After another frantic free agent frenzy, lets dive in at the major winners and losers. Just remember that these grades can look bad a year from now. Remember when everybody was raving about the Eagles’ free-agency haul last spring? Now look. It turned out to be a disaster. So take the grades for what they are, an immediate reaction to the moves because nobody really knows how they will turn out.
Right, Chip Kelly?
|The Skinny: They wanted to add a pass rusher, and were in on Jason Pierre-Paul, but he opted to go back to the Giants. The only addition was safety Tyvon Branch from Kansas City. They did re-sign backup quarterback Drew Stanton, but lost right tackle Bobby Massie.|
C-: Not getting a pass rusher has to hurt, but they were mostly inactive, which is a sign of a good team.
|The Skinny: They were aggressive in free agency and added players at need spots. They landed center Alex Mack from the Browns and he will be the anchor they need inside. They paid him a lot, but he’s a good player. Defensive end Derrick Shelby comes over from the Dolphins and he’s an underrated player who will help the pass rush. They did pay receiver Mohamed Sanu too much, but he will be their No. 2 to Julio Jones.|
B-: Mack fills a big need, but he’s on the decline. Shelby was a nice signing. Solid, not special.
|The Skinny: They had cap issues, so they couldn’t do a lot in free agency. They did lose guard Kelechi Osemele to the Raiders, which is a hit. The only outside free agent they signed was tight end Ben Watson. This isn’t a team that usually gets involved early in free agency.|
C: They didn’t make any moves, but they were kind of hamstrung by the cap.
|The Skinny: They did the smart thing and made sure to keep the left side of their offensive line in tackle Cordy Glenn and guard Richie Incognito. They had some cap issues, so they did suffer a few losses like Mario Williams (released), corner Leodis McKelvin (released) and linebacker Nigel Bradham.|
B: Keeping your own is important and they kept the players they wanted to keep.
|The Skinny: They didn’t do much, other than bring back veteran defensive end Charles Johnson and fullback Mike Tolbert. They did sign center Gino Gradkowski for depth, but that’s it for outside signings. They lost punter Brad Nortman.|
C-: Not much here, but again this is a talented team that doesn’t need a lot and has some cap issues.
|The Skinny: I like both of their top free-agent signings. They landed linebacker Danny Trevathan, who John Fox had in Denver. He will bring speed to a unit that needed it. Right tackle Bobby Massie will allow the team to move Kyle Long back to his natural spot of guard. That’s a smart decision there. Jerrell Freeman is another solid signing at linebacker, as is defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who was signed Sunday.|
B+: They didn’t get a lot, but what they did get was two important pieces and potentially a third and a fourth.
|The Skinny: They didn’t sign anybody outside of their team, but they brought back three key free agents in safety George Iloka, corner Adam Jones and linebacker Vincent Rey. That’s big for the defense. They did lose receivers Marvin Jones, who they wanted back, and Mohamed Sanu, which creates a void there.|
B: Keeping the key defensive players was big for them. Losing Marvin Jones hurt.
|The Skinny: They let so many good players get out the door, and did little in terms of replacing them. I get the idea that they didn’t want to overpay for some of their own, but all of them? They let Mitchell Schwartz, Tashaun Gipson, Alex Mack and Travis Benjamin all leave. I would have kept a couple, especially Benjamin since his deal with San Diego isn’t that much. They added tackle Alvin Bailey and linebacker Justin Tuggle, but that’s not a lot.|
F: I get not overpaying, but keep some of the guys. Or go get some others.
|The Skinny: The only player of note outside the team they added was defensive lineman Cedric Thornton from the Eagles. He is a good player, and that’s a good signing. They did re-sign some of their own in corner Morris Claiborne and linebackers Kyle Wilbur and Rolando McClain.|
C: They weren’t active, but still landed a solid player in Thornton. The draft will be big in April.
|The Skinny: Super Bowl teams usually get targeted in free agency, but the Broncos suffered the worst hit of all: They now have no quarterback. Yes, they traded to get Mark Sanchez from the Eagles, but he is stopgap at best. Allowing Brock Osweiler to sign with Houston is a major fail — no matter what the price. They also lost Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, two key defenders. But you can’t keep them all. That’s understandable. They did sign tackle Donald Stephenson from Kansas City.|
D: This is a bad grade for having no plan at quarterback after Peyton Manning retired. They lost some talented players.
|The Skinny: They needed to sign a receiver with Calvin Johnson retiring, so landing Marvin Jones was a solid move — even if he’s more of a No. 2 receiver. They added two safeties in Rafael Bush and Tavon Wilson to give them a chance to compete on the back end after losing Isa Abdul-Quddus. They also were smart in re-signing defensive tackles Tyrunn Walker and Haloti Ngata and linebacker Tahir Whitehead.|
B: It was a solid class for the Lions, especially re-signing their own. Jones will make or break this class.
