With NFL free agency officially in full swing, there have already been a number of intriguing signings, but a select few could turn playoff teams into potential Super Bowl contenders.
While the draft is a way for teams to bring in and develop young players, free agency is a way for them to quickly add key players to solidify weaknesses on both sides of the ball. Most free agents tend to be overpaid, but it's the quickest way for an NFL franchise to try and make a Super Bowl run.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the most intriguing signings through the first week of free agency.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Indianapolis Colts
During his first two seasons, Andrew Luck has proven to be one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the league, and the Indianapolis Colts appear to be ready to give him as many weapons to throw to as possible.
Nicks signed a one-year deal worth around $3.5 million, according to Chris Wesseling from NFL.com. While the Colts may have T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne is still returning from an ACL tear, so the Colts wanted to make sure to have at least one more reliable receiver.
Of course, Nicks poses a bit of a risk for the Colts. He's dealt with injuries throughout the past few seasons, and he was clearly hindered with the New York Giants in 2013, not recording a single touchdown.
But it seems like Nicks is healthy and ready to go with the Colts. According to Stephen Holder from the Indianapolis Star, Nicks passed his physical with flying colors.
If Nicks can stay healthy and be as productive as he was during the first three seasons of his career, then Luck could have yet another dangerous weapon on offense, and the only real concern for the team will be if they can protect their franchise QB.
Julius Peppers, DE, Green Bay Packers
At 34 years old, Julius Peppers isn't getting any younger, but the Green Bay Packers don't seem to mind, as they've brought in the veteran pass-rusher.
The Packers brought in Peppers on a three-year, $30 million deal, according to Michael C. Wright from ESPN Chicago. During his two games against the Packers in 2013 while with the Chicago Bears, Peppers had two sacks, one forced fumble and an interception.
The move is a very expensive one for Green Bay, but it fills a big need. While Clay Matthews is a proven pass-rusher, he's struggled to stay healthy and on the field, missing nine games over the past two seasons. Even when Matthews is healthy, the team has lacked another true pass-rusher.
Peppers is getting old, but his presence on the defensive line could be a big help for Dom Capers and his defense, as they allowed 372.3 points and 26.8 points per game, ranking 25th and 24th in the NFL in those two categories. Despite his age, Peppers still had seven sacks in 2013 on one of the worst defenses in the league, so this could be the perfect place for him to finish up his career.
Still, the Packers have a lot more work to do defensively before they can contend with teams like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers in the NFC.
Darrelle Revis, CB, New England Patriots
There have been a ton of moves around the league over the past week, but no move may have been more intriguing than the one the New England Patriots made.
The Patriots made a bold move letting Aqib Talib leave for the Denver Broncos, but they were somehow able to get an upgrade at the position. According to Scooby Axson from SI.com, the Patriots were able to bring in former New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis on a one-year, $12 million deal.
Coming off of a torn ACL, Revis still showed that he's one of the best corners in the NFL with the Bucs in 2013. Last season, he had 50 combined tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Revis was the top corner in the league with an overall grade of 18.2, nearly two points ahead of Brent Grimes from the Miami Dolphins.
The overall reaction from the signing has been positive, and Sean Leahy from the Boston Globe believes Revis can bring a lot to the team, saying:
Not only will opposing play-callers have fewer options because of Revis, he should infuse a new sense of confidence around the Patriots and might teach fellow defenders to expect that their unit can be counted on. And he should have a positive effect on young defensive backs such as Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, and Alfonzo Dennard.
With Revis now on defense, the Patriots can continue to focus on adding more pieces to that side of the ball as they look to compete with the Broncos for a potential Super Bowl run in 2014.
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