Dallas Cowboys: B Acquired: RB Alfred Morris, DE Benson Mayowa, DT Cedric Thornton. Lost: QB Matt Cassel, G Mackenzy Bernadeau, DE Greg Hardy.
The Cowboys had one great signing in Alfred Morris. Some teams foolishly overpaid for running backs this offseason, while Dallas obtained a comparable one for next to nothing. On the flip side, Dallas overpaid for Benson Mayowa, though it wasn't an egregious amount.
The front office made another solid signing in Cedric Thornton for a reasonable four years and $18 million, filling a big void at defensive tackle. The Cowboys didn't really lose anyone in free agency either - Greg Hardy remains unsigned as of this writing, but he's horrible for team chemistry anyway - making this a quality offseason for Dallas thus far.
New York Giants: C Acquired: DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon "Snacks" Harrison, ILB Keenan Robinson, CB Janoris Jenkins. Lost: WR Rueben Randle, DE Robert Ayers, CB Prince Amukamara.
If you ask enough NFL fans, you'll hear the opinion that Jerry Reese has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by an evil entity determined to ruin the future of an NFL franchise. Reese has made some curious decisions this offseason for sure, from handing Olivier Vernon $52 million guaranteed, to signing another nose tackle to big money when an under tackle was needed.
These horrible contracts will hurt the Giants in the future, but I won't give them too bad of a grade because it seems like they're going "all in" now, which kind of makes sense, given Eli Manning's age. I don't know if they've done enough to make a Super Bowl run, however, so if they don't at least make it to the "big game," it'll be absolutely crippling for this franchise. Sounds like the aliens are going to win after all.
Philadelphia Eagles: A- Acquired: QB Chase Daniel, WR Rueben Randle, WR Chris Givens, G Brandon Brooks, C/G Stefen Wisniewski, OLB Nigel Bradham, CB Leodis McKelvin, CB Ron Brooks, S Rodney McLeod. Lost: QB Mark Sanchez, RB DeMarco Murray, DT Cedric Thornton, ILB Kiko Alonso, CB Byron Maxwell, S Walter Thurmond.
Given the regime change, it can't be surprising that the Eagles have undergone a major overhaul. They've mostly dealt away all of the horrible pieces the truly incompetent Chip Kelly acquired, so they automatically deserve a positive grade. I absolutely can't give them anything worse than a B-.
While the Eagles made some great moves - mainly unloading a pair of lemons in Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins - they were guilty of a couple of sketchy ones as well. They overpaid both Chase Daniel and Brandon Brooks by vast amounts. Still, that's not enough to push this grade down too much, as Philadelphia is enjoying its first strong offseason in quite a while.
Update: I really liked the Stefen Wisniewski signing even though the Eagles already have a talented center. Wisniewski is a strong blocker who can play guard, and he was obtained very cheaply. I'm upgrading Philadelphia from a B+ to an A-.
Washington Redskins: C+ Acquired: TE Vernon Davis, DE/DT Kendall Reyes, CB Greg Toler, S David Bruton. Lost: QB Robert Griffin, RB Alfred Morris, DE/DT Jason Hatcher, ILB Keenan Robinson, S Dashon Goldson, S Trenton Robinson.
Daniel Snyder used to crown himself as King of the Offseason by overpaying for has-been veterans who predictably under-produced for him. Those days are long gone, as Snyder has ceded that title to Miami's Stephen Ross. And Washington is better off for it.
The Redskins haven't done much in free agency, outside of making a couple of quality signings for depth purposes. That's definitely a good thing, given that they didn't overspend like numerous other teams did. Washington didn't really lose anyone of consequence either, so this has been a solid offseason thus far.
Update: I'm dropping the Redskins to a C+. I had them at a "B" before, but the Vernon Davis contract is an abomination.
2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC East
Buffalo Bills: B+ Acquired: OLB Zach Brown, CB Sterling Moore, S Robert Blanton. Lost: G Kraig Urbik, DE Mario Williams, OLB Nigel Bradham, CB Leodis McKelvin, CB Ron Brooks.
The Bills haven't done much this offseason in terms of signing personnel. They added Robert Blanton, but he's just a depth player. They also didn't lose anyone of consequence either. Mario Williams is gone, but his effort was at zero percent for most of the year. Even the Jets were overheard laughing at how he wasn't trying at all. His absence will make Buffalo better.
The most-significant thing Buffalo accomplished this offseason was retaining both Cordy Glenn (via franchise tag) and Richie Incognito. That's good enough to earn a solid "B."
April 11 Update: The Bills made a solid acquisition by signing Sterling Moore cheaply. I'm going to push them up to a B+.
