Thomas Chavez ’19, Managing Editor
NFL free agency is a time for all 32 teams to try to find the missing pieces they need to reach the Superbowl in the next season. Some need more pieces than others, but almost every team tries to be active during this period. Here is an analysis of the major signings by all 32 NFL teams.
The Bills had a lot of holes to fill on their roster. A weak offensive line and poor receiving proved to be an issue in trying to develop first year quarterback Josh Allen. Making these positions a priority, the Bills signed wideouts Cole Beasley and John Brown. An addition of runningback Frank Gore to pair with Lesean McCoy has allowed the Bills to further assess other needs in the NFL draft.
New England Patriots
The Patriots kept to “the Patriot way” and made very few free agent signings outside of their system. Besides resigning cornerback Jason McCourty, the Patriots were relatively silent on the free agency market. Trading for defensive end Michael Bennett was a bit out of the ordinary for the Patriots, but they are setting themselves up to keep winning championships in the twilight of Tom Brady’s career.
New York Jets
The Jets made the most of their cap space surplus. They brought in star players such as runningback Le’Veon Bell and inside linebacker CJ Mosley. The Jets made other notable additions in wideout Jamison Crowder and guard Kelechi Osemele. Bell, Crowder, and Osemele all provide a better supporting cast for young quarterback Sam Darnold, and Mosley will help anchor a young defense looking to improve.
Trading away Joe Flacco was the first stage in officially opening the Lamar Jackson era in Baltimore. Adding runningback Mark Ingram to an already strong ground game will help develop a young quarterback in Jackson. Resigning backup quarterback Robert Griffin III will provide the Ravens with a similar playstyle if Jackson were to fall to injury. Safety Earl Thomas also adds to a strong defense looking to hold onto the AFC North title.
Continuing to muck around in mediocrity, the Bengals made very few moves this offseason. Other than firing long tenured head coach Marvin Lewis, the moves Cincinnati have made are unspectacular. Resigning a pair of tight ends in CJ Uzomah and the often injured Tyler Eifert give Andy Dalton some weapons on the interior, while bringing back cornerback Darqueze Dennard does not really add much to the Bengals hopeful playoff push.
Providing quarterback Baker Mayfield with sufficient weapons on both sides of the ball was a major point of emphasis this offseason for the Browns. A trade for wideout Odell Beckham Jr. gives him a receiving threat opposite Jarvis Landry. Bringing in defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson will add more strength to a young defense looking to dominate in 2019. Preparing for the draft the Browns can fill the smaller holes in their roster thanks to their active free agency period.
The Steelers were surprisingly active this offseason. After losing stars in Le’veon Bell to free agency and Antonio Brown due to a trade request, Pittsburgh found itself with a small cap surplus. Bringing back guard Ramon Foster solidifies their offensive line. Signing linebacker Mark Barron and cornerback Steven Nelson will look to improve a defense that was solid, but would fall apart too often down the stretch. Wideout Donte Moncrief gives quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a reliable second option opposite Juju Smith-Schuster, and bringing back Eli Rogers solidifies the slot receiver position for 2019.
A franchise tag on edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney was the biggest priority for the Texans this offseason. Bringing in safety Tashaun Gipson to replace the departing Tyrann Mathieu helps balance the solid Houston defense. It was also important for the team to fill holes on the offensive line, the team signed tackle Matt Kalil. Addressing the rest of the offensive line holes in the draft could help Deshaun Watson and the Texans reach the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
After the Chiefs cut linebacker Justin Houston, the Colts came right in and signed the veteran pass rusher. Adding him to a surprisingly stout defense will make the Colts a more formidable team to go up against. Adding wideout Devin Funchess gives quarterback Andrew Luck another receiving threat in their pass-happy offense.
The Jaguars are hoping they have finally found the quarterback they need to get them over the hump. A top of the line defense and a solid running game have carried the Jaguars as far as they can go. The team is hoping the addition of Nick Foles will help them get back into the playoffs and eventually into the Superbowl.
The Titans brought in edge rusher Cameron Wake from the Dolphins in hopes he can replace the retiring Brian Orakpo. Adam Humphries adds a slot receiver for quarterback Marcus Mariota who thus far in his career has had a subpar receiving core. With Mariota’s injury history, the Titans traded for backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill in hopes that if Mariota was to go down, they could still make a playoff push.
