Acquisition Period Analysis
Free Agency, trades, and the Draft are in the rear view mirror. Who got better?
Ever since the Super Bowl weekend festivities wrapped in Houston, everyone’s attention turned to 2017 and the road to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII. With a pretty tame free agency period, and a few trades here and there we had a pretty good idea of where a handful of teams stood going into the draft. Now that the Annual Selection Meetings has completed and the 2017 schedule has been released, we now have a much clearer picture of what to expect this fall.
Who won the off season, who lost without playing a game, and who is going to surprise when the season kicks off in September?
Resigning running back Andre Ellington, and picking up safety Antoine Bethea, linebacker Karlos Dansby, and kicker Phil Dawson were okay additions, drafting linebacker Haason Reddick and safety Budda Baker will help fill some holes, but finding no eventual replacement for Carson Palmer could be a problem.
The loss of stud defensive lineman Calais Campbell and safety Tony Jefferson hurt the Cardinals identity on that side of the ball.
Offseason Analysis: Meh
The Dirty Birds made additions in free agency landing gritty nose tackle Dontari Poe, and the draft selection of defensive end Takkartist McKinley was a popular one, but overall, no splashes. Compared to acquisitions by the other teams in the division, it almost makes this offseason feel like a bust.
Offseason Analysis: Nothing to make you forget about what almost was.
Running back Danny Woodhead and safety Tony Jefferson make solid additions to a team that needs some new blood. A lot of analysts were high on the draft of Alabama corner Marlon Humphrey, but I am not overly sold on his ability to get after some of the talented receivers in this division. Baltimore definitely wants to get younger and more physical on defense, as five of their seven selections came on that side of the ball.
Offseason Analysis: Need more punch on the offensive side to compete.
I don’t even know where to go here.
I like the additions of guard Vlad Ducasse, safety Micah Hyde, fullback Mike Tolbert, and kicker Steven Haushka, and the draft picks in corner Tre’Davious White and receiver Zay Jones can only help an offense now under the control of former Broncos coordinator Rick Dennison. If he can polish Tyrod Taylor they have a chance to be okay.
But knowing that new owner Terry Pegula cleared house by firing general manager Doug Whaley the day after the draft, rookie head coach Sean McDermott’s job just got that much tougher.
Offseason Analysis: Was onboard, until the GM firing.
The offseason was not a huge splash for the Panthers, but helping to sure up their offensive line in front of battered quarterback Cam Newton had to be a priority, as well as finding additional weapons to Cam to target. Signing tackle Matt Kalil helps, the addition of Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State receiver Curtis Samuel could be a game changer.
If Mike Shula can get creative, the Panthers offense can get after teams again in 2017.
Offseason Analysis: Huge potential, but I can’t believe Shula will change his stripes and will waste the potential of McCaffrey.
Turnover(s) could be the theme of 2017. Gone is Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, inbound is Kendall Wright, and Mitchell Trubisky. Not all is lost of the Bears though, the defense did get better in added Prince Amukamara and Quintin Demps in the secondary.
Ryan Pace has a huge target on his back after the way this offseason and draft unfolded.
Offseason Analysis: Well, the Cubs won so something had to give.
For a team that has been so loyal to head coach Marvin Lewis, this offseason kind of feels like a last grasp effort to try something different. Bengals lose huge pieces of their core as linebacker Karlos Dansby, defensive end Margus Hunt, defensive tackle Domata Peko, tackle Andrew Whitworth, and guard Kevin Zeitler all depart the Queen City.
Considering those departures, Cincinnati rolled the dice on a number of picks including the speedy receiver John Ross, running back Joe Mixon, and all the pressure is now on quarterback Andy Dalton and this offense to rebound off a down year in 2016.
Offseason Analysis: Feels like the beginning of the end. Could work or could be a disaster come October.
When Robert Griffin III went down to injury early last season, the Browns really had to take inventory of what they had, and where they wanted to go. Then comes the trade to take on quarterback Brock Osweiler and then the draft of Miles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, DeShone Kizer, and David Njoku.
In time, head coach Hue Jackson will turn the Browns around. But with a very impatient owner, a baseball sabermetrics and analytics approach in the front office, one kind of has to wonder if Jackson will be given enough time to see it through.
Offseason Analysis: It’s only uphill from here!
