2016 NFL Free Agency Diary

  • AFC East Free Agency Grades

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    "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.
  • Bears Trade TE Martellus Bennett To The Patriots

    ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the Chicago Bears have finally found a taker for troubled tight end Martellus Bennett, and it's none other than the New England Patriots.

    Bennett completed his third season in Chicago after arriving in 2013 as a free agent.  His last year as a Bear was his worst as he had just 53 receptions, for 439 yards, with three touchdowns.

    The emergence of journeyman tight end Zach Miller made Bennett more than expendable, as the Bears have been trying to trade the outspoken pass catcher for roughly 18 months.

    Bennett doesn't really fit in "The Patriot Way" as he's never been one to give PC non-answers and has always spoken his mind, just as his brother Michael does in Seattle with the Seahawks.

    Still, Bennett is a good pass catcher who should be a weapon for Tom Brady opposite Rob Gronkowski, the best tight end in football.

    The former Bears tight end is set to earn just over $5 million in 2016.

  • Report: Chris Long To Sign A One-Year Deal With Patriots

    On the day that the New England Patriots dealt defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals, they found his replacement in free agency.

    The Pats have reportedly inked free agent defensive end Chris Long to a one-year deal.

    Long was a former second-overall pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2008 and had just four sacks combined in the last two years after missing 14 games.  He was released shortly after the season ended along with linebacker James Laurenitis and tight end Jared Cook to clear cap space.

    New England is hoping that the soon-to-be 31-year old will find the proverbial fountain of youth from 2011-2012 where he combined for 24.5 sacks.

    If anyone expects Long to be as effective as Chandler Jones, who had 12.5 sacks last year, it's very unrealistic.  Long is more of a left end at this point in his career.

     

  • NFL Hot Seats Equate To Big Free Agency Spending

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    We've seen certain teams throw huge money at free agents during the first week of the league's new calendar year while we've seen the usual suspects- The Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers- pretty much stand pat.

    Sure, the best way to usually win in free agency is not to play the game, but not everyone has an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger under center.

    Three of the teams that we've seen "go crazy" with their free agent spending spree are the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants.

    Aside from not competing in the playoffs for 13 years, eight years and four years respectively, these teams have one other major thing in common.

    A general manager on the hot seat.

    As we know, desperate people will do desperate things and that is seemingly always the case in the NFL. Even if it means overpaying players to come to your team.

    "The nature of free agency is -- you're going to overpay," Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "You want a player? You're going to have to overpay to get him, and that's just the nature of the beast. There's a talent pool, and this year there's a large pool of money, especially in North Florida."

    The Jaguars put their best and final offer on the table for former Denver Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson, who was hardly a household name.  Now he can buy a household in any area he desires, thanks to his six-year, $90 million contract which includes $42 million of guaranteed money.

    The team also inked former Jets running back Chris Ivory to a five-year, $32 million contract to split time in the backfield with 2015 second-round pick T.J. Yeldon.

    Jacksonville followed suit by signing former Cleveland Browns safety Tashaun Gipson to a five-year, $35 million deal, and missed out on players such as Olivier Vernon and Robert Ayers, seeing them snub the team for cities with better nightlife in New York and Tampa.

    Although Caldwell can feel the heat in Jacksonville after a 12-36 record over the first three seasons of his tenure, the Jaguars certainly weren't the only ones spending.

    Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie has been at the helm since 2012, and the results have been bleak.  McKenzie is on his fourth head coach and the best season they've had was 2015's 7-9 campaign.

    Oakland began free agency by signing former Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele, then followed with former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, and former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith. Those three signings account for nearly $65 million in guaranteed money.

    "It's good to see people call us and not always have to beg," McKenzie said. "I think people can see what we're doing. I think our players, they're showing on the field, and players talk to each other. We had a handful of guys play in the Pro Bowl. It's a strong fraternity within the NFL. Guys interact."

    After Giants ownership fired head coach Tom Coughlin concluding the 2015, they spared the job of general manager Jerry Reese.  It's crystal clear that Reese needs to break the team's four-year playoff drought or else he's going to end up looking for work like his good friend Coughlin (who helped him get two Super Bowl rings).

    Reese had some decisions to make in free agency and broke the proverbial bank for former Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon.  He then re-signed Jason Pierre-Paul to a one-year deal worth approximately $10.5 million (bidding against himself) and added former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins and New York Jets defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison.

