Introduction by Sigmund Bloom
Offseason player movement starts as a slow drizzle of players being cut or re-signed by their teams before free agency begins, and then the sky opens up with free agency, drowning us in transactions that are nearly impossible to keep track of in real time during the first few days. While we are still trying to understand the new reality of the moves made a few hours ago, a new set of signings is announced, and our brain struggles to incorporate those new facts into our ever-changing picture of the NFL. Then, just as we are getting our head above the flash flood water, the draft comes and changes everything in the short span of three days yet again.
It's enough to make you want to check out and wait until everything settles again to study and ponder how the offseason movement changed the fantasy football landscape. Whether you're just now getting caught up, or you want to make sure you didn't miss any moves or angles while you were trying to keep up with the frenzy back in March, this article should be your one-stop reference and overview for all offseason movement to this point.
Quarterbacks by Jason Wood
- Carson Palmer - Arizona (from Oakland)
What Happened: The Raiders opted to move on after another 4-win season in spite of respectable numbers from the veteran signal caller (4,018 yards, 61% completion rate, 22 touchdowns). Oakland found a trade partner in the Arizona Cardinals; who signed Palmer to a new 3-year, $26mm contract with $10mm in guarantees.
What It Means: Palmer ranked 18th among fantasy quarterbacks last year, but has sleeper potential in Arizona thanks to the proven play-calling of new head coach Bruce Arians combined with the presence of uber receiver Larry Fitzgerald. If Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Ryan Swope and Rob Housler can develop under the new coaches, Palmer could push for top end fantasy QB2 value.
- Alex Smith - Kansas City (from San Francisco)
What Happened: After the emergence of Colin Kaepernick made Alex Smith expendable, the 49ers traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2nd round pick in 2013 and a conditional 3rd rounder in 2014. Smith was installed as the starter immediately by new head coach Andy Reid, and Matt Cassel was tendered his release.
What It Means: Smith is a good fit for Andy Reid's system but he's never been more than a game manager in fantasy circles and expectations shouldn't change simply because he's in a new environment. Smith may not be a fantasy starter in his own right, but his accuracy and efficiency will ensure that running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe reach their considerable potential.
- Matt Flynn - Oakland (from Seattle)
What Happened: A year ago Matt Flynn settled for a modest contract from Seattle after a lukewarm free agency period. A year later Flynn was sent packing after rookie Russell Wilson emerged as the face of the franchise. Flynn now finds himself as the nominal starter in Oakland for new offensive coordinator Greg Olson. The 27 year old quarterback signed a new 2-year, $11.5mm contract with $6.5mm guaranteed.
What It Means: The Raiders will give Flynn every opportunity to earn the starting role but question marks remain. Is the Raiders supporting cast good enough to give Flynn fantasy relevance? Can rookie Tyler Wilson push for the starting job, making Flynn a training camp loser in consecutive seasons?
- Kevin Kolb - Buffalo (from Arizona)
What Happened: Kevin Kolb only played in 15 games over two seasons in Arizona, completing less than 60% of his throws and passing for 17 touchdowns. New head coach Bruce Arians wanted to go in a different direction, so the Cardinals released Kolb. Shortly thereafter Kolb signed a 2-year, $6.1mm contract with just $1mm in guaranteed money.
What It Means: Kevin Kolb is effectively being paid like a backup quarterback, and that's exactly what his future will be in Buffalo after the Bills used the 16th overall pick on E.J. Manuel. Kolb may be under center to start the season, but is merely keeping the seat warm until Manuel is ready.
- Jason Campbell, Cleveland (from Chicago)
What Happened: Campbell signed a 2-year, $3.75mm contract with $500,000 in guarantees to join the Browns and compete with embattled starter Brandon Weeden.
What It Means: Campbell is a career 61% passer but has only thrown 76 touchdowns in 71 career starts, but that might make him the most productive quarterback in Cleveland. Brandon Weeden is hardly entrenched, particularly if we're to believe reports that new GM Michael Lombardi dislikes Weeden's potential. Should Weeden struggle, the Browns may turn to Campbell in the hopes his veteran presence in the huddle will be enough to complement a power running attack and solid defense.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick - Tennessee (from Buffalo)
What Happened: After going 19-31 in four seasons in Buffalo, Fitzpatrick was let go as new head coach Doug Marrone has his sights set on a new direction for the franchise. Fitzpatrick didn't have to wait long for a job, securing a 2-year, $6.5mm contract to replace Matt Hasselbeck as Jake Locker's backup.
What It Means: Fitzpatrick is a smart and fearless player, and becomes one of the better backup options in the league. Jake Locker will be given a long leash, but Fitzpatrick could be a decent fantasy fill-in if the opportunity presents itself.
- Matt Cassel - Minnesota (from Kansas City)
What Happened: 19 wins and 28 losses in four seasons was more than enough to assure Cassel had no future under Andy Reid's watch in Kansas City .The 31-year old quickly landed a 2-year, $7.4mm contract in Minnesota.
What It Means: The Vikings were VERY patient with Christian Ponder in 2012, and have added two dynamic receivers (Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson) this offseason, but it's not inconceivable that Matt Cassel's name may be called midway through the season. Cassel averaged less than one touchdown pass per start in Kansas City, so don't count on Cassel as a fantasy sleeper regardless of Ponder's performance.
- Matt Hasselbeck - Indianapolis (from Tennessee)
What Happened: The Titans opted to move in a new direction, but the 37-year old didn't have to leave the division to find work. Hasselbeck signed a 2-year, $8mm contract to back up Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.
What It Means: Hasselbeck remains an accurate (62% completion rate in 2012) passer but has been afraid to pull the trigger in recent seasons (3% TD rate over last five years). He poses a significant downgrade to Andrew Luck if an injury forces Hasselbeck into the lineup.
- Bruce Gradkowski - Pittsburgh (from Cincinnati)
What Happened: Bruce Gradkowski departs one AFC North member for another, joining the Steelers as Ben Roethlisberger's backup.
What It Means: Roethlisberger's health is always a concern, so Gradkowski stands a slightly above average chance to see playing time in the regular season. Unfortunately Gradkowski is a career 53% passer with more career interceptions (24) than touchdowns (21) -- his fantasy prospects are dim.
