So far in this free agency period we have seen some teams make moves, lose key players and be somewhat quiet. New England stunned fans when they managed to snag Darelle Revis for a mere 1 year deal of $12 million. The Buffalo Bills lost the best safety the’ve ever had in Jarius Byrd to the New Orleans Saints. The Miami Dolphins concentrated on keeping play makes of last year and finally focused on the offensive line by inking a deal with Branden Albert. The Jets however seemed to take the slow and quiet approach but managed to get a ripple going by signing Erick Decker from the Denver Broncos.
But, do these early signings really mean the AFC East teams have gotten better, or even more importantly, do the key loses mean the team has gotten worse? Lets break down each team and then we will let you decide. Make your selection and let us know why you voted how you did and then we will follow up on a future article.
Jarius Byrd – A three time pro Bowler that leaves a huge void in the defensive backfield for the Bills. Currently the Bills are looking at their young rookies to replace him but it is still a question mark heading into the draft.
Brandon Spikes – A tough and physical player against the run, Spikes will allow for Kiko Alonso to move about freely. Added bonus is that he came from rival New England Patriots.
Corey Graham – Cornerbacks are a vital part of todays NFL and the Bill were in need. he might not start every snap but he will elevate the slot or the outside. Not a huge key signing as he might of been overpaid but the added depth is welcome news for the Bills especially after dealing with the injuries to the secondary last season.
Paul Soliai – A staple to the Dolphins rushing defense, Soliai cemented his role as a starter three years ago but ads the change to the defensive schemes occurred Soliai seemed to of lost a step or two. The Dolphins would have loved to keep him but his price tag was just too high and opted to keep Randy Starks and signed Earl Mitchell.
Branden Albert – By far the biggest and most expected signing by Miami, Albert makes the offensive line better but he is still the only piece of the puzzle the Dolphins have added to one of the worst o-lines in the NFL. There are still some holes to fill on the right side and depth is also a question.
Earl Mitchell – Due to the loss of Paul Soliai, the Miami Dolphins filled the hole left with Houston’s 3rd round selection in 2010, Earl Mitchell. Mitchell loves the 4-3 scheme as it allows for him to feature his skills and at 290 lbs he will easily fill the void left by Soliai at a much lower price.
The recurring need for the Dolphins is still the offensive line. RG and RT are still very much a must and the free agency period didn’t bring many starters their way. Although they can fill some depth with bargains still looking for teams it will most likely be done through the draft.
New York Jets:
Austin Howard- Signed by the Oakland Raiders right after hitting the market. A player that moved up the ranks to the starting RT spot but was exchanged with Breno Giacomini of the Seahawks. He is believed to be at a lower grade than Howard but at a much cheaper price.
Erick Decker – His 2013 numbers are 87 catches, 1,288 yards. He will become the Jets number one receiver.
The secondary. Man to man coverage requires depth in Rex Ryan’s defense and so far they are very thin in that department. Their attempt to land Revis failed and the market seems to be pretty thin regarding corners. Their best option so far looks to be bringing back Cromartie.
New England Patriots:
Aqib Talib – A player with great talent that has never played a full season due to injuries and suspensions, Talib was a key piece to the Patriots secondary. The loss of Talib made the Patriots aggressive in there search for a replacement and they couldn’t do better than Darelle Revis.
Vince Wilfork – Not really a loss, yet, but there is rift occurring between the Patriots and Wilfork. A defensive captain, Wilfork, has asked the team to release him as he doesn’t want his contract altered. Chances are that the two will part ways and a big hole will be left to be filled.
Darelle Revis – Arguably the best corner in the NFL by far, Revis automatically elevates a secondary that was lacking last season. Paired with Brandon Browner, these two physical players will be a top rated duo in man-to-man coverage.
The Patriots are still looking to add to their receiving corps and it looks like Edelman will return. Unfortunately that is not really an upgrade and there is not much for them in free agency left. last season we saw an angry Brady trying to find chemistry with his receivers and since the draft is the only option left for an upgrade we might enjoy some more of Brady’s in your face antics toward his “new” receivers.