Image Credit: (Denny Medley/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
Now I know that a majority of moves made in Free Agency occurred during the first week, but I normally wait around a week before the draft to fully analyze each team's moves during free agency. Now that it has been almost a month before free agency began let's take a look at what every AFC Team did during free agency by starting in the AFC West.
Kansas City Chiefs
Let's start with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, who have yet again showcased that they are the new dynasty of the NFL with their success.However they have gone through the Superbowl Tax in losing a lot of players and the core wanting extensions. So a lot of players are not coming back including DE/EDGE Frank Clark, DE/EDGE Carlos Dunlap, DT Derrick Nnadi, DT Kalen Sanders, S Juan Thornhill, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Mercole Hardman, RB Jerrick McKinnon, RB Ronald Jones (Although he had requested to be released/traded), OT Andrew Wylie, and OT Orlando Brown. Heck they even lost backup QB Chad Henne who chose to hang it up as well.
That is a lot of players that were lost, but the big one was losing both Orlando Brown Jr and Andrew Wylie as both are tackles. Well, the Chiefs got a replacement in signing Jawaan Taylor. The contract though is definitely an overpayment as Taylor is getting 20 million dollars per year.
Look, I like Taylor and as the Jags are my number 2 team, I am going to miss him, but the Chiefs overpaid him by 8 million dollars per year. Besides the DE/EDGE Charles Omenihu contract, the Chiefs did not do too much in free agency. I mean they signed depth pieces in WR Richie James, S Mike Edwards, and LB Drue Tranquill. It seems to me the Chiefs are going to try and fix the losses they had through the draft. I would not worry as long as Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are playing. I think it is safe to say that they will be back here.
Los Angeles Chargers
With how the Chargers season ended last season, it was such an embarrassment for the franchise. They blew a 27-0 lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the playoffs. Many wonder where they go from here and all were left wondering is, Why in the world is Brandon Staley still the head coach of the Chargers? The fact he was not immediately fired just makes no sense at all.
What also does not make sense is how silent the Chargers have been this free agency. They have mainly been silent this offseason. The only player they brought in is LB Eric Kendricks who is the replacement for Drue Tranquill. It seems like there focus was on trying to lock QB Justin Herbert to a long term contract
Which I understand as you're going to need to lock him up now, before Burrow or Jackson gets their deals done. Hurts already got locked into an extension recently as well, so they got to get this done
There is unfortunately more bad news too, as Austin Ekeler apparently wants out and has demanded a trade. When he says that the worst case scenario is playing for the Chargers, you know the relationship between the two is not great.
If I am the Chargers, you're probably going to want to trade him with how running backs depreciate with value. Along with how contract negotiations are not turning out great, he may be a candidate for either a draft day trade or holding out during Training Camp.
Las Vegas Raiders
Ahh the Raiders, one of the most frustrating teams in the NFL today. With how much of a disappointment last season was, changes had to be made. Are they going to fire the incompetent head coach that has clearly not learned from his mistakes in Denver? Oh wait, never mind the Raiders apparently can’t financially afford to buy McDaniels out of his contract.
Which totally sucks because the main issue with this team last season was coaching. When you're out coached by a terrible colts squad with Jeff Saturday as the head coach, then that is a tremendous problem for a so-called offensive mastermind.
So, since they can’t part ways with McDaniels, what have they decided to do? Well, they double down. How you ask? Well, by copycatting the Patriots, because that went so well for previous organizations that did that.
First up was that they needed to upgrade at wide receiver. I like Hunter Renfrow, but he is clearly not a true number 1 receiver. So, they invested in two former Patriots in Jakobi Myers and Philip Dorsett. Myers is not a terrible receiver and knows the system, but 3 years for 33 Million is a bit of an overpayment.
The Raiders also decided to make a move by bringing in a new quarterback that also is a Patriots alumni. The man they brought in is Jimmy Garoppolo and to be honest at the contract he was signed to it was pretty reasonable. Well if he can stay healthy. Ehh who cares he knows McDaniels system and he will be perfect in our journey to copycat the Patriots. If he doesn’t work, let's bring in Brian Hoyer to back him up and he played for the Patriots last season, so he’s perfect.
