NFC West Offseason Report Card: Key Additions, Subtractions, Final Grades

San Francisco is still a Super Bowl contender, but the 49ers' quiet offseason has left the door open for the rest of the division to gain ground.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy warms up for the NFC Championship Game.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy warms up for the NFC Championship Game. / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers made headlines this offseason for moves that they might do instead of the ones they already made. 

With the team shopping star wideouts Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, the 49ers’ offseason additions went under the radar, but they managed to maintain a Super Bowl-ready roster. Perhaps that will change if the 49ers are forced to trade Samuel or Aiyuk in the coming months, which would help the rest of the teams in the NFC West. 

Regardless of what happens with the two star wideouts, San Francisco’s sizable gap ahead of their divisional rivals might have narrowed with the many moves the Los Angeles Rams made in the past few months. The Rams have a huge void to fill, though, with the retirement of Aaron Donald. 

The Seattle Seahawks gained a talented defensive tackle in the draft with the first-round selection of Byron Murphy II. The Arizona Cardinals also landed an impactful rookie after taking Marvin Harrison Jr. in the first round. 

Here are grades and analysis for how the NFC West teams did this offseason.

Los Angeles Rams

Offseason grade: B

Key additions: RB Blake Corum, S Kamren Curl, DT Braden Fiske, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, OG Jonah Jackson, TE Colby Parkinson, Edge Jared Verse, CB Tre’Davious White, CB Darious Williams 

Key subtractions: DT Aaron Donald, S Jordan Fuller, OL Coleman Shelton, QB Carson Wentz

Analysis: The Rams understably prioritized the defense after the retirement of Donald. But Los Angeles also needed to add defensive talent because it lost Raheem Morris, the former defensive coordinator who got the most out of an inexperienced defense last season. With a revamped defense, Los Angeles could return to the postseason after a surprising 2023. 

Coach Sean McVay and new defensive coordinator Chris Shula won’t have Donald in the middle of their defense, but they could have a formidable front after using their first two draft picks on edge rusher Jared Verse and defensive tackle Braden Fiske. They’ll join edge rusher Byron Young and defensive tackle Kobie Turner, two players who impressed as rookies last season. The secondary will have a new look after the signings of safety Kamren Curl and cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Darious Williams. Los Angeles needed proven defensive backs because Donald won’t be around to command attention from opposing quarterbacks. No one player will replace Donald’s massive void, but the Rams might have done enough this offseason to build a quality defense for 2024.

Last season, the Rams shifted their rushing philosophies and gained plenty of success with Kyren Williams leading the charge. Los Angeles might use more of the gap scheme after the free-agent acquisition of guard Jonah Jackson and third-round selection of Blake Corum. They also re-signed guard Kevin Dotson and moved 2023 second-round pick Steve Avila to center. Matthew Stafford, who had a dynamic ’23 season, could have better protection and a stout rushing attack to open up the passing game with Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. But the Rams failed to address the concerns at offensive tackle. Alaric Jackson had mixed results as the starting left tackle. Overall, the Rams built off their surprising success from last year with savvy offseason moves and could now become serious threats to dethrone the 49ers in the NFC West.  

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.
Harrison was the first receiver off the board during this year's NFL draft. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals

Offseason grade: B

Key additions: OL Isaiah Adams, RB Trey Benson, WR Marvin Harrison Jr., DT Justin Jones, CB Max Melton, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, DT Bilal Nichols, QB Desmond Ridder, Edge Darius Robinson, OT Jonah Williams

Key subtractions: WR Marquise Brown, OT D.J. Humphries, WR Rondale Moore, CB Antonio Hamilton

Analysis: After a feisty first season with coach Jonathan Gannon, the Cardinals could be on the rise with a revamped roster that received an influx of talent this offseason. Arizona delivered an impressive draft class, perhaps one that could have as much success as the Rams’ draft class from last season. 

The arrival of Harrison, the No. 4 pick, could give the Cardinals’ a productive offense with a healthy Kyler Murray, who missed half of last season while recovering from a knee injury. Last season, the Cardinals recorded surprising wins against the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers partly because of the game plans from offensive coordinator Drew Petzing. He’ll now expand his playbook with Harrison and rookie running back Trey Benson. Also, the offensive line could be better with the signing of Jonah Williams, which allowed the team to move 2023 first-round pick Paris Johnson Jr. to left tackle.

Gannon’s defense still needs plenty of work, but they addressed their lack of depth at edge rusher after using their second first-round pick on Darius Robinson. The arrivals of third-round pick Max Melton and veteran Sean Murphy-Bunting could form a quality cornerback rotation with Garrett Williams, last year’s third-round selection. But the Cardinals’ defense could have weaknesses at inside linebacker and on the interior of the defensive line. They added veteran defensive tackles Justin Jones and Bilal Nichols. Arizona needs to continue working on the defensive front, but this roster has come a long way in a one-year span. 

