I’m going through each NFL division and looking at the biggest additions and losses in free agency.
Thanks to Pro Football Guru, we can look at every team’s additions and losses in free agency that’s updated on a daily basis.
Note: For the sake of these series of articles, I’m only looking at players who were on the roster in 2016 who will no longer be there in 2017. Likewise, I’m looking at guys who were not on the roster in 2016, but will now be in 2017 (in-house re-signings and draft selections excluded)
New England Patriots
The Patriots are coming off a miraculous Super Bowl win and actually got better in free agency. They loaded up for another run with Brady at the helm, and they are the unquestioned favorite heading into 2017. Some key signings are a big reason why.
Loss: Sebastian Vollmer (released/retired)
The Patriots made a huge splash in free agency, but lost a few really valuable players. Logan Ryan will be missed in the secondary; Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long will be missed along their defensive front; and Martellus Bennett and LaGarrette Blount were key contributors on the way to their Super Bowl victory in 2016. But Vollmer was a Patriot for his entire career, starting in 80 of 88 career games. He could play both tackle positions, and protecting one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history is a huge job. He’ll be missed in New England more than any other loss because of his versatility, position, and longevity with the Pats.
Addition: Brandin Cooks (trade/Saints)
The Patriots had a great offseason haul. They got Kony Ealy from the Panthers, Stephon Gilmore from the Bills, and Rex Burkhead from the Bengals. All three players will be contributors on the Patriots 2017 roster. But Cooks is a guy who’s only entering his fourth season; he’s coming off back-to-back over 1,100/8TD seasons. He gives Tom Brady just another weapon downfield as he enters the prime of his career. He’ll have the biggest impact on the Patriots 2017 season from their big offseason.
The Dolphins overachieved in 2016; Adam Gase proved to be a good head coach signing in his first go at the job.
Loss: Branden Albert (Jags)
The Dolphins sent out Albert to protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside for the past three seasons. That will now be 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil’s job, which is a pretty major move for the Fins moving forward. I think they’ll be better off if Tunsil lives up to his pre-draft hype; he was a no-brainer top 10 pick before the gas mask video incident minutes before the draft caused him to drop. But I still think Albert is their biggest loss considering the position.
Addition: Lawrence Timmons (from Steelers)
The Dolphins needed to address an underwhelming linebacker corps, and while Timmons is in the tail end of his career, it’s a smart signing. He’s only missed two games in his 12-year career. He brings a veteran presence to a Dolphins defense on the rise and should be a reliable contributor. The Dolphins also signed Julius Thomas after losing Jordan Cameron and Dion Jordon at the tight end position; he’s struggled to stay healthy, but he can a big target for Ryan Tannehill if he stays on the field.
The Bills face some major turnover heading into 2017 starting with their coaches. Rex Ryan was fired after another disappointing season, and they lost some starters in free agency, too.
Loss: Stephon Gilmore (from NE)
The Bills lost quite a few players this offseason, whether it was by releasing them or losing them in free agency. None bigger than Gilmore, though, who had a career-high five interceptions last season. He’ll likely hurt the Bills twice a year for the foreseeable future in New England. He’ll turn 27 in September, and the Bills will miss him in their secondary as he enters the prime years of his career.
Addition: Micah Hyde (from Packers)
While Gilmore exits, Hyde comes in. He’ll help the Bills at the strong safety position by becoming the day-one starter and arguably the best player in the Bills weak safety core. He’s only 26 and has his best football ahead of him. He was a pivotal addition to the Bills after losing Gilmore.
New York Jets
The Jets are likely headed for a three-win season in preparation for a seemingly big quarterback draft next year. Their moves in free agency prove their desire to get young and cheaper in hopes of building for a future franchise quarterback.
Loss: Nick Mangold (released)
Mangold has been with the Jets since coming into the league in 2006; he only missed four career starts before missing eight last season. He’s simply a veteran whose time had to come to an end sometime. But he’ll be missed on and off the field for the Jets at the center position of the offensive line. The Jets also will dearly miss Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, Linebacker David Harris, and Safety Calvin Pryor. Again, it was a big offseason for the Jets – they need to rebuild, get younger and start over.
Addition: Josh McCown (from Browns)
McCown is the biggest addition because he’ll likely be the starter (at some point) in 2017 at the quarterback position. He’s a pro’s pro and perfect for the New York media. Expectations aren’t high, we know who he is, and they just need him to be somewhat competent enough to remain starter until they find their franchise quarterback. At the very least, he’s a reliable backup who won’t cause any distractions in the locker room. The Jets also got Cornerback Morris Claiborne from the Cowboys, who looked like a true shutdown cornerback until he got hurt (once again) last season.