What is the Seahawks grade in free agency so far?

What is the Seahawks grade in free agency so far?

Credit: Steven Bisig, USA TODAY Sports

What is the Seahawks grade in free agency so far?

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by Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports

KING5.com

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 6:11 AM

Tuesday marked the first full week since free agency began. Offseason grades can't be fairly awarded until training camps start, but that's not going to stop us from handing out scores for every team's initial work:

A

Baltimore Ravens: Two key players to QB Joe Flacco's success — LT Eugene Monroe and TE Dennis Pitta — were retained with reasonable deals, and that was before WR Steve Smith signed on. Smith should infuse some of the swagger lost when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed left while diversifying the passing game. ILB Daryl Smith, who did a nice job in Lewis' stead, is also back for four years.

Next: T Michael Oher's departure and C Gino Gradkowski's poor play signal more investment in the O-line. Arthur Jones' defection is also a major hit to the D-line.

Philadelphia Eagles: A team that crumbled after an exorbitant free-agent foray in 2011 is back to offering early extensions to core players (LT Jason Peters, C Jason Kelce), fair deals to pending free agents (WRs Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin) and having a deft touch in the trade market (RB Darren Sproles). New S Malcolm Jenkins fills an obvious need at the right price (3 years, $16M).

Next: WR DeSean Jackson's future with the team is hazy. If he's dealt, GM Howie Roseman could obtain resources to continue upgrading a pass defense that ranked dead last.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The new regime of general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith has been bold but financially responsible in adding underrated talents in LT Anthony Collins, DE Michael Johnson and CB Alterraun Verner while shedding established players they didn't want (CB Darrelle Revis, LT Donald Penn, G Davin Joseph). If new QB Josh McCown comes close to his 2013 production as a backup, the Bucs could be dangerous.

Next: Expect Licht and Smith to continue chasing players made for the Cover 2 defense, especially up front. A receiver could be atop the draft board while quarterback could also be under consideration again.

A-

Denver Broncos: They've done a little of everything — an expensive but risky deal for a proven but battered vet (DE DeMarcus Ware); a bank breaker for a shutdown corner (Aqib Talib); a reasonable one for an up-and-coming safety (T.J. Ward); and a savvy one for an under-the-radar replacement (Emmanuel Sanders) for WR Eric Decker. Full speed ahead for the AFC champs.

Next: Vacancies remain at left guard and middle linebacker, typically not difficult holes to patch.

Miami Dolphins: Assuming durability is no issue, new LT Branden Albert should stabilize an offensive line that couldn't protect QB Ryan Tannehill in 2013 or open holes in the run game. Pro Bowl CB Brent Grimes (re-signed for 4 years) recovered nicely from his 2012 Achilles injury, but new DBs Cortland Finnegan and Louis Delmas are injury risks. Trading T Jonathan Martin was the best move for all parties.

Next: New GM Dennis Hickey could still use extra blockers and might want to scour for more tailback options.

New England Patriots: Adding CBs Darrelle Revis, perhaps the coup of free agency, and Brandon Browner should give Bill Belichick a lot more options defensively. With WR Julian Edelman back and WR Brandon LaFell on board, the offense should be just fine provided TE Rob Gronkowski is able to reprise his role as a dominant red-zone presence.
Next: Both lines will require attention if C Ryan Wendell is not brought back and DT Vince Wilfork eventually departs.

B+

Chicago Bears: GM Phil Emery had a daunting task to untangle last year's cap mess to field a competitive team. But he struck expeditious deals with QB Jay Cutler and CB Tim Jennings following the 2013 season and then fit DEs Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, DT Jeremiah Ratliff, CB Charles Tillman and S Ryan Mundy, among others, into the salary vacuum largely created by jettisoning DE Julius Peppers.

Next: The defense could still use an infusion of fresh legs, and backup quarterback may be a problem without McCown.

Green Bay Packers: Like Ware, Peppers got a three-year, $30 million pact, though his guaranteed money ($7.5 million) is about one-third of Ware's. GM Ted Thompson also got DL B.J. Raji back on a one-year prove-it deal and locked up CB Sam Shields, though four years and $39 million seems somewhat excessive. The real question might be whether Thompson should have spent more, though WRs Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb remain in line for extensions.

Next: Holes linger at center and safety following the losses of Evan Dietrich-Smith and M.D. Jennings, respectively.

New Orleans Saints: They swooped in to snare FS Jairus Byrd (for a whopping $54 million over six years) when they didn't appear to have the flexibility to make such a move. Re-signing RT Zach Strief was a solid choice. Franchise tight end Jimmy Graham's situation, however, remains in limbo and will probably preclude more significant moves.

Next: With Brian De La Puente unsigned, there's an opening at center that could linger. Getting a deal done for Graham would enable GM Mickey Loomis to address his depth.

NO WORRIES: Brees confident Graham will be on the field in Week 1

New York Jets: GM John Idzik wisely bolstered second-year QB Geno Smith's supporting cast, signing Decker (for about 60% of what last year's top free- agent receiver, Mike Wallace, received) and RT Breno Giacomini to long-term deals while dumping the contracts of WR Santonio Holmes and CB Antonio Cromartie. The decision not to make a run at Revis (or snare another top corner) is open to debate.

Next: The Jets could still use a dynamic tight end, another wideout and secondary help.

B

Arizona Cardinals: They had to improve the blocking in front of immobile QB Carson Palmer. Importing LT Jared Veldheer goes a long way toward accomplishing that mission. WR Ted Ginn will add juice to the return game and can be a factor in three- and four-receiver sets.

Next: The Cards need a pass rusher but will have to wait until the draft. Right tackle and tight end also remain unsettled.

