Offseason Report Card
Who gained, lost the most in the 2020 offseason?
NFL teams appear more willing to punt away a season than they used to be. At one time most every franchise paid lip service to the idea of competing for a championship, year in and year out. But today it’s not hard to see a handful of teams each offseason that are blowing things up to lose – in hopes of winning a year or two down the road.
The Dolphins are the poster child for this new reality. In 2019 they traded or cut a lot of starters, dumping salaries, stockpiling draft picks and going 5-11. This year they handed out $200 million worth of contracts on the first day of free agency, then drafted four players in the top 40 picks. They’re not the first team to operate that way (Cleveland behaved similarly in 2018-2019) and won’t be the last.
While losing to win doesn’t always work, that approach looks better than that of teams that seem to have a foot in both worlds. When you see a team both shipping off established talent and also burning money and draft picks for aging players, as the Bears and Texans have done in recent years, it’s less clear if they’re hoping to win now, or in the future. They’ll probably do neither. Better to embrace one approach than waffle between both.
The Cardinals, Dolphins and Buccaneers seemed to gain the most this offseason. The Panthers, Patriots and Rams seemed to shed the most talent. Some of the improving teams had nowhere to go but up, but respectability shouldn’t be too far off for of a couple of them.
In the following team-by-team sections, the grades aren’t fantasy specific, but instead reflect the difference in each team’s overall level of talent. No credit is given for re-signing players or gaining future draft picks, nor are teams penalized for overpaying players. Instead, the grades simply weigh the quality of the new players versus the quality of the players lost.
A – Team significantly better.
B – Team somewhat improved.
C – Level of talent essentially unchanged.
D – Team lost some ground.
F – Team severely damaged.
Key gains: WR DeAndre Hopkins (trade), DT Jordan Phillips (Buff.), LB Isaiah Simmons (1st), LB DeVondre Campbell (Atl.), LB Devon Kennard (Det.).
Key losses: RB David Johnson (trade), C A.Q. Shipley, TE Charles Clay.
Hopkins was an offseason coup, one of the game’s best wideouts acquired for just a second-round pick and a running back with an awful contract. He’ll pay immediate dividends. … The three defensive free agent additions aren’t household names, but Phillips comes off his best season (9.5 sacks) in Buffalo, and this team was weak at linebacker last year. All three players will likely start and look like upgrades for a defense that needed lots of help. ... Simmons is a linebacker/safety hybrid who could be moved around the defense as the team decides how best to use him. They'll find a way to take advantage of his athleticism.
Key gains: RB Todd Gurley (LAR), DE Dante Fowler (LAR), TE Hayden Hurst (trade), CB AJ Terrell (1st).
Key losses: TE Austin Hooper (Clev.), RB Devonta Freeman (cut), CB Desmond Trufant (cut), LB DeVondre Campbell (Ariz.), DE Vic Beasley (Tenn.).
Cap concerns factored into some departures, including Hooper and Trufant. It’s a slight gamble at tight end, but Hurst is a former first-round pick who flashed potential before losing out to Mark Andrews. The Falcons might not lose much there at all. Atlanta liked him enough to part with a second-round pick. … The running back swap should be an upgrade, if Gurley’s knee is right. It’s a concern, though, that the team that knew him best didn’t want him back. … Atlanta will pay Fowler $16 million a year, coming off a career season (11.5 sacks). He’ll be an upgrade from Beasley, a disappointment the last three seasons.
Key gains: DE Calais Campbell (Jac.), LB Patrick Queen (1st), DE Derek Wolfe (Den.).
Key losses: OG Marshal Yanda (retired), LB Patrick Onwuasor (NYJ), NT Michael Pierce (Minn.), CB Brandon Carr, S Tony Jefferson, TE Hayden Hurst (trade).
Upset by Derrick Henry and the Titans in January, Baltimore remade its defensive line with two big acquisitions. Campbell was swiped from the cap-strapped Jaguars for just a fifth-round pick; he averaged 10.5 sacks the last three years. Wolfe comes off a career-high 7 sacks in 12 games. He was actually Plan B after a Michael Brockers deal fell through. Together, they’ll strengthen the defensive front. … Baltimore didn’t want any of its defensive departures back, while Hurst was a luxury behind starter Mark Andrews. Only Yanda seems likely to be missed.
