AFC Offseason Grades

Draft season has come and gone. While that’s sad, the bright side is we can roughly see what each team’s roster will look like next year. So, I graded the changes that each team made this offseason. Here are my grades for each AFC squad’s moves.

*Note: I’ll update this article periodically once more deals occur

AFC East

 

Buffalo Bills

Grade: B+

Notable Additions: WR Stefon Diggs, CB Josh Norman, Edge Mario Addison, DT Vernon Butler, Edge A.J. Epenesa, RB Zack Moss

Notable Departures: RB Frank Gore, DT Jordan Phillips, Edge Shaq Lawson, LB Lorenzo Alexander

The Bills made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason in the Stefon Diggs trade. Definitely a good move on their part. They can finally stretch the field with Josh Allen’s big arm. Allen’s accuracy must improve, but I expect a big leap from him with Diggs. Josh Norman could also be a good pick-up. With little expectations, he could re-emerge as a solid CB2 across from Tre’Davious White. Epenesa and Moss were both good value picks, particularly Epenesa. He fits well and should start very soon. Losing Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson hurts, but they have plenty more ammunition on the D-Line. In a weak division, expect a strong season from the Bills. 

stefon diggs bills

 

Miami Dolphins

Grade: A

Notable Additions: CB Byron Jones, LB Kyle Van Noy, Edge Shaq Lawson, Edge Emmanuel Ogbah, OL Ereck Flowers, OL Ted Karras, RB Jordan Howard, LB Elandon Roberts, QB Tua Tagovailoa, OT Austin Jackson, CB Noah Igbinoghene, OG Robert Hunt, DT Raekwon Davis

Notable Departures: CB Aqib Talib, S Reshad Jones

The Dolphins rebuilt their team this offseason. Byron Jones was the main prize. He’s the perfect lockdown corner for Brian Flores’s scheme. In free agency, they also added Van Noy, Ogbah, Lawson, and Roberts to their front 7. In the Draft, they found their franchise QB, Tua Tagovailoa. It’s risky, but his playmaking ability is unmatched. If I’m the Dolphins, I’m sitting him for his entire rookie year. They can’t risk injuring their franchise player on his rookie contract. Picking Noah Igbinoghene gives them another good man corner to team with Xavien Howard and Jones. Finally, they remade their O-Line with Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, Ereck Flowers, and Ted Karras. It’s a new era in Miami. Expect them to contend in 2021.

Tua dolphins

New England Patriots

Grade: D

Notable Additions: S Kyle Dugger, Edge Joshua Uche

Notable Departures: QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, WR Phillip Dorsett, OL Ted Karras, S Duron Harmon, LB Elandon Roberts, K Stephen Gostkowski

It’s a new era in New England, too. Except not the good kind. TB12 is gone, which was expected. Same with Gronk, which was unexpected, but we knew he wasn’t gonna don a Pats’ uniform again. New England retained Joe Thuney and Devin McCourty, which was a win. However, the defensive losses that really hurt the Pats were Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Danny Shelton. They were key cogs of an already weak front 7. They added a few new versatile pieces for their defense in the Draft, but none that will instantly contribute. The fact that they didn’t add a new QB or any new receivers in the Draft is incredibly worrisome for me. Not even a backup for Jarrett Stidham. Instead, they added two new tight ends, neither of which are likely to become stars. It’s not a positive outlook for the Pats, and their front office did nothing to change that. 

stidham

New York Jets

Grade: B+

Notable Additions: CB Pierre Desir, OT George Fant, C Connor McGovern, WR Breshad Perriman, OL Greg Van Roten, LB Patrick Onwuasor, OT Mekhi Becton, WR Denzel Mims, S Ashtyn Davis

Notable Departures: WR Robby Anderson, WR Demaryius Thomas, OT Ryan Kalil

The Jets made some intriguing moves this offseason. They overhauled their O-Line, with Becton, McGovern, Fant, and Van Roten all  likely to start. Losing Robby Anderson does hurt, but adding Denzel Mims at such great value and Perriman in free agency makes up for it. They had a very good Draft in particular, adding DE Jabari Zuniga, S Ashtyn Davis, and CB Bryce Hall to their defense, plus Becton and Mims on offense. Don’t expect the Jets to jump into playoff contention, but they’re headed in the right direction.

