The AFC's Way Too Early Free Agency Grades!

The AFC's Way Too Early Free Agency Grades!


Photo by Anda Chu, Bay Area News Group

By: David Connors @connors_david


We’re now almost two weeks away from the start of the NFL free agency signing period, and things are finally settling down. There have been a plethora of signings, and just like the NFC, I am going to give teams grades for the players they have gained and lost. Just like before, I am not going to spend too much time harping on the money; it’s just the nature of the sport. Instead, I am going to look much closer to the players fit on each team and how they help their respective teams.


If you want a more comprehensive look at the contracts, please listen to the Blitz Breakdown Podcast Ep 74 featuring Over The Cap’s Zack Miller and Blitzalytics’ very own Roy Countryman & George Haraktsis.


AFC West


Denver Broncos

Additions

  • Joe Flacco, QB

  • Bryce Callahan, CB

  • Ja’Waun James, OT

  • Kareem Jackson, DT

Dropped

  • Case Keenum, QB

  • Matt Paradis, C

  • Billy Turner, G

  • Bradley Roby, CB

  • Shaquil Barrett, LB

  • Matt LaCosse, TE

  • Max Garcia, G

  • Brandon Marshall’s, LB

  • Shame Ray, LB

  • Domata Peko, DT

  • Darian Stewart, S

Grade: D-


Can someone smarter than I please explain to me what the Broncos are doing? I am not going to get hung up on the QB exchange. If they think Flacco is better in there system, then I will not knock it. Flacco did have his most successful stint in the NFL under Kubiak. Also, how can you let Paradis, Garcia, and Turner walk and only bring in Ja’Waun James, who was ranked 72nd amongst all Tackles in blocking according to PFF? This will also be one of the few times I harp on contract, but they gave him so much money. I think they fall behind the other teams in the West in a big way in 2019.


Kansas City Chiefs


Additions

  • Tyrann Mathieu, S

  • Alex Okafor, DE

  • Carlos Hyde, RB

  • Damien Wilson, LB

Dropped

  • Dee Ford, Edge

  • Kareem Hunt, RB

  • Steven Nelson, CB

  • Mitch Morse, C

  • Demetrius Harris, TE

  • Chris Conley, WR

  • Eric Berry, S

Grade: D


This is another team that I just can't wrap my head around. How do you look at the only really good player on your defense and think “Let’s change our defense so you do not fit”. Dee Ford was the highest graded pass rusher in 2018 according to PFF, and losing Steven Nelson is also significant. I like the Honey Badger signing, but he has only played an entire season once in his entire career. This team will still be a dominant force in the AFC, but I’m concerned they will not have the defense to go the distance.


Los Angeles Chargers


Additions

  • Tyrod Taylor, QB

  • Thomas Davis, LB

Dropped

  • Tyrell Williams, WR

  • Jason Verrett, CB

  • Antonio Gates, TE

  • Corey Liuget, DT


Grade: B


The Chargers are having a low-key solid offseason. They are not spending crazy money and I like the moves. Thomas Davis is still a pretty good LB in the twilight of his career and gets to play behind one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. Tyrod Taylor is a huge upgrade to Geno Smith at backup QB. All their players lost do not leave a hole. Verrett is a great corner, but the Chargers have become accustomed to playing without him.


Oakland Raiders

Additions

  • Antonio Brown, WR

  • Trenton Brown, OT

  • Tyrell Williams, WR

  • LaMarcus Joyner, S

  • Justin Mauro, DT

  • JJ Nelson, WR

  • Vontaze Burfict, LB

Dropped

  • Joe Feliciano, G

  • Martavis Bryant, WR

  • AJ McCarron, QB


Grade: B


The Raiders had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2018; therefore, adding Joyner should help. They take a huge knock by the large contract they gave to Trenton Brown. I do not like the fit, and now they have two underwhelming tackles protecting Derek Carr, who struggles when under pressure. I still cannot give them anything lower than a “B” because they made huge upgrades at the WR position, including a player who is arguably the best WR in football. These additions plus 4 top 50 draft picks should make for an interesting offseason for the Raiders.


AFC North


Baltimore Ravens

Additions

  • Earl Thomas, S

  • Mark Ingram, RB

  • Justin Bethel, CB

Dropped

  • CJ Mosley, LB

  • Za’Darius Smith, Edge

  • John Brown, WR

  • Eric Weddle, S

  • Terrell Suggs, Edge

  • Michael Crabtree, WR

  • Maxx Williams, TE

  • Javorius Allen, RB


Grade: B


I am not going to concern myself too much with the players lost because most were getting inflated contracts due to the success of the Ravens defense. Baltimore wants to get younger on that side of the ball. The only upsetting part is this means the end of that legendary Ravens defense. I do like the additions of Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram. The Ravens made Gus Edwards and Ken Dixon average 5.5 yards per touch, and I want to see what they can do with Ingram.


