offseason was add a clear franchise quarterback for the future, but in the multi-year rebuild project they have undertaken, there’s no guarantee that was ever planned at this stage, as it could have always been planned to come in Year 3 when everything else is already in place.

In free agency, D.J. Chark represents an excellent example of the kind of gamble teams should take at receiver. He has rare speed and physical tools but hasn’t put it all together yet. The Lions continued to add perimeter speed in the draft by trading up for Jameson Williams, whose game speed is on another level.

Landing Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 overall pick is a gift the Lions must have thought was an improbable result for most of the process. Hutchinson may not have quite the same theoretical upside as Travon Walker, but he has been a far better player to date and likely brings a much higher floor to the table. Hutchinson can be a cornerstone for a Lions defense that has already added a lot of young talent.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

Offseason Grade: B-
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: B+

It’s hard to look beyond trading away Davante Adams, particularly when they didn’t want to. Unlike the Tyreek Hill situation, Green Bay was actually prepared to match the contract that the Raiders were going to hand Adams, just not until they had already poisoned relations with Adams to the point he wasn’t prepared to accept it anymore. At the point Adams was determined to leave, the team did about as well as it could have in terms of compensation, but letting it get that far seems to have been an error.

Replacing Adams will be Sammy Watkins in addition to Day 2 and 3 draft picks, with North Dakota State's Christian Watson as the first receiver drafted at No. 34 overall and then Nevada's Romeo Doubs in the fourth round. Both players have a lot of potential but need a lot of refining, so it’s hard to imagine this offense not taking a step backward. 

Re-signing Aaron Rodgers, at least, keeps them perennially in the hunt, and their draft overall represented an excellent haul. Devonte Wyatt should make a major impact on Day 1 while offensive lineman Zach Tom and edge defender Kingsley Enagbare could be significant depth contributors.


HOUSTON TEXANS

Offseason Grade: A-
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: B+

Houston was able to trade away Deshaun Watson after he sat on the sidelines as a pariah for an entire season, with 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct still hanging over his head. Not only did the Texans trade him away, but they were able to get something approximating full market value.

That move happened a little too late in the free agency period for the Texans to take advantage this season, so they used free agency to largely re-shuffle players at the bottom end of the depth chart. The draft was where we saw the first steps of the roster building.

Derek Stingley Jr. brings some of the highest upside in the draft. His play in 2019 as a freshman at LSU was the best cornerback play PFF has graded in college since 2014. He earned a 91.7 PFF grade that year before injuries set him back. Houston is banking that the 2019 version of Stingley is still there, and that’s game-changing. The Texans added players that have a clear pathway to starting or being featured heavily all the way down to the fifth round. The Texans might finally be heading somewhere positive.


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Offseason Grade: B+
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: B+

Cutting bait with Carson Wentz after just one year — particularly given the involvement of Frank Reich — must have been a tough pill to swallow for the Colts, but once they had made that decision, getting the return they did from Washington and then snagging Matt Ryan as their starter was great business. They, arguably, upgraded at quarterback (at least in the short term) without damaging the roster too much. Acquiring Yannick Ngakoue brings a pass-rush specialist to the roster. Ngakoue has never had a PFF pass-rushing grade lower than 65 but is coming off a 28.6 run defense grade. The Colts have the bodies to let him be a designated pass-rusher only. 

Grabbing Bernhard Raimann in the third round could be a steal, as he has the potential to be the team's new starting left tackle, but they also have contingencies in Dennis Kelly and Matt Pryor

Alec Pierce is a good receiver who has a skill set that perfectly complements Michael Pittman Jr., and Jelani Woods may be a work in progress but is an elite athlete at the tight end position who has sky-high potential. This was a nice haul for the Colts.


JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Offseason Grade: C+
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: C+

The Jaguars made plenty of moves this offseason, but they weren’t ones that were greeted with widespread acclaim. Their free agency spending spree seemed more like an exercise in identifying which players they could convince to come to Jacksonville more than identifying which players would be the best additions to the roster.

They paid top dollar to guard Brandon Scherff and receiver Christian Kirk as well as linebacker Foyesade Oluokun — all of whom should improve the team but don't necessarily play the most critical positions of need or impact. Defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi is an underrated acquisition. He wasn't coming off a good year, but before that, he had back-to-back seasons with an 86.0-plus PFF run-defense grade.

