The free-agent rush is over. There are still good players looking for work and signings will continue to trickle in all the way up to the season, but we have seen a ton of movement already. Just like every offseason, many of these moves will open up doors for players and IDP production but not everyone that changed teams will see their fantasy stock rise. Here is a quick rundown of what has happened thus far and what it could mean.
The Cardinals have not signed any big hitters but they have addressed some needs with solid additions. Linemen Jordan Phillips and Trevon Conley are solid contributors on the field. They should bolster the run defense but are unlikely to have much box score impact themselves.
The additions of De’Vondre Campbell and Devon Kennard at the second level, however, could make them both more significant. For Campbell in particular, this is an interesting situation. He goes from a sometimes full-time role as a 4-3 outside linebacker, to what is potentially a three-down job on the inside in a 3-4.
Campbell projects to start at the weak inside position next to Jordan Hicks. While lack of week to week consistency has kept Campbell from being more than a marginal IDP option in general, he has put up strong numbers at times. The way I see it, this move is more likely to help his value than hinder it.
After some forgettable time with the Giants, the Lions figured out how to best use Devon Kennard over the last two seasons. He was a three-down outside, usually strong side linebacker for them. Most importantly, the Lions cut him lose to get after the passer. Kennard’s 14 sacks in two seasons with Detroit had the Cardinals viewing him as an edge rusher that could fit in their 3-4 opposite Chandler Jones. Like most at Kennard’s new position, he is not going to make a lot of tackles, but there is potential for double-digit sacks for the first time in his career.
The Falcons said early on that they would be active this offseason, and they have been. Most of their emphasis has been on the offensive side, but there has been one defensive addition that will have an impact for fantasy managers. Dante Fowler Jr Jr. was an outside linebacker for the Rams in 2019, when he broke out for 40 tackles, 16 assists, a career-best 11.5 sacks, 3 turnovers and 6 batted passes. For most IDP managers those numbers were barely useful because he was a linebacker. With the Falcons, Fowler will line up as a defensive end where he should hold significant value.
The rest of Atlanta’s defensive adjustment so far has come from jettisoning former starters. Desmond Trufant, Vic Beasley Jr, and De'Vondre Campbell are among the players that will be working elsewhere in 2020. The did pick up former Cincinnati linebacker Leroy Reynolds and journeyman corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson to add depth at the second and third levels but maybe looking to the draft to address their thin secondary and linebacker positions.
It has been a long time since the Ravens had significant production from their defensive ends. The drought could end in 2020. They landed Calais Campbell in a trade with Jacksonville and signed Derek Wolfe in free agency. The addition of Campbell is a significant plus for the team but the fantasy implications are not likely to be so positive for him. After a pair of stellar seasons in 2017 and 2018, Campbell’s production declined sharply in 2019. The total of six and a half sacks was Campbell’s lowest since 2015 when last played in a 3-4 with the Cardinals, but it equaled the sack total of all Ravens defensive linemen combined. It is also worth mention that Campbell turns 35 in September.
Before being injured, Wolfe had seven sacks in 12 games a year ago. The only question being, was that an outlier or something to be expected from him every year? The evidence supports the outlier probability. The seven sacks were a career-best for the eight-year veteran, who had 3.5 combined in the previous two seasons.
This is a team that still has a major hole at inside linebacker. They were already hurting at the position last year, and now they have seen both Josh Bynes and Patrick Onwuasor sign elsewhere. They may be looking at the draft to fill these positions but there are still a few solid veteran options on the free-agent list. The team may simply be waiting on prices to come down.
The Bills have been active though they have not inked any of this year’s headliners. Josh Norman is a solid veteran starter and A.J. Klein a dependable two-down linebacker. Quinton Jefferson brings some positional versatility up front and Vernon Butler is a lateral move to replace Jordan Phillips who signed elsewhere. Tyler Matakevich will play special teams and provide depth at linebacker.
In fact, the Bills only addition with possible IDP impact is Mario Addison. He was a linebacker in the Panthers 3-4 last year but Addison is at home as a 4-3 end. He will replace Shaq Lawson in the edge rotation and should provide a little boost in terms of the pass rush. The issue with Addison has never been sack numbers, but rather tackle totals. He will still have plenty of opportunities to rush the passer but it seems unlikely the change of teams will have much of an impact on his tackle production.
This is a defense that will look considerably different in 2020. Gone are long time starters Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. Gone is the previous coaching regime, and gone is the 3-4 scheme they tried last year, which undoubtedly contributed to the coaching changes. We know there will be at least five new starters on defense this year because Mario Addison, James Bradberry, Gerald McCoy, and Vernon Butler are all with new teams and Eric Reid was released.
The team added Tahir Whitehead to help fill the void at linebacker. He is a solid veteran player that makes a lot of tackles but is a far cry from Kuechley or Davis in terms of big-play production. From the fantasy perspective, we can expect more of the same from Whitehead going forward. The big winner here for IDP purposes is Shaq Thompson who is coming off a breakout year and suddenly finds himself as not only the most talented linebacker on the team but possibly in the lead role as well.
One new Panther to keep an eye on is defensive end, Stephen Weatherly. He showed flashes of quality production as the third end in the Vikings rotation over the last two seasons, including a stint as the starters when Everson Griffen missed time in 2018. As it stands now, Weatherly projects as a starter so at the very least he is a player of interest as we approach the season.
The Bears let Leonard Floyd go then signed Robert Quinn. It was a great move for their team but a bummer for ours. At face value, the move changes Quinn from a successful 4-3 end coming off an 11.5 sack season, to an outside linebacker where his value will be minimal at best to the majority. I will save a deeper analysis of how the 3-4 could affect his production for later.
The loss of Nick Kwiatkoski to the Raiders is not a big deal providing both Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan can stay healthy. Unfortunately, history suggests the team will miss their starter quality backup at some point.
Cincinnati had a new coaching staff last season but they did not make sweeping changes in personnel or defensive scheme. They saved those for year two. The Bengals will have a different approach under defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo in 2020 as well as several new faces. After years of running a rather vanilla 4-3, they will go to a multiple front scheme, sprinkling in what is expected to be a fair helping if 3-4. Fortunately, for the sake of player positions, most fantasy sites will continue to consider them a 4-3 team.
Personnel wise, the Bengals let Nick Vigil walk, signaling a new look at linebacker. They did not bring back Darqueze Dennard as their nickel corner and watched tackle Andrew Billings sign with the rival Browns.
The addition of journeyman Josh Bynes will help to fill the hole at linebacker, but look for the team to make further additions as well. Bynes is a solid veteran with plenty of starting experience, but he is not the kind of difference-maker they need to turn around this defense. From an IDP perspective, Bynes has the potential to be a steady contributor if he lands in the right role, but his upside is limited. The coaching staff liked what they saw from then-rookie Jermaine Pratt over the second half of last season, so they may be looking to him as the centerpiece of the unit.
Cincinnati inked former Vikings corners Trae Waynes and, McKenzie Alexander to compete for starting jobs in the secondary. Both have starting experience from their time in Minnesota and are good on-field additions. Bengals corners do not have a history of great fantasy value. We will have to see if that comes with the scheme changes.
The one addition in the secondary that is interesting both on the field and in fantasy terms, is safety Vonn Bell. Some might assume he will step right in as the starting strong safety. I do not see that being the case. Shawn Williams has played well at that position over the last two seasons. He and free safety Jessie Bates III were among the few bright spots for this unit in 2019. What this signals to me is that the Bengals could be among a growing number of teams using a nickel base defense featuring three safeties. What that means in terms of box score production for these three guys is yet to be determined, but if you have Williams or Bell in a dynasty league, there is no reason to panic.
The Bengals also signed D.J. Reader who will go a long way toward anchoring a leaky run defense, especially when the team uses three-man fronts where he can line up at nose tackle. His box score production in Houston’s 3-4 was marginal at best but he could have a bit more to offer in a different scheme.
The Browns fell way short of expectations in 2019 so rather than chancing more of the same from an underachieving defense, they have made significant changes. Gone are starters Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey at linebacker, and the safety positions have been a focus of free agency.
The team has not addressed their suddenly thin linebacker position thus far. They may be looking at the draft to do so but the coaching staff also liked what they saw from rookies Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki last season. If they delve back into free agency to add linebacker help, it will likely not be until after the draft.
Cleveland released safety Morgan Burnett and has so far made little or no effort to re-sign Damarious Randall. Instead, they brought in Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo to fill the starting jobs, though second-year man Sheldrick Redwine could also figure into the equation. Joseph has the versatility to play either safety spot while Sendejo is more of a strong safety type. Despite holding starting jobs with their former teams, neither have been great fantasy options in the past. Sendejo has provided decent tackle totals but has been lacking in the big play columns. Joseph has shown flashes of quality production but has been far too inconsistent. A change of scenery could be good for both of these guys both on the field and in the box scores. Joseph clearly has the most upside here.
There have been some less significant signings in Cleveland as well. Kevin Johnson will add depth at the corner position and could see time in sub-package situations. Andrew Billings will work into the rotation at tackle where he should serve as the third man.
The need at safety has been an offseason discussion with the Cowboys over the last several years. This time they actually addressed it. With Jeff Heath signing to play in Los Vegas, Dallas turned to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to fill the hole. Clinton-Dix is not as physical a run defender as heath, but he brings more speed, better cover skills and some big-play ability the team has been missing for a while. It has been a long time since the Cowboys had a safety with serious fantasy value. Clinton-Dix was a marginal option for IDP managers last year while with the Bears, but he had 81 solo tackles, 6 turnovers and a sack in 2018. This could be a great fit for everyone.
The team missed out on re-signing Robert Quinn, which is a big loss, but they did make significant additions at the tackle positions. Gerald McCoy is both a strong presence versus the run and a contributor to the pass rush. Marginal tackle numbers and a positional designation of defensive end rendered him irrelevant to fantasy managers in 2019, but the move to Dallas and a return to tackle should make him roster worthy as at least a DT2 with upside in 2020.
The addition of Dontari Poe should further bolster the run defense. He is a space-eater that will help keep blockers off the linebackers, but Poe is not likely to carry any fantasy value.
Denver lost a good player in Derek Wolfe but they replaced him with a trade for Jurrell Casey who is one of the best, most underrated 3-4 ends in the game. It was a plus for the team and probably a lateral move for Casey in terms of fantasy value. His role and responsibilities will change little, suggesting his production should remain about6 the same.
The Broncos were not able to bring back corner Chris Harris Jr, so they traded for A.J. Bouye to replace him. For managers in leagues requiring corners, Bouye has provided decent value at times over his career. Going to Denver probably puts an end to that as Broncos corners have been all but completely void of fantasy value in recent years. Harris led the group with 44 tackles last year and they had 1 interception between them.
Lions head coach and former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia continues to reunite with his former players. So far the Lions have traded for safety Duron Harmon, signed Danny Shelton, and Jamie Collins Sr. Harmon served as the third safety for most of his time with New England, so he was not much of a fantasy contributor. The team has not re-signed Tavon Wilson who put up good numbers from the strong safety spot last year, so at this point, Harmon projects as the starter in what has been a productive spot.
Danny Shelton is a big body up front, but is not likely to be on the field full time and has shown little box score value so far in his career. His presence, however, is a plus for Jamie Collins Sr who has provided plenty of value. We kept hearing last year that the Patriots did not consider Collins a three-down linebacker. That may have been true, but Patricia certainly does. Under Patricia, Collins was a highly productive, usually three-down, outside linebacker, who usually lined up on the strong side. He is a sure tackler, a good pass rusher that is not a liability in coverage and makes big plays. Look for Collins to replace Devon Kennard who played nearly every defensive snap for the team last season, and look for Collins to put up quality numbers.
Not all the team’s offseason addition came from New England. The signed former Falcons corner Desmond Trufant to replace Darius Slay who was traded, inked former Vikings backup safety Jayron Kearse, Defensive tackle Nick Williams from the Bears, and linebacker Elijah Lee from San Francisco and Reggie Ragland from the Chiefs. Of this group, only Trufant projects as a sure starter and he has never been much if an IDP contributor.
Green Bay Packers
If the Packers had signed Christian Kirksey to pair with Blake Martinez, they would have something to get excited about. Since they sighed Kirksey to replace Martinez, not so much. Kirksey is a good player who should put up excellent numbers if he stays healthy, but for the Packers, he is a downgrade at the position. The team lost both Martinez and Kyler Fackrell to the Giants. Fackrell is a quality player as well but that loss is one they could afford due to their outstanding depth at outside linebacker.
Outside of re-signing corners Vernon Hargreaves III and Bradley Roby, and picking up a backup level safety in Eric Murray, the Texans have not been heard from much this offseason. They may be waiting on the price to go down as players sign so they can see who falls through the cracks.
Indianapolis has made few moves but they have made them count. First was the trade to land one of the premier defensive tackles in the game, then they spent good money on arguably the best corner available in free agency.
DeForest Buckner is an impact player in virtually any scheme, but he is a particularly good fit with the Colts who use an aggressive, one-gap 4-3. This type of scheme has produced some outstanding fantasy prospects at tackle over the years. In fact, it is not unlike the one he leaves behind in San Francisco. There is always some risk when a player changes teams, but I expect similar production if not better from Buckner.
Colts corners tend to make a lot of tackles, thus they are generally some of the most consistent and productive fantasy options at the position. Xavier Rhodes has only recorded more than 45 solo tackles in a season once in six seasons as a pro. The situation he goes to should have the bigger influence here. Not to mention the fact Rhodes is a 6’1” 218-pound, physical corner that will fit right into the team’s aggressive press style coverage. Managers in corner required leagues should slide Rhodes onto their late-round sleeper list
The club also added tackle Sheldon Day to provide depth and possibly work on some early downs.
In terms of fantasy value, the signing of Joe Schobert may be the gem of this offseason. When this came across the news, visions of Paul Posluszny and his three triple-digit solo tackle seasons danced through my head. Jacksonville finally has the middle linebacker they have missed over the last couple of years. Schobert is a proven commodity in an excellent situation and a great fit for the job. This could make him a top-five linebacker in 2020. At worst he is a low-end LB1.
What remains to be seen here is the ripple effect on the roster. Donald Payne made a strong showing down the stretch last season, so early speculation is Payne plays on the weak side and Myles Jack goes to strong. Sorry Jack fans, but there’s a new Sherrif in town no matter how they play it.
The team’s other free agent moves to date were signing corner Rashaan Melvin who could compete for a starting job, tackle Rodney Gunter and defensive end Cassius Marsh. The linemen will fill in the depth charts at their respective positions. All of these guys are good veteran additions that will contribute on the field but not so much in the box scores.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have next to nothing defensively this offseason. They lost corner Kendall Fuller to free agency, made no attempt that we know of to retain Bashaud Breeland, and left a few of their other free agents to find new homes as well. Andy Reid always has a plan, right?
Los Angeles Chargers
The biggest name added by the Chargers so far is corner Chris Harris Jr, who should instantly become the team’s number one at the position. Harris is a clear upgrade at the position and a plus for the team as a whole, but his fantasy impact has never been more than marginal. There is no reason to think that will change now.
Another important new piece of the puzzle for Los Angeles is former Vikings tackle Linval Joseph. For many IDP managers, this will not be an impact move either, but for those that must start interior linemen, Joseph can be a valuable option. While his tackle total was down a bit last year, Joseph has consistently provided solid numbers over his career, both with the Vikings and Giants. That said, no Chargers interior lineman reached 20 solo stops a year ago. What that tells us is at best, Joseph will put up similar production but there is a serious possibility his value will drop.
The most interesting addition here in fantasy terms is linebacker Nick Vigil who made a lot of tackles for the Bengals down the stretch in 2018 and over the first half of last season before his playing time was reduced. The Chargers parted ways with Thomas Davis, so Vigil is penciled in at the strong side position. The big question for IDP managers is his role. Vigil was a three-down SLB for Cincinnati for much of his time there, but that may have been born more of necessity than choice. Drue Tranquil played well late in 2019 and the coaching staff remains high on Kyzir White, both of which are good cover linebackers. So at best, Vigil projects as a two-down strong side backer at this stage.
Los Angeles Rams
The biggest story with the Rams defense is a loss rather than an addition. Simply put, they could not afford to pay the outstanding young linebacker they developed. Cory Littleton came from nowhere to be one of the leagues premier middle backers. So impressive in fact, that he earned a big payday with the Raiders. So the question now becomes, who is next at the position for the Rams? That player may not yet be with the team, but keep in mind they had big expectations for Micah Kiser before he was injured early in 2019, and they acquired Kenny Young as what appeared to be a throw-in player in the Marcus Peterson trade.
As for additions, the Rams signed underachieving former Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd as a replacement for Dante Fowler Jr Jr., and former Lions tackle A’Shawn Robinson. Floyd is a former first-round pick so maybe the move will kickstart his career, but he sure seems like a downgrade at this point.
Robinson will immediately figure heavily into the rotation up front and should be a starter right out of the gate. Chances are he will work as a defensive end in the team’s 3-4, but he could also see time at nose tackle. The interesting fact here being, the Rams call nearly all their defensive linemen tackles. We will just have to see how this one plays out. If he is a tackle for fantasy purposes, there could be some value.
Las Vegas Raiders
No team has done more to improve on defense than the Raiders this offseason. They have already added four starters and still have a bunch of draft picks to work with. Las Vegas landed arguably the cream of the crop at linebacker in Cory Littleton, another solid starter at linebacker in Nick Kwiatkoski, a starting tackle in Malik Collins, and a starting safety in Jeff Heath. They potentially have a fifth if Eli Apple pans out at corner.
Three of these moves clearly affect the IDP landscape in some way. There is always some concern when a proven fantasy stud like Littleton changes teams, simply because it is hard to imaging him being better in a different situation. To some extent, when talking about a top-five player at his position, there is nowhere for him to go but down. That said, the Raiders have made solid fantasy option out of some very average linebackers in recent years. In short, this is a great player in a plus situation. He might slip a little in 2020 but is not likely to fall short of the top-12.
One factor that could negatively impact Littleton’s production is the presence of Kwiatkoski. With the Rams, Littleton’s main competition for tackles came from the strong safety position. Now it will come from someone starting at linebacker depth on every snap. Over the last couple of years, Chicago enjoyed the luxury of having a starter quality player as a backup. With both Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith missing time due to injuries, Kwiatkoski had plenty of opportunity to prove himself, and he did so. Now that he finally has his chance to start, the only question is how the coaching staff will line up their new starters. Is it just a coincidence that both Littleton and Kwiatkoski come from 3-4 schemes? I expect the Raiders to be a multiple front team and use a lot of big nickel packages. That would keep both linebackers on the field full time.
Jeff Heath would fit into such a plan as well. He would be a great fit as that in the box strong safety, working at linebacker depth often. Heath is not a great cover safety but he is a physical sound tackler. His fantasy value has never been better than solid depth in the past, but we could get a little more from him in this situation. At the very least he is now a prospect of interest.
Maliek Collins, Carl Nassib and Eli Apple round out the team’s defensive additions. Collins likely starts or figures heavily into the rotation, while all three should contribute to a much-improved unit.
Miami has been just as busy as the Raiders in free agency, but they have not hit the big impact signings. Their most significant defensive additions are corner Byron Jones and outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy, but they have also added Clayton Fejedelem, Shaq Lawson, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Elandon Roberts, and Emmanuel Ogbah.
Jones and Van Noy are sure to be starters though neither would seem to be in a particularly fantasy-friendly situation with their new team. Van Noy’s versatility is a plus since the Dolphins plan to show a lot of different looks. Lawson should also see significant action and is a possible starter, but he may be categorized as a linebacker since most league management hosts recognize Miami as a 3-4 team. Roberts and Grugier-Hill project to provide depth. Ogbah has experience as an edge rush OLB so he should contribute a few snaps per game at the least.
The Vikings added a good defensive tackle in Michael Pierce, who will fill the void left by Linval Joseph. He has shown glimpses of quality production at times and could have some value in tackle required leagues. Beyond Pierce, the story in Minnesota has been a steady stream of players defecting.
On the defensive line, Joseph and Stephen Weatherly are already with new teams and it looks as if Everson Griffen will sign elsewhere as well. In the secondary, the team’s top three corners from 2019, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackenzie Alexander have all landed with other teams, as have backup safeties Jayron Kearse and Andrew Sendejo. The Vikings will have to turn to the draft and late free agency bargains to restock a defense that is currently a shell of its former self.
New England Patriots
New England players, and particularly their defenders, are jumping ship in droves it seems. The Patriots are looking to lock up some guys in the secondary but this group is going to look much different in 2020. Tackle Danny Shelton, safety Duron Harmon, and linebacker Jamie Collins Sr have all reunited with their former defensive coordinator in Detroit, either via trade or free agency, while Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts signed with division rival Miami.
The team signed Adrian Phillips who should be a good replacement for Harmon and might even push for a starting job. The also added edge rusher, Brandon Copeland. Beyond those two, the team may be looking to promote from within. This could be a good sign for linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and defensive end Chase Winovich who could see a significant increase in playing time.
New Orleans Saints
There have been no headline additions in New Orleans but there are some changes with potential IDP impact. Malcolm Jenkins had some good years with the Saints in his first stint with the team and was productive for most of his six seasons in Philadelphia. With Vonn Bell moving on and Marcus Williams entrenched at free safety, Jenkins projects to step into a full-time role at strong safety where he should resume that quality production.
There is some reason to be cautious here though. The Saints already had Chauncy Gardner-Johnson who made a strong showing as a rookie last season, and they also signed journeyman D.J. Swearinger Sr. No one has ever questioned Swearinger’s ability. In fact, he has landed a starting role for at least some period of time, with each of his previous five teams. For some reason, however, Swearinger seems to quickly wear out his welcome everywhere he plays. This is an interesting situation that we will want to keep an eye on when camps open.
The Saints will give former second-round bust Noah Spence an opportunity to resurrect his career. Spence will go to camp with the team and hopefully earn a roster spot as the third or fourth defensive end.
Linebacker A.J. Klein was not brought back, opening the door for someone to take on a more significant role. Both Alex Anzalone and Kiko Alonso are recovering from injuries, so it may simply be a matter of who gets healthy first. Alonso is reported to be ahead of schedule in his rehab and would be the favorite to profit from the situation in fantasy terms.
New York Giants
The Giants have finally elected to invest in defense that has been neglected for years. Or maybe I should say, they have finally made some good investments after a long line of patchwork moves that rarely panned out. For the first time in nearly two decades, they have in place one of the game’s top-shelf middle linebackers.
The Alec Ogletree plan was a bust so the team released him and re-invested that money in a proven commodity. Blake Martinez is the kind of middle backer a team can build a defense around. He is a physical run defender, a leader and a guy that will stay on the field in any situation. Coincidentally, that is exactly the resume IDP managers are looking for. From the fantasy perspective, this situation in many ways mirrors that of Cory Littleton. Martinez is a top-five guy going from one great situation to what should be another. We have not seen big production from a Giants linebacker in some time, but I believe that has much to do with the talent they have put on the field. Simply put, the opportunity has been there. Even so, the change of scenery is always a reason to be cautious.
Martinez is an impact fantasy target but he is not the Giants' only significant addition. Also coming over from the Packers, edge rusher Kyler Fackrell is a more important addition than most realize. This is a guy that had 10 sacks in 2018, before being lost in the numbers at a crowded position last season. He is probably not an upgrade from Marcus Golden who is not expected back but is a good addition all the same.
New York inked James Bradberry to replace Janoris Jenkins at corner. This is a good move in that the two are similar in playing style and a good fit for the scheme. Bradberry is a physical press corner who does not shy away from contact. Both players have been quality starters in corner required formats in recent years. Bradberry should be just fine at his new home.
New York Jets
The Jets have barely made a ripple in the free-agent pool. They brought in Pierre Desir who could end up starting at corner, with their only other addition being Patrick Onwuasor who will likely play special teams and provide depth at what is now a crowded position.
What is interesting here, the team re-signed James Burgess Jr, who they picked up off the street when the injury onslaught his last season. Burgess played well on the field and was a great late-season addition for IDP managers as well. A healthy C.J. Mosley is a lock to start at one of the inside linebacker spots and most expect Avery Williamson to man the other spot if he is healthy. That said, the way Burgess played, he could push Williamson for the job.
The biggest, under the radar, move for IDP managers may be the signing of Jatavis Brown by the Eagles. This is a player that has looked solid on the field and put up strong numbers whenever he played full time for the Chargers. Why they refused to make him a regular starter over the last two seasons, is a mystery. Whatever the reason, it is good to see Brown escape to a team that might appreciate him. With the release of Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill signing in Miami, Brown appears to have a clear path to an every-down role.
Other Philadelphia additions are tackle Javon Hargrave, corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, and corner Darius Slay. Slay becomes the team’s top corner while Robey-Coleman will compete with Jalen Mills for the other outside spot. The looser likely lands a nickel role. Both Mills and Ronald Darby were strong IDP options when healthy over the last two seasons, so the situation is good for whoever lands the job.
All has been quiet with the Steelers whose biggest splash so far has been the trade for Chris Wormley. Having lost Javon Hargrave to the Eagles and released Anthony Chickillo, Wormley is set to have an extensive role, but he is not going to make much of an impact in the box scores.
The biggest defensive fantasy impact here is the departure of Sean Davis who signed with Washington, and Mark Barron who was released. With Davis out of the picture, there is no longer any question about the roles of Mikah Fitzpatrick who will now settle in as the full-time free safety, and Terell Edmunds who is now the clear cut every down strong safety. While the release of Barron opens the door for a probable full-time role for both Devin Bush and Vincent Williams at inside linebacker.
San Francisco 49ers
Other than signing Arik Armstead to a long term deal and trading DeForest Buckner to the Colts, San Francisco has been rather quiet. They made two minor additions in Kerry Hyder Jr to replenish the depth chart up front and Joe Walker to provide some depth at linebacker. Buckner was a considerable IDP factor. Speculation has Solomon Thomas picking up a lot more playing time at tackle, but there is no one on the roster at this point that can provide Buckner’s IDP value.
Bruce Irvin returns to where his career began but he may have a different role this time around. From 2012 through 2015 Irvin was a strong side linebacker in Seattle’s 4-3 and was not on the field anywhere near full time. He returns 15 pounds heavier and as a defensive end. Last year’s first-round pick L.J. Collier made no impact and Ezekiel Ansah is always fighting a chronic shoulder problem. That points to a lot of playing time for Irvin who has shown the ability to get after the quarterback. Just maybe this is the year he finally makes a serious fantasy impact.
Seattle also added corner Quinton Dunbar who should compete for sub-package playing time and will likely be the third corner.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The most significant move made by the Buccaneers defensively is the re-signing of Ndamukong Suh. Landing Tom Brady may have figured into Suh’s desire to stick with Tampa Bay. Suh is getting into the late portion of his career and may never have a better shot at a ring. In IDP terms, we have seen what Suh is capable of when motivated, which he should be until/unless the team begins to lose.
Unless last year’s first-round pick Jeffery Simmons steps up big in his second season, the loss of Jurrell Casey is going to be a big blow for Tennessee. The team hopes the signing of Vic Beasley Jr will help compensate for the loss of Casey’s pass rush pressure. Calling Beasley a complete bust would be a little strong, but the fact is other than one standout season in 2016, the former first round pick fell well short of expectations in Atlanta. On the other hand, the move to outside backer in the Titans 3-4 might be just the change Beasley needs to kick start his career.
Washington used free agency to rebuild a secondary that was a mess in 2019. They signed Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby who should be the starting corners, and Sean Davis to work at free safety next to lone surviving starter Landon collins. This is a secondary that has generally given us good production in years past, and all four of these guys are capable of useful numbers; especially with the team's questionable linebacker situation.
Shaun Dion-Hamilton and Cole Holcomb in the mix. In short, the linebacker position is just as muddled as it was most of last season.