Miami Dolphins: YORK AND MILLEN KIELBASA MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN Acquired: OT Jermon Bushrod, G Kraig Urbik, DE Mario Williams, DE Andre Branch, ILB Kiko Alonso, CB Byron Maxwell, S Isa Abdul-Quddus. Lost: RB Lamar Miller, WR Rishard Matthews, WR Greg Jennings, DE Olivier Vernon, DE Derrick Shelby, DE Quinton Coples, CB Brent Grimes.
As mentioned in the Redskins' write-up, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has established control of the King of the Offseason, Loser of Games title. Ross began the calendar year with a bang, hiring Adam Gase and then instantly condemning him by threatening to fire him in just a few seasons. And if that wasn't enough, the Dolphins cut ties with some of the young talent on the roster (Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon, Derrick Shelby) and replaced them with aging, has-beens like Mario Williams and Andre Branch, or injury-prone lemons like Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell. Making matters worse, Miami actually moved back in the 2016 NFL Draft to acquire the latter two. Oh, and to top it off, the Dolphins announced that they want to obtain a very talented running back early in the draft (i.e. Ezekiel Elliott), when they could've done so at No. 8. He'll be long gone by the 13th pick.
The Dolphins are the true losers of the offseason. They've worsened the talent on the roster, grown older, depleted their resources and put a ridiculous amount of stress on their new coach. Ross is truly giving Jed York a run for his money as the worst owner in the NFL, and it's now more apparent than ever that Miami won't win anything with him.
New England Patriots: C+ Acquired: RB Donald Brown, WR Chris Hogan, WR Nate Washington, TE Martellus Bennett, G Jonathan Cooper, DE Chris Long, NT Terrance Knighton, DE/LB Shea McClellin. Lost: WR Brandon LaFell, TE Scott Chandler, DT Dominique Easley, DE/DT Akiem Hicks, NT Sealver Siliga, DE/OLB Chandler Jones, CB Leonard Johnson.
The Patriots had a very mixed offseason. On one hand, they made a couple of outstanding transactions. One was trading for Martellus Bennett, a talented tight end who was available cheaply because he clashed with Chicago's coaching staff. All New England surrendered was a fourth-round pick. The Patriots also signed Chris Long on a very small deal. Long hasn't been able to stay healthy, but if that changes, the Patriots will have added an impactful defensive lineman to their roster.
On the flip side, New England has also been guilty of some sketchy moves. Signing Shea McClellin to a ridiculous deal was inexcusable, and trading one of the better pass-rushers in the league in Chandler Jones away was very strange. Sure, the Patriots obtained a second-round pick in return, but with Tom Brady entering the twilight of his career, the team needs to win now, and a second-round selection won't necessarily help do that. It reminds me of the Logan Mankins deal. Bill Belichick screwed that one up, as Mankins' presence probably would've helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl this past season.
Overall, I can't say the Patriots improved this offseason. I could be wrong if Long stays healthy, and McClellin and Jonathan Cooper finally live up to their first-round billings, but the likelihood of two of those three hitting is very slim. Thus, the Patriots deserve something like a C+.
Update: I was willing to move this from a C+ to a B- in the wake of the Terrance Knighton signing. I'm not in love with the move, but it's a quality addition. However, the Patriots cut Dominique Easley. There might be some off-the-field issues with him, but the fact remains that New England lost an impactful interior pass-rusher.
New York Jets: INC / B+ Acquired: RB Matt Forte, RB Khiry Robinson, OT Ryan Clady, DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins, NT Steve McLendon, ILB Bruce Carter. Lost: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick(?), RB Chris Ivory, WR Jeremy Kerley, TE Jeff Cumberland, NT Damon "Snacks" Harrison, ILB Demario Davis, CB Antonio Cromartie.
It's difficult to give the Jets a complete grade right now because the Ryan Fitzpatrick situation hasn't been resolved. I'll have to come back and update this once it becomes clear what New York plans on doing at quarterback.
In the meantime, I'll give New York a temporary B-. Losing Snacks Harrison will be huge, and the run defense will suffer as a result, but I like what the Jets with their running back situation. While some insane teams were paying ridiculous sums of money to running backs, New York managed to secure Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson very cheaply.
April 2 Update: I love the Bruce Carter signing, as he was obtained cheaply because he struggled in the 4-3 last year. He'll be much better in the 3-4. I'm upgrading this from a temporary B- to a temporary "B."
April 11 Update: New York's offseason just keeps getting better. It's still incomplete because the quarterback position is unclear, but trading for Ryan Clady without really giving up anything turns this into a temporary B+.
