The Verdict is in

How did teams fare in the first weeks of free agency?

by Jeffrey C. Lyons | @JeffreyCLyons | Jeff@3PSMag.com

***This article originally appeared in the March edition of Three Point Stance Magazine. To subscribe to the magazine visit https://3psmag.com/subscribe/ 

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Gained: WR Percy Harvin, QB Tyrod Taylor, FB Jerome Felton, DE/OLB Jerry Hughes (re-signed), WR Marcus Easley (re-signed), DT Jarius Wynn (re-signed), LeSean McCoy (trade)

Lost: SS Da’Norris Searcy, RB C.J. Spiller, TE Scott Chandler, TE Lee Smith, G Erik Pears, WR Stevie Johnson, LB Kiko Alonzo (trade)

Verdict: Rex Ryan knows he has a defense, but can he build that offense quick enough?  Signing McCoy definitely gives them a run game, but who will be slinging the rock?  Draft should be interesting and they could challenge New England for tops in the division.

Miami Dolphins

Gained: DT Ndamukong Suh, CB Brice McCain, OT Jason Fox (re-signed), TE Jordan Cameron, WR Kenny Stills (trade)

Lost: WR Brian Hartline, DT Jared Odrick, LB Jonathan Freeny, WR Brandon Gibson, G Shelley Smith, SS Jimmy Wilson, DT Randy Starks (cut), WR Mike Wallace (trade), LB Philip Wheeler (cut), LB Dannell Ellerbe (trade), Cortland Finnegan (retirement)

Verdict: Caught the biggest fish out there, but will that translate to a playoff berth?  Running back and secondary are still a need.  Not sold they did enough to pass the Patriots.

New York Jets

Gained: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Buster Skrine, G James Carpenter, G Willie Colon (re-signed), LB David Harris (re-signed), RB Bilal Powell (re-signed), LS Tanner Purdum (re-signed), QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (trade), WR Brandon Marshall (trade)

Lost: CB Phillip Adams, WR Percy Harvin (cut)

Verdict: The Jets seem to have a plan and they are focusing on offense.  Even with Fitzpatrick, quarterback is still an issue.  Will they take Mariota?  Still a rebuilding year.

New England Patriots

Gained: WR Kevin Dorsey, S Devin McCourty (re-signed) , LB Jabaal Sheard, TE Scott Chandler, LB Jonathan Freeny, WR Brandon Gibson, DT Alan Branch (re-signed), WR Brian Tyms (re-signed), DB Chimdi Chekwa, RB Travaris Cadet

Lost: CB Darrelle Revis, RB Shane Vereen, CB Brandon Browner, LB Akeem Ayers, DT Vince Wilfork

Verdict: The secondary will be without its 2 starting corners.  Trust in the hoodie?  Looks like Terrific Tom will need to put a ton of points up.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals

Gained: DE Michael Johnson, LB A.J. Hawk, OT Eric Winston (re-signed), CB Chris Lewis-Harris (re-signed), G Clint Boling (re-signed)

Lost: The Bengals held onto their own and brought Michael Johnson back.  This team will challenge for a playoff spot again, but will they ever win a playoff game?

Cleveland Browns

Gained: DT Randy Starks, CB Tramon Williams, WR Brian Hartline, QB Thad Lewis, DE John Hughes (re-signed), RB Shaun Draughn (re-signed), P Spencer Lanning (re-signed), C Ryan Seymour (re-signed), QB Josh McCown

Lost: CB Buster Skrine, QB Brian Hoyer, TE Jordan Cameron, LB Jabaal Sheard

Verdict: If Johnny Football falters, McCown will be there to stead him or take over.  Still need a wide receiver, tight end and secondary help.  If the quarterback position is solidified, this team has gotten better.

Baltimore Ravens

Gained: FS Kendrick Lewis, RB Justin Forsett (re-signed), DT Christo Bilukidi (re-signed) LS Morgan Cox (re-signed)

Lost: TE Owen Daniels, WR Torrey Smith, WR Jacoby Jones, LB Pernell McPhee, QB Tyrod Taylor, FS Darian Stewart, DT Haloti Ngata (trade)

Verdict: Looks like the Ravens are trying to get younger on the fly.  Key pieces are still in place with Suggs and Flacco, but based on Ozzie Newsome’s drafting record, you have to trust him.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Gained: RB DeAngelo Williams, TE Matt Spaeth (re-signed) LB Arthur Moats (re-signed)

Lost: LB Jason Worilds (retirement), CB Brice McCain

Verdict: Expect a defensive heavy draft for the Steelers, needs are linebacker and secondary.  No real changes to that offense, but Williams will give Bell a nice break, expect them to score, but give up a lot too.

