With all the cancelations and rescheduling going on in sports due to COVID-19, the NFL free agency still managed to go on without a hitch. There were big trades, historical departures, and a ton of signings as all 32 teams tried to put together their ideal roster. Now, the teams look ahead to the draft and it is a perfect time for a post-free agency/pre-draft Power Ranking. There seems to be a consensus on the top six teams in the league, but after that it’s a scramble. Some of the teams currently ranked in the bottom half have a real chance to make some noise, especially if they draft well.
32. Washington Redskins
New head coach Ron Rivera brought his QB from Carolina (Kyle Allen) to compete with a second-year QB he did not draft (Dwayne Haskins). Pair the QB controversy with the Trent Williams drama and you’ve got a lot of distractions in the nation’s capital.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars
Minshew mania took over last season and prompted the Jags to trade Nick Foles one season after signing him to a big deal. Minshew may possess the ability to be a decent, middle-of-the-pack QB, but the defense once known as Sacksonville has been depleted. I don’t think Minshew and the offense are going to be able to keep up with the points that the defense allows.
30. Detroit Lions
Yes, they get Matthew Stafford back, but he is going to be 32 this season and coming off an injury. A team that only won 3 games a season ago, they do not appear to be any better after free agency. They also traded away their best defensive player, Darius Slay, to the Eagles.
29. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals spent some money during free agency, almost $150 million. They focused primarily on the defensive side bringing in former Texans DT D.J Reader and Vikings CB Trae Waynes. The Bengals also franchise tagged WR A.J. Green. If projected number one overall pick Joe Burrow is what everyone thinks he is, the Bengals will be much better this season.
28. Carolina Panthers
It’s been a rough offseason for the Panthers. First, Luke Kuechly retires, then they lose fan favorite TE Greg Olsen to the Seahawks, followed by the release of former MVP QB Cam Newton. They did bring in former Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater and they still have the most dynamic RB in the league in Christian McCaffery. However, there are too many holes and much uncertainty surrounding the franchise.
27. New York Giants
This is Daniel Jones’ year to really prove he was worth the sixth pick in the 2019 draft. He quieted the doubters with good play last season, but still turned the ball over 23 times in 12 starts. If Jones can limit the turnovers and RB Saquon Barkley keeps defenses focused on the running game, the Giants will be trending up.
26. New York Jets
The Jets devoted free agency to protecting Sam Darnold by adding tackle George Fant, guard Greg Van Roten, and center Connor McGovern to the offensive line. The loss of WR Robby Anderson does limit Darnold’s receiving options, but he still has Le’Veon Bell in the backfield.
25. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins did very well this offseason as they bolstered their defense by bringing in names like former Cowboy CB Byron Jones, former Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy, and former Chiefs DE Emmanuel Ogbah. Now, the Dolphins need to draft a QB to pair up with WR DeVante Parker. Will it be Tua or Herbert? Can they pull something off and grab Burrow?
24. Chicago Bears
They brought in Eagles legend QB Nick Foles to compete with former first round pick Mitch Trubisky. This may be the push Trubisky needs to reach his potential, or it may be another season where the Bears waste a talented roster with mediocre QB play.
23. Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders focused on defense and brought in a slew of starters, highlighted by former Rams LB Cory Littleton. The Raiders are still looking for a WR after the departure of Antonio Brown. They did bring in former Titans QB Marcus Mariota to back up Derek Carr, but it might turn into more of a QB battle than people think.
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Phillip Rivers is gone, meaning AFC West defenses will have fewer interceptions this year. The Chargers have decided to stay with Tyrod Taylor as their QB though I would expect them to draft a QB at some point and keep an eye out on Cam Newton. This is still a very talented roster, especially on defense. If Rivers was the problem, maybe the Chargers start living up to their potential.
21. Cleveland Browns
The Browns addressed some of their offensive line woes by adding former Titans OL Jack Conklin. They still need more help on the line and will surely address it in the draft. The Browns also overpaid for former Falcons TE Austin Hooper to give QB Baker Mayfield another weapon at his disposal. Will Mayfield get back to his rookie year play? Will the Browns finally make the playoffs? I’ll believe it when I see it.
20. Denver Broncos
Kansas City native Drew Lock won 4 of his final 5 starts (the one loss to the Chiefs). His progression in year two will be the biggest key to Denver’s success. They brought in former Chargers RB Melvin Gordon to pair with Phillip Lindsey and Royce Freeman. WR Courtland Sutton showed he is a real threat in 2019. If TE Noah Fant can become the TE people thought he would be, the Broncos have some pieces on offense to go with a still potent defense that features LB Von Miller.
19. Arizona Cardinals
QB Kyler Murray was very entertaining in his first season and rightfully named the 2019 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Now he has maybe the best WR in the league as the Cardinals acquired Deandre Hopkins from the Texans. Second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury has another toy and it should be an electric year in Arizona.
18. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams might have been the biggest loser this offseason in that they lost a lot of notable players, highlighted by RB Todd Gurley’s release. They also do not have any draft picks in the first 50 picks, making building through the draft difficult. Will Sean McVay, Aaron Donald, and Jared Goff be enough to get the Rams back in the playoffs?
17. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were the main beneficiary from the Rams loss of players as they added DE Dante Fowler Jr. and RB Todd Gurley. The Falcons ended last season going 6-2 over their final 8 games and they still have QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones. If Gurley’s knee holds up, the Falcons could be an interesting team this season.
