2014 Free Agency: Five Things We've Learned

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In the AFC, the rich got richer

Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) in action against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The two best teams in the AFC last season were the Broncos and Patriots, and heading into 2014, both teams have re-affirmed that truth.

Let’s start with the AFC champs. The Broncos upgraded their defense immediately with the signings DBs T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib. Ward is coming off his first Pro Bowl season in 2013 in which he was the single best strong safety against the run. Talib will be an upgrade for Denver over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for as long as he stays healthy, even though at $26 million guaranteed, the former Patriot came with a hefty price tag.

A day after signing Ward and Talib, the Broncos grabbed the recently-cut DeMarcus Ware on a three-year deal. For an aging pass rusher who wanted to win now, Denver made perfect sense for Ware, who is primed for a bounce back season at Mile High. With the addition of three Pro Bowlers on D this offseason, it’s clear the Broncos learned something from their Super Bowl drubbing.

On offense, Denver didn’t have quite as much room to improve, but Emmanuel Sanders will be a capable replacement for the departed Eric Decker. Now, on to the Patriots.

After Talib left town, all signs were pointing to the Patriots signing Darrelle Revis. A day after being let go by Tampa, Revis was in Foxborough and will remain the league’s highest paid corner in 2014. The team continued to upgrade their secondary by signing former Seahawks CB Brandon Browner, who was suspended for the 2013 season and will miss the first four games in 2014. Browner is a veteran with 6-4 height that Bill Belichick will love. Pats fans will like the Revis/Browner tandem a lot more than the undrafted rookies the team has started in recent years.

On offense, the Patriots signed two wideouts, one old and one new. After much speculation, the team re-signed Julian Edelman to a four-year deal after he was Tom Brady’s top weapon in 2013. As for the new, Brandon LaFell comes over from Carolina on a three-year deal. He’ll be an upgrade on the outside over young guys Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Tompkins. With Danny Amendola in the wideout mix as well, the Patriots can really zone in on the tight end position in the draft.

With yesterday’s news of Vince Wilfork staying as well, the Patriots will keep their best player on the front four, as well as one of the best DTs in all of football for the last decade.

Obviously, anything can happen in the NFL, so don’t call for an AFC Championship rematch just yet, but it’s clear that things will be just as tough, if not tougher this year for the Colts, Steelers and all the other AFC playoff hopefuls.

And oh yeah, there’s still Tom Brady and Peyton Manning too.

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Tags: 2014 Free Agency Andre Roberts Aqib Talib Ben Tate Brandon LaFell Brian Orakpo Chicago Bears Dallas Cowboys Darrelle Revis Darren Mcfadden Darren Sproles Demarcus Ware Denver Broncos DeSean Jackson Donald Penn Green Bay Packers Jared Allen Jared Veldheer Jason Hatcher Jeremy Maclin Julian Edelman Julius Peppers Knowshon Moreno Malcolm Jenkins Matt Schaub Maurice Jones-Drew MD Jennings Nate Allen New England Patriots New York Giants NFC East Nolan Carroll Oakland Raiders Philadelphia Eagles Rashad Jennings Reggie McKenzie Riley Cooper Rodger Saffold TJ Ward Vince Wilfork Washington Redkins

  • Guido

    I am really starting to doubt the intelligence of mainstream media. The Raiders have been so bad for so long and every report I see expects them to buy a Superbowl team. They are bringing in veteran players to make a winning culture and build a team through the draft. They may not be a playoff team but this team will be 1000% better. The lazy media road is to say they blew it instead of actually looking at what is happening. Veldheer said there was no way he was staying. So please stop saying they lost him because they were cheap. He had no intention on resigning

    • James Holtslander

      Yeah!

    • Giovannoni

      Just give us a perfect chance to prove the so called experts wrong.

  • James Holtslander

    Of course the Raiders are trying to win right now. It’s probably the entire staffs last chance. After two 4-12 seasons, a complete rebuild is not an option anymore. That’s what last years was but with no money. Everyone’s out the door I we don’t have at least a winning season. I like almost every signing we’ve had this off season so far, and I am excited about madden on the xbox for the first time in years. Go raiders!

  • Josh Boone

    No surprise here, another member of the media blasting the Raiders. I have absolute faith in the silver and black and am beyond excited for this season.

  • raidersfanbob

    It really doesn’t matter who the Raiders sign in free agency. The haters will ALWAYS find the negative in any player we sign. We could sign an elite talent like Calvin Johnson and the haters would still find a way to put a negative spin on it. Now if the Donkos were to sign said player, they would be hailed as geniuses. It’s a shame that the media is so biased.

  • joe VICE

    Wow the guy who wrote this must really hate the Raiders. It’s a shame how these so called”analyst” or “experts” will bash these proven veterans we signed this off-season. Just because they’re going to play for Oakland. So now all of a sudden they’re old and past their prime blah blah blah , same ol raiders what a joke…Fuck you! We signed proven winners, champions even. They got the hardware to prove it. They’re gonna come here and get our young players hungry and show them what it takes to win in this league! Now I’m keeping my expectations at a minimal. Not expecting playoffs, but I am expecting to win more games. We are heading towards the right direction no matter what is being said. They’re just trying to discourage us fans because they’re scared to see our team be successful! So just win baby!! RAIDER NATION!!!

  • Chris Schroeder

    Has anybody ever heard of Carter Mulvihill? Aside from his dumb name he’s obviously just another unintelligent media clown stroking off the donkeys overpaid players that will take them nowhere this season and putting down the Raiders who are blowing up free agency with all kinds of talent. You know why opinions like “this guys” holds little weight with sensible people. Well… Simply put he’s full of crap. If this clown doesn’t know what Reggie McKenzie is trying to do with this football team he clearly isn’t paying attention. Do you think he realizes how many Super Bowl rings, pro bowlers, all pros he’s just brought in from free agency. The leadership alone will be through the roof in Oakland, and now he’ll be drafting youth 1-4 and twice in the seventh round. Reggie’s a genius and it’s people like this dude that just don’t get it bug the hell out of me.

  • Jon feigenbaum

    I’m not a Raiders hater, they’re not in the same CONFERENCE as my team, the Bears. To me, the Raiders simply “don’t have the horses” to compete.Schaub is a VERY injury prone QB , who couldn’t get it done with a top notch offense. I always thought the Texans made the wrong move by making him their primary QB for years. He’s never won a big playoff game in his career. I feel bad for ANY city that has had a bad team for a number of years. To me, the Raiders DO need a “rebuild” . There are just too many good teams in your division.

    • Redd_Melendez

      Injury prone? Top notch offense? I should have stopped reading right there as your knowledge appears lacking. Also, you must not be aware that KC lost 3 starting O linemen and a NT.

      Also, what big playoff games has Rivers ever won?

      Wild cards?

      They are rebuilding and are not trying to build a team through FA’s.

      Signing vets is par for the course and they aren’t doing anything NE is not doing in that regard.