2015 NFL Free Agency Diary

  • NFC South Free Agency Grades

    [xyz-ihs snippet="KevinHogan127"]

    The Carolina Panthers ran through the NFC South this past season, but there's a couple teams in the division who have improved their roster through free agency thus far.

    Let's take a look.

    Carolina Panthers 

    Grade: B-

    Key acquisitions - DL Paul Soliai, Brandon Boykin

    Key retentions - CB Josh Norman, FB Mike Tolbert and T Mike Remmers 

    Key losses - DE Jared Allen and WR Jerricho Cotchery

    After a historic (15-1) season, the Carolina Panthers fell short of the ultimate prize against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Although they weren't able to finish the deal, there was no need to overreact in free agency.

    Carolina's main priority was to retain Josh Norman, which they partially did by placing the franchise tag on the Pro Bowl corner. However, Norman is seeking a long-term deal, where he'd get paid roughly $16 million per season. In addition to Norman, the Panthers stole veteran defensive lineman Paul Soliai from rival Atlanta.

    "He's a solid run-defending big man, and at the same time he's a guy that can push the pocket and apply middle pressure on the quarterback," head coach Ron Rivera stated. "I also think his space-eating ability will allow our linebackers to run."

    Yes, Carolina let Jericho Cotchery walk, but with top receiver Kelvin Benjamin returning, it's safe to say Cotchery won't be missed.

    New Orleans Saints 

    Grade: C-

    Key acquisitions - TE Coby Fleener and LB James Laurinaitis

    Key retentions - T Tim Lelito and CB Kyle Wilson

    Key losses - WR Marques Colston, CB Brandon Browner, TE Ben Watson, RB Khiry Robinson and G Jahri Evans

    For a team that's been one of the worst defensive units in the NFL the past few seasons, New Orleans hasn't done anything significant to solve the issue. Sure, Brandon Browner didn't live up to expectations, but was it all his fault?

    The Saints pass rush was virtually non-existent, as they ranked near the bottom, totaling only 31 team sacks. 

    “We weren’t good enough overall as a defense; our front struggled,” Sean Payton said. “I asked the same question; this guy just won a Super Bowl in New (England). So obviously the pass rush — it’s that perfect storm. The surrounding parts for us weren’t as strong as they needed to be.”

    New Orleans has uncertainty on the other side of the ball now.

    Long-time fan favorite Marques Colston is gone, but the front office believes Brandon Coleman can fill that role, which has yet to be seen.

    Also, after having a career-year, tight end Benjamin Watson took his talents to Baltimore. The 35-year-old totaled 74 catches for 825 yards to go along with six touchdowns this past season.

    New Orleans has signed Coby Fleener to replace Watson.

    Atlanta Falcons 

    Grade - B +

    Key acquisitions - C Alex Mack, WR Mohamed Sanu and DE Derrick Shelby

    Key retentions - LB Paul Worrilow and DE Adrian Clayborn

    Key losses - DL Paul Soliai, G Chris Chester, OLB Kroy Biermann and OLB O'Brien Schofield

    Talent has never been the problem in Atlanta, but execution is a completely different story in the 'Dirty South'.

    Falcons fans have turned on three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan, however, he shouldn't be their biggest concern. Pass rush should be or should I say lack therof.

    Last season, Atlanta finished dead last in sacks with 19.

    The signing of defensive end Derrick Shelby should help in that department. In nine starts for the Miami Dolphins last season, Shelby totaled 3.5 sacks, while breaking up four passes.

    Nonetheless, the big signing for Atlanta was center Alex Mack.

    Atlanta's offensive line was already pretty good, but now it could be potentially great.

    General manager Thomas Dimitroff understands the magnitude of this addition.

    "We knew we needed to add an established presence along our offensive line," Dimitroff stressed. "Alex is a three-time pro bowler and is an ideal scheme fit for our offense. We understand the importance of solidifying the center position and we have been able to do that today. We are pleased to be able to add Alex to our roster and believe he will be an anchor to our line."

