Winslow, AZ — March 25, 2014
The baseball season is about to start-up so now is a perfect time to, as we often do, start mixing metaphors in sports terminologies. The other day Rex Ryan got things going in describing the Jets lack of direction in free agency as “sometimes you swing and you miss, and sometimes guys aren’t a good fit for you.” What he failed to acknowledge is that sometimes you can also strike out looking.
It’s called getting rung up and noted in baseball as the backwards K on the scorecard. And it happened a lot around the league. In this day and age of cap economics, some times you just don’t have enough to go around. other times situations can turn into paralysis by over-analysis.
Here are some places the AFC East Teams had holes but did, or even attempted, very little to address in free agency:
Buffalo Bills– Buffalo attempted to cover their holes the best of the any AFC East team by adding OG Chris Williams, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Keith Rivers and CB Corey Graham. Of course, it all came at th expense of losing Pro Bowl S Jairus Byrd. The Bills decided to not add an established, veteran safety to back fill that role and will go with 4th year player Da’Norris Searcy. Whether the quantity for quality approach will work will be a question heading into the season along with Searcy’s ability to produce as a full-time starter.
Miami Dolphins- Despite a new administration, the Dolphins churned a number of roster spots similar to their 2013 free agency: Louis Delmas will replace Chris Clemons; Cortland Finnegan will replace Dmitri Patterson/ Nolan Carroll; Earl Mitchell will replace Paul Soliai. Miami’s biggest need heading into the year was on the offensive line and they addressed LT with a lucrative deal for Branden Albert. The Dolphins also added Rams reserve OG Shelley Smith paying him starters money. However, they still have significant questions at the OG spots and appear to completely lack a book end for Albert at RT.
New England Patriots- The Patriots free agency period was heavily focused at the primary elements in the passing game on both sides of the ball with New England adding CBs Darelle Revis and Brandon browner along with WR Brandon LaFell and retaining Julian Edelman. Lost in the shuffle was the trenches where New England appears to be moving on OC Ryan Wendell with the likelihood that veteran Dan Connolly flips back to that position clearing was OG/OT Marcus Cannon. The Patriots also added nothing to the interior of the DL where their patch on the fly out of necessity situation produced DT Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga. It’s been surprising that the Patriots have made little effort to add anything in bolstering the interior lines on either side especially considering that it was a weakness last season and that they are facing further roster uncertainty presently.
New York Jets- The Jets have been awfully focused on their passing game this free agency with little attention paid their defense and little effort or seemingly desire to spend to attempt to find that true edge rusher they’ve lacked for years, solidify the CB or upgrade the safeties. An odd tact for a team that struggled against the pass last season. Meanwhile, after adding top spend WR Eric Decker, their further plans have turned to entertaining the idea of adding Desean Jackson seemingly with the hope that stocking the skill receiving position for Geno Smith can do for him what it didn’t do for Mark Sanchez.
In salary cap economics it can be difficult to address all needs. Although it should noted that Buffalo ($14M), Miami ($19M) and the Jets ($24M) all still have above average cap space. Now that we have entered the bargain hunting period of free agency with the draft looming, I would expect to see these teams use those remaining assets to further address these situations over the next month and a half. However, both avenues are historically dicey and often hit-or-miss propositions to fix immediate holes.