Cincinnati Bengals

Additions

  • John Miller, OT

  • BW Webb, CB

Dropped

  • Tyler Kroft, TE

  • Cedric Ogbueshi, OT

  • Vincent Rey, Edge

  • Jake Fisher, OT

  • Vontaze Burfict, LB


Grade: F

The signings they have made are insignificant, and normally I would just give an incomplete. However, they get an “F” for signing Bobby Hart for a chunk of their cap. He is ranked as one of the worst tackles according to PFF. The money they threw at him could’ve been spent much better, maybe even Daryl Williams.


Cleveland Browns


Additions

  • Odell Beckham Jr, WR

  • Olivier Vernon, DE

  • Sheldon Richardson, DT

  • Demetrius Harris, TE

  • Adarius Taylor, LB

  • Kendell Lamm, OT

  • Eric Kush, G

Dropped

  • Jabrill Peppers, S

  • Kevin Zeitler, G

  • Tyrod Taylor, QB

  • Breshad Perriman, WR


Grade: A+


The Browns have put together a stacked offense and defense. Now it’s up to this coaching staff to see if they are capable of getting the most of these big personalities. It will be a test for first time HC Freddie Kitchens, but if he is up for it, he has one of the best rosters in the NFL.


Pittsburgh Steelers


Additions

  • Mark Barron, LB

  • Donte Moncrief, WR

  • Steven Nelson, CB


Dropped

  • Le’Veon Bell, RB

  • Antonio Brown, WR

  • Jesse James, TE

  • LT Fort, LB

  • Coty Sensabaugh, CB


Grade: C-


I really like the addition of Mark Barron to the Steelers to help their sub packages, and Steven Nelson should also be an upgrade. Moncrief is…ehh. Although I understand the team had to move on from Bell and Brown, I still have to dock the grade when you trade away a WR who has been called the second best WR in history by some analysts.


AFC South


Houston Texans


Additions

  • Tashaun Gipson, S

  • Bradley Roby, CB

  • Briean Boddy-Calhoun, S

  • Darren Fells, TE

Dropped

  • Tyrann Mathieu, S

  • Kareem Jackson, S

  • Kendall Lamm, OT

  • Kevin Johnson

  • Christian Covington, DT

  • Kayvon Webster, CB


Grade: B-


The second biggest weakness on the Houston Texans was their CBs. I like the addition of Bradley Roby; he should make an instant impact. I also like that they brought in Gipson from their conference foes. My biggest issue is they haven’t done anything to address their atrocious offensive line. I’m sure they will in the draft, but they probably should have grabbed a free agency piece as well.


Indianapolis Colts


Additions

  • Devin Funchess, WR

Dropped

  • Ryan Grant, WR

  • Matt Slauson, G

  • Najee Goode, LB

  • Dontrelle Inman, WR

  • Jihad Ward, Edge

  • JJ Wilcox, S


Grade: C


The Colts did not really lose any major pieces, and even though they overpaid for Funchess, I like the fit. In 2018, Funchess was targeted with passes away from his projected catching area 30% of the time. By comparison, Andrew Luck threw passes away from his targets’ projected catch area only 16% of the time according to ESPN’s Mike Clay. I am curious to see how Funchess plays with Luck. That said, I am disappointed that the Colts did not make any other splashes with their available money. I know it’s not Chris Ballard’s style, but I still expected a little more.


Jacksonville Jaguars


Additions

  • Nick Foles, QB

  • Jake Ryan, LB

  • Chris Conley, WR

  • Cedric Ogbuehi, OT

  • Geoff Swaim, TE

Dropped

  • Blake Bortles, QB

  • Tashaun Gipson, S

  • Carlos Hyde, RB

  • Donte Moncrief, WR

  • Jeremy Parnell, OT

  • Corey Grant, RB

  • Malik Jackson, DT

  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE

  • Erect Flowers, OT

  • Chris Reed, G


Grade: C-


The big move they made was bringing Nick Foles and releasing Blake Bortles. Does this make their QB position better? Probably. Does it make them a better team? Does it make them a playoff team in a division with the Colts, Titans, and Texans? I doubt it. All the other moves are marginal. Overall, they just took their “meh” team and made it less “meh.”