2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: NFC North
Chicago Bears: B+ Acquired: OT Bobby Massie, DE/DT Akiem Hicks, ILB Danny Trevathan, ILB Jerrell Freeman. Lost: RB Matt Forte, TE Martellus Bennett, OT Jermon Bushrod, DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins, DE/LB Shea McClellin.
The Bears are having a solid offseason. That may not appear to be the case at first glance, given that they've lost some players who were productive in the past like Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod. However, two of the three are regressing, while Bennett has a viable replacement in Zach Miller, so seeing them depart is no big deal.
Speaking of Miller, he's one of several great deals Chicago came away with this offseason. The front office managed to snag Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman relatively cheaply, and the two should be able to bolster the interior of the defense, which has been lacking ever since Brian Urlacher departed.
I can't give the Bears an "A" because they had a couple of contracts I wasn't a fan of - Bobbie Massie, Tracy Porter - but overall, Chicago should be better than it was last year.
Detroit Lions: C+ Acquired: WR Marvin Jones, WR Jeremy Kerley, G Geoff Schwartz, DE Wallace Gilberry, DT Stefan Charles, S Rafael Bush, S Johnson Bademosi. Lost: WR Calvin Johnson, G/C Manuel Ramirez, ILB Stephen Tulloch, DE Jason Jones, OLB Travis Lewis, S Isa Abdul-Quddus.
Whether it's NFL free agency, the stock market, or really any other facet of life, the worst thing you can do is panic and overreact. The mantra I like to use is buy low, sell high, remain calm amid chaos.
Well, the Lions didn't exactly do that this offseason. They watched Calvin Johnson retire and overpaid Marvin Jones as a result. Jones is just a mediocre No. 2 receiver, yet Detroit is now paying him like a top-flight wideout, which is a horrible mistake.
Giving Jones way too much money was Detroit's only egregious error of this offseason, but it's enough to knock them into the "C" range. The Lions didn't really do much else besides re-sign Haloti Ngata and lose a promising, young safety in Isa Abdul-Quddus.
Update: Signing Geoff Schwartz was a pretty solid move. I'm increasing this grade just a bit.
Green Bay Packers: B Acquired: TE Jared Cook. Lost: WR James Jones, NT B.J. Raji, DE/OLB Mike Neal, CB Casey Hayward.
The Packers haven't signed anyone this offseason, which isn't a surprise because they seldom bring in anyone from the open market. They believe in growing their own talent, which is smart because Super Bowl winners are almost never built through free agency.
What Green Bay did manage to accomplish was to re-sign some of its players, such as Letroy Guion, Nick Perry and James Starks. The Starks contract was solid, but the other two were pretty "meh," so I think a B- sounds about right.
March 28 update: The Packers signed Jared Cook, which was a great move because it was a cheap, 1-year "prove it" deal. I'm moving the Packers up from a B- to a "B."
Minnesota Vikings: A Acquired: OT Andre Smith, G Alex Boone, OLB Emmanuel Lamur, OLB Travis Lewis, S Michael Griffin. Lost: WR Mike Wallace, S Robert Blanton.
Of the 12 teams I've written about thus far, the Vikings have enjoyed the best offseason. They haven't signed too many players, but they've made each acquisition count. They bolstered their offensive line, which was a big problem area for them in 2015, and they did so with relatively cheap signings for Alex Boone and Andre Smith.
On top of that, Minnesota re-signed most of its free agents to reasonable deals, meaning the team didn't really lose anyone of consequence. Mike Wallace is the big name who departed, but he was a huge flop last year, so he won't be missed.
I think this is an easy "A." The Vikings are one of the true winners of free agency, as they've improved their roster substantially without sacrificing their future.
2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC North
Baltimore Ravens: C+ Acquired: WR Mike Wallace, TE Ben Watson, S Eric Weddle. Lost: WR Chris Givens, G/OT Kelechi Osemele, DE/DT Chris Canty, ILB Daryl Smith, S Will Hill.
If this were five years ago, the Ravens would've made a killing in free agency. Mike Wallace, Ben Watson and Eric Weddle were all in their primes then. Now, they're 30, 35 and 31, respectively (as of Sept. 1), and two of them (Wallace, Weddle) are coming off down seasons. It's possible that the two could rebound in their new home, but it's just as likely that they'll continue to regress. Watson, meanwhile, is highly unlikely to match his production from 2015.
The Ravens lost two promising, young contributors in Kelechi Osemele and Will Hill. That'll hurt, so this wasn't exactly a successful free-agency period for Baltimore. It wasn't horrible though, so I think a C+ is justified.