Key gains: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), DE Mario Addison (Car.), DT Vernon Butler (Car.), CB Josh Norman (Wash.), DE A.J. Epenesa (2nd), RB Zack Moss (3rd), DE Quinton Jefferson (Sea.), OT Daryl Williams (Car.).
Key losses: DE Shaq Lawson (Mia.), DT Jordan Phillips (Ariz.), RB Frank Gore.
Diggs was the key offensive addition, giving the offense a nice trio of wideouts (with John Brown and Cole Beasley). If Josh Allen doesn’t take another step forward, it won’t be for lack of quality pass catchers. … Moss will likely get a share of the backfield quickly, maybe getting some goal-line chances. He had 36 touchdowns the last three seasons at Utah. … The Bills also added to their defense, with the key signings players familiar to Sean McDermott from Carolina. Addison has at least 9 sacks in each of the last four seasons. Butler comes off a career-high 6. Norman struggled last year but will make $6 million, so the team is confident a change of scenery will get him back on track. The money was similar with departures Lawson and Phillips, so those exchanges might be a wash.
Key gains: QB Teddy Bridgewater (N.O.), WR Robby Anderson (NYJ), LT Russell Okung (trade), LB Tahir Whitehead (L.V.), DT Derrick Brown (1st).
Key losses: QB Cam Newton (cut), QB Kyle Allen (trade), LB Luke Kuechly (retired), CB James Bradberry (NYG), RG Trai Turner (trade), DE Marion Addison (Buf.), DT Vernon Butler (Buf.), DT Gerald McCoy (Dall.), DT Dontari Poe (Dall.), S Eric Reid (cut), TE Greg Olsen (cut), OT Daryl Williams (Buff.).
Carolina spent big on Bridgewater (3 years, $63 million) and Anderson (2 years, $20 million). There’s some potential for both players in the Matt Rhule/Joe Brady offense. Bridgewater may not be better than a healthy Newton, but should be an upgrade over Allen. … The other moves, however, suggest a full-on rebuild. Especially on defense, where the team parted with seven veteran starters, many of whom signed big contracts elsewhere, and then used all seven draft picks on that side of the ball. With a limited preseason, there will be growing pains. … The Turner-Okung swap was cap-driven. That looks like a net loss for the offensive line, especially given Okung's history of injuries.
Key gains: DE Robert Quinn (Dall.), QB Nick Foles (trade), TE Jimmy Graham (G.B.), OL Germain Ifedi (Sea.), TE Cole Kmet (2nd), S Tashaun Gipson (Hou.), WR Ted Ginn (N.O.).
Key losses: LB Leonard Floyd (LAR), LB Nick Kwiatkoski (L.V.), RG Kyle Long (retired), DT Nick Williams (Det.), S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Dall.). Cut: WR Taylor Gabriel, TE Trey Burton, CB Prince Amukamara.
GM Ryan Pace made a couple of highly questionable offseason moves. One was trading a fourth-round pick for Foles, who flopped in Jacksonville and is saddled with a bad contract. He'll probably move ahead of Mitchell Trubisky, but he doesn’t move the needle much. The other was giving Graham $16 million for 2 years, with $9 million guaranteed. He looked washed up in Green Bay the last two years and was released. Hard to believe both players couldn’t have come cheaper. ... Kmet might be the future but shouldn't have a big rookie impact. … The pass rush should be better with Quinn, who comes off an 11.5-sack season in Dallas. But again, Pace spent big (5 years, $70 million) on a guy who’s now with his fourth team in four seasons. … Long has missed more games (34) than he’s played in (30) the last four seasons.
Key gains: QB Joe Burrow (1st), DT D.J. Reader (Hou.), CB Trae Waynes (Minn.), S Vonn Bell (N.O.), WR Tee Higgins (2nd), CB Mackensie Alexander (Minn.).
Key losses: Cut: QB Andy Dalton, OT Cordy Glenn, CB Dre Kirkpatrick. LB Nick Vigil (LAC), TE Tyler Eifert (Jac.), OL John Jerry.
Ultimately the offseason will be judged by how the draft’s top quarterback turns out. If Burrow develops into a franchise passer, everyone will be happy. With Dalton released, it’s virtually certain Burrow will be a Week 1 starter. … The Bengals were surprisingly – atypically – active in free agency, bringing in three pricey additions in Reader, Waynes and Bell, all of whom should start. The defense looks to be improved (Vigil might be missed). … Higgins, drafted 33rd overall, has No. 1 wideout potential, though he might be only the No. 3 this season. … A.J. Green and Jonah Williams (their first-round pick last year) could both also be listed as “gains”, since neither actually played at all last year.
