AFC East

Some Winners and Losers in NFL Free Agency

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 28: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass to Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter on December 28, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Winners

First off, the Minnesota Vikings signed guard Alex Boone to a deal which averages $6.6 million per year. He is a still young, highly regarded offensive lineman, someone who will make an immediate impact to a needy offensive line. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings’ quarterback, was pressured on a league-high 37% of his dropbacks. The Vikings win with this steal of an offensive lineman and shore up an obvious deficiency.

The New York Jets signed Matt Forte, providing a fit that makes a whole lot of sense. He may not be equipped to garner 250 carries this season, but he is an elusive running back who doubles as an excellent receiver, possibly the best in the NFL, and his ability to run sophisticated routes and make difficult catches will prolong his career longer than typical running backs. The Jets got a great deal and will likely live to cherish their decision.

An under-the-radar signing is the signing of Travis Benjamin to the San Diego Chargers. Benjamin nabbed 86 receptions and scored eight touchdowns the last two seasons for a Cleveland Browns‘ team that was quarterbacked by the following: Josh McCownJohnny ManzielAustin DavisBrian Hoyer and Connor Shaw. No help there. Browns QBs completed 58.1 percent of their passes over that period, second-lowest in the NFL, while Phillip Rivers, Benjamin’s new quarterback, completed 66.3% percent, fifth-best in the NFL.

Losers

The Miami Dolphins lost big. They made deals with two declining players and dropped out of the draft’s top ten because of a trade. The reasoning may never become clear. Byron Maxwell proved he doesn’t like to tackle and is far from a shutdown corner last year on the Philadelphia Eagles. Kiko Alonso did nothing to rectify the fact that he is an injury risk; he missed 21 games in the past two seasons. We’re scratching our heads wondering if this did anything but leave the Dolphins with diminishing return and a decreased draft position.

Though Doug Martin is 27, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers somehow found it feasible to offer him a five year deal worth $7 million annually. A deal that would last until he is 32. Last year the Bucs were so unsure about his future they declined the fifth-year option. This year they are giving him a rich and lasting deal. You do the math.

The New York Giants‘ general manager Jerry Reese signed a couple of rich deals that could have the Giants floundering. He guaranteed a combined $76.5 million to defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Damon Harrison in addition to the $8.5 million he had already committed to Jason-Pierre Paul. The issue is not with the moves because a dominant defensive line is a winning formula and defense wins championships and all that, but Reese could have done so more cheaply. Defensive line is the strength of the 2016 draft, but Reese was impatient.

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