Cincinnati Bengals: A Acquired: WR Brandon LaFell, OLB Karlos Dansby. Lost: WR Marvin Jones, WR Mohamed Sanu, OT Andre Smith, OLB Emmanuel Lamur, CB Leon Hall, S Reggie Nelson.
The Bengals lost seven free agents this offseason and didn't receive anything in return, which was to be expected. Like the Packers, Cincinnati believes in building through the draft, and it's a strategy that has worked out rather well for them. Thus, I won't penalize the Bengals for not acquiring anyone.
But how about the players they lost? Well, Cincinnati said goodbye to two overrated receivers, a tackle whose play has dropped off, a mediocre linebacker, and a pair of aging defensive backs. Not exactly the most devastating departures. Meanwhile, the Bengals did a great job of retaining their priority free agents at great prices, namely George Iloka and Pacman Jones.
The Bengals deserve a grade in the A-/B+ range. I'll give them the latter mark because they could've at least found a bargain or two, but overall, they haven't gotten worse, and they managed to retain some key players at outstanding deals.
Update: The Bengals move from a B+ to an "A" after making one of the best signings in free agency, bringing in Karlos Dansby for an incredibly cheap contract.
Cleveland Browns: D Acquired: QB Robert Griffin, G Austin Pasztor, ILB Demario Davis, S Rahim Moore. Lost: QB Johnny Manziel, WR Travis Benjamin, OT Mitchell Schwartz, C Alex Mack, DT Randy Starks, ILB Karlos Dansby, S Tashaun Gipson, S Donte Whitner, S Johnson Bademosi.
The Browns have been heavily criticized this offseason for allowing numerous, talented players in their prime to leave, but it's not like the current regime is to blame. Yet, I still have to give them a bad grade. Think about it this way: If you had a test coming up in school, and your dog ate your textbook, it's not your fault that you failed, but the teacher would have no choice but to give you a poor grade. That's the case here.
There's no sugarcoating it - Cleveland is having an awful offseason. Alex Mack, Tashaun Gipson, Mitchell Schwartz and perhaps Travis Benjamin were all great building blocks at the top of their game, but they all left. None of them wanted to stay, so the Browns can't exactly be blamed for not retaining them. However, they're obviously worse off right now, and they haven't done much to improve their situation.
Pittsburgh Steelers: B+ Acquired: TE Ladarius Green, OT Ryan Harris. Lost: TE Heath Miller, OT Kelvin Beachum, NT Steve McLendon, CB Brandon Boykin, S Will Allen.
The Steelers don't often sign free agents, but when they do, they usually make it count. They did so with Ladarius Green, who will replace the retired Heath Miller. The Green signing was excellent, as a couple inferior tight ends inexplicably received more money on the open market.
Pittsburgh managed to retain most of its players with expiring contracts, with the two prominent exceptions being Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Boykin. The latter is still available as of this writing, while Beachum should've been kept, as the offensive line struggled without him late in 2015. On the positive side, the Steelers managed to re-sign guard Ramon Foster to an incredible deal.
The Steelers have done well overall this offseason, earning a strong B+. There wasn't anything "sexy," aside from the Green signing, but flashy-type acquisitions usually tend to backfire in free agency.
2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: NFC South
Atlanta Falcons: C Acquired: QB Matt Schaub, WR Mohamed Sanu, C Alex Mack, DE Derrick Shelby, DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw, ILB Sean Weatherspoon. Lost: WR Roddy White, OT Jake Long, G Chris Chester, DE/OLB O'Brien Schofield, DT Paul Soliai, OLB Justin Durant, S William Moore.
The Falcons have a history overpaying sub-par free agents, and this season was no exception. That became evident when the Falcons gave Mohamed Sanu a $32.5 million contract over five years, which was just absurd. Sanu is a mere fourth receiver in an offense on a good day, yet he's being paid like a top-end No. 2. There's really no excuse for giving a pedestrian player that much money. Sanu either blackmailed the front office, or the decision-makers were drugged. Those are the only two explanations.
Nothing else Atlanta did this offseason was bad. In fact, I liked the Alex Mack and Derrick Shelby signings, and the Falcons didn't really lose anyone of consequence. They should be slightly better as a result, but I still have to give them a "C" for the Sanu blunder. I still can't believe he received so much money.
Carolina Panthers: A Acquired: C Gino Gradkowski, DT Paul Soliai, CB Brandon Boykin, S Trenton Robinson. Lost: OT Nate Chandler, C Fernando Velasco, DT Dwan Edwards, CB Charles Tillman, P Brad Nortman.
