Every NFL Team's Smartest Free-Agency Decision so Far

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IMarch 19, 2015

Every NFL Team's Smartest Free-Agency Decision so Far

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    Think positively.

    Roughly 10 days into the NFL’s free-agency period, every team has made its share of moves—some more than others.

    So which was the smartest move each of the 32 clubs managed this offseason? The list is not limited to just free-agent acquisitions. It also includes trades and re-signing a player whose contract was getting ready to expire.

    How did we come up with our decisions? It’s pretty simple based on need and the overall impact we expect the player to have either in his new home or in his familiar place with the franchise.

    While some of the names on this list are no-brainers, others are certainly worth debating (feel free to talk among yourselves).

Arizona Cardinals: Signing G Mike Iupati

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    There will be somewhat of a theme in this entire 32-team piece.

    When you can add a talented player to your roster and at the same time hurt a divisional foe, you earn some brownie points.

    Such is the case with the Arizona Cardinals and new guard Mike Iupati, whom the team picked up from the San Francisco 49ers. The three-time Pro Bowler immediately upgrades an offensive line that featured a new left tackle this past season in Jared Veldheer and could have a new center in free-agent pickup A.Q. Shipley (Indianapolis Colts).

    In 2014, the Cardinals had their share of injuries in the backfield and finished 31st in the league in rushing. Back in 2012, Arizona was ranked dead last in the same category before “improving” to 23rd the next season.

    It’s been a rough stretch to say the least.

Atlanta Falcons: Signing OLB Brooks Reed

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    Most remember that great NFL Films moment from roughly 20 years ago when then-Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher was telling outside linebacker Greg Lloyd a piece of advice.

    “Rush the quarterback.”

    Apparently, the Atlanta Falcons either don’t like nostalgia or aren’t spending a lot of time on YouTube.

    Getting after the opposing quarterback has been a problem for their defensive unit in recent seasons. In 2014, the Falcons' 22 sacks were just as many as Houston totaled.

    That’s Houston as in Chiefs franchise player Justin Houston.

    Atlanta has totaled just 54 sacks the last two seasons combined—as many as the Buffalo Bills totaled this past season.

    Enter outside linebacker Brooks Reed, who hopes to cure what ails this defense, which is now led by head coach Dan Quinn and coordinator Richard Smith. In four seasons with the Texans, he totaled just 14.5 sacks, partly because that J.J. Watt guy was getting to the quarterback before he had a chance.

    Reed totaled just three sacks in 2014, but that would have been second best on the Falcons this past season behind Kroy Biermann (4.5 sacks), who was re-signed by the team on Wednesday, according to Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com.

Baltimore Ravens: Re-Signing RB Justin Forsett

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    This time, the Baltimore Ravens were going to get it right.

    Word came down on Wednesday afternoon, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, that the team had released running back Bernard Pierce after a DUI arrest earlier that morning.

    We don’t really want to revisit the Ray Rice issue here only to say that the lack of immediate action in that instance certainly went a long way to the Ravens addressing the Pierce issue as quickly as possible.

    Of course, one of the better stories of the 2014 NFL season was journeyman running back-turned-Pro Bowl performer Justin Forsett. The well-traveled veteran finished fifth in the league with 1,266 yards rushing and added eight touchdowns.

    Earlier this month, the seven-year pro re-signed with the Ravens to the tune of three years and $9 million.

    It already looks like money well spent.

Buffalo Bills: Trading for RB LeSean McCoy

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    It seems far too obvious to ignore, so why overthink it?

    Back in 2013, when the Philadelphia Eagles were leading the league in rushing yards and running back LeSean McCoy was gaining an NFL-high 1,607 of those yards, the Buffalo Bills finished second in the league in rushing that season.

    Now McCoy comes off a year in which he totaled nearly as many carries (312) as he did the previous season (314) while gaining only 1,319 yards rushing. A rash of midseason injuries can be partially blamed for the drop-off in production.

    But that was nothing compared to Buffalo’s ground attack in 2014. The entire club totaled 1,482 yards on the ground, a mere 25th in the NFL. New head coach Rex Ryan knows what a good ground game can do, and he figures to get it from McCoy and his new lead blocker in fullback Jerome Felton, as well as Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown...and a little better play from the offensive line.