- Luke McCown - New Orleans (from Atlanta)
What Happened: The Saints needed a new backup as Chase Daniel left for greener pastures in Kansas City. The 32-year old McCown has an enviable position now as he is one Drew Brees' injury away from taking the reins of a potent, balanced offense.
What It Means: If McCown gets significant playing time, it would warrant a downgrade of the entire Saints supporting cast.
- Drew Stanton - Arizona (from Indianapolis)
What Happened: New head coach Bruce Arians targeted Drew Stanton because of his intimate understanding of Arians' system from their time together in Indianapolis. Stanton steps into the role of Carson Palmer's backup, armed with a 3-year, $8.2mm contract with $3mm in guarantees.
What It Means: Had the Cardinals not acquired Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton would be perceived as a compelling fantasy sleeper. Unfortunately Palmer's presence limits Stanton's role to that of a distinguished backup waiting for an opportunity down the line.
- Chase Daniel - Kansas City (from New Orleans)
What Happened: Daniel opted to join the Kansas City Chiefs instead of re-signing with the Saints, which may be a sign that Daniel sees a clearer path toward playing time by getting out from underneath Drew Brees' shadow.
What It Means: Daniel is an unproven commodity, but Andy Reid has shown many times through the years that he can get respectable production from any NFL quarterback. If Alex Smith gets hurt, Daniel could handle the job with surprising aplomb.
Other Notable Quarterbacks changing teams:
- Dennis Dixon, Philadelphia (from Baltimore)
- Caleb Hanie, Baltimore (from Denver)
- Josh Johnson, Cincinnati (from Cleveland)
- Mike Kafka, New England (from Philadelphia)
- Colt McCoy, San Francisco (from Cleveland)
- Curtis Painter, NY Giants (from Baltimore)
- Brady Quinn, Seattle (from Kansas City)
- John Skelton, Cincinnati (from Arizona)
- Seneca Wallace, New Orleans (from Cleveland)
Running Backs by Jeff Pasquino
- Steven Jackson - Atlanta (from St. Louis)
What Happened: The Atlanta falcons want one more shot with their current offensive cast (including Tony Gonzalez), but they also have decided to move on from Michael Turner. Enter Steven Jackson, who signed a three-year contract as a free agent.
What It Means: The Falcons are going for the Lombardi trophy this year with Jackson as their feature running back for this season. The move is a great one for Atlanta, who get the services of a top notch former Pro Bowl tailback who still seems to have plenty of tread on 30-year old tires. Even if Jackson starts to lose a step, the Falcons have favorable terms within his deal. Despite signing a 3-year, $12 million contract, only $4M of the $5.75M this season is guaranteed for Jackson ñ which means that the Falcons can cut him in 2014 or 2015 without a salary cap hit.
- Reggie Bush - Detroit (from Miami)
What Happened: The Lions signed Bush early in free agency to a four-year, $16 million deal in March.
What It Means: Detroit has officially given up on Jahvid Best and are now rounding out their backfield with a big upgrade over Joique Bell from last season. The Lions have already stated that they want to use Bush like he was utilized in New Orleans, which should mean about 100 targets or so for a tailback that loves to get the ball in the open field. Bush had 161 catches in his first two seasons with the Saints and he could push the 80 reception mark this season in a Lion offense that loves to throw.
- Chris Ivory - NY Jets (from New Orleans)
What Happened: The Jets pulled off a third-day NFL Draft trade with the Saints, acquiring Ivory for a fourth round pick. New York proceeded to sign Ivory immediately, giving him a three-year deal worth $6 million with $4 million more in incentives.
What It Means: New York is trying to get some quality tailbacks in the mix for this year on the cheap, and they just might have pulled that off with getting Ivory and Mike Goodson this offseason. Goodson signed a 3-year, $6.9M deal in March, but now that Ivory is a Jet it is Ivory who is the favorite to be the top ball carrier for New York this season. Ivory has seen limited touches in his first three seasons while in New Orleans, but when he had opportunity he did quite well (256 carries, 1307 yards and eight touchdowns). The expectation now is that Ivory will be the main man on running downs, with Goodson as the third down complimentary receiving and pass protection running back. Bilal Powell is a distant third on the revised depth chart.
- Rashard Mendenhall - Arizona (from Pittsburgh)
What Happened: Pittsburgh decided to move on from Rashard Mendenhall, who has proven to be both fragile and ineffective in numerous opportunities to become the featured tailback for the Steelers.
What It Means: Arizona signed Mendenhall to a $2.5 million deal for just one season in what has to be viewed as a ìprove itî situation for Mendenhall. The Arizona backfield is somewhat crowded with Mendenhall, Ryan Williams and two late round draft picks with high upside (Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington), but Mendenhall is the favorite to be the starter this season. Mendenhall is now reunited with former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and if the 26-year old tailback is healthy and motivated, he could be a sneaky sleeper as a RB3 with RB2 upside for 2013.
- Shonn Greene - Tennessee (from NY Jets)
What Happened: The NY Jets gave up on their former starting running back, letting Greene go to sign as a free agent in Tennessee. Greene inked a 3-year, $10M contract with the Titans.
What It Means: Tennessee brings in Greene to be the second back on their depth chart, backing up Chris Johnson. On the surface, this looks like Greene will not have too much value ñ but Johnson may start to lose goal line chances to Greene, who does move the pile and fall forward especially if he gets good blocking. Greene was a fantasy RB2 last year for a woeful Jets team, so Greene looks to be a top understudy to take late in fantasy drafts and a great handcuff target for Johnson owners.
- Danny Woodhead - San Diego (from New England)
What Happened: The former scatback for the New England left the Patriots to sign a two-year, $3.5M deal with San Diego.
What It Means: The Chargers are not looking to make Ryan Mathews their feature tailback again in 2013, as that proved to be disastrous last year once Mathews proved out to be fragile (missing for games) and ineffective (just 3.8 yards per carry and one rushing touchdown). San Diego needs playmakers, and Woodhead has been a spark on offense for New England, averaging 4.8 yards per carry over his career (but just 265 carries in four seasons). Woodhead is most effective as a complimentary back, coming in for specific offensive packages to contribute on limited touches. He has 100 career receptions, including 40 last season in New England, so his role will likely be bigger on passing and third downs for the Chargers.
