Nearly every team, every year, improves in the offseason. Regardless of player attrition, teams are adding prospects via the draft, although we won't know how much value they'll provide at the NFL level until they take the field. That said, every team has needs to address and there are finite resources on the free-agent market and in the draft with which to address them. So while it may be hard for a team to "fail" the offseason (which is why you won't find any F's below) there are definitely teams that did a better job than others at filling their needs and adding to the talent on their roster.
The teams I graded with an A were the best at addressing their needs and adding talent for 2013 and beyond. Teams with a B did a good job, but there were still a few areas I thought they could have improved. Teams with a C I see as treading water. At best they replaced the talent they lost to free agency and retirement. Teams below a C, well, I think they went in the wrong direction this summer. But there weren't too many.
Here are my 2013 NFL offseason grades for the AFC:
Key additions: OLB Elvis Dumervil, S Michael Huff, DE Chris Canty, DE Marcus Spears, C A.Q. Shipley
Key losses: OLB Paul Kruger, WR Anquan Boldin, C Matt Birk, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, S Ed Reed, ILB Ray Lewis, CB Cary Williams, S Bernard Pollard, G Bobbie Williams, NT Ma'ake Kemoeatu
Analysis: The Super Bowl champions are going to be much better this upcoming season -- on defense that is. Replacing Reed and Pollard with Huff and Matt Elam not only makes the Ravens younger at safety, but represents an upgrade in coverage, versatility and range. Losing Cary Williams hurts a little -- he logged a lot of playing time, but was often picked on -- but the return of Lardarius Webb will make Williams an afterthought.
On this defense, Arthur Brown is most likely to be my choice as NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. I also think Dumervil is a superior pass-rusher to Kruger. A healthier Terrell Suggs will play every down while Dumervil should rotate with Courtney Upshaw, who plays the run much better than Dumervil but hasn't developed as a pass-rusher. This should maximize Dumervil's snaps. Spears and Canty are defensive linemen who can do a lot of things well, and Canty's interior pass-rushing prowess will be an especially welcome addition.
While I think the offensive line should be quite good if Bryant McKinnie stays motivated, the wide receiver position looks like a gaping hole in Baltimore's offense. Losing the leadership of players like Lewis, Reed and Birk can't be quantified, but this roster has improved overall in their absence. Ozzie Newsome & Co. once again have done a terrific job.
Key additions: QB Alex Smith, DE Mike DeVito, CB Sean Smith, TE Anthony Fasano, CB Dunta Robinson, G Geoff Schwartz, QB Chase Daniel, WR Donnie Avery, FB Anthony Sherman, LB Zac Diles, DL Marcus Dixon, LB Akeem Jordan, DE Daniel Muir, OLB Frank Zombo
Key losses: OT Eric Winston, DE Glenn Dorsey, QB Matt Cassel, CB Javier Arenas, TE Kevin Boss, DE Ropati Pitoitua, WR Steve Breaston, S Travis Daniels, S Abram Elam, RB Peyton Hillis, DL Shaun Smith, G Ryan Lilja, ILB Brandon Siler, QB Brady Quinn
Analysis: This is a much better football team than the one we saw struggle through the 2012 season in very disappointing fashion. There isn't one position on this team that I would say was better in 2012 than it is right now, although we must realize just how badly this team underachieved last season. In fact, the Chiefs look to be noticeably improved at quarterback, tight end, offensive line and defensive back.
I'm not the biggest Alex Smith fan, but discarding Cassel for Smith and Daniel is a massive win for Kansas City, especially in the area of turning the ball over and distributing the ball properly. Fasano is a highly underrated and very effective two-way tight end, while Travis Kelce very well could surpass Fasano and Tony Moeaki on this depth chart in a very short amount of time. While Andy Reid might get more from Dexter McCluster than the last staff, I would have liked to have seen Kansas City add more at wide receiver. Winston is a very good run-blocking right tackle, but Eric Fisher can be one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL before long and Schwartz is a quality starter or superb backup.
Brandon Flowers is a rock in Kansas City's secondary and Eric Berry started to look like the player he was coming out of college as the 2012 season went along, but adding Robinson as a do-it-all defensive back should pay dividends and Sean Smith will be among the best No. 2 cornerbacks in the NFL with the size to compete with the big wide receivers in the AFC West. DeVito for Dorsey is pretty much a wash, but DeVito's playing style could rub off on Dontari Poe in a very positive way. Nico Johnson should shore up the two-down inside linebacker spot next to Derrick Johnson, which was a problem area last year.
