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NFL Off-Season: Grading Each Team’s Major Off-Season Moves: Part 1

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

This offseason has been nothing short of surprising, with Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks retiring (and unretiring), many blockbuster trades across the league, and several players signing record-breaking contracts, only to be broken by the next signing. Continue reading below for a breakdown of the NFL offseason, and rating every major move made so far.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

When Brady announced that he was coming back from retirement, it helped the Tampa Bay front office lock in tentatively returning players such as center Ryan Jensen, cornerback Carlton Davis, and star running back Leonard Fournette, and bring in players like Shaq Mason, who Brady played with for several years, and Russell Gage, an addition to replace Antonio Brown at the WR3 slot to help build up their offense. Head Coach Bruce Arians retired, transitioning to the front office as a consultant, leaving defensive coordinator Todd Bowles as the team's new HC. Bowles, in his last stint as a head coach, led the New York Jets to last place in the AFC East for three consecutive seasons. Despite feelings of doubt some may have, the Buccaneers are in position to dominate the NFL for the third year in a row.

Grade: A-

Denver Broncos

The 2021 Broncos were a good team that were missing only one key component: a viable quarterback. However, the Broncos were quick to act, trading Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, and several draft picks to Seattle in exchange for Russell Wilson. For a team that was missing a real NFL quarterback, this was a crucial trade to make for Denver to be a real playoff contender in their already-stacked division. Additionally, the Broncos were able to grab defensive lineman Randy Gregory from the Cowboys, strengthening their defense, which lost linebacker Von Miller to a trade to the Rams during the 2021 season. Broncos fans should be optimistic for a season with a potential playoff berth.

Grade: A-

Green Bay Packers

Going into the offseason, the Packers had reason to be worried about their future. Franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers was, once again, discussing moving on from Green Bay. However, Rodgers signed a record breaking 4-year, $200M contract within weeks, making him the highest paid quarterback in history, surpassing Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. Following this move, the Packers franchise tagged star receiver Davante Adams, with the intention of locking him in for another season. However, this is where Green Bay started to go downhill. Adams refused to play under the franchise tag, and wanted a real contract. The Las Vegas Raiders were willing to take a chance with him, and traded a first and second round pick to acquire the veteran receiver, while also giving him $28M per season. Then, defensive lineman free agent Za’Darius Smith signed with Green Bay’s division rival, the Minnesota Vikings. Although the offseason started off looking promising for the Packers, they’ve hit a few rough patches, and would need to add a few more pieces in order to be the force they were last season.

Grade: B

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers seemed to be in for a tumultuous offseason once Ben Roethlisberger retired, leaving behind a void at quarterback that needed to be filled. For some time, it seemed as if it would come down to Dwayne Haskins or Mason Rudolph, two backups. Then, the NFL seemed to remember Mitch Trubisky, the former starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears, where he brought them to the playoffs a couple of times. Although he has since taken a backseat in Buffalo, becoming the backup to Josh Allen, the Steelers decided to sign the free agent quarterback, hoping he will be an answer to the problems they experienced this season. In addition, they signed a couple of offensive lineman to help out their new quarterback, and they signed Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack to help improve their defense. Although they lost Juju Smith-Schuster to the Kansas City Chiefs, they still have plenty of weapons in Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool.

Grade: B-

Washington Commanders

Going into this offseason, Washington undeniably needed a QB. They were reportedly trying to make a push for former Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, but came up empty after he ended up in Denver. A few days later, the Commanders traded second and third round picks for Carson Wentz, an expensive quarterback who was moderately successful on the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. Additionally, Washington lost Brandon Scherff in free agency, a major piece of their offensive line, making Wentz, already seemingly fragile, more vulnerable to injuries.

Grade: C+

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been a mess of a franchise for a while now. Two reasons for this are a lack of an abundance of skilled players, and some bad choices in the offseason. For example, they chose to release linebacker Myles Jack, who had been a major piece of their defense for six seasons. Additionally, they chose to sign Christian Kirk, with the intention of him becoming their WR1, and in doing so making him the ninth highest-paid receiver in the league at the time of his signing (In the days that followed more expensive contracts were signed). However, the Jaguars arguably best move this offseason was signing Brandon Scherff, who had established himself as one of the most talented offensive lineman in the league while playing in Washington. Overall, the Jaguars have made some questionable moves this offseason, and they still need to do a lot to get to the point where they will be a real contender in the league.

Grade: C

Los Angeles Chargers

After falling just short of the playoffs, the Chargers have had an offseason that has been nothing short of spectacular. They re-signed receiver Mike Williams, who had a breakout season this past year, guaranteeing another crucial weapon for rising star quarterback Justin Herbert. Next, they went on to build up their defense, trading two draft picks this year for star linebacker Khalil Mack. Shortly after, they signed cornerback J.C. Jackson, who finished the year with eight interceptions, second only to Trevon Diggs. Overall, the Chargers have established themselves as a real division contender in the strongest division in the NFL, and are looking dangerous for this upcoming season.