Key gains: TE Austin Hooper (Atl.), RT Jack Conklin (Tenn.), OT Jedrick Wills (1st), S Karl Joseph (L.V.).
Key losses: LB Joe Schobert (Jac.), LB Christian Kirksey (cut), DB Damarious Randall (L.V.), TE Demetrius Harris (Chi.), TE Ricky Seals-Jones (K.C.).
Hooper and Conklin were the top free agents on the market at their positions. Maybe Cleveland overpaid, but no question both will be better than what the team put on the field in those spots a year ago. ... Cleveland’s tackle play couldn’t possibly be worse than it was last season. Wills was one of the draft’s top prospects, and should join Conklin as immediate starters. … On defense, there are questions, especially at linebacker. Schobert led the team in tackles last year, and Randall was a productive safety. Joseph should adequately replace Randall, but the front seven doesn't look as good.
Key gains: WR CeeDee Lamb (1st), DT Dontari Poe (Car.), DT Gerald McCoy (Car.), S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Chic.), PK Greg Zuerlein (LAR), QB Andy Dalton (Cin.), CB Trevon Diggs (2nd).
Key losses: C Travis Frederick (retired), CB Byron Jones (Mia.), DE Robert Quinn (Chic.), WR Randall Cobb (Hou.), DT Maliek Collins (L.V.), TE Jason Witten (Oak.), S Jeff Heath (L.V.).
No credit for keeping one’s own, so Dallas’ ability to hang onto Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper doesn’t count as gains. The losses were significant, with Frederick one of the game’s best centers and Jones a top cornerback. When Frederick missed the 2018 season, Prescott was sacked 56 times, compared to just 23 last season. Most of that shift can be attributed to the offense changing and Prescott doing a better job of getting the ball out of his hands, but Frederick will be missed. … Witten and Cobb aren’t notable losses. Witten is running on fumes at this point, and the Cowboys probably will be better in the slot (Lamb isn’t as experienced but is a lot more explosive than Cobb.) … Dallas wanted to improve its defense up front, with Poe and McCoy the additions. They were part of a bad Carolina run defense last year, however, so expectations should be modest.
Key gains: RB Melvin Gordon (LAC), WR Jerry Jeudy (1st), CB A.J. Bouye (Jac.), OG Graham Glasgow (Det.), OC Lloyd Cushenberry (3rd), DT Jurell Casey (trade), WR KJ Hamler (2nd).
Key losses: CB Chris Harris (LAC), OC Connor McGovern (NYJ), DE Derek Wolfe (Balt.), OG Ronald Leary.
Denver is going all in on second-year quarterback Drew Lock. They spent their top 2 picks on wide receivers, including arguably the draft’s best at the position in Jeudy. Alabama wideouts have made an early impact in recent years. … Gordon seemed an odd investment for a team that already had Phillip Lindsay, but few would dispute he gives Denver one of the better running back duos in the league. … Glasgow can play center or guard. Ideally Cushenberry will handle center, and the line will be better at two spots.
Key gains: LB Jamie Collins (N.E.), CB Desmond Trufant (Atl.), RB D’Andre Swift (2nd), LB Jeff Okudah (1st), OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Phil.), DT Danny Shelton (N.E.), DT Nick Williams (Chi.), WR Geronimo Allison (G.B.).
Key losses: CB Darius Slay (traded), DT A’Shawn Robinson (LAR), RT Rick Wagner (cut), LB Devon Kennard (Ariz.), CB Rashaan Melvin (Jac.), S Tavon Wilson.
The Lions remade their defense with several new bodies, including a couple of ex-Patriots familiar to Matt Patricia. But it looks like they lost about as much as they gained, with Slay the noteworthy departure. … Vaitai was a backup on Philadelphia’s excellent line, but should be an upgrade from Wagner, who didn’t prove worthy of his big free-agent deal. … Swift might start out in a tandem with Kerryon Johnson, but is the more talented back (and Johnson has struggled with injuries).
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Key gains: LB Christian Kirksey (Clev.), RT Rick Wagner (Det.), WR Devin Funchess (Ind.), RB AJ Dillon (2nd), QB Jordan Love (1st).
Key losses: LB Blake Martinez (NYG), RT Bryan Bulaga (LAC), TE Jimmy Graham (cut), CB Tramon Williams.