Besides those three signings they did not really have a lot of major additions. They had to buy low by adding OG Nate Herbig, WR DeAndre Carter, TE Austin Hooper, and S Marcus Epps to the team.
In the journey to try and copycat the Patriots, the Raiders had to make the tough move saying goodbye to two notable players.
The first is TE Darren Waller who was traded to the New York Giants for a 3rd Round Pick. This one was not surprising as Waller has demanded a trade for a while now. In fact the Raiders should have traded him a year ago as they got high offers from both the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers.
Heck, Waller was originally going to be a part of the Davante Adams trade, but that deal fell through.
Next up is the departure of the best QB this franchise has had since Rich Gannon and his name is Derek Carr. We have known that this was coming, but the Raiders made it official by releasing him.
They tried trading him, but since Carr had a no trade clause the trades they had fell through. It is such a shame as Carr really deserved better as he never had a coach that had his back excluding Rich Bisaccia. The Raiders better know what they are doing here.
Well last season was such a ride for Broncos Country. A lot of people are pointing to getting rid of Russell Wilson, but that contract he is signed to is going to be super difficult to get out of unless they want to do an Osweiler Effect sort of move. In my defense for Wilson though it did not help that he had an incompetent head coach in Nathanial Hackett and one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Both have been heavily restructured.
In head coach they decided to get a big upgrade by hiring Sean Payton to coach in Denver. It is a big upgrade for them to acquire. They have to hope this works, not only with the gigantic contract they signed too, but they paid literal assets to get Payton, which is super worth it.
Like I said earlier the Broncos had to restructure the entire o-line and they did by blowing it up. Excluding OT Garrett Boles a lot of notable names were either cut or parted ways. Including OT Cameron Fleming, OG Dalton Rinser, OT Billy Turner, OG Tom Compton, OC/G Graham Glasgow, and OT Calvin Anderson. So who were they replaced with, well the best agents from the bunch. At tackle they signed Mike McGlinchey who was a phenomenal blocker in San Francisco. At guard they brought in Ben Powers who was an underrated part of that Ravens o-line. At center they went with Kyle Fuller who had a career year with the Seahawks.
I like what the Broncos are doing here and they even made solid additions as well. Bringing in Marquez Callaway and TE Chris Manhertz as nice depth pieces. Signing QB Jarrett Stidham to get intel on the Raiders and as an upgrade at backup QB. Signing Samaje Perine, Mike Burton and Tony Jones in the backfield are solid pieces. Even bringing in Zach Allen at defense was a good edition too.
I like what the Broncos are doing this offseason with the moves they made. However another big departure that can’t be ignored was in the executive branch, as John Elway's contract had apparently expired and both sides chose to part ways.
It is not a shock as he started stepping away from his role years ago, but now it is official that he has no association with the Broncos business wise anymore. While many are not big fans of Elway, you can’t ignore the impact he had in that organization and building that team to eventually win a superbowl. I just hope he does well in whatever he does next as Elway is a great person and businessman
I got to say last season was one of the best seasons this team has had since the Sacksonville days. With the entire division a mess they have a real opportunity to take this division over for the next few years. It would be best to build more, but they did that last offseason. So the Jaguars were mainly silent this time around. The Jags brought in depth pieces in RB D'Ernest Johnson and OT Josh Wells.
The only main goal they had to do was to extend S Andrew Wingard and the Jags did that successfully. At a pretty nice price, well done Baalke.
The more good news for the Jaguars was WR Calvin Ridley reinstatement from his Suspension for Gambling on football games. Which is great news and I am excited to see Ridley play.
Now they did lose notable names like OT Jawaan Taylor, DE/EDGE Arden Key, TE Dan Arnold, Dawuane Smoot, and CB Shaq Griffin. But due to the lack of funds they spent last offseason, the plan might be to fix these losses via the draft.
Well, the time has come for Titans fans. After last years collapse the Titans have come to a full realization. They have to blow it all up.
A lot of notable names are now gone. Including WR Robert Woods, TE Austin Hooper, OT Dennis Daley, OT Taylor Lewan, OG Nate Davis, C Ben Jones, C Corey Levin, DE/EDGE Bud Dupree, DT DeMarcus Walker, LB Zach Cunningham, LB David Long, S Andrew Adams, K Randy Bullock. It is a hard pill to swallow, but it had to be done. They were not going to win with the current core they had.