Carolina Panthers: Signing WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr.

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    Or is it re-signing?

    Besides our theme of players jumping from one divisional foe to another, we have also seen our share of NFL performers in recent years leave a club for another and after a year (or two) wind up back with that previous team (see defensive end Michael Johnson returning to the Cincinnati Bengals in the last week).

    Such is the case with wide receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn Jr., who ran to the desert after one season with the Panthers. The eight-year wideout was released by the Cardinals this offseason and now has Carolina back on his mind.

    Why is this move good for a team that hasn’t been overly busy in 2015? Some will remember that in his lone season with the Panthers in 2013, he totaled 36 catches for 556 yards and five scores and had over 100 yards receiving in a playoff loss to the 49ers.

    So adding Ginn once again is more than just bringing back a standout on special teams.

Chicago Bears: Signing SS Antrel Rolle

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    Has anyone seen the Chicago Bears play defense the last two seasons?

    Are you sure?

    All kidding aside, the former Monsters of the Midway have looked more like The Munsters since 2013 when it comes to stopping the opposition. One year after allowing 478 points and 47 offensive touchdowns, the Bears surrendered 442 points and 46 offensive touchdowns. In each of the last two years, Chicago has allowed the third-most total yards in the league.

    Enter Antrel Rolle, who ranked second on the New York Giants in tackles this past season. But why the positive review considering Rolle’s team ranked 29th in the NFL in 2014 in total defense? The veteran defender has 26 interceptions and has played everywhere in the secondary in his 10 seasons with the Giants and Arizona Cardinals.

    And maybe, just maybe, Rolle brings a little attitude to a defensive unit in dire need of a change.

Cincinnati Bengals: Re-Signing G Clint Boling

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    Per usual, the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t been overly busy during free agency.

    Sure, they have added Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, cut loose by the NFC North champions. And after signing a lucrative free-agent deal to depart Cincinnati for Tampa Bay, defensive end Michael Johnson is back in the Queen City after one year of counting his bucks with the Bucs.

    But the smart money was spent on re-upping guard Clint Boling, a fourth-round draft choice in 2011 from the University of Georgia. Cincinnati ranked sixth in the league in rushing and allowed only 23 sacks this past season. Pro Football Focus ranked Boling as the NFL’s 19th-best guard in 2014.

    It was a smart move for a franchise that has drafted well in recent years.

Cleveland Browns: Signing CB Tramon Williams

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    It’s not been a great offseason for a Cleveland Browns team that has spent the last four years in the AFC North basement.

    From Josh Gordon’s suspension to Johnny Manziel’s personal issues to general manager Ray Farmer’s texting faux pas, it’s been a rough couple of months for a franchise looking to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

    But good news comes in the form of the signing of veteran cornerback Tramon Williams. The eight-year defender has totaled 28 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries for the Green Bay Packers. His arrival offsets the loss of cornerback Buster Skrine to the New York Jets while offering 2014 first-rounder Justin Gilbert a little guidance.

    With Williams and Joe Haden, the Browns secondary now has more than its share of savvy.

Dallas Cowboys: Signing MLB Jasper Brinkley

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    On Wednesday afternoon, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that the Dallas Cowboys had signed free-agent defensive end Greg Hardy to a one-year contract.

    While the former Pro Bowler should aid his new team’s anemic pass rush, it remains to be seen how many games Hardy will actually be available for given last year’s off-the-field issues and the possible ramifications.

    So the choice for the team’s smartest move during free agency is the addition of middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, a six-year pro who has spent five of those seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (although he spent 2011 on injured reserve). This past season for Mike Zimmer’s club, the 2009 fifth-round draft choice ranked fourth on the team with 75 tackles.

    As David Helman of DallasCowboys.com discusses, Brinkley is not necessarily the Cowboys’ type of linebacker in terms of versatility. But with Rolando McClain unsigned and Sean Lee coming back from a torn ACL, he can offer some help to a unit that remains below average...for now.

Denver Broncos: Placing Franchise Tag on WR Demaryius Thomas

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    The defending AFC West champion Denver Broncos have taken their share of shots this offseason in terms of free-agent defections. The list of departures includes tight end Julius Thomas, offensive lineman Orlando Franklin and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton—all starters for the club in Super Bowl XLVIII. Safety Rahim Moore recently signed with the Houston Texans.