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

    Grade - B

    Key acquisitions - LB Robert Ayers, LB Daryl Smith, G J.R. Sweezy, CB Brent Grimes 

    Key retentions - RB Doug Martin

    Key loss - G Logan Mankins

    In the wake of Mankins retirement, Tampa Bay found his replacement in J.R. Sweezy. Now, Sweezy won't be able to completely replace the production of Mankins, but he's shown flashes of being a great run blocker at the very least. Having said that, Sweezy is too inconsistent.

    There was tons of chatter over whether or not Doug Martin would stay in Florida after his resurgence. Well, the speculation can end now after Martin agreed to an five-year, $35 million deal.

    For such a young promising team, Tampa Bay added veterans such as Robert Ayers, Daryl Smith and Brent Grimes, who should all have immediate impacts.
  • Patriots Add DT Terrance Knighton

    Ever since the New England Patriots traded away defensive end Chandler Jones, they are stocking up on defensive line depth.

    Their latest signing is former Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins defensive tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton.

    [embed]https://twitter.com/PGSports/status/715651674317201408[/embed]

    Knighton is a physical run-stuffer that tips the scales at roughly 360 pounds.  He's been a productive player everywhere he's been which makes it even more puzzling why the 29-year old is on his fourth NFL franchise.

    The deal is being reported as another one-year opportunity worth approximately $4.5 million.

    Perhaps New England is planning on playing a very heavy front as they have a loaded depth chart in the middle that includes 2015 starters Malcom Brown (2015 first-round pick) and Alan Branch at defensive tackle, and also have Chris Jones, former first round pick Dominique Easley, Frank Kearse, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and Joe Vellano.

    They still have defensive end Jabaal Sheard, who was a very productive player opposite Chandler Jones a season ago.

    New England always gets the benefit of the doubt when there doesn't seem to be an initial scheme fit, as head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia are the best in the business at creating new schemes and fitting their pieces in.

    It will be interesting to see what the Patriots have in store for opponents due to the extra heavy defensive line they're assembling.
  • NFC North Free Agency Grades

    It may be hard to believe, but the month of April is quickly approaching, which means the NFL Draft is right around the corner. With that being said, free agency has dramatically slowed down.

    The majority of the top players are already off the market.

    The NFC North division has experienced quite a bit of movement over the past couple of weeks, so it's time to see what grade each team in the division deserves in free agency thus far.

    Minnesota Vikings

    Grade - B 

    Key additions - G Alex Boone, OT Andre Smith and S Michael Griffin

    Key retentions - G Michael Harris, CB Terence Newman and S Andrew Sendejo

    Key loss - WR Mike Wallace 

    For the first time since 2009, the Minnesota Vikings won the NFC North. Unfortunately, their stay in the postseason was very short lived, as they fell short to the Seattle Seahawks.

    As they plan on taking the next step, Minnesota has made a concerted effort to improve their offensive line. This past season, the Vikings allowed 45 sacks, which tied for the eighth-most in the league.

    In an attempt to upgrade their front line, general manager Rick Spielman signed former San Francisco 49er Alex Boone to a four-year, $26.8 million deal. 

    “Alex has played left guard, played right guard, I know [new Vikings offensive line coach] Tony Sparano was out there a year with him in San Francisco,” Spielman stated. “We’ve monitored him throughout the years, and he brings not only a good football player but the type of mentality that Coach [Mike] Zimmer is trying to establish with our offensive line.”

    Minnesota didn't stop there.

    They also re-signed guard Michael Harris and obtained offensive tackle Andre Smith, who will add more quality depth upfront.

    Another position of concern has been safety and Minnesota potentially filled that after the acquisition of veteran Michael Griffin.

    “One thing I can tell you, from a defensive back standpoint, is [Zimmer] knows how to put guys in the right position to make plays and to let them continue to thrive in this league,” Griffin said. “Again, that played a big factor into coming here.”

