The big rush of the 2016 NFL Free Agency period is over as most of the big names players have put ink to paper, re-setting the market for contracts after another dramatic rise in the NFL’s Salary Cap. No big name players have made a pact with the Bills for the service this year, but we knew this would be the case coming in, as the team was tight on cap space. They were able to retain the two biggest free agents of their own in talented linemen Cordy Glenn, who received the franchise tag, while agreeing with veteran left guard Richie Incognito to a team-friendly deal worth just over $15 million for three years. The Bills released Mario Williams, Leodis McKelvin and Kraig Urbik, while restructuring the deals of Charles Clay, Kyle Williams and Corey Graham in order to free up cap space. The intrigue for Bills fans in this year of free agency was following how divisional rivals went about improving their rosters. Here is a look at the biggest AFC East signings.
New England Patriots 2016 NFL Free Agency Recap
It seems like almost every year the Patriots always make a splashy move in the offseason that always works out in their favor. I guess that’s Bill Belichick for you. This year they made two(ish) blockbuster trades almost out of nowhere.
They moved Chandler Jones (who has typically has his way with the Bills) to the Arizona Cardinals for a second round pick and a former top-10 pick in the athletic, yet unproven guard Jonathan Cooper. This is good for both teams as the Cardinals get a much needed good pass rusher while the Patriots add a high draft pick while ridding themselves of a player that will command a huge salary when he hits free agency next season.
They also traded for Chicago Bears’ tight end Martellus Bennett, a really talented and athletic tight end that certainly alludes to the Patriots trying to go back to their two tight end formations they dominated the league with back when they had Aaron Hernandez.
They also signed former wide receiver Chris Hogan after the Bills didn’t match their offer sheet for the restricted free agent.
It’s clear that Bill Belichick wanted to get Tom Brady more protection and weapons, and the additions of Jonathan Cooper, Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan are all moves that should keep the never-ending wheel that is the Patritos’ offense spinning.
The team also signed defensive end Chris Long who was a cap casualty of the St. Louis Rams. He’s not the player he was several years ago, but he has a chip on his shoulder and some juice left in the tank.
Miami Dolphins 2016 NFL Free Agency Recap
The Dolphins and GM Mike Tannenbaum are employing the strategy that the Dolphins utilized in 2013: spend big and hope they win.
The first move they made was trading with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire cornerback Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso. They swapped their No. 8 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft for the No. 13 pick as Eagles looked to quickly rid themselves of the “misses” made by Chip Kelly during his short-lived tenure. Miami needed help in the secondary and at linebacker, but Maxwell has a pretty hefty contract and didn’t perform well with the Eagles, while Alonso hasn’t lived up to his #LegendofKiko hype after coming back from his second torn ACL.
After losing their own free agent pass rusher in Olivier Vernon, they brought in ex-Bill Mario Williams for a two-year deal that will pay him about $8 million per year after watching him terrorize their own offensive line over the last three seasons. They also signed another defensive end in the speedy Andre Branch.
Running back Lamar Miller, who seemed to just be hitting his stride, signed with the Houston Texans and a young, up-and-coming wideout in Rishard Matthews who had the best year of his career signed with the Tennessee Titans.
New York Jets 2016 NFL Free Agency Recap
The Jets, like the Bills, were tight on cap space and forced to sign low money veterans. However they did shell out some money to running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Matt Forte adds a much needed pass catcher out of the backfield as the Jets have lacked that the last few years and the veteran should thrive in Chan Gailey’s spread offense. Bilal Powell was a good player last year and stays with the team.
They also franchise tagged Muhammed Wilkerson. This cap space hit did not allow them to resign one of the best nose tackles in the league, Damon Harrison who went to inner stadium rivals New York Giants.
The Jets also haven’t re signed Ryan Fitzpatrick…. yet.