2013 NFC free-agency grades

Grading every NFC team on how much it has improved in free agency

Originally Published: April 1, 2013
By Matt Williamson | ESPN.com
Greg Jennings-Reggie BushGetty Images, AP PhotoThe redistribution of Greg Jennings' talent and addition of Reggie Bush strengthens the NFC North..

The landscape of the NFL has shifted dramatically since the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3. Although Joe Flacco re-signed with the Ravens, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings and many other stars have new homes.

Matt Williamson grades all 32 NFL teams on their free-agent acquisitions, factoring in each organization's track record, how improved the team is from the start of free agency on the field and how each team positioned itself for the draft.

Note: This file does not reflect trades. Signings current as of March 31.


Before we get into the grades, a few words on my system. First, to earn a high grade, you need to do something. For example, a team such as the Oakland Raiders or Carolina Panthers might not have had much to spend, so it's understandable that they haven't been overly active. But you have to participate to earn a high grade.

Track record matters, as well, particularly when it comes to proven teams such as the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers that haven't done a ton, but history suggests their offseason decisions are usually the right ones. I would be lying if I said these squads do not get the benefit of the doubt. But more than anything, for the sake of this exercise, I gave the highest grades to the teams that improved their rosters by the largest margin since free agency began.

That said, I marked some teams down for overspending. Value is a key component of every offseason contract. A great player might help in one area but cripple a team elsewhere because of cap space issues.

Finally, player retention also plays a role. Baltimore is obviously the best example of this. Sure, its Super Bowl-winning roster was raided, but it also retained Joe Flacco -- a signing that simply had to be done -- who should keep the team a contender for years to come.

The final piece to my methodology is this: How well did a team set itself up for the draft? The Philadelphia Eagles stand out in this regard, as they should now be able to make value picks in each round and not reach for a major need position.

FREE-AGENCY REVIEW:

AFC grades | NFC grades | FA tracker


Philadelphia Eagles

Key additions: S Kenny Phillips, CB Cary Williams, FB James Casey, LB Connor Barwin, DT Isaac Sopoaga, CB Bradley Fletcher, S Patrick Chung
Key losses: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, T King Dunlap, T Demetress Bell

Analysis: I love what the Eagles have done. By adding Barwin and Sopoaga, Philadelphia's front seven now looks complete -- and the Eagles will be incorporating much more 3-4 than we have seen in recent years. Their secondary, which was just dreadful in 2012, looks substantially better, especially at safety -- a huge position of weakness last year. How Chip Kelly will employ Casey is a situation that really intrigues me. There are few players in the league like Casey, who can line up all over the formation, block, catch and act as a running back with the ball in his hands. I don't think it was an accident that innovative Kelly was aggressive in the infantile stages of free agency to land Casey. After what lines up to be an impact draft class, don't be surprised if the Eagles are substantially better in 2013. Plus, they have plenty more to spend before threatening their current salary-cap situation.

Grade: A



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