The Bears lost defensive tackle Henry Melton, defensive end Julius Peppers, safety Major Wright and return specialist Devin Hester, but they added to the defensive line (DE’s Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, and Jared Allen), and wide receiver/return specialist Domenik Hixon.
Chicago was a high scoring team last season (tied for 2nd in scoring at 27.8 points per game), but their defense needed some help (allowed 29.9ppg, 30th in the NFL). The Bears restocked their DL with Houston (breakout season with 69 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles), Young (47 tackles, five passes defended, and three sacks) and the veteran Allen (52 tackles, 11.5 sacks and six passes defended).
They are loaded on the DL and should be very happy with their haul in FA.
They lost WR Eric Decker, DE/LB Shaun Phillips, RB Knowshon Moreno, CB’s Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and return specialist Trindon Holliday, but they addressed their defensive shortcomings in the Super Bowl in a big way by going out and bringing in CB Aqib Talib, strong safety TJ Ward and LB DeMarcus Ware and WR Emmanuel Sanders.
Talib is injury prone, but a very good player and an upgrade over Bailey and DRC. His numbers last season (41 tackles, 14 PD’ed, and four interceptions) were in just 13 games and he should be a great fit in Denver’s defense. Ward is a tackling beast (112 tackles, five PD’ed, two INT’s and a fumble recovery last season with the Cleveland and is an improvement over Duke Ihenacho.
Ware (40 tackles and six sacks in 13 games) was a salary cap casualty in Dallas and should give the Broncos a great pass rush along with Von Miller from the right side, which is most QB’s blind side. Ware had a down year last season, but with Von Miller at LB….he should be able to bounce back and have a better season. The left side of the opposing teams offensive will get a workout trying to defend Ware and Von Miller.
Sanders was a needed and nice pickup with Decker bolting for the cash the New York Jets threw at him. Sanders (67 catches, 740 yards, 12 plays of 20-plus yards, and six touchdowns) is a solid pickup as the third WR and should benefit from playing with Peyton Manning who makes players around him better.
The Patriots lost some quality players in CB Talib, LB Brandon Spikes, SS Adrian Wilson, and RB LeGarrette Blount, but they responded by adding CB’s Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, WR Brandon LaFell and SS Patrick Chung.
Revis struggled in Tampa Bay so New England went out and signed him to a one year deal worth 12 million, an unsual move for the normally frugal Patriots. NE likes to build through the draft, but couldn’t pass up Revis and the chance to improve their pass defense (239ypg, 18th in the NFL, 25 passing TD’s).
They added a big and physical WR in LaFell after he had a solid season with the Carolina Panthers last season (49 catches and five TD’s) to add some depth after they sustained a lot of injuries at receiver last year.
The Saints didn’t stand pat after an off year.
They lost RB Darren Sproles, FS Malcolm Jenkins, DE’s Will Smith and Kenyon Coleman, WR Lance Moore, CB Jabari Greer, and a few other bit players but they went out and landed one of the best free agents available in Jairus Byrd, CB Champ Bailey and FB Erik Lorig.
Byrd is one of the best ball-hawking DB’s in the NFL (22 INT’s in five seasons) and is in the prime of his playing career at just 27 years of age. The Saints struck gold when they signed him away from the Buffalo Bills, he’s a huge upgrade over Jenkins.
Bailey might not be the same player he once was but he can still fill in on occasion and help provide some veteran depth.
Lorig? No clue who he is, to be perfectly honest.
The Jets lost incumbent QB Mark Sanchez, CB’s Antonio Cromarie and Isaiah Trufant, WR Santonio Holmes, offensive lineman Austin Howard, but went free agent crazy as they signed QB Michael Vick, WR Eric Decker, RB Chris Johnson, and WR/return specialist Jacoby Ford.
Vick was brought in to backup young QB Geno Smith but in all seriousness, he’ll most likely win the starting job in pre-season. Vick can still play (as he showed during his tenure in Philadelphia) and gives the Jets the best chance to win now.
Johnson needed a change of scenery and while NY had a solid running game, he helps them get even better. He’ll start from day one.
Decker was brought in to be the go-to-WR, wether or not he can be one is the question on a lot of minds. At worst, he’s an upgrade from last seasons WR’s. At best, he could be the Red Zone target they have needed.
If Ford is healthy, he’s a nice addition but injuries have plagued him throughout his career. He has a gaudy 25 yard average on kick returns (with four TD’s) but he always seems to be banged up. As a WR he’s shown flashes of being a solid player, but he’s really just a warm body that they need to keep on the roster in case another WR gets hurt. He’s not going to contribute a lot with Decker, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill,and David Nelson on the roster, unless injuries occur.
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