In the draft, the Jaguars drafted Travon Walker at No. 1 overall, ignoring the consensus draft board that had Aidan Hutchinson as the best available player at a similar position. Walker may be the best athlete the league has seen at that position, but he recorded 60 pressures in three years on Georgia’s defense and pedestrian grades across the board that aren’t explained entirely by the system he was playing in. They rook a gamble for upside and potential, which would be easier to understand if their recent history of doing similar things was better. 

Trading back into the first round for linebacker Devin Lloyd was another move that doesn’t seem like a great process, and multiple picks in the mid-rounds addressed positions the team is already well-stocked in.


KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Offseason Grade: B+
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: A+

With the rest of the league spending like crazy and loading up on elite players, Kansas City chose to go in another direction, parlaying Tyreek Hill into as many draft picks as they could (five) rather than pay him $30 million a year. 

It’s a sound strategy from a process point of view, but that doesn’t mean it will automatically work out. No receiver influences defenses as much on every snap as Hill does, and replacing that won’t be easy. Skyy Moore in the draft in addition to Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster in free agency is a nice combination on paper, but the proof will be on Sundays. 

The Chiefs made the most of their draft bounty, however, hitting on elite value with almost every pick relative to PFF’s big board. Trent McDuffie and George Karlaftis in the first round alone represented a surplus value of 30 picks in those terms. The value continued throughout the draft, and if those players are as good as they seem on paper, that’s the kind of haul that justifies trading away one of the best playmakers in the league and is how smart teams remain contenders for a long time.


LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

Offseason Grade: A-
Free Agency Grade: Good
Draft Grade: B+

The Raiders were in a tough spot this offseason. They suddenly found themselves in a division with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and now Russell Wilson, and even though Derek Carr is a borderline top-10 quarterback, he’s probably the fourth-best in the division more often than not in any given year. So how did they choose to compete? By loading up with as many good players as they could. The team traded for Davante Adams — the game’s best receiver — to start. Adams has had a 92.0-plus PFF grade in each of the last two seasons while increasing his yard per route run in each of the last six seasons.

Chandler Jones was their other big free agent acquisition, adding a player who has a PFF pass-rushing grade of at least 87.7 in each of his last two healthy seasons. 

The Raiders weren’t left with a draft pick before the third round but still managed to come away with Dylan Parham, who could easily start on an offensive line in need of help. That offensive line will likely determine how close the Raiders can get to the best teams in the NFL this season. It ranked 24th in the league in pass-blocking efficiency last season, surrendering 222 pressures as a unit.


LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Offseason Grade: A
Free Agency Grade: Good
Draft Grade: B

The Chargers have been swinging for the fences since finding Justin Herbert in the draft. Last offseason was about rebuilding an offensive line, this one was about giving head coach Brandon Staley the horses he needs on defense. Therefore, in came Khalil Mack via trade and J.C. Jackson as a free agent along with Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson to anchor the middle of the defensive line. 

In the draft, they grabbed Zion Johnson to ensure that last offseason's hard work wasn’t undone by departures. Johnson posted an 84.4 PFF grade last season, allowing just six total pressures. Picking Jamaree Salyer in the sixth round represents outstanding value for a player who could force his way onto the field. Salyer started at left tackle for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs, allowing just 12 total pressures over the last two seasons combined. He could compete to start at the other guard spot from Johnson.


LOS ANGELES RAMS

Offseason Grade: B-
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: C+

The Rams were surprisingly active given the framing of their entire all-in strategy by many people. Andrew Whitworth‘s retirement led the team to throw considerable money at Joseph Noteboom to ensure he stayed in the building to take over at left tackle. Noteboom played well last season when Whitworth was hurt (PFF pass-blocking grade above 70 when lined up at left tackle), but his sample size of quality play is very low, so this is a calculated gamble.

Odell Beckham Jr.’s ACL injury in the Super Bowl likely removed him from the team’s plans, and they traded away Robert Woods, but that cleared space to sign Allen Robinson, who was coming off his worst season in the NFL in Chicago. Robinson finally has a high-level quarterback for potentially the first time in his entire football career. 

The team did lose noteworthy players, however, with Von Miller, Darious Williams, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Corbett all signing elsewhere in addition to those already mentioned.

In the draft, the Rams spent Day 1 having a house party in the Hollywood Hills before finally getting down to some business as the third round came to a close. They targeted clear areas where they needed valuable depth, drafting offensive lineman Logan Bruss and cornerback Decobie Durant. Overall, the team picked eight times, and that’s been a key part of the strategy in recent seasons.