Kansas City Chiefs
Signing safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Bashaud Breeland will help the back end of a defense that struggled to hold opponents out of the end zone down the stretch. Adding runningback Carlos Hyde will supplement the ground game following the release of Kareem Hunt before the end of 2018.
Los Angeles Chargers
Bringing in linebacker Thomas Davis to anchor a solid defense will help the Chargers make a deeper playoff run in 2019. By signing quarterback Tyrod Taylor the team has given Philip Rivers a solid backup who avoids mistakes while also giving them a stop gap option if Rivers were to retire.
The Raiders were active this offseason. Trading for star receiver Antonio Brown gives them an all-pro wideout for Derek Carr to pass the ball to. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, cornerback Nevin Lawson, and safety Lamarcus Joyner will help build up a defense that was rebooted last year following the trade of Khalil Mack. The Raiders likely are not done this offseason with head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock being aggressive and not looking to slow down.
Franchise tagging defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence was overshadowed with the return of franchise legend Jason Witten. The tight end came out of retirement in hopes of helping the Cowboys push further into the playoffs and secure a Superbowl title.
New York Giants
In their blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Browns, the Giants brought in young safety Jabrill Peppers and guard Kevin Zeitler. Peppers will replace the departing Landon Collins, and Zeitler was brought in with hopes of providing better protection for the aging Eli Manning. Bringing in wideout Golden Tate was an attempt to supplement what Odell Beckham Jr. had provided during his tenure with the team.
Bringing back DeSean Jackson from the Buccaneers provides quarterback Carson Wentz with a deep threat like he has never had before. While Jackson has lost a step as he has aged, he is still one of the fastest burners in the league. Adding safety Andrew Sendejo to pair with Malcolm Jenkins will help revitalize an Eagles secondary that has depleted in the past few years.
The only big signing the Bears made this offseason was safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The former Packer will add to an already stout defense as Chicago attempts to hold onto the NFC North crown in 2019.
Head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn brought in yet another former Patriot in Trey Flowers. The Lions brought in Flowers to replace the departing Ziggy Ansah. Along with additions of slot receiver Danny Amendola, tight end Jesse James, and cornerback Justin Coleman, Detroit is going all in on a playoff push with quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have made their name through the NFL draft. The team has a tendency to remain quiet during the free agency period. Insignificant signings this offseason have set the team up to continue their tradition of building mainly through the draft.
The Vikings got lucky this offseason. Linebacker Anthony Barr agreed to a deal with the New York Jets, but at the last minute Minnesota swung a deal with the pro bowler and retained him. Hoping to remain healthy in 2019 the Vikings are hoping to push the Bears out of first place in the NFC North.
Atlanta has straight up done nothing.
Bringing in edge rusher Bruce Irvin to replace the outgoing Thomas Davis is the only major signing of the Panthers offseason. Irvin is a younger player to pair with Luke Kuechly as the Panthers try to quickly rebuild their defense and make another go for a playoff appearance.
New Orleans Saints
Teddy Bridgewater? Does that count as a major signing?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This offseason, the Buccaneers dumped a lot of their players as they look to rebuild under new head coach Bruce Arians. No major signings and lots of roster slimming has set up the Buccaneers to rebuild around Jameis Winston or another quarterback they find in the draft.
The Cardinals were active this offseason. Stealing edge rusher Terrell Suggs from the Ravens, trading for tackle Marcus Gilbert, and backup quarterback Brett Hundley have set Arizona up for a successful rebuild. With the team likely to draft quarterback Kyler Murray, it is likely they will trade 2018 first round pick Josh Rosen away.
Los Angeles Rams
Blake Bortles. Why? Why sign Blake Bortles?
San Francisco 49ers
Stealing linebacker Dee Ford from the Chiefs is the major signing of the 49ers offseason. Going into year three under head coach Kyle Shanahan the team will need to show significant improvement if he wants to keep his job.
The Seahawks have reloaded their defense with the signing of linebacker Mychal Kendricks, the resigning of linebacker KJ Wright, and franchise tagging defensive end Frank Clark. Along with signing guards Mike Iupati and DJ Fluker, Seattle is looking to finally provide Russell Wilson with some protection in 2019.
With all of these signings every NFL team is hoping they found the missing pieces to set them up for a championship. Only time will tell.
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