16. Houston Texans
The Texans traded away their franchise quarterback’s favorite weapon and maybe the best receiver in the league to the Cardinals. With Deandre Hopkins gone, the Texans offense takes a major hit in skill and morale. Head Coach Bill O’Brien is doing everything he can to keep the Texans from the playoffs. Fortunately for Texan fans, they still have Deshaun Watson, who continues to show us he can overcome just about anything.
15. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings extended QB Kirk Cousins but lost a lot of key contributors on defense. They also traded WR Stefon Diggs to the Bills. Even though the Vikings went into New Orleans and won last year, they still barely made the playoffs. I don’t think they’ve added enough pieces to get back there this season.
14. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have one of the best rosters in football. They have arguably the best offensive line and depth at almost every position. But their downfall could be putting their trust in former Chargers QB Phillip Rivers. Rivers has had a solid career but will be 39 this season and is coming off a year where he threw 20 interceptions. If the Colts roster can bolster Rivers’ play and limit turnovers, the Colts will be a real threat this season.
13. New England Patriots
Yes, the Patriots lost Tom Brady but I’m still not ready to claim them dead in the water. They still have a very good defense and the best head coach in the history of football in Bill Belichick. Maybe I’m giving too much credit to a team whose QB is Jarrett Stidham, but I’m sure a lot of people were doubting Belichick in 2001 when the name of his QB was Tom Brady.
12. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers almost made the postseason without QB Ben Roethlisberger last season which shows how good of a coach Mike Tomlin is. Now, Big Ben is back and the defense is still one of the best in the league. The playoff hiatus may be very short lived in Pittsburgh.
11. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys took a hit with the loss of CB Byron Jones and DT Robert Quinn. All-pro center Travis Frederick also retired making the offensive line weaker. There’s just something about the trio of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper that makes the Cowboys interesting. They’ll probably under perform and go 8-8 again, but there is also intrigue in Dallas.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The New England Patriots may not be in the top 10 for the first time in a long time, but QB Tom Brady still is. In what was the biggest free agency story, the Buccaneers were able to land the G.O.A.T. and make them a real threat in the NFC. Brady has the best WR duo he’s ever had in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The Bucs also have a very good front 7 that can get after opposing QB’s. The secondary, however, could be their downfall.
9. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles had WR issues last season and decided to ignore the position during free agency. The Eagles will probably spend 2 or 3 picks on WR in the draft to give QB Carson Wentz more weapons. The Eagles still have the third best TE in Zack Ertz and a defense that added CB Darius Slay in a trade with the Lions. If WR Alshon Jeffery comes back healthy and the Eagles get big contributions from young WR’s, they could be very dangerous.
8. Tennessee Titans
The Titans went on a tear last season when they named Ryan Tannehill the starting quarterback in week 7. It went all the way to the AFC Championship game where they came up short. They rewarded Tannehill by extending him with a contract worth $118 million. The Titans also franchise tagged workhorse RB Derrick Henry. If WR A.J. Brown grows from his impressive rookie season, the Titans could see themselves back in the playoffs.
7. Buffalo Bills
The AFC East is wide-open for the first time since in a long time and the Bills are poised to claim the crown. Third-year quarterback Josh Allen has proved himself to be a dual threat quarterback, but turnovers and lack of an accurate deep ball have been holding him back. Allen clearly has the arm to throw down field, but his accuracy is off. The addition of deep threat WR Stefon Diggs from the Vikings could give the Allen the weapon he needs to take the top off defenses and make the Bills a threat in the AFC.
6. Green Bay Packers
The Packers did very well in Matt LaFleur’s first season, going 13-3. They were not very active in free agency, but just being in the second season with a head coach could be enough to make them better. They still have Aaron Rodgers and although he’s not the Rodgers of old, there are still very few QBs I would rather have than him. Aaron Jones has proven to be a real asset out of the backfield and Devante Adams is a top 10 receiver. The Packers need to give Rodgers another receiver if they want to make it back to the NFC title game.
5. Seattle Seahawks
The biggest question in Seattle is can they bring back DE Jadeveon Clowney? Clowney is a difference maker on defense and helps take some of the pressure off Russell Wilson and the offense. Seattle did add TE Greg Olsen from Carolina. The runner-up in 2019 voting almost got the Seahawks to the NFC Championship with a fourth string RB, a rookie WR, no name TEs and Tyler Lockett. If the Seattle can stay relatively healthy this season, watch out.
4. San Francisco 49ers
They were so close a season ago to winning it all and their plan seems to be keep as much as the 2019 roster in tact as possible. They did that for the most part, but did lose DE DeForest Buckner and WR Emmanuel Sanders, which will both hurt. Their saving grace is they have two first-round picks and still a very talented roster.
3. New Orleans Saints
The Saints can’t seem to overcome playoff heartbreak as they were upset by the Vikings in New Orleans last season. Still, QB Drew Brees is coming back for another season and they added WR Emmanuel Sanders from the 49ers to pair with WR Michael Thomas. There are very few weakness on this team and they look like the team to beat in the NFC.
2. Baltimore Ravens
2019 MVP Lamar Jackson is entering his third season in the league and could be even better than last season. He could still use a WR or two on the outside, but his TE and RBs give him enough weapons. The Ravens also added some nice pieces to the defense with Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe up front. The Ravens appear to be the Chiefs biggest threat in the AFC.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Reigning Super Bowl Champs? Check. Best quarterback in the league? Check. The best offense in the league in 2019 returning every key contributor from that offense for 2020? Check. The Chiefs are still the team to beat in the NFL. They may have not made any big splashes in the free agency, but their limited cap space prevented from doing so. Now the main questions are, will Chris Jones get a new contract and what is their plan for the draft?
Good analysis, Christopher!