The offseason still has plenty of road left ahead, but for the most part, the heavy lifting has been dealt with.
While we won’t know the real results of free agency and the draft until the players actually hit the field, let’s take a look at the best and worst move each team has made since the end of the 2016 season, continuing with the AFC East.
Best: Firing GM Doug Whaley
The timing wasn’t great, but the Bills did well to move on from Doug Whaley after four seasons of confusing management moves and inept media relations. Buffalo saw four men serve as head coach for at least one game over Whaley’s tenure, none of whom could end the team’s lengthy playoff drought. This appeared to be Sean McDermott’s team when he was hired, and now it’s official.
Worst: Waiting until after draft to fire Whaley
Getting rid of Whaley was a good, necessary move, yet it took some time to pull the trigger. The Bills made few major free-agent additions and lost several key veterans with their soon-to-be-fired GM running things in March. The move to clean out the scouting staff after the draft was likely made out of necessity, as hiring new scouts within months of the draft is too short a time to adequately prepare, but Whaley could have been out the door beforehand to get an earlier start for the new regime.
Best: Re-signing Kenny Stills before free agency
The Dolphins had a decent offseason, though none of their moves have been particularly splashy. Wrapping up Stills’ contract before free agency was a bonus for Miami as his four-year, $32-million contract would likely have been more lucrative on the open market, coming off a nine-touchdown season.
Worst: Giving Reshad Jones major contact after injured season
Nothing against Jones – but the execution of this contract is questionable at best. The 29-year-old missed 10 games in 2016 with a shoulder injury and has had just one season worthy of elite status. Paying safeties big money rarely equates to more wins – he’s not a quarterback or pass-rusher – and making Jones the third-highest-paid safety in the league after an injury as he approaches 30 seems like a move Miami could soon come to regret.
New England Patriots
Best: Trading for Brandin Cooks
New England has found a lot of success this offseason, and there’s no way the Patriots were going to get a player as good as Cooks with the 32nd overall pick. The former top-20 selection, who is still on his rookie deal and only 23 years old, gives Tom Brady the best deep threat he’s had since Randy Moss.
Worst: Not trading Jimmy Garoppolo
There aren’t many bad moves to choose from, though the Patriots keeping Garoppolo on the last year of his rookie contract is puzzling. New England likely could have gotten a first-round pick in exchange for the 25-year-old, and will now have to use the franchise tag or pay him starter money to keep him from hitting the open market in 2018.
New York Jets
Best: Moving on from veteran corps
It’s time to face the music in New York and be honest about how bad the roster really is. After holding on to hope in 2016, the Jets released or opted not to re-sign Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, and Geno Smith in an effort to refocus and rebuild. The team’s talent level has dropped precipitously, but the new direction is necessary.
Worst: Becoming hopeless at quarterback
Entering a rebuild is one thing; not even attempting to find a serviceable quarterback is another. Christian Hackenberg was apparently so bad last year that the Jets didn’t even let him practice in front of the media. Bryce Petty has established himself as a career backup at best, struggling to fully grasp the playbook in his first two years. Freshly signed veteran Josh McCown is a tanking specialist who hasn’t been on a winning team since riding the Bears’ bench in 2012. New York still has to play 16 games with these three.
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