AFC EAST OFFSEASON PREVIEW

February 22, 2017

 

BUFFALO BILLS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $26,012,670

 

TEAM NEEDS: X WR, QB, SLB, RT, CB, TE, Y WR, DE

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

QB Mike Glennon

RB James Starks

RT Mike Remmers

SLB Lorenzo Alexander

WLB Zach Brown

 

Any time there is a new Head Coach that brings with him a new defensive scheme change, it's always an enormous undertaking when it comes to re-constructing the roster. With the Bills switching to a more traditional 4-3 scheme, they will need to target players that are more tailored towards that system. I'm sure McDermott would love to bring Kawann Short over with him from Carolina, but early reports from GM Dave Gettleman suggest that the franchise tag will be used on Short if a long-term deal can't be agreed to. One player McDermott CAN bring with him that fills a gaping need on this roster is RT Mike Remmers. Remmers isn't a world beater but is a solid player who can give them some piece of mind. If Tyrod Taylor is released, QB becomes an enormous need and I wouldn't put it past GM Doug Whaley to be the guy who pays Mike Glennon to come over from Tampa until Cardale Jones or a future rookie can overtake him. RB James Starks is a University of Buffalo alum and would be a nice complementary back to LeSean McCoy. LBs Lorenzo Alexander and Zach Brown are obvious re-signings after their solid 2016 campaigns and I would be surprised if a deal doesn't get done with both of them.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

X WR Mike Williams

CB Gareon Conley

TE Jordan Leggett

DE Ejuan Price

Y WR Amba Etta-Tawo

QB Chad Kelly

 

WR. WR. WR. The Bills need some weapons on offense no matter who is playing QB, and that's what this draft will be all about. Whaley can pull again from the Clemson pool and get Sammy Watkins his partner-in-crime in Mike Williams. Williams also becomes the Red Zone threat they desperately need. Ohio State CB Gareon Conley fills the void left by the ensuing departure of Stephon Gilmore and can be a day one starter on the boundary. Jordan Leggett joins his first round Clemson teammate and gives the team a more balanced player at the TE position who can also add some juice in the passing game. The only DE depth on this roster currently is IK Enemkpali, which shouldn't instill much confidence should Lawson have a relapse from his shoulder injury. Ejuan Price, despite measuring in under 5'11 at the Shrine Game, is a high-motor player who can provide a nice spark in rotational packages. Local Syracuse product Amba Etta-Tawo gives them another productive player who can work from the Slot or provide insurance if Watkins gets hurt, which has been a recurring theme throughout his pro career. Last, but not least, a familiar name comes to Buffalo by the way of Chad Kelly as a developmental guy who the Bills can groom. The Bills were all over Kelly at meetings in the Senior Bowl and McDermott strikes me as a guy who has a disposition that Swag wouldn't want to mess with. While we're at it, let's add Jim Kelly to the staff so he can spank his nephew in the event he doesn't behave, much like Michael Scott in the "Nepotism" episode of the critically-acclaimed show, The Office.

 

 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $42,344,383

 

TEAM NEEDS: LG, RDE, ILB/WLB, RDT, RG, FS, NCB, Z WR

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

TE Julius Thomas (Trade)

OG TJ Lang

DE Julius Peppers

OLB Keenan Robinson

TE Dion Sims

DE Andre Branch

 

We already know that Julius Thomas is on his way to South Beach after being traded for a 2017 7th round draft selection, and that is an intriguing pairing to look out for in re-uniting with former Broncos OC Adam Gase. Indirectly involved in the deal was former-Dolphins LT Branden Albert going up to Duval County, allowing the Laremy Tunsil era to officially begin. But with moving Tunsil over, a hole opens up at Guard, so I would fully expect the Dolphins to make a run at a player like TJ Lang to plug into the RG spot. Although the veteran Mario WIlliams didn't work out, I can see Miami bringing a guy like Julius Peppers in. Though Peppers may be entering the twilight of his career, he can potentially play a Dwight Freeney "mentor" role for a younger player they may acquire in the Draft. With Neville Hewitt currently penciled in as the starter at WLB, I would expect Miami to target an inexpensive option like Keenan Robinson to fill the need and still be flexible enough to move to a backup role if they find a more suitable replacement in the draft. I fully expect the Dolphins to still re-sign Dion Sims as their secondary blocking TE and Andre Branch played well enough to earn himself an encore contract.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

DE Carl Lawson

DT Caleb Brantley

LG Ethan Pocic

Z WR Travin Dural

FS Rayshawn Jenkins

WLB Brandon Bell

 

Although the Dolphins will almost certainly bring some bodies in at DE through Free Agency, the fact that Cam Wake will be 35 this season just puts into perspective just how dire the Dolphins DE situation is. Carl Lawson has battled injuries during his career at Auburn but when he's on, boy is he on. Gators DT Caleb Brantley could be a huge upgrade over the recently released Earl Mitchell and give Ndamokung Suh a talented partner in the interior defensive line. Going back to offense with the 3rd pick, a player like LSU's Ethan Pocic makes a ton of sense. Pocic has the position versatility to be a good starter at LG in the NFL and can also swing inside to play Center to provide some insurance in the event Mike Pouncey misses even more time due to injury. Travin Dural was a guy the Dolphins scouts were seen talking with at length in Mobile and would be a logical replacement at Z WR for Kenny Stills, allowing his LSU-teammate Jarvis Landry to move inside to the Slot full time. The Dolphins could go local to bring in Canes FS Rayshawn Jenkins to provide a more physical option at the position over Isa Abdul-Quddus. Lastly, Brandon Bell is a thumper who can run and challenge for the Weakside Linebacker spot.