However there is a positive for the Titans. They extended DT Jeffery Simmons which was a must for the team to do. You can read more about Jeffery Simmons Extension where fellow Blitzalytics writer Joseph Yun went into detail on it.
The Titans did make additions though signing OT Andre Dillard, DE/EDGE Arden Key, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, and LB Azeez Al-Shaair
While it looks like the Titans are rebuilding I have to ask. If the Titans are really a rebuilding team, then why the hell is RB Derrick Henry, QB Ryan Tannehill and S Kevin Byard still here? If they were rebuilding all 3 would either be traded or cut. I get they are main pieces to the core, but if the Titans want to rebuild then all 3 have to get traded.
Especially Henry as since he is a running back his position depreciates with value. It is better to get some value for him now then Henry declines on the field. Same with Byard as he is going to be 30 in August. While he is a safety he could fetch a solid haul too.
The one player I am shocked is still here is Ryan Tannehill. Especially as he could not stay healthy last season and even when healthy Tannehill did not play well at all. The fact that he is not cut just stuns me as they could save 17.8 Million Dollars in cap space if they did it today. All I know is this, the Titans are not going to win with Tannehill as the QB and are going nowhere with him.
The Titans desperately need to find their franchise QB. From what it sounds like, it looks like
Malik Willis is not the guy either. Due to Malik Willis being super raw as a prospect and his multiple poor performances, he has fallen out of favor in Tennessee.
There is still a lot of work that the Titans have to do if they want to get anywhere near a playoff spot.
While last season was a tremendous disappointment, the way it ended made it all worth it with that loss to the Houston Texans. We all knew what the Colts were doing, making sure they got a higher pick and screwing with the Texans getting the 1st Pick. Pure geniusness. While I like how they handled the end of the season and blowing it up getting rid of older players, I really don’t like the signings they made this offseason.
The only signing I actually like a lot is the one they made at QB. It was clear that Matt Ryan’s career was pretty much done last season and it was sad watching Ryan play in what probably will be his last season. The Colts made the move to go after another QB. This quarterback might be the best one we have ever seen drafted in the 6th round of the NFL Draft. His name is Gardner Minshew. His contract is a pretty good one year deal.
While I like Minshew and think he is a serviceable QB, he will likely be the backup to whoever the Colts draft 4th Overall.
Like I said earlier the rest of the signings were not great. I mean maybe you can argue WR Isaiah Mckenzie, but he did not do much in Buffalo. Looking at the other 2 big signings are headscratchers.
The first one is Samson Ebukam, who is a solid rotational pass rushing player to bring in, but why the heck did you give a 3 year deal worth 27 million for him?
Definitely an overpayment for a guy strictly utilized as a rotational player. If it was me, I would have resigned Yannick Ngakoue as he would have been cheaper.
He is not the worst contract that was given, not even close. Now we get into kicker Matt Gay, now Gay is a great kicker and bringing him in on paper is a good idea. But at the contract is not a great one at all
Matt Gay was signed to the largest contract a kicker signed in NFL History. Now look I get the Colts have had kicking woes since Vinatieri retired and Gay is a good kicker, but there were much cheaper options on the marketplace for a rebuilding team.
There is still more work that needs to be done with this squad and I don’t feel they did much to help fix their team. At least they got rid of Stephon Gilmore’s contract via trade.
Well no matter how terrible a season can be, there is nowhere to go but up for the Texans. This offseason they made a ton of acquisitions
On offense they made a ton of additions. First is at running back as while they have promise with Dameon Pierce, they got a nice backup for him in Devin Singletary. Singletary never was a good fit with the Bills and maybe a change of scenery would potentially help his career. Worse for worse the Texans added depth pieces in Andrew Beck and Mike Boone. At QB they brought back Case Keenum to help guide the QB they will draft in the 2023 NFL Draft. At offensive line the Texans. Bringing in Robert Woods and Noah Brown is not bad to give whoever their QB is more receivers to work with. Signing TE Dalton Schultz was very surprising, but an upgrade over OJ Howard and Jordan Atkins. They even made the move to build the o-line by acquiring Shaq Mason via trade.