- Mike Goodson - NY Jets (from Oakland)
What Happened: The NY Jets signed Goodson as a free agent, locking him up for three years for $6.9 million.
What It Means: Goodson was the favorite to start at tailback for the Jets before the NFL Draft, and then after the Jets passed on running backs for the first two days and three rounds things were looking up for Goodson's fantasy prospects. That all changed on the final day of the NFL Draft as the Jets traded a fourth round pick to the Saints for Chris Ivory, who is now the favorite to start for New York this season. Goodson is still positioned well as the third down and passing down option, which should prove to make him a value in PPR leagues (Goodson had 40 catches in 2010). Before anyone writes Goodson off any further, the Jets do love to run the ball and Ivory is not exactly a stranger to the injury report - that is, if the Jets don't write him off after his postseason arrest on drug and weapons charges.
Other notable running backs that changed teams (including fullbacks):
- LeGarrette Blount - New England (from Tampa Bay)
- Rashad Jennings - Oakland (from Jacksonville)
- Leon Washington - New England (from Seattle)
- Justin Forsett - Jacksonville (from Houston)
- Greg Jones - Houston (from Jacksonville)
- Brian Leonard - Tampa Bay (from Cincinnati)
- Felix Jones - Philadelphia (from Dallas)
Other notable running backs that are free agents (including fullbacks):
- Ahmad Bradshaw - (formerly with the NY Giants)
- Michael Turner - (formerly with Atlanta)
- Chris Wells - (formerly with Arizona)
- Peyton Hillis - (formerly with Kansas City)
- Cedric Benson - (formerly with Green Bay)
Wide Receivers by Sigmund Bloom
- Mike Wallace - Miami (from Pittsburgh)
What Happened: Wallace signed a five-year, $60M contract with the Miami Dolphins in free agency. The
contract also guarantees Wallace 30 million dollars.The Steelers did not have the cap room to use the
franchise tag on Wallace, but they almost certainly would have still let him walk if they did.
What It Means: Ryan Tannehill has a number one receiver who can stretch the field, opening the field up for
the short/intermediate passing game and keeping the defense from putting eight in the box. Tannehill’s arm strength, knack for keep plays alive with his legs, and ability to throw deep from suboptimal platforms will mesh will with Wallace’s deep speed. Brian Hartline is now cast in the number two receiver role that is much better suited to his skillset. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and the Steelers offense may struggle without Wallace to distract safeties and keep cornerbacks on their heels.
- Percy Harvin - Seattle (from Minnesota)
What Happened: The Minnesota Vikings traded their disgruntled #1 receiver Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for the #25 pick in the 2013 draft, along with a 2013 seventh-rounder and a mid-round pick (believed to be a third-rounder) in 2014. The Seahawks then signed Harvin to a six-year, $67M deal with 14 million guaranteed.
What It Means: Harvin joins an already potent offense and gives Russell Wilson an extra weapon to propel him farther up the fantasy quarterback rankings. Sidney Rice may see fewer targets, but also more one-on-one coverage. Golden Tate is now joined by a much better version of the kind of player he is. The Vikings traded away the one viable wide receiver they had last year, and left themselves with work to do at the position.
- Greg Jennings - Minnesota (from Green Bay)
What Happened: Jennings found a somewhat softer market for his services than expected, eventually signing a five-year, $47.5M deal with the Minnesota Vikings. The Packers reportedly got in the mix to re-sign him, but did not make a good enough offer to keep him
What It Means: Jennings becomes the #1 receiver for Christian Ponder and a potentially underrated fantasy receiver. He has only played in 21 games over the last two seasons and will be facing defenses that don’t have to worry about any other established threats in the Vikings passing game, but Jennings will also benefit from the presence of all-world running back Adrian Peterson.
- Wes Welker - Denver (from New England)
What Happened: In the most shocking development of free agency, Welker rejected New England’s opening offer and jumped ship to join Peyton Manning in Denver. The Broncos gave him a fully guaranteed two-year, $12M deal.
What It Means: Denver appears to have the pieces in place for an uptempo spread passing offense, and new offensive coordinator Adam Gase has indicated that changes are in store in the gameplan on the side of the ball. Brandon Stokley, Jacob Tamme, and possibly even Eric Decker will take a back seat to Welker in the passing game, while Manning has a chance to top 5,000 passing yards for the first time in his career with arguably the best weapons he has had since his record-breaking season of 2004.
- Danny Amendola - New England (from St. Louis)
What Happened: In what appeared to be a “Plan B” move after Wes Welker signed with Denver, the Patriots inked Danny Amendola to a five-year, $28.5M contract. It was later revealed that the Patriots were pursuing Amendola before Welker had made his decision to reject their contract offer at the open of free agency.
What It Means: Amendola is a Welker clone, right down to the Texas Tech pedigree. He is younger than Welker and better at running routes as an outside receiver, but Amendola also has a long history of durability issues. He has instant top 10 wide receiver upside in PPR leagues with a big red flag for injury risk. Knowing who will back him up in the slot is very important this year.
- Anquan Boldin - San Francisco (from Baltimore)
What Happened: As part of an offseason purge of players that played big roles on the Ravens’ championship team, Baltimore traded Anquan Boldin and his six million dollar salary to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick. The Ravens had previously asked Boldin to take a two million dollar pay cut and he refused.
What It Means: Boldin becomes the WR2 in the 49ers’ offense, although he probably won’t have the fantasy value he would have had with Joe Flacco after the two got on the same page down the stretch last year. Jacoby Jones appears to have first shot at the starting job in Baltimore that was vacated opposite Torrey Smith, as the team made no big moves in free agency or the draft to replace Boldin.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey - Indianapolis (from Oakland)
What Happened: The Raiders saved over five million dollars against the cap by releasing 2009 #7 overall pick Heyward-Bey on March 12. The Colts swooped in three weeks later and signed Heyward-Bey to a one-year, $3M deal with 1.5 million dollars guaranteed.