Grade: A+

Cleveland Browns

The Browns offseason was looking grim for a while following Jarvis Landry being released, and Baker Mayfield being clearly unhappy with the Browns. However, things started looking up when Deshaun Watson was cleared of the charges in his court case. In the week following, the Browns traded for the controversial, yet talented, quarterback with hopes that he will be able to lead them to the postseason. Additionally, they traded for receiver Amari Cooper, who will hopefully be able to fill in the void that Odell Beckham Jr. left. While it did not start off looking good for the Browns, they now have hope of turning it all around.

Grade: A-

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have been, for the past few years, an offensive powerhouse with a talented defense. However, there is always room for improvement. In Buffalo’s case, they signed Super Bowl Champion Von Miller to a record-breaking contract, and Shaq Lawson, who had bounced the AFC for a few seasons before returning to Buffalo, to shore up their defense. They also signed O.J. Howard as a second tight end to reinforce Josh Allen’s receiving options. Overall, the Bills are in a good position to dominate the AFC once again.

Grade: A-

New York Giants

The New York Giants finished this season with one of the worst records in the league, with a lot of room to improve at several positions. They signed Tyrod Taylor to a two year contract in the event that Daniel Jones is not able to bounce back from the 2021 season. The Giants have the option to replace Jones midseason if he isn’t performing up to par and they decide that they’ve had enough, and also can replace him next season if they are somewhat satisfied with Jones this season. To improve their seriously flawed offensive line, the Giants brought in former Indianapolis Colts guard Mark Glowinski. New York also brought in a few players at skill positions to serve as backups in the event of injury. The Giants hold two of the top seven draft picks this year, so hopefully they can turn around from last season.

Grade: C

New England Patriots

The Patriots have had a heavy fall from grace ever since they lost Tom Brady. Last season they had a fairly successful season as a first round playoff exit. This offseason, however, they lost star cornerback J.C. Jackson to free agency, and signed many players from free agency. Although most of these have been players who are unlikely to make much of a difference on the field, New England did re-sign star special teams player Matthew Slater. They also traded for Devante Parker to improve their downfield options. Overall, the Patriots still need to do a lot to compete in their division, where competition is slowly building.

Grade: C+

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions finished last season as one of the worst in the league, losing nine straight games. However, it appeared there was promise for the young and inexperienced team. To improve their receiving corps, the Lions signed free agent receiver DJ Chark, who sat out most of last season with an injury. Chark adds talent at receiver to reinforce Josh Reynolds and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Overall, while the Lions are still lacking in many areas, the addition of Chark certainly helps their chances of winning.

Grade: C-

Los Angeles Rams

Following their Super Bowl victory, the Los Angeles Rams re-signed their new franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford to a major extension, with hopes of winning more Super Bowls in the coming years. However, there were a few question marks for the Rams entering the offseason. Recently acquired stars Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller both became free agents following their Super Bowl victory, and Von Miller, after a period of consideration, signed a major contract with the Buffalo Bills. The Rams brought in Allen Robinson, who had played for the Chicago Bears, but had experienced a slump this past season. Shortly after, they traded receiver Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans for a sixth-round pick. To replace Von Miller, Los Angeles brought in Bobby Wagner, signing him to a five year, $50M deal. Despite their big signings, the Rams’ losses in the offseason could end up providing a reason that they will not be able to claim another Lombardi trophy.

Grade: A-

Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks have entered a major rebuild, without a doubt. They traded longtime quarterback Russell Wilson to start the offseason, receiving five draft picks from Denver, along with quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant, and defensive lineman Shelby Harris. The same day, they released linebacker Bobby Wagner, leaving them with no members of their super bowl winning roster. Besides these two big moves, the Seahawks have not made any major transactions this offseason. With eight picks in this year’s draft, including the ninth overall pick (via the Denver Broncos), Seahawks fans should hope that their team will be able to make some game-changing draft choices this year.

Grade: D-

Indianapolis Colts

Although they barely missed the playoffs this past season, the Colts, entering the offseason, were in need of some fixing. As their first move, they traded Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders, freeing up cap space. The Colts lost offensive lineman Mark Glowinski to free agency, losing a piece of their remarkable offensive line. For a while, there were rumors of Indianapolis signing either Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns or Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers. However, the Colts unexpectedly traded for longtime Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who may prove to be just what Indianapolis needs. They also brought in former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, who spent the second half of last season with the Carolina Panthers. The Colts are likely in for a successful season, where they may be able to make a playoff run.

Grade: B+

Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans finished the regular season as the best team in the AFC, despite not having powerhouse running back Derrick Henry for a majority of the season. They lost, however, in the first round, to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Titans cut receiver Julio Jones this offseason, freeing up cap space and opening up a position for Robert Woods, who they brought in from the Rams in exchange for a sixth round draft pick. Robert Woods is likely to be able to fill the role that Julio Jones was meant to play in Tennessee, a viable option in the event AJ Brown was not performing up to standards for any reason. The Titans are likely in for yet another tremendous season.

Grade: B

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