Grading every NFC team after 1st wave of free agency

With over a week of free agency in the rear-view mirror, theScore evaluates how well every team has fared so far and dishes out grades.


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Key players signed Key players lost
QB Dak Prescott (tag) CB Byron Jones
WR Amari Cooper C Travis Frederick
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix OT Cam Fleming
DL Gerald McCoy TE Jason Witten
LB Sean Lee (re-sign) DE Robert Quinn
DT Dontari Poe S Jeff Heath
CB Anthony Brown (re-sign) WR Randall Cobb
K Kai Forbath (re-sign) DT Maliek Collins

The Cowboys couldn't keep everyone. They perhaps rightfully prioritized their starting quarterback and his top wideout over Jones, who was always going to command top dollar as a coveted corner. How Dallas replaces him remains to be seen.

The Cowboys painted themselves into a corner with their cap situation, and they've now taken on Cooper's $100-million contract over five years. The team is also continuing its extension talks with Prescott.

America's Team lost Quinn and his 11.5 sacks in 2019, and Dallas is dealing with the surprise retirement of All-Pro center Frederick. And for now, Poe and McCoy are patchwork defensive solutions.

Grade: B-

New York Giants

Key players signed Key players lost
DL Leonard Williams (tag)  S Antoine Bethea
CB James Bradberry LB Alec Ogletree
LB Blake Martinez TE Rhett Ellison
RB Dion Lewis OL Mike Remmers
TE Levine Toilolo LB Markus Golden
WR Corey Coleman (re-sign)
QB Colt McCoy
S Nate Ebner
OT Cam Fleming

The Giants were active this past week while building around their foundation of Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, though they failed to land a true difference-maker.

Bradberry, Martinez, and linebacker Kyler Fackrell are nice defensive additions. But even after placing the tag on Williams, the Giants failed to address their need at pass-rusher, a hole that became larger following the departure of Golden and his 10 sacks in 2019.

New York added Cam Fleming as a placeholder at right tackle until the club likely uses its fourth overall pick on an offensive lineman.

With this group, the Giants aren't much further ahead after a 4-12 season.

Grade: C-

Philadelphia Eagles

Key players signed Key players lost
CB Darius Slay T Jason Peters
S Will Parks S Malcolm Jenkins
LB Jatavis Brown CB Ronald Darby
DT Javon Hargrave T Halapoulivaati Vaitai
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman RB Jordan Howard
QB Nate Sudfeld WR Nelson Agholor
LB Nigel Bradham
QB Josh McCown

The Eagles, who suffered plenty of injuries in 2019, entered the new league year wanting to get younger. Out are respected vets Peters and Jenkins, and in comes a 29-year-old cornerback in Slay, a 26-year-old linebacker in Brown, and 25-year-old Philly native Parks.

Philadelphia is hoping to be more durable amid the rigors of an NFL season. The team will pass starting responsibilities at running back and left tackle to Miles Sanders and Andre Dillard, respectively.

One decision still hanging in the air is whether to trade wideout Alshon Jeffery, who's reportedly seeking a change of scenery. Philly is far from done this offseason.

Grade: B

Washington Redskins

Key players signed Key players lost
G Brandon Scherff (tag) CB Quinton Dunbar
CB Kendall Fuller CB Josh Norman
G Wes Schweitzer QB Case Keenum
LB Thomas Davis QB Colt McCoy
RB Peyton Barber S Montae Nicholson
QB Kyle Allen CB Coty Sensabaugh
S Sean Davis G Ereck Flowers
DE Nate Orchard (re-sign) TE Jordan Reed
WR Paul Richardson
TE Vernon Davis

The end of the Bruce Allen regime meant many Redskins mainstays were shown the door. The list of departures is long, and it's expected to soon include left tackle Trent Williams.

Washington failing to trade its top asset affects this grade. A rebuilding club greatly needs the resources the Redskins would recoup in a Williams deal.

Until then, the team's job is incomplete this offseason. Right now, Washington has only secured the return of its stud guard Scherff, the additions of Schweitzer and Fuller, and a number of depth signings since the opening of free agency.

Grade: D

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Key players signed Key players lost
QB Nick Foles (trade) LB Leonard Floyd
DE Robert Quinn S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
CB Artie Burns CB Prince Amukamara
TE Jimmy Graham DT Nick Williams
LB Barkevious Mingo LB Nick Kwiatkoski
OL Germain Ifedi QB Chase Daniel

Task one was to find competition or a replacement for Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. That was completed, though Foles came at a cost, with the Bears giving up a fourth-round pick to take on the veteran's exorbitant contract. However, he's the perfect option to either usurp Trubisky or mentor him.

Though the Bears' defense dropped off significantly under Chuck Pagano, the free-agent losses on that side of the ball are a cause for concern.

By picking up Quinn, Burns, and Graham, Chicago is also taking shots in the dark on aging veterans.

