NFL Faces In New Places
THE NFL REPORT: THERE'S OLD FACES IN NEW PLACES AS WE RE-CAP THE KEY FREE-AGENT MOVES PLUS ALL THE KEY TRADES TOO
The NBA Draft is in the proverbial rear-view mirror, Major-League Baseball has yet to hit the halfway point of this here-and-now 2015 season and we've barely said a peep about the NFL in our past few Jim Sez columns ... but that's gonna change here.
In fact, with NFL camps approximately one full month away from opening, we'll devote this weekend column space to the key movers-and-shakers from the NFL recent free-agency period. So, let's take a look at both conferences and see what's been added (or subtracted):
The far-and-away two biggest free-agent signings this offseason were made by AFC East teams as the Miami Dolphins hooked DT Ndamukong Suh for a cool $114.4 million for six years while the New York Jets welcomed back CB Darrelle Revis with a tasty five-year, $70.1 million deal while stealing 'em away from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. You could make the argument that Suh and Revis are the best players at their positions and thus give the Fish and Jets, respectively, the biggest boosts via free agency but there were plenty of other difference-maker type players that signed on the dotted line with other AFC teams:
Former Miami TE Charles Clay scooted off to Buffalo where he will be an important piece for the Bills - especially in red-zone play -- and let's stay in the AFC East and with the aforementioned J-E-T-S who also inked CBs Antonio Cromartie (Arizona) and Buster Skrine (Cleveland) to shore up a secondary that was among the NFL's worst a year ago. No wonder brand-new NYJ head coach Todd Bowles has spent plenty of time smiling in recent weeks!
And there were a couple of "bargains" that we liked that were signed by AFC squads this offseason namely OLB Trent Cole who flew the coop from Philadelphia to Indianapolis for a mere $14 million for two years and three cheers for the Houston Texans who signed S Rahim Moore (Denver) for three years and $12 million to go along with DT Vince Wilfork (New England) who inked a two-year, $9 million deal and this two-time Super Bowl champ will lend valuable veteran stability to a unit already starring MVP candidate J.J. Watt.
Hey, a couple of AFC signings we didn't love included TE Julius Thomas exiting Denver for Jacksonville (a five-year, $46 mill deal) and OLB Brian Orakpo who fled Washington for Tennessee with a four-year, $31 million deal - the former had a good thing going in Colorado with QB Peyton Manning (could it be the Broncos really didn't want him back?) while Orakpo has been an injury-prone player who's been an overrated item in his pro career despite a couple of trips to the Pro Bowl.
Meanwhile, no surprise that the Oakland Raiders were again quite busy on the free-agency front as - among others - the AFC West squad signed C Rodney Hudson (Kansas City), DT Dan Williams (Arizona), S Nate Allen (Philadelphia) and OLB Curtis Lofton (New Orleans) and on face value all of these free-agent signees are solid moves, when exactly have newcomers to the Raiders' way of life really made a big difference for the silver-and-black?
Believe it or not, six of the seven-biggest NFL free-agent money deals this past offseason involved players either heading to or staying in the AFC with the lone exception here being CB Byron Maxwell who departed Seattle for a six-year, $63 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles but safe to say it was that other signing by the Eagles that really knocked the football world on its head:
Running back DeMarco Murray - who last year rushed for a single-season franchise-record 1,845 yards for the Dallas Cowboys - signed with the Eagles for five years and $42 million and so he could be a change-the-culture player for Chip Kelly's team that you'll recall also inked free-agent RB Ryan Mathews and traded RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy to the Buffalo Bills.
And speaking of trades, there was a handful of blockbuster moves including:
New Orleans traded TE Jimmy Graham to Seattle for that first-round draft pick that turned into ILB Stephone Anthony (Clemson);
Philadelphia and St. Louis swapped quarterbacks with Sam Bradford (and his bum knee) headed to the Eagles and Nick Foles going to the Rams;
And Baltimore dealt an aging NT Haloti Ngata to Detroit to help replace Suh.
And, hey, the Eagles were not the only active free-agent player from the NFC side as the Arizona Cardinals boned up their offensive line with the signing of G Mike Iupati from rival San Francisco - so maybe this helps QB Carson Palmer stay in one piece this year!
Plus we liked a couple of rather under-the-radar free-agent signings including OLB Brooks Reed exiting Houston for Atlanta (five years and $22 million) while WR/KR/PR Dwayne Harris (five years and $17.5 million) waved bye-bye to the Cowboys for the opportunity to play for the New York Giants - if Harris can flip the field on some punt returns this year it could be a major aid to QB Eli Manning and Company ... and don't forget the Giants' return teams have been absolutely awful for years!
Note that in this pass-happy day-and-age of the NFL, no doubt cornerbacks are very valuable pieces to a team and check out the CBs other than the above-mentioned Maxwell who will be playing for NFC teams this year:
Washington signed Chris Culliver (San Francisco) to a four-year, $32 million deal; Seattle added corner Cary Williams (Philadelphia) for three years and "18 mil"; and Brandon Browner exited New England for a three-year, $15 million deal in New Orleans and - trust us - all three will be central characters for their new teams whether it's it a boom-or-bust nature.
Finally, let's not ignore a couple of key wide receiver signings as San Francisco added Torrey Smith from Baltimore for the price tag of $40 million for five years and the underrated Eddie Royal is Chicago-bound after signing a three-year, $15 million deal while exiting San Diego where he was underutilized (hey, you could say the same thing about 49ers-bound Smith, too!).
NOTE: More MLB, NBA Draft and NFL News & Notes all next week right here at Jim Sez.
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