FA Recap: AFC South

With Free agency a week old, Gordon McGuinness runs down the losses and additions in the AFC South.

| 2 years ago

FA Recap: AFC South

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:

Houston Texans

FA-Recap-wilforkKey Losses:
WR Andre Johnson
LB Brooks Reed
S Kendrick Lewis
C Chris Myers
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

Key Re-Signings:
CB Kareem Jackson
OT Derek Newton
QB Ryan Mallett

Key Additions:
DI Vince Wilfork
QB Brian Hoyer
S Rahim Moore
WR Cecil Shorts

A team that wasn’t far away from playoff contention, the Houston Texans have seen plenty of changes to their expected starting line-up since free agency began, with new starters signed and long-term players jettisoned.

Keeping Kareem Jackson around was a smart move, despite his career yo-yoing in recent years in terms of his performance. He’s looked very good in covered in two of the past four years, and on his day is one of the better cornerbacks in the league. Likewise, Derek Newton, who had an impressive season as a run blocker in 2014, while quarterback Ryan Mallett will compete for the starting quarterback role.

He’s joined in that battle by fellow former Brady backup Brian Hoyer, who disappointed in Cleveland last year. Between them, Mallett has arguably more upside, but it’s not a position of strength on the roster right now. Signing Vince Wilfork made a lot of sense and, despite his advancing years, he’s still an upgrade on that defensive line. Rahim Moore is most remembered in Denver for all the wrong reasons in that 2012 playoff game, but he’s been a solid player for much of his career.

They have lost five starters from 2014, though, with Andre Johnson the most notable. Maybe it was the right time to let him go, but they’ll be hoping his signing in Indianapolis doesn’t come back to bite them. Brooks Reed had looked better in 2014, but on the balance of his career he doesn’t represent a significant loss, with the Texans hoping that they can finally see outside linebacker Jadaveon Clowney shine in 2014. Lewis is replaced by Moore so that one balances itself out, but they have yet to find a replacement for Chris Myers, who remains a free agent.

Perhaps the biggest loss will be at quarterback though, with Ryan Fitzpatrick doing a solid job for them in 2014. Trading him to the New York Jets, don’t be surprised if that’s a move they regret during the 2015 season.

Indianapolis Colts

FA-Recap-goreKey Losses:
C AQ Shipley
DI Cory Redding
S Laron Landry
S Sergio Brown
HB Trent Richardson
WR Reggie Wayne
WR Hakeem Nicks
DI Ricky Jean-Francois

Key Re-Signings:
S Mike Adams
G Joe Reitz
CB Darius Butler

Key Additions:
ED Trent Cole
WR Andre Johnson
DI Kendall Langford
HB Frank Gore
G Todd Herremans

They haven’t had much competition in the AFC South the past two seasons, but that didn’t stop the Colts from trying to strengthen their roster heading into 2015.

Going with age and experience, the additions of Trent Cole and Andre Johnson could be brilliant depending on how much either have left, while Frank Gore is better than what they had at the position a year ago too. Herremans struggled in Philadelphia last year, while Langford is a solid player who should see 500 or so snaps on that defensive line.

Given how well he played a year ago, bringing back safety Mike Adams was the obvious choice. He thrived in Indianapolis and, despite his growing age, was one of the best free safeties in the league in 2014. Darius Butler was solid in the regular season, but really impressed in the playoffs and will likely keep his place in the slot, while Joe Reitz fits as a backup at multiple spots on the offensive line.

They’ve lost their best center in Shipley, though he hasn’t had many opportunities, and losing two safeties will be a concern. Brown was the better of the two, and the fact that he’s joined a division rival in Jacksonville will double the blow. At wide receiver Wayne and Nicks struggled last year, while Trent Richardson’s time in Indianapolis looked to be coming to an end for a few months. It doesn’t help that they’ve lost two players on the defensive line, though, with both Redding and Jean-Francois still having something to offer.

Jacksonville Jaguars

FA-Recap-thomasKey Losses:
ED Red Bryant
WR Cecil Shorts
LB J.T. Thomas
LB Geno Hayes

Key Re-Signings:
ED Tyson Alualu

Key Additions:
DI Jared Odrick
OT Jermey Parnell
TE Julius Thomas
S Sergio Brown
LB Dan Skuta
CB Davon House

A roster that was always likely to have a high turnover this offseason, with a second year head coach and a disappointing record in 2014, the Jaguars have been as active as expected this free agency.