They even made the move to trade Brandon Cooks who is now free from Houston after many long months of requesting to be traded from the Texans. Cooks will now play for the Dallas Cowboys and the Texans will grow their draft capital. It still perplexes me that Cooks was not traded during the deadline, but I guess better late than never.
On defense they made additions. On the defensive line they brought in Hassan Ridgeway and Sheldon Rankins who should be solid run stoppers for the team. At linebacker they signed Corey Littleton and Denzel Perryman to the team. I would like the Perryman signing, but he just keeps getting injured all the time. At the secondary they made one major signing in Jimmie Ward who easily is their pest piece in that secondary.
Like I said, there is nowhere to go but up for the Texans. With the signings they made they should improve this season and at least get more than 3 wins.
The Buffalo Bills are such a talented team on paper and still are, but they took a massive step back last season. For this free agency they chose not to make flashy moves, but to focus buying low on players in free agency. Well if you ignore that Connor McGovern contract, which honestly is not the worst as he is an upgrade to a declining Rodger Saffold and Greg Van Roten
Buffalo had to improve their offense and another way they did that was at running back. It was clear Devin Singletary just was not a fit on this offense both in the short and long term, so the Bills decided to part ways with him and give a 1 year prove it deal to Damien Harris. Maybe Harris will be a better fit then Singletary was.
After those notable ones they got depth pieces in OG David Edwards, QB Kyle Allen, and even S Taylor Rapp. Heck, they even improved their special teams by signing Deonte Hardy.
I like what the Bills are doing yet again, but I have to ask. Who the heck is going to replace Tremaine Edmunds at linebacker? Edmunds departing has left a big hole at middle linebacker and I am shocked that the Bills have not done much to fill it. Maybe there looking at filling the need at the draft and they did not want to spend the money to replace Edmunds in free agency.
Well at least they were able to keep LB Matt Milano, S Jordan Poyer, and DT Jordan Philips for next season, that is a big plus for them.
The Miami Dolphins may have made the playoffs, there is still more work to do to get to a Super Bowl. They better do it fast with Tyreek Hill stating that he wants to retire in two years.
The offense was pretty good last season and would have been better if the team did not fail Tua Tagovailoa like they did last season. With Tua’s health issues, they decided to get a backup and some intel on the New York Jets by signing QB Mike White. That is not all as they got special teams help/depth at wide receiver by bringing in WR Braxton Berrios. Even brought in Chosen Anderson as well as a depth piece.
The focus this offseason was to improve the defense. Especially at secondary with CB Byron Jones suddenly retiring due to the amount of injuries derailing him. Which absolutely stinks as I was a fan of Jones.
So who will the Dolphins replace him with, well CB Jalen Ramsay. The Rams and Ramsay have had a poor relationship along with being in cap hell they had to part ways. Miami paid a solid price for Ramsey too in a 3rd rounder and TE Hunter Long which is a nice price to pay. Especially for a guy who might decline hard next season, but if Ramsay can stay healthy then there defense gets scarier. Heck they even added DeShon Elliot too to help bolster that secondary. Not bad Miami.
New England Patriots
With how the Patriots handled this offseason, I can confidently say that I have no idea what the Patriots game plan is. Then again this is the same team that had two hacks in Matt Patricia and Joe Judge running the offense when that is not their specialty. That choice may have long term damage. Why do you ask? Well apparently Bill Belichick and Mac Jones may not be on the best of terms right now.
It also does not help that the Patriots were also on the Lamar Jackson sweepstake, but the deal was never finalized. So, it looks like they are stuck with Jones for at least another year. If they want to make this work they have to support Jones. The key acquisition is signing WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. Look, I like JuJu and he seems like a nice guy, but a 3 year 33 million dollar contract is kind of pushing it for a WR 2 or3.
To be honest the only signing the Patriots made that i really like is with TE Mike Gesicki. A 1 year prove it deal is a nice contract. I feel Gesicki will be more utilized in New England then he was in Miami. He is certainly an upgrade over Jonnu Smith who was traded to the Atlanta Falcons for pennies on the dollar.