What It Means: Heyward-Bey could win a starting role in a good passing offense, cutting into TY Hilton’s quickly rising fantasy value. Alternatively, he might be relegated to battling with 2012 sixth-round pick LaVon Brazill for #3 wide receiver duties. Heyward-Bey’s status as a sleeper and Hilton’s status as a potential breakout receiver will hinge on the outcome of this situation.
- Davone Bess - Cleveland (from Miami)
What Happened: The Browns were rumored to be pursuing Bess leading up to the draft, and they consummated a deal with the Dolphins during the event, swapping fourth-round picks (#104 and #111) and giving Miami a fifth-round pick (#164) in exchange for a seventh-round pick (#217) to acquire Bess.
What It Means: The path is clear for free agent pickups Dustin Keller and Brandon Gibson to occupy the slot for the Dolphins, while Bess could reprise his reliable third-down receiver role for the Browns.
- Donnie Avery - Kansas City (from Indianapolis)
What Happened: New head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey decided to add some speed to the Chiefs’ wide receiver corps by signing Avery to a three-year, $8.55M deal, with 1.5 million dollars guaranteed.
What It Means: Avery will battle with 2011 first-round pick Jon Baldwin to start opposite Dwayne Bowe. His quickness and superior run after catch threat could persuade the new regime to start him over Baldwin, a choice of from the Scott Pioli era.
- Brandon Gibson - Miami (from St. Louis)
What Happened: The Rams decided to move on from Gibson’s reliable, but limited talents, leaving the Dolphins the opening to sign him to a three-year, $9.755M contract, with 3.75 million dollars guaranteed.
What It Means: The Rams opened up a starting wide receiver job that will likely go to 2012 second-round pick Brian Quick or 2013 third-round pick Stedman Bailey. Gibson is surely behind two receivers that the Dolphins signed to almost 100 million dollars of contracts this offseason, Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. He’ll vie with Dustin Keller for snaps in the slot and back up Wallace and Hartline.
- Mohamed Massaquoi - Jacksonville (from Cleveland)
What Happened: The Browns’ new regime did not appear to be eager to retain Massaquoi, so he took his services to Jacksonville when he signed a two-year, $1.7M deal.
What It Means: Massaquoi was originally slated to compete with Jordan Shipley for snaps in the slot, but with Justin Blackmon facing a four-game suspension, he could open the season as a starter for the Jaguars. The Browns traded for Davone Bess and signed David Nelson to help pick up the slack left by Massaqoui’s departure.
- Donald Jones - New England (from Buffalo)
What Happened: The Bills decided to not tender Jones, a restricted free agent, so the Patriots signed him to a three-year, $4.155M deal with no guaranteed money during the first week of free agency.
What It Means: With the Patriots’ relative inexperience at wide receiver and durability questions throughout their passing game, anyone on the roster at wide receiver could have potential value in redraft leagues. Jones had two excellent games in shootouts against the Patriots last year, so perhaps that played into their decision to sign him.
- Michael Jenkins - New England (from Minnesota)
What Happened: The Vikings released Jenkins and the Patriots signed him to a one-year, $855K deal with no guaranteed money
What It Means: Jenkins is slow and not going to scare any cornerbacks, but his blocking ability and experience could earn him a roster spot. If enough players get injured ahead of him, Jenkins could have value by default because of the potent Patriots offense.
- Lavelle Hawkins - New England (from Tennessee)
What Happened: The Titans decided to release Hawkins after signing Kevin Walter. It took the Patriots about a week to sign him to a two-year, $1.865M deal, with a $150K dollar signing bonus.
What It Means: The Patriots might think more of Hawkins than fellow veteran wide receiver pickups Jones and Jenkins because they actually gave him some guaranteed money and also included 1.2 million dollars in incentives based on production. As noted above, you’ll want to know the names of every veteran receiver on the Patriots’ roster.
- Domenik Hixon - Carolina (from NY Giants)
What Happened: The Giants appear to be satisfied with their depth at wide receiver, as they didn’t attempt to retain Hixon. The Panthers swooped in about three weeks into free agency and signed Hixon to a one-year, $1.2M deal with a $250K signing bonus.
What It Means: Brandon LaFell flashed at times last year, but Hixon is talented and good enough to push him for the #2 wide receiver job... if he can stay healthy.
Other notable wide receivers that changed teams:
- Kevin Ogletree - Tampa Bay (from Dallas)
- Steve Smith - Tampa Bay (from St. Louis)
- Arrellious Benn - Philadelphia (from Tampa Bay)
- David Nelson - Cleveland (from Buffalo)
- Josh Cribbs - Oakland (from Cleveland)
- Kevin Walter - Tennessee (from Houston)
- Ted Ginn - Carolina (from San Francisco)
- Louis Murphy - NY Giants (from Carolina)
Tight Ends by Maurile Tremblay
- Jared Cook - St. Louis (from Tennessee)
What Happened: Jared Cook played out his contract in Tennessee and became an unrestricted free agent in 2013. The Rams signed him to a five-year deal worth $35.1 million with $16 million guaranteed.
What It Means: Many believed that Cook was underused in Tennessee, especially in the red zone, but he should find a bigger role in the Rams' passing game. Cook is a big-play threat who can run vertical routes. He can line up either at tight end or in the slot, and should stay on the field by moving out to the slot when the Rams go four-wide. Cook was always richer in potential than in production in Tennessee: he has never caught 50 balls in a season. But as he enters his fifth season, the greater receiving opportunities he's expected to have with the Rams make him a borderline fantasy TE1-TE2. Cook is not much of a blocker, so Lance Kendricks should still have a role as a blocking tight end, but Kendricks' fantasy value is pretty much null.
- Martellus Bennett - Chicago (from NY Giants)
What Happened: Bennett was originally a second-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys. After he played out his rookie contract in Dallas, he became a free agent and signed a one-year deal with the Giants last season, making him a free agent again this past offseason. The Bears signed him to a four-year contract worth $20.4 million, with $9.215 million guaranteed after the third day of the league year in 2014.