Atlanta Falcons: The names may not be familiar (G Jon asamoah, DE tyson Jackson and DT Paul Soliai) but GM Thomas Dimitroff has been busy adding and re-signing bodies for his offensive and defensive lines. That looks like a sound strategy for a team that fell off a cliff in 2013, and the defense in particular looks more diverse.

Next: Atlanta still needs difference makers, pass rushers specifically, but is set up to get one early in the draft.

Minnesota Vikings: They addressed issue No. 1 by getting QB Matt Cassel back for an offense that could be sneaky good. Defensively, new coach Mike Zimmer will be working with young, though expensive, talent (DE Everson Griffin, DT Linval Joseph, CB Captain Munnerlyn) for a unit in a near-total transition.

Next: GM Rick Spielman can now focus on the best players in the draft rather than need, though he may be tempted to look for his next quarterback of the future – perhaps in Round 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Giving OLB Jason Worilds the transition tag, which he's already signed to lock in for the 2014 season, at the expense of keeping unreliable and expensive LaMarr Woodley was the right call. Extending S Troy Polamalu and TE Heath Miller opened cap space while easing the loss of longtime leaders S Ryan Clark and DE Brett Keisel.

Next: The next phase of the defensive youth movement may be at cornerback.

San Francisco 49ers: Re-upping WR Anquan Boldin and K Phil Dawson were imperatives. A bit surprising they didn't push harder to keep S Donte Whitner considering replacement Antoine Bethea got a deal in the same neighborhood price-wise. They also traded salary and experience for less expensive deals at corner.

Next: An extension for QB Colin Kaepernick remains the most important item on the offseason agenda. A field-stretching receiver would be a logical draft target.

B-

Indianapolis Colts: GM Ryan Grigson enhanced his reputation as a lavish spender, shelling out for CB Vontae Davis, DE Arthur Jones and LB D'Qwell Jackson. He also kept his kicking game intact by re-signing K Adam Vinatieri and P Pat McAfee and secured WR Hakeem Nicks with a thrifty one-year deal. Not sufficiently addressed: an O-line that's gotten QB Andrew Luck battered.

Next: Blocking, blocking, blocking.

New York Giants: They were shedding expensive, championship-vetted veterans (Joseph, Nicks, DE Justin Tuck) for value (RB Rashad Jennings, G Geoff Schwartz), some with rings themselves (ex-Seahawks LB O'Brien Schofield and CB Walter Thurmond). But they dipped into the coffers Monday to add CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, an understandable gambit in a division loaded with game-breaking wideouts. Retaining MLB Jon Beason, S Stevie Brown and K Josh Brown also helps.

Next: Expect GM Jerry Reese to continue searching for front four help defensively and a tight end who can help get QB Eli Manning back on track.

San Diego Chargers: GM Tom Telesco should get more credit for the job he did last year to restore the Bolts as a playoff team. Despite a severe lack of cap space, he appears to have done it again, dumping a bad contract (CB Derek Cox), re-signing a core player (ILB Donald Butler) and finding value on the market (RB Donald Brown).

Next: Fair to wonder about Manti Te'o's outlook with the return of Butler and addition of ILB Kavell Conner. Expect Telesco to be on the lookout for a nose tackle and starting-caliber receiver.

Seattle Seahawks: They managed to re-sign DL Michael Bennett, which looks like an even better move considering the veterans hemorrhaged by a once-deep D-line. Losing WR Golden Tate was a blow, but matching the Lions' offer to him would have hindered future deals for QB Russell Wilson and all-pro DBs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.

Next: The champs remain focused on the long view but have short-term replacements to find in the trenches and at wideout.

Washington Redskins: You can question the quality of some of the players they're paying (LB Perry Riley, G Shawn Lauvao), but at least they're not overpaying anymore, with the possible exception of 31-year-old DL Jason Hatcher. WR Andre Roberts looks like a steal, and GM Bruce Allen should get kudos for finding a way to add players while keeping franchised OLB Brian Orakpo.

Next: Safety and O-line depth remain as needs.

C+

Jacksonville Jaguars: GM Dave Caldwell isn't exactly bringing in prime talent, but he has improved the talent base without committing huge guarantees to players like RB Toby Gerhart, DEs Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, DT Ziggy Hood and G Zane Beadles. Slow and steady is the way to go for a team that can save its money for the real attention-getting signings in the future.

Next: Though QB Chad Henne was re-signed, he's clearly a stopgap — and one who could use more help at receiver.

C

Cleveland Browns: In what amount to lateral moves, they opted for Whitner and LB Karlos Dansby over Ward and D'Qwell Jackson, respectively. But RB Ben Tate (two years, $7M) is a bargain and asset to whomever is taking the snaps next year. Placing the transition tag on Pro Bowl C Alex Mack could still mean Cleveland loses him for nothing.

Next: The release of QBs Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell further telegraphs the Browns as a destination for one of the draft's top quarterbacks, though Brian Hoyer (or a mystery veteran yet to be obtained) may be holding down the fort initially.

Detroit Lions: Tate is a nice addition, but did he merit a contract (five years, $31 million) in the neighborhood of Decker's? If the Lions didn't have so many issues on the back end of their defense or the continued challenge of figuring out an extension for all-pro DT Ndamukong Suh, the Tate move would seem more reasonable.

Next: The secondary is the clear-cut top priority heading into draft season.

Houston Texans: The cap-strapped Texans haven't done much other than re-signing one tight end (Garrett Graham) and releasing another (Owen Daniels), though they'll get additional leverage if they part with QB Matt Schaub as expected.

CENTER STAGE: Bortles makes case Wednesday to be top pick

Next: Houston could do some bargain shopping, but its focus should be on what to do atop the draft ... or not, if the Texans end up dealing the No. 1 pick.

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