Perhaps Love will be the team’s future franchise quarterback. In 2020, though, he’s unlikely to get on the field. Dillon is a more likely contributor as a change-of-pace. … Kirksey averaged 143 total tackles in 2016-2017; the Packers apparently view him as an upgrade on Martinez, and they’re paying him slightly less. But injuries have limited the former Brown to 9 games total the last two seasons, so there’s some risk. … Wagner (who the Lions released) is a downgrade from Bulaga – arguably a significant one. He’ll make half about half as much ($5.5 million) as the player he’s replacing. … Funchess is a worthwhile flier, but won’t necessarily emerge as one of the top 3 wideouts.
Key gains: RB David Johnson (trade), WR Brandin Cooks (trade), WR Randall Cobb (Dall.), DT Ross Blacklock (2nd).
Key losses: WR DeAndre Hopkins (trade), DT D.J. Reader (Cin.), CB Johnathan Joseph, RB Carlos Hyde (Sea.), S Jahleel Addae, RB Lamar Miller.
Houston didn’t want to give Hopkins a new deal, but didn’t get enough value in that trade (second-round pick and a running back with a bad contract). Cooks has a worrying concussion history, making for a shaky tandem with oft-injured Will Fuller. Cobb comes off his best season since 2015, at least, but the receiving corps will likely be worse. … Johnson hasn’t done much the last few seasons, but should be a workhorse in the offense. … With the exception of Reader, the defensive departures didn’t attract much interest on the market. Blacklock should start right away.
Key gains: QB Philip Rivers (LAC), DT DeForest Buckner (trade), RB Jonathan Taylor (2nd), WR Michael Pittman (2nd), CB Xavier Rhodes (Minn.).
Key losses: WR Chester Rogers, PK Adam Vinatieri, S Clayton Geathers, DE Jabaal Sheard. Grade: A-
The Colts are gambling that Rivers, in Frank Reich’s system and working behind one of the game’s better offensive lines, will look more like his 2018 version (32 TDs and 12 interceptions) than 2019 (23 and 20). … He cost a first-round pick, but Buckner is a franchise tackle who’s only 26 years old, and dramatically upgrades the interior of this defense. San Francisco couldn’t afford to pay everyone on its talent-rich line. … The Colts call Marlon Mack and Taylor a “one-one punch.” Eventually it should be Taylor’s backfield, but the two will probably share carries this year.
Key gains: LB Joe Schobert (Clev.), TE Tyler Eifert (Cin.), CB C.J. Henderson (1st), DE K’Lavon Chaisson (1st), WR Laviska Shenault (2nd).
Key losses: Traded: DE Calais Campbell (Balt.), CB A.J. Bouye (Den.), QB Nick Foles (Chi.). DT Marcell Dareus, LB Jake Ryan (cut).
Schobert wasn’t cheap (5 years, $54 million), but looks like a nice upgrade to what was one of last year’s worst run defenses. Otherwise, this looks like a tank job, with the team dumping several defensive starters (especially Campbell and Bouye) and looking to rookies as replacements. … Shenault could fill a variety of offensive roles, including running back and Wildcat quarterback, but should primarily be a wide receiver.
Key gains: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1st), RB DeAndre Washington (Oak.), TE Ricky Seals-Jones (Clev.).
Key losses: DE Emmanuel Ogbah (Mia.), CB Kendall Fuller (Was.), RB LeSean McCoy, OL Cameron Erving.
The Super Bowl champs didn’t need a lot of upgrades. They didn’t lose anyone significant, so the offseason went well enough. Ogbah and Fuller are good players but the defense will manage without them. McCoy was a healthy scratch down the stretch. … Most likely, the team will bring Edwards-Helaire along slowly, relying on Damien Williams to start. But the rookie’s role should expand as the year goes along, and none of the other additions is any more likely to contribute.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Key gains: RG Trai Turner (trade), RT Bryan Bulaga (G.B.), CB Chris Harris (Den.), DT Linval Joseph (Minn.), LB Kenneth Murray (1st), LB Nick Vigil (Cin.), QB Justin Herbert (1st).
Key losses: QB Philip Rivers (Ind.), RB Melvin Gordon (Den.), LT Russell Okung (trade), DT Brandon Mebane (cut), LB Thomas Davis (cut).