What It Means: Bennett will be a big upgrade over Kellen Davis for the Bears. Bennett is a well-rounded tight end: a big, athletic target as a receiver and a powerful blocker in the running game. He had a breakout season in 2012 with 55 receptions for 626 yards and five touchdowns. The Bears have not used their tight ends much in the passing game recently: no Chicago tight end has broken the 20-catch barrier in either of the past two seasons. The Bears could use Bennett the way they used Greg Olsen some years ago, however, which makes Bennett a very solid fantasy TE2 with some TE1 potential.
- Dustin Keller - Miami (from NY Jets)
What Happened: Keller was the Jets' first-round draft pick in 2008. He played out his rookie contract with the Jets and became an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Dolphins signed him to a one-year, $4.25 million contract.
What It Means: Keller will take over the starting tight end spot in Miami, replacing the departed Anthony Fasano. Keller was quite productive in 2011, catching 65 passes for 815 yards. He struggled through hamstring injuries last season, however, and his one-year contract with the Dolphins should be considered an audition for a longer-team deal. Keller is a solid blocker, and could be a good fit for the Dolphins short passing game. Consider him a solid fantasy TE2 with Ryan Tannehill throwing to him.
- Brandon Myers - NY Giants (from Oakland)
What Happened: Myers became an unrestricted free agent after spending his first four seasons with the Raiders. The Giants signed him to a four-year contract with a face-value of $14.25 million, but the final three years are all voidable, so it could easily become a one-year, $2.25 million deal.
What It Means: Myers' fantasy value takes a bit of a hit with his move from Oakland to New York. On a generally lackluster Oakland offense last season, Myers led the Raiders with 79 receptions for 806 yards. The Giants have a more explosive offense generally, which may improve Myers' redzone opportunities, but he will be competing for looks with a stronger group of receivers and will likely end up with a smaller piece of a larger pie. Martellus Bennett caught 55 passes as the starting tight end for the Giants last season, which may be a better estimate of Myers' 2013 catch total than his 79 receptions last season. Consider him a solid fantasy TE2 with limited upside potential.
- Delanie Walker - Tennessee (from San Francisco)
What Happened: The Titans signed Delanie Walker to a four-year contract worth $17.5 million, with over $8.6 million guaranteed. That seems pretty cheap, however, when compared with the contract that former Tennessee tight end Jared Cook got with the Rams (see above).
What It Means: Walker was drafted by the 49ers in 2006, the same year that they drafted Vernon Davis, so Walker has served backup duty during his first seven seasons in the league. He comes to Tennessee as the team's number one tight end, and will seek to improve his production in the starting role. He is a much better blocker than Jared Cook was, and should be on the field more often for that reason. Walker has never caught 30 passes in a season, but he should crash through that barrier as the Titans' starter. Walker had some problems with drops in San Francisco, but he also showed some big-play ability: he averaged 16.4 yards per reception last year, and 9 of his 21 catches went for over 20 yards. Consider him a fantasy TE3 for now, but he could move into TE2 territory if the Titans indicate that they will make the tight end a much larger part of their passing game.
- Anthony Fasano - Kansas City (from Miami)
What Happened: The Chiefs signed Fasano to a four-year, $16 million contract that includes a $4.5 million signing bonus.
What It Means: Fasano will be the Chiefs' number two tight end behind Tony Moeaki. While tight ends in offenses coached by Andy Reid have historically had good fantasy value, Fasano is a better blocker than receiver, and will essentially have no fantasy value as long as Moeaki stays healthy. Moeaki had offseason surgery on his knee and his considered an injury risk, however, so keep Fasano on your radar as a possible fantasy sleeper if Moeaki misses time.
- Ben Watson - New Orleans (from Cleveland)
What Happened: The Saints signed former Patriots and Browns tight end Ben Watson to a three-year contract worth $4.95 million including a $1.2 million signing bonus. On a note of trivia, that makes Watson more highly paid than Jimmy Graham this season.
What It Means: Watson will replace David Thomas as the Saints' backup tight end. Watson caught 49 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns last season with the Browns, but his playing time will likely be substantially reduced with the Saints. At age 32, Watson will provide depth, but won't play a prominent role in the offense as long as Graham stays healthy. He is not worth a roster spot in fantasy leagues.
- Tom Crabtree - Tampa Bay (from Green Bay)
What Happened: Crabtree entered the 2013 offseason as a restricted free agent, but the Packers declined to make him a qualifying tender, so he became an unrestricted free agent and signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers for $1.6 million. The Packers were reportedly willing to offer Crabtree $700,000 for one year, but Crabtree took the better offer from the Buccaneers.
What It Means: Crabtree will likely be the Buccaneers' number two tight end behind Luke Stocker, assuming that they do not re-sign Dallas Clark (in which case Crabtree would be pushed back to number three). Crabtree is a better blocker than receiver, so as the Buccaneers' backup tight end, he has no discernible fantasy value.
- Matt Spaeth - Pittsburgh (from Chicago)
What Happened: Spaeth, who has originally drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2007 draft, returns to Pittsburgh by accepting a two-year, $2 million contract with the Steelers that includes a $275,000 signing bonus. He was released by the Bears after spending the last two years with that team.
What It Means: Spaeth will take over Leonard Pope's role as the Steelers' blocking tight end. In his six years in the league, he has averaged less than one catch per game and has no fantasy value.
- John Phillips - San Diego (from Dallas)
What Happened: The Chargers signed the former Dallas Cowboy to a three-year, $5.275 million contract.
What It Means: Phillips will take over Randy McMichael's role as the backup to Antonio Gates. As a pass-catcher, he is likely third in the Chargers' pecking order at tight end behind both Gates and Ladarius Green, which makes him useless as a fantasy prospect.
- Cameron Morrah - San Francisco (from Seattle)
What Happened: Morrah signed a one-year deal with the 49ers for $630,000, the league minimum for a three-year vet.
What It Means: Morrah will compete with Garrett Celek for the 49ers' third tight end position behind Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald. The injury-plagued tight end has played in only 26 games in his first three NFL seasons and may be an underdog to make the final roster in San Francisco. He has no fantasy value.