    On the flip side, Minnesota still needs to find answers at wide receiver, especially after the departure of Mike Wallace. They ranked near the bottom in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

    Green Bay Packers 

    Grade - C - 

    Key additions - None

    Key retentions - OLB Nick Perry, K Mason Crosby and RB James Starks

    Key loss - CB Casey Howard

    The Green Bay Packers are one of the most stubborn franchises in sports history when it comes to free agency, but considering they're tied for the fourth most Super Bowl titles, can you really blame them?

    Throughout their proud history, Green Bay has never been known for making huge splashes and that's been more evident than ever during this year's free agency period.

    General manager Ted Thompson hasn't signed anyone outside of the organization and it doesn't look like he will.

    “Free agency is a long process,” head coach Mike McCarthy stressed. “It’s not over yet, hopefully we can add a guy or two. But I’ve always focused on our own guys. I’m always open to improving our football team from the outside, but the draft has always been our lifeline and that’s where the majority of our emphasis goes in the offseason. Just because we don’t sign anybody, we are active on free agents. Whether we sign them or we don’t is a different matter.”

    Having said that, it's not as if Green Bay is far off from winning a fifth Super Bowl.

    First of all, whenever you have Aaron Rodgers under center, you always have a punchers chance and their defense performed better than many expected last season, allowing only 20.2 points per game, which placed them in the top half of the league.

    With majority of their team returning, Green Bay will be a force to be reckoned with and don't forget Pro Bowl wide receiver Jordy Nelson will be back.

    Detroit Lions 

    Grade - C

    Key additions - WR Marvin Jones , S Tavon Wilson and CB Johnson Bademosi

    Key retentions - OLB Tahir Whitehead and DT Haloti Ngata 

    Key losses - WR Calvin Johnson, CB Rashean Mathis and S Isa Abdul-Quddus

    We've seen numerous of players decide to hang up the cleats recently, but no other team has had to endure two retirements this off-season like Detroit has.

    Calvin Johnson and Rashean Mathis have both decided to call it quits, which has left Detroit scrambling to recover.

    Clearly no one can 'replace' Megatron, but Detroit did the best they could by signing former Bengals receiver Marvin Jones.

    Jones totaled career highs in catches (65) and receiving yards (816) this past season.

    Furthermore, the pickup of Tavon Wilson is one of the best under the radar signings this off-season. Wilson experienced limited playing time in a crowded New England secondary, but when he was given the opportunity, he performed well. In 69 targets, Wilson gathered five interceptions and defended five passes.

    Chicago Bears 

    Grade - A -

    Key additions - ILB Jerrell Freeman, ILB Danny Trevathan, T Bobby Massie and DE Akiem Hicks

    Key retentions - WR Alshon Jeffrey, TE Zach Miller and CB Tracy Porter

    Key losses - RB Matt Forte and TE Martellus Bennett

    You'll be hard pressed to find a team who's had a more successful free agent period than Chicago. Sure, they lost franchise favorite Matt Forte, but to be quite frank, running backs are expendable in today's pass happy NFL.

    Ever since Brian Urlacher decided to hang 'em up, Chicago has been severely hurting at linebacker, but they addressed the position in a major way after signing both Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. 

    “I think the staff — with coach [John] Fox and Fangio [made the Bears attractive]. I just liked the surrounding,” Freeman expressed. “I know a couple of players that’s played for them before and they spoke highly of them. And also who I get to play with. You’ve got Trevathan right beside me, that d-line and the linebackers. It’s definitely a good situation.”

    Chicago's defense was less than stellar last season, so it was important for them to upgrade on that side of the ball and with Forte gone, it was essential for them to re-sign guys like Alshon Jeffrey and Zach Miller to keep their offense afloat moving forward.
  • Top Available NFL Free Agents

    Now that the first two weeks of free agency are through, the free agency pickings are slim.  We're going to look at the best available free agents left on the market.