Tennessee Titans


Additions
  • Ryan Tannehill, QB

  • Rodger Saffold, G

  • Adam Humphries, WR

  • Cameron Wake, Edge

  • Hroniss Grasu, G

Dropped

  • Like Stocker, TE

  • Derrick Morgan, LB

  • Josh Kline, G

  • John Cyprien, S

  • Blaine Gabbert, QB

  • Bennie Logan, DT


Grade: B+


These are great moves for the Titans. Tannehill is a great backup for Mariota and is in his best situation ever. I also like the signing of Cameron Wake. He was incredibly productive last season and will be a veteran presence for their up-and-coming edge rusher Landry. Humphries is an upgrade to their current situation. Overall, I think the Titans have made themselves better with their moves.


AFC East


Buffalo Bills


Additions

  • Mitch Morse, C

  • Cole Beasley, WR

  • John Brown, WR

  • Tyler Kroft, TE

  • Ty Nsekhe, OT

  • Spencer Long, C

  • Joe Feliciano, G

  • Andre Roberts, WR

  • Kevin Johnson, CB

  • Frank Gore, RB

  • LaAdrian Waddle, OT

Dropped

  • John Miller, G

  • Charles Clay, TE

  • Kyle Williams, DT

  • Ryan Groy, G


Grade: A-


The Bills have been busy, signing an entirely new offensive line. Mitch Morse is a very good interior guard when healthy, and Ty Nsekhe was the 31st highest graded tackle last season according to PFF, with above average grades on both pass and run blocking. I think John Brown’s deep threat ability will help Josh Allen grow and Cole Beasley can be vital to picking up those 3rd-and-6 situations. I can always get behind moves that makes life easier on a young QB.


Miami Dolphins


Additions

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

  • Dwayne Allen, TE

  • Eric Rowe, CB

  • Clive Walford, TE

  • Chris Reed, Edge


Dropped

  • Ja'Wuan James, OT

  • Ryan Tannehill, QB

  • Cameron Wake, Edge

  • Danny Amendola, WR

  • Brandon Bolden, RB

  • Frank Gore, RB

  • Ted Larsen, G

  • Andre Branch, Edge

  • Josh Sitton, G

  • William Hayes, Edge

  • Stephone Anthony, LB

  • Evander Hood, DT

  • Brock Osweiler, QB

  • Travis Swanson, C


Grade: D-

I grade these team under the assumption that the team wants to win games in 2019. I am not entirely sure that is the goal of the Miami Dolphins. They might be firmly entered into the Tua sweepstakes. With that, I like Fitzpatrick as a stop gap QB; therefore they do not get a flat F. I appreciate they did not make Tannehill suffer any longer. That was very merciful of the Dolphins.


New England Patriots


Additions

  • Michael Bennet, Edge/DT

  • Matt LaCosse, TE

  • Bruce Ellington, WR

  • Terrence Brooks, S

  • Maurice Harris, WR

  • Mike Pennel, Edge

Dropped

  • Trey Flowers, Edge

  • Trenton Brown, OT

  • Malcolm Brown, DT

  • Cyordarrelle Patterson, WR

  • Dwayne Allen, TE

  • Eric Rowe, CB

  • LaAdrian Waddle, OT

  • Adrian Clayborn, Edge

  • Chris Hogan, WR


Grade: B+


The Patriots bring in the perfect Trey Flowers replacement in Bennett. While he’s not as good as Flowers, New England will utilize him well. I like this landing spot for Brooks as well. When all else fails though, I default to rule 1 of the Patriots: Belichick knows what he is doing. Bill also utilizes valuable information gained from former conference players.


New York Jets


Additions

  • Le’Veon Bell, RB

  • Jamison Crowder, WR

  • CJ Mosley, LB

  • Josh Bellamy, WR

  • Brian Poole, CB

  • Chandler Catanzaro, K

  • Trevor Siemian, QB

  • Tom Compton, G

  • Daniel Brown, TE

Dropped

  • James Carpenter, G

  • Buster Skrine, CB

  • Jason Myers, K

  • Spencer Long, C

  • Andre Roberts, WR

  • Terrence Brooks, S

  • Mike Pennel, Edge

  • Clive Walford, TE

  • Josh McCown, QB

  • Isaiah Crowell, RB

  • Maurice Claiborne, CB


Grade: A


The Jets have done a great job to make life easier on their young QB. I am not going to worry about the contracts because I assume they are all front-loaded, so the players get the bulk of it in the first few years while the Jets have a ton of space. Mosley is a solid consistent player and proven leader to help shore up every level of this defense. I think the Jets made great moves to make the team better in 2019.


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