Moving on from 38-year-old Rivers is understandable. But will they be better at quarterback with either Herbert or Tyrod Taylor? Probably not in 2020. Most likely Taylor will start in Week 1, with Herbert playing later. … The offensive line should be a lot better with Bulaga and Turner, although the team still looks one tackle short. … The defense gets a boost from Joseph, Vigil and especially Harris. Murray will start right away.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Key gains: RB Cam Akers (2nd), OLB Leonard Floyd (Chi.), OLB Terrell Lewis (3rd), WR Van Jefferson (2nd).
Key losses: RB Todd Gurley (cut), WR Brandin Cooks (trade), LB Cory Littleton (L.V.), OLB Dante Fowler (Atl.), LB Clay Matthews (cut), S Eric Weddle (retired), PK Greg Zuerlein (Dall.).
This defense underachieved last year, leading to dramatic changes. Wade Phillips is gone, and so are many starters. Perhaps the moves will play long-term dividends, but it might take a year before that begins to happen. Floyd looks like the most noteworthy defensive addition (and even he was inconsistent in Chicago). … Gurley wasn’t an elite performer in 2019, either because of a bum knee or the line in front of him (or both). Optimistic, though, to think Akers will be better this season. He’s about the likeliest Week 1 starter of the rookie running backs, at least.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Key gains: LB Cory Littleton (LAR), WR Henry Ruggs (1st), LB Nick Kwiatkoski (Chi.), QB Marcus Mariota (Tenn.), DT Maliek Collins (Dall.), DB Damarious Randall (Clev.), WR Nelson Agholor (Phil.), S Jeff Heath (Dall.).
Key losses: LB Will Compton, S Karl Joseph (Clev.), RB DeAndre Washington (K.C.), LB Vontaze Burfict.
Like second chances? The Raiders are giving them to a pair of first-rounders who disappointed with their original teams. Mariota will get a chance to push and possibly replace Derek Carr at some point, while Agholor joins a wide receiver corps most notable for high-profile missteps (Martavis Bryant, Antonio Brown) in recent years. The team has higher hopes for its own first-rounder, Ruggs, though he might not make an immediate impact. … The defensive additions should be upgrades, especially Littleton.
Key gains: CB Byron Jones (Dall.), DE Shaq Lawson (Buff.), LB Kyle Van Noy (N.E.), OT Austin Jackson (1st), QB Tua Tagovailoa (1st), OG Ereck Flowers (Wash.), RB Jordan Howard (Phil.), RB Matt Breida (trade), C Ted Karras (N.E.), CB Noah Igbinoghene (1st).
Key losses: DB Reshad Jones (cut), C Daniel Kilgore.
No one can accuse the Dolphins of not trying this year. They handed out four contracts averaging at least $10 million per year on the first day of free agency, and added three first-rounders via the draft. Most of those players will start this year, making them an easy choice for having added the most talent. There was nowhere to go but up, of course. … The Dolphins didn’t lose anyone of note, at least not since the season ended (they traded away Laremy Tunsil just before the season and Kenyan Drake during it).
Key gains: WR Justin Jefferson (1st), NT Michael Pierce (Balt.), CB Jeff Gladney (1st), WR Tajae Sharpe (Tenn.).
Key losses: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), DE Everson Griffen, CB Trae Waynes (Cin.). Cut: DT Linval Joseph, CB Xavier Rhodes, RG Josh Kline.
Minnesota shipped off a disgruntled Diggs in its highest-profile move. Maybe the locker room will be better, but on the field it would be optimistic to think Jefferson, Sharpe or incumbent Bisi Johnson can fill that void. Jefferson is the future, so maybe they’ll let him learn on the job. … Minnesota also let four defensive starters go. Griffen is still unsigned, so maybe he’ll return. The money is similar for Joseph and Pierce, so that might be a lateral move.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Key gains: QB Cam Newton (Car.), S Kyle Dugger (2nd), LB Josh Uche (2nd), WR Marqise Lee (Jac.), TE Devin Asiasi (3rd), PK Justin Rohrwasser (5th).
Key losses: QB Tom Brady (T.B.), LB Kyle Van Noy (Mia.), LB Jamie Collins (Det.), PK Stephen Gostkowski (cut), DT Danny Shelton (Det.), TE Benjamin Watson (retired), WR Phillip Dorsett (Sea.), FB James Develin (retired).