    General manager John Elway has replaced those four players with tight end Owen Daniels, guard Shelley Smith, defensive tackle Vance Walker and free safety Darian Stewart. We will have to wait to see what kind of impact they will have.

    More importantly, the team did not allow Pro Bowl wideout Demaryius Thomas to get away, slapping him with the franchise tag. He comes off a season in which he finished second in the NFL with 111 catches and 1,619 receiving yards, to go along with 11 touchdowns. Now let’s see if the Broncos can get the productive wideout signed to a long-term deal.

Detroit Lions: Trading for DT Haloti Ngata

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    Timing is everything. Because of his salary, some felt that five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata didn’t figure into the Baltimore Ravens’ plans in 2015.

    That proved to be correct but perhaps not in the way that was expected. Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com wrote about the deal last week in which the Detroit Lions will give up fourth- and fifth-round picks for Ngata and a seventh-round selection.

    Does the addition of the relentless defender offset the loss of four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh? That may be a bit of a stretch but certainly not a big one. Detroit gets a battle-tested veteran who has totaled 25.5 sacks and five interceptions and went to the playoffs in seven of his nine seasons with the Ravens.

Green Bay Packers: Re-Signing WR Randall Cobb

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    The Green Bay Packers are usually one of the least busy teams during the free-agency period—at least when it comes to adding players. This offseason has been a prime example as general manager Ted Thompson has been far busier making sure his NFC North champions stay intact.

    Randall Cobb has emerged as one of the better wide receivers in the league and comes off a 2014 season in which he totaled 91 receptions for 1,287 yards and 12 scores. He teams with Jordy Nelson to give quarterback Aaron Rodgers as potent a pair of wideouts as any team in the league has.

    Hence, there was no way the Packers were going to let him get away. The team signed him to a four-year, $40 million deal earlier this month—one that has its share of incentives as shown by Spotrac.

Houston Texans: Signing DT Vince Wilfork

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    Veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork won a Super Bowl title as a rookie with the New England Patriots in 2004 and closed his career in Foxborough with a victory in Super Bowl XLIX over the Seattle Seahawks back in February.

    Now he’s on to the next stage of his career as he has signed with the Houston Texans, who come off a nice bounce-back 9-7 season after finishing 2013 with only two victories.

    Wilfork is also reunited with defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, part of the Patriots coaching staff in 2004 when they won Super Bowl XXXIX.

    A Houston team that led the NFL with 34 takeaways and one with two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt gets a player who should help the Texans improve the league’s 10th-ranked run defense.

Indianapolis Colts: Signing RB Frank Gore

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    As good as quarterback Andrew Luck has become in three NFL seasons, no man can do it alone in the game of football.

    The Indianapolis Colts' lack of offensive balance has been evident, and that problem goes back to even before the team added the former Stanford star with the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

    The Colts have ranked 20th or lower in the league in rushing seven consecutive seasons. Try as they may, either injuries (Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw) or simply the wrong move (trading for Trent Richardson in 2013) has cost them.

    Hence the addition of running back Frank Gore, who owns the franchise record for career rushing yardage for the San Francisco 49ers. He comes off a season in which he ran for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns. The 10-year veteran has totaled 11,073 yards and rushed for 1,000-plus yards eight times. And since he shows no signs of slowing down, he helps Luck and the Colts in any number of ways.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Signing TE Julius Thomas

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    In each of the past two seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars have scored the fewest points in the league.

    Their passing game, now manned by quarterback Blake Bortles, has produced 31 scores in their last 32 games. This past season, eight quarterbacks in the league threw at least 31 touchdown passes.

    In each of the past two seasons, tight end Julius Thomas has caught a dozen touchdown passes. In 2014, injuries were a major factor the second half of the season, but he still managed to lead the Denver Broncos in that category.

    The Jaguars have some very young wideouts in Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The addition of Thomas gives Bortles one more weapon and a much-needed one at that.

    Jacksonville has spent the majority of its free-agent money on defense this offseason. But the addition of Thomas could wind up being a major difference-maker for a team that has struggled to score points.

Kansas City Chiefs: Trading for G Ben Grubbs

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    There’s a lot to be said for consistency. The Kansas City Chiefs come off an erratic year in terms of wins and losses, but for the second consecutive season, they ranked 10th in the league in rushing.