    1. Nick Fairley, DT, L.A. Rams-

    2. Greg Hardy, DE, Dallas Cowboys-

    3. Aldon Smith, DE, Oakland Raiders-

    4. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

    5. Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati Bengals

    6. Jared Cook, TE, Los Angeles Rams

    7. Terrance Knighton, DT, Washington Redskins

    8. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets

    9. Mike DeVito, DT, Kansas City Chiefs

    10. Reggie Nelson, S, Cincinnati Bengals

    11. Louis Vasquez, OG, Denver Broncos

    12. Jahri Evans, OG, New Orleans Saints

    13. William Beatty, OT, New York Giants

    14.  Jason Jones, DE, Detroit Lions

    15.  Antonio Cromartie, CB, New York Jets

    16.  Geoff Schwartz, OG, New York Giants

    17.  William Moore, S, Atlanta Falcons

    18. Percy Harvin, WR, Buffalo Bills

    19. Manny Ramirez, OG, Detroit Lions

    20. Kroy Biermann, DE, Atlanta Falcons

    21. Brandon Boykin, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    22. Walter Thurmond, S, Philadelphia Eagles

    23. Jeremy Mincey, DE, Dallas Cowboys

    24. Vernon Davis, TE, Denver Broncos

    25. LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots

    26. Ted Larsen, OG, Arizona Cardinals

    27. Roman Harper, S, Carolina Panthers

    28. Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

    29. Owen Daniels, TE, Denver Broncos

    30. Stephen Wisniewski, C, Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Buccaneers Sign Former Jaguars Punter Bryan Anger

    With the need for a punter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed former Jacksonville Jaguars punter Bryan Anger.

    Anger has been the butt of many jokes since entering the league based on his draft status, as he was the highest drafted punter in over 15 years when Jaguars former general manager Gene Smith selected him with the 70th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

    That draft was the defining moment of Smith's GM career, as none of the players he selected made it to second contracts, he traded up to select Justin Blackmon, who is currently serving an indefinite suspension from the NFL and of course Anger, who was selected before Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

    Although Anger is certainly not worth where he was drafted, he's not a terrible punter.

    He wore out his welcome in Jacksonville because he was a symbol of the drafting of Gene Smith which set the team back years.

    Here are some of his career credentials courtesy of NFL Media:

    Anger spent his first four seasons (2012-15) with Jacksonville, playing in all 64 games, punting 360 times for 16,855 yards (46.8 avg.), with 113 punts inside the 20. His 46.8 career average stands as the second-highest mark in NFL history.

    One of the top punters in Jaguars history, Anger’s 46.8 gross average and 40.1 net average are each franchise records, while his 47.8 gross average and 40.8 net average in 2012 are each rookie records and stand as the top marks in a single season in team history. Since entering the league in 2012, Anger’s 46.8 gross average is the sixth-highest in the NFL, while his 113 punts inside the 20 are the sixth-most in the league during that span.

    A native of Camarillo, California, Anger played collegiately at California.
  • Best Under The Radar NFL Free Agent Signings

    With spring officially here, teams are starting to really buckle down on preparation for the NFL Draft. In the same breath, free agency has reached a standstill.

    The top remaining guys could sign somewhere tomorrow, next week or while I'm typing this sentence. However, there has been a strong wave of players receiving deals and while we already know about guys such as Malik Jackson, Brock Osweiler, Russell Okung and other top talents, let's take this time to look at the best underrated acquisitions.

    Sean Smith - After finishing the season with a promising (7-9) record, the Oakland Raiders have addressed their weaknesses. Offensively, we know this team has a plethora of talent from Derek Carr to Amari Cooper to Michael Crabtree, but the other side of the ball needs to catch up for Oakland to be considered legit contenders in the AFC.

    If an effort to improve defensively, Oakland has signed the likes of Bruce Irvin and Sean Smith.

    Smith may not be a true number one guy, but he's definitely someone who a lot of teams would love to have. This past season, the 28-year-old defended 12 passes and snatched down two interceptions.