Dallas had a solid draft yet again, and will have their hands full in replicating the offensive success from 2016 as well as trying to fill the holes left from the departures of Brandon Carr, Barry Church, and Morris Claiborne from Rod Marinelli’s defense.
Two great picks in the top 60 with Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie, who will play immediately, but my favorite pickup was the Ryan Switzer being snagged in the 4th round. Adds an x-factor that could put this offense and special teams on another level.
Offseason Analysis: Still a piece shy on defense.
DeMarcus Ware retires, only to maybe be replaced by DeMarcus Walker, and now add Chad Kelly into an already weird quarterback dynamic in Denver.
Offseason Analysis: Nothing sexy here in terms of offseason moves, but the Broncos just reload and try to win with defense.
Adding guard T.J. Lang and tackle Ricky Wagner will help a poor Lions running game, and drafting Teez Tabor will make their secondary more competitive.
Offseason Analysis: Nothing special, no additions to take them above Green Bay
Green Bay Packers
Very different look for the Pack in 2017. Gone are Jared Cook, Micah Hyde, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Lang, and Julius Peppers. Re-signing linebacker Nick Perry to a five-year deal and signing tight end Martellus Bennett were the only real noteworthy transactions in free agency.
Green Bay addressed their defense with the first four picks in the draft landing cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones who could contribute game one.
Offseason Analysis: Quiet as usual, but now that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have a movie star girlfriend, can that help or hurt the Pack?
Ridding themselves of that terrible Brock Osweiler contract was the best thing that could have happened to the Texans. Parlaying that trade into Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and grabbing linebacker Zach Cunningham and running back D’Onta Foreman made for one of my favorite drafts of any NFL team, and outside of New England may had the best offseason in the league.
Offseason Analysis: A playoff team got better.
The Colts best offseason move may have been finally ridding themselves of general manager Ryan Grigson. His replacement Chris Ballard wasted little time in revamping a roster that had consistently been stale and ineffective.
Defensive end Jabal Sheard and linebackers Barkevious Mingo and John Simon step into starting roles on the defense and the drafting of Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, who fell into their laps at 15th overall, was another game one starter added in the offseason.
Offseason Analysis: Need another weapon on offense and could have improved on the O-Line, but more progress made in two months than the previous three seasons under Grigson.
Yet again, the Jags make moves in the spring that look good, but everyone is still waiting for those transactions to equate to wins on the field.
Signing Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, and Barry Church provided immediate upgrades on the defensive side of the ball, and drafting a workhorse back like Leonard Fournette will help a stagnant Jacksonville offense that stalled in 2016.
Offseason Analysis: Bringing in Tom Coughlin to help rebuild could be the biggest acquisition of them all.
Kansas City Chiefs
Losing Dontari Poe hurt, but trading up to snag Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes raised the most eyebrows. Andy Reid had success in grooming a gun-slinger once before in Brett Favre, and if Mahomes can learn under Alex Smith, Reid may have his QB of the future.
Offseason Analysis: Don’t know if they did enough to get better
Los Angeles Chargers
Gaining tackle Russell Okung via free agency and drafting guard Forrest Lamp to protect an aging Philip Rivers were solid moves, and drafting Clemson receiver Mike Williams was a no-brainer.
Offseason Analysis: Rookie head coach for a team in a new city isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
Los Angeles Rams
All it took was getting rid of Jeff Fisher to get the Rams some players! Connor Barwin, Lance Dunbar, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Kayvon Webster, Robert Woods, and Andrew Whitworth will all contribute as day one starters in September. Receivers Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds were sneaky good draft picks for the Rams and with some seasoning can make this offense go. Rookie head coach Sean McVay will call the plays, and with these additions, could be slinging the ball a lot in 2017.
Offseason Analysis: If Jared Goff can progress, the Rams are a team on the rise
Fairly quiet this year compared to previous seasons. The additions of T.J. McDonald and Lawrence Timmons will help the Miami defense, as will the selection of top draft pick linebacker Charles Harris out of Missouri, and Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan in the second.
Offseason Analysis: Not sure if the Dolphins were quiet by design, but thats how it ended up.
High turnover for the Vikes as they part from Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson, as well as tackles Andre Smith and Matt Kalil. Signing tackles Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff will help protect Sam Bradford, and bringing in Latavius Murray is a great way to replace Peterson.
Snagging Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Ohio State center Pat Elfein in the top 70 were big pieces needing to be filled in Minneapolis.
Offseason Analysis: Necessary changes, now to see if any of these receivers have developed.
