NFL Offseason Updates: AFC East

Courtesy of NBC Sports

Courtesy: NBC Sports

Courtesy of NBC Sports

Zack Goodrow, Editor-in-Chief

BUFFALO BILLS: Last season, the Buffalo Bills improved from a good team to a great one. They saw a significant boost in their offensive play on the field and continued playing solid defense. The Bills finished the year at 13-3 and lost in the AFC Championship game. Coming into the 2021-22 season, this is still the team to beat in the AFC East. 

Buffalo didn’t see many momentous departures from their team this offseason. On offense they did lose guard Brian Winters. However, they replaced him with Forrest Lamp who played in all 16 games last year for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Bills then solidified their line by bringing back tackle Daryl Williams and guard Jon Feliciano both on three-year deals. They also made a low-risk move by signing receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a one-year contract. 

The structure of their defense stayed intact as well. Linebacker Matt Milano was brought back on a four-year, $41.5 million deal. Buffalo also made sure to bring back cornerback Levi Wallace on a one-year contract. Defensive end Trent Murphy won’t be rejoining the team next season, but the Bills heavy investment in the defensive line in the draft. With their first two picks in the draft, Buffalo selected defensive ends Gregory Rousseau (Miami) and Carlos Basham Jr. (Wake Forest). 

With little player movement this offseason, the Bills should see essentially the same team on the field this upcoming season. They’ll most likely continue to play excellent football and be one of the best teams in the league. It remains to be seen however if the team has enough firepower to surpass the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC. STOCK NEUTRAL. 

MIAMI DOLPHINS: There was no easy victory against the Miami Dolphins last season. This team is in the midst of a long term rebuild, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They were competitive in every game last year, even with a subpar roster. This season will likely be similar, as the roster slowly improves and as second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa gains his footing in the league. 

The Dolphins did all they could to add some weapons to Tagovailoa’s arsenal. They signed WR Will Fuller a one-year, $10.6 million contract. They also spent the sixth overall pick in the draft on WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) to reunite him with Tagovailoa. On the offensive line, they lost starting center Ted Karras who signed with the New England Patriots. Miami replaced him with a similar caliber player in Matt Skura and also brought in OL D.J. Fluker on a one-year deal. Tackle Liam Eichenberg (Notre Dame) was selected in the second round of the draft, furthering the improvement of the offensive line. 

The defense saw a bigger influx of players, with many leaving and being replaced with other veterans. Going out the door was DE Shaq Lawson, DT Davon Godchaux, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB Kyle Van Noy and safety Bobby McCain. Coming in for the 2021-22 season is DT Adam Butler, LB Benardrick McKinney, CB Justin Coleman and CB Jason McCourty. In the draft, Miami selected DE Jaelan Phillips (Miami) and S Jevon Holland (Oregon). All-in-all, the Dolphins are replacing veterans with potentially better fits to their system. They should still be a stout defense again next year. 

There weren’t many big losses on this roster that weren’t replaced with capable players. The offensive line has improved and the additions of Fuller and Waddle will add to an already talented wide receiving corp. This will be another development season in Miami, but on paper the team is looking better. STOCK UP. 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: If it wasn’t obvious that coach Bill Belichick hated losing, it is now. During his tenure, the New England Patriots have been known for not spending big-time money in free agency. That appears to be over, as the Patriots have spent over $159 million in free agency. Last year, several significant players on the roster sat-out the season because of COVID-19. New England fell 7-9 and missed the playoffs, all while watching QB Tom Brady win a Super Bowl without them. This year, the Patriots are out for blood. 

QB Cam Newton was re-signed, but his time seems to be limited as the Patriots selected QB Mac Jones (Alabama) with the fifteenth pick in the draft. Jones should fit well in coordinator Josh McDaniel’s system and he will be surrounded by an abundance of new weapons. WR Julian Edelman retired, but he was replaced with Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Both of these players were probably overpaid, especially Agholor as he comes with a two-year, $26 million price tag. New England then splurged on the two best tight ends on the market. Hunter Henry was brought in on a three-year, $37.5 million deal and Jonnu Smith signed a four-year, $50 million contract. 

After losing guard Joe Thuney to the Chiefs, the Patriots traded a 2022 fifth-round pick for OT Trent Brown from the Las Vegas Raiders. They also re-signed center David Andrews to a four-year, $19 million contract.   

The team lost Adam Butler on the defensive line, but brought back DE Deatrich Wise Jr. on a four-year, $30 million deal. They also signed DL Henry Anderson, DT Davon Godchaux, and got a steal in the second round of the draft with DT Christian Barmore (Alabama). New England improved their linebacker corps with signing former Grand Valley State University linebacker Matthew Judon to a huge four-year, $56 million contract. The team brought back their own former LB Kyle Van Noy and also signed LB Raekwon McMillan on a one-year deal. In the secondary, the Patriots lost S Patrick Chung to retirement but replaced him with Jalen Mills four-year, $24 million contract. 

It’s obvious that this Patriots team has improved. They’ll be regaining players who opted-out last year and will welcome their new free agency additions. Jones should also have a chance this year to begin his Patriots tenure if Newton falters at QB. However, making the playoffs would require most likely four more wins to their record. Have the Patriots added enough new talent to make this leap? STOCK UP. 

NEW YORK JETS: It’s a new era in New York Jets football, again. This time, the team will be led by coach Robert Saleh. Saleh has made a name for himself as coordinator for the San Francisco 46ers defense and should be an excellent coach in New York. After trading QB Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, the Jets selected QB Zach Wilson (BYU) with the second overall pick in the draft. Wilson has immense talent but time will tell if he has what it takes to be a star in the league. Throwing him straight into the fire as the new season begins may lead to some early losses for the team. 

New York did an excellent job of reinforcing their offensive line and receivers. The team traded up in the draft to select OG Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC) with the fourteenth overall pick. Vera-Tucker will combine with OT Mekhi Becton to be the two focal points on this offensive line for several years to come. The Jets lost receivers Josh Doctson and Breshad Perriman in free agency, but the two players didn’t do much for them last season. They’ll be replaced with Corey Davis who had a career year with the Tennessee Titans last season and with Keelan Cole. Davis is being brought in on a three-year, $37.5 million contract. The team also selected WR Elijah Moore (Ole Miss) at the beginning of the second round of the draft. 

On defense, DL Henry Anderson departed from the team. DE Carl Lawson was brought in on a three-year, $45 million contract after recording 5.5 sacks last season. DT Sheldon Rankins signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the team. New York also franchise tagged S Marcus Maye. 

It was almost impossible for this team to get any worse after last season. Their offense should be significantly improved with the Davis signing and because their first three picks in the draft were on offensive players. While the defense hasn’t seen much new talent added to the roster, Saleh’s presence should give the unit a bit of a boost. It’s going to be another season with limited victories for the Jets, but at least they have a future to look forward to. STOCK UP.