Key additions and subtractions for AFC teams in free agency
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/03/2020 (1104 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NFL teams have been busy for four days agreeing to terms with free agents and arranging trades. Here are the key moves made for each AFC team:
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Made big moves on defensive line (Calais Campbell, Michael Brockers), and got second-round pick from Atlanta for TE Hayden Hurst.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Offensive line after mainstay guard Marshal Yanda’s retirement, centre Matt Skura returning from injury, G/T James Hurst cut.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: In two years, have gone from patchwork group of receivers to well-established trio of Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley. Defence has new additions of DLs Mario Addison and Vernon Butler, LB A.J. Klein and CB Josh Norman essentially offsetting what team lost in free agency.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Pass rush through draft. After losing 25-year-old Shaq Lawson, Bills will rely on aging group of DEs to generate pressure: Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy and Addison, all 29 or older. Another need is complementary RB to spell Devin Singletary. Bills added Taiwan Jones and still have T.J. Yeldon after allowing Frank Gore and Senorise Perry to leave.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Releasing LT Cordy Glenn and RG John Miller were first steps in overhauling line that’s been crux of Bengals’ problems last three years. Now, who are replacements? They allowed LT Andrew Whitworth to leave in 2017. He helped Rams reach Super Bowl while Bengals’ line languished.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Defence. Adding CB Trae Waynes and releasing B.W. Webb was first move. Linebacker spot remains glaring area. Got rid of Vontaze Burfict last year, but didn’t follow with overhaul of position. It showed.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Browns addressed major needs, upgrading offensive line, adding playmaker and giving Baker Mayfield mentor and motivator. First-time GM Andrew Berry added 2016 All-Pro RT Jack Conklin, TE Austin Hooper and QB Case Keenum. Also plugged hole in defence with LB B.J. Goodson and found starting safety in Karl Joseph.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Left tackle remains priority, likely taken care of with No. 10 overall draft pick. Browns still need another safety. Odell Beckham Jr. trade rumblings never completely go away and it’s possible team at least dangles him.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Rather than breaking bank for Byron Jones or D.J. Reader, GM John Elway traded third-day draft picks for A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey. Broncos spent big bucks on RG Graham Glasgow (four years, $44 million), who replaces Ronald Leary. Also signed backup QB Jeff Driskel (two years, $5 million) to support Drew Lock, meaning Joe Flacco departs, saving $10 million on salary cap.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Broncos need to build around Casey to bolster front seven and need both targets and protection for Lock. They can focus there in draft after addressing most glaring needs with Bouye, Casey, Glasgow and Driskel.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Difficult to say. Texans did address running back by acquiring David Johnson in trade with Arizona. But that cost Houston star WR DeAndre Hopkins. Johnson comes off down year and has had injury issues, but can be threat out of backfield.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Trading Hopkins means no true No. 1 receiver. Texans added WR Randall Cobb, but will need Will Fuller and Kenny Stills to be more consistent.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Addressed biggest potential hole on offence by re-signing LT Anthony Castonzo. Colts significantly upgraded defence by trading for DT DeForest Buckner.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Colts have not yet addressed adding receiver or tight end. And is declining 38-year-old QB Philip Rivers better than Jacoby Brissett?
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Zero improvement. Jaguars traded QB Nick Foles, DL Calais Campbell and CB A.J. Bouye. They did fill some holes with DL Rodney Gunter, LB Joe Schobert and CB Darqueze Dennard. But lost 2018 Super Bowl MVP and two players with combined six Pro Bowl appearances.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Desperate need for TE after letting four walk: Geoff Swaim, Seth DeValve, Ben Koyack and Nick O’Leary. Second-year pro Josh Oliver was mostly nonexistent as rookie. James O’Shaughnessy recovering from season-ending knee surgery.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Bueller? Bueller? Joking aside, Super Bowl champions only franchised Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones and re-signed backup QB Chad Henne to two-year deal. Only thing they’ve improved is salary cap situation by restructuring DE end Frank Clark’s contract.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Lost CBs Kendall Fuller, Bashaud Breeland and Morris Claiborne, so shoring up secondary crucial. Cash-strapped Chiefs might turn to draft for that.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Solidified what has been one of biggest weaknesses in recent years by signing LBs Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. Upgraded interior pass rush with DT Maliek Collins.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Raiders still need No. 1 receiver to team with Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow. More help at cornerback besides Eli Apple. Team’s two first-round picks could be used to address those holes.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Upgraded offensive line by trading for RG Trai Turner and adding RT Bryan Bulaga. Already solid secondary bolstered with CB Chris Harris Jr. from rival Broncos.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Left side of O-line remains, especially after tackle Russell Okung was sent to Carolina for Turner.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Upgraded pass defence by making Byron Jones NFL’s highest-paid cornerback, and by adding LB Kyle Van Noy and DEs Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah; each had more sacks than any Miami player in 2019.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: They have three first-round picks in draft, and will be shopping for franchise quarterback and left tackle.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Took big step in stabilizing offensive line by franchising LG Joe Thuney with hefty $14.78 million agreement. His consistency helps in pocket security for QB Tom Brady’s successor.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Team obviously is worse without Brady, and Patriots let three top defensive players walk: LBs Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts. With little salary cap space, Patriots should be busy in trade market and draft.
NEW YORK JETS
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Offensive line. GM Joe Douglas made it top priority and re-signed G Alex Lewis, added Seattle OT George Fant and Denver C/OG Connor McGovern. Jets also brought back one standout in secondary last year, nickel CB Brian Poole.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Cornerback. Poole patrols slot, but Jets don’t have clear starters outside. They released CB Trumaine Johnson. Darryl Roberts and Arthur Maulet, rookie last season, likely starters. More O-line upgrades should come, and New York searching for pass-rushing presence. Veteran backup QB for Sam Darnold on shopping list.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Franchised LB Bud Dupree, 2015 first-round draft pick while seeking long-term deal by July 15. Addition of FB Derek Watt helped blunt departure of special teams ace and LB Tyler Matakevich.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Offensive line after longtime LG Ramon Foster retired and versatile backup B.J. Finney signed with Seattle. Depth is unproven with Zach Banner and Chuks Okorafor. Some help at linebacker is also necessary after cutting Mark Barron and Anthony Chickillo.
WHERE TEAM IMPROVED IN FREE AGENCY: Outside pass rush got much-needed boost adding DE Vic Beasley Jr. He led NFL with 15 1/2 sacks in 2016 and would’ve ranked second on Titans with eight sacks last season. Kept QB Ryan Tannehill, used franchise tag on NFL rushing leader Derrick Henry and re-signed OT Dennis Kelly.
WHERE TEAM NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Trading away five-time Pro Bowl DT Jurrell Casey means defensive front still needs help. CB Logan Ryan also must be replaced if not re-signed.
Compiled by the AP’s NFL beat writers.
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