Are the playoffs out of the question for Kansas City in 2013? I don't think so in the weak AFC.
Key additions: DE Desmond Bryant, OLB Paul Kruger, WR Davone Bess, OLB Quentin Groves, QB Jason Campbell, WR David Nelson, QB Brian Hoyer, TE Kellen Davis, TE Gary Barnidge, CB Chris Owens, CB Kevin Barnes
Key losses: CB Sheldon Brown, LB Kaluka Maiava, DE Juqua Parker, DE Frostee Rucker, WR Josh Cribbs, PK Phil Dawson, S Usama Young, LB Scott Fujita, LB Chris Gocong, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, TE Ben Watson, QB Colt McCoy, TE Alex Smith
Analysis: Clearly the mission this offseason for Cleveland was drastically improving the pass rush. Bryant is among the top interior pass-rushers in the league and is a very good every-down fit in Cleveland's new 3-4 scheme, while Kruger is coming off a career year. Groves has familiarity with the scheme and defensive coaching staff and has been a productive reserve and Barkevious Mingo has much more natural ability than any of them.
While the pass rush looks to be improved, the secondary has issues. Leon McFadden, Jamoris Slaughter and Owens have some promise, but this secondary looks very leaky with the exception of Joe Haden and T.J. Ward.
This new regime inherited a young and promising offensive core and hasn't done a lot to upgrade it. Bess is a quarterback-friendly addition out of the slot and I could see Nelson helping out with his size and ability to align in numerous receiver spots. Based on Cleveland's draft day trades, it appears as though this front office is far more excited about next year's draft class overall than this past class. But the Browns may also be stockpiling resources to go get a franchise quarterback if Brandon Weeden doesn't excel in his second season.
Key additions: G Andy Levitre, TE Delanie Walker, DT Sammie Lee Hill, RB Shonn Greene, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, S George Wilson, DE Ropati Pitoitua, S Bernard Pollard, G Chris Spencer, G Robert Turner, WR Kevin Walter, LB Moise Fokou, DT Antonio Johnson
Key losses: TE Jared Cook, QB Matt Hasselbeck, G Steve Hutchinson, S Jonathan Babineaux, OLB Will Witherspoon, DT Sen'Derrick Marks, RB Javon Ringer, OLB Zac Diles, G Deuce Lutui
Analysis: Think the Titans were interested in improving the interior of their offensive line? Well, they accomplished their mission. Levitre is in the prime of his career and excels in protection while Chance Warmack could be a foundation of this unit and a player who makes multiple Pro Bowls. Don't overlook the addition of Brian Schwenke either and to a lesser degree Spencer and Turner. Chris Johnson (and Greene) should be very happy about these offensive line additions, and Walker is also an exceptional blocking tight end.
Greene is a very different type of back than Johnson and hasn't been impressive thus far in his career, but he excels in short yardage situations and brings a physical "closer" quality to this backfield. New additions Walker and Justin Hunter have suspect hands, but both can really run for their respective positions and should give Jake Locker a plethora of downfield weapons to go along with very good protection. Can Locker take a step forward with this improved supporting cast and live up to his potential? That is the biggest question surrounding this organization.
On the other side of the ball, Blidi Wreh-Wilson gives the Titans needed cornerback depth and Wilson and Pollard (although he struggles in coverage) should give Tennessee much more of a presence from the safety position. A little more could have been done on the defensive line, but the Titans were busy this offseason and really didn't lose very much. Will it pay off? That depends mostly on if Locker takes the next step.
Key additions: CB Quentin Jammer, WR Wes Welker, G Louis Vasquez, DT Terrance Knighton, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DE Shaun Phillips, ILB Stewart Bradley
Key losses: DE Elvis Dumervil, LB D.J. Williams, DT Justin Bannan, C Dan Koppen, WR Brandon Stokley, DT Ty Warren, CB Tracy Porter, ILB Keith Brooking, S Jim Leonhard
Analysis: With the addition of Welker and Vasquez, the Broncos' offense now has no holes, something very few teams can say about either side of the ball. With 11 personnel (1 RB/1 TE) as its base personnel, Denver should have 11 solid (if not better) starters led by Peyton Manning, who I doubt takes long to get on the same page with Welker.
While the lead running back is unclear at this point, Manning always keeps the running game in very favorable situations and Montee Ball looks like a near perfect match for what this offense desires out of the position.
While their defensive tackles played well last year, Sylvester Williams and Knighton give the Broncos much more youth and upside at the position. The pass rush could be a problem, especially on early downs with Dumervil now in Baltimore, but on throwing downs, the group of Phillips or Quanterus Smith opposite Von Miller, with Robert Ayers and Derek Wolfe on the interior, should more than suffice.
