Free Agency Recap Part I: AFC East
April 6, 2012 Leave a Comment
Many things have happened since March 13 (first day of free agency), So I will update you guys on what teams have done and grade their free agent pickups as of right now.
I will start in the AFC East..
The Patriots as usual did not have a huge splash in free agency. However, they made some key moves in adding depth and another playmaker for Brady in Brandon Llyod.
Brandon Llyod gives the Pats a receiver that can make plays outside the numbers which is something they desperately lacked last season. On top of his talent, Llyod has Tom Brady throwing him the ball and he already knows offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system.
Patriots also signed:
OL Robert Gallery, DL Jonathan Fanene, TE Daniel Fells, DL/LB Trevor Scott, DB’s Will Allen and Steve Gregory, and WR’s Donte Stallworth and Anthony Gonzales.
Gallery is not the best blocker in the world but he brings size (6’7 325 pounds) and insurance for the Patriots. Offensive Guard Logan Mankins is coming off an ACL injury and Left Tackle has been contemplating retirement. Gallery can play both offensive guard and tackle so his versatility is definitely a plus for the Pats.
Stallworth and Gonzales are interesting pickups in my opinion as the Pats have a lot of depth at the wide receiver position. However, this is Belichek’s way of stirring competition within the team as both players have fallen on hard times and have had lackluster careers to this point.
Jonathan Fanene is also a good pickup as he will give some depth to the Pats front 7. The Patriots got away with playing Vince Wilfork 85% and I see the Patriots using Fanene to back up Wilfork and keep him fresh.
Don’t think the Pats are done adding to their team, they are still players out there and the Patriots have two 1st round picks in the upcoming draft.
Overall Grade: B
The Jets have been big time players in free agency the past 5 seasons. This offseason, not so much, this is what happens when you are cap-strapped.
The Jets have a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball and they really did not fill any in free agency.
Bringing back players such as Bryan Thomas, Aaron Maybin do help the pass and run defense. In fact, once Thomas got hurt, the Jets perimeter run defense really suffered. Also, bringing back Maybin was a good move for the defense.
We all know that the Jets need a pass rusher, now think of their pass rush WITHOUT Maybin as he accounted for six sacks in just 239 snaps. Maybin needs to become a better all-around player to stay on the field more and give the Jets someone who can consistently bring pressure.
The Jets did go out and sign safety LaRon Landry which helps in the defense in terms of having a hitter in the secondary and someone to help with run support. Despite the move, the Jets are still very thin at the safety position as they have yet to re-sign safety Jim Leonard.
Other than Landry the Jets have not signed anyone else of note to help their defense or their right tackle/wide receiver position.
The Jets did trade for this quarterback from Denver, I think his name is Tim Tebow?
Jokes aside, Tim Tebow is a Jet and now the fascinating story of how the Jets will use him begins. I like the fact that defenses will have to prepare for a Tebow package which does bring some unpredictability to the Jets offense.
The one thing that I hate about this trade is that the Jets gave up a 4th round pick to get him and the fact that he does not really fill any needs besides a backup quarterback role.
Would you trade a 4th round pick for a backup quarterback?
I know Tebow is different, he is a winner and a great human being and God Bless his soul.
Yet, will Tebow be playing right tackle?
Be our #2 wide-out opposite of San”I’m the Man”tonio Holmes?
Will he Rush the Passer?
How about covering the middle of the field along with Landry?
Right Tackle, Linebackers, Wide Receivers, and Safeties are our NEEDS, Tebow does not fill any of those voids.
He does push Sanchez and I like that they brought in competition for him, but did you REALLY have to bring in one of the most polarizing players in the NFL today?
The Jets NEED to hit home runs in this april’s draft, their season depends on it.
Overall Grade: C
The Bills made a HUGE splash in Free agency by signing the best defensive lineman in free agency, Mario Williams.
They also signed Mark Anderson, the Patriots top sacking player with 10 sacks last season.
With the Bills moving back the 4-3 defensive scheme, they knew EXACTLY what they needed and they addressed it perfectly. Also having $30+ Million in cap space this offseason did not hurt the Bills in going after what they needed.
With Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus in the middle, Mario Williams and Mark Anderson as the ends, the Bills now have one of the best front four’s in the NFL.
I absolutely loved what Buffalo did in free agency, I know you do not play any games in the off-season, but the Bills have put themselves in serious contention for the AFC East crown.
One more move Buffalo made was signing middle linebacker Kirk Morrison from Jacksonville. Morrison led the Raiders in tackles for 5 straight seasons, than cashed in Jacksonville and saw his production drop. The Bills are taking a chance on Morrison and I feel they will be rewarded for their risk.
The Bills also kept their potential free agents in Buffalo.
Resigning tight end Scott Chandler to a 2-year deal and wide out Stevie Johnson to a 5-year deal worth $36.25 Million with $19.5 guaranteed were great moves by the Bills especially at the price they resigned those players for. The Bills upgraded their defense and kept their offensive weapons intact.
If there is one weakness the Bills need to address it is their Offensive Line. The Left Tackle position has been a revolving door for the Bills and they need stability at that position especially with their pass-happy attack. However, the Bills find themselves with the 10th overall pick in the draft with prospects they can select who can fill that role.
What a great off-season for Buffalo, now it’s time to do it on the field.
Overall Grade: A
A proud franchise that has sunk to the laughing-stock of the NFL. The Dolphins traded their best offensive weapon Brandon Marshall for two 3rd round picks (1 in 2012, 1 in 2013), than swung and missed on Peyton Manning, than missed out on Matt Flynn.
For a team that seemed to be the front-runner for Manning or Flynn, they settled on.. David Garrard
The Dolphins have Matt Moore and David Garrard at quarterback this season… OUCH AGAIN
They do not have a clear-cut number #1 wide out either.
They cut their defensive leader and tackling machine, safety Yeremiah Bell and lose Jason Taylor to retirement. There really are no positives for this team for free agency.
The Dolphins are also moving to the 4-3 defensive scheme, which seems really dumb considering that the Dolphins actually had one of the better defenses in the league.
So why make the switch?
I wish I could give you a good explanation, so I’ll try..
Now everyone has a different role to switch and the 4-3 is better suited for pass rushers on the defensive line and the Dolphins do have that in Cameron Wake and Phillip Merling. However, they now created a need for penetrating defensive tackle, which they do not posses.
Resigning Paul Soliai was an excellent move as he is a great 3-4 Nose Tackle.
However, with their defensive realignment will Soliai fit with a 4-3 scheme?
The Dolphins also made some quiet signings with former Jets Linebacker Jamaal Westerman and cornerback Richard Marshall. Both players are good role guys can contribute to the team, but they both lack the impact-player ability the Dolphins so desperately need (especially on offense).
The Dolphins have the 8th pick in the draft and can go a variety of different ways. They can draft a penetrating defensive tackle, or a quarterback, or a wide receiver at that pick.
New Head Coach Joe Philbin has a lot of work to do, yet through Free Agency, the Dolphins have done basically nothing to improve their team in my opinion.
Overall grade: F
I know the draft is important for every team, but in the AFC East, there is NO Question it is most important to the Dolphins.
Stay tuned for my next article: Free Agency Recap Part II: NFC East