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AFC Free Agency Reactions

Reactions to every AFC team's moves to open free agency

The plate tectonics of the NFL seemingly always remain in motion, but two times each offseason, the earth quakes under our feet and we sift through the rubble to put the pieces of our understanding of fantasy values, team priorities, and the current state of the NFL back together. Franchise tags took some big names off of the table, but the open of NFL free agency 2016 did not fail to give us enough puzzles to keep us occupied until the draft shakes it all up once again.

AFC East

Buffalo - LeSean McCoy could be suspended for multiple games, but that situation seems less ominous than it did in the days following the incident, and the Bills actions have not indicated a strong priority on adding a running back... Tyrod Taylor has not gotten paid in a market that gave Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford mad money, so 2016 will be a cheap “prove it” year for him… The Bills franchise tagged left tackle Cordy Glenn to keep the anchor for their line for at least one more year… RFA WR Chris Hogan is visiting the Patriots and could get on our fantasy radar if he somehow lands there. The Bills only offered an original round (undrafted) tender, so they’d get no draft compensation if New England signs Hogan and they refuse to match…

Grade: Buffalo Wings Are a Great Snack

Miami - The Dolphins gave up valuable first-round real estate, dropping from 8 to 13, to get Chip Kelly regret cast-offs Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso… Miami signed Mario Williams and let Olivier Vernon walk after originally using the transition tag on the defensive end… Lamar Miller signed a modest contract (4 years, 26 million, 14 million guaranteed) with the Texans, leaving the Dolphins to sign C.J. Anderson to a 4 year, 18 million dollar offer sheet with 10 million guaranteed with Miami. The Broncos will be admitting they made a mistake by only tendering him at original round level (ie no compensation since he’s a restricted free agent) if they retain Anderson… Jordan Cameron restructured his contract, which was out of line (7.5 million) with his minimal 2015 production. Perhaps he’ll get more run under new head coach Adam Gase…

Grade: Tannenbaum’d

New York Jets - At this moment, the Jets are playing chicken with Ryan Fitzpatrick, who sees what Brock Osweiler got (4 years, 72 million, 37 million guaranteed) and wants that kind of per year money for 2016. The Jets are treating him more like Chase Daniel money is merited. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker will hold their breath until this gets resolved… Chris Ivory is gone (Jacksonville), Bilal Powell is back, and Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson have arrived in the Jets backfield. Forte didn’t get feature back money (3 years, 12 million with 8 million guaranteed), but should retain RB2 value in PPR leagues at first, with Powell and potentially Robinson (as the best inside runner of the bunch) limiting his weekly upside. Powell was arguably playing as well as Forte last year, and it will be interesting to see if the contract money and later the usage indicates that the Jets saw it that way. If the Jets don’t re-sign Fitzpatrick, it might be a situation to avoid completely in drafts… The Jets decided to keep Muhammad Wilkerson with a franchise tag and let run stuffer Damon Harrison sign with the Giants, which will have a material impact on their status as a tough matchup for running backs…

Grade: We Love You Geno

New England - The Patriots sniffed around Bilal Powell and Rishard Matthews, but were their typically quiet selves when it came to action in the early stage of free agency… With Brandon LaFell, Scott Chandler (release) and LeGarrette Blount (free agent) no longer Patriots, there is fantasy value to be had by any new additions…

Grade: Belichick Sly Grin into Belichick Grimace

AFC North

Baltimore - The Ravens didn’t make any big moves at running back, which indicates that Justin Forsett is probably still seen as the starter, but the draft looms even though the team has drafted a running back in the fourth round of each of the last two selection meetings, and also has Terrance West in house… Kamar Aiken got a second-round RFA tender and should be at worst a formidable 2A, and that’s only if Breshad Perriman starts to realize his potential after a lost rookie year… The tight end position got more crowded with the addition of Ben Watson in free agency. He should enter the season as the starter, but Crockett Gillmore (if healthy) and 2015 second-round pick Maxx Williams will also play roles in the TE-centric offense...

Grade: Ozzie is a Tight End After All

Cincinnati - The Bengals let Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones walk. Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert should be central parts of the pass offense in 2016, and AJ Green might approach career-high numbers. Don’t forget that Rex Burkhead could figure in the passing game as a slot receiver… Adam Jones, George Iloka, and Vincent Rey are all back on modest contracts as the organization continues to be a model of discipline in free agency decisions and spending to retain their own talent while acquiring valuable compensatory draft picks because they draft and develop players well. In 2017 compensatory draft picks become tradeable...

Grade: When Does All This Translate to a Playoff Win?

