Grading the Winners and Losers in NFL Free agency and Trades

In This piece Rob will grade each NFL Team and take a look at Key additions and Departures in free agency as well as trades.
The teams will be listed in alphabetic Order

Arizona Cardinals- Grade A
Key additions: WR DeAndre Hopkins (trade), DT Jordan Phillips, OLB Devon Kennard, LB De’Vondre Campbell
Key losses: RB David Johnson (traded), DE Rodney Gunter
Notable re-signings/tags: RB Kenyan Drake (transition tag), WR Larry Fitzgerald
The Big trade netting DeAndre Hopkins headlines the off season and gives 2nd Year Qb Murray a big time target. Arizona made some solid moves on the defensive side of the ball while also dumping some bad contracts. Solid off season thus far.
Atlanta Falcons- Grade C-

Key additions: DE Dante Fowler Jr., RB Todd Gurley III, TE Hayden Hurst (trade)
Key losses: TE Austin Hooper, RB Devonta Freeman (released), CB Desmond Trufant, DE Vic Beasley, LB De’Vondre Campbell
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Falcons made some nice upgrades and did so efficiently  Fowler is better at his point than Beasley and taking a chance on Todd Gurley at a nice price while saying good bye to D. Freeman. Atlanta over paid  to obtain  Hurst while letting go ofHooper, they also lost Campbell and Trufant and now are without a round 2 draft pick. Atlanta could struggle this season

Baltimore Ravens- Grade B-

Key additions: DE Calais Campbell (trade), DT Michael Brockers
Key losses: DT Michael Pierce, S Tony Jefferson (released), G Marshal Yanda (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: OLB Matt Judon (franchise tag), CB Jimmy Smith.

Baltimore can move ahead by bringing back more of their own guys.They should be a handful after getting Brockers and Cambell, good luck running the ball on this team. They did lose Guard Yanda to retirement and that could hurt as they like to run the ball. However we may see the offense open up a bit this season anyway as Baltimore wont want to become too predictable.

Buffalo Bills- Grade A

Key additions: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), OLB Mario Addison, LB A.J. Klein, DT Vernon Butler, DT Quinton Jefferson, CB Josh Norman
Key losses: DT Jordan Phillips, DE Shaq Lawson
Notable re-signings/tags: G Quinton Spain
The Bills made a statement here picking up Diggs which is the game breaking Wiedout that has been missing for them. They did give up a lot to get him but they are looking to seize control of the AFC East and upgraded what is already a top 3 defense.

Carolina Panthers- Grade C+

Key additions: QB Teddy Bridgewater, DE Steven Weatherly, WR Robby Anderson
Key losses: LB Luke Kuechly (retired), CB James Bradberry, OLB Mario Addison, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Vernon Butler, S Eric Reid (released), TE Greg Olsen (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Tre Boston
Carolina gets the C+ grade just for Getting Bridgewater who should make the fan base quickly for get about Cam Newton.They also big up big play threat Robby Anderson. However losing Kuechly who is retiring and a pair of defensive tackles will hurt. They need to draft well this year.

Chicago Bears- Grade D-
Key additions: DE Robert Quinn, TE Jimmy Graham, QB Nick Foles (trade)
Key losses: LB Nick Kwiatkoski, OLB Leonard Floyd, S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, QB Chase Daniel, WR Taylor Gabriel (released), CB Prince Amukamara (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Danny Trevathan
Chicago is taking a big chance on Quinn here who was solid last year but not so much in years past. Jimmy Graham and Nick Foles may not have much left. The Bears lost a lot of depth on defense and look to be headed in the wrong direction.

Cincinnati Bengals- Grade A
Key additions: DT D.J. Reader, CB Trae Waynes
Key losses: OT Cordy Glenn (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: WR A.J. Green (franchise tag)
The Bengals Went balls to the wall this off season obtaining Waynes and Reader to upgrade the defense. They tagged Green and are likely to take Heisman winner J. Burrows number 1 overall later this month. This would make for a solid off season.

