Mid March makes everybody exit their sad no football state. Why does it? Because NFL christmas in the form of free agency officially opens; meaning untagged, out of contract players are available to negotiate deals with other teams that are interested in them. It always leads to major shocks, stories and sadness amongst the community, and in this article, I (guest writer Max Hillman) will be examining the moves made in the AFC East. In particular the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots, with my fellow AFC East reporter Alex having already covered the Jets and Dolphins. Without further ado, we will proceed into it.
The Bills have been extremely busy as a team so far this free agency, with it possibly not even being over yet due to interest in former Lion Ziggy Ansah among others. Not only being busy for the sake of being busy, Buffalo have actually made signings that will upgrade the roster and depth chart for the future, therfore earning Bleacher Report’s title of ”under the radar winners of free agency”. Here is who they have currently added.
WR Duke Williams – One year, veterans minimum deal
OL Spencer Long – Ex-Jet Long stays in the AFC East with the Bills on a one year contract. With team options for 2 more years that with incentives will likely be around $4million a year in cap space. A valuable addition to a poor Bills O-Line.
CB Kevin Johnson – Adding an experienced yet injury prone #2 CB on a one year, $2.7million deal is a risk but could pay off for Buffalo. Johnson will provided stability to a postion group in dire need of it.
RB Frank Gore – Another one year deal sees veteran and presumed HoFer Gore team up with close friend LeSean McCoy for around $2million in total cap hit. Gore and McCoy have the highest number of combined rushing yards ever, albeit not too many of those in a Bills jersey.
TE Tyler Kroft – A three year, $18.75million contract adds a weapon for Josh Allen and a good replacement for Charles Clay who has left the roster after a lacklustre 2018.
C Mitch Morse – A 4 year deal with $20.4million in guaranteed money sees Morse with the highest ever contract for a centre. He will have more than earned if he plays anywhere near as well as he has in Kansas City, one of the interior O-Linemen responsible for Pat Mahomes’ 2018 success.
WR John Brown – After a failed attempt at signing Brown last year, the Bills have been successful this time around with a 3-year deal. Brown adds much-needed WR depth to a Bills offence in need of revival.
WR Cole Beasley – Even more wideout depth is seen with new addition Beasley, a good performer with Dallas. A 4 year contract with only $8.25million guaranteed means Buffalo have a fairly low risk signing if he doesnt end up performing.
OT Ty Nsekhe – 33-year-old Nsekhe signed a 2-year deal with around $6.5million guaranteed with incentives. He’s an addition that sees a protective wall being formed around franchise QB Josh Allen.
OG John Feliciano – Guard Feliciano further bolsters this protective wall, and comes fairly cheap to GM Brandon Beane’s Bills. A 2 year deal with a total cap hit of about $8million, not too expensive for a starting level guard.
KR Andre Roberts – 2018 pro bowler Roberts provides instant upgrades to the special team core of the Bills, averaging 24.9 yards per kick return.
OT LaAdrian Waddle – No other details of this signing have emerged yet.
However the Bills have had to let some players go to make room for these signings. TE Charles Clay has signed with Arizona and OG John Miller has gone to Cincinnati for a projected 3 year, $14.8million deal.
New England Patriots
At the other end of the spectrum, the Pats have been cleaning house, letting an abundance of players sign elsewhere and not bringing all too much in terms of talent onto their roster. But who can doubt HC/GM Bill Belichicks master plan after all this time? We should all know better than that.
Who have the Patriots signed?
(Via Trade) DL Michael Bennett – Former Eagle Bennett looks to add to his ring collection. With a move to the Patriots in a trade in which the details have rather been swept under the carpet a little.
DL Mike Pennel – Two years with a maximum value of $8million and a base value of $5million. Sees Pennel hope to build on his career as a Jet that saw him play in all 16 games last season.
WR Maurice Harris – A small one year, $1million deal for Harris adds valuable depth to Tom Brady’s targets. It’s a contract that may see Harris end up on special teams like Cordarrelle Patterson did in recent times.
WR Bruce Ellington – Six-year veteran Ellington can make up to $895k on his one year deal, but his only guarantee is a $25k in signing bonus. Indicating he may have to compete for a roster spot come September.
S Terrence Brooks – Another six-year veteran who played special teams last year for the Jets. He has a chance to make between $1.4 million and $2 million this year on 1-year deal similar to Harris’.
RB Brandon Bolden – A longtime Pats special teamer before signing with the Dolphins last year. He is guaranteed to make $2 million next season with incentives, showing Belichick still has faith in him after all this time.
Re-Signing players – Re-signing Jason McCourty and Phillip Dorsett is likely to be the biggest acquisition to the Patriots prior to the draft, with both being useful pieces in the 2018 champions organisation.
However, it is the players leaving the Pats that have made the headlines. So far, most notably in the form of Trey Flowers to the Lions. He is likely to be the main star for that defence in the coming seasons, especially for the amount of money he is being given. Additionally, Trent Brown to the Raiders was a shock to many people who believed he would come back in a Pats uniform in 2019. Finally Cordarrelle Patterson to the Bears and Malcolm Brown to the Saints means two teams get pieces that can be utilised to bring great success to their respective franchises. The Patriots make room for a draft in which they hope to continue to build and succeed long into the future. Pats FA Players unsigned currently include K Gostkowski and WR Hogan, interesting stories to look out for.
That’s the end of all the busy AFC East FA News for now! Feel free to get in touch @18hillman on twitter if you have any thoughts! (picture courtesy of www.thenation.com)