On other signings they went cheap bringing in OT Riley Reiff, RB James Robinson, and LB Chris Board.
The one thing I am intrigued with for the next few weeks with this team is, who the Patriots will bring in at safety with Devin McCourty retiring? That is a big loss with how much of a leader he was in the locker room and how he played on the field. No matter what though I trust Bill with his dark arts.
New York Jets
With how last season went with the Jets it is clear what needs to be done. They need to get a franchise QB. They were legit a QB away from playing in the playoffs. Now they desperately need a QB as like I said previously Zach Wilson is pretty much done here, Mike White tested free agency, and Joe Flacco has not been a good QB since he left Baltimore. So, who is the Jets target? Well if you have not gone in a lengthy darkness retreat, then it is obvious that the Jets want Aaron Rodgers. The best part is that Rodgers wants to come and play as a Jet.
However the trade has not happened yet. It likely will happen as the Packers will have to pay a ton if they keep Rodgers on I believe it is June, but when the Jets GM legit comes out saying he is coming here, if he does not, then Joe Douglas loses trust with the fanbase. He does not want that when he and Saleh are on the hot seat if the Jets don’t make the playoffs. Also yes I know they also signed Tim Boyle, but he is more of a camp arm for the Jets.
With Aaron Rodgers coming here the Jets are going to have to surround him with weapons. Well there are two names the Jets brought in to help with that. The first one is WR Mercole Hardman who was signed at a nice deal. Who wasn’t signed to a nice deal Allen Lazard. Look I think Allen Lazard is talented, but signing him to a 4 year 44 million dollar contract and where 22 million being guaranteed is an overpayment.
Well at least they got a deep receiving core and they could help Elijah Moore in his development after a down year , aaaaaaand they traded him to the Cleveland Browns for a pick upgrade.
It might be just me, but it still feels the offseason is still incomplete for the Jets until Rodgers is officially a Jet. I mean they brought in decent players like DT Quintin Jefferson and OG/C Wes Schweitzer which is solid, but I feel more is needed to be done for this offseason to truly be a success.
At least Braden Mann was cut and they brought back Thomas Morstead as the punter like they should have in 2021. Seriously no offense to Mann, but he was one of the worst punters last season and this should have been done awhile ago.
The Bengals had a disappointing end to the season where the goal is to win a SuperBow. Unfortunately it just was not enough losing to the Chiefs thanks to refball and Eli Apple being a freaking idiot. At least he is gone this offseason which is a plus. He is not the only one as due to cap reasons they had to say goodbye to a few players.
The first is at the safety position. The main departure is Jessie Bates, who was tagged last season, but it was clear he was not going to sign a long term deal here. Bates is heading to Atlanta. It also does not help that both Tre Flowers and Von Bell have also departed this team as well which sucks. They have to hope Daxton Hill can stay healthy and contribute next season
Next up is RB Samaje Perine who was a very underrated piece to that offense and signed a new deal with Denver. What hurts about losing Perine is that both Bengals and Broncos offered the same deal and Perine chose Denver.
While it is not a big departure they also lost Hayden Hurst and Drew Sample at Tight End. But they did sign a replacement in, Irv Smith Jr. If he can stay healthy this has potential to rebound with the Bengals. That is a big if though with the amount of injuries he suffered.
One thing that the Bengals must make a must is finding more protection and getting back at the Chiefs. Well, they did that by signing Orlando Brown Jr to their team. Many say the reason for bringing him in is due to La’el Collins coming off an injury, but it may have something to do with that trade request Jonah Williams made.
Yeah, that might be a big reason why Brown signed. If Williams does get traded Brown can play left tackle like he always wanted. Worse for worse he can wait a year until Williams contract expires and can play there. Either or Brown is a great tackle and is a boost to the o-line.
Oh dear, well we all knew that this was going to get super messy when it came to handling the Lamar Jackson contract saga. Remember when he refused to even come in person to the Ravens playoff game. If that is not a telling sign there are issues, then I don’t know what is.
The Ravens unsurprisingly placed the franchise tag on Lamar Jackson. Jackson unsurprisingly requested a trade from the team as he could not get a long term deal with the Ravens.
