Free and clear: NFL signing period does't disappoint ... yet

03/24/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

March came in like a lion when it comes to free agency in the NFL. In what was one of the busiest starts to the free agency period in recent memory, many a big name will be wearing a different uniform in 2015. Let's recap some of the biggest moves so far.
DeMarco Murray. (Former team: Dallas/New team: Philadelphia). In what has to be one of the biggest coups in recent free agency, division rival Philadelphia signed away the NFL's leading rusher in 2014 from Dallas. The Eagles not only took away one of the biggest weapons in their division foes arsenal, they got Murray at a reasonable price for a top running back (5 years for $40 million/$20 million guaranteed). Of course the reason the Eagles were able to do this was because they traded former feature back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo.
Ndamukong Suh. (Former team: Detroit/New team: Miami). Suh signed the most lucrative of all the free agent contracts to date, inking a 6 year deal with the Dolphins for $114 million with $60 million of that guaranteed. That's a big splash for Miami, who are looking to push New England for supremacy in the AFC East. Suh has been a force on the defensive line in Detroit, but also had several on field incidents that resulted in suspensions. Suh is definitely one of the top defensive linemen in the game, but as good as this looks on paper for the Dolphins, you can't help but think of the Washington Redskins signing of Albert Haynesworth when he was considered to be the top defensive lineman in the NFL. That didn't work out so well.

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Julius Thomas. (Former team: Denver/New team: Jacksonville). Thomas certainly cashed in with the Jaguars, signing for $46 million over 5 years. Thomas has arguably been the best tight end in the NFL over the past two seasons, but that was with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball and playing in Denver's offense. Thomas certainly got his with this deal ($24 million guaranteed), but with the Jaguars get theirs? It's a long way from the top going from the Broncos offense with Manning at the helm to the Jaguars offense with Blake Bortles under center and nowhere near the same caliber of a supporting cast.
Darrelle Revis. (Former team: New England/New team: NY Jets). Who says you can't come home? Revis, who started his NFL career with the Jets, returns to the green and white on a 5 year deal worth $70 million. Not only do the Jets get Revis back after a two season absence, but they take him away from AFC East division rival New England. Will he be the same top cornerback he was during his first stint with the Jets? That remains to be seen.
Mike Iupati. (Former team: San Francisco/New team: Arizona). Iupati was the most sought after free agent amongst offensive linemen, and cashed in with the Cardinals to the tune of $40 million dollars over 5 years. And this is another move of strengthening your team while weakening a division rival. The Cardinals certainly improved their offensive line with the addition, while the 49ers will definitely feel the hurt through subtraction here.
Percy Harvin. (Former team: NY Jets/New team: Buffalo). Notice the pattern here...another addition while subtracting from a division rival. The new Rex Ryan led Bills made several moves to upgrade offensively, including trading to get LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia and signing QB Matt Cassell. At 1 year and $6 million, the Bills take very little risk here while adding a potential dynamic playmaker.
Andre Johnson. (Former team: Houston/New team: Indianapolis). Another inner division free agency move, as Johnson stays within the AFC South. While his past few seasons haven't been up to what was expected from Johnson based on the numbers he put up earlier in his career, he still has the potential to have a great comeback season with Andrew Luck throwing him the ball. Going from the Texans to the Colts offense is a huge step up for Johnson, and isn't a bad move money wise for the Colts, signing the WR to a 3 year contract worth $21 million with no guaranteed money.
Jeremy Maclin. (Former team: Philadelphia/New team: Kansas City). Maclin scored as many TD's for the Chiefs playing in Philadelphia in 2014 as the receivers playing in Kansas City scored for the Chiefs. Coming back from injury, Maclin had a breakout season in Philly as the go to guy in the Eagles offense. Now the Chiefs are hoping he'll bring some of that same playmaking ability their way with Alex Smith being an upgrade at quarterback over both Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez. $55 million over 5 years is a healthy investment for the Chiefs, but Maclin is a huge upgrade at a position Kansas City has been lacking at the past few seasons.
Bryan Bulaga. (Former team and new team: Green Bay). Bulaga is the only big name FA to stay put. Regarded as one of the top offensive linemen on the market with the above mentioned Mike Iupati, the Packers decided to keep him in the land of the cheese heads, inking Bulaga to a 5 year deal worth nearly $34 million. But it's money well invested for the Packers, who realize Bulaga's value in keeping Aaron Rodgers healthy and allowing Eddie Lacy to continue as one of the NFL's top running backs.
These are just some of the many moves made in what was a busy March around the NFL. With the draft just around the corner and more free agency coming after June 1st, the makeup of your favorite team may very well change again between now an the kickoff of the 2015 season. Teams will wait patiently to see if these investments actually end up paying off in the long run over the course of the season.

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