Monday, July 25, 2011

AFC East Free Agency Outlooks

If not for the lowly Buffalo Bills, this division would be the most difficult in football and not the most top-heavy. Unfortunately, I happen to live in an area where all I hear about is how hard the Bills play and that they give 12-4 effort but wind up 4-12 every year. This division will also see a lot of free agent action because the Jets have the potential to lose a multitude of key players (Cromartie, Edwards, and Holmes) and the Patriots have issues with Logan Mankins (again) and Banta-Cain just had surgery. Not to mention the fact that the Dolphins may be losing their entire backfield with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams as potential free agents. Only safe bets here are that the Jets and Patriots will make smart moves.

Buffalo Bills Top Needs: Offensive Line, Linebacker
Top Targets: Buffalo can not let linebacker Paul Posluszny leave. Even though he can not seem to stay healthy for an entire season, Posluszny has looked like a captain of that defense for the next decade when he plays. Buffalo hit a grand slam by drafting defensive lineman Marcel Dareus to help free up more space for a player like Posluszny to make more plays, but there needs to be some more depth in the front seven. Guys like Stephen Cooper, D'Qwell Jackson, and Ernie Sims are guys that can step in and make a difference in week 1. Whether or not the Bills decide to go that direction is a completely different story.

Miami Dolphins Top Needs: Quarterback, Running Back
Top Targets: The Dolphins are the darkhorse team in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes. If they could land him, it would go a long way correcting what was a truly disappointing 7-9 record last season. If not, look for Miami to bring in a veteran like Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb, or Matt Hasselbeck to challenge Chad Henne for the starting gig. To help support whoever plays quarterback, Miami could target a veteran running back in free agency like DeAngelo Williams, but should also take a look at guys like Michael Bush, Reggie Bush, and Ahmad Bradshaw should they be available.

New England Patriots Top Needs: Pass Rushers, Wide Receivers
Top Targets: It's hard to criticize the Patriots due to their recent success, but it seems like they have yet to cash in on all of those draft picks they have acquired over the years. The window is closing on their Super Bowl window and they need to make a splash in free agency if the salary cap allows them to. With news coming that pass rusher Tully Banta-Cain has undergone surgery recently and may not be ready to start the season, the Patriots are in desperate need of an elite pass rusher. Should he be available, Cullen Jenkins could be the best threat the Patriots have had defensively since they traded away Richard Seymour to the Raiders. As far as wide receivers go, don't rule out a reunion with previously disgruntled Randy Moss as a possibility along with Terrell Owens, Sidney Rice, and Malcolm Floyd.

New York Jets Top Needs: Wide Receiver, Cornerback
Top Targets: Hard to say a team needs a cornerback if it already has Darelle Revis, but Rex Ryan's unique pressure-based defense depends on having two lock down cornerbacks who excel in man-to-man coverage. Antonio Cromartie was a perfect fit opposite Revis, but has stated that he will follow the money and not the best chance to win, and the Jets will need to get creative if they want to sign Cromartie and stay under the cap with its other need: wide receiver. Santonio Holmes, Brad Smith and Braylon Edwards are set to become free agents and the Jets can ill-afford to lose both of them. My guess is that they will re-sign Holmes, but that leaves a gaping hole on the other side of the offensive formation. The Jets will not have the cap space to make a big splash like Sidney Rice but look for them to target a solid #2 guy like Mark Clayton, James Jones, or even T.J. Houshmandzadeh if the price is right.

No comments:

Post a Comment