Wave one of free agency is upon us, and teams are making moves to improve rosters that underperformed in 2020. The AFC East has been a busy division with the Buffalo Bills re-signing key in-house free agents in an effort to repeat as division champs while the other three are trying to improve their rosters to fight for the crown. As such, let’s look at what the teams in the division have done so far, with the caveat that this entire process means signings and moves are constantly happening.
At the end of the season, Bills fans were fighting to accept that not everyone was going to come back for a Super Bowl run next season. However, general manager Brandon Beane seems to have other plans, working his magic to bring back some core players. Linebacker Matt Milano returns on a four-year deal—contrary to early reports suggesting that he was going to test the open market. Offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Daryl Williams are also returning on three-year deals. Another signing the team recently made was bringing back special teams ace Tyler Matakevich with a one-year extension. They also signed safety Micah Hyde to a multi-year deal. Pay cuts for Mitch Morse, Vincent Taylor, and Mario Addison assure they will return in 2021. This team is far from complete and still has some wiggle room to make another signing or two before turning their attention to the upcoming NFL Draft.
Miami has been quiet early on in free agency. Their only signings so far have been punter Michael Palardy and special teamer Cethan Carter. They also re-signed one of their own pass rushers who was hurt last year. Instead of moving on the free agency market, the team has made a couple of trades. Tackle Isaiah Wilson was acquired from the Tennessee Titans for a seventh-round pick. Starting defensive end Shaq Lawson was traded in exchange for linebacker Benardrick McKinney, who comes over from the Houston Texans. Miami does have a lot of money so don’t be surprised if they start spending it soon.
The Patriots entered free agency with a whole lot of money to spend and so far they are going after it like a kid in a candy store. The team has signed 11 players to the tune of $232 million dollars in total. Cam Newton signed an incentive-laden deal to be the starter at quarterback (for now)—but things could change if the team picks a QB in the draft. Beefing up on offense, New England signed tight end Jonnu Smith along with receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. The defense has not been neglected either as safety Jalen Mills, DT Davon Godchaux, pass rusher Matt Judon, and DL Henry Anderson will be joining a defense hoping for a bounce-back season.
The Jets were quiet to start but had two huge signings late in the first day. One of the prime receivers on the market in Corey Davis will be heading to the Big Apple on a three-year contract. The other big deal was pass rusher Carl Lawson, who signed for three years and $45 million. Linebacker Jarrad Davis signed a one-year deal with the team and safety Marcus Maye received the franchise tag.