The Panthers really did just two things of significance this offseason. The first was re-signing Charles Johnson after they cut him to a dream, 1-year "prove it" deal. Retaining Johnson for just $3 million in 2016 was one of the best signings of free agency. The second was adding Paul Soliai to the roster for a good price.
Carolina essentially proved that less can be more. They retained one of their better players for next-to-nothing and added quality depth, all without really losing anything. Even without considering that Kelvin Benjamin will be back next year, the Panthers definitely have improved themselves.
March 28 update: The Panthers signed Brandon Boykin today to a 1-year deal worth less than $1 million. It's yet another great move by the Carolina front office, as Boykin was one of the better players remaining on the market. I'm moving this up from an A- to an "A."
New Orleans Saints: C- Acquired: TE Coby Fleener, DT Nick Fairley, OLB Nathan Stupar, ILB Craig Robertson, ILB James Laurinaitis. Lost: RB Khiry Robinson, WR Marques Colston, TE Ben Watson, G Jahri Evans, DT Kevin Williams, ILB David Hawthorne, CB Brandon Browner.
The Saints used to be a perennial playoff team, but after two consecutive 7-9 finishes, it's become apparent that they are trending the wrong way. Sean Payton and an aging Drew Brees aren't to blame; the front office has made some poor decisions, and that has continued this offseason.
New Orleans signed two prominent players this spring, and it overpaid for both of them. Adding James Laurinaitis for nearly $3 million annually was bad, but it pales in comparison to the 5-year, $36 million Coby "butter fingers" Fleener received. That deal alone makes it impossible for New Orleans to earn anything higher than a "C."
Unfortunately for the Saints, they're getting a Millen. The Laurinaitis and Fleener contracts are abominations, and the team lost a couple of key contributors (Ben Watson, Jahri Evans) in the process. They're one of the true losers of free agency.
March 28 update: The Saints signed Nick Fairley, so we'll see how much that contract is worth. It could push this grade up to a "D" or C-, but then again, the Josh Hill figures were announced, and they were once again absurd for a tight end. I'll keep this grade at a Millen for now until we discover what the Fairley contract is.
March 29 update: I've moved up the Saints to a C- from the Millen's Easter Kielbasa Hunt grade I gave them earlier. I love the Nick Fairley signing. However, it still doesn't make up for all of the bad moves New Orleans has made otherwise.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C Acquired: G J.R. Sweezy, DE Robert Ayers, LB Daryl Smith, CB Brent Grimes, CB Josh Robinson, P Bryan Anger. Lost: DT Henry Melton, ILB Bruce Carter, CB Sterling Moore.
The Buccaneers handled this offseason as if they had multiple-personality disorder. Some of their signings were outstanding. For example, they brought in one of the top edge rushers on the market, Robert Ayers, for just $10.5 million guaranteed over three years. They also managed to retain Chris Conte on a great deal and signed Brent Grimes to a fair contract. Granted, Grimes isn't that good anymore, but he's still better than what Tampa possessed at cornerback last year.
On the other hand, Tampa had some Jekyll-type transactions, including the Doug Martin re-signing. There's no reason to pay a running back lots of money in this day and age, given that they essentially grow on trees. Martin's effort issues in the past have to be disconcerting as well. Also, the $32.5 million contract handed to J.R. Sweezy was blasphemous. Sweezy was one of the worst offensive linemen in the NFL last year, so I'm not sure he even deserved $3.25 million over five years.
Given the up-and-down nature of Tampa's offseason, it seems appropriate to give them a "C" for all of the moves they've made.
2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC South
Houston Texans: B+ Acquired: QB Brock Osweiler, RB Lamar Miller, G Jeff Allen, G/C Tony Bergstrom. Lost: RB Arian Foster, WR Nate Washington, TE Garrett Graham, G Brandon Brooks, C Ben Jones, DE/DTJared Crick, S Rahim Moore.
Building through free agency seldom works, but finding complementary pieces without overspending is a great strategy. That's sort of what the Texans did this offseason. They already possessed a great defense, but lacked talent in the offensive backfield. That is no longer the case.
One of the most prominent transactions this offseason was Houston signing Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler. It was criticized by some, as $72 million for four years seems like a lot to give to a quarterback without much of a track record. However, Osweiler handled himself well late in 2015, and he's certainly talented. He's also way better than Brian Hoyer and whomever else Houston planned to use at the helm. Even if he's just average, the Texans will be a Super Bowl contender.
I wasn't as big of a fan of the Lamar Miller signing. I like Miller as a player, but the Texans paid him too much. Still, it's undeniable that he'll be an upgrade over Arian Foster because he can actually stay healthy. Miller will have big lanes to burst through, thanks to Jeff Allen, who was signed over from the Chiefs. That was a great move, as Allen was one of the better interior linemen in 2015.
