Free Agency 2016

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.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.