 

AFC North

 

Baltimore Ravens

Grade: B+

Notable Additions: DL Calais Campbell, DL Derek Wolfe, LB Patrick Queen, RB J.K. Dobbins, DT Justin Madubuike, LB Malik Harrison

Notable Departures: TE Hayden Hurst, OG Marshal Yanda, DT Chris Wormley, DT Michael Pierce, LB Patrick Onwuasor, CB Brandon Carr, S Tony Jefferson

The Ravens have had a very underrated offseason. Calais Campbell was an absolute steal for a fifth-rounder. He’ll give them at least two years of dominance in run defense. Also, they traded Hayden Hurst for a second-rounder, which turned into J.K. Dobbins. Pairing him with Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson will make their rushing attack the most dangerous in the league. Finally, Patrick Queen was a great pick. He’ll immediately be a stud for that defense. 

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Grade: A-

Notable Additions: DT D.J. Reader, CB Trae Waynes, S Vonn Bell, CB Mackensie Alexander, QB Joe Burrow, WR Tee Higgins, LB Logan Wilson

Notable Departures: TE Tyler Eifert, CB Darqueze Dennard, CB Dre Kirkpatrick

The Bengals rebuild truly started this offseason. It’s no surprise they landed their franchise QB, Joe Burrow, in the Draft. They franchise tagged A.J. Green, but it’s likely he’ll leave in 2021. So, Cincy drafted Tee Higgins, another big-boned beast for the Bengals. More notable were their defensive additions, though. Reader, Waynes, Alexander, and Bell were all solid pick-ups. I also loved the selection of Logan WIlson. He’s a small-school guy who could be their version of Leighton Vander-Esch. The Bengals are trending in a much more positive direction than I would’ve thought they would be at this point.

joe burrow bengals

Cleveland Browns

Grade: B+

Notable Additions: OT Jack Conklin, TE Austin Hooper, S Karl Joseph, OT Jedrick Wills Jr., S Grant Delpit

Notable Departures: LB Joe Schobert, LB Christian Kirksey, S Damarious Randall

The Browns did exactly what they needed to do this offseason. Their top priority was to bolster the O-Line. They passed that test with flying colors. They added Jack Conklin in free agency and Jedrick Wills in the Draft. Those are two great tackles. Plus, they brought in Austin Hooper, a budding superstar at tight end. Baker Mayfield has no excuse to be mediocre this season with the pieces he now has. If he’s not the guy this year, he may never be. 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Grade: C+

Notable Additions: TE Eric Ebron, DT Chris Wormley, OL Stefen Wisniewski, WR Chase Claypool

Notable Departures: DT Javon Hargrave, CB Artie Burns, LB Mark Barron

I have mixed reactions about Pittsburgh’s offseason. Eric Ebron was a great signing. Tight end has been a glaring need for the Steelers for a long, long time. Now, Big Ben will have a bonafide red zone threat. What I don’t understand is the pick of Chase Claypool. Claypool is a monster of a man who can play receiver or tight end, but with Ebron in the mix, he won’t start at tight end any time soon. However, the Steelers already have three promising young receivers in JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson. I don’t doubt Claypool’s talent, but I do doubt his fit on the team. So, a C+ seems to be a fitting grade for their offseason. 

 

AFC South

 

Houston Texans

Grade: D

Notable Additions: WR Brandin Cooks, RB David Johnson, WR Randall Cobb, DT Ross Blacklock

Notable Departures: WR DeAndre Hopkins, DT D.J. Reader, RB Carlos Hyde, CB Johnathan Joseph

The Texans’ management is simply atrocious. They sold their best player, DeAndre Hopkins, for just a second-rounder and one of the worst contracts in the NFL (David Johnson). Then, they dealt a second-rounder for another overpriced contract (Brandin Cooks). Essentially, Bill O’Brien is Bill Belichick if Bill Belichick was bad at coaching. Belichick may not be the best GM, but he’s the best coach of all time. O’Brien tried to imitate Belichick with the DHop trade. Hopkins gave him an issue, and O’Brien sold him ASAP. After all, O’Brien is a Belichick product. However, Bill O’Brien is nowhere close to the shrewd mastermind that Bill Belichick is. So, O’Brien better pray that Deshaun Watson has an MVP-caliber season because his job depends on it.

deshaun watson all by himself
Picture credit: USA Today

Indianapolis Colts

Grade: A+

Notable Additions: QB Philip Rivers, DT DeForest Buckner, CB Xavier Rhodes, TE Trey Burton, WR Michael Pittman Jr., RB Jonathan Taylor

Notable Departures: TE Eric Ebron, WR Devin Funchess, CB Pierre Desir

Here’s the best offseason of any AFC team. Philip Rivers is far from washed up. He played behind a depleted O-Line last year in LA. Now, he has the best protectors in the league. Then, Indy traded for DeForest Buckner. That’s a premiere talent at a position of need. Those two acquisitions alone would’ve gotten the Colts a B+, but then they drafted Pittman and Taylor. Pittman is the tall, red zone option the Colts needed. Taylor wasn’t necessarily a need, but he’ll contribute straight away. Those four additions, plus Rhodes and Burton, will propel the Colts into the playoffs in the 2020-21 season. 

