Ever since the lockout ended, it has felt like Christmas in July for NFL fans as free agents have been going fast each day this week. For the New England Patriots, they are compared to your youngest sibling who gets the best gifts as stocking stuffers. Each team in the division has made at least one significant move so far this week and could be on the verge of making more moves. Let’s start with the Buffalo Bills.
Brad Smith to the Bills: On Thursday, the now former New York Jets’ Punt returner/Kick Returner signed up north with the Bills for 4 years, $15 million. Smith had to feel insulted that the Jets did not even present him an offer due to the Nnamdi Asomugha craze that is sweeping New York City. The value of the QB from the Jets’ Seminole package could decrease due to the NFL now starting kickoffs from the 35-yard line. I expect Chan Gailey to still find a way to use him in some wildcat formations because he can throw being a former quarterback from Missouri as well. He could also catch passes out of the slot from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Overall, I like the addition for Buffalo who gets him on the cheap.
The Bills also re-signed Drayton Florence to a 3 year, $15 million deal and signed QB Tyler Thigpen to a 3 year deal to at least be a backup to Fitzpatrick. However, they lost their ILB Paul Posluszny who signed a 6 year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Reggie Bush to the Dolphins: With Miami in all likelihood losing their running back duo of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, they resorted to take the former number two pick from a few years ago. They hope to strike gold in a trade they made with the Saints where they gave New Orleans S Jonathan Amaya in exchange for Reggie Bush. After the trade, they signed Bush to a new two year, $10 million deal. Before I get into more on Bush, I got a tweet from PhinsPhocus.com in a response about the trade. “Like it, don’t love it. I think it depends on if D. Thomas becomes a productive workhorse. If so, Bush fits like a glove.”
I thought Miami would go after Ahmad Bradshaw from the New York Giants to counteract their 2nd round pick Daniel Thomas from Kansas State. Bradshaw was too expensive, so they got Bush. If he can buy the concept of team and fit into the secondary role, I think Bush can excel. He is still a threat on special teams. I say Miami got a good deal because he can catch out of the ball field, but they have to get a quarterback.
During Thursday, the Dolphins were on the verge of a deal for Broncos’ QB Kyle Orton, but Denver is still trying to figure out the draft pick they are going to get. With Vince Young off the market, Orton is Miami’s last option to find someone to compete with Chad Henne.
Santonio Holmes back to the Jets: Coming into this free agent frenzy, the Jets had the most prominent of free agents in wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Brad Smith, and Braylon Edwards along with cornerback Antonio Cromartie. On Wednesday, they signed Holmes to a 5 year, $50 million deal with $24 million in guaranteed money. Even after a four year suspension to begin last season, Holmes developed a great connection with now Jets’ captain Mark Sanchez. The good news is they get to keep their best receiver and it does not go much against their cap. Holmes will only count for $2.45 million against the cap, so it allows them for more room to sign CB Nnamdi Asomugha.
At the same time, if Asomugha is signed and forms a great 1-2 combo with Darrelle Revis, they will still need a pass rush and some receivers. Braylon Edwards wants big money, but it doesn’t look like the Jets will give it to him. Look for Edwards to sign with Washington, Chicago, or St. Louis. They didn’t even give a offer to Brad Smith, so I look for Randy Moss to be a Jet. Also, Asomugha should be a Jet in the next 24-48 hours.
Over the past months either on Twitter or here in Foxboro Blog roundtables, I have predicted that Chad Ochocinco would be a Patriot and that he would be a great fit here. After the trade on Thursday that sent a 6th round pick in 2012 and a 7th round pick in 2013 for Ocho, I stand by this move being great for the Patriots.
Even though Chad has a big mouth and loves to use Twitter, he still has some game left in him. This is the best thing for him to leave Cincinnati, which is as dysfunctional an organization as anybody in the National Football League. He gets a new change of scenery and now he can prove his former head coach Marvin Lewis wrong when Lewis thought he had nothing left in the tank.
Both Ochocinco and Belichick have a huge amount of respect for each other. Belichick knows Ochocinco’s ability, especially when there are not a ton of distractions. In 2009, the year before TO, Chad caught 72 balls for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns. If they can get the same production from him over the next three years of his re-structured contract, he will be a force to be reckoned with along with Welker, Branch, Tate, Gronkowski, and Hernandez.
Great start for the Patriots to the offseason, but I still think they will get an OLB, probably Matt Roth from the Cleveland Browns. However, CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman has an article out where a league source thinks the Pats have one more surprise up their sleeve.