    Between the four players, the Giants are now committed to $114 million in new guaranteed money.

    "You can fill some holes in free agency, but you still have to draft the right way," Reese explained.

    Perhaps if Reese drafted better, they wouldn't have those holes to fill in free agency and he wouldn't have had to pledge nine-figures of Wellington Mara and Steve Tisch's money to saving his job.

    All three teams are being lauded as "winners" for their potentially frivolous spending, but we do know that at least half of the big money signings won't work out and the general managers who spent their owners' money on those players will be out of work.

    The only question will be which one or two will it be?  Or will it possibly all three?
  • Free Agency: Winners and Losers From Week One

    Teams were able to officially come to terms with free agents during the middle of last week and to say things have been moving fast would be a huge understatement. Most of the top free agents have already agreed to contracts, whether if it was their current team or elsewhere.

    As we dissect the first week of free agency, let's take a look at the winners and losers.

    Winners

    Oakland Raiders - Before free agency even began, if you looked at the Raiders roster, you saw a young team with only room to grow as an unit. They finished (7-9) this past season and while the future looks bright, after the signings of Bruce Irvin and Sean Smith, Oakland looks destined to make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.

    Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is loving the direction of his team moving forward.

    "It's good to see people call us and not always have to beg," McKenzie stated. "I think people can see what we're doing. I think our players, they're showing on the field, and players talk to each other. We had a handful of guys play in the Pro Bowl. It's a strong fraternity within the NFL. Guys interact."

    Kansas City Chiefs - Heading into free agency, no team had more in-house stuff to take care of than the Chiefs. For the most part, Kansas City has done a remarkable job of retaining their talent.

    General manager John Dorsey has re-signed the likes of Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Jaye Howard. Now, the aforementioned Sean Smith got away from Kansas City, as he signed with arch-rival Oakland.

    Sure, losing Smith stings a bit, but when you have a front seven as good as the Chiefs, your secondary doesn't necessarily have to be filled with Pro Bowlers.

    Houston Texans - Instead of holding onto their playoff berth as a sign of good things to come, Houston was honest with themselves from an offensive perspective, which is why they snatched up Lamar Miller and Brock Osweiler.

    The Texans decided to get younger in the backfield after cutting ties with Arian Foster, who will be turning 30 when the season rolls around.

    "The one thing you can't coach is speed," general manager Rick Smith stressed. "I don't want to say that's all he offers and all he brings to the table. He's a complete back."

    For as good as Miller is, the more important signing was Osweiler for various of reasons.

    First and foremost, it's a quarterbacks league, so in order to truly compete for a Super Bowl title, you need a signal caller capable of making the big throws when called upon.

    Having said that, the jury is still out on Osweiler because we haven't seen enough of him at this level to give a fair assessment, but at the same time, he can't be worse than Brian Hoyer, right?

    Losers

    Denver Broncos - The window of being a title contender in the NFL can close just as quick as it opens. A prime example of that would be the reigning Super Bowl champs. In the last four years, Denver has been to the Super Bowl twice, while winning the AFC West all four years.

    After losing the likes of Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Brock Osweiler and Peyton Manning to retirement, there's plenty of uncertainty in the 'Mile High City'.

    To be fair, it's still really early and with the way John Elway has managed to put together a contender over the years, it'll be foolish to doubt him. 

    “Everybody thinks free agency goes just those first two or three days, but it goes all the way until camp and we can find impact players later in free agency, just like you find guys down the board in the draft," Elway said.

    Cleveland Browns - You can look at week one of free agency for Cleveland in one or two ways.

    From one perspective, the Browns have refused to overpay for guys who've been apart of their losing teams, which made them expendable in their eyes. I.E. players such as Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Tashaun Gipson and Travis Benjamin.

    On the flip side, there's no way Cleveland is 'better' than they were before free agency. Also, after letting go of Johnny Manziel, the Browns are in the market for Colin Kaepernick.

    Whether or not Kaepernick is the solution at quarterback is unknown at this point and having that uncertainty at the most important position is cause for great concern.

    Miami Dolphins - Around this time last year, Miami was the talk of the league after making a huge splash with the signing of Ndamukong Suh.

    As we fast-forward to now, Miami has taken a more subtle approach to free agency thus far and to be frank,  the Dolphins are tight to the salary cap, so it's not out of the ordinary to see them not be big spenders.

