Lost in the high profile moves of offensive players like DeSean Jackson, Brock Osweiler and Alshon Jeffery, in the background the IDP landscape has indelibly altered. Familiar names have jumped ship to other franchises looking to claw their way back, while some lesser known players may have been vaulted from the ranks of the obscure to the relevant.
At Footballguys, we often fall back on the timeless mantra that things change pretty quickly around here. At no time of the year is that more visible than the initial feeding frenzy of free agency. The following will hopefully act as a primer for those seeking a snapshot of the IDP moves that have mattered in the nascent stages of the new league year.
Welcome to 2017.
The moves you need to know
The Panthers made a rare splash on the offensive side of the ball to kick off free agency, addressing arguably their biggest need by plucking Matt Kalil to play alongside his brother Ryan in the Queen City. However, it was general manager Dave Gettleman’s decision to resign a pair of stalwart defensive ends that caught my attention. Charles Johnson has been a career Panther and returns on a team-friendly contract. Injuries played a large part in his lack of production the past two seasons. It is the lack of depth that Carolina boasts on the defensive line that should keep Johnson relevant. Addison is a player Carolina hopes can turn from a designated pass rusher into a viable every-down player. He will at least be given a chance to show he is capable; coming off a 9.5-sack season, why wouldn’t he?
Calais Campbell swaps Arizona for Jacksonville
The hulking defensive end cashed in with a four-year contract with $30m guaranteed to bolster what appears to be a very strong Jaguars defense – at least, on paper. The cynics will say that we have seen this story before, and Jacksonville’s loose purse strings have never resulted in anything more than disappointing seasons. Campbell won’t mind, though; he has been a consistent IDP force every season of his career. Playing alongside Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler Jr. could see additional pass rushing opportunities – and dare I say, possibly his best season yet?
Brandon Williams re-ups with Baltimore
Many thought Williams would bolt for new pastures in free agency, but the Ravens wisely retained him in-house. The former third round pick will not excite many IDP owners who do not utilise defensive tackles in their league formats, but Williams is a consistent 30-15 kind of player who is a DT1 when playing to his potential. Keeping him in familiar surroundings should benefit him as he enters his prime.
A.J. Klein moves from Panthers to division rival Saints
Here is a move many would not have predicted as one to note, but A.J. Klein has quietly been one of the most underrated backup linebackers in the league. The Panthers’ loss is the Saints’ gain, as Klein goes from being the Robin to Luke Kuechly’s Batman to a legitimate chance to start. Stephone Anthony was in the coaching doghouse last season, and neither Craig Robertson nor Dannell Ellerbe should frighten anyone. Klein should, if he plays his cards right, earn the starting middle linebacker job. He is a player you could slip onto the back end of your rosters without much fanfare.
Paul Worrilow fills Levy void on Lions defense
Unsurprisingly, after injuries derailed what appeared to be a promising career, the Lions parted ways with DeAndre Levy. That void has been filled by former Atlanta player Paul Worrilow, who was deemed surplus to requirements on the young Falcons defense. Worrilow has his flaws – notably as a coverage defender – but his production cannot be questioned. Often we fixate on talent a bit too much in IDP formats, when our primary focus should be the intersection opportunity and scheme. Worrilow faces little competition as of this post other than Tahir Whitehead. He could return to relevance before you know it.
Chandler Jones to stay in Arizona on multi-year, mega deal
This one was always a likelihood, but now that the formalities are over we can look forward to many more productive seasons from Jones. He thrived in his first year in Arizona, notching 38 tackles, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. The Cardinals scheme should allow Jones to establish himself as an IDP force for the foreseeable future.
Quintin Demps bolsters Bears' back end on three-year, $13.5m deal
It is always difficult to project the true impact of defensive backs, but this one stands out. John Fox values veteran presences, especially on the back end of the defense. Demps represents a safe, low-ceiling option with the potential for decent production in IDP formats. He will be afforded the opportunity to compete for the starting strong safety job with Harold Jones-Quartey. At worst, there will be a platoon situation, but Demps – if he can earn Fox’s trust – should be able to hold on to this job in a defense ripe with tackle opportunity.
Barry Church follows the money to Jacksonville
In the game of free agency musical chairs, Barry Church takes the place of Jonathan Cyprien (who I will touch on momentarily) in Jacksonville. With little competition to speak of, Church will slot in immediately as the starting strong safety. Whether he will be able to reach the lofty heights of his 2013 season in Dallas (101 solo tackles) remains to be seen. What we do know is that despite Jacksonville’s additions, we have yet to see such a splurge of spending really pay off for them. I would wager that their tackle opportunity will remain high enough to keep Church among the top 10 safeties.
Titans pluck Cyprien from rival Jaguars
The Titans pounced quickly on Jonathan Cyprien after his departure from Jacksonville, strengthening their roster while weakening that of a division rival – at least they hope. Cyprien will have a tougher road to a starting job compared to the aforementioned Church, but Da’Norris Searcy should not be too tough to beat out. Money talks, and it is clear who the Titans see as their starting strong safety.
If you have any questions about free agency or the IDP implications of any moves, don't hesitate to drop me a line on Twitter @davlar87