FA Recap: AFC East

The AFC East saw plenty of splash moves over the last week. Steve Palazzolo sums up the headline-grabbing trades and big name free agent additions.

| 2 years ago

FA Recap: AFC East

As free agency starts to slow down, it’s time to take inventory of last week’s craziness. The moves were fast and furious (and perhaps a bit premature), as a few teams were extremely aggressive in pursuit of turning around their fortunes while others took to free agency with constraint. Here’s a look at where we stand after a week of free agency:

Buffalo Bills

FA-Recap-mccoyKey Losses:
S Da’Norris Searcy
LB Kiko Alonso
RB C.J. Spiller
TE Scott Chandler
G Erik Pears

Key Re-Signings:
DE Jerry Hughes

Key Additions:
WR Percy Harvin
QB Tyrod Taylor
RB LeSean McCoy
QB Matt Cassel
FB Jerome Felton
TE Charles Clay

It’s an offseason of change in Buffalo as new head coach Rex Ryan moves north from the New York Jets, bringing with him former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The personnel moves started with a bang as young linebacker Kiko Alonso was flipped to the Philadelphia Eagles for RB LeSean McCoy who brings big-play potential to Buffalo’s offense.

The questions for McCoy surround his ability to play behind a lesser offensive line after clearly benefitting from a strong unit in Philadelphia, and whether or not he’ll fit Roman’s more preferred power scheme. It may end up working well for McCoy as he danced a bit too much last season and a more structured running attack may be just what he needs to get back on track. Losing Alonso could prove costly down the road as he was very impressive as a rookie, particularly in coverage where he graded at +13.1.

Percy Harvin brings another versatile skillset to the mix, as he’s capable of affecting the game whether lined up out wide, in the slot or even the backfield. He is perfect for a team with average to subpar quarterback play as he can be the target of “scheme” plays that take pressure off the QB and allow him to make plays in space. His presence combined with McCoy and the addition of TE Charles Clay will provide matchup issues for opposing defenses.

The biggest signing for the Bills is likely the re-signing of DE Jerry Hughes who has quietly emerged as one of the league’s most underrated pass rushers. He finished at +9.7 overall last season and his return keeps one of the league’s strongest defensive lines intact.

Finally, the Bills added Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor to compete with E.J. Manuel. None of the three inspire confidence, but with no first-round pick, a “bridge” year is needed at the position and that’s where expectations should lie with this trio.

Miami Dolphins

FA-Recap-suhKey Losses:
DT Jared Odrick
TE Charles Clay
DT Randy Starks
CB Cortland Finnegan
CB Jimmy Wilson
WR Brandon Gibson
G Shelley Smith
WR Brian Hartline
LB Dannell Ellerbe
WR Mike Wallace

Key Re-Signings:
OT Jason Fox

Key Additions:
DT Ndamukong Suh
WR Kenny Stills
TE Jordan Cameron
CB Brice McCain

The big news is obviously the addition of Ndamukong Suh, the most prized commodity on the initial free agent market. His +27.5 overall grade was third-highest among defensive tackles last season as he added a run-stopping dimension (+18.1) to his already impressive pass rushing ability (+14.8). He’ll bring and every down presence capable of taking over the game, though he’ll be making quarterback-like money and there’s inherent risk in paying that high price.

The offense picked up a couple of intriguing targets in WR Kenny Stills (+6.3 receiver last year) and TE Jordan Cameron (+4.1 receiver in 2013). Stills may be better suited to fill the deep ball role for the Dolphins while Cameron adds a big body to make plays over the middle. They’ll replace WR Mike Wallace and TE Charles Clay, respectively, and both players could offer upgrades in the passing game.

Among the departing players, DTs Jared Odrick and Randy Starks stick out, though the rest of their losses underachieved last season and they should be replaceable with younger, cheaper talent. If there’s one thing the Suh signing should help offset, it’s the downward trend of the defensive line in the second half of the season.

New York Jets

FA-Recap-revisKey Losses:
WR Percy Harvin
RB Chris Johnson

Key Re-Signings:
ILB David Harris
RB Bilal Powell
G Willie Colon

Key Additions:
CB Darrelle Revis
WR Brandon Marshall
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
CB Antonio Cromartie
SS Marcus Gilchrist
CB Buster Skrine
G James Carpenter

An aggressive offseason in New York is highlighted by the return of Darrelle Revis. Not only did the Jets improve, but in the process, they weakened division leader New England Patriots. Revis is still one of the league’s best cornerbacks, finishing at +19.6 last season (including playoffs), and his ability to play press man coverage is a game changer on defense.

