The Patriots have made one or two splashes so far this offseason with the releases of Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd and the signings of running back Leon Washington and safety Adrian Wilson. But they haven’t been the only team in the AFC East doing work. The Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets, have had their fair share of losses and gains. With the Patriots offense taking on a new look in 2013, let’s see how some of the other teams will shape up come September.
Tom Brady and the Patriots will face some revamped AFC East teams in 2013.(FILE:USPresswire)
The start of free agency saw the Miami Dolphins take center stage. Signing big names such as wide receiver Mike Wallace and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to pricey contracts. They’ve got a new look that has the potential to shake up the AFC East. However, we’ve seen big money not pan out before, and one can’t help but wonder, is this the next case of a Miami meltdown?
It wasn’t cheap picking up these big free agents, as Wallace has $30 million in guaranteed money on his five-year, $60 million deal and Ellerbe is guaranteed $17 million of his five-year, $35 million contract. They completely blew his former team, the Ravens, out of the water, as they were looking to give him just around $5 million per year with about half as much guaranteed money. Moving from Maryland to Miami was the obvious choice.
At quarterback, with his first year in the league behind him and the rookie dust shaken off, Ryan Tannehill is poised to take his game to the next level. He showed improvements over last season and started to pick up some touchdowns by the end of the year. He threw for 3,294 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 76.1 passer rating. While those numbers are nowhere near outstanding, it shows room for growth. One has to think the introduction of Wallace combined with his connection with current wide receiver Brian Hartline, will only help his game. Not to mention the Dolphins snagged tight end Dustin Keller from the New York Jets. A little addition by subtraction in the AFC East. If all these pieces line up for the Dolphins, it’s going to make playing in Miami even tougher for the Patriots.
One team that hasn’t been making waves is the Buffalo Bills. They re-signed back up Tarvaris Jackson and were planning on having an open competition for the starting role between him and Ryan Fitzpatrick. But after losing Fitzpatrick to the Tennessee Titans, that is no longer the case. The team is now holding private workouts with quarterbacks such as West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Florida State’s EJ Manuel. The Bills aren’t looking like they’ll change too much in the 2013 season and the Patriots should still find a way to handle this team with ease.
Now the team that is always in the headlines for one reason or another, the one we love to hate, the Jets are back at it again. This time their spotlight is focused on Darrelle Revis. On Friday coach Rex Ryan refuted reports that the team was shopping the cornerback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, among others. There is also no news about who the starting quarterback will be. A competition will be held to see who gets the nod. Ryan was asked by Michael Kay and Don La Greca on ESPN New York 98.7 FM whether or not he wanted Tim Tebow on the roster and he diverted by saying “Tim’s under contract, and I also understand that this is the early stages of building our roster, so we’ll let it play out and we’ll see what happens.” So only time will tell if Tebow Time is once again on in New York or if he’ll find a new home come opening night.
Even with all these changes, the Patriots still have the edge in the AFC East and should be well on their way to winning another division championship. However the shakeup in Miami and the problems Wallace will create for the defense is definitely something to watch. There’s plenty of work for the Patriots to do, including finding a pass rusher as well as someone to stretch the field, but there’s still some more time in free agency and we’ll see how they handle the draft come April. In Bill We Trust we say because he’s led us to championships with unlikely teams before and he can most certainly do it again.