    With that in mind, Miami elected to sign defensive end Mario Williams to a two-year contract worth $17 million. Sure, they didn't break the bank, but Williams is 31-years-old.

    Miami allowed young guys such as Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby to walk away.
  • Ravens Sign Former Chargers Safety Eric Weddle

    The Baltimore Ravens acquired the best available free agent safety left on the market as they came to terms with former San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle.

    The Baltimore secondary hasn't been the same since Ed Reed's departure and subsequent retirement and Weddle will give the team their best playmaker back there since Reed.

    Although the Ravens finished 8th in total defense last season, they were 24th in points allowed and Weddle's presence on the back end should help that considerably.

    Baltimore also finished tied for 30th in turnover margin, as they were a minus-14.  Weddle's ballhawking skills should improve upon that number as well, as they had just six interceptions in 2015, the lowest number in the NFL.

    Weddle is a three-time Pro Bowler and he has 19 interceptions in his career.

    The Chargers didn't tender the 31-year old an offer after the season, as there was some bad blood between he, his agent and the team.  San Diego signed veteran Dwight Lowery, formerly of Indianapolis to play free safety, and it's possible that they could select Florida State's Jalen Ramsey with the third-overall pick in April's Draft.

     

     
  • NFL AM: Chargers Quietly Winning In Free Agency

     

    Worst To First Chargers?


    After the San Diego Chargers 4-12 2015 campaign, everyone in the front office seemed to be on the hot seat.  Then owner Dean Spanos granted head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco questionable contract extensions, and it just might work out after all.

    Telesco's free agent class isn't getting the overwhelmingly positive publicity of the classes in New York, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, but it's possible that the Chargers may be the most improved team in the first week of free agency.

    On Sunday, San Diego inked former Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward to play opposite rising star Jason Verrett.

    Since this happened on a Sunday morning and Hayward isn't a huge name, it's not being treated like an overwhelmingly big deal.

    This was another great signing by the Chargers.

    The team also signed wide receiver Travis Benjamin (Cleveland Browns), nose tackle Brandon Mebane (Seattle Seahawks) and free safety Dwight Lowery (Indianapolis Colts), and retained tackle Joe Barksdale, tight end Antonio Gates, quarterback Kellen Clemens, defensive tackle Damion Square, wide receiver Dontrelle Inman and offensive lineman Kenny Wiggins.

    No blue chip types of players other than Gates, who is a few years past his prime.  Instead Telesco found great fits that didn't cost much and should make the team much better in 2016.

    San Diego's free agency period appears similar to the Washington Redskins' last year.  Washington finished 12-4 in 2014 then signed a bunch of second-tier free agents.  Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, safety Jeron Johnson, cornerback Chris Culliver, defensive ends Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean Francois, and they traded for safety Dashon Goldson.

    None of Washington's signings broke the proverbial bank and it helped result in an NFC East title.

    Could San Diego go worst to first in 2016?

    Why not?  They have the best quarterback in the division by far.  A first-round running back returning after his first full offseason.  They have a healthy Keenan Allen coming back alongside a legitimate deep speed threat in Travis Benjamin.  Defensively, Corey Liuget is one of the best 3-4 defensive ends in the NFL and the Chargers young corps of linebackers is as good as any.  Now that there is a legitimate cornerback opposite Jason Verrett, there's no telling how good this defense can be.

    Benjamin also will help with special teams as the Chargers had a league low 84 total punt return yards in 2015.  It was the lowest amount in the NFL since 1981.

    “Travis is explosive,” said Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy. “He’s a playmaker that brings a different dynamic to our team. He was highly productive last season and his speed will be an asset to our offense. We’re also excited for what he can do as a returner. His speed and overall athleticism will help us in both phases.”

    “He’s just so explosive,” echoed quarterback Philip Rivers. “We saw it when we played them (Cleveland) last year. He makes defenses look out because he can run by you in a hurry. He is very versatile and I think he will fit right in as another guy to spread the ball around to. His punt returns are awesome when you watch them, so he will bring a lot to our return game, too.”

    Armed with the third-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and a high pick in each proceeding round, don't be surprised if the Chargers are on top of the AFC West in this fall.