AFC South 

Indianapolis Colts

Gained: WR Andre Johnson, RB Frank Gore, LB Trent Cole, G Todd Herremans, DT Kendall Langford, SS Mike Adams (re-signed)

Lost: FS Sergio Brown, OL A.Q. Shipley, DE Cory Redding, RB Trent Richardson

Verdict: The Colts have sold out and are all-in for 2015.  Adding Gore and Johnson upgrades the running game and gives Luck more weapons.  Miss the Super Bowl and expect a rebuild.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gained: TE Julius Thomas, DT Jared Odrick, FS Sergio Brown, OT Jermy Parnell, LB Dan Skuta, DE Tyson Alualu (re-signed)

Lost: CB Will Blackmon, WR Cecil Shorts, LB J.T. Thomas, DT Red Bryant (cut)

Verdict: One of the most active teams due to needs and cap space, they gave Bortles a relief valve to less the sack load.  Were players in the DeMarco Murray chase, but just couldn’t close.  They should be a .500 team with these moves.

Houston Texans

Gained: DT Vince Wilfork, WR Cecil Shorts, FS Rahim Moore, QB Brian Hoyer, CB Kareem Jackson (re-signed), QB Ryan Mallett (re-signed), OT Derek Newton (re-signed)

Lost: WR Andre Johnson (cut), LB Brooks Reed, QB Thad Lewis, FS Kendrick Lewis, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (trade), QB Case Keenum (trade)

Verdict: Gave Hoyer a great deal to fight Mallett for the job.  This team will need to find some weapons in the draft or else Watt may be playing wide receiver.

Tennessee Titans

Gained: TE Anthony Fasano, DE Brian Orakpo, SS Da’Norris Searcy, WR Harry Douglas, CB Perrish Cox, DE Derrick Morgan (re-signed), DE Karl Klug (re-signed), K Ryan Succop (re-signed), P Brett Kern (re-signed), LS Beau Brinkley (re-signed)

Lost: OT Michael Oher, QB Jake Locker (retired)

Verdict: Another team with quarterback issues.  Surprisingly they did not go after one in the trade market.  Locker leaving doesn’t hurt as much, since he was always injured.  While they stocked up on defense, no idea how they will score.  Lots of needs on offense.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Gained: TE Owen Daniels, FS Darian Stewart, TE Virgil Green (re-signed), G Shelley Smith, DT Vance Walker

Lost: TE Julius Thomas, G Orlando Franklin, FS Rahim Moore, DT Terrance Knighton

Verdict: One of teams that had to make the toughest decisions this offseason based on free agents and cap space.  Peyton Manning is still there, so they will win games, but no Free Agency splash like last year.

Kansas City Chiefs

Gained: WR Jeremy Maclin, SS Tyvon Branch, G Paul Fanaika, WR Jason Avant (re-signed), TE Richard Gordon (re-signed), DB Kelcie McCray (re-signed), SS Ron Parker (re-signed), OG Ben Grubbs (trade)

Lost: C Rodney Hudson, TE Anthony Fasano, S Kurt Coleman, DT Vance Walker, WR Dwayne Bowe (cut)

Verdict: This offense should be great.  Maclin will stretch the field and loosen the box for Charles.  With the high level of defense, this is the year the Chiefs pass the Broncos.

San Diego Chargers 

Gained: WR Stevie Johnson, G Orlando Franklin, WR Jacoby Jones, CB Brandon Flowers (re-signed), SS Jimmy Wilson

Lost: WR Eddie Royal, RB Ryan Mathews, CB Shareece Wright, LB Andrew Gachkar

Verdict: Not sure where they got better.  Will need help on offense in the draft.