If Newton is healthy, the Patriots will have a potential difference-maker at quarterback. If not, it will be Jarrett Stidham, who played well last preseason. But realistically, there’s nowhere to go but down from first-ballot Hall of Famer Brady. … New England said goodbye to a large number of veteran starters, particularly on defense, while adding very little. They’ll likely be counting on rookies at both tight end and kicker, as well. The team seems destined to take a significant step backward.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Key gains: S Malcolm Jenkins (Phil.), WR Emmanuel Sanders (S.F.), C Cesar Ruiz (1st), QB Jameis Winston (T.B.).
Key losses: LB A.J. Klein (Buff.), WR Ted Ginn, S Vonn Bell (Cin.), QB Teddy Bridgewater (Car.).
No. 2 wideout hasn’t been a big producer for this team in recent years, but Sanders is one of the better players they’ve had in that spot. Some chance he’ll be a top-40 type of wideout, upgrading the offense. He’s better than Ginn, certainly. … Bridgewater gave the team strong play when Drew Brees got hurt last year, but Winston is a more talented – albeit more error-prone -- quarterback. Potentially the offense would be fine if Brees misses time (Taysom Hill is another option). … The defensive losses don’t look significant.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Key gains: LB Blake Martinez (G.B.), CB James Bradberry (Car.), OT Andrew Thomas (1st), S Xavier McKinney (2nd), RB Dion Lewis (Tenn.).
Key losses: LB Alec Ogletree (cut), FS Antoine Bethea, LB Markus Golden, C Jon Halapio.
Martinez and Bradberry were two of the top players on the market at their positions, and were paid accordingly: three years and $30 million for Martinez, three years and $45 million for Bradberry. They’ll upgrade a defense that struggled last year. Golden is listed as a loss, but there’s a decent chance he’ll be back with the team after finding a cool free agent market. … New York considered Thomas the top tackle in the draft. Offensive line has been a sore spot in recent years; they’ll look for him to anchor left tackle for years to come.
NEW YORK JETS
Key gains: OT Mekhi Becton (1st), WR Breshad Perriman (T.B.), LB Patrick Onwuasor (Balt.), C Connor McGovern (Den.), WR Denzel Mims (2nd).
Key losses: WR Robby Anderson (Car.), LT Kelvin Beachum, C Ryan Kalil, RB Ty Montgomery (N.O.), RB Bilal Powell, WR Demaryius Thomas, CB Trumaine Johnson (cut).
The Jets need the wideout exchange to be a wash. Anderson is more proven, but Perriman was awfully impressive in Tampa Bay late last year, and came slightly cheaper. He’s now working in a passing offense that averaged 100 fewer yards per game last season, so expectations should be modest. … Hamstrung by a terrible offensive line last season, the Jets selected maybe the draft’s top tackle and added McGovern to start at center. … New York might bring Thomas back for another season.
Key gains: CB Darius Slay (Det.), DT Javon Hargrave (Pitt.), WR Jalen Reagor (1st), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (LAR).
Key losses: LT Jason Peters, S Malcolm Jenkins (N.O.), DE Vinny Curry.
Peters was a mainstay, but he’s 38 and his last Pro Bowl nod was in 2016. The team used a first-round pick on replacement Andre Dillard a year ago. But guard Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles in June, making a reunion with Peters still possible. … Philadelphia really struggled at cornerback last season. Only the Dolphins (27) allowed more touchdown passes to wide receivers (21). So the Eagles traded for Slay, then scooped up another candidate for significant snaps in Robey-Coleman. … Hargrave looks like a nice get, a starter in Pittsburgh’s excellent defense the last four seasons.
Key gains: TE Eric Ebron (Ind.), DT Chris Wormley (trade), WR Chase Claypool (2nd).
Key losses: LG Ramon Foster (retired), DT Javon Hargrave (Phil.), LB Mark Barron (cut).
If Ben Roethlisberger returns to full health and can stay in the lineup, that will be a big upgrade. But he’s not factored in here – he was on the roster last year and played in two games. The way we’re going with this project, Ebron is the most noteworthy addition, and he’s struggled with drops throughout his career. … Foster’s retirement hurts the line; they’ll need to shuffle some to cover his absence. Whoever starts there (Matt Feiler or Stefen Wisniewski) probably won’t be as good. … Hargrave to Wormley is another downgrade; Wormley was primarily a backup in Baltimore.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Key gains: OT Trent Williams (Wash.), WR Brandon Aiyuk (1st), DT Javon Kinlaw (1st).