The Texans definitely deserve a good grade for what they did in free agency. I don't think I can give them an "A" or an A- because they overspent for Miller and lost their center, but a B+ definitely seems right.
Indianapolis Colts: C+ Acquired: RB Robert Turbin, RB Jordan Todman, CB Patrick Robinson. Lost: TE Coby Fleener, ILB Jerrell Freeman, S Dwight Lowery.
The Colts haven't done much in free agency. In fact, they had just one prominent signing, which was Patrick Robinson to a pretty cheap deal. I gave that a B+, as Robinson could be good enough to be Indianapolis' new No. 2 corner.
However, that didn't stop Ryan Grigson from doing something dumb this offseason. He continued his trend of overpaying pedestrian players when he gave Dwayne Allen $29.4 million over four years. Allen hasn't been able to stay healthy at all, so he must have had some unflattering pictures of either Grigson or Jim Irsay to deserve that sort of a contract.
At any rate, I don't mind when a team doesn't do all that much in free agency, but the Colts lost Jerrell Freeman, their best linebacker, by far, and failed to do anything about it. Thus, their offseason seems like it was rather underwhelming, though not terrible because of the Robinson signing.
Jacksonville Jaguars: C Acquired: RB Chris Ivory, OT Kelvin Beachum, G Mackenzy Bernadeau, DE/DT Malik Jackson, CB Prince Amukamara, S Tashaun Gipson, P Brad Nortman. Lost: RB Toby Gerhart, G Zane Beadles, C Stefen Wisniewski, DE Chris Clemons, P Bryan Anger.
Beleaguered general manager David Caldwell was not off to a good start when free agency began. He overpaid for Malik Jackson and then compounded that error tenfold when he signed Chris Ivory to a $32.5 million deal over five years. Ivory isn't even worth a fifth of that, and the signing is so much worse when considering the position. Running backs grow on trees in this day and age, so it's completely irresponsible to give $32.5 million to a runner - especially one who isn't very good!
The Jaguars were on pace for an easy Millen grade, but then something weird happened - Caldwell actually began making quality moves. I'm not sure if he was replaced by a benevolent alien, or if he was strapped down and zapped with 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, but it was so strange to see the Jaguars accomplish something positive. For example, getting Prince Amukamara to come in on a 1-year "prove it" deal is something only the likes of Ozzie Newsome could've accomplished. Signing Kelvin Beachum to upgrade the offensive line was also crucial, while Tashaun Gipson is another upgrade to the secondary.
The first half of Jacksonville's free agency deserves a Millen, while the second half earns an "A." Average them together, and you get an appropriate C+.
Tennessee Titans: B+ Acquired: QB Matt Cassel, RB DeMarco Murray, WR Rishard Matthews, C Ben Jones, ILB Sean Spence, CB Brice McCain, CB Antwon Blake, S Rashad Johnson. Lost: NT Sammie Lee Hill, DT Mike Martin, ILB Zach Brown, CB Coty Sensabaugh, S Michael Griffin.
Tennessee's biggest move wasn't technically a free-agency transaction. It was trading for DeMarco Murray, whom the team obtained for next-to-nothing. Murray was horrible for the Eagles, but he'll actually be playing for a coach who understands NFL concepts this season, and the Titans will utilize Murray correctly as a result instead of asking him to run laterally when he's not equipped to do that.
Murray was part of what the Titans wanted to accomplish this offseason, which was to find help around Marcus Mariota and improve the secondary. They managed to do both, signing center Ben Jones as well; he figures to be a big upgrade in the middle of the offensive line. Meanwhile, Rashad Johnson will help improve a defensive backfield that surrendered too many big plays last year. Johnson isn't great or anything, but he's much better than the departed Michael Griffin, and he was signed very cheaply.
That said, Tennessee's offseason wasn't perfect. The team overpaid for Matt Cassel, Rishard Matthews and Brice McCain. However, the Titans didn't really lose anyone significant to free agency, making their spring somewhat of a success.
2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: NFC West
Arizona Cardinals: A+ Acquired: G Evan Mathis, DE Chandler Jones, S Tyvon Branch. Lost: OT Bobby Massie, G Jonathan Cooper, C Lyle Sendlein, CB Jerraud Powers, S Rashad Johnson.
Arizona was the absolute winner of free agency. The team made just three moves of significance, but all of them were extremely impactful, and none required overpaying anyone.