Oakland Raiders

Gained: RB Trent Richardson, C Rodney Hudson, RB Roy Helu, LB Curtis Lofton, DT Dan Williams, LB Malcolm Smith, SS Nate Allen, QB Christian Ponder, CB James Dockery, TE Lee Smith

Lost: SS Tyvon Branch, DE LaMarr Woodley, RB Darren McFadden, DB Chimdi Chekwa

Verdict: Another team looking to make a splash, but all that happened were some minor ripples after getting spurned by almost everyone.  The Raiders still need to spend cash, so they may just scoop up the remaining market.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Gained: FB Jed Collins, OT Doug Free (re-signed), RB Darren McFadden, LB Jasper Brinkley, LB Andrew Gachkar, CB Corey White

Lost: RB DeMarco Murray, DT Henry Melton, LB Bruce Carter, LB Justin Durant, OT Jermy Parnell, WR Dwayne Harris

Verdict: Big quarterback contracts leave teams with tough decisions.  Murray had to go, but Dez stays (right move).  If Greg Hardy does join the Cowboys, the NFC East power will stay in Dallas.

Philadelphia Eagles

Gained: RB DeMarco Murray, RB Ryan Mathews, CB Byron Maxwell, CB Walter Thurmond, LB Brad Jones, QB Mark Sanchez (re-signed), LB Brandon Graham (re-signed), QB Sam Bradford (trade), LB Kiko Alonzo (trade)

Lost: WR Jeremy Maclin, LB Trent Cole, CB Cary Williams (cut), G Todd Herremans, SS Nate Allen, QB Nick Foles (trade), RB LeSean McCoy (trade)

Verdict: Sign the top running back and cornerback in free agency, but add an injury prone quarterback.  Did the Eagles improve or just go from a balanced team to a very good offensive team?

New York Giants

Gained: RB Shane Vereen, WR Dwayne Harris, LB J.T. Thomas, G John Jerry (re-signed), CB Chykie Brown (re-signed), LB Mark Herzlich (re-signed), FB Henry Hynoski (re-signed)

Lost: CB Walter Thurmond, SS Antrel Rolle

Verdict: This team is the definition of Football Hell.  They need upgrades, but do not have the cash to do it.  All will come down to drafting.

Washington Redskins

Gained: DT Stephen Paea, TE Niles Paul (re-signed), DT Terrance Knighton, CB Chris Culliver, CB Justin Rogers (re-signed), S Jeron Johnson, QB Colt McCoy (re-signed)

Lost: RB Roy Helu, WR Leonard Hankerson, DE Brian Orakpo

Verdict: The Redskins were bent on making that defense better.  Paea and Pot Roast should be an upgrade on the line, but losing the edge rush of Orakpo signals where they are going in the draft.

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Gained: LB Pernell McPhee, QB Jimmy Clausen (re-signed), SS Antrel Rolle, WR Eddie Royal

Lost: DT Stephen Paea, SS Chris Conte, WR Brandon Marshall (trade)

Verdict: Another team with cap room that couldn’t fill all their holes.  McPhee was the dream scenario addition for Vic Fangio’s new 3-4 defense, but still need help at defensive end and inside linebacker.  Marshall was addition by subtraction in removing him from the locker room.

Detroit Lions

Gained: DT Tyrunn Walker, LB Josh Bynes (re-signed) K Matt Prater (re-signed), DT Haloti Ngata (trade)

Lost: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Nick Fairley, FB Jed Collins, RB Reggie Bush

Verdict: Lost Suh and Fairley, add Ngata.  Short term stopgap for the defensive line, but should keep them in the running with the Packers for the division.

Green Bay Packers

Gained: OT Bryan Bulaga (re-signed), WR Randall Cobb (re-signed), QB Scott Tolzien (re-signed)

Lost: LB A.J. Hawk, LB Brad Jones, CB Tramon Williams, WR Kevin Dorsey

Verdict: The Packers draft well and keep their own stars.  No shock here.

Minnesota Vikings

GainedQB Shaun Hill, DT Tom Johnson (re-signed), G Joe Berger (re-signed), LS Cullen Loeffler (re-signed), WR Mike Wallace (trade)

Lost: FB Jerome Felton, LB Jasper Brinkley, QB Christian Ponder, QB Matt Cassel (trade), QB Christian Ponder, WR Greg Jennings (cut)

Verdict: Task for the Vikings was to get Teddy new weapons.  Mike Wallace is a step in the right direction.

