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.
Now onto the AFC South…
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)
I expect the Texans to take a backseat in a better division this year, despite having one of the league’s top defenses.
Loss: A.J. Bouye (Jags)
I’ve been persistent of the fact that losing a quarterback is huge for any NFL team; it’s are the most important position. But the Texans are a well-rounded team with an elite defense, and Brock Osweiler was the clear problem at the helm – I can’t say he was their biggest loss, because they needed to start over at the position. The Texans lost two starters in their respected secondary in AJ Bouye and Quintin Demps. Bouye is entering the prime of his career and got a big contract from the Jaguars that the Texans weren’t willing to give out. I think both players, especially Bouye, will be missed more than anyone else.
Addition: Breno Giacomini (from Jets)
The Texans didn’t make much noise at all via free agency, but Giacomini is a good signing after losing Guard Oday Aboushi and Center Tony Bergstrom. Giacomini has played for the Jets, Seahawks and Packers, and started all 16 games in 2014 and 2015 for the Jets. He only started five games last year after suffering a back injury that cut his season short. He’ll be in the mix at right tackle for the Texans, and he’ll add much needed depth at the position if he doesn’t start.
I loved the Titans offseason, and I love where this team is headed. I expect a big year from the Titans; I think they make the postseason and win 10 games for the first time in ages.
Loss: Jason McCourty (Browns)
The Titans’ secondary is a glaring weak spot on their roster, and the loss of McCourty makes it that much worse.
They also let go of Daimion Stafford and Antwon Blake. On offense, they’ll be without Kendall Wright, Anthony Fasano and Chance Warmack. But McCourty is the biggest loss considering his impact on the secondary.
Addition: Eric Decker (from Jets)
The addition of Logan Ryan from the Patriots was a big one, especially with McCourty’s loss. But Decker is a huge addition to the Titans’ receiving core; he gives Marcus Mariota an outstanding, reliable route runner who is a veteran on the field and off it.
The Colts have had really disappointing back-to-back years, but under new GM Chris Ballard, they finally addressed a terrible defense. I expect a bounce back year if Andrew Luck can stay on the field.
Loss: Robert Mathis (retired)
Mathis spent his entire 14-year career with the Colts, racking up a franchise-high 123 sacks and 52(!) forced fumbles. He was one of the most-feared pass rushers in the league when he was right, but he couldn’t seem to stay healthy toward the tail end of his outstanding career. Mathis may stay with the team as a coaching assistant, but the Colts will miss his production off the edge. Side note: Colts also lost a great punter in Pat McAfee, who retired to become a full-time employee with Barstool Sports.
Addition: Johnathan Hankins (Giants)
The Colts have been awful on the defensive side of the ball. Shoring up the trenches helps the rest of the defense, and the Colts’ defense will benefit significantly from the hole-clogging tackle. He’s only 25 and has his best football ahead of him. They also signed Jabaal Sheard from the Patriots, who will help get at the quarterback. The Colts addressed their defensive front via free agency, and addressed their secondary through the draft. They’ve clearly made the defensive side of the football a priority, and the Hankins signing is at the forefront of that.
Another AFC South team on the rise, this defense is so talented on paper. Their offense isn’t too shabby, neither. But the problem is Blake Bortles at QB. The team’s success basically falls directly on his shoulders.
Loss: Julius Thomas (Dolphins)
The Jags lost quite a few players in free agency, but I think Thomas is someone who they’ll miss on the offensive side of the ball. Thomas caught 24 touchdowns in 2013 and 2014 with Peyton Manning, but only 9 with Jacksonville in the last two years. He hasn’t played a full season in his six-year career, and that’s certainly cause for some concern. But he caught four touchdowns in six starts last year before going down with multiple injuries. While he hasn’t been able to stay on the field, he’s still young and has produced when he’s played. The Jags now have to rely on veteran Marcedes Lewis and Mychal Rivera to fill the void.
Addition: Calais Campbell
Campbell brings a veteran presence to a mostly young defense, and he fills the void left from the releases of Sen’Derrick Marks and Jared Odrick. He’ll be an instant starter along a promising defensive line that features Dante Fowler, Malik Jackson and Sheldon Day. The Jags also brought in AJ Bouye from the Texans to strengthen a solid secondary that lost Prince Amukamara to the Bears.