Cleveland Browns- Grade B+

Key additions: TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, QB Case Keenum, CB
Kevin Johnson, S Karl Joseph
Key losses: LB Joe Schobert, LB Christian Kirksey, S Eric Murray
Notable re-signings/tags: None
Cleveland did well here landing two of the top free agents in Hooper who is the best tight end available and Top offensive lineman Conklin, both will support an offense which is likely to improve as Mayfield enters his 3rd year at the helm. Cleveland did lose sone quality on the defense. If they upgrade their line backers this grade can easily go to an A.

Dallas Cowboys- Grade D-

Key additions: DT Gerald McCoy, S Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
Key losses: CB Byron Jones, DE Robert Quinn, WR Randall Cobb, S Jeff Heath, DT Maliek Collins, TE Jason Witten, C Travis Frederick (retirement)
Notable re-signings/tags: WR Amari Cooper, QB Dak Prescott (franchise tag), TE Blake Jarwin
Dallas decided to bring back Cooper which they almost had to do and after that tagged Dak Prescott. However they did lose Jones and Quinn and that will be a severe blow to the defense.Another big loss on the offensive line is Center Travis Fredrick as he decides to call it quits. Also departing is Cobb and Witten. This was a rough off season.

Denver Broncos- Grade B+

Key additions: G/C Graham Glasgow, RB Melvin Gordon, CB A.J. Bouye (trade), DT Jurrell Casey (trade)
Key losses: C Connor McGovern, CB Chris Harris, QB Joe Flacco (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Justin Simmons (franchise tag)
Denver brings in Melvin Gordon to change the pace with Lindsay in the back field to take the pressure off Drew Lock. They scored getting Casey for a 7th round pick to upgrade the D-line. The Broncos also tagged safety Simmons and did not lose too much other than Bouye. A very Productive off season so far be Denver who looked good late last year.

Detroit Lions- Grade D-
Key additions: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, QB Chase Daniel, S Duron Harmon (trade)
Key losses: CB Darius Slay (trade), G/C Graham Glasgow, LB Devon Kennard, OT Rick Wagner
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Lions have not done much and lost Darius Slay. They panicked and over paid Vaitai who hasnt been a full time starter. This looks like a long year for Detroit and probably spells the end for coach Patricia who looks in over his head with this roster in the tough NFC North.

Green Bay Packers- Grade C-
Key additions: LB Christian Kirksey, OT Rick Wagner
Key losses: LB Blake Martinez, OT Bryan Bulaga, TE Jimmy Graham, OLB Kyler Fackrell
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Packers have not done much and wont be as good as last season. They have Kirksey replacing Martinez. Other than that Rick Wagner takes over for Bulage and that will hurt them. The Packers really need to make a splash and we havent seen it yet.

Houston Texans- Grade F
Key additions: RB David Johnson (trade), WR Randall Cobb, S Eric Murray
Key losses: WR DeAndre Hopkins (traded), DT D.J. Reader
Notable re-signings/tags: K Ka’imi Fairbairn, CB Bradley Roby
When the best move you make is bringing back your kicker that shows what a poor job of upgrading your team. David Johnson is no longer the back he was a few years ago and he makes a ton of money, they also  lost one of the best wide outs in the game in Hopkins. They made things worse by over paying Cobb to replace him. This could be one of the worst off seasons for any team in recent history. Yikes.

