With offseason workouts having ended throughout the NFL, it’s a good time to take a look at where things stand with the rest of the AFC East.
Key arrivals: CB Zack Bowman, TE Jordan Cameron, G Jeff Linkenbach, CB Brice McCain, WR Greg Jennings, WR DeVante Parker, OLB Spencer Paysinger, DT Jordan Phillips, WR Kenny Stills, DT Ndamukong Suh.
Key departures: TE Charles Clay, LG Daryn Colledge, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, CB Cortland Finnegan, WR Brandon Gibson, WR Brian Hartline, DT Jared Odrick, C Samson Satele, G Shelley Smith, DT Randy Starks, WR Mike Wallace, OLB Philip Wheeler, FS/CB Jimmy Wilson.
Highlights: They were as aggressive as any team during the offseason. They signed the top prize of the open market (Suh, who received the largest deal ever for an NFL defensive player), gave quarterback Ryan Tannehill a big contract extension, and did a major overhaul of their receiving corps (highlighted by the selection of Parker, a former Louisville star, in the first round) to help allow that investment in Tannehill to pay off.
According to multiple accounts, Tannehill looked mostly sharp through practices and had his best performance in the final workout of the offseason.
There are signs that Joe Philbin, as straight-laced and conservative a coach as there is in the NFL, seems to be making an effort to be a little less stuffy. He cancelled a day of practice in both the rookie and veteran minicamps for team-building events such as kickball and training with the Navy SEALs. At the urging of Jennings, Philbin also broke a 30-year tradition of never wearing sunglasses during practice (for about two seconds).
Lowlights: Parker looked highly impressive from his very first practice, making the most of his tall frame and athleticism to consistently catch passes – even those that were occasionally out of reach. But then he suffered a foot injury that required surgery, shortening his participation in offseason workouts and likely keeping him out of a large chunk of training camp. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
The offensive line looks to be the weakest area of the team. Left tackle Brandon Albert is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last season, and both guard spots are up for grabs with a less-than-inspiring group of competitors that includes Linkenbach.
New England Patriots
Key arrivals: NT Malcom Brown, RB Travaris Cadet, TE Scott Chandler, CB Bradley Fletcher, WR Brandon Gibson, G Tre’ Jackson, C/G Shaquille Mason, CB Robert McClain, SS Jordan Richards, DT Jabaal Sheard.
Key departures: CB Kyle Arrington, OLB Akeem Ayers, CB Brandon Browner, OLB Jonathan Casillas, CB Darrelle Revis, RB Stevan Ridley, RB Shane Vereen, NT Vince Wilfork.
Highlights: The presentation of their gaudy diamond rings for winning Super Bowl XLIX last February was the topper of an offseason that otherwise saw the Patriots take plenty of hits – on and off the field – while making minimal gains.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola was the star of offseason workouts. According to the Providence Journal, he caught a team-high 15 passes from Tom Brady during 11-on-11 team drills that were open to the media. Brady was his typically superb self during workouts that were open to the media. According to the Journal, he completed 67 of 97 passes and threw only one interception.
Rob Gronkowski and Chandler, a former Bill, made several impressive plays and generated a narrative that the Patriots could have as strong a tight end duo as any team in the league.
James White, a fourth-round draft pick who didn’t play much last season, made a strong case to become the Pats’ third-down back with some nice practice receptions, according to multiple reports.
Lowlights: Brady’s four-game suspension for his involvement in the Deflategate scandal has put a dark cloud over the Patriots’ entire offseason and could very well create major problems for them once they open their schedule. His appeal hearing was Tuesday at NFL headquarters in New York, but no ruling was immediately made by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Brady’s absence for the full length of the suspension could put the Patriots in a hole from which they won’t be able to escape.
The secondary suffered a massive blow with the loss of one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, Revis, and another strong player at the position in Browner.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady’s backup, showed why the Patriots should be very concerned about the potential of losing Brady for a quarter of the season when he threw five interceptions in one practice that was open to the media. He had a total of seven in those sessions.
New York Jets
Key arrivals: G James Carpenter, CB Antonio Cromartie, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, FS Marcus Gilchrist, WR Brandon Marshall, OLB Lorenzo Mauldin, CB Darrelle Revis, RB Stevan Ridley, CB Buster Skrine, WR Devin Smith, RB Zac Stacy, DE Leonard Williams.
Key departures: NT Kenrick Ellis, WR Percy Harvin, RB Chris Johnson, SS Dawan Landry, CB Kyle Wilson.
Highlights: It’s hard to find a secondary that looks better on paper than the one the Jets were able to put together during the offseason. Their ability to reunite the league’s best cornerback duo from 2010-12 in Revis and Cromartie, alone, made their offseason moves as strong as any in the NFL. Skrine is a solid nickel corner, while the addition of free safety Gilchrist allows the Jets to put 2014 first-round draft pick Calvin Pryor on the strong side.
The Jets might very well have landed the best player in the draft in Williams, whose potential for dominance should go a long way toward allowing them to have one of the strongest defensive fronts in the league. The key defensive additions should go a long way toward helping Todd Bowles, the Arizona Cardinals’ former defensive coordinator, have success as a first-year coach.
Quarterback Geno Smith was solid in the final week of offseason workouts, according to NJ.com. Was it enough for him to win the starting job? No, or at least not yet. He is expected to receive a challenge from Fitzpatrick once the former Bill, who joined the Jets after a stint with the Houston Texans, recovers from knee surgery.
The additions of Marshall and Smith, along with Eric Decker, should enhance the Jets’ passing game, provided they’re able to get competent quarterbacking from Smith or someone else.
Lowlights: Veteran guard Willie Colon was limited in offseason workouts with a sore knee.
Tight end Jace Amaro, he of the war of words with Bills coach Rex Ryan, missed all of minicamp with a sore back.
The Jets lost a solid special-teams player and reserve tight end in Zach Sudfeld, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during a minicamp drill.