Looks Good on Paper
Alterraun Verner, Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB
Easily a top five cornerback last season, Verner was signed to a four-year, $26.5M contract. That’s a steal. Verner’s contract makes Denver and Green Bay look like they overpaid for Aqib Talib ($9.5M per year) and Sam Shields ($9.75M per year), respectively. Verner had a better 2013 than both of those players. He and Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson are the next generation of premier cornerbacks.
T.J. Ward, Denver Broncos SS
Most people think Ward is only an in-the-box run defender. Pro Football Focus did have him rated as the top run-defending safety, but he improved significantly in coverage last year. Denver managed to sign him for just $5.6M a year, which is significantly less than what the Saints gave Jairus Byrd ($9M). For a team with a win-now mentality, the defensive upgrades – especially this one – were necessary for a team that wants to compete with NFC powerhouses like Seattle and not have a repeat of the Super Bowl.
Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers RB
Three years for $10M sounds like a lot for someone who’ll be a third string running back, but look what happened in Indianapolis – Trent Richardson was below average and Brown stepped into the starting spot and produced. I think Brown will be a solid player in the Chargers’ running back rotation with Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews and will further improve the running game and passing game. He’s not a very good blocking running back, but he can help elsewhere.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions WR
Detroit needed another receiver behind Calvin Johnson. In a pass-oriented offense, the lack of a solid second receiver was evident down the stretch last year. Tate could possibly fill that role. And if the Lions take a receiver at tenth overall – perhaps Mike Evans – that passing attack would be one of the best, if not the best, in the league. Try double teaming Megatron with those three on the field.
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers WR
Boldin has been one of the most reliable receivers in the league and has been Colin Kaepernick’s “security blanket”, for lack of a better term. He stepped up in a big way in Michael Crabtree’s absence. He made key plays in the two wins for the 49ers in last season’s playoffs against Green Bay and Carolina, proving he can still get it done. His presence in San Francisco is necessary for a team that’ll definitely be contending for a Lombardi this season.
Andre Roberts, Washington Redskins WR
This was Bruce Allen’s only good signing of the offseason so far. Roberts can be a solid number two receiver behind Garcon, who established himself as a top receiver last season. Roberts was overshadowed by Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd last year and the year before, but still managed 1,200 yards over the past two years as a third receiver. He can also help with kick and punt returns, something Washington has really struggled with over the last few years.
Dexter McCluster, Tennessee Titans WR
McCluster is one of the most exciting players in the league. I was surprised that the Chiefs didn’t use him more on offense, as he’s crazy fast with insane cutback ability. In addition to his excellent returning skills, he’s a versatile player on offense. The Titans can line him up in the backfield or on the outside. He would be a good compliment to whoever the running back in Tennessee will be (Chris Johnson probably isn’t coming back).
Jared Veldheer, Arizona Cardinals OT
An average Cardinals offensive line and a below-average Cardinals quarterback went 10-6 and almost made the playoffs. Veldheer improves both. He will again protect Carson Palmer’s blind side as he did in Oakland, significantly improving the offensive line. Even if he is just above average, it will be an upgrade to Arizona’s offensive line.