MIAMI DOLPHINS

Offseason Grade: B
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: B-

Miami was determined this offseason to build around Tua Tagovailoa to, at least, ensure it can get a fair evaluation with a new coaching staff. Trading for Tyreek Hill was the biggest move in that plan, and Miami now has a scary duo of receivers with Hill and Jaylen Waddle in the same offense. Cedrick Wilson was also signed in free agency, allowing the team to trade away DeVante Parker. Mike Gesicki was franchise tagged. 

On the offensive line, the Dolphins added Connor Williams and Terron Armstead, ensuring that the left side of the offensive line immediately jumps above average. With Robert Hunt already an above-average starter, they are getting closer to removing the weak links on that unit. Head coach Mike McDaniel’s system should also automatically raise the level of the unit as a whole — if his offense’s track record is anything to go by. 

Now, the team’s outlook rests on how well Tagovailoa can play with this improved supporting cast.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Offseason Grade: C+
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: B

The Vikings' offseason has been about roster maintenance rather than the complete overhaul many expected. The Vikings found like-for-like replacements for outgoing players such as defensive tackle Michael Pierce or offensive lineman Mason Cole with Harrison Phillips and Austin Schlottmann in free agency. Jordan Hicks was an intriguing free agent signing at linebacker, and that was augmented by picking Brian Asamoah in the third round. That pair indicates the Vikings are intent on getting more athletic and coverage-focused at the position.

Much of the draft was dedicated to defense, with Lewis Cine added at safety with their first selection and Andrew Booth Jr. at cornerback with their next pick. Booth could be a huge value pick given where he was selected. He has first-round talent but seemingly slipped due to injury red flags. If the Vikings can keep him upright, he could immediately start for them. 

Overall, Minnesota didn’t do much wrong this offseason, but neither did it make any moves that look certain to transform expectations or propel this team somewhere it wasn’t already destined to go. The team either believes the biggest issues were coaching, or this is a longer-term project.


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Offseason Grade: C-
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: D

While the rest of the AFC was in the midst of an arms race this offseason, the Patriots were sitting largely on the sidelines. Free agency saw some minor moves such as acquiring linebacker Mack Wilson in a trade with Cleveland or signing cornerback Terrance Mitchell, but it was more about re-signing their own players. However, trading away guard Shaq Mason to the Bucs for just a fifth-round draft pick raised some eyebrows and certainly didn’t make them better in the short term.

When the draft rolled around, the Patriots made the one massive shock move of the first round, drafting Chattanooga's Cole Strange to fill that guard spot on the offensive line. They continued to make surprising picks throughout the draft and were widely considered to have had the ‘worst’ draft in the league.


NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Offseason Grade: C
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: C+

The Saints are a team where the results and the process seem to be on two very different paths. In a vacuum, coming out of the draft with Chris Olave to add to their receiving corps and Trevor Penning to reinforce the offensive line seems like great work. But when you look at the total cost to acquire Olave — trading into the first round with the Eagles before the draft and then trading up to get him at pick No. 11 — the price is extraordinarily steep. Olave is an exceptionally smooth route runner who should make an immediate impact, but the cost for that move can’t be discounted entirely. Penning could be a great fit, but he has a tall task in replacing Terron Armstead, who left via free agency. It may be a move that pays off long-term, but it’s likely a short-term downgrade.

Signing Marcus Maye in free agency was a nice move to replace Marcus Williams, and adding to the safety position after the draft with Tyrann Mathieu means the Saints are likely to maintain a very good defense. This team’s fortunes in 2022 will come down to how well the offense can play, and whether Jameis Winston can thrive behind an offensive line that is a work in progress.


NEW YORK GIANTS

Offseason Grade: B-
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: B-

The biggest offseason moves the Giants made were hiring new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll. That duo comes over from Buffalo, where they have been a major part of one of the best-run franchises in the league over the past few seasons. They didn’t have a lot of flexibility to make sweeping improvements in one offseason, but free agency saw them add a couple of bargain players that could help to shore up a problem offensive line.

In the draft, while the first round unfolded perfectly, leaving the Giants with both Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal, things got a lot more confusing once after Day 1 of the draft. Wan’Dale Robinson felt like a major reach in the second round, as he looks most likely to be more of a gimmick weapon than a true wide receiver. Additionally, they made several other picks that represented poor value relative to the PFF or consensus big boards. The most important picks they had were those two first-rounders, and those are the ones that look like the best moves, but the new regime may need a couple of years to begin to turn this franchise around.