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gained: DT Henry Melton, LB Bruce Carter, SS Chris Conte, CB Mike Jenkins (re-signed), SS Major Wright (re-signed)

Lost: DE Adrian Clayborn, DE Michael Johnson (cut), OT Anthony Collins (cut), S Dashon Goldson (cut), QB Josh McCown (cut)

Verdict: This is a full house cleaning.  The big signings from 2013 and 2014 are all pretty much gone.  Did reunite the bad safety combination of Conte and Wright, so that should be entertaining.

Atlanta Falcons

Gained: LB Brooks Reed, LB Justin Durant, DE Adrian Clayborn, DE O’Brien Schofield, WR Leonard Hankerson, CB Phillip Adams, OT Mike Person, FS Charles Godfrey (re-signed), RB Antone Smith (re-signed) WR Eric Weems (re-signed)

Lost: LB Sean Weatherspoon, WR Harry Douglas, DT Corey Peters

Verdict: No big splashes here, but the Falcons are being molded into the vision of Dan Quinn.  This may take a year before they make a splash.

Carolina Panthers

Gained: WR Ted Ginn, OT Michael Oher, S Kurt Coleman, DT Dwan Edwards (re-signed), TE Ed Dickson (re-signed)

Lost: RB DeAngelo Williams, CB James Dockery

Verdict: Ted Ginn is back!  Yeah, so this was a lame free agency for them.

New Orleans Saints

Gained: RB C.J. Spiller, CB Brandon Browner, RB Mark Ingram (re-signed), SS Jamarca Sanford (re-signed), LB Ramon Humber (re-signed), C Max Unger (trade), LB Dannell Ellerbe (trade)

Lost: LB Curtis Lofton, DT Tyrunn Walker, CB Corey White, RB Travaris Cadet, TE Jimmy Graham (trade), OG Ben Grubbs (trade), WR Kenny Stills (trade), LB Curtis Lofton (cut)

Verdict: The direction of the Saints has changed.  They were way over the cap and are making moves to get under, but also Sean Payton is signaling the team will be running the ball more.  Plus, they needed to fix that NFL worst defense, expected through the draft.  Gave up a lot to get a lot, but maybe they know something we all don’t?

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Gained: G Mike Iupati, LB Sean Weatherspoon, DE LaMarr Woodley, DT Corey Peters, LS Mike Leach (re-signed), C A.Q. Shipley, DE Cory Redding

Lost: DT Dan Williams, DT Darnell Dockett, WR Ted Ginn, G Paul Fanaika, CB Antonio Cromartie

Verdict: Protecting Carson Palmer was priorities 1 – 10, seems to be accomplished.

San Francisco 49ers

Gained: RB Reggie Bush, WR Torrey Smith, DT Darnell Dockett, CB Shareece Wright, G Erik Pears, QB Blaine Gabbert (re-signed), TE Garrett Celek (re-signed), CB Chris Cook (re-signed)

Lost: G Mike Iupati, RB Frank Gore, LB Dan Skuta, CB Chris Culliver, CB Perrish Cox, WR Stevie Johnson (cut), LB Patrick Willis (retired), LB Chris Borland (retired)

Verdict: Did Jim Harbaugh know this was coming?  Gore is old, but the retirements have hurt this team.  Kap has weapons now, but who will make plays on defense?

St. Louis Rams

Gained: LB Akeem Ayers, DT Nick Fairley, TE Lance Kendricks (re-signed), WR Kenny Britt (re-signed), QB Nick Foles (trade)

Lost: DT Kendall Langford, QB Shaun Hill, T Mike Person, QB Sam Bradford (trade)

Verdict: Adding Foles is a major coup and Fairley makes a strong defense even better.  Pressure will be on Jeff Fisher to lead them to the playoffs in a stacked division.

Seattle Seahawks 

Gained: CB Cary Williams, CB Will Blackmon, TE Anthony McCoy (re-signed), LB Mike Morgan (re-signed), TE Jimmy Graham (trade)

Lost: CB Byron Maxwell, G James Carpenter, LB Malcolm Smith, DE O’Brien Schofield, S Jeron Johnson, C Max Unger (trade)

Verdict: Adding Graham seems to be an overreaction to the Super Bowl, since losing Unger will allow teams to collapse the pocket quicker.  This move signals that it really is the Russell Wilson Show in Seattle.

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