    Considering his size and athleticism, Smith will prove to be a huge acquisition.

    Chase Daniel - Sure, Daniel will probably only be a backup, especially since Sam Bradford is still under contract. Nonetheless, the Eagles could release Bradford in 2017, but they would be taking a $9.5 million hit in dead money.

    Although Daniel has been nothing but a career backup, still the former Mizzou product has been under Doug Pederson for a few years now, who is the new head coach of the Eagles.

    For now, however, it's clear who Pederson wants under center.

    "Talking about the quarterback situation going forward, Sam Bradford is the No. 1, Chase Daniel is the No. 2, and we're working on the No. 3," Pederson stressed. "So I just want to put that out there right now going forward. We feel like - and I feel like as the head football coach of the Philadelphia Eagles - that we've really given ourselves a great opportunity at that position."

    While it's still likely Philly will draft a quarterback to groom under Bradford, don't rule out the possibility of Daniel getting an opportunity in the near future if Bradford doesn't meet expectations or if he gets injured again.

    Ladarius Green - In the wake of Heath Miller retiring, the Pittsburgh Steelers were in dire need of tight end depth. The only reason Green doesn't have the numbers you'll look for is because he hasn't played much. After all, he did have a guy named Antonio Gates to share targets with for four years.

    With that being said, Green delivered for the first four games when Gates was suspended for PED use. The 6-foot-6 pass catcher snatched down 19 catches for 224 yards to go along with two touchdowns during that timeframe.

    In Week 5, Pittsburgh traveled to San Diego and while Gates was returning, head coach Mike Tomlin mentioned Green in his assessment of their aerial attack.

    "His running mate, Ladarius Green, is a talented vertical threat-like tight end. He is an oversized wide receiver," Tomlin stated. "He is adept at getting up the field. He has logged a lot of quality reps here in the first four weeks of the season and he has built a nice rapport with Rivers."

    Now, Tomlin can have fun placing Green all over the field.

    Ryan Harris -  The Steelers weren't done with Green.

    Future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn't getting any younger, so protecting him becomes more of a priority as the years fly by, which is why they went out and signed former Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Harris.

    Harris was a major key in protecting Peyton Manning throughout Denver's run and he's looking to do similar things with Big Ben.

    “I see myself as a veteran offensive tackle with dozens of starts and a Super Bowl championship ring that can come in and provide both leadership and talent to an already talented and well-led organization,” Harris said.

    Although he wasn't all that sought after, Harris can man the right side opposite Al Villanueva and they should be able to keep the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback upright.
  • Best and Worst Fits in Free Agency

    [xyz-ihs snippet="TyvisPowell1"]

    We're only a week into free agency, but there's already been tons of movement across the league. Having said that, let's take this time to see who are the best and worst fits thus far.

    Best fits

    Travis Benjamin to Chargers - Considering the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position in Cleveland, it was best for Benjamin to take his talents elsewhere.

    Philip Rivers should be more than happy to have Benjamin aboard. This past season, San Diego ranked in the middle of the pack for yards per pass attempt (7.3).

    With the speed of Benjamin, he should surely help improve the Chargers aerial attack.

    “I compare myself to DeSean Jackson,” Benjamin stated. “Being able to stretch the field, catching the hitch and catching the slant --- his big-play ability to make 25-, 35- or 45-yard plays -- he’s a person I like to analyze because of his game."

    Lamar Miller in H-Town - After moving on from Arian Foster, the Houston Texans have decided to go younger with the acquisition of 24-year-old Lamar Miller.

    Houston ranked near the bottom in yards per carry with only an average of 3.7. During his four seasons in South Beach, Miller has averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

    Since no on truly knows how Brock Osweiler will turn out, it was vital for Houston to obtain a reliable back.

    Bruce Irvin to Oakland - If healthy, it's safe to say Oakland will be a major problem next season for opposing quarterbacks. After a promising (7-9) campaign, the Raiders will be looking to snap their 14-year postseason drought.