    Jets Have Leverage In Fitzpatrick Negotiations


    The New York Jets currently have Geno Smith, a man who had his jaw busted by a teammate prior to the start of the 2015 season, and second-year quarterback Bryce Petty as their only quarterbacks under contract.

    After leading the team to a 10-6 record, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was going to be welcomed back.

    After just about a week of free agency, it doesn't seem like very much of a done deal.

    The Jets and Fitzpatrick are reportedly not close to a new contract, and both sides have good reason to be sticklers on what they want.

    Fitzpatrick and his agent just witnessed Brock Osweiler, who's started all of seven games land a four-year, $72 million deal.  They also saw Kirk Cousins help lead the Redskins to nine wins and get franchised, which will pay him nearly $20 million in 2016, and the Eagles granted Sam Bradford a two-year, $36 million deal after a third-place finish.

    Sure, Fitz is 32 years old and not 25 and 27 like Osweiler and Cousins respectively, but he is a more accomplished player who led the Jets to the biggest increase in victories by any AFC team last year.  With the kind of money that's being thrown around to quarterbacks, it's no wonder that the Harvard graduate wants some tossed his way.

    From the Jets perspective, why should they pay Fitzpatrick nearly $20 million per year just because the Texans and Redskins were desperate?

    Fitzpatrick has played in as many playoff games as most of you who are reading this, and at 32 years old do we really think that there's about to be a renaissance in his career?

    The value of anything is what someone will pay for it.  With the quarterback market drying up quickly and each team outside of Denver already having a very good idea of who their starter is in 2016, why should New York bid against themselves for Fitzpatrick's services?

    If the Denver Broncos don't want to sign Fitzpatrick to be their starting quarterback, he has two options: take the Jets offer or become a backup for significantly less money this year.

    It appears that the Jets were smart in waiting things out, and now they have almost all the leverage.

    Cowboys, 49ers and Patriots Win Compensatory Lottery


    The NFL announced the compensatory picks for the 2016 NFL Draft, a total of 33 "extra" selections.  Compensatory picks are given to teams who lose free agents the season before so we can expect the 2017 compensatory lottery to be won by the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers.

    Dallas, San Francisco and New England lead the way with four bonus selections in April's NFL Draft.  As you may or may not know, compensatory picks can not be traded.




























































































































































































    Round Round Choice-Overall Selection Team
    3 33-95 Detroit
    3 34-96 New England
    3 35-97 Seattle
    3 36-98 Denver
    4 33-131 Green Bay
    4 34-132 Baltimore
    4 35-133 San Francisco
    4 36-134 Baltimore
    4 37-135 Dallas
    4 38-136 Denver
    4 39-137 Green Bay
    4 40-138 Cleveland
    4 41-139 Buffalo
    5 33-170 Arizona
    5 34-171 Seattle
    5 35-172 Cleveland
    5 36-173 Cleveland
    5 37-174 San Francisco
    5 38-175 San Diego
    6 33-208 New England
    6 34-209 Baltimore
    6 35-210 Detroit
    6 36-211 San Francisco
    6 37-212 Dallas
    6 38-213 San Francisco
    6 39-214 New England
    6 40-215 Seattle
    6 41-216 Dallas
    6 42-217 Dallas
    6 43-218 Buffalo
    6 44-219 Denver
    6 45-220 Pittsburgh
    6 46-221 New England

