Saturday 19th April 2014,
NFL Trade Rumors -

Free Agency Grades: NFC South

Buccaneers

Additions: G Carl Nicks, WR Vincent Jackson, CB Eric Wright, DE Michael Bennett (R), G Jeremy Zuttah (R), QB Dan Orlovsky, CB Ronde Barber (R), OT Jamon Meredith, K Connor Barth (F)

Subtractions: QB Josh Johnson, C Jeff Faine

The Buccaneers made it clear that they were going to be active in this year’s free agent market after sitting on the sidelines for a number of years.

Signing Vincent Jackson to a huge five-year deal worth $55.5 million that includes $26 million guarantees was one of the more notable signings of the offseason. Last year, the Bucceneers WR’s were terrible to put it mildly, so the addition of Jackson is a huge improvement for them, even though he’s not exactly a well-rounded receiver. His route-running needs work and he could improve an as intermediate receiver, but there’s no question that he’s a great deep threat that’s capable of changing a game by himself. For my money, Tampa Bay’s best move was the addition of Carl Nicks who’ll play opposite of a solid G in Davin Joseph. Last year the Buc’s were terrible upfront so the addition of Nicks should really help Josh Freeman improve considerably. I can understand why they signed Eric Wright, but he’s not going to be the player that they were looking for. The Buc’s gave him a five-year, $38 million contract with$15.5 million guaranteed. That’s crazy considering that he was rated #104 out #109 by PFF. In fact, they actually re-signed Ronde Barber who was actually rate #108. Morris Claiborne is still in play at #5.

The Buc’s didn’t lose anyone that they’re going to miss that much. Josh Johnson has talent but they showed little interest in keeping him. Tampa Bay is going to have to address the ILB position at some point during the draft and grabbing an extra OLB would also make sense. RB, WR, C, and CB could also be considered.

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Falcons

Additions: CB Brent Grimes (F), DE John Abraham (R), C Todd McClure (R), DE Kroy Biermann (R), S Thomas DeCoud (R), WR Harry Douglas (R), LB Lofa Tatupu, RB Jason Snelling (R), G Vince Manuwai, QB Chris Redman (R)

Subtractions: LB Curtis Lofton, WR Eric Weems

It really seemed like the Falcons were going to part with a number of their free agents a few months back, but that was definitely not the case. Franchising Grimes makes plenty of sense. He’s a very productive player for them and they’ve essentially bought an additional season while he’s still in his prime. They also pushed off making a long-term commitment to him until next season. By then, Grimes will be 30 so they can decide if he’s a worthy investment at that point in time. I would’ve put money on them allowing John Abraham to leave, but they really don’t have an adequate replacement for the pass rush that he provides. They were hoping that Ray Edwards was going to be more effective than he was last season. Surprisingly, he was worse at rushing the passer than anything else. Snelling, Redman, Biermann and Douglas were most likely kept for continuity purposes, but Snelling and Douglas are decent complimentary players that could become valuable if someone gets injures like last season.

Losing Curtis Lofton and Eric Weems really isn’t that bad. The Falcons weren’t very high on Lofton to begin with, considering that he’s been a two-down LB for them and is a liability in coverage. Weems a good return man that will have to replaced, but he’s hardly someone that you have to lockup long-term.

Atlanta will still have to address their offensive line and possibly find help at LB, RB, and DL.

B-

Panthers

Additions: RB Mike TolbertGeoff Hangartner (R),

Subtractions: G Geoff Schwartz, LB Dan Connor, G Travelle Wharton, G Mackenzy Bernadeau, Mike Goodson (T)

Carolina was limited in what they could accomplish this year because they were so active in 2011.

The Panthers surprised some people by signing Mike Tolbert, who they insist will play fullback for them. As soon as the news of their interest in Tolbert was leaked, trade rumors started circulating that Jonathan Stewert could be dealt to make room for Tolbert, but that seems like a long shot at this point.

They wound up losing a quality LB to the Cowboys in Dan Connor and Geoff Schwartz could end up being a decent player in time. Goodson wasn’t worth keeping after signing Tolbert, but they didn’t exactly receive much value in return for him.

I would have liked to see them grab another WR and possibly a CB or a S, but I recognize their financial constraints. They’ve been adamant that they believe in their young DT’s despite their struggles, but it would make sense for them to consider taking someone in the draft.

D

Saints

Additions: QB Drew Brees (F), DT Brodrick Bunkley, WR Marques Colston (R), LB Curtis Lofton, LB David Hawthorne, G Ben Grubbs, Chris Chamberlain

Subtractions: G Carl Nicks, CB Tracy Porter, WR Robert Meachem

Things have been pretty tumultuous for the Saints to say the least, but their offseason has actually been very productive.

I know that they should get Drew Brees under contract for the long-term, but if his asking price is so high that they’d be unable to surround him talent, than is it really worth it? By franchising him, they were able to keep Marques Colston, who’s a great fit in their system. Granted they may have paid him more than he’s worth, but it’s not like he comes with huge question marks. Losing Carl Nicks hurts, but not as much when you can replace him with Ben Grubbs. Nicks is heads above him in talent, but they got Grubbs for 5 years, $36 million, $15.9 million guaranteed while the Buc’s spent $47.5 million, $31 million guaranteed for five-years of Nicks. Saving $15 million in guaranteed cash is a huge plus and Grubbs is definitely a serviceable G. Brodrick Bunkley was an underrated player for the Broncos last season and was actually rated as the #3 DT by PFF. Injuries are a concern, but he fits their needs quite well. Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne should improve their LB’s, even though I’m not high too on Lofton.

Like I already said, losing Nicks isn’t something to be happy about, but mitigating the impact of his loss by signing Grubbs is a great move. Tracey Porter is an overrated CB that struggles in coverage so they should be able to replace him at some point. Robert Meachem could end up being a great player for the Chargers, but the Saints have done well to develop WR’s so I’m sure that this isn’t as big of a loss for them as it would be for others.

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