Another problem I see here is that Denver had a very hard time defending opposing tight ends and covering the middle of the field overall last year. The Broncos did little to address that problem, although Rodgers-Cromartie gives them another quality pure man-to-man cover corner. After losing out on Charles Woodson, Denver turned to Jammer to probably play a similar role. At this stage of his career, Jammer could be best suited playing several defensive back positions, often closer to the ball or as a deep safety rather than as a perimeter cornerback.
Led by Miller, the defense should remain adequate to above average, but I think this offense is going to score tons of points as Denver dominates the AFC West.
Key additions: RB Chris Ivory, RB Mike Goodson, G Willie Colon, S Dawan Landry, OLB Antwan Barnes, NT Antonio Garay
Key losses: CB Darrelle Revis, DL Mike DeVito, G Brandon Moore, TE Dustin Keller, NT Sione Po'uha, S LaRon Landry, G Matt Slauson, RB Shonn Greene, S Yeremiah Bell, ILB Bart Scott, S Eric Smith, OT Jason Smith, OLB Aaron Maybin, OLB Calvin Pace, OLB Bryan Thomas, DE Daniel Muir, QB Tim Tebow
Analysis: Many criticize the Jets and what seems like a circus-like environment around this organization, but I think this front office has done a solid job this offseason. The Jets did lose a lot, but many of these players needed to go. There is still plenty of work to do, but they signed David Garrard (who has since retired) and drafted Geno Smith to improve the awful quarterback situation. What do these two have in common? They both value the football and rarely throw egregious interceptions. With a defensive mastermind as the head coach and a power running game as the foundation of the offense, valuing the football is imperative at the quarterback position -- which obviously was a problem last season.
Speaking of that running game, the Jets vastly improved both the running back position and the offensive line as a whole. Unlike last year, New York has several different options to form its best starting front five.
On defense, the drafting of Dee Milliner and Sheldon Richardson was perplexing to many. But I saw it this way: Milliner was drafted to be a big, physical second cornerback opposite Antonio Cromartie. He isn't a replacement for Revis, rather a complement to Cromartie and also a cornerback who might be able to play man coverage against the Patriots' tight ends -- as he did against Tyler Eifert in the BCS title game. On the surface, Richardson does not look like a fit in Rex Ryan's 3-4 scheme, but he was the best interior pass-rusher from this draft class and Ryan will employ a multitude of fronts, including quite a bit of 4-3 and 46.
Pass rush was obviously needed, but strengthening the interior pass rush while allowing Ryan more freedom to blitz with improved cornerback play could have the same result as bringing in a traditional edge rusher. Also, Barnes has a history of edge-rushing productivity if he isn't overused.
The Jets are not going to blow teams out or score of a lot of points. And they need more playmakers on offense. But this offseason shows a true identity and a plan to grind out wins in close games until the other pieces are in place.
Key additions: OT Gosder Cherilus, G Donald Thomas, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, DL Ricky Jean Francois, CB Greg Toler, OLB Erik Walden, NT Aubrayo Franklin, S LaRon Landry, QB Matt Hasselbeck, ILB Kelvin Sheppard
Key losses: OLB Dwight Freeney, OT Winston Justice, C A.Q. Shipley, CB Jerraud Powers, WR Donnie Avery, OLB Jerry Hughes, DL Antonio Johnson, LB Moise Fokou, QB Drew Stanton, S Tom Zbikowski, WR Austin Collie
Analysis: A surprise playoff team in 2012, few organizations were as active this offseason as the Colts. The additions of Cherilus and Thomas should give Indianapolis four quality starting offensive linemen, with a possible hole still remaining at the guard spot opposite Thomas (Hugh Thornton could potentially fill that guard spot in his rookie season).
Such an improvement up front should do wonders for Andrew Luck, who was hit far too often in his outstanding rookie season. You have to protect the face of the franchise, especially if the Colts continue to throw deep as much as they did a year ago. But there is also a good chance that we see more West Coast principles in this passing game with a new coordinator in town.
Heyward-Bey probably will never live up to his draft status, but he can get deep and open up room for those around him. He is an upgrade in this department over Avery and could be in for a productive season with some big plays sprinkled in. I am also very excited about Kerwynn Williams, who is an exceptional receiver as a running back and could give Luck a Darren Sproles type of weapon that would be a great addition to this young offense overall. Hasselbeck seems like an ideal backup/mentor for Luck as well.