The Jets revamped the rest of their secondary as well, bringing back Antonio Cromartie and signing Buster Skrine to go with former San Diego Chargers safety Marcus Gilchrist. If nothing else, they’ve added three unique skillsets, all potentially capable of matching up with the various styles of wide receivers and tight ends featured around the league.

The addition of Brandon Marshall for a late round pick could prove to be a shrewd move as the big-bodied receiver brings a physical, intermediate threat to what is now becoming a well-rounded group of receivers and tight ends. Marshall joins WRs Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley as well as second-year TE Jace Amaro to form a suddenly attractive group for either Geno Smith or new addition Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick played better than most gave him credit for last year, but as always, inconsistency has plagued him throughout his career.

On the offensive line, the moves are less inspiring as the Jets bring back guard Willie Colon (-16.3 in 2014) and former Seattle Seahawks guard James Carpenter (6.6 in 2014).

New England Patriots

FA-Recap-mccourtyKey Losses:
DT Vince Wilfork
OLB Akeem Ayers
CB Darrelle Revis
CB Brandon Browner
RB Shane Vereen

Key Re-Signings:
FS Devin McCourty
DT Sealver Siliga
DT Alan Branch
K Stephen Gostkowski

Key Additions:
DE Jabaal Sheard
RB Travaris Cadet
CB Chimdi Chekwa
CB Bradley Fletcher
TE Scott Chandler
WR Brandon Gibson

Losing Darrelle Revis is a major story for the Patriots as the All Pro corner was essential to their defensive scheme that was able to match up with any passing offense in the league. Revis’ ability to take one receiver out of the game with little safety help will be missed. Throw in the loss of CB Brandon Browner who matched up well with bigger, physical wide receivers and the Patriots lose a lot of versatility in their secondary.

The re-signing of FS Devin McCourty will ease some of the burden of losing Revis and Browner as his ability to play a mistake-free center field is a valuable commodity in the NFL. The recent signings of Chimdi Chekwa and Bradley Fletcher won’t make anyone forget about Revis any time soon, but a “see what sticks” approach is their only option at his point as the two free agents join Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, and Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler, in a deep competition at the position.

Up front, the Patriots lose mainstay Vince Wilfork and his run stopping ability will be missed though it can likely be replaced by DT Sealver Siliga (+4.1 run defense in 2014). The addition of DE Jabaal Sheard (+8.2 overall in 2014) should provide some much needed depth on the edge for every down players Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.

On offense, TE Scott Chandler adds another big-bodied receiving option to complement Rob Gronkowski while the loss of RB Shane Vereen (+2.6 receiving) will hurt some of the passing offense’s versatility, though Travaris Cadet is expected to compete for his vacated role.


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| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • corners

    Isn’t it premature to call Clay a Bill because he was transition tagged? Im sure the phins wont match because of the 20+ guaranteed the first 2 years, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    • davathon

      It’s official now. What a ridiculous contract. Charles Clay, who is averaging less than 500 yards per year receiving, will be the highest paid TE in the NFL for the next two years. Clay might be the most overpaid player in the NFL (or at least a close second behind Jay Cutler).

      • peebs78

        On average he isn’t close to being highest paid. Bills did that so Miami couldn’t possibly match the offer. Suh has a 23 Million dollar cap hit year 2. Still overpaid but not that bad a deal.

      • Tom

        Very easy to include his rookie year (where he barely played) when you are getting his average per-season. Look at his last 2 seasons coupled with his versatility and run blocking ability and you can see why the Bills paid him what they did. A slower Vernon Davis who will actually enjoys and can block.

  • dustinolinsr

    was about to say that too…4 more days or less and its official

  • davathon

    Jets, Bills, Dolphins all got better. Cheatriots got worse. Assuming the Cheatriots find a new, creative way to cheat (which is virtually guaranteed), they’ll still win the division. Brady’s got one or two more good years left before he gets traded.

  • http://nflbuddha.blogspot.ca/ Frank Cole

    This Cadet fellow is supposed to be good.