AFC East: Player Moves and Team Needs

Teams in the AFC East have been busy adjusting rosters, signing free agents and working out new deals to solidify their roster for 2006. The Buffalo Bills continue to work on repairing their offensive line. The Dolphins made a bold move at quarterback. The Patriots lost some top talent, and the Jets have finally resolved the John Abraham issue. Team needs and roster moves are as follows:

Jets :: Dolphins :: Patriots


The Bills went 0-2 trying to steal other teams' young prospects, losing out on G Reggie Wells of Arizona and DE Israel Idonije of Chicago.

Both were restricted free agents that Buffalo gave impressive offer sheets to in hopes their old team wouldn't match. However, the Cardinals agreed to Wells' five-year, $17.6 million deal and the Bears said OK to Idonije's four-year, $7.5 million package. In both instances, the system worked; three-year veterans got a taste of the open market, got offers, and got hefty pay raises in the process over the minimum $712,000 tenders their clubs gave them in order to retain their options.

That doesn't help the Bills, who are working hard to shore up their offensive and defensive lines. Still, they don't regret trying to land young prospects like Wells and Idonije.

"We knew that was a possibility when going the restricted free agent route," general manager Marv Levy said. "So we move on and continue to try and help our team in other ways."

After losing out on Wells, the Bills did move quickly to sign Vikings center Melvin Fowler, giving them a bigger body up front in place of Trey Teague, one of their free agents who is out on the market.


  1. Offensive line: The Bills set a record for fewest yards gained in a 16-game, non-strike season with 4,122, setting the stage for a major overhaul of their front wall. The addition of 6-3, 295-pound Melvin Fowler at center is a start.
  2. Defensive line: Buffalo fell from seventh to 31st in the rankings last season in stopping the run. Pro Bowl veteran Sam Adams was released while free agents Ron Edwards and Justin Bannan were not re-signed. One spot was filled with the signing of DT Larry Tripplett.
  3. Wide receiver: The resigning of Josh Reed to a $10 million deal eases concerns, but this position is still unsettled until a decision is made on veteran Pro Bowler Eric Moulds, who has been given permission to seek a trade. Reed, who struggled once before in a starting role, would have to elevate his game to be a suitable complement to Lee Evans.



UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Ron Edwards; QB Shane Matthews; C Trey Teague; CB Kevin Thomas.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): OG Lawrence Smith.


EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: CB Jabari