With the initial wave of free agency behind us, we can now take a look at which teams are standing out this offseason…for good or bad reasons.
Buffalo – Man, that feels good to type. But it’s true – the Bills have pushed pretty much every right button since the day after their season-ending loss to New England in early January. Everything they’ve needed to do, they’ve done. Firing overmatched defensive coordinator George Edwards and ending the failed 3-4 defense experiment? Check. Bringing in an accomplished defensive coordinator? Check, thanks to Dave Wannstedt. Retaining star WR Stevie Johnson at a reasonable price? Check. Addressing the team’s biggest weakness (pass rush)? Check and double check. Not to mention as of now the Bills have literally not lost a single player of note from last year’s roster. Demetrius Bell and Kraig Urbik are still un-signed, of course, but they’re still possibilities. Just a phenomenal offseason from Buddy Nix, and if the Bills draft at all decently this is a MASSIVELY improved roster from a year ago.
Denver – Upgrading from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning? Yeah, that’s a win. Their ceiling goes from “squeaking into the playoffs by winning the crappy AFC West again” to “Super Bowl winners.” Is it a risk? Sure, but it’s one you have to take. Picking up CB Tracy Porter from the Saints as well as TEs Joel Dreessen (Texans) and Jacob Tamme (Colts) were also nice moves. The only real negative was losing DT Brodrick Bunkley to the Saints. Their defensive front seven is an issue.
Washington – Yeah, it cost them a king’s ransom, but the trade for the #2 pick (and likely rights to Baylor QB Robert Griffin III) was worth it. QB means everything in this league, and Washington didn’t have one. Now they do. They won’t win the Super Bowl this season, but there’s some hope in D.C. now.
Philadelphia – Addressed their biggest weakness by absolutely stealing LB DeMeco Ryans from the Texans for a few mid-round picks. Insane the Texans couldn’t get a better deal there. Also locked down WR DeSean Jackson and the criminally underrated DE Trent Cole to long-term deals. Somehow Philly is under the radar right now, and they shouldn’t be. This team could easily win the NFC this season.
St. Louis – Got the huge asking price they were looking for from Washington for the #2 pick, getting 2 future first-rounders as well as this season’s #6 pick. Also nabbed CB Cortland Finnegan for a reasonable price and C Scott Wells from the Packers.
Miami – What in the world is going on in Miami? Priority #1 this offseason was getting a QB, and they failed miserably on that front. After losing out on Peyton Manning, they somehow also didn’t get Matt Flynn, despite the fact his offensive coordinator in Green Bay is now Miami’s head coach. Now they’ve signed David Garrard, who basically sat last year out. Good luck with that, guys. In other bizarre moves, the team dealt their best offensive player (WR Brandon Marshall, who might remember dominating the Bills in recent seasons) to Chicago for the pittance of two third round picks. And then out of nowhere Steelers safety Ryan Clark proclaimed that “no one” wants to play for the Dolphins. Something weird is going on Miami. Which is great news for the Bills.
NY Jets – It’s going to be fun watching this group crash and burn this year. You can put the blame solely on the incredibly arrogant and apparently incompetent duo of GM Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan. Their handling of QB Mark Sanchez this offseason has been a complete disaster. First, they openly pursue Peyton Manning – who literally everyone in the entire world except them knew they had no chance of signing. Then, after that fails they give Sanchez a huge contract extension. Which is great, until they bring in the world’s biggest distraction (Tim Tebow) as his backup QB. I can’t wait for the crowd in the Meadowlands to immediately begin chanting for Tebow the second Sanchez throws his first incomplete pass. And it’s not like Tebow was great against the AFC East last season – he needed a miracle to beat the terrible Dolphins and he got WAXED late in the season by the Bills and Patriots. This should go well. Also, their big free-agent signing was S LaRon Landry, who is good against the run but couldn’t cover me, let alone NFL WRs, in the passing game.
Cleveland – Cleveland’s entire front office should be fired after this offseason. They’re REALLY going to enter 2012 with Colt McCoy as their starting QB again? How in the world did they not make that trade up to the #2 spot to get RGIII? Is there a less exciting roster in the league right now? Oh, and RB Peyton Hillis is gone (Chiefs), as well as S Mike Adams (Broncos). Their big 0ffseason signings? Um…DE Frostee Rucker? What a mess.
New Orleans – Speaking of messes…
Arizona – Kevin Kolb is still their QB. They did nothing else of note, while the Seahawks and Rams got better and the 49ers didn’t lose much. Not sure how this team thinks it will compete in 2012.