Patriots, Falcons, Packers sit atop Power Rankings post-free agency

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It has been a fast and furious flurry of activity since NFL free agency began on March 9, the first day of the NFL's new year.

Even the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, didn't just stand on the sidelines as casual viewers. No, the Patriots have been one of the five most active teams in free agency so far, landing a No. 1 cornerback in Stephon Gilmore, trading for receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Dwayne Allen and re-signing linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

So, in order to judge how massive (or barely noticeable) the ripple effects of free agency has had on each team, ESPN's voting panel (a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities) ranks how each team stacks up next season.

ESPN Stats & Information contributed the following research.

Click here to see the Way-Too-Early Power Rankings, published after Super Bowl LI.

1. New England Patriots

2016 record: 14-2
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 1

Did the Super Bowl LI champions really need to trade for 23-year-old receiver Brandin Cooks? Probably not. But Cooks brings a big-play ability that hasn't been seen in New England in a while. Cooks has seven career 40-plus yard touchdowns. The Patriots have nine total in that time.

2. Atlanta Falcons

2016 record: 11-5
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 2

The Falcons have been fairly quiet this offseason, but the signing of Dontari Poe should prove to be a big boost to the defense in 2017. The Falcons allowed 4.5 yards per rush between the tackles last season, fifth-worst in the NFL, and saw an NFL-worst 46 percent of their sacks come from one player. Poe should help both fronts.

3. Green Bay Packers

2016 record: 10-6
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 4

It's rare enough for the Packers to make moves in free agency, but to double-down on one position with the signings of Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks was truly unique. The Packers utilized multiple tight ends on the second-fewest plays last season.

4. Dallas Cowboys

2016 record: 13-3
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 3

While we sit and wait for possible Tony Romo movement, a lot of other former Cowboys have already landed elsewhere. The Cowboys did sign CB Nolan Carroll II but will have to replace a bulk of their secondary after the departures of Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers

2016 record: 11-5
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 6

The big news in Pittsburgh revolves around its "Killer B's." Le'Veon Bell was franchised, Antonio Brown signed an extension and Ben Roethlisberger (who was considering retirement) is leaning toward playing in 2017. The Steelers are 28-14 (.667) since 2013 when all three play.

6. Seattle Seahawks

2016 record: 10-5-1
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 5

Is Eddie Lacy ready to be the feature back in Seattle? Lacy has averaged 2.15 yards per rush after contact since entering the NFL in 2013. The only back to average more in that time: Marshawn Lynch (2.20).

7. Oakland Raiders

2016 record: 12-4
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 7

The addition of tight end Jared Cook should give quarterback Derek Carr a big red zone target. Carr completed only 48.9 percent of his red zone passes last season, 22nd in the NFL.

8. Kansas City Chiefs

2016 record: 12-4
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 8

The Chiefs had to move on from all-time leading rusher Jamaal Charles this offseason. Kansas City gets strong rushing contributions from quarterback Alex Smith and receiver Tyreek Hill, but the running backs group will miss Charles. Chiefs running backs ranked 25th in rushing yards last season.

9. New York Giants

2016 record: 11-5
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 9

Adding Brandon Marshall to a unit that includes Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard could be an embarrassment of riches -- assuming Marshall can recapture some of his Pro Bowl form. Marshall caught 47.2 percent of his targets last season, second-lowest among qualified receivers.

10. Denver Broncos

2016 record: 9-7
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 10

The moves the Broncos have made this offseason have mostly revolved around the offensive and defensive line. The move we're all waiting to see is if Denver makes a play for Tony Romo. Last time the Broncos went after a veteran free-agent quarterback (Peyton Manning), it worked out pretty well after all.

11. Baltimore Ravens

2016 record: 8-8
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 13

The Ravens allowed 30 passing touchdowns in 2015 and 28 in 2016, the two highest totals in franchise history. It may come as no surprise, then, that the secondary is undergoing an overhaul. Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson are now in Baltimore, and it appears Lardarius Webb, Kendrick Lewis and Shareece Wright are all out.

12. Detroit Lions

2016 record: 9-7
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 14

The Lions quietly upgraded the right side of their offensive line this offseason, nabbing T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner. Last season the Lions averaged 3.4 yards on designed rushes to the right, second-worst in the NFL.

13. Houston Texans

2016 record: 9-7
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 15

Outside of re-signing tight end Ryan Griffin, the only thing the Texans have done this offseason is trade QB Brock Osweiler. Houston may be hoping Tony Romo becomes the ninth different starting quarterback under coach Bill O'Brien because if he doesn't, it's time for Tom Savage.

14. Tennessee Titans

2016 record: 9-7
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 20

The Titans are hoping the additions of cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Johnathan Cyprien will help boost a secondary that allowed the fifth-most completions last season. The moves should help, but the Titans selecting fifth and 18th overall in the draft could help more.