Indianapolis Colts- Grade B+
Key additions: DL DeForest Buckner (trade), QB Philip Rivers
Key losses: TE Eric Ebron, CB Pierre Desir
Notable re-signings/tags: OT Anthony Castonzo
The Colts bring in Philip Rivers here and this will be a significant upgrade. They also made a big slash trading for one of the best Defensive Lineman in Buckner who will bolster the line and cause havoc. They should be able to replace Ebron without much difficulty. We like their chances in this division and they have had a nice off season.
Jacksonville Jaguars- Grade D
Key additions: LB Joe Schobert, DE Rodney Gunter, CB Darqueze Dennard
Key losses: QB Nick Foles (trade), CB A.J. Bouye (trade), DE Calais Campbell (trade)
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Yannick Ngakoue (franchise tag)
The Jaguars will need a big draft to better this grade as they have not done much to upgrade this team. Their trades have given them some back end draft picks and defensive end Ngakoue isn’t happy with the tag. Schobert is a nice player, but a five-year, $53.75 million deal was simply not worth it and would have been allocated better somewhere else. Be a long year in the AFC South for the Jags.
Kansas City Chiefs- Grade C+
Key additions: OT. Remmers, CB Hamilton, QB Henne, TE Seals- Jones
Key losses: CB Kendall Fuller, DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Chris Jones (franchise tag) WR Robinson
The Chiefs have been mostly dormant this off season and as seen above have just made some marginal moves. Offensive lineman Remmers may wind up starting but this looks like a team that knows it has to pay Mahomes and wont do too much this off season.
Los Angeles Chargers- Grade C- Perhaps a B
Key additions: G Trai Turner (trade), OT Bryan Bulaga, DT Linval Joseph, CB Chris Harris
Key losses: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, OT Russell Okung (traded), FB Derek Watt, OLB Thomas Davis, LB Jatavis Brown, S Adrian Phillip
Notable re-signings/tags: RB Austin Ekeler, TE Hunter Henry (franchise tag)
The Chargers have been very busy this off season. They bring back  Ekeler and Henry as they start life without Rivers. The offensive line should be solid with the Turner and Bulaga as upgrades. The Chargers will have to make a move as Tyrod Taylor is not the answer.  Cam Newton or even Jameis Winston might wind up here. Should they obtain either one of these two the grade would go up to a B.
Los Angeles Rams- Grade D
Key additions: DT A’Shawn Robinson, OLB Leonard Floyd
Key losses: OLB/DE Dante Fowler Jr., LB Cory Littleton, DT Michael Brockers, RB Todd Gurley III (released), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman (released), OLB Clay Matthews (released), S Eric Weddle (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: OT Andrew Whitworth
The Rams have had the second worst off season with only Houston ahead of them. Should they move Brandin Cooks the grading will be even worse.T he losses of Weddle to retirement and releasing of Mathews, Gurley and Coleman will hurt they pick up 2 decent defenders but this team is a shell of what is was just 2 years ago
Miami Dolphins- Grade A
Key additions: CB Byron Jones, LB Kyle Van Noy, DE Shaq Lawson, G Ereck Flowers, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, RB Jordan Howard, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
Key losses: None
Notable re-signings/tags: None
The Dolphins spent a ton of money adding 6 potential starters and were one of the busiest teams in the off season, They did not lose anyone note worthy and have improved their team in what suddenly looks like a wide open AFC East. The feeling is they will do even more. Right now they are having a solid off season.
Minnesota Vikings- Grade C+
Key additions: DT Michael Pierce
Key losses: WR Stefon Diggs (trade), CB Xavier Rhodes (released), DE Everson Griffen, CB Trae Waynes, DT Linval Joseph, DE Steven Weatherly
Notable re-signings/tags: S Anthony Harris (franchise tag), K Dan Bailey
Minnesota loses one of the top wide outs in the game in Diggs and really the move was predicated on a bad cap situation as they did release some quality players particularly on the defensive side of the ball. They did get an above average return for Diggs but the feeling is that the team lost a lot of depth.
New England Patriots- Grade D
Key additions: DT Beau Allen, S Adrian Phillips, QB Brian Hoyer
Key losses: QB Tom Brady, LB Kyle Van Noy, LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton, K Stephen Gostkowski (released)
Notable re-signings/tags: S Devin McCourty, G Joe Thuney (franchise tag)
The Patriots start life without Brady and Brian Hoyer is clearly not the answer. There is a newton and or Winston out there but this team looks like it may wait a year and draft a new franchise guy. They still have sone talent mostly on defense and will always be better than we think. But this was a dismal off season unless they get a better QB.
New Orleans Saints- Grade B+
Key additions: S Malcolm Jenkins, WR Emmanuel Sanders
Key losses: QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Eli Apple
Notable re-signings/tags: QB Drew Brees, G Andrus Peat, DT David Onyemata
The Saints look like they want to take one more big shot at things as they Bring back Brees. The loss of Bridgewater only hurts if Brees goes down. We should see nice production from Sanders and the Jenkins move at Safety will help as well. Quality over quantity in what should be a solid season for New Orleans.
New York Giants- Grade C+
Key additions: CB James Bradberry, LB Blake Martinez, OLB Kyler Fackrell
Key losses: LB Alec Ogletree (released), QB Eli Manning (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Leonard Williams (franchise tag)