    That’s a pretty respectable number, but when you have the likes of running back Jamaal Charles, you may be looking for more. Hence the addition of two-time Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs from the New Orleans Saints, who cost Andy Reid’s club a fifth-round pick. It’s one of many moves general manager John Dorsey is pleased with, as outlined by Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star.

    Yes, we realize that no wide receiver for the team caught a touchdown pass in 2014 and that Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins were all released, but we aren't ready to call that all addition by subtraction. And we are pretty confident that newly signed wideout Jeremy Maclin will find the end zone in 2015.

Miami Dolphins: Signing DT Ndamukong Suh

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    For those who think this is the chalk answer, think again.

    There’s been plenty of debate since the Miami Dolphins signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to that six-year, $114.4 million deal last week. Did the team overspend for the four-time Pro Bowler? What about the salary-cap ramifications down the road? Can you really afford to give a defensive tackle that much money in this day and age?

    This past season, the Dolphins defense ranked 24th in the NFL versus the run. The Detroit Lions, with Suh in the middle, gave up the fewest rushing yards in the league. The five-year veteran also led the Lions with 8.5 sacks, and his presence will make life easier for Miami defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.

    For a team that hasn’t enjoyed a winning season or playoff berth since 2008, it’s an expensive no-brainer.

Minnesota Vikings: Trading for WR Mike Wallace

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    Perhaps a change of scenery can revitalize the career of talented wide receiver Mike Wallace.

    And you can’t get more of a scenic change than Miami to Minnesota.

    After a pair of disappointing seasons with the Dolphins, Wallace was dealt to the Vikings last week and hopes to offer a big-play option to young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

    After getting big money from the Dolphins during the 2013 offseason, the former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowler failed to lead Miami in receptions in each of his two seasons with the team. In 2014, he totaled 67 receptions and led the club in receiving yards (862) and touchdowns (10).

    Vikings general manager Rick Spielman hasn’t been very busy in free agency to date, and the team has lost more players than it has signed. That’s far from a surprise for an organization that has drafted very well in recent years.

    According to Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel, the Vikings get Wallace and a seventh-round selection and give Miami a fifth-round pick.

New England Patriots: Signing OLB/DE Jabaal Sheard

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    On Wednesday, via Patriots.com, the defending Super Bowl champions announced that they had re-signed defensive tackle Alan Branch and also added a pair of free-agent cornerbacks in Bradley Fletcher (Philadelphia Eagles) and Robert McClain (Atlanta Falcons).

    Of course, those latter two moves are to offset the losses of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, who joined the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, respectively.

    But the recent acquisition of defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard could be a big plus. Yes, he’s totaled 23 sacks in four seasons, and those numbers have gone down each season, but he also offers the ability to play numerous positions on the front seven. You know head coach Bill Belichick loves that.

New Orleans Saints: Signing RB C.J. Spiller

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    The New Orleans Saints running game has drawn mixed reviews and produced mixed results in recent seasons.

    General manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton have added a piece to not only the backfield but special teams as well. And that could make the league’s top-ranked offense in terms of yards gained in 2014 even more dangerous.

    A broken collarbone cut short running back C.J. Spiller’s 2014 season with the Buffalo Bills, but not before the former Pro Bowler gained 425 yards from scrimmage (one touchdown) and also took back a kickoff 102 yards for a score in a Week 2 win over the Miami Dolphins.

    While the Saints ranked seventh in the league this past season in kickoff return average, their main man in that department was running back Travaris Cadet, who recently joined the New England Patriots. Spiller’s pass-catching skills will also prove to be a positive for quarterback Drew Brees, who has seen Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas either traded or released in basically a calendar year.

New York Giants: Signing RB Shane Vereen

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    Very quietly and due primarily to the fact that the team finished 6-10, veteran quarterback Eli Manning enjoyed a solid showing in the first year under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

    One season after leading the NFL with 27 interceptions, the two-time Super Bowl champion threw 30 touchdown passes and was picked off only 14 times—five of those interceptions coming in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

    On a team that includes 2014 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Odell Beckham Jr., former Pro Bowler Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and tight ends Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells, the Giants have now added versatile running back Shane Vereen. While he’s a solid ball-carrier, he excels in the passing game and will give Manning another outlet.