Grade: C-

Detroit Lions

Key players signed Key players lost
CB Desmond Trufant CB Darius Slay
DT Danny Shelton LB Devon Kennard
LB Jamie Collins T Rick Wagner
DB Duron Harmon (trade) DT Damon Harrison
DT Nick Williams DT Mike Daniels
T Halapoulivaati Vaitai G Graham Glasgow
QB Chase Daniel DT A'Shawn Robinson
CB Rashaan Melvin

For the second time in as many offseasons, general manager Bob Quinn and former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are recruiting players from New England. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

Shelton, Collins, and Harmon were all major pieces of the league's top-ranked defense, but the list of players to leave Foxborough and thrive elsewhere is short.

The Lions lose Slay, a disgruntled employee and one of their best players, for third- and fifth-round picks. Trufant should be able to fill the void, if he remains healthy.

Detroit also lost starting offensive linemen Wagner and Glasgow. The team responded by handing $50 million over five seasons to Vaitai, a career backup with 20 starts over four years.

Grade: D

Green Bay Packers

Key players signed Key players lost
LB Christian Kirksey LB Blake Martinez
T Rick Wagner T Bryan Bulaga
WR Devin Funchess LB B.J. Goodson
TE Marcedes Lewis (re-sign) TE Jimmy Graham
LB Kyler Fackrell

After the Packers went against their history and were active participants in free agency last year, it was probably wrong to believe they'd go all-in again in 2020.

All has been quiet in Green Bay. The Pack added Kirksey and Wagner to open strong, then waited until the second week of free agency to address their need at receiver. After losing out on Emmanuel Sanders, they instead signed Funchess, a former second-round pick who disappointed in Carolina and broke his collarbone a game into his stay in Indy.

Though Wagner dulls the loss of Bulaga, and Kirksey does the same for losing Martinez, both former Packers were key contributors on a team that earned the second NFC seed in the 2019 playoffs.

Grade: C

Minnesota Vikings

Key players signed Key players lost
S Anthony Harris (tag) WR Stefon Diggs
DT Michael Pierce DE Everson Griffen
K Dan Bailey (re-sign) CB Xavier Rhodes
WR Tajae Sharpe CB Trae Waynes
DE Anthony Zettel DT Linval Joseph
CB Mackensie Alexander
S Andrew Sendejo
WR Laquon Treadwell

The Vikings' secondary and receiving corps were decimated during free agency, with the team hard up against the cap.

Though they underperformed recently, Rhodes, Waynes, and Alexander leave gaping holes in Minnesota's back end, voids the team has yet to fill.

Offensively, the Vikings are down to Adam Thielen and Olabisi Johnson at wideout following the departures of Diggs and Treadwell. Minnesota was already thin at receiver, even with the Pro Bowl-pairing of Thielen and Diggs.

At least the Vikings pocketed an extra first-round pick from the Diggs trade.

Grade: C-

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Key players signed Key players lost
RB Todd Gurley CB Desmond Trufant
DE Dante Fowler Jr. RB Devonta Freeman
TE Hayden Hurst TE Austin Hooper
WR Laquon Treadwell LB Vic Beasley
OL Justin McCray OL Ty Sambrailo
G Wes Schweitzer

It's been an offseason of change in Atlanta, as should be expected for a team that needed to win its last four games to finish at 7-9 in 2019. Three of the team's biggest recent names - Trufant, Freeman, and Hooper - are gone.

Losing a Pro Bowl talent in Hooper only to trade second- and fifth-round picks for Hurst and get a fourth is a downgrade. Swapping out Freeman for Gurley is a short-term upgrade, especially since the latter is only signed for one season and no one knows if he can rediscover his 2017 Offensive Player of the Year form.

One can't help but feel as though Atlanta's plan to this point has been to put a Band-Aid on a broken leg.

Grade: C

Carolina Panthers

Key players signed Key players lost
QB Teddy Bridgewater QB Cam Newton
WR Robby Anderson LB Luke Kuechly
LT Russell Okung (trade) TE Greg Olsen
WR Pharoh Cooper CB James Bradberry
WR Seth Roberts S Eric Reid
LB Tahir Whitehead  RG Trai Turner (trade)
G John Miller DT Gerald McCoy
QB P.J. Walker LB Mario Addison
DT Vernon Butler
DT Dontari Poe

A new era of football is upon those in the Carolinas. Gone are former franchise stewards Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, and Greg Olsen, signaling the close of a competitive window that featured a Super Bowl 50 appearance.

Enter new head coach Matt Rhule, who appears to be trying to get the 2015 Temple Owls back together. That team featured P.J. Walker and Robby Anderson, as Rhule's Panthers do now.

But Carolina's biggest move was handing a $63-million contract to Teddy Bridgewater, making him the quarterback of the team's immediate future.

The rebuild begins in earnest at the 2020 draft, and more reinforcements are coming.

Grade: B-

New Orleans Saints

Key players signed Key players lost
QB Drew Brees (re-sign) QB Teddy Bridgewater
WR Emmanuel Sanders CB Eli Apple
S Malcolm Jenkins LB A.J. Klein
DE Noah Spence S Vonn Bell
G Andrus Peat (re-sign)
S D.J. Swearinger (re-sign)
QB Taysom Hill (tender)

The Saints entered the offseason with decisions to make on all three of their quarterbacks. The team chose to run it back with Drew Brees, slap a first-round tender on Taysom Hill, and let Bridgewater leave to lead a division rival.