Green Bay Packers
|The Skinny: The Packers are a team that won’t usually dive into the market. That’s not Ted Thompson’s style. So it’s tough to grade them. They did re-sign Nick Perry and inked Mike Daniels before he hit the market. Those are solid moves. But as far as diving in, they just don’t do it.|
Incomplete: They just don’t get involved with other team’s free agents, so it’s hard to give them any grade. This grade can be the same every year.
|The Skinny: They made one of the biggest splashes of the period by landing Denver quarterback Brock Osweiler. They paid him a ton at $18 million per season, but it was a move they had to make. They also added a solid back in Lamar Miller, even if it’s not something I would have done. They lost guard Brandon Brooks and center Ben Jones, but replaced them with Jeff Allen and Tony Bergstrom.|
A: They had to get a quarterback, and they got the best in this class. This could end up being their marquee free-agent class if Osweiler becomes what they think he will be.
|The Skinny: They didn’t do much of anything, other than re-signing tight end Dwayne Allen and letting Coby Fleener leave to sign with the Saints They also re-signed kicker Adam Vinatieri. There wasn’t much activity for the Colts.|
C-: It was a pretty blah free-agency period for them, but they’ve tried spending big in the past and it’s failed. They also have a big deal coming up with Andrew Luck.
|The Skinny: They went into free agency with the idea of upgrading their defense, which they did. They landed defensive lineman Malik Jackson on a mega-deal and then added free safety Tashaun Gipson. They also signed Giants corner Prince Amukamara to a one-year deal. That’s three starters. They missed on the pass rusher, but tried. They paid too much for running back Chris Ivory, but that’s my personal bias against paying backs.|
B+: They added three starters on defense, which was a must. The only knock is missing on the edge rusher, but they tried hard with Vernon. He just wanted to go to the Giants.
Kansas City Chiefs
|The Skinny: The Chiefs did a really nice job of keeping their own. They re-signed edge rusher Tamba Hali, linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Jaye Howard, a rising player. They added Mitchell Schwartz to play right tackle, and he’s an upgrade over Donald Stephenson, who went to the Broncos. They did lose corner Sean Smith and guard Jeff Allen, two quality starters.|
B+: I like the idea of keeping that defense intact for the most part. Schwartz is an upgrade.
Los Angeles Rams
|The Skinny: They franchised corner Trumaine Johnson, but lost corner Janoris Jenkins. They picked the right corner. They were also wise to bring back defensive ends William Hayes and Eugene Sims. They paid way too much to keep linebacker/safety Mark Barron. Losing Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod were hits to the secondary. They didn’t do anything about the offense.|
C: Keeping Johnson and Hayes were smart moves, but they didn’t do a lot outside of their own.
|The Skinny: Give general manager Mike Tannenbaum credit for trying to improve his team. But trading for two Chip Kelly moves gone bad from the Eagles in Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso is risky. Defensive end Mario Williams could be a steal if he decides he wants to play hard. Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus is a solid signing who will be a nice complement to Rashad Jones. If the Broncos don’t match the offer to running back C.J. Anderson, that would be five starters out of this class. Not bad, but time will tell.|
B-: They took on some risk with the Eagles contracts. But they feel like they’ve added good players to their defense.
|The Skinny: The addition of 49ers guard Alex Boone gives them a nice addition to the offensive line. He will toughen that group up. Safety Michael Griffin will come in and compete with others for the job next to Harrison Smith. Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur played for Mike Zimmer with the Bengals and had his best year under him. He is an athletic kid coming off an injury. Re-signing Mike Harris was a solid move as well for the offensive line.|
B-: It wasn’t a big haul, but landing Boone will really help.
23. New England Patriots
|The Skinny: The Patriots are another team that usually waits until the big-ticket items are gone, and then they jump into the mix. The only major signing so far was tendering an offer to Bills restricted free-agent receiver Chris Hogan. That’s it. They also added outside linebacker Roman Humber from the Saints.|
C: As usual, they draft and develop. The odd thing is the offer sheet to Hogan. Why not a deep threat?
New Orleans Saints
|The Skinny: They didn’t have a lot of cap room, so the only major addition was tight end Coby Fleener from the Colts. They paid a lot of money for him, but he should be a nice fit in their passing offense. They re-signed some of their own, including backup quarterback Luke McCown, but the cap situation didn’t help their chances to land top players.|
D: They got themselves into this mess, so it’s on the front office. They have a lot of needs and did little to help fix them.