 

 

 

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $62,946,093

 

TEAM NEEDS: ILB, RDE, WR, RCB, DT, C, RB, KR, LDE

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

LB Dont'a Hightower

TE Martellus Bennett

DE Chris Long

FB James Develin

 

It's almost unfair that a Super Bowl Champion can roll into the offseason with over $60 million in cap space, but here we are. Oddly enough, I don't see the Patriots splashing a lot of that green towards Free Agents and may only focus on re-signing a handful of their own players. I don't see any way Dont'a Hightower slips away, but then again I thought the same thing about Jamie Collins, so who knows with The Hoodie. For all the speculation out there that Marty Bennett won't be back in New England, I just don't see how the Pats can go into the season after a serious injury to Gronk and not have insurance, especially with all the cap space they have at their disposal. Chris Long and James Develin are role players who could be back on inexpensive deals.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

RB/KR Christian McCaffrey

RDE Jordan Willis

WR Cooper Kupp

DT Eddie Vanderdoes

ILB Jalen Reeves-Maybin

WR Chad Hansen

CB Marquez White

LDE Hunter Dimick

SS Nate Gerry

 

And why do I think the Patriots won't be aggressive in Free Agency? They have a ton of draft picks this year they can use to fill some holes on the roster. Although Christian McCaffrey and James White are similar type of receiving RBs, I just have a hard time of seeing the Pats passing on the Stanford playmaker if he makes it to 32, although I think a player like Zach Cunningham or a pass rusher could give them pause due to a larger need at the position. At worst, McCaffrey becomes an elite Kick Returner, which is an area that almost cost the Pats several times this season with an array of Cyrus Jones fumbles. Jordan Willis is an ultra-productive pass rusher and although he's not flashy, would be super effective in the Patriots defense lining up opposite from Trey Flowers. Cooper Kupp could become a less expensive option for Danny Amendola, whose cap number is outliving his production at this point in his career. Eddie Vanderdoes gives Matt Patricia another run stuffer to rotate with Vincent Valentine on the interior. The Pats struck gold taking a LB from Tennessee several years ago with Jerod Mayo and could do similar with Jalen Reeves-Maybin playing the ILB spot vacated by Jamie Collins. Chad Hansen is another WR who could fall due to the depth at the position in this year's class. CB Marquez White can compete with Eric Rowe for Logan Ryan's roster spot, who will likely be off to greener pa$tures. Utah DE Hunter Dimick is the type of gritty pass rusher who Belichick would make up in a lab and I would be shocked if he doesn't make his way to New England in some way, shape or form. Pats scouts seemed very interested in SS Nate Gerry at the Senior Bowl, and Gerry could provide some nice Special Teams value in the 7th round. I would also keep an eye out for Virginia Tech FB Sam Rogers in UDFA, especially if the Pats opt not to bring Develin back.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

CAP ROOM (per Spotrac): $3,033,413

 

TEAM NEEDS: QB, CB, LT, TE, SS, EDGE, RB, CB

 

FREE AGENCY ADDITIONS

QB Jay Cutler

CB Prince Amukamara

EDGE Erik Walden

 

No, Jay Cutler is not a Free Agent yet, but if you read anything on social media, early reports indicate that he is the heavy favorite to be the Jets starting QB in 2017. Personally, I would just trade Sheldon Richardson for Jay Cutler and a late round draft choice. This way the Jets get Cutler and his contract as is with no guaranteed money remaining and also get to offload a ton of cap space and a locker room feather-ruffler in Sheldon Richardson, who would fit nicely as a DE in Vic Fangio's 3-4 scheme. Despite the Jets being tight with cap room, they do have some wiggle room to trim some fat by releasing players like Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall and will likely end up having to do so. Revis' cap number could easily go to former Giants and Jaguars CB Prince Amukamara, who is already familiar with New Jersey and MetLife Stadium. Erik Walden could be a good veteran pass rushing option at 3-4 OLB, especially if the Jets find a trade partner for Sheldon Richardson.

 

 

NFL DRAFT

CB Marshon Lattimore

LT Antonio Garcia

QB Davis Webb

TE Jeremy Sprinkle

RB Matt Dayes

EDGE Josh Carraway

 

What the Jets do in Free Agency at the QB position will dictate a lot about their strategy with the 6th pick in the Draft. Depending on how much guaranteed money they dedicate to Jay Cutler on a re-worked contract will be a tell on if a QB at 6 like Mitch Trubisky is still in play. The smart route, however, would be taking the best CB in the Draft, which in this scenario would be Marshon Lattimore. Troy OT Antonio Garcia could be an immediate upgrade over the released Ryan Clady and has an incredibly high ceiling at Left Tackle. Davis Webb is a QB who the Jets spent a lot of time with at the Senior Bowl and may be the developmental guy they tab to compete with Hackenberg for the future of the position. Jeremy Sprinkle fills an enormous need and provides upside as a blocker as well. Matt Dayes was a guy that Jets scouts were hot on in Mobile and would be a great 3rd down back in their offense. Josh Carraway adds depth at the outside linebacker position, but another player that could be in play is DE Jonathan Calvin from Mississippi State. Keep an eye out on that one.

 

 

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