What a week!! Free Agency kicked off less than 8 days ago with a never seen before frenzy of moves. I actually attempted to follow Twitter, it became impossible.
Our division was arguably the most involved and the one that has changed the most.
The Bills lost: Da’Norris Searcy, Brandon Spikes, Scott Chandler, Kyle Orton (retired), Keith Rivers, Lee Smith, and CJ Spiller.
Added to last year’s roster by resigning Jerry Hughes, Marcus Easley; adding LeSean McCoy via trade, Percy Harvin, Jerome Felton and, Tyrod Taylor.
So far this has to be seen as an upgrade over the 9-7 of a year ago. Let’s also add a new HC with his own coaching staff to that upgrade. I like the McCoy move, he brings a durability element to the backfield.
My Take: My only question is in the past Rex has not been a big fan of outside runners, he likes them to “ground and pound” between the tackles. McCoy ran a lot inside earlier in his career, we will see more of that from him. McC will also have to get used to running with a lead blocker, something the Eagles rarely did.
Percy brings talent at a reasonable price. Hughes was key in my opinion, and resigning him was a smart move, leaving the defense (except for safety and Kiko) nearly intact.
My head scratcher: Who’s playing TE? Releasing Chandler at a low price tag was not so smart. Chandler would have helped the run game as well. Bills will have to search hard to find a viable body.
Overall reaction: Bills are being aggressive and clearly are entering a win now mode. After just missing the playoffs at 9-7, Rex knows he has to match that or improve it buy make the playoffs. So far I would say the Bills are the Patriots’s best opponent for the division.
The Dolphins lost: Jard Odrick, Dannell Ellerbe, Jason Fox, Brandon Gibson, Jonathan Freeny, Brian Hartline, Shelley Smith. Traded Mike Wallace, and Charles Clay is on Transitional Tag, however chances are they will not honor it. Also unsigned are: Luis Delmas, Daniel Thomas, Lawrence Timmons, Nate Garner, Matt Moore, Knowshon Moreno, Samsen Satele and Derrick Shelby, Randy Starks, Jason Trusnik, and Phillip Wheeler.
Added to last year’s roster by resigning Jason Fox and Kelvin Sheppard. Adding Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Cameron, Brandon Spikes and Kenny Stills via trade.
My Take: Dolphins have not been able to move past the .500 mark, and the team has to do it this year, for the sake of Joe Philbin. I for one believe that continuity is a necessary for any team. Last season the Dolphins were horrible at stopping the run, and the moves I see so far say that they believed that Starks was the weak link. I would say yes and no. Suh is a tremendous sign, probably the best available player in free agency. Suh will improve that run D, but he cannot do it alone. IMO the enormous contract could have been used to upgrade a very weak Linebacking core, the real culprit to a lousy run defense. Miami had little to no run support from Ellerbe and company, and when you have a DE that basically plays for the sack on every down, you must have run support. Suh demands attention, but he is not a sack machine by any means, the double coverage he will receive will help Wake’s sack numbers, not totally fix the run defense. I like Stills, he is an up and coming WR, who benefited playing with Brees. If Jordan Cameron stays healthy, a huge if, he becomes a dangerous weapon, a top 10 TE in the NFL. I think the Dolphins have not done enough to improve on the 8-8.
My head scratcher: Dolphins made two trades and had to throw in draft picks to get rid of unwanted players, that is insane for a team needing to fill some holes, especially at DB and LB. Ellerbe was a dumb signing based on two playoff games, good riddance. Wallace has not played up to his contract, but that is not his fault, Ireland overpriced him into a set-up-to fail deal. He will be missed, and I do not think the Dolphins have replaced his numbers. Landry-Jordan-Stills do not replace the totals of Landry-Hartline-Gibson-Clay-Wallace.
New England Patriots
The Patriots lost: Darrelle Revis, Akeem Ayers, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, Brandon Browner and Jonathan Casillas. Cut/unsigned: Alan Branch, Dan Connolly, Vince Wilfork and Danny Aiken.
Added to last year’s roster by resigning Stephen Gostkowski, Devin McCourty, Bryan Tims and Chris White. Signed Jabaal Sheard, Chimidi Chekwa, Kevin Dorsey, Jonathan Freeney, Brandon Gibson and Scott Chandler.
My Take: Winning always has a price, and by going all in to win the SB bringing in Revis and Browner is costing the Patriots right now. The resigning of Revis could have been accomplished at the expense of many other players. The team has lost both CBs, both backfield threats. Vereen is not an every down player, but one of the best change of pace runners I have seen in a long time. He often would come in and revitalize the run game, especially late in games. Patriots have found a way to add quality players before and during camp, and we have to give them the benefit of the doubt again. I really like the Scott Chandler and Gibson signings, both have division experience and a lot to prove.
My head scratcher: Why cut Browner? His contract was a small portion of the CAP. I read that it was to fit Revis in, but by the time they cut him, they have to have known that Revis was walking. The lack of a real GM, separated form coaching duties hurts in many ways. I think the GM waited until day before league year to begin negations with Revis and Browner. If they wanted to keep them and re-do their deals, should have been talking at least a week before, huge blunder. Losing Wilfork, although shadowed by Revis is also huge. He has been the anchor of that line for so long. The defense will suffer a lot. Patriots are playing games with the roster, and as long as you have Brady, you have that luxury, but right now on paper I would have to say that the Pats have shortened their lead on the Bills.
New York Jets
The Jets lost: Percy Harvin and Phillip Adams.
Added to last year’s roster by resigning Willie Colon, David Harris, Damon Harrison, Bilal Powell and Tanner Purdum. Cut/Unsigned: Dawan Landry, Kyle Wilson, Nick Bellore, John Connor, Jermaine Cunningham, Kenrick Ellis, Leger Double, Ben Ijalana, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Chris Johnson, Greg Salas and Michael Vick.
Signed: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, James Carpenter, Marcus Gilchrist, Buster Skrine, Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick via trade.
My Take: At 4-12 you have a lot of holes to fill, luckily those holes were created in favor of a big CAP number. Last year the Jets removed millions, adding only Decker and Giacomini. Bringing Revis back was a smart football and PR move. Signing Cromartie, Skrine and Gilchrist has totally redone the weakest group on the team. The defense will look a lot different, and the numerous DBs now available will allow Bowles to really run his blitz packages. Adding Marshall and getting a pick as well was brilliant. Marshall is at a point in his career where he would like to finally make the playoffs, and even if he goes off, he gets cut at no CAP hit (like Harvin last year). Fitzpatrick doesn’t resolve the QB situation, but gives Geno a real threat for the job. The Jets didn’t suddenly become playoff contenders, but they look more like a team that will get back to respectability in new HC/GM year one, a good start, headed in the right direction.
My head scratcher: I think the team felt that if Harris had hit the open market, MLB needy Fins and Bills would have created a bidding war, and they simply overpaid. Signing young Carpenter was a good move, but bringing back (I have never seen a penalty I don’t like) Colon was a head scratcher. I guess the thinking is if Carpenter can’t stay healthy, Colon provides insurance at the veteran minimum. Its time to stop the bull and sit down with Mo Richardson!
I think two events have shaken the division resulting in a lot trades and player movements. First the Patriots won the Super Bowl, and every team knows that they have to get better to even compete with them. The second was Rex signing as the new Bills HC. That has triggered an earthquake from Western NY all the way Down Under.
I like it, it makes for a better season when all four teams have a shot at a .500 record or better.