    Signing former Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin is definitely a move in the right direction.

    Irvin will provide another pass rusher, a guy to help in the run game and he's not a complete liability in space.

    Pairing Irvin up with Khalil Mack is just scary.

    Marvin Jones to the Motor City - In the wake of the unexpected retirement by Calvin Johnson, wide receiver instantly became a position of need.

    However, this wide receiver class is fairly weak to say the least, but Detroit was able to sign one of the best this class has to offer, in Marvin Jones.

    Jones played in all 16 games for Cincinnati last season, totaling 65 catches for 816 yards to go along with four touchdowns.

    Worst fits 

    Brock Osweiler in Houston - Now, let me be very clear.

    Can Osweiler be worse than Brian Hoyer?

    Sure he can, but it's highly unlikely. The better questions is, will Osweiler be the franchise quarterback the Texans have been searching for since forever?

    To be honest, no one truly knows this, but to give someone with so many question marks that kind of money is definitely a risk.

    Nonetheless, it was a risk Houston had to make.

    J.R. Sweezy in Tampa Bay - Anytime you're asked to replace a seven-time Pro Bowler like Logan Mankins, it's not going to be easy, which is what Sweezy is being asked to do.

    Sweezy is used to being put in tough spots, as he is a defensive lineman converted to offensive line.

    Now, after spending most of his time at right guard in Seattle, Sweezy will be asked to switch to left guard. 

    "Switching from D-line to O-line was enough," stressed Sweezy. "Being right-hand dominant, it was easier to start with the right. But now, after playing it for four years and finally understanding and being comfortable with the position, I feel fully comfortable in being able to play left."

    Sweezy may end up being the guy for the job, but when you're replacing someone like Mankins, it might've been a good idea to find someone more familiar with the position.
  • Broncos Sign OT Russell Okung: Time To Ground And Pound

    After having some of their highest profile free agents plucked like a small market Major League Baseball team, the Denver Broncos have begun to fight back as they inked former Seattle Seahawks first-round pick Russell Okung.

    Okung's deal is believed to be worth $53 million over five years which tells us quite a bit about what John Elway is planning.

    • First, the Okung signing means the end for former first-round pick Ryan Clady in Denver.  Clady's recent run of injuries forced Elway to sign Okung, and his $9.5 million salary in 2016 means that he will either be traded or released.  When healthy, Clady was a top-tier offensive tackle, but that hasn't been the case in a few years.

    • It's clear that Denver plans on running the football as a way of life on offense. The team's two biggest free agent additions were left tackle Okung and right tackle Donald Stephenson.  Add in the fact that the team matched the Dolphins offer on running back C.J. Anderson and their game plan is pretty transparent, even in the month of March.


    It certainly makes sense that the team would take a "Ground and Pound" approach, as the quarterback position is in flux to say the least.  Mark Sanchez (yes, that Mark Sanchez) is the projected starter and the available upgrade options are Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin, III.

    Why wouldn't you try and run the football, shorten games and hope what's left of your legendary defense can carry you?

    One other tip, Okung didn't have an agent so he potentially saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Will that become a trend?
  • Cardinals Re-Sign RB Chris Johnson

    Roughly six months ago when the Arizona Cardinals signed veteran running back Chris Johnson off the street, it wasn't noted as a particularly big deal among NFL circles.

    When he was inserted into the lineup, the veteran flourished as he averaged better than four yards per carry before his season ended prematurely with a broken leg.

    After visiting Miami, the former first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans is back in Arizona as he signed a one-year deal.

    [embed]https://twitter.com/ChrisJohnson28/status/710555270179586048?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[/embed]

    Johnson played in 11 games in 2015, running the ball 196 times for 814 yards with three touchdowns. He split time in the backfield with eventual stud rookie David Johnson and the often-injured Andre Ellington.

