Unlike most years, this year didn't have a clear cut superstar that had teams gearing up for a bidding war-but that didn't lessen the amount of drama that would come on Free Agency Day One in the least. The biggest shocker, and longest running storyline, came out of Denver. With Monday's official announcement that Peyton Manning would be retiring, the plan had always been for Brock Osweiler to lead the Defending Super Bowl Champs into the future. But someone forgot to confirm that with him. Osweiler would instead head off to The Houston Texans, who signed him to a 4 Year - $72 Million Dollar Contract. So in the space of two days, The Denver Broncos suddenly found themselves without a quarterback. Then, as if they didn't lose enough blood there, the loss of their young superstar Defensive lIneman Malik Jackson will hurt for at least the next four or five years. Denver also lost Linebacker Danny Trevathan to The Chicago Bears & potentially could lose Running Back C.J. Anderson to Miami. It is pretty safe to say that The Broncos will NOT be back in The Big Game next year. Any move they make now will come from the standpoint of desperation-which can never be good.
To the exact opposite, The New York Giants & Miami Dolphins made several Blockbuster Level Moves to improve their chances of getting back onto the winning side of things. The Giants really weren't good on either side of the ball last year; but their defense was just plain bad. Knowing this, they added truly Blue-Chip Talent at DeFefensive Tackle, Defensive End and Cornerback. Some will question the amount of money they handed out in just one day; but adding former Rams Cornerback Janoris Jenkins ($12.5 million per year), former Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison ($9.25 million per year), And former Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon ($17 million per year) could definitely pay off in the end. They also re-signed Defensive End Jason Pierre Paul to a one year deal. Other than re-structuring Victor Cruz's contract, there haven't been any notable moves on an offensive that needs help-but perhaps they plan on addressing that in the NFL Draft. The Miami Dolphins addressed some defensive needs by completing a trade, with The Philadelphia Eagles, that brought them Cornerback Byron Maxwell and Linebacker Kiko Alonso. They also signed Defensive End Mario Williams to a two year deal worth $17 Million. The latter deal leaves some with questioning the logic choosing 31 Year Old Mario Williams over 25 Year Old Olivier Vernon (not to mention they also lost 24 Year Old Running Back Lamar Miller & will likely ask Cameron Wake to take a pay cut). Much like The Giants, The Dolphins still have multiple holes still needing to be filled on the offensive end of things.
Both The Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars showed signs that the future may be BRIGHT for them in the coming years, and BOTH made moves this week that may just accelerate that growth even more. The Raiders added former Ravens Guard Kelechi Osemele, former Seahawks Linebacker Bruce Irvin, and former Chiefs Corner Sean Smith to help push them ahead in a division that they can now realistically win. Just the Pass-Rushing Pairing of Irvin with Khalil Mack alone should be pretty damn exciting!! The Jags added the previously mentioned Defensive End Malik Jackson, bruising Running Back Chris Ivory, former Cleveland Safety Tashaun Gipson, and former Giants Cornerback Prince Amukamara to their squad. Staying The AFC South, The Houston Texans added the previously mentioned Osweiler & Running Back Lamar Miller & The Tennessee Titans got a glimpse of hope, not seen in quite some time, when they traded for former Cowboys/Eagles Running Back DeMarco Murray.
Other notable moves include:
- Matt Forte signed on to replace Chris Ivory with the New York Jets.
- The Atlanta Falcons added All-Pro former Cleveland Browns Center Alex Mack & former Bengals Wide Receiver Mohammad Sanu (signed to help replace long-time star receiver Roddy White).
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers safely re-signed Pro Bowl Back Doug Martin-while also adding former Miami Corner Brent Grimes & former Giants defensive end Robert Ayers.
- Where will RGIII, Ryan Fitzpatrick & Colin Kaepernick play this year?
- With veterans like James Laurinaitis, LeGarrette Blount, Alfred Morris, Rashad Johnson, Eric Weddle, and Russell Okung out there, which teams will add that much-needed piece that might put them in line for a trip to next year's Super Bowl??? It's never too early to get excited about football!!!