New York Giants
|The Skinny: General manager Jerry Reese spent money like he prints it this year. Desperate moves or smart ones? Whatever the reason, they added some good players, but it cost a bunch. I love the signing of Olivier Vernon to help the pass rush, but there is no way he should be paid what he’s getting. That’s the system though. I also like the additions of corner Janoris Jenkins and nose tackle Damon Harrison. That’s three quality starters for a defense that needed it. They also kept Jason Pierre-Paul on a one-year deal.|
A: I love what they did, but was it out of desperation for Jerry Reese?
New York Jets
|.The Skinny: The biggest uncertainty is what they plan to do with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. So far, there is no deal. But it’s still possible. They did put the franchise tag on defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, which was a wise move. They brought in running backs Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson to help offset the loss of Chris Ivory. They also re-signed Bilal Powell. They made a push for pass rusher Olivier Vernon, but that will have to be addressed in the draft. Losing Damon Harrison on the nose will hurt.|
C+: Keeping Wilkerson was smart, but the quarterback uncertainty drives down the grade for now.
|The Skinny: They were the in the race to be the champs of the free-agency period. That doesn’t always mean you win, but they killed it. They had money to spend and spent it on good players. They landed Ravens guard-tackle Kelechi Osemele, which will really help their line. I also like the addition of tough-guy Bruce Irvin as a linebacker on the defense. Sean Smith is a nice man-cover player who fills a need.|
A: Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio added some good pieces to a team on the rise.
|The Skinny:They had a great free-agency period. General manager Howie Roseman dumped some bad deals from a year ago, re-signed Sam Bradford and also added some good players in guard Brandon Brooks, corner Leodis McKelvin and safety Rodney McLeod. They also traded to move up five spots in the first round with Miami, dumping two Chip Kelly players in corner Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso. They also traded DeMarco Murray to the Titans, dumping his big contract.|
A+: Ridding themselves of the bad Kelly deals in those trades and moving up in the first round makes this grade. But then they also added some quality players and others for depth. But this grade is about the Chip dump.
|The Skinny: Like the Packers and Patriots, the Steelers usually sit out free agency for the most part. I did like the signing of Chargers tight end Ladarius Green, a pass-catching player who will fit perfectly into their offense. Bringing back guard Ramon Foster was also a nice move.|
C+: They added one key component in Green, which I liked. But, as usual, they sat back and watched — which isn’t always a bad thing.
San Diego Chargers
|The Skinny: I really liked the signing of receiver Travis Benjamin, giving them a nice down-the-field threat. He can fly. They also added Brandon Mebane up front on defense, which is a good move, and Casey Hayward, a good corner, who should start. Bringing back Antonio Gates and tackle Joseph Barksdale were good moves.|
B-: Benjamin will be the guy who defines their class, and I think he’s a heck of a signing.
San Francisco 49ers
|The Skinny: They were relatively quiet, but re-signing nose tackle Ian Williams was a smart move. They did lose guard Alex Boone to the Vikings, which is a hit. The only outside guy they brought in was backup quarterback Thad Lewis.|
C-: There just wasn’t a lot of activity and the Colin Kaepernick situation still hasn’t unfolded yet.
|The Skinny: They suffered two big hits, losing guard J.R. Sweezy and linebacker Bruce Irvin. But both can be replaced, especially for a team that drafts well. They also lost defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Bringing back receiver Jermaine Kearse, corner Jeremy Lane and defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin were good moves. They didn’t sign one player from another team.|
C: Losing players is always tough to handle, but that’s what happens to good teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|The Skinny: They were aggressive in free agency and landed three players at need positions. They got guard J.R. Sweezy from Seattle, a solid player who probably got too much money. But he’s a tough guy, and they need that. They then helped the defense with corner Brent Grimes and defensive end Robert Ayers. The big move was re-signing running back Doug Martin, which is OK since he’s their back and not another team’s discard.|
B: They had issues they needed to address and they did so. Not with stars, but solid football players. Getting Martin back was big.
|The Skinny:They added three pieces for the offense in running back DeMarco Murray, who came in a trade from the Eagles, center Ben Jones, who comes over from Houston, and receiver Rishard Matthews, who comes over from Miami. They had to get better on the offensive line, and Jones will help that. I don’t like trading and paying backs, even if Murray is an upgrade. Re-signing nose tackle Al Woods was also a good move.|
B-: When a team can pick up three starters for a young quarterback, it’s a solid class.
|The Skinny: The only outsider they added was defensive lineman Kendall Reyes from San Diego. They also paid out $20 million to keep quarterback Kirk Cousins on a franchise tag, which limited what they could do. They did re-sign several of their own, including backup quarterback Colt McCoy.|
C: I think they were smart to put the franchise tag on Cousins and not give him a long-term deal. But that limited what they could do. He is playing for his future in 2016.