philip rivers colts
Picture credit: Yahoo! Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars

Grade: C

Notable Additions: LB Joe Schobert, TE Tyler Eifert, CB C.J. Henderson, Edge K’Lavon Chaisson, WR Laviska Shenault

Notable Departures: DL Calais Campbell, Edge Yannick Ngakoue, CB A.J. Bouye, QB Nick Foles, DT Marcell Dareus

It was inevitable that the Jags would lose Campbell and Bouye, you can’t dock them any points for that. However, they only received fifth and fourth round picks, respectively, in the trades. That’s what lowers their grade for me. Plus, Yannick Ngakoue hasn’t been sold yet, but he won’t don a Jags uniform again. They’ve lost all leverage in that situation. Otherwise, they were productive this offseason. They drafted Henderon, Chaisson, and Shenault. Those three will be immediate contributors. This should be the worst team in the NFL, but at least they’ll land Trevor Lawrence as a result. 

 

Tennessee Titans

Grade: C

Notable Additions: Edge Vic Beasley, OT Isaiah Wilson, CB Kristian Fulton

Notable Departures: OT Jack Conklin, DT Jurrell Casey, CB Logan Ryan, TE Delanie Walker, Edge Cameron Wake, QB Marcus Mariota, RB Dion Lewis

This was a lackluster offseason for the Titans. They started off by overpaying Ryan Tannehill. Then, they sold Jurrell Casey for a seventh-rounder. On top of that, Jack Conklin, Logan Ryan, and Delanie Walker are all out the door. Vic Beasley was a weak signing at a huge position of need. The bright spots were the selections of Isaiah Wilson and Kristian Fulton. After making it to the AFC Championship last season, I don’t see the same type of success this year. 

 

AFC West

 

Denver Broncos

Grade: A

Notable Additions: CB A.J. Bouye, DT Jurrell Casey, RB Melvin Gordon, OL Graham Glasgow, WR Jerry Jeudy, WR K.J. Hamler

Notable Departures: CB Chris Harris Jr., DL Derek Wolfe, C Connor McGovern, QB Joe Flacco

Awesome job by John Elway in the past few months. Denver acquired Casey and Bouye for late rounders. They’re both seasoned vets that’ll play well in the Mile High City. Melvin Gordon wasn’t necessarily needed, but they got him for a bargain. Finally, adding Jeudy and Hamler in the Draft patches up their need for playmakers. If this division wasn’t so stacked, I’d say the Broncos would make the playoffs. 

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Grade: B

Notable Additions: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LB Willie Gay Jr.

Notable Departures: CB Kendall Fuller, CB Morris Claiborne, Edge Emmanuel Ogbah, LB Reggie Ragland, OL Stephen Wisniewski, RB LeSean McCoy

The Chiefs return 20 out of 22 starters from their Super Bowl campaign. Wow. My only concern is their cornerback depth. They lost Fuller and Claiborne without adding anything back. However, Clyde Edwards-Helaire makes up for it. This Chief’s offense is the best in the league, so adding Edwards is almost unfair. KC set themselves up to make another nice run. 

 

Las Vegas Raiders

Grade: C

Notable Additions: LB Cory Littleton, Edge Carl Nassib, LB Nick Kwiatkowski, S Damarious Randall, TE Jason Witten, DT Maliek Collins, QB Marcus Mariota, WR Nelson Agholor, WR Henry Ruggs III, CB Damon Arnette

Notable Departures: LB Tahir Whitehead, S Karl Joseph

The Raiders had one of the most active offseasons in the league. That doesn’t mean they had a good offseason, though. Cory Littleton was my favorite of their pick-ups, but otherwise, it was a whole lotta blah. Also, they reached in the Draft big time. They took Henry Ruggs with CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy still on the board. Damon Arnette was an even bigger reach. Overall, Las Vegas could’ve done this offseason much better. 

henry ruggs raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Grade: A-

Notable Additions: CB Chris Harris Jr., OT Bryan Bulaga, DT Linval Joseph, OG Trai Turner, QB Justin Herbert, LB Kenneth Murray

Notable Departures: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, OT Russell Okung, LB Thomas Davis

Justin Herbert has his fair share of doubters, but I’m a believer. He’s in a perfect situation in LA. Tyrod Taylor will start this season, while Herbert develops. Adding Joseph, Murray, and Harris to their squad puts their defense among the best in the league. Plus, Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner filled huge holes on their O-Line. Even if Herbert’s a bust, this team has all the pieces to compete.

NFC grades coming soon. Stay safe.

-Sam

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