    So far, the Giants haven’t brought in a lot of free agents, at least not as many as in recent years. But adding a Super Bowl champion is always a very positive move.

New York Jets: Signing CB Darrelle Revis

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    You almost want to just put "cornerback" for the New York Jets.

    That’s not to take anything away from Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, who earned a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots and now returns to the franchise that drafted him in 2007.

    After playing for the Jets his first six seasons in the league (and injuring his knee in September 2012), Revis was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That team released him last offseason, and the Patriots quickly scooped him up.

    But now he’s back where “Revis Island” took shape and is rejoined by Antonio Cromartie (the duo were teammates in New York from 2010-12) as well as newcomer Buster Skrine, formerly of the Cleveland Browns.

    This past season, the Jets allowed 31 touchdown passes and totaled only six interceptions. Let’s go out on a limb and say those numbers will be dramatically different in 2015.

Oakland Raiders: Signing C Rodney Hudson

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    Over the last few offseasons, the Silver and Black have spent plenty of money.

    Unfortunately for the Oakland Raiders, their win-loss record remains in the red.

    The franchise is 70 games below .500 since 2004 and hasn’t enjoyed a winning season since going to Super Bowl XXXVII.

    Last year, it was more of the same. The team finished 3-13, and the offense was dreadful, finishing last in the league in both total yards and rushing. Defensively, general manager Reggie McKenzie signed a lot of new faces, but the club totaled 28 sacks and 14 takeaways and gave up a league-high 452 points.

    As for that ground attack, the Raiders are hoping Latavius Murray is the answer and free-agent pickup Trent Richardson can help. But the best move made by the team was adding center Rodney Hudson from the rival Kansas City Chiefs, bolstering its own offensive line and weakening a familiar foe in the process.

Philadelphia Eagles: Signing RB DeMarco Murray

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    What happens when you make the decision to deal the 2013 NFL rushing champion to the Buffalo Bills?

    You go out and sign the 2014 NFL rushing champion.

    This past season, the Dallas Cowboys turned around their recent misfortunes via a young and Pro Bowl-laden offensive line as well as running back DeMarco Murray. The former University of Oklahoma standout totaled a league-high 1,845 yards on the ground—marking the first time a Cowboys player led the NFL in rushing since Emmitt Smith in 1995.

    Now Murray will not only be running the football for Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles but getting ready to do it at least twice this season against the Cowboys.

    The regular season can’t get here fast enough.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Re-Signing OLB Arthur Moats

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    We could take the easy way out and point to the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers signed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a five-year contract extension. However, that is not really what we’re looking for here, since his last contract still had one year remaining.

    Instead, the team’s decision to bring back outside linebacker Arthur Moats is our choice here. The Steelers allowed outside linebacker Jason Worilds to test free agency, and he surprised everyone by opting for retirement. Veteran James Harrison had 5.5 sacks this past season but remains unsigned, while 2013 first-round pick Jarvis Jones comes off an injury-shortened year.

    Moats, a free-agent pickup from the Buffalo Bills last offseason, totaled 23 tackles, four sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 2014. He makes for a nice little insurance policy as the Pittsburgh defense looks to rebound from a rough year.

St. Louis Rams: Trading QB Sam Bradford

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    The five-year Sam Bradford saga in the Gateway City has finally come to an end.

    It’s no one’s fault when a player just can’t stay healthy, but that was apparently the case with Bradford, especially the past two seasons. The No. 1 overall pick in 2010 showed incredible promise in his first season, starting all 16 games on his way to being named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. But injury problems have plagued him since.

    Five years later, Bradford is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles after missing his last 25 games, including the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL.

    There was so much uncertainty about what the Rams would do with Bradford as he entered the final year of his rookie contract. Now we know he’ll get a fresh start with a new team, and Jeff Fisher’s club, via the trade with the Birds, has a new signal-caller in former Pro Bowler Nick Foles—who incidentally missed the final eight games of 2014 with a broken collarbone.

San Diego Chargers: Signing WR/KR Jacoby Jones

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    Wide receiver Eddie Royal has moved on from the San Diego Chargers and joined the Chicago Bears.