Other tight ends that changed teams:
- Gary Barnidge - Cleveland (from Carolina)
- Kevin Brock - Kansas City (from Buffalo)
- Jake Byrne - Houston (from New Orleans)
- Jamie Childers - NY Giants (From St. Louis)
- Steve Maneri - Chicago (from Kansas City)
- Zach Miller - Tampa Bay (from Jacksonville)
- Matthew Mulligan - Green Bay (from St. Louis)
- Fendi Onobun - Chicago (from Buffalo)
- Joe Sawyer - Buffalo (from San Francisco)
Place Kickers by Mike Herman
- Shayne Graham - Cleveland (from Houston)
What Happened: The Browns did not re-sign or franchise Phil Dawson, while Texans kicker Randy Bullock is recovered from injury.
What It Means: Graham goes from a team that has provided plenty of scoring opportunities the past two years to a team which has struggled to score for a long time.
- David Akers - Detroit (from San Francisco)
What Happened: Akers struggled and almost lost his 49ers job during the playoffs last year and then finally did in the offseason. Lions kicker Jason Hanson eventually retired after returning for one more year didn't work out.
What It Means: Akers has seen plenty of scoring opportunites, whether it was in Philadelphia or san Francisco, and could continue to do so in Detroit.
- Josh Brown - NY Giants (from Cincinnati)
What Happened: Although Brown kicked well in relief of injured Mike Nugent late last year, the Bengals opted to re-signed the latter. The Giants let Lawrence Tynes become a free agent.
What It Means: Brown will very likely win the job, although he'll have to hold off David Buehler, whom the Giants signed earlier in the offseason.
- Phil Dawson - San Francisco (from Cleveland)
What Happened: Coming off one of his best seasons ever was not enough for the Browns to offer a long term deal or use a third consecutive franchise tag on Dawson. The 49ers released David Akers, who had a dismal 2012 in follow-up to his record setting 2011.
What It Means: Dawson goes from a barren fantasy landscape to a land of plenty.
Other notable kicker signings:
- David Buehler - NY Giants
- Austin Signor - Chicago
- Giorgio Tavecchio - Green Bay
- Danny Hrapmann - Pittsburgh
- Carson Wiggs - Seattle
Offensive Linemen by Matt Bitonti
- Jake Long - St. Louis (from Miami)
What Happened: Four-time Pro Bowler Jake Long reportedly turned down more money from Miami to return to the midwest and join Jeff Fisher and the Rams.
What It Means: The Rams are a unit on the rise and Long is a huge part of that transformation. This signing also allows Rodger Saffold to move to right tackle and that change also improves the line as a whole.
- Jermon Bushrod - Chicago (from New Orleans)
What Happened: The Bears signed two-time Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod to a huge contract (22 million guarunteed) to man the left tackle position.
What It Means: The Bears offensive line has been a disaster for years, Bushrod could turn it all around. This move allows J'Marcus Webb to slide over to right tackle, improving the line as a whole.
- Andy Levitre - Tennessee (from Buffalo)
What Happened: Stalwart performer Andy Levitre reportedly received a 10.5 million dollar signing bonus to play left guard for the Titans.
What It Means: With Steve Hutchinson retiring, the Titans needed to improve their interior. With this signing as well as the draft pick of Chance Warmack in round one, this line should be among the league's better run blocking units for years to come.
- Gosder Cherilus - Indianapolis (from Detroit)
What Happened: The Colts broke out the big dollars to sign Gosder Cherilus, who will start at right tackle.
What It Means: Cherilus is not a Pro Bowl talent but he is a solid former first round selection who is a huge upgrade over last year's starter in Winston Justice. This move is good news for Andrew Luck, who should be better protected than in prior sesasons.
- Louis Vasquez - Denver (from San Diego)
What Happened: The Broncos signed Louis Vasquez to a four-year deal, with 13 million dollars guarunteed.
What It Means: At that price, Vasquez will certainly start in Denver and provide a generous upgrade over Chris Kuper. Vasquez has been a comptetant player for several seasons in San Diego.
- Donald Thomas - Indianapolis (from New England)
What Happened: The Colts signed Donald Thomas to a moderately priced four-year deal, to start at left guard.
What It Means: Thomas saw alot of reps in New England while Logan Mankins was out and he proved to be a capable starter. Joining fellow free agent addition Gosder Cherilus, the Colts line is improved from last season.
- Tyson Clabo - Miami (from Atlanta)
What Happened: Tyson Clabo was a cap casualty in Atlanta, and was scooped up by the Dolphins after the draft on a one-year deal.
What It Means: Clabo is an effective pass protector and the Dolphins line was looking rough before he signed. The line still won't be great but Clabo upgrades them from terrible to below average. Clabo was a cheaper alternative than resigning Jake Long or trading with Kansas City for Brandon Albert.
- Chad Rinehart - San Diego (from Buffalo)
What Happened: After ending last season on injured reserve, Chad Rinehart signed a one-year deal with San Diego.
What It Means: Rinehart is a servicable pass protector and should improve a Chargers line that is among the league's worst.
- Geoff Schwartz - Kansas City (from Minnesota)
What Happened: Former Minnesota Vikings guard, Geoff Schwartz signed a one-year deal with Kansas City.
What It Means: Schwartz is a veteran on a very young offensive line. Schwartz struggled with injuries last year but will be asked to provide stability and leadership at the left guard position. Schwartz will have to hold off former second round pick Jeff Allen in training camp.
- Wille Colon - NY Jets (from Pittsburgh)
What Happened: After ending the last three seasons on injured reserve, Willie Colon returns home to the New York metro area and signed a one-year deal with the Jets.
What It Means: Colon will be in the mix for a starting guard position, competing with Brian Winters, Stephen Peterman and Vlad Ducasse.
- King Dunlap - San Diego (from Philadelphia)
What Happened: Former Philadelphia Eagles left tackle King Dunlap signed a two-year deal with San Diego.
What It Means: Although the Chargers could still sign Max Starks, Dunlap is currently listed as a starter. Dunlap is not great but he is an upgrade over last year's starter Mike Harris.
- Will Svitek - New England (from Atlanta)
What Happened: Will Svitek signed a one year deal to join the New England Patriots
What It Means: Svitek has productive experience with the Falcons and could step in as a spot starter at several spots along the line.