San Francisco 49ers

Offseason grade: C

Key additions: DT Maliek Collins, LB De’Vondre Campbell, QB Joshua Dobbs, Edge Leonard Floyd, CB Renardo Green, Edge Yetur Gross-Matos, WR Ricky Pearsall

Key subtractions: QB Sam Darnold, Edge Clelin Ferrell, Edge Randy Gregory, DT Javon Kinlaw, WR Ray-Ray McCloud III, Edge Chase Young

Analysis: The 49ers found themselves in a unique position this offseason with a loaded roster that has failed to win the Super Bowl the past few years. Oftentimes, contenders make one or two notable moves with hopes of getting over the hump. But San Francisco has made moves and it hasn’t been enough, leaving them with little cap space flexibility in what’s been a quiet offseason. 

The 49ers, however, did enough to maintain their Super Bowl-ready roster, filling the departures of Chase Young and Arik Armstead with a group of veterans. Perhaps San Francisco isn’t as talented on the defensive line this year, but at least it gained depth with defensive tackle Maliek Collins and edge rushers Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos. The 49ers are also deep at inside linebacker after adding De’Vondre Campbell to go with Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw. The secondary struggled at times, but the unit will have a healthy Talanoa Hufanga and drafted cornerback Renardo Green in the second round. 

With not much cap space, it’s critical for the 49ers to hit on their draft picks, but it might be a developmental year for first-round rookie wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, who’s behind on the depth chart. That could change if the team decides to trade Samuel or Aiyuk later this offseason. Credit to the 49ers for establishing a backup plan for their contract dilemma with Aiyuk, the 2020 first-round pick in need of a lucrative extension. Perhaps Pearsall is the missing piece for the 49ers to finally end their Super Bowl drought this season. 

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith
Smith will need better protection from his offensive line in order to get the most out of Seattle's strong collection of skill players. / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks 

Offseason grade: C-

Key additions: LB Jerome Baker, LB Tyrel Dodson, C Nick Harris, OG Christian Haynes, QB Sam Howell, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Byron Murphy II, OG Laken Tomlinson

Key subtractions: S Jamal Adams, LB Jordyn Brooks, C Evan Brown, LB Devin Bush, TE Will Dissly, OG Damien Lewis, QB Drew Lock, TE Colby Parkinson, LB Bobby Wagner

Analysis: The Seahawks haven’t been as close as the 49ers have when it comes to winning a Super Bowl in recent years, but they had high hopes for their star-studded roster last season and ended up missing the postseason. With a less-is-more approach, Seattle could make the playoffs if new coach Mike Macdonald gets the talented defense to develop into a dominant unit. 

The Seahawks parted with Jamal Adams, Jordyn Brooks, Bobby Wagner and many other veterans with hopes of bouncing-back from a disappointing season. Seattle replaced them with players who might fit with Macdonald’s defensive scheme, which helped the Baltimore Ravens become a top unit last season. Tyrel Dodson had a productive 2023 with the Buffalo Bills and will now make plays for the Seahawks. But the biggest defensive acquisition occurred with the first-round selection of defensive tackle Murphy, who could help improve the team’s poor run defense of the past two years. The pick, however, was a bit of a head scratcher after the team paid plenty of money for defensive tackles Dre’Mont Jones, Leonard Williams and Jarran Reed to patrol the middle of the defensive line. 

Seattle’s offense has plenty of talent with a receiving corps that features DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. But there’s reason for concern within the offensive line, which might not allow Geno Smith to use his many weapons. Seattle is banking on veterans Nick Harris and Laken Tomlinson to hold up as starters for the entire season. Perhaps rookie third-round pick Christian Haynes steps up as a starting guard. It was a quiet offseason for the Seahawks, but the hiring of Macdonald could be the difference in getting them to return to the playoffs. 


Published |Modified
Gilberto Manzano

GILBERTO MANZANO

Gilberto Manzano is an NFL staff writer for Sports Illustrated. Starting off as a breaking news writer at NFL.com in 2014, he has since been the Raiders beat reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and covered the Chargers and Rams for the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Daily News. During his time as a combat sports reporter, Gilberto was awarded best sports spot story of 2018 by the Nevada Press Association for his coverage of the Conor McGregor-Khabib Nurmagomedov post-fight brawl. Gilberto, a first-generation Mexican-American with parents from Nayarit, Mexico, is the co-host of Compas on the Beat, a sports and culture show featuring Mexican-American journalists. He also has been a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) since 2017.

Gilberto Manzano

GILBERTO MANZANO