Biggest free agency losers

We designated five different teams as free agency's biggest winners last month. If the Bills, Colts and Seahawks gained strength by poaching star players, there must be teams which grew weaker via the concomitant talent drain.

Fresh off the Roster Reset series, the Around The NFL is are ready to highlight free agency's losers. Fear not, there are reinforcements on the way with the 2015 NFL Draft on the horizon.

New England Patriots

The Super Bowl champion making this list is a microcosm of why the winners of March/April means squat come snow season. The Pats lost a boatload of big-time starters. Top corners Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner are gone. Vince Wilfork's absence will leave a gaping hole in the middle and rotational rusher Akeem Ayers departed. Tom Brady also lost two productive running backs: Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridely are gone.

The Pats' additions were mostly middling veterans and boom-or-bust candidates -- though we love the Jabaal Sheard signing. The Patriots might be an offseason "loser," but even if they struggle out of the gate as they reshape their identity, when the ball drops in NYC for the start of 2016 we expect them to be back at the top. -- Kevin Patra

Denver Broncos

The Broncos still have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, and should still be considered a favorite in the AFC. But their turnover on the coaching staff was followed by a loss of talent on the roster. They just didn't replace the four quality starters walking out the door: Tight end Julius Thomas, safety Rahim Moore, guard Orlando Franklin and nose tackle Terrance Knighton. The best players they brought were guys like Owen Daniels and Antonio Smith.

This remains the best team in the AFC West until proven otherwise, but they face many more questions than a season ago. -- Gregg Rosenthal

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers suffered a brain drain, leadership void and talent depletion in the span of two months. Jim Harbaugh, Vic Fangio and Greg Roman constituted one of the NFL's most successful and respected coaching triumvirates of the past half-decade. All have vanished, replaced by 100-yard question marks.

Frank Gore, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith had been the tone-setting leaders in San Francisco for three consecutive conference title games from 2011 to 2013. The first two are gone and the third is contemplating retirement. The Niners also lost rookie sensation Chris Borland, Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, wide receiver Michael Crabtree and a pair of starting cornerbacks.

An NFC superpower as recently as last offseason, the 49ers took several steps back while the Seahawks and Packers grew even stronger. -- Chris Wesseling

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland gets my vote as a free agency loser, though it's not entirely the fault of the coach and general manager. This seems like an organization being pulled in two different directions; one by its football operations arm and the other by its marketing team. On one hand, the Browns want to be splashy and exciting: New uniforms! New attitude! New shade of Orange! On the other hand, they seriously need to calm down and focus on the massive rebuild ahead of them. Signing Dwayne Bowe is not going to make anyone better in the short term without the right bones in place.

Of course, this goes back to some curious drafting decisions over the last two years, especially at quarterback, which also caused them to overpay for a 35-year-old Josh McCown. The thing is, the Browns will be great again and they'll pack the stadium again. But it won't be until they adopt an organizational philosophy that allows the team to make sound football decisions and endure a losing season for the sake of progress. Responding in a manic fashion every two years only aggravates the wound. -- Conor Orr

The Browns did work in free agency, but it's hard to say if the roster is actually any better -- particularly on offense. Josh McCown is extremely fortunate to have landed another starting job after what went down in Tampa. Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, the team's new starting wide receivers, played a combined 1,648 snaps and had two touchdowns between them in 2014. The talented Jordan Cameron skipped town to Miami and was replaced by former Cardinals tight end Rob Housler, an offseason darling whose yet to make an NFL impact.

The good news for Cleveland? They have two first-round choices lined up for the first night in Chicago. That's old hat for the Browns, but maybe this is the year they actually they take advantage of it. * -- Dan Hanzus*

Oakland Raiders

Raiders fans say we pick on their team, but I disagree. We'd love to see this organization turn it around. The NFL is better when the Silver and Black thrive, but that won't come quickly through this year's free-agency haul.

The problem with the Raiders isn't what they accomplished -- it's what they didn't. Armed with a mountain of cap space, general manager Reggie McKenzie targeted a slew of big names but couldn't lure any to Oakland. Ndamukong Suh, Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin, Julius Thomas and DeMarco Murray all chose to sign elsewhere.

Center Rodney Hudson was a good get and Michael Crabtree, at least, didn't cost much. Still, the Trent Richardson signing symbolizes too many of Oakland's free-agent additions: Low-level patches when the Raiders desperately needed star power. -- Marc Sessler

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down Adrian Peterson's return and discusses the Cleveland Browns' new uniforms. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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