    The artist formerly known as CJ2K will back up David Johnson, who broke out after being forced into the bulk of the action.  Starting in just five games (after Chris Johnson was hurt), the rookie ran for 581 yards with eight touchdowns, making him a fantasy stud.

    “Me and David, we’re two different type of players,” Chris Johnson said. “David, he can go into the five-receiver sets and do a lot of those plays that B.A. likes to run. Even before I got hurt, the kind of situation that me and David had – I was doing a lot of the running and he would still come in and do a lot of the running and a lot of the pass plays. I think it’s something that could work.”

    Although the terms of the deal are unknown, having Chris to back up David is a nice insurance policy for a very explosive Cardinals offense.
  • AFC East Free Agency Grades

    [xyz-ihs snippet="TyvisPowell1"]

    "If you're not getting better, you're getting worse."

    We're through one week of free agency and there have been too many moves to count (that's why you should check out our Free Agency Diary).

    There are still some moves to make, but we're going to grade the teams on what they've done during the first week.

    Buffalo Bills: C+


    The Bills haven't signed anyone else's free agents and have lost defensive end Mario Williams (released) and linebacker Nigel Bradham.

    Why are they in the "C's"?

    They managed to preserve the key components of their offensive line by franchising left tackle Cordy Glenn and coming to terms with Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito on a three-year extension.  At this point, it's tough to imagine that the Bills are a better team than the one that finished 8-8 last year.

    Miami Dolphins: D


    The Dolphins managed to lose their best running back in Lamar Miller, who was only 24 years old, and their best pass rusher in Olivier Vernon.  The good news is that they had no idea how to use Miller so he won't be missed too much, until we look at his breakout season in Houston.

    Miami got older on the defensive line with Mario Williams, and traded for Byron Maxwell while releasing Brent Grimes.  It's hard to imagine that the team is better on defense.

    They tried to replace Miller with C.J. Anderson, who they signed to an offer sheet, but Denver matched and they're left with second-year back Jay Ajayi to carry the load.  Miami signed a pair of former Jacksonville offensive linemen in Sam Young and Jacques McClendon, as well as 31-year old Jermon Bushrod.

    The best move that the Dolphins made so far in free agency was re-signing backup quarterback Matt Moore.

    That isn't going to narrow the gap between the last-place Dolphins and anyone else in the division.

    New England Patriots: C-


    "The genius," Bill Belichick is probably receiving better grades from many who are lauding his frugal spending and shrewd trades.

    The truth of the matter is that the Patriots aren't any better today than they were last week, in fact they're worse.

    They dealt 26-year old Pro Bowl defensive end Chandler Jones, who led the team in sacks (12.5) last season.  They received solid compensation for him with a late second-round pick and offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, but Cooper is more of an unknown than a proven commodity.

    New England went out and signed Chris Long, but he hasn't made a big play in years, and is hardly a replacement for Jones.

    The team lost defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to the Chicago Bears, and that will certainly hurt their depth on the defensive line.

    Even with the trade for tight end Martellus Bennett and even with the likely signing of restricted free agent Chris Hogan, the Pats still don't have any speed on the outside.

    New York Jets: Incomplete


    The incomplete grade might seem like a cop-out, but the Jets free agency grade really depends on if they can retain quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the two sides appear to be at a stalemate.

    The good: New York upgraded at running back in the short term, as they signed the ultra-productive Matt Forte as well as Khiry Robinson for less money combined than former Jet Chris Ivory received from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team also managed to keep running back Bilal Powell, who will likely have a bigger role in 2016.

    They also managed to retain defensive end Muhammed Wilkerson via the franchise tag.

    The bad: The Jets lost Damon "Snacks" Harrison to the cross-town Giants.  It wasn't much of a surprise that Harrison left, as New York already has too much resources dedicated to that talented defensive line.  They will try to replace him with Steve McLendon, who is a solid veteran, but nowhere near the talent of Harrison.

    If the Jets bring back Fitzpatrick, they will get a solid B-minus grade.  If they lose him, we're looking at a D-minus.