With the 2020 NFL Draft in the rear-view mirror, teams have begun online rookie mini-camp sessions as a workaround for the novel coronavirus. Soon enough, teams will begin rolling out modified forms of camps, which will likely include the most formal training camp sessions later this summer. We’re in an era of unsettled change, much like the rosters of many NFL teams. Within the AFC East, each team has undergone at least one big change that should have an immediate impact on the field. This week on the AFC East Roundup, we look at some of those changes.
The trade for wide receiver Stefon Diggs
Through much of last season, a common gripe of the fan base was that the team needed a number-one receiver. Nothing against John Brown, but there was a level of receiver that the team seemed to lack. They needed someone who could just have the ball thrown up to them and make a play—an ad-liber. Welcome to Buffalo, Stefon Diggs! Coming off back to back 1000-yard seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Diggs gives Josh Allen that big time weapon—someone who can open up the offense. The best part about Diggs is that he’s still only 26 years old with multiple years left on his current contract.
No Tom Brady
This one seems obvious but it still needs to be said. The loss of Tom Brady has the potential to greatly affect the Patriots. Swapping out who most believe is the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL for Jarrett Stidham likely isn’t a plug-and-play situation. Brady provided years of stability and division dominance with Bill Belichick. Perhaps this could be the master plan for the team, waiting until next year’s draft when some big-time quarterbacks will be available to teams in need. However, the expectation in New England is to always win double digit games and the division. With the loss of Brady, the Patriots’ automatic slotting in as the best in the AFC East isn’t a given.
The Miami Dolphins had an infamous defense last season, allowing a record number of points. Thus, heading into the 2020 offseason a big focus of head coach Brian Flores was to improve the secondary. Well, the team did just that by signing cornerback Byron Jones to a deal that made him the highest paid player at his position in the league. However, the Dolphins didn’t stop there, as they also signed Xavien Howard to a deal that made him the second-highest paid corner in the league behind his teammate. To further cement the secondary for the future, the team used its third first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to select corner Noah Igbinoghene from Auburn. If the defense for the Dolphins improves this season, these three guys will be a big reason why.
Denzel Mims for Robby Anderson
The biggest change for the New York Jets comes at the receiver position, much like the Bills. One of Sam Darnold’s favorite targets, Robby Anderson, left in free agency after compiling just under 800 yards during the 2019 season. The Jets needed to find a replacement for Anderson, which they did in the second round of the NFL Draft when they selected Denzel Mims out of Baylor. The 6’3” receiver will give Darnold a big target and was projected as a first-round pick by many before slipping down the board. Mims is coming off a big 1000-yard season with eight touchdowns and could make an immediate impact with the team.