Cleveland - The Browns let Travis Benjamin go to San Diego in free agency just after Josh Gordon was spotted with Johnny Manziel at a UFC event… Terrelle Pryor was extended an RFA original round tender, so he should be with the team in 2016. He could be a name to remember if Gordon slips up again, or maybe even if he doesn’t with the thin depth chart at wide receiver… Alex Mack (Atlanta) and Mitchell Schwartz (Kansas City) left in free agency. An offensive line that was a big strength two years ago is crumbling. 2015 first-rounder Cam Erving will be on the spot to contribute this year…

Grade: Burn It Down and Salt the Earth

Pittsburgh - The Steelers are normally a very quiet team in free agency, so signing Ladarius Green to a four-year, 20 million dollar deal is a big splash for them. Green came relatively cheap in a tight end market that has tended to vastly overpay mediocre talent. He’s a size/speed mismatch waiting to happen in a Steelers pass offense that was already stretching good defenses past the breaking point… Heath Miller retired and Jesse James moment as the potential tight end of the future was short-lived. He project to be more Matt Spaeth than Miller part two with Green in tow… Darrius Heyward-Bey was brought back on a very modest deal. He’ll be mostly a special teamer who could matter if injuries/suspensions strike the wide receiver corps again in 2016…

Grade: Where This Offense is Going, We Don’t Need Roads 

AFC South

Indianapolis - The Colts appeared to overpay for injury-prone tight end Dwayne Allen (4 years, 29 million, 12 million guaranteed), but then fellow tight end and former Colt Coby Fleener got even more from New Orleans (5 years, 36 million, 14.6 million guaranteed). Allen should be in for a lot larger role in the offense this year. *IF* he can stay healthy, he will be a weekly boom/bust TE1. The Colts tendered RFA tight end Jack Doyle. Watch the development of basketball convert Erik Swoope. Either Doyle or Swoope could inherit a nice role if Allen breaks down again this year… The Colts didn’t make a big splash at running back in free agency, and if they don’t draft a back early, Frank Gore will get a lot of touches in 2016… Andre Johnson was jettisoned as expected, pitting 2015 first-rounder Phillip Dorsett in line to get a lot more snaps and targets in 2016, assuming he avoids injury…

Grade: Good Luck Andrew

Jacksonville - The Jaguars had a lot of money to spend and came away with Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, and Chris Ivory? Jackson provides underrated interior pressure and Gipson was one of the best of a poor safety market. More interesting to us is the signing of Ivory, which hurts both him and T.J. Yeldon. The Jaguars rarely imposed their will to play on a bullyball game script, despite a desire to build that kind of running game. They have the backs to accomplish it now, but the defense is likely to still doom them to more Blake to Allens shows in 2016…

Grade: E for Effort

Houston - The Texans threw a little money at Lamar Miller (4 years, 26 million, 14 million guaranteed), and a lot at Brock Osweiler (4 years, 72 million, 37 million guaranteed). Miller should be a huge fantasy hit on a team that loves to run the ball and has a defense and division to allow them to do it. Osweiler is pretty much a push for DeAndre Hopkins, but at least for the fans Brian Hoyer won’t be the quarterback in 2016… Jaelen Strong’s marijuana arrest is disappointing for the team, but they still have veterans Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts in tow...

Grade: AFC South Favorites (Don’t Laugh)

Tennessee - The “exotic smashmouth” offense is coming into focus for the Titans. Demarco Murray will be in the same backfield with Marcus Mariota after all. Murray’s workload prospects brightened, but how many big game opportunities will this team provide the back on his way down?... Rishard Matthews signed for modest money (3 years, 15 million, 2.5 million guaranteed) to further split a passing game that will probably only give us Delanie Walker as a reliable weekly option in 2016…

Grade: Good Luck Marcus

AFC West

Denver - Your move, Elway. Denver drew the line a three-year, 45 million dollar deal for Brock Osweiler and lost him. To be fair to John Elway, Osweiler was benched for end of career Peyton Manning and the Broncos won the Super Bowl, so it isn’t exactly like the team missed him. Now they will try to trade for Colin Kaepernick or perhaps be a late suitor for Ryan Fitzpatrick or Robert Griffin III. If they can win with Manning, Elway was smart to not overpay Osweiler… CJ Anderson was disappointed to get an original round tender from the Broncos, which means that Denver will get no compensation if they don’t match the offer sheet Miami gave Anderson on Thursday. Just about 800 thousand more dollars would have attached a second-round pick to Anderson as compensation and allowed the Broncos control long term negotiations. John Elway seems to be misjudging markets, or at least not very enamored with the team’s best running bavk over the last two years. Alfred Morris or a late-arriving Arian Foster could be the 2016 lead back on this team yet…

Grade: Get Elway a Cup of Coffee

San Diego - Antonio Gates is back and Ladarius Green is out. Gates should remain a low TE1 for 2016, while Green has moved on to black and golder pastures… Travis Benjamin’s vertical speed will loosen things up for Gates, Keenan Allen, and Stevie Johnson, who will have the short game held down. It might not be a highly productive role for Benjamin, but the fit makes a lot of sense… Right tackle Joe Barksdale was re-signed to a beleaguered offensive line…

Grade: Keep That Real Estate Agent’s Number, Mike McCoy

Kansas City - The Chiefs maintained the status quo on defense, bringing back Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and Jay Howard on reasonable deals, and committed franchise tag money to safety Eric Berry… Mitchell Schwartz was added to bolster an offensive line that lost Jeff Allen to the Texans and still is waiting for Eric Fisher provide return on the 2013 #1 overall pick they invested in him.

Grade: Andy Reid’s Tortoise Catching up to Elway’s Hare

Oakland - Oakland made a splash by signing Kelechi Osemele and Bruce Irvin, using their copious cap room to add two of the bigger prizes of free agency. The loser vibe has been shrugged off, and winning could start to become the norm in 2016… The Raiders were mentioned as a suitor for Doug Martin, and they could easily be one of the teams that drafts a top back early. Latavius Murray’s dynasty stock is shaky…

Grade: I am Reggie’s Smirking Revenge