- Matt Slauson - Chicago (from NY Jets)
What Happened: Matt Slauson signed a one-year deal with Chicago.
What It Means: Slauson is a gritty player who should compete with Edwin Williams for the left guard spot. It was rumored that first round pick Kyle Long would relegate Slauson to the bench, but Long seems to be slated for right guard instead.
- Lance Louis - Miami (from Chicago)
What Happened: Lance Louis signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.
What It Means: Louis will compete with (and likely beat out) John Jerry for the starting right guard position. Louis is a more reliable pass blocker than Jerry.
- Stephen Peterman - NY Jets (from Detroit)
What Happened: Stephen Peterman signed a one-year deal to join the NY Jets.
What It Means: Peterman had an atrocious year in Detroit but he has a ton of starting experience and will compete with Brian Winters, Willie Colon, and Vlad Ducasse for a starting guard spot.
Other notable offensive linemen that changed teams:
- Jeremy Trueblood - Washington Redskins (from Tampa Bay)
- Adam Snyder - San Francisco 49ers (from Arizona)
- Rob Turner - Tennessee Titans (from St Louis)
- Jason Smith - New Orleans Saints (from NY Jets)
- Rich Ohrnberger - San Diego Chargers (from Arizona)
- Mike Pollak - Cincinnati Bengals (from Carolina)
- Brandon Keith - Minnesota Vikings (from Arizona)
- Tyronne Green - New England Patriots (from San Diego)
- Guy Whimper - Pittsburgh Steelers (from Jacksonvile)
Defensive Linemen by Aaron Rudnicki
- DE Elvis Dumervil - Baltimore (from Denver)
What Happened: In one of the strangest stories of the offseason, Dumervil was released by the Broncos due to a mishap with a fax machine and signed a 5-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens.
What It Means: After Dumervil agreed to a paycut to help the Broncos, his agent couldn't get the updated contract submitted in time so the team released him. The Ravens took advantage of the opportunity and recruited him to join their rebuilt defense. Dumveril will easily replace the production lost with the departure of Paul Kruger and provide a very potent pass rushing tandem with veteran Terrell Suggs. He is clearly one of the league's elite pass rushers, but his fantasy value will be hurt significantly if he winds up with a LB designation instead of DE.
- DE Osi Umenyiora - Atlanta (from NY Giants)
What Happened: The talented but oft-injured pass rusher goes home to Atlanta after signing a 2-year contract worth $12.2 million.
What It Means: Umenyiora has proven himself to be one of the league's best pass rushers during his time with the Giants, but he has mostly been a part-time player (or injured) in recent years. If he can turn back the clock and stay healthy for a change, he could wind up replacing much of the pass rush that the Falcons are losing with the expected departure of John Abraham. Umenyiora may not be the player he used to be, but he's moving from one of the league's deepest pools of pass rushers to a team desperate for help in that area. The added snaps and playing time available to him in Atlanta in addition to the potent offense and turf playing surface could spark him to a big comeback season. Consider him a DE2 with significant upside.
- DE Cliff Avril - Seattle (from Detroit)
What Happened: In the face of a disappointing free agent market, the former Lions franchise player signed a 2-year contract with the Seahawks for $15 million.
What It Means: Avril turned down a $30 million contract from the Lions a year ago and wound up playing on a 1-year franchise deal. He had a disappointing season, however, and entered free agency with a lot less leverage. The Seahawks, who already had one of the best defenses in the league, took advantage and signed him to a short-term deal. Avril will provide pass rushing depth along with Chris Clemons (coming off torn ACL) and last year's 1st round pick Bruce Irvin (who was recently hit with a 4-game suspension). Avril may not be as good as he believes, but he is still a quality player who will allow the Seahawks to bring waves of pass rushers at opposing QBs this year. He may not pile up a lot of tackles in what will likely be a heavy rotation, but should get enough sack opportunities to be a viable DE2.
- DE Michael Bennett - Seattle (from Tampa Bay)
What Happened: The former Seahawk comes back to where his career started after signing a 1-year, $5 million contract.
What It Means: Bennett started his career with the Seahawks back in 2009 but was released due to a roster crunch and wound up in Tampa. Although the Bucs drafted two highly touted players out of college to play DE, it was Bennett who emerged as their most reliable option in recent years. He played all of last year with a shoulder injury, which limited his effectiveness but showed his dedication. With a revamped Seattle line, he's expected to line up outside on run downs and then move inside to a defensive tackle spot in the team's nickel packages. That type of versatility should keep him on the field quite often and make him a nice sleeper pick in standard leagues.
- DT Glenn Dorsey - San Francisco (from Kansas City)
What Happened: The former #3 overall pick looks for a new start in the Bay Area after signing a 2-year, $6 million deal with 49ers.
What It Means: There is a defensive arms race shaping up in the NFC West and the 49ers tried to keep pace with Seattle by signing Dorsey to a low-cost deal. Although he never lived up to expectations with the Chiefs, a lack of talent around him was at least partially to blame. He won't have that excuse anymore, but the size of the contract also proves that he'll have to earn his playing time in San Francisco. Although signed to play the less than exciting NT position, Dorsey will also backup Justin Smith at times. With Smith 34 years old and coming off a serious elbow injury, there is a chance that Dorsey could play well and work his way into the 49ers future plans at a more appealing fantasy position.
Linebackers by Aaron Rudnicki
- ILB Dannell Ellerbe - Miami (from Baltimore)
What Happened: After deciding a change was necessary, the Dolphins dumped Karlos Dansby and signed his replacement to a 5-year, $35 million contract.
What It Means: With the retirement of Ray Lewis, the Ravens were in the market for a middle linebacker to replace him as the focal point of their defense. Ellerbe led the team in tackles during the Super Bowl but he wound up getting a more lucrative offer from the Dolphins. The Dolphins underwent a transition of their own when they released Dansby, who had signed a monster contract a few years ago and was coming off a very strong season himself. Ellerbe may not provide an upgrade, but he's a solid all-around player who can stay on the field in all situations. His fantasy value should get a clear boost with a move to a 4-3 front where he will have less competition for tackles.
- OLB Phillip Wheeler - Miami (from Oakland)
What Happened: Soon after signing players like WR Mike Wallace and Ellerbe, the Dolphins made another big splash with the signing of Wheeler to a 5-year, $26 million contract.
What It Means: The Raiders found a steal a year ago when they signed Wheeler to a 1-year deal for just $1 million, but made a mistake in not signing him to a longer term. He quickly emerged as a leader of the Raiders defense and probably got some consideration for a franchise tag. Wheeler was allowed to hit unrestricted free agency, however, and the Dolphins signed him on the first day. To make room for him in the starting lineup, Kevin Burnett was cut loose. Wheeler is a physical player who can also rush the passer and hold up in coverage so look for him to take on a 3-down role and likely put up LB3 type numbers.
- OLB Kevin Burnett - Oakland (from Miami)
What Happened: The Raiders made a mistake by not re-signing Wheeler sooner, but will try to hit paydirt with another castoff after signing Burnett to a 2-year, $5.25 million contract.
What It Means: Burnett had some decent moments in Miami but was mostly underwhelming while playing in the shadow of Karlos Dansby. Burnett has a reputation for being an excellent cover linebacker so he should have little trouble working his way into a 3-down role with the Raiders. If their defense continues to have trouble getting off the field, Burnett should post better than expected numbers and make a nice LB sleeper to consider for fantasy owners.
- OLB Paul Kruger - Cleveland (from Baltimore)
What Happened: The Ravens lost another key piece of their defense when the pass-rushing linebacker signed a 5-year, $40 million contract with the Browns.
What It Means: As the second starting linebacker to leave the Super Bowl champions this offseason, Kruger is lower on this list because he plays a less appealing position for fantasy purposes. As a 3-4 outside linebacker, he will gain most of his value from big plays. While he had a lot of success with Baltimore last year, it was his first real shot at playing time so we'll have to see if he can replicate it with a new surrounding cast and scheme. The Browns badly needed an infusion of pass-rushing talent, however, so look for Kruger to get plenty of chances to build on his breakout season and become a viable starting option in most scoring systems.
- OLB Connor Barwin - Philadelphia (from Houston)
What Happened: Coming off a disappointing season, Barwin still managed to land a lucrative 6-year, $36 million contract to become a key piece of the new Eagles 3-4 defense.
What It Means: After a breakout 11.5 sack season in 2011, Barwin struggled for most of 2012 and finished with just 3 sacks in 16 games. The Texans were carried by J.J. Watt up front, and Barwin couldn't take advantage of all the attention he drew. The Eagles apparently saw enough from him to believe he could rebound to his earlier level of performance and gave him a very nice deal. Philadelphia is transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense this year and will give Barwin a chance to emerge as a star. If he plays up to his capability, he could be a 10-sack threat again but it may take them a year or two to build up the right kind of surrounding talent.
Defensive Backs by Aaron Rudnicki
- S Bernard Pollard - Tennessee (from Baltimore)
What Happened: The hard-hitting safety moved on to his 4th team after signing a 1-year, $2.5 million contract with the Titans.
What It Means: The Titans were unhappy with the play of their safeties last year and made a couple of moves this offseason to address the position. In addition to signing the versatile George Wilson from the Bills, they also added Pollard to upgrade their toughness in the secondary. Known for his big hits and punishing playing style, Pollard led the Ravens in tackles last year and has been an elite fantasy safety for much of his career. Although he can struggle in coverage, Pollard is at his best playing up in the box as an extra man in run support. With just a 1-year deal, he'll be highly motivated to prove himself with his new team and hopefully sign a big contract next summer. Assuming he wins the strong safety job, Pollard should make for a quality #1 safety on most fantasy teams.
- S LaRon Landry - Indianapolis (from NY Jets)
What Happened: After suffering through consecutive injury-shortened seasons and a torn Achilles, Landry rebounded with the Jets in 2012 and signed a 4-year, $24 million contract with the Colts.
What It Means: Landry made the Pro Bowl in his one year with the Jets and they would have liked to keep him, but cap issues prevented that from happening. He is an intimidating presence who will help fortify the Colts secondary and make receivers think twice before going over the middle. While he may not have the same range he had during his earlier career with the Redskins, he figures to be very active in run support and has the upside to finish as a top-5 safety provided his health issues are truly behind him.
- S Dashon Goldson - Tampa Bay (from San Francisco)
What Happened: After playing a key role for the 49ers in their run to the Super Bowl, Goldson cashed in with a 5-year, $41 million contract in Tampa.
What It Means: The Buccaneers also completed a trade for Darrelle Revis so they should be much better equipped to match up with the high powered passing attacks in their division. Goldson is a big hitter who makes plays who can also be exposed in coverage at times. He'll replace Ronde Barber at free safety after his retirement and team up with last year's high draft pick Mark Barron to form a talented tandem. The pieces are starting to come together for Tampa and Goldson should probably be considered a decent #2 safety.
- CB Darrelle Revis - Tampa Bay (traded from NY Jets)
What Happened: It's not often you see one of the best players in the league get traded during the prime of their career but that's what happened with Revis as he was traded to Tampa and signed 6-year, $96 million contract.
What It Means: Revis is coming off a torn ACL and was looking for a big long-term contract, but the Jets were close to the salary cap and felt Revis wasn't worth the investment so they shipped him out. Assuming he can recover fully from his injury, this is the type of player who could help shift the balance of power in the NFC South. Revis is the rare shutdown corner who can still be a productive fantasy option since he helps out in run support and can make a play on just about any ball thrown in his direction. There are quite a few threats for tackles in Tampa and their pass rush looks like a work in progress, but he should still make a solid CB2.
- S Dawan Landry - NY Jets (from Jacksonville)
What Happened: After losing LaRon Landry in free agency, the Jets signed his older brother to a 2-year, $3 million contract to replace him.
What It Means: Although he was known as a liability in coverage during his time in Jacksonville, Dawan is a good run defender who should fit in well with the Jets. He has experience playing under Rex Ryan from their time together in Baltimore and has consistently been one of the best tackling safeties in the league. At 30 years of age, he may have lost a step but doesn't have much competition for playing time and will likely make a quality #3 safety.
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