The Giants may have over paid a bit but they did need to defensive help and bringing in Martinez and Bradberry will surely help. They had no choice but to tag Williams after giving the Jets a third rounder for him. If the Giants draft well and can get a solid offensive lineman this C+ goes to a B.
New York Jets- Grade A
Key additions: WR Perriman OT George Fant, C Connor McGovern, CB Pierre Desir, OT Lewis, G Van Roten, CB Poole, CB Maulet
Key losses: CB Trumaine Johnson (released) WR Anderson
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Jenkins, LB Burgess
The Jets swooped in and had one of the best albeit quietest off seasons of any teams. GM Douglas retooled the offensive line led by Fant and saved money replacing WR Anderson with Perriman from Tampa. The Jets bring back two solid line backers and a slew of much needed defensive back help. New York gets a solid A Grading no matter what they do in the draft.
Oakland Raiders- Grade B
Key additions: LB Cory Littleton, DE Carl Nassib, LB Nick Kwiatkoski, CB Eli Apple, S Jeff Heath, DT Maliek Collins, TE Jason Witten, WR Nelson Agholor, QB Marcus Mariota
Key losses: LB Tahir Whitehead
The Raiders did well here getting Mariota and Nassib as well as picking up Agholor who we think can flourish here. Witten comes over to add depth and experience from Dallas and Eli Apple will be a big help in the defensive back field. The Raiders have been very busy thus far and will be much improved this year especially on defense.
Philadelphia Eagles- Grade B
Key additions: CB Darius Slay (trade), DT Javon Hargrave, LB Jatavis Brown
Key losses: OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, S Malcolm Jenkins (released), RB Jordan Howard, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, WR Nelson Agholor, OT Jason Peters
Notable re-signings/tags: S Rodney McLeod
The Eagles plucked Darius Slay and Hargrave both of whom are expected to start as the Eagles retool on defense.  Philly lost some key pieces as they did not want to over pay. Most of what they lost is replaceable. Philadelphia spent wisely and did well this off season.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Grade C+
Key additions: TE Eric Ebron, FB Derek Watt, OL Stefen Wisniewski
Key losses: DT Javon Hargrave,G Ramon Foster (retired)
Notable re-signings/tags: LB Bud Dupree (franchise tag)
The Steelers did not do a whole lot to really improve. They get some tight end help with Ebron and shore up the offensive line. The loss of  Hargrave who was coming off a big year will hurt. However tagging Dupree was the right move. All in all though this off season was average at best.
San Francisco 49ers- Grade C+
Key additions: Gurard Compton, DE Hyder, WR Benjamin
Key losses: DL DeForest Buckner, WR Emmanuel Sanders
Notable re-signings/tags: DL Arik Armstead, S Jimmie Ward
San Francisco gets a C Grade as they were mostly looking to resign their own players and they did a decent job of it. However the loss of Buckner on the defensive line will hurt as they decided to stick with Armstead. Most of the players they are bringing in are depth deals on 1 year contracts. Nothing exciting thats for sure.
Seattle Seahawks- Grade C
Key additions: OT Brandon Shell, TE Greg Olsen, CB Quinton Dunbar (trade)
Key losses: OT George Fant, DT Quinton Jefferson
Notable re-signings/tags: DT Jarran Reed- Clowney ?
The Seattle off season is basically going to be graded on their ability to bring back Clowney. Bringing back Reed back was a nice move. They lost Fant to the Jets but were able to get Shell and Carolina long time tight end Greg Olsen which gives them a C. Should they get Clowney We will grade them as an A. Yes he is that important.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Grade A+
Key additions: QB Tom Brady, OT Haeg, LB Pieree Paul, DT Suh
Key losses: QB Jameis Winston, DE Carl Nassib, WR Perriman
Notable re-signings/tags: DE Shaquil Barrett (franchise tag), DE Jason Pierre-Paul
The biggest free agent splash this year is Brady to the Bucs. Winston and his picks will be a mere after thought. The Bucs bring in OT Haeg from Indy to protect him and Pierre Paul on defense as well as Suh. The Bucs have had a sensational off season and get our highest grade A+
Tennessee Titans- Grade B
Key additions: DE Vic Beasley, OT Kelly
Key losses: OT Jack Conklin, QB Marcus Mariota
Notable re-signings/tags: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Derrick Henry (franchise tag), OL Dennis Kelly
The Titans Bring back Tanneyhill and wave good bye to Mariota. The key loss in Conklin on the offensive line though. On defense Beasley is a solid pass rushing pick up and they saved some nice change with offensive linemen Kelly who will replace Conklin. The rest of their moves were one year deals on guys who can add some depth.
Washington Redskins- Grade C-
Key additions: CB Kendall Fuller, S Sean Davis, OLB Thomas Davis, RB Barber, TE Rodgers
Key losses: G Ereck Flowers, QB Case Keenum, CB Josh Norman
(released), TE Vernon Davis (retirement), CB Quinton Dunbar (traded)
Washington has had an average off season thus far as they bargain shopped with Running back Barber and tight end Rodgers. They were smart to tag Guard Scherf and decided to bring back Fuller on defense. they did lose Flowers on the defensive line and he will be hard to replace. They did have a lot of cap space and the feeling is that they would make a bigger splash.
In closing we hope you enjoyed our NFL off season free agency and team activity report. Please stay safe and hopefully we will be able to overcome this pandemic and be able to at some point enjoy one of our favorite sports.

