*After more than a week of free-agency action, it's time to take stock of what teams have accomplished thus far. We'll assign highly scientific and inarguable grades for each NFL team's free agent haul thus far, noting their additions and subtractions. The AFC South is below. *
Rick Smith has run the Texans' front office for nine years without a truly great quarterback, which is a testament to his effectiveness at other positions. Smith's football future now depends on Brock Osweiler coming through. We're skeptical Osweiler will be worth $18 million per year, but we appreciate Smith and coach Bill O'Brien getting so aggressive to address their depressing quarterback situation.
Osweiler brings a higher ceiling and more uncertainty to the entire team. Lamar Miller is a solid starter that Houston sees as a foundation back. These were top-15 free agents on our original board and they will now be expected to lead the Texans' offense. The offensive line shuffled pieces, but Osweiler and Miller will be the ones under the magnifying glass in 2016 and beyond, helping to determine whether Smith gets deep into his second decade with the Texans. Grade: B
The Colts chose Dwayne Allen over Coby Fleener despite Fleener's superior production. And we believe they made the right choice. Allen's skill set has always been underused in Indianapolis, but he has everything you look for in a tight end and knows the system. It sounds like the team didn't even try to retain Fleener after four years with decent numbers but way too many mistakes. Solid inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman left for Chicago and Adam Vinatieri returned for his 49th season, but otherwise things have been quiet in Indianapolis. After some failed frenzied free agent runs under general manager Ryan Grigson, perhaps this qualifies as progress. Grade: C+
You could nitpick with the dollar figures general manager David Caldwell have handed out. Malik Jackson is a fantastic player, but he wasn't even starting in 2014. Ndamukong Suh was picked on for his lack of production in Miami and Jackson is not the same level of player as Suh. He's making similar money. But when you really break it down, the Jaguars' roster is so much better than it was in December. Jackson, and the healthy return of Dante Fowler and Sen'Derrick Marks dramatically improves the Jaguars' front seven. Cornerback Prince Amukamara and tackle Kelvin Beachum were among our favorite bargains in free agency. Safety Tashaun Gipson and running back Chris Ivory got big money, but they address need areas.
The Jaguars essentially didn't lose anyone. This is a promising young offense that addressed big defensive holes with young starters. Perhaps we're just buying into some of the hype, but we see this as a rare free-agent spreading spree that could help catapult a team into the playoffs in a weak division. Grade: A
Trading for a running back past his prime and promising 300-plus carries is the ultimate Mike Mularkey move. Signing Matt Cassel just hours into free agency screams vanilla. This is a franchise that has looked rudderless for years and nothing about the last few weeks changes that. General manager Jon Robinson has a lot of respect around the league and deserves time to execute his vision. But the DeMarco Murray move especially feels like a vision we've seen before with Mularkey. On a positive note, Rishard Matthewsadds another promising young set of hands for Marcus Mariota. Grade: C