Alualu has struggled throughout his career, so his re-signing will hopefully be paired with some competition for him later in free agency or through the draft.

They have improved the roster, though, and have found six potential starters already. Tight end Julius Thomas is the jewel of the class, and gives a versatile target for young signal-caller Blake Bortles, but the signing of Parnell could be even more beneficial to him, especially if he can live up to the flashes we saw in Dallas in 2014. The secondary sees Davon House and Sergio Brown join, and you’d expect both to slot in as starters straight away, while Odrick and Skuta are solid additions to the defense.

Losing Bryant definitely hurts the run defense, but he failed to provide anything as a pass rusher, so they can balance this loss by adding someone who can get after the quarterback later in the offseason. You can split the difference at linebacker, with Thomas struggling in 2014 and coming in as an addition by subtraction, but Geno Hayes was a solid all-around player who they’ll miss if they don’t bring back.

Tennessee Titans

Key Losses:
FA-Recap-orakpoWR Nate Washington
WR Derek Hagan
C Chris Spencer
ED Quentin Groves
S George Wilson
S Bernard Pollard
QB Jake Locker
OT Michael Roos
OT Michael Oher

Key Re-Signings:
ED Derrick Morgan
P Brett Kern
K Ryan Succop
DI Karl Klug

Key Additions:
ED Brian Orakpo
S Da’Norris Searcy
CB Perrish Cox
WR Harry Douglas
TE Anthony Fasano

The Titans saw their one-time quarterback of the future, who was an unrestricted free agent, retire early in the process, so you always knew it was going to be a season of change in Tennessee.

Signing Derrick Morgan came as a bit of a surprise, especially after the signing of Orkapo, but he’s such a good pass rusher that it’s a smart move by them, while bringing back Karl Klug should make for some exciting pass-rushing opportunities on obvious passing downs. They kept hold of both their kicker and punter, with Kern an excellent signing given the lack of quality punters available this year.

Adding Orakpo gives them a potential dangerous duo on the edge, and gives them a good pair for new defensive co-ordinator Dick Le Beau, while Da’Norris Searcy is an upgrade at safety and Perrish Cox will see significant time at cornerback. Douglas and Fasano are bigger risks at wide receiver and tight end, with both coming off poor seasons, but they have played well in the past.

The biggest loss is the retirement of left tackle Michael Roos and, while Taylor Lewan showed flashes, they still have a need at offensive tackle with Michael Oher failing to work out after arriving in Tennessee last year. It looks like the right time to pass on George Wilson at safety, while Bernard Pollard has his limitations despite still being a solid player. Neither Groves, Spencer or Hagan had much success in 2014, and receiver Nate Washington saw his performance take a dip too.


Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon


| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • Jaguars28

    So right now our starters are:
    QB- B. Bortles
    RB- D. Robinson
    WR1- A. Robinson
    WR2- A. Hurns
    WR3- M. Lee
    TE- J. Thomas
    LT- L. Joeckel
    LG- Z. Beadles
    C- L. Bowanko
    RG- B. Linder
    RT- J. Parnell
    LE- J. Odrick
    DT2- R. Miller
    DT1- S. Marks
    RE- C. Clemons
    SLB- D. Skuta
    MLB- ?
    WLB- T. Smith
    CB1- D. McCray
    CB2- D. House
    CB3- A. Colvin
    SS- J. Cyprien
    FS- S. Brown

    Still some holes to fill, but we’re looking a lot better on both sides IMO, especially with the young guys getting some experience.

    • Chris

      I predict If healthy 7-9 or 8-8 for the jaguars

      • Jaguars28

        Let’s hope! 😉

      • bobrulz

        Only if Bortles takes a HUGE step forward.

  • ShameonMe

    I mean, it’s not like the Colts blew the Texans out last year (a 7 and a 5 point loss with Fitzy getting taken out). Saying they haven’t had much competition is kinda harsh

    • SportsNut

      undefeated in the division the last 2 years