The Top Teams to watch for in the NCAA tournament

The madness that is aptly named March Madness has arrived. Where the teams that have been doing great things all season, look to show why they are the best. The big dance, where the little teams want to show up and make that magical run that places them in the books as the Cinderella story. We know sometimes the best of the best dont win – it is sometimes about who is playing the best at the time, and who gets the matchups that favor the team and their skill set. Be sure to visit VegasTopDogs.com for your March Madness Winning action!

But here, we are going to concentrate on the ‘Big 8’ – the top 8 teams in the nation, and who are truly the genuine threats to run the table for the last time this NCAA season and win that coveted NCAA title.

1. Villanova ( 31-3) Ranked 2
ppg 78.5
oppg 63.2
Leading scorer: Sr G, Josh Hart 18.6 ppg
Xfactor: Last years champion. They come in holding their heads high – knowing they are still proven as the team to beat in the tournament this year again. They had a great run last year, and Jay Wright knows how to get the most from his team.
Reason they could run the table: Their accurate and strong ability to close out games.

2. UCLA ( 29-4) Ranked 3
ppg 90.8
oppg 75.0
Leading scorer: Sr G, Bryce Alford 16.2 ppg
Xfactor: They have really good size – and aren’t afraid to body up down low – wearing teams out.
Reason they could run the table: Their non stop offensive attack – with 20 games of scoring 85+ they have firepower that lasts for days. Having never scored less than 74 points, on the season – they are a team that can light up the boards in a hurry.

3. Kansas ( 28-4) Ranked 1
ppg 82.7
oppg 72.4
Leading scorer: Sr G, Frank Mason 20.8 ppg
Xfactor: Their team depth. It has lacked some during the year, if they step up – it could be detrimental in the outcome to how their season ends.
Reason they could run the table: Their deep ball is great. Hitting 41% of their three point attempts on the season, putting them in a position to score points and spread defenses.