One of the moves was actually a trade, as the Cardinals dealt a second-round pick and underachieving guard Jonathan Cooper to the Patriots for Chandler Jones, one of the NFL's premier pass-rushers. The Cardinals haven't been able to generate pressure from the edge, and Jones will change that. Arizona then replaced Cooper with Evan Mathis, who is still one of the league's best guards. Mathis is in the twilight of his career, but he just had an outstanding campaign for the defending Super Bowl champions. Perhaps he'll help a new team claim the Lombardi.
The one player of note the Cardinals lost was Rashad Johnson, but they replaced him with Tyvon Branch, who will be an upgrade if he stays healthy.
The Cardinals had such a terrific offseason that they now should be considered favorites to win the Super Bowl. They obviously deserve an A+ for what they've done.
Los Angeles Rams: D Acquired: DE Quinton Coples, CB Coty Sensabaugh. Lost: TE Jared Cook, DE Chris Long, DT Nick Fairley, ILB James Laurinaitis, CB Janoris Jenkins, S Rodney McLeod, K Greg Zuerlein.
The Rams entered the offseason set on keeping Case Keenum as the starting quarterback, planning to win via running the ball and playing great defense. They didn't even bother pursuing any quarterbacks, and one prevailing opinion is that they were just too focused on moving to a new city to bother. That would explain why they haven't really done anything in free agency.
St. Louis lost a number of key players this offseason, namely Janoris Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. All they have to show for it are Quinton Coples and Coty Sensabaugh, a pair of underwhelming defenders. Making matters worse, the Rams overpaid for Sensabaugh by a wide margin. They also re-signed Mark Barron to a 5-year, $45 million deal, which was an absolutely gross amount.
I liked how the Rams were able to retain Trumaine Johnson and William Hayes, but that's about it. This offseason has been disastrous for the team, but at least Stan Kroenke will have made lots of money moving to a city that doesn't care about professional football.
San Francisco 49ers: GOOD FRIDAY? MORE LIKE GOOD KIELBASA MILLEN Acquired: G Zane Beadles. Lost: RB Reggie Bush, WR Anquan Boldin, G Alex Boone.
It's usually hard to criticize a team for barely doing anything, but the 49ers make it so easy. And thankfully so, as it would've been a shame had the current laughing stock of the NFL not been guilty of multiple blunders this spring. We do need a good laugh, after all.
The 49ers' one signing was a joke. They brought in Zane Beadles to replace the departed Alex Boone, but inked the pedestrian guard to a deal worth nearly $4 million annually. San Francisco also managed to retain one of its better free agents, Ian Williams, to a 5-year, $27.5 million contract. The problem was that Williams hasn't passed his physical and may not be able to play at the beginning of the season. Whoops!
Think that's it? Throw in a ridiculous amount given to Garrett Celek (4 years, $14 million) and factor in that Boone and Anquan Boldin left, and we have our third Millen grade of the offseason. Thanks for the laughs, Jed and Trent. You guys are the best.
Seattle Seahawks: D Acquired: OT Bradley Sowell, OT J'Marcus Webb, DT Sealver Siliga. Lost: RB Marshawn Lynch, OT Russell Okung, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Brandon Mebane, DE/OLB Bruce Irvin.
The Seahawks have been one of the most-successful franchises this decade, and most of that has been because of the front office's ability to make terrific picks in the middle rounds of the draft. However, as we're finding out, the team doesn't really have a great eye for what happens in free agency.
It was odd to see Seattle overpay player after player. It began when they re-signed the mediocre Ahtyba Rubin to a contract worth $4 million annually. Jeremy Lane then received a curious deal (4 years, $23 million), followed by Jermaine Kearse's 3-year pact worth $13.5 million. To top it off, the Seahawks gave Jon Ryan, a bad punter, $10 million over four years. Why!?
The Seahawks also lost some key players like Russell Okung and Bruce Irvin. They tried to replace Okung with J'Marcus Webb, who was also signed to an absurd amount (2 years, $6 million), considering that he is barely rosterable.
I really don't get what the Seahawks tried to accomplish this offseason. The only thing saving this from being a Millen is that the front office managed to prevent too many players from leaving, but it overpaid most of its free agents in the process.
2016 NFL Free Agent Team Grades: AFC West
Denver Broncos: INC / C- Acquired: QB Mark Sanchez, OT Russell Okung, OT Donald Stephenson. Lost: QB Peyton Manning, QB Brock Osweiler, RB Ronnie Hillman, TE Vernon Davis, TE Owen Daniels, OT Ryan Clady, OT Ryan Harris, G Evan Mathis, G Louis Vasquez, DE/DT Malik Jackson, ILB Danny Trevathan, S David Bruton.