Key losses: DT DeForest Buckner (trade), WR Emmanuel Sanders (N.O.), OT Joe Staley (retired), Matt Breida (trade).
This century, only one Super Bowl loser has made it back there a year later – 1 out of 20. Those are the odds San Francisco is facing, and the on-field product doesn’t look like it will be much better. … Williams didn’t play last season, but he’s four years younger than Staley and that should be a slight upgrade. … Sanders’ departure didn’t seem like a big deal until Deebo Samuel broke his foot in June. The team will need some receiver to step up, with the most likely candidates being veteran Kendrick Bourne and youngsters Jalen Hurd and Brandon Aiyuk. … Breida fell out of favor last season; the team will be fine at running back.
Key gains: LB Jordyn Brooks (1st), TE Greg Olsen (Car.), RB Carlos Hyde (Hou.), C B.J. Finney (Pitt.), WR Phillip Dorsett (N.E.), OT Brandon Shell (NYJ).
Key losses: DE Ziggy Ansah, DE Jadeveon Clowney, LB Mychal Kendricks, C Justin Britt (cut), G D.J. Fluker (cut), OT George Fant (NYJ), OT Germain Ifedi (Chi.), RB Marshawn Lynch.
This grade is best considered incomplete. Clowney, unsigned in July, might still return, and the team has also been connected to a pair of big-name veteran receivers (Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown). … Unhappy with its offensive line play, Seattle dumped several starters, but none of the additions look like upgrades. They’re hoping Finney, who backed up Maurkice Pouncey in Pittsburgh, will be their starting center. … The Olsen signing was surprising; he’s 35 and Carolina didn’t want him back. But they’re paying him like a starter, so they evidently believe he’ll help the passing game.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Key gains: QB Tom Brady (N.E.), TE Rob Gronkowski (trade), OT Tristan Wirfs (1st), RB KeShawn Vaughn (3rd).
Key losses: QB Jameis Winston, RT Demar Dotson, RB Peyton Barber (Wash.), WR Breshad Perriman (NYJ).
Adding a Hall of Fame quarterback can’t be underestimated, although 43-year-old Brady has slipped a notch or two. Best-case scenario, he turns back the clock and has a big year in Bruce Arians’ offense. At worst, he should be an effective game manager who has the team in playoff contention simply by not turning it over as often as Winston. … Gronkowski wasn’t a difference maker his last season in New England. The Bucs are hoping a year off helps, but just as likely he’s not that player anymore. … Wirfs should be an upgrade at right tackle; Dotson was 34 years old. Vaughn could carve out an early role in the backfield.
Key gains: OT Isaiah Wilson (1st), OLB Vic Beasley (Atl.).
Key losses: DE Jurrell Casey (trade), CB Logan Ryan, QB Marcus Mariota (Oak.), TE Delanie Walker, RB Dion Lewis (cut), PK Ryan Succop, LB Wesley Woodyard.
Tennessee’s two most important players last year – Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill – were headed for free agency. Retaining them took all of the team’s financial resources. They didn’t have much choice, but it limited their ability to improve elsewhere. … The defensive front won’t be as stout without Casey. He’s been a Pro Bowl defensive tackle in five of his nine seasons, with 5-7 sacks in his last six. He had two sacks in the playoff win at Baltimore last year. But Tennessee apparently didn’t feel he was worth about $12 million this year, opting to move him for just a seventh-round pick. Beasley (8 sacks last season) should pick up the pass rush slack. … Ryan is unsigned but isn’t expected back. Tennessee didn’t want any of its other departures back, either.
Key gains: DE Chase Young (1st), QB Kyle Allen (trade), CB Ronald Darby (Phil.), CB Kendall Fuller (K.C.), G Wes Schweitzer (Atl.), LB Thomas Davis (LAC).
Key losses: OT Trent Williams (trade), G Ereck Flowers (Mia.), QB Case Keenum (Clev.), CB Quinton Dunbar (trade), RB Chris Thompson (Jac.). Cut: TE Jordan Reed, CB Josh Norman.
Young was widely considered the draft’s best defensive player – similar at Ohio State to the two Bosas who preceded him there. With Washington already having considerable talent on its defensive line, that unit will be the strength of this team. … Otherwise, Washington’s “gains” are uninspiring. A team that went 3-13 a year ago added mostly marginal veterans: other teams’ backups or players Ron Rivera was familiar with from Carolina. They look significantly worse at cornerback and on the offensive line (although in fairness, Williams didn’t play all last year).