    2015 COMPENSATORY FREE AGENTS



































































































































































































    ARIZONA Lost Sam Acho, Antonio Cromartie, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler, Dan Williams
    Gained Mike Iupati, Corey Peters, Cory Redding, Sean Weatherspoon
    BALTIMORE Lost Owen Daniels, Pernell McPhee, Torrey Smith, Darian Stewart, Tyrod Taylor
    Gained Kendrick Lewis
    BUFFALO Lost Erik Pears, Da’Norris Searcy, Lee Smith, C.J. Spiller
    Gained Tyrod Taylor
    CLEVELAND Lost Miles Austin, Jordan Cameron, Brian Hoyer, Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, Buster Skrine
    Gained Rob Housler, Tramon Williams
    DALLAS Lost Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Dwayne Harris, Henry Melton, DeMarco Murray, Jermey Parnell, George Selvie
    Gained Andrew Gachkar, Greg Hardy, Darren McFadden
    DENVER Lost Orlando Franklin, Nate Irving, Terrance Knighton, Will Montgomery, Rahim Moore, Jacob Tamme, Julius Thomas
    Gained Owen Daniels, Darian Stewart
    DETROIT Lost Kellen Davis, Nick Fairley, Garrett Reynolds, Ndamukong Suh
    Gained Josh Wilson
    GREEN BAY Lost Davon House, Tramon Williams
    Gained
    NEW ENGLAND Lost Akeem Ayers, Brandon Browner, Jonathan Casillas, Darrelle Revis, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Vince Wilfork
    Gained Jabaal Sheard
    PITTSBURGH Lost Brice McCain
    Gained
    SAN DIEGO Lost Andrew Gachkar, Marcus Gilchrist, Ryan Mathews, Eddie Royal
    Gained Orlando Franklin, Patrick Robinson, Jimmy Wilson
    SAN FRANCISCO Lost Perrish Cox, Michael Crabtree, Chris Culliver, Frank Gore, Mike Iupati, Dan Skuta
    Gained Erik Pears, Torrey Smith
    SEATTLE Lost James Carpenter, Jeron Johnson, Byron Maxwell, O’Brien Schofield, Malcolm Smith
    Gained Ahtyba Rubin

    TEAMS WITH 2016 COMPENSATORY PICKS





























































    Dallas 4
    New England 4
    San Francisco 4
    Baltimore 3
    Cleveland 3
    Denver 3
    Seattle 3
    Buffalo 2
    Detroit 2
    Green Bay 2
    Arizona 1
    Pittsburgh 1
    San Diego 1
    TOTAL 33
  • Bears Sign Former Patriots DT Akiem Hicks

    The Chicago Bears continued their defensive makeover as they signed former New England Patriots defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to a two-year contract.

    [embed]https://twitter.com/BradBiggs/status/709199574808850433[/embed]

    Bears general manager Ryan Pace originally drafted Hicks in the third round in New Orleans back in 2012.

    Hicks will join linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman as three solid starters that were acquired by Pace during this past week.

    Chicago has some pieces in place to drastically improve on their 20th ranked scoring defense from a season ago. Eddie Goldman had a tremendous rookie season in 2015 and Pernell McPhee should improve in his second season in Chicago.  Kyle Fuller is a talented player in the secondary and the Bears will have the 11th overall pick in April's Draft.

    If the Bears can get a solid season out of quarterback Jay Cutler and if last year's first-round pick, wide receiver Kevin White can contribute, Chicago may be surprisingly competitive in 2016.

     
  • NFC Teams Who Must Hit In Free Agency

    As we continue our free agent coverage, let's take a look at teams in the NFC that can't afford to miss this off-season.

    San Francisco 49ers - It feels like the Jim Harbaugh era was a century ago. In reality, San Francisco was just in the NFC Championship Game three years ago, while playing in the Super Bowl the previous season.

    As we fast-forward, the 49ers arguably have the least talented roster in the entire league.

    With so many holes, you'd think general manager Trent Baalke would be actively seeking ways to improve their talent pool, but that's been far from the truth thus far.

    Sure, the Niners signed former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, but that isn't going to sell tickets in the Bay Area.

    The past two years have been awful for this prideful franchise, as they've went (13-19) during that timeframe. In order for this franchise to get back to where it's suppose to be, they first must figure out who's the main man under center.

    Considering Chip Kelly's ego and up-tempo system, it'll be interesting to see if he believes he can fix Colin Kaepernick or if he will be traded.

    Los Angeles Rams -  For a team that's been the definition of 'average' in recent years, it's surprising to see them so quiet during the free agency period thus far. Just like many other teams, the primary area of concern comes at quarterback.

    Currently, the Rams are waiting to see if any teams have interest in Case Keenum and Nick Foles.

    If the Rams decide neither guy is the answer under center, don't be surprised to see them make a serious push at Robert Griffin III.

    Whoever ends up tossing the ball around the lot in LA, they'll need some legit pass catchers to make it work.

    Seattle Seahawks - Over the past few years, we've grown accustomed to seeing the Seahawks compete for a Super Bowl title and while they still made the playoffs this past season, it just didn't feel the same this time around.

    As I say that, the Seahawks finished first in fewest points allowed  (17.3), which makes you wonder where things went sour because Russell Wilson had the best season of his young career.