Then news came that the tag placed on Lamar Jackson is a non exclusive franchise tag, so if any team is going to want to sign Lamar, then they are going to have to give up 2 1st round picks. I don’t blame teams for not wanting to give up for Lamar due to the injury issues. However, with how great Lamar has played he really has not been given much to work with at the wide receiver depart. It is a 50/50 debate, but if it was me I would pay Lamar what he wants. However, with other teams not wanting to give 2 1sts for Lamar, he will likely play for the Ravens in 2023.
For the relationship with Lamar to get better they have to supply him with more receivers to throw too. They signed Nelson Agholor who is not a terrible option looking at what they had last season. However they need to do better and they had a late edition here by signing Odell Beckham Jr.
At a one year contract worth 15 Million Dollars. Wait, What?
A 15 million dollar contract, for a guy on the decline, coming of a Torn ACL and is a cancer in the locker room. I don’t want to be that guy, but you overpaid Beckham by 9 million dollars. Luckily it is a one year deal, but I think the overpay was to get Lamar to play as it is known OBJ and Lamar are friends.
When looking at players they lost during free agency, it was a lot of talented players on their team. Especially DE/EDGE Calais Campbell, CB Marcus Peters, RB Kenyan Drake, OG Ben Powers, DE/EDGE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/DT/EDGE Brent Urbain and many more. It is a bit strange that they have not done much to replace these players.
I have been known to constantly criticize this team, but I kind of like the direction this team is going. The moves they made in offense were solid too as they decided to provide Kenny Pickett with protection. They signed Nate Herbig, Isaac Seumelo, and Le’Raven Clark. I do wonder why they have avoided signing tackles as that was there main weakness, but I won’t complain a lot.
They did make a late minute intriguing move by giving Kenny Pickett another receiver to utilize as well. His name is WR Allen Robinson who has been a flop for the Los Angeles Rams. With how bad is contract was with the Rams the Steelers gave up next to nothing for him.
They only swapped 7th rounders and the Rams are paying the majority of that contract. Well worth the risk for the Steelers to do. Hopefully Robinson is medically cleared for the deal to fully go through for them.
I have to ask a question though, What the heck are you guys going to do at linebacker? You basically purged that position letting Devin Bush, Myles Jack, and Robert Spillane go. You did sign Elandon Roberts and Cole Holcomb, but are they really upgrades? Maybe they are looking at Day 2 or 3 of the NFL Draft. I would not say Day 1 as the linebacking class is not great and due to the “Steelers Way” they will probably select Joey Porter Jr with that 1st Round pick. Which I would not mind as this team lost Cam Sutton during free agency who was there best cornerback last season. Along with other secondary departures in William Jackson and Levi Wallace selecting a cornerback would make sense. At least Terrell Edmunds is gone which is a plus as he is such a liability on this team excluding tackling.
From what I saw with Cleveland last year, it might be time to start stage one of panic mode. Especially with how rusty Deshaun Watson played last season is very concerning for a guy having a 230 million fully guaranteed contract. To make it worse the Browns decided to restructure his contract and look at that cap hit for Watson, now being at 64 million. So if he does not return to Texans Watson, then the Browns are going to be in cap hell paying that luxury good.
In order to ensure that Watson won’t be as rusty, they surrounded him with more weapons. Signing WR Marquise Goodwin and TE Jordan Akins is a plus, but the move that benefits the most is acquiring WR Elijah Moore via trade. They did not even give up much, just downgrading a draft pick one round for a young player like Moore is definitely worth it in my mind.
That is not all as the Browns heavily needed to fix the defensive line and they did that. Signing DE/EDGE Ogbonna Okoronkwo, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, DT Maurice Hurst, and DT Trysten Hill. Definetly an upgrade comparing what they had last year and they will be replacing DE/EDGE Jadeveon Clowney, DE/EDGE Chase Winovich, and DT Taven Bryan.
The Browns even replaced Josh Johnson by signing Juan Thornhill to the team. The Browns goal for next season is to make the playoffs, especially as jobs are at stake with head coach Kevin Stefanski.
So that is the AFC, I will be back soon with my thoughts on the NFC during the free agent saga.