Most of the Colts' work, though, was done to improve a defense that needed help in just about every area. I don't see Bjoern Werner or Walden making Colts fans forget about Freeney, but they are good scheme fits for this Ravens-like defensive system with Werner having much more pass-rushing ability than Walden. This scheme needs versatile defensive linemen, which Jean-Francois provides. With the addition of Franklin, Indianapolis also has an awful lot of nose tackle types, while Toler and Landry should bolster what was a very suspect secondary.
Key additions: OLB James Harrison, OLB Aaron Maybin, TE Alex Smith, QB John Skelton
Key losses: OLB Thomas Howard, CB Nate Clements, S Chris Crocker, DT Pat Sims, QB Bruce Gradkowski, OLB Manny Lawson, RB Brian Leonard
Analysis: The Bengals have one of the more talented young rosters in the NFL right now, but what worries me most is the quarterback. I grade Cincinnati negatively for not using even a midround pick on a guy like Ryan Nassib or Tyler Wilson to push Andy Dalton and provide some sort of a backup plan. But the drafting of Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard shows us that Cincinnati does understand Dalton's limitations.
He needs a plethora of weapons around him to succeed and Eifert's ability over the middle and in the red zone, along with Bernard's strong abilities as an outlet receiver, are very good additions to this passing game. Of course Bernard also should provide big-play ability from the running back position, which is something this offense has sorely lacked, and the do-it-all Rex Burkhead could factor in with numerous roles as a rookie and eventually unseat BenJarvus Green-Ellis as Bernard's backup. The pieces around Dalton are now firmly in place.
There wasn't much change overall on defense, but Harrison should be the starting strongside linebacker, with the ability to play outside linebacker when Cincinnati shows a 3-4 front. If he's healthy, the addition of Harrison could be huge and the Bengals do not have all that much invested him. Shawn Williams could be an upgrade at strong safety, and while Margus Hunt doesn't look to have an immediate home, Mike Zimmer surely has a plan for this immensely talented but very raw defensive lineman.
In the end though, considering how much cap space they had and their draft resources, I would have liked to have seen the Bengals do a little more this offseason.
Key additions: QB Kevin Kolb, DL Alan Branch, OLB Manny Lawson, OLB Jerry Hughes
Key losses: G Andy Levitre, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, S George Wilson, G Chad Rinehart, ILB Nick Barnett, WR David Nelson, WR Donald Jones, ILB Kelvin Sheppard, DE Chris Kelsay, DE Spencer Johnson, CB Terrence McGee, ILB Kirk Morrison, OLB Shawne Merriman, DE Kyle Moore
Analysis: The Bills have made a concerted effort this offseason to improve at the most important position on the field -- quarterback. I feel that Kolb, who played decently in Arizona last season before his injury, is an upgrade over Fitzpatrick, while Manuel has all the ability in the world to develop into a Cam Newton-like signal-caller.
Buffalo was smart to surround its new QBs with a plethora of young receivers of varying sizes and skill sets. Keep an eye on Gragg, a potential big-play tight end that this offense simply has not had in some time. But the loss of Levitre is a substantial one and this offensive line is unlikely to be as strong as it was last year -- and it wasn't great to begin with.
Also, after the Bills spent a small fortune to bring Mario Williams, who is best as a 4-3 defensive end, to Buffalo, I don't approve of the switch to a 3-4 scheme with Williams moving to outside linebacker. The Bills' three-man line with the addition of Branch should be very strong and though Buffalo did bring in Lawson and Hughes, who are best as outside linebackers in this new scheme, and draft Kiko Alonso, linebacker can't be considered a strength.
The Bills lost quite a few bodies, but overall, they seem to be going in the right direction. This grade will hinge on Manuel though: If he turns out to be their franchise quarterback, this offseason will be a major success.
Key additions: WR Mike Wallace, CB Brent Grimes, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, OT Tyson Clabo, TE Dustin Keller, LB Philip Wheeler, WR Brandon Gibson, G Lance Louis, DT Vaughn Martin
Key losses: OT Jake Long, CB Sean Smith, ILB Karlos Dansby, RB Reggie Bush, LB Kevin Burnett, WR Davone Bess, TE Anthony Fasano, DT Tony McDaniel
Analysis: Everyone is talking about all the great additions that Miami made to its roster this offseason, but the Dolphins' departures are significant as well. I can understand allowing Long to leave to St. Louis, and Dallas Thomas could be a quality addition at guard, but this offense has concerns at nearly every spot other than center and right tackle. Clabo and several of the Dolphins' other prominent linemen are not well-equipped to handle the up-tempo approach that Miami wants to run. Fasano's blocking prowess could be missed. Gibson is a slightly younger and much more versatile upgrade over Bess at WR.