    Nonetheless, Seattle seems poised to make another deep run next year, but re-signing left tackle Russell Okung is absolutely vital for this ball club or finding a worthwhile replacement.

    Detroit Lions - It's hard not to feel bad for Lions fans.

    After experiencing Barry Sanders retire in his prime, six-time Pro Bowler Calvin Johnson has done the same exact thing.

    Left in dire need of a receiver, Detroit went out and reached a deal with Marvin Jones, who was highly considered as the top free agent prospect at his position. Upon the signing, people are going to naturally wonder if Jones can replace 'Megatron', but the 25-year-old knows that's not happening.

    “That’s the thing everybody should know,” Jones stated. “I’m not coming here trying to replace Calvin Johnson. You’re not going to replace Calvin Johnson. He’s definitely one of a kind and you probably won’t see anybody like him."

    The signing of Jones won't even matter if they're unable to protect Matthew Stafford. Detroit has allowed 89 sacks the past two seasons, which is why they're targeting Okung.

    Minnesota Vikings - As free agency begins to heat up, Minnesota is an interesting team to follow for obvious reasons. Despite being one and done in postseason play this past season, the Vikings aren't far off from being legitimate contenders in the NFC.

    From a defensive standpoint, Mike Zimmer's squad is ready, but the other side of the ball is where the problems lie. In the regular season, Teddy Bridgewater and company finished 29th in total offense.

    Adrian Peterson was Adrian Peterson.

    However, the aerial attack was nothing to brag about, as Minnesota finished only ahead of the Rams in passing offense.

    With that being said, don't expect general manager Rick Spielman to break the bank.

    “Are we going to spend big money on free agents? Absolutely not,” Spielman stressed. “But if there are guys out there looking to come in and compete on a very good football team, we’re always going to welcome them to come in and compete.”

    While that's fine and dandy, in order for Minnesota to reach the next level, they must surround Bridgewater with some playmakers on the perimeter.

    New Orleans Saints - Unlike Minnesota, the Saints issues come on the defensive side of the ball. With very limited cap space, it was a bit of a shocker to see New Orleans sign tight end Coby Fleener to a five-year deal worth $36 million.

    Now, this is nothing against Fleener and his ability, but considering the Saints have much bigger needs defensively, it doesn't quite make sense.

    This past season, New Orleans yielded the league's top passing attack, while having the 31st ranked defensive unit.

    Drew Brees, 37, isn't getting any younger, so it's essential for New Orleans to take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts because after Brees is gone, the Saints will most likely go back to being irrelevant for a while.

    Dallas Cowboys - The window to compete for a title is so small in the NFL and the Cowboys window just seems to get smaller by the year.

    Obviously, last season was very unfortunate as Tony Romo missed 12 games and top receiver Dez Bryant missed a healthy chunk of the season as well.

    While it'll be nice to believe Romo will remain healthy, it's something you can't assume if you're Jerry Jones, which is why he must sign a capable backup quarterback.

    Also, Dallas needs some pass rush help, especially with the unpredictable futures of Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory.

    It's now or never for Dallas.

    Philadelphia Eagles - Of course this team had to make the list.

    Following the Chip Kelly debacle, the Eagles have made a concerted effort to remove everyone associated with him except for Sam Bradford.

    The Eagles have already signed several players such as offensive lineman Brandon Brooks, safety Rodney McLeod, linebacker Nigel Bradham, quarterback Chase Daniel and cornerback Ron Brooks.

    To be quite frank, no matter what happens this off-season, the Eagles won't be looked at as contenders in the NFC, but fortunately for them, they're in the NFC East, which doesn't have a true favorite.

    This team has plenty of holes that won't all be able to be filled during free agency. However, at this point, it's all about creating small victories that will hopefully turn out to be bigger victories over time.
  • Colts Sign QB Scott Tolzien

    The search for Andrew Luck's backup is over as the Indianapolis Colts agreed to terms with former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Scott Tolzien.

    Tolzien is the epitome of a professional backup quarterback.  He is a solid leader, will help the starter, has a very high football IQ, and not talented enough to threaten any legitimate starter.

    The Colts hope they won't be seeing much of Tolzien in the huddle after preseason ends, but with Andrew Luck missing half of 2015, anything is possible.

    The Packers will now promote 2015 fifth round draft pick Brett Hundley to the backup job behind the great and mostly durable Aaron Rodgers.