4. Oregon ( 29-5) Ranked 5
ppg 79.2
oppg 64.5
Leading scorer: Jr F, Dillon Brooks 16.2 ppg
Xfactor: Who steps in for Chris Boucher? His 2.5 blocks/game and his presence on the offensive glass needs to be accounted for – losing him is a huge concern, and they need someone to do just that.
Reason they could run the table: Their in your face, defensive style buries teams. They swarm teams with tough D – and are not afraid to challenge everything at the rim.

5. North Carolina ( 27-7) Ranked 6
ppg 85.0
oppg 69.9
Leading scorer: Jr F, Justin Jackson 18.1 ppg
Xfactor: How do they bounce back? Losing to Duke was a kick in the guts – will it take the steam out from them?
Reason they could run the table: Having 4 players who can put quiet points up before you notice what they are doing to your defense – and a strong frontcourt in particular.

6. Gonzaga ( 32-1) Ranked 4
ppg 84.6
oppg 61.2
Leading scorer: Jr G, Nigel Williams-Goss 16.9 ppg
Xfactor: Zags region. They are still a mid-major team with big dreams. They are a very good team – but are we going to get a WCC team – that holds off against teams like Santa Clara, and Loyola Marymount – or a big time NCAA basketball program on the court?
Reason they could run the table: They have a swarming smothering defense which has only given up 71 or more only 7 times. Allowing a pitiful 37% shooting to opponents, isn’t a bad stat to carry on your shoulders.

7. Arizona ( 30-4) Ranked 7
ppg 75.8
oppg 64.7
Leading scorer: So G, Allonzo Trier 16.6 ppg
Xfactor: They need to keep opponents turning the ball over. They have struggled at times with making key stops, but if they can cut off passing lanes, force some sloppy play – it would be huge in their favor.
Reason they could run the table: Arizona gets into very smooth rhythms in a hurry. Where everything seems to be clicking for the Wildcats. When they get shooting the ball and their ball movement starts rocking – they cause many problems on the court for teams.

8. Kentucky ( 28-5) Ranked 8
ppg 86.8
oppg 72.1
Leading scorer: Fr G, Malik Monk 21.2 ppg
Xfactor: They need to get up and stay up. They have had times where they look flat – and they are forced to come back to get the W. If they do this too much, it could kick them out earlier than expected. But, as long as they don’t – they could be devastating to handle.
Reason they could run the table: Coach John Calipari. He is a coach with tons of clout, and 25 years of experience on his side. With almost 700 career W’s – the man knows how to win games, it’s been his “thing” for years.

College Hoops Focus

Duke

March Madness 2014 is just around the corner and now that the NCAA and NFL Football season is long gone, the focus of the college world shifts to NCAA Basketball. Last year, the Louisville Cardinals won the national championship and this year, they’re currently ranked as the 14th best team in the nation. The Cardinals will be there when the Big Dance card is released, but if they want to be crowned as kings for the second year in a row, they’ll have to battle a bevy of worthy opponents such as Duke, Syracuse, Arizona among others.

In

Another team to keep an eye on – especially if you’re looking for a Cinderella story – is the Wichita State Shockers. Some may point to the undefeated record so far and wonder how an undefeated team can even be spoken of in the same breath as a Cinderella story, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that they haven’t beaten a team included in the NCAA Basketball rankings all year long. The Missouri Valley Conference is one of the nation’s weakest and the Shockers have only averaged 74.7 points and 39.8 rebounds per game, so they’re not exactly considered world beaters just yet.

The NCAA Tournament starts on March 18th 2014 with the Conference Tournaments starting on March 3rd. The Cardinals will be there as will the Orange, Blue Devils and Shockers. Will anyone step to the throne and take the crown away from Louisville or will the Cardinals become the first back-to-back NCAA Basketball champions since the Florida Gators in 2006-07. Check out VegasTopDogs.com for all of your college hoops action and to enter in some great March Madness Brackets.