    That move was preceded by the Bolts’ signing of the explosive Jacoby Jones, released by the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. He wasn’t much of a factor when it came to the passing game this past season, especially compared to Royal.

    Jones totaled nine catches for 131 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Royal turned seven of his 62 receptions into touchdowns. It’s not even close.

    But Jones remains one of the great home run threats on special teams. His 9.2 yards per punt return tied for the ninth-best average in the league last season. Jones also averaged 30.6 yards per kickoff return, second in the NFL in 2014.

    On the other hand, the Chargers ranked 16th in punt return average and 22nd in kickoff return average this past season. That should change in a big way.

San Francisco 49ers: Signing RB Reggie Bush

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    You could probably make a very strong case here for the addition of wide receiver Torrey Smith as well, but we are leaning toward Bush, who saw his final season with the Detroit Lions marred by injuries.

    The nine-year veteran will be a good backup to young Carlos Hyde, who is the main man in the San Francisco backfield now that veteran running back Frank Gore has moved on and signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

    Frankly, the San Francisco offense could use any help it can get. This was a team that scored exactly 100 fewer points this past season (306) than it did in 2013 (406) while producing just 30 offensive touchdowns in 2014.

Seattle Seahawks: Signing CB Cary Williams

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    Yes, we did not choose the acquisition of three-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, although his presence should expand the production of the Seattle Seahawks passing attack.

    But given the bumps and bruises inflicted on the Legion of Boom late in 2014 as well as during Super Bowl XLIX, veteran cornerback Cary Williams was an intelligent addition.

    With Pro Bowler Richard Sherman and fellow cornerback Jeremy Lane recovering from injuries and Byron Maxwell taking the free-agent red eye to Philadelphia, the defending NFC champions find themselves a little shorthanded at the position.

    Williams isn't coming off a great year with the Eagles, who let him go this offseason, but his style fits Pete Carroll’s club just fine.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Releasing DE Michael Johnson

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    We don’t like to see anyone lose their job, and fortunately for defensive end Michael Johnson, he is back with the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Over the last few years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been in search of a consistent pass rush. Last offseason, then-new general manager Jason Licht signed Johnson to a five-year, $43.75 million dollar deal hoping he could help revive the team’s ability to get to the opposing quarterback.

    In 14 games this past season, the six-year pro totaled just 27 tackles, four sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. The Bucs opted to part ways with him after one season, and he wound up inking a new deal with the team he spent his first five years in the NFL with. By getting rid of Johnson, the Bucs avoided overpaying for subpar production.

    Tampa’s inability to find pass-rushing help hasn’t been limited to free agency. In 2011, the team drafted Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers in the first and second rounds, respectively, and opted not to re-sign either player this year.

Tennessee Titans: Signing FS Da'Norris Searcy

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    Defense has not been the calling card of the Tennessee Titans in recent seasons. Of course, playoff appearances haven't been either.

    There were a lot of things that went wrong for Ken Whisenhunt’s club in 2014 when the team won just two games and closed the season with 10 consecutive losses.

    This past season, the club allowed 438 points and 45 offensive touchdowns. Back in 2012, Tennessee surrendered 471 points, still the single-season highest total in the 55-year history of the Oilers/Titans franchise.

    While the addition of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo should be a plus (if he can stay healthy), unsung free safety Da’Norris Searcy gets the nod here. This past season for the Buffalo Bills, he ranked fifth on the team with 65 tackles while adding three interceptions, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Washington Redskins: Signing CB Chris Culliver

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    It’s been a pretty busy offseason for the Washington Redskins, especially when it comes to the defensive side of the football.

    You can look at the additions of defensive linemen Ricky Jean-Francois, Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton. Perhaps the biggest question is how do Paea and Knighton fit into new defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s 3-4 scheme? While Knighton appears to be a nice fit at nose tackle, can Paea move from 4-3 defensive tackle to 3-4 end?

    Hence, we like the addition of cornerback Chris Culliver a bit more. His numbers with the San Francisco 49ers this past season include 45 tackles, 15 passes defensed and four interceptions. In 2014, Washington allowed a whopping 438 points and a league-high 35 touchdown passes.

    All free-agent information and player signings/transactions are courtesy of Spotrac. Depth chart information comes via Ourlads. Unless otherwise noted, all player and team statistics come from Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com.


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