It’s a good bridge between the end of the regular season and the start of March Madness and baseball.
So, after digesting all of those deals, who ended up winning and who ended up losing in free agency? Here’s our list.
WINNER: Denver. Adding the “slot machine” Wes Welker to the potent offense that already included Demariyus Thomas and Eric Decker? That goes from “dangerous” to downright “terrifying.” Peyton Manning’s got at least one more MVP-level season in him, and he could get it this year.
LOSER: Baltimore. Wow. What a defection of talent from the Superbowl champions. The Ravens lost versatile end / linebacker Paul Kreuger (to Cleveland), up-and-coming linebacker Dannell Ellerbee (to Miami), Superbowl hero Anquan Boldin (in a trade to the 49ers), legend Ray Lewis (to retirement) and cornerback Cary Williams (to the Eagles). That’s a lot of talent. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has a lotve of work to do.
WINNER: Philadelphia. New coach Chip Kelly has a huge task in front of him – but additions like CB Cary Williams, FS Patrick Chung (from the Patriots) and LB Connor Barwin (from Houston) add some punch to a lacking defense. If Kelly works his magic on the offense, Philly can be good again very quickly.
LOSER: Miami. The Dolphins have thrown a lot of money around – but are they really any better? Mike Wallace is a good-to-great wide receiver, but he’s still got a second-year man (Ryan Tannehill) learning how to play quarterback. Miami’s still light years behind New England.
WINNER: Seattle. If WR Percy Harvin stays healthy, the former Vikings star can be a weapon for the already-loaded Seahawks offense. Pete Carroll will have a lot of fun designing plays for Harvin and QB Russell Wilson to run. Oh, and Seattle also inked bruising pass rusher Cliff Avril to a deal. They could be the NFC favorites next year.
LOSER: New Orleans. The Saints needed a ton of help on defense; their biggest signing (former Pittsburgh CB Keenan Lewis) was solid, but they still have to get a lot more done if they want to compete next year.
WHO KNOWS: New England. We’d like to doubt their moves – but if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s that Bill Belichick knows what he’s doing. Danny Amendola might even be better than Wes Welker. Leon Washington should provide a much-needed kickoff / punt return weapon. They’ll sign one or two veteran pass rushers (John Abraham? Dwight Freeney?). They’ll be great again – but will they be great enough to win another Superbowl?