Overall, the Dolphins massively upgraded Ryan Tannehill's offensive weapons. Even with the line concerns, it would be very surprising if this unit wasn't better than a year ago. Also, Mike Gillislee is a favorite of mine who I expect to quickly assert himself as Miami's second running back.
The trade up for Dion Jordan and the changes at linebacker give the Dolphins one of the best front sevens in the NFL, and if Grimes is healthy and plays like he did before his injury, he is an upgrade over Smith (or Vontae Davis who was traded last year). Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are also welcome additions at this position. Miami was extremely active this offseason and got younger and faster on both sides of the ball, which really fits the up-tempo approach this coaching staff desires. However, some holes still remain.
Key additions: WR Danny Amendola, DT Tommy Kelly, S Adrian Wilson, WR Donald Jones, OT Will Svitek, WR Michael Jenkins, RB Leon Washington, RB LeGarrette Blount
Key losses: WR Wes Welker, G Donald Thomas, RB Danny Woodhead, WR Brandon Lloyd, DT Brandon Deaderick, DT Kyle Love, S Patrick Chung, WR Deion Branch, CB Will Allen, DE Trevor Scott, WR Donte' Stallworth, DT Ron Brace
Analysis: The biggest turnover here is at WR, as Welker, who has been a rock of consistent production, is now in Denver. Amendola is younger and appears to be a suitable replacement, but true slot receivers take a beating and Amendola hasn't been able to stay on the field. Also gone is Lloyd, who never really fit in here, with Jones, Jenkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce bidding for his playing time. Dobson has the most upside, but it wouldn't surprise me if Jones saw more time early on. Someone from that group needs to step up to make the Patriots' offense complete.
Marcus Cannon should fill in very well for Thomas, who played well in New England, and Greene and Svitek give the Pats depth and the ability to use Svitek as a sixth offensive lineman in certain personnel packages. This is still an elite offensive line.
New England also had a lot of movement on the defensive side of the ball. Collins is a favorite of mine who should improve the edge pass rush immediately, while Buchanan also is a very talented edge rusher who could surprise. Kelly should also provide a more consistent interior push, which wasn't really Deaderick's or Love's specialty. Wilson should fill the Rodney Harrison enforcer role and I also can envision him playing plenty of nickel linebacker, as New England's heavier second-level defenders outside of Jerod Mayo don't offer a lot in coverage. In addition, the Patriots added a couple of early-to-mid-round defensive backs into the equation, a strategy that hasn't been very fruitful in the past.
Key additions: QB Bruce Gradkowski, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, CB William Gay, TE Matt Spaeth, OT Guy Whimper
Key losses: WR Mike Wallace, CB Keenan Lewis, G Willie Colon, RB Rashard Mendenhall, OLB James Harrison, NT Casey Hampton, OT Max Starks, S Ryan Mundy, C Doug Legursky, RB Chris Rainey, S Will Allen, QB Charlie Batch, QB Byron Leftwich
Analysis: The Steelers lost a lot this offseason. That isn't unusual for this franchise, but in years past, they have been superb in drafting and developing talent to make up for their free-agency losses. Pittsburgh needs some youngsters from these past few draft classes to step up in a big way -- and maybe no team in the NFL got less from its rookie class in 2012.
The Steelers are much better off now than in 2012 at backup quarterback and running back, and receiver Markus Wheaton could prove to be a suitable replacement for Wallace. Stephens-Howling could give this offense a wrinkle it has lacked, while Le'Veon Bell's ability to play on every down greatly appealed to Todd Haley as well. With Ben Roethlisberger's injury history and playing style, Gradkowski could see some time as the starter, which is a better situation than the Steelers have had at the backup position of late.
On the line, Whimper really struggled in Jacksonville last year and overall, the offensive line depth here is quite poor.
On defense, Jarvis Jones could be a suitable replacement, if not a major upgrade, over Harrison, especially in terms of his ability to rush the passer. Pittsburgh desperately needs to develop a young safety and Shamarko Thomas looks perfect for what the Steelers ask out of the position. He also has the makings of a core special-teams player and Gay has obvious familiarity with the Steelers' system.
If Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu and the offensive line overall remain reasonably healthy, which is far from a given, Pittsburgh could be quite formidable. If not, and the Steelers get very little production from the young players on this roster, it could be a tough year.