New England Patriots
Plug and play and do your job. Amazing how this team finds guys to fit their systems, then are so willing to let those players walk once they have served their purposed. Stephon Gilmore and Lawrence Guy will step into starting roles for the Patriots defense.
Yet again New England took a passive interest in the draft, as they didn’t make any selections until the third round, and only made four selections overall.
Offseason Analysis: May not seem high-profile, but all the pieces fit.
New Orleans Saints
Aggressively upgraded their roster in signing Alex Okafor, Manti Te’o, and A.J. Klein on defense, and acquiring Ted Ginn and Adrian Peterson via free agency.
Drafting Marshon Lattimore in the first round could be a huge pickup in due time, and the addition of running back Alvin Kamara makes for an interesting stable of backs.
Offseason Analysis: Saints didn’t do enough to address their need for pass catchers.
New York Giants
Outside of adding aging receiver Brandon Marshall to an already stacked core of pass catchers, the Giants underwhelmed this offseason. I really liked getting Wayne Gallman in the fourth round, as this offense could really benefit from an every down back.
Offseason Analysis: At least they did more than the Jets
New York Jets
The only highlight of the Jets offseason was when it was over.
Drafting safety Jamal Adams, receiver ArDarius Stewart, and tight end Jordan Leggett were the best thing they did outside of letting Brandon Marshall and Geno Smith walk away.
Offseason Analysis: When you go into the offseason with no gameplan, this is what happens.
Best move the Raiders made was trading for the now unretired Marshawn Lynch, who returns to his hometown to re-kindle the Beast Mode. If nothing else it is a bit of goodwill to the fans as the Raiders begin one (or two) lame duck seasons before shipping off to Las Vegas.
Was kind of a dick move by the team to announce their draft picks from Vegas, but I get it.
Offseason Analysis: Getting a healthy Derek Carr back in the lineup is more important than anything else that happens until September.
Signing Alshon Jeffery to a one year deal was a bit of surprise, defensive end Chris Long, and guard Chance Warmack were nice additions as well.
Drafting end Derek Barnett could prove to be a more than suitable replacement for Connor Barwin, and stealing Donnel Pumphrey, the NCAA’s all time leading rusher, in the fourth round will make the Eagles offense a bit more dynamic.
Offseason Analysis: Best pickup may be Nick Foles. Should Carson Wentz struggle, Foles is a proven commodity in this league and could step in on a moments notice and produce. Still behind a lot of other NFC teams in talent and depth.
Quiet in free agency, but the pickup of Knile Davis may make DeAngelo Williams expendable. Drafting JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner could prove the add depth for a Steelers offense.
Defensively, they better hope T.J. Watt is a better player over time, I’m not sold on him as a pass rusher, nor as a first rounder.
Offseason Analysis: Didn’t get better as Big Ben approaches the downhill side of his career.
San Francisco 49ers
Tons of new faces including Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, and Matt Barkley, but the best additions made came in the draft by getting Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.
Offseason Analysis: While the team has no offensive identity, that defense is getting better.
Eddie Lacy signs as a free agent, but this offseason seems like a mess. No real sense of direction, and no addressing of their biggest needs outside of drafting center Ethan Pocic from LSU. As long as Russell Wilson and Pete Carrol are around they will have a shot, but the window may be closing.
Offseason Analysis: At least they did better than the Bears
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Upgrades in free agencey as defense end Chris Baker comes over from Washington along with receiver DeSean Jackson. The draft pick of Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is going to be a problem for many a defensive coordinator paired with the rest of the Bucs offense.
Offseason Analysis: Hard Knocks catches a break as this team is LOADED with personality and potential. Tampa Bay could be a breakout team in 2017.
Pair of quality free agent signings for the Titans secondary with Logan Ryan and Johnathan Cyprien coming aboard, but I am a big fan of the draft picks especially receivers Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor, and the versatile Adoree’ Jackson.
Offseason Analysis: Mariota now has weapons, if they produce, watch out!
Potentially a good free agency haul, especially on the defensive side of the ball, with linebackers Zach Brown and Chris Carter, tackles Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, and safety D.J. Swaeringer. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has a chance to be special as he continues to learn the position.
Drafting four defensive players in their first five picks shows they know their needs, and might have drafted a potential starting running back in Samaje Perine.
Offseason Analysis: Placing the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins again. Risky proposition, with no backup plan.