The next big-ticket item was finding a wideout to complement Michael Thomas. The Saints won the services of Emmanuel Sanders, who was also in talks with the Packers and Cowboys. The deep threat should fit perfectly in New Orleans' high-volume passing attack.

And speaking of fits, safety Malcolm Jenkins returns to the Big Easy after six seasons in Philly. The Saints are retooling for another run at the Super Bowl.

Grade: B+

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key players signed Key players lost
QB Tom Brady QB Jameis Winston
LB Shaq Barrett (tag) WR Breshad Perriman
LB Jason Pierre-Paul (re-sign) LB Carl Nassib
OL Joe Haeg RB Peyton Barber
DT Ndamukong Suh (re-sign)

The Buccaneers win the offseason after swapping out turnover-machine Jameis Winston for the most accomplished quarterback of all time, even if Tom Brady is in his final seasons.

Tampa Bay lost very little from its roster while focussing on re-signing key pieces, including Ndamukong Suh and pass-rushers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.

The grade would be bumped up to an A+ if, after signing Brady, the Bucs were able to add one of the top offensive linemen, running backs, or defensive backs available. The only other new face is an offensive lineman signed for depth.

Grade: A

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Tim Warner / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Key players signed Key players lost
WR DeAndre Hopkins (trade) RB David Johnson (trade)
WR Larry Fitzgerald (re-sign) LB Cassius Marsh
LB Devon Kennard  
LB De'Vondre Campbell
DT Jordan Phillips  
RB Kenyan Drake (tag)
C Max Garcia  

The Cardinals came away with the surprise addition of this free-agent period. Already mulling discarding David Johnson, Arizona managed to turn the declining running back, a second-round pick, and a future fourth-rounder into DeAndre Hopkins.

That trade and Larry Fitzgerald's decision to return for another season will make the Cards a popular pick to be a 2020 contender.

However, general manager Steve Keim didn't rest there, making several under-the-radar defensive front-seven additions that should help turn around a dead-last defense in 2019.

Bringing Kenyan Drake back for another season after he scored eight touchdowns in eight games with the team was also a savvy move. He's making top-five running back money though on an $8.4-million transition tag.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Rams

Key players signed Key players lost
OT Andrew Whitworth (re-sign) RB Todd Gurley
DT A'Shawn Robinson LB Clay Matthews
LB Leonard Floyd LB Cory Littleton
C Austin Blythe (re-sign) S Eric Weddle
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
LB Dante Fowler Jr.

The Rams just missed the playoffs in 2019 - and would have made it under the new format - and, as a result, Sean McVay and Les Snead have been busy shedding talent and salary. And they may not be done, with wideout Brandin Cooks also reportedly on the trade block.

Retaining tackle Andrew Whitworth was a priority, but who's he going to be blocking for after the release of Todd Gurley?

It appears L.A. has also made little headway while trying to ink star corner Jalen Ramsey to an extension.

It's been a rough offseason for the Rams. At least their grade isn't as low as the one they received from the public for their revised logo.

Grade: D

San Francisco 49ers

Key players signed Key players lost
S Jimmie Ward (re-sign) DT DeForest Buckner (trade)
WR Travis Benjamin WR Emmanuel Sanders
DL Kerry Hyder OL Mike Person
OL Tom Compton
LB Joe Walker  
C Ben Garland (re-sign)

Forgive the 49ers for being quiet this offseason. They're likely still licking their wounds after coughing up a fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl.

San Francisco did make one major move, trading DeForest Buckner for the 13th overall pick in next month's draft. The Niners lost an elite interior defensive lineman, but the team likely recognized it couldn't afford the cost to keep him considering the going rates for Dee Ford and Arik Armstead, and Nick Bosa when he lands a rich extension.

Nonetheless, the 49ers made out well in the deal, and they could turn the pick into Buckner's replacement or a top-flight wideout.

The Niners also made sure to re-sign key contributors such as Jimmie Ward, Ben Garland, and Kyle Juszczyk.

Grade: B

Seattle Seahawks

Key players added Key players lost
CB Quinton Dunbar (trade) DT Al Woods
TE Greg Olsen DE Quinton Jefferson
WR Phillip Dorsett T George Fant
DT Jarran Reed (re-sign) G Mike Iupati
T Brandon Shell T Germain Ifedi
OL B.J. Finney
G Chance Warmack
T Cedric Ogbuehi
DE Bruce Irvin

No longer content to see Russell Wilson run for his life, the Seahawks have been busy during free agency, nabbing a number of offensive linemen and also trading for corner Quinton Dunbar.

The team is opting for quantity over quality, but any help on its O-line will go a long way.

After seeing their division rivals represent the NFC in the Super Bowl the past two seasons, the Seahawks are taking an aggressive approach to this offseason. A reunion with Jadeveon Clowney could put this free-agent class over the top.

Grade: B+

Grading every NFC team after 1st wave of free agency
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox