NFL Free Agency 2014: Analyzing the Best Impact Signings Thus Far

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIMarch 15, 2014

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2014, file photo, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate celebrates against the Denver Broncos during the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Detroit Lions have acquired Tate, their top target in free agency. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

The craze that is NFL free agency has resulted in a ton of player movement over the past week, and a few teams put themselves above the rest with great signings of players who will certainly make an impact in 2014.

Several dominoes fell early when free agency began. Some of the game's best free agents inked their deals within hours of free agency opening, and the desperation of some teams to ink top talent resulted in contracts that can be described as questionable at best.

Not these contracts, though.

The teams involved with the following three contracts made smart choices by giving respectable deals to players who will make huge impacts on their team.


Darrelle Revis to New England

Losing Aqib Talib to the Denver Broncos hurt the New England Patriots' defense, but the team remedied the issue by going out and signing arguably one of the only other corners in the league who is better in coverage.

Darrelle Revis has the potential to turn New England's secondary into an even more formidable unit.

Former Patriots corner Ty Law sees it as an upgrade, telling Jim Corbett of USA Today:

The Patriots were only a few pieces away from being a Super Bowl team again -- now that you have Darrelle, hey, why not? Darrelle is an upgrade. No disrespect to Aqib, who is a great corner in his own right. But outside of Denver in the AFC, who else do you see besides the Patriots?

Revis was signed to two-year contract worth $32 million. Yes, paying that much for a corner is a bit absurd, but Revis is a game-changer on defense. Quarterbacks know not to test him. When they do test him, it's tentatively and on routes that won't necessarily turn into big plays.

The Patriots made a great signing here, even if it was worth a good amount of money.


Golden Tate to Detroit

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

One of the biggest issues with the Detroit Lions over the past few seasons is that Matthew Stafford has had nobody to throw to but superstar wideout Calvin Johnson.

Well, the front office did a great job in adding some depth to a shallow group of wide receivers during the early stages of free agency.

The team agreed to a five-year pact with Golden Tate, formerly of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Tate will give Johnson some relief on the opposite end of the field. No longer can teams afford to triple-team "Megatron." Attention needs to be paid to Tate.

Last season, he totaled 64 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns. He's in a good position to put up those numbers again in a pass-happy Detroit offense.

Bleacher Report's NFC North Lead Writer Zach Kruse points out that Tate has the best hands in the NFL, making him an ideal weapon for Stafford:

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Tate has caught 145 of the 151 catchable passes thrown his way since 2011, the highest catch rate of any receiver. He had just three drops in an increased role in 2013, catching 64 of 67. 

Look out for the Lions offense in 2014. It finally has that complementary weapon it has been lacking.


Geoff Schwartz to New York

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 15: Geoff Schwartz #74 of the Kansas City Chiefs greets fans after the victory over the Dallas Cowboys September 15, 2013 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

Eli Manning struggled in the pocket last season, and the New York Giants' group of running backs struggled to consistently gain yards all season. The solution? Improving the offensive line, of course.

General manager Jerry Reese took the first steps toward doing so just a few hours after free agency opened, signing right guard Geoff Schwartz. At 6'6" and 340 pounds, Schwartz is a gap-clogger who will be a vast improvement on the Giants' line—especially for new running back Rashad Jennings.

In Bleacher Report's NFL 1000, Matt Miller ranked Schwartz as the No. 7 guard in the NFL. Here's a little of what Miller had to say about the big guard: 

When in the lineup, Schwartz showed the patience and length you want from an interior blocker. He’s able to move his feet with high-level spacial awareness and doesn’t get caught bending his back to reach pass-rushers. What you like most is his strength to engage and lock up defensive tackles. Better A-gap recognition will be key for him in a larger role, but his versatility and strength are outstanding. 

The Giants likely aren't done improving the offensive line. The team might look to add a tackle somewhere in the first three rounds to complete their O-line overhaul. Schwartz will be a key cog in the Giants' offensive attack next season.

He'll make things much easier for Manning and the Giants' rushers.


Follow me on Twitter to debate more signings: @kennydejohn