15. Miami Dolphins

2016 record: 10-6
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 21

By Dolphins standards, this has been a very quiet offseason, but it may go down as being a rather productive one. Veteran defenders Lawrence Timmons and Nate Allen could help a unit that ranked 18th in points and 29th in yards last season.

16. Arizona Cardinals

2016 record: 7-8-1
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 16

Free agency has not helped the Cardinals' defense out one bit. Four of their top six defensive snap leaders from 2016 have signed elsewhere, including Calais Campbell, Kevin Minter, Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2016 record: 9-7
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 17

Quarterback Jameis Winston had the highest average pass distance last season. DeSean Jackson loves to go deep. The Buccaneers were the only team without a 50-yard pass play last season. Sounds like a perfect match.

18. Carolina Panthers

2016 record: 6-10
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 11

Julius Peppers is coming home. Peppers signed with the Panthers this offseason after spending the past seven seasons in Chicago and Green Bay. He may be 37, but he still has some juice left in the tank, recording at least seven sacks in nine straight seasons.

19. Minnesota Vikings

2016 record: 8-8
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 18

The Vikings ranked last in the NFL in rushing last season, and after declining Adrian Peterson's option, it became clear the team was going in a new direction. Not only did Minnesota add running back Latavius Murray, it also added two new offensive tackles in Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers.

20. Washington Redskins

2016 record: 8-7-1
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 12

This has been an interesting offseason in Washington. The good news is that quarterback Kirk Cousins signed his franchise tender and is likely to stay in Washington. The bad news is he lost both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon as weapons. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Washington is the first team to lose a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in the same offseason.

21. Philadelphia Eagles

2016 record: 7-9
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 23

Eagles wide receivers combined for the second-fewest yards, yards per reception and touchdowns last season. So what did the team go out and do this offseason? It got Carson Wentz some help. Welcome to Philadelphia, Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

22. Indianapolis Colts

2016 record: 8-8
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 19

The Colts have been one of the most active teams this offseason, especially when it comes to rebuilding the defense. Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, Margus Hunt, Al Woods, Barkevious Mingo and Sean Spence have all been brought in to help a unit that ranked 26th in points allowed the past two seasons.

23. Cincinnati Bengals

2016 record: 6-9-1
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 22

The Bengals' offseason has been more defined by its losses than its additions. The two biggest losses may be on the offensive line, as guard Kevin Zeitler and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth both signed elsewhere. Quarterback Andy Dalton was pressured on a career-high 26 percent of his dropbacks last season, so a weak spot became weaker.

24. New Orleans Saints

2016 record: 7-9
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 24

The Saints are doing what they can to build a strong front seven, re-signing defensive tackle Nick Fairley and bringing in linebackers Manti Te'o, Alex Okafor and A.J. Klein. The Saints allowed 19 rush touchdowns last season, fourth-most in the NFL.

25. Los Angeles Chargers

2016 record: 5-11
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 25

The Chargers have made only a few additions this offseason, but the big move was to sign tackle Russell Okung. The Chargers allowed pressure at the sixth-highest rate in 2016 and ranked 26th in yards per rush.

26. Buffalo Bills

2016 record: 7-9
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 26

The Bills had some big decisions to make on defense this offseason. They re-signed their sack leader, Lorenzo Alexander, but they were unable to keep their interception leader, Stephon Gilmore. Buffalo's leading tackler (Zach Brown) and top nickelback (Nickell Robey-Coleman) remain unsigned.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars

2016 record: 3-13
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 27

The Jaguars are always active in free agency, but this year seems a bit different. A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and Barry Church could all provide a big boost to a defense that has ranked 25th or worse in points allowed for five straight seasons.

28. Los Angeles Rams

2016 record: 4-12
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 28

The addition of veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth should help provide some stability to the Rams' offensive line. The Rams averaged fewer yards before initial contact than any team in the NFL last season.

29. Chicago Bears

2016 record: 3-13
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 29

The Jay Cutler era is officially over. After going 34-22 as a starter the first four years, Cutler went 17-29 the past four. Mike Glennon, Cutler's replacement, hasn't started a game since 2014.

30. New York Jets

2016 record: 5-11
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 30

The Jets have lost Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, Ryan Clady, Darrelle Revis, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith this offseason, but don't worry, the Jets signed Josh McCown. The veteran is 2-20 as a starting quarterback the past two seasons.

31. San Francisco 49ers

2016 record: 2-14
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 31

The 49ers have overhauled their receiving corps with the additions of Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson. But importing the quarterback duo of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, who went a combined 2-9 as Bears starters last season, probably won't help much.

32. Cleveland Browns

2016 record: 1-15
Post-Super Bowl ranking: No. 32

The Browns revamped their offensive line in a big way this offseason, adding guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter. Whoever ends up playing quarterback for Cleveland next season should be better protected as a result. The Browns allowed a league-high 66 sacks in 2016.