It's never good when a team loses its top two quarterbacks, best offensive lineman and a pair of talented contributors on defense. That, apparently, was the cost of winning the Super Bowl for the cap-strapped Broncos.
Losing Brock Osweiler is potentially devastating. The team's only logical quarterback on the roster is Mark Sanchez, and he's terrible. We'll see what happens with Colin Kaepernick or the NFL Draft, but things are looking pretty bleak for Denver. Granted, the Broncos won with horrible quarterback play in the Super Bowl, but that's because they had a ridiculous defense. The stop unit won't be as effective without Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson.
All hope isn't lost, however. The Broncos still have a very good stop unit, and they managed to obtain Russell Okung on an absurdly cheap deal. Plus, the offseason isn't over yet.
I'll do what I did with the Jets - I'll give Denver an incomplete mark and a temporary C-. Perhaps things will improve, and if they do, I'll re-visit this grade.
Kansas City Chiefs: A- Acquired: WR Rod Streater, OT Mitchell Schwartz, DE/OLB Andy Mulumba, S Stevie Brown, S Jimmy Wilson. Lost: QB Chase Daniel, OT Donald Stephenson, G Jeff Allen, G Ben Grubbs, DE/DT Mike DeVito, CB Sean Smith, S Husain Abdullah, S Tyvon Branch.
This actually reminds me of the Cincinnati grade. There's some confusion in the comments below about why I gave that team a B+ even though it didn't sign anyone. Well, the Bengals had a ton of free agents and managed to retain most of them at reasonable or great prices. That's good enough for a B+.
If the Bengals earned a B+, so can the Chiefs, though they did manage to make one significant move on the market, signing Mitchell Schwartz. They added the former Cleveland right tackle to a solid deal, and he should be able to help bolster the front. Otherwise, Kansas City's offseason was all about re-signing/franchising key players like Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson, Mitchell Schwartz, Jaye Howard and Travis Kelce. All but one contract (Kelce's) earned a "B" or higher, and Kelce was given a C+ as a slight overpay.
As a result, Kansas City enjoyed a terrific free agency. The team kept all but two prominent players (Jeff Allen, Sean Smith) and was able to bring in a pseudo-replacement for one.
Oakland Raiders: A Acquired: G/OT Kelechi Osemele, OLB Bruce Irvin, OLB Darren Bates, CB Sean Smith, S Reggie Nelson, S Brynden Trawick. Lost: WR Rod Streater, OT Khalif Barnes, OT J'Marcus Webb, G Tony Bergstrom, DE Justin Tuck, DE/OLB Aldon Smith, ILB Curtis Lofton, CB Charles Woodson, S Larry Asante.
I really like what the Raiders did this offseason. They signed three talented players who will help get them into the playoffs for the first time in nearly 15 years, and they did so without overpaying any of them.
The headliner is Kelechi Osemele, who is one of the top guards in the NFL. He was signed to a fair contract worth about $11 million annually. It was initially believed that Osemele would have to play left tackle, but Oakland managed to retain Donald Penn on a great deal. As a result, the Raiders will have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Oakland also bolstered its defense by acquiring Bruce Irvin and Sean Smith. Both players will help the stop unit while being paid reasonably. With Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck retired, and Aldon Smith suspended, the Raiders desperately needed some play-makers on defense, and they manged to obtain two.
I'm willing to give the Raiders an "A." They improved their roster without putting any sort of stress on their cap situation, and they didn't allow any significant players leave via the open market.
San Diego Chargers: B Acquired: WR Travis Benjamin, NT Brandon Mebane, CB Casey Hayward, S Dwight Lowery. Lost: RB Donald Brown, TE Ladarius Green, G Johnnie Troutman, DE/DT Kendall Reyes, ILB Donald Butler, ILB Kavell Conner, CB Patrick Robinson, S Eric Weddle.
The Chargers made one of the best signings of the offseason when they obtained Casey Hayward for $15.3 million over three years. Considering what some of the other top cornerbacks were paid, it's mind-boggling that San Diego was able to snatch up Hayward so cheaply.
San Diego's other moves obviously weren't as good, but they were mostly solid. The team managed to acquire Brandon Mebane and retain Antonio Gates at fair values. Travis Benjamin was a slight overpay, but only because he's a 1-year wonder. If he performs well for the Chargers, then it won't matter.
This all sounds like the Chargers should be in the "A" range, but they lost several key contributors this offseason. Eric Weddle, Ladarius Green and Patrick Robinson leaving will hurt. I can understand Weddle departing because there was a falling out, but he'll still be missed. Green and Robinson, meanwhile, were young players who shouldn't have gotten away.