NEW YORK JETS

Offseason Grade: A-
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: A-

The Jets seem determined to put the kind of team around Zach Wilson that will allow him to have the kind of Year 2 bump that he badly needs to have. They continued to build the offensive line in free agency, signing guard Laken Tomlinson to ensure the team should have a top-10 unit in 2022. They addressed the secondary with cornerback D.J Reed and safety Jordan Whitehead, giving them a bit more flexibility at draft time. Reed allowed a 66.0 passer rating when targeted last season and gives the Jets one immediately viable starter.

Draft time was the team’s real opportunity to improve, and they took advantage. With the kind of draft capital they had, that was always likely, but even with that context, coming out of the first round with Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson and Jermaine Johnson is outstanding. Each player should make a major contribution immediately, and Wilson and Gardner were arguably the best players in the draft at their respective positions.

Trading up for Breece Hall was a move many disagreed with, but it gave them a running back with bell-cow potential and a complete skill set, adding yet more support for the most important player on their roster — the quarterback. Overall, the Jets had an excellent offseason.


PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Offseason Grade: A-
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: A

The Eagles have had an outstanding offseason, and few moves are likely to make a bigger impact than acquiring A.J. Brown via trade on draft day. The only question is where that move factors in — whether you count it as part of the team’s draft or not — but Brown gives the team a legitimate No. 1 receiver, which was still a question mark otherwise. Brown has been an elite receiver overall since entering the league but has also excelled in the areas that are still up for debate with DeVonta Smith, such as dominance against press coverage. Smith now gets to develop as a No. 2 receiver with less dedicated attention from defenses, and the Eagles now have a formidable receiving corps to go along with an excellent offensive line. 

The team also secured major upgrades to their defense with Jordan Davis in the first round and then Nakobe Dean in the third, who were both stars on the best defense in college football. Dean seemingly slipped in the draft due to concerns with his medical profile that the Eagles apparently do not share, and he could easily become the steal of the draft almost immediately. 

Signing Haason Reddick is the biggest free agency move the team made, but it's not insignificant. Reddick is an impressive speed rusher who will be part of a continued overhaul of their defensive line that continued with the Davis pick in Round 1.


PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Offseason Grade: B
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: B+

With Ben Roethlisberger‘s retirement, the Steelers were one of the most quarterback-needy teams heading into the offseason. They secured a fallback option with Mitchell Trubisky in free agency before adding their future in Kenny Pickett with their first-round draft pick. Trubisky is worth a look given his draft status and physical tools as well as the year of apprenticeship under Brian Daboll and Josh Allen in Buffalo, but he is likely a starter for a few weeks, at most. Pickett was many evaluator’s top quarterback in the draft, earning a 92.2 PFF grade in his final college season, but the next quarterback went two rounds later and Pickett was by no means a consensus No. 1. 

Signing James Daniels and Mason Cole in free agency gives the team some competition along an offensive line whose jobs will be a lot harder this season as they move away from Roethlisberger’s league-quickest average time to throw. Linebacker Myles Jack and cornerback Levi Wallace are two solid additions to the defense. 

In the draft, George Pickens has first-round tape with true “X” receiver skills. He posted an 88.0 PFF grade as a freshman before his career stalled, and he missed most of last season with an ACL injury. Calvin Austin III also adds some real speed and explosiveness on offense.


SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Offseason Grade: C+
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: B

The 49ers are another team whose offseason is defined more by what has not happened than what has. Jimmy Garoppolo is still in the building, and therefore, Trey Lance is not yet the starting quarterback despite the team trading three first-round picks to move up to draft him a year ago.

In free agency, the biggest move the team made was signing cornerback Charvarius Ward, who should immediately become the team’s No. 1. Ward is an excellent run defending cornerback whose career coverage grade hovers around the high 60s. Last season, he posted 11 pass breakups and two interceptions for the Chiefs, allowing 51% of passes thrown his way to be caught.

Thanks to the trade last year, the 49ers didn’t have a draft pick No. 61 overall, but to come away with Drake Jackson with that pick is great work. Jackson has the best bend and dip of any pass-rusher in this draft and could succeed Dee Ford in that defense quickly. Danny Gray will bring another interesting weapon to that offense, and despite constant evidence that they don’t need to invest in the running back position, the 49ers are swinging again with Tyrion Davis-Price in the third round.


SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Offseason Grade: C-
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: A-

It was always going to be tough to recover from trading away Russell Wilson without any clear succession plan in place. Free agency wasn’t ever likely to present them with a successor, and the team has seemingly been uninterested in Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo. The draft gave them the chance to grab a starter, but they studiously ignored it every time, electing to just improve the roster overall.

Rolling into the year with Drew Lock as a starter would seem to indicate this is a complete rebuild that has no burning desire to win games in 2022.

The players they received from Denver should be useful additions to a badly depleted roster, and free-agent signings such as Austin Blythe and Uchenna Nwosu are solid moves. 

Their draft was where the biggest steps forward were taken, regardless of the opportunity cost of not taking a quarterback. Charles Cross should be the left tackle from Day 1, replacing Duane Brown. Cross saw his PFF grade improve each season of his college career, and he was the smoothest pass protector of the top tackle prospects. 

Boye Mafe can be an impact pass-rusher immediately, and Abraham Lucas could well be a second starter at tackle in the third round. Drafting Kenneth Walker in the second round raised some eyebrows with both Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson on the roster, but neither is locked down long term, and each has real injury concerns. For a team that is clearly intent on leaning on a run game, this was an inevitable move.


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Offseason Grade: B
Free Agency Grade: Above Average
Draft Grade: B

Tom Brady reversing his decision to retire so that he could return to the team was one of the single biggest wins any franchise had this offseason. Without Brady, the Bucs were facing a massive challenge at quarterback, which left them talking up Blaine Gabbert‘s prospects, but instead, they can look forward to another year of contention in the NFC. 

They weren’t able to quite replicate last offseason, but they did re-sign Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis and Breshad Perriman. To offset the Alex Cappa (Bengals) and Ali Marpet (retirement) losses at guard, they traded for Shaq Mason and drafted Luke Goedeke — a college tackle who likely kicks inside to guard at the next level. Goedeke posted a 92.2 PFF grade last season and didn’t allow a sack in 10 games for Central Michigan. Trading back out of the first round once there was a run on guards was a good process, and Logan Hall should immediately contribute to the defensive line rotation.


TENNESSEE TITANS

Offseason Grade: C
Free Agency Grade: Average
Draft Grade: B+

The Titans were another team that didn’t really keep pace with the arms race among the AFC contenders. Their biggest move was re-signing their own player, edge rusher Harold Landry. Though he gets a lot of pressure (70 last season), Landry does it typically as a result of opportunities (he averages over 600 rushes over the last three seasons) and has never posted a PFF pass-rush grade above 62 or an elite pass-rush win rate.

They then traded away A.J. Brown on draft night rather than pay him a big second contract, putting rookie Treylon Burks under huge pressure immediately to offset that loss. Burks has a lot of talent, but he played more of a gimmick role in college at Arkansas. He will have to learn how to play receiver at the NFL level. Otherwise, their draft featured several players that seemed like reaches, but it could all be redeemed if Malik Willis hits his potential.

Willis slid to the third round and now gets to learn from the bench with no pressure to start. Willis has an elite arm and huge athletic potential as a rusher, but he needs to improve his accuracy and gain experience running an NFL offense. That’s the kind of pick that has franchise-changing potential if it works out.


WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

Offseason Grade: C-
Free Agency Grade: Below Average
Draft Grade: C+

Washington feels like the team that was stung by a bad outcome to a good process last offseason and were determined to go in a different direction, without much concern for what that direction was. With a good roster a season ago that had no real chance at an elite quarterback, the Commanders signed Ryan Fitzpatrick with the hope that average quarterback play could be enough to keep them in the playoff hunt. Fitzpatrick was injured early and the season unraveled, causing them to jump at the chance to trade for Carson Wentz as an alternative.

Wentz being desperately shopped by a staff that just put their hopes on him a year before should probably have been a fairly significant warning sign, but the team evidently felt it had little choice. In addition to the Wentz move, the Commanders signed guard Andrew Norwell in free agency but only after letting a much better player (Brandon Scherff) walk to sign for big money in Jacksonville. Their free agency overall was one of losing more players than they signed, and Wentz needs to find something to his game that hasn’t been there in a few years to make that move anything other than a misstep. 

In the draft, Washington seemed to consistently reach on players relative to their position on PFF’s big board of the consensus board. Jahan Dotson ranked 40 places lower on the PFF board than the Commanders selected him in the draft, and only Sam Howell — who was selected in the fifth round — represented any significant ‘value’ relative to expected draft position.  Howell, who plays the most important position in the game, has a chance to redeem the entire offseason if he’s a better player than the NFL thinks, but that’s a long shot.

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