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Free Agency Grades: AFC East

 Buffalo Bills

Additions: DE Mario Williams, WR Steve Johnson (re-signed), DE Mark Anderson, TE Scott Chandler (re-signed)

Subtractions: None

The Buffalo Bills wasted no time in addressing one of their biggest needs by signing the best available pass rusher in this year’s free agent class. Mario Williams will allow them to make the transition back to a 4-3 defensive front and adding Mark Anderson to play opposite of him, can’t hurt anything. They may have to best front-four in the entire NFL. Keeping Steve Johnson was a decent move that they probably had to make considering that they would’ve spent close to the same amount of money to lure a free agent to Buffalo. It really makes sense.

As of now, they’ve yet to lose any notable players, but that could change depending on what happens with OT Demetrius Bell.

A

 

Miami Dolphins 

Additions: NT Paul Soliai (re-signed), QB David Garrard, G Artis Hicks, CB Richard Marshall
Subtractions: WR Brandon Marshall, DE Kendall Langford, S Yeremiah Bell, QB Chad Henne

It seemed like the Dolphins were poised to make a splash in this year’s free agent market, but that definitely wasn’t the case.

Right before the start of free agency, Miami shipped Brandon Marshall to the Bears in return for two third-round picks and later claimed that no one else was interested in him. After that, they missed out on Peyton Manning and really never seemed to be a serious player for his services. They reportedly low-balled Matt Flynn, who wound up signing with the Seahawks, and then chose to sign a 34-year-old QB that missed all of last season with a back injury.

The good news is that they were able to keep NT Paul Soliai and added CB depth in Richard Marshall. Soliai makes sense, even if they transition to a 4-3 front, but Marshall is hardly a marquee cornerback. He’s an average at best player, that’s ok in coverage but struggles against the run while drawing his fair share of penalties. MIA gave him 3 year deal worth $16 M and includes $6M guaranteed.

The Dolphins had better make a splash in the draft or you can expect to see even more protesting from fans.

D

 

 New England Patriots

Additions: WR Wes Welker (franchised), WR Brandon Lloyd, DE Jonathan Fanene, WR Deion Branch (re-signed), G Dan Connolly (re-signed), G Robert Gallery, DE Trevor Scott, WR Anthony Gonzalez, S Steve Gregory, CB Will Allen, WR Donte Stallworth

Subtractions: DE Mark Anderson, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Bill Belichick stuck to his strategy again this year, as the Patriots added a number of veteran players at very low salaries to fill out their roster.

The one thing that stands out the most regarding their free agency moves, is that they were very aggressive in addressing the WR position. Keeping Welker is a no-brainer and Lloyd had been rumored to be coming to New England since they rehired Josh McDaniels before the playoffs. Branch, Gonzalez and Stallworth are really a mixed bad of options. You can add Ochocinco to that group as well. I’d honestly be surprised to see any of them become “difference-makers” at any point in the 2012 season. Signing Gallery, who’s finally healthy, Allen and Scott, could end up being the best moves outside of Welker and Lloyd.

Mark Anderson was great for them last season and the fact that they could also lose Andre Carter, may leave them with a very limited group of pass rushers heading into next season. You’d have to think that Belichick would address this position during the draft after choosing not to last year.

I can understand why they allowed Green-Ellis to leave, but he’s really been a great player for them. Maybe he’s not exactly the player that you want to invest in long-term, but he does his job as well as anyone.

B+

 New York Jets

Additions: DT Sione Pouha (re-signed), S LaRon Landry, QB Tim Tebow, LB Bryan Thomas (re-signed)

Subtractions: S Brodney Pool

The Jets tried to get Peyton Manning‘s attention, but were ultimately rejected and subsequently re-signed Mark Sanchez to an extension. New York had made it clear that they were going to add a better backup quarterback this year and it seemed like Chad Henne was going to be that guy, but the Jets wound up trading for Tim Tebow. What’s interesting about this move is that, Tebow isn’t going to be an ordinary backup. Instead, the Jets are going to use him as a true “change of pace” weapon and to hopefully motivate Sanchez to take step forward in his overall development.

It was very smart to re-sign Pouha, despite the fact that he’s 33, because he’s by far their best defensive lineman. If they have any hope of improving their pass rush, they’ll need to solidify the middle of their defense and Pouha can do that for them. Landry is a very interesting risk-reward player that could end up paying off big for them. There’s still a chance that they could consider adding another safety at some point in the draft.

They really didn’t lose much in Pool because of the Landry signing but they clearly have other needs that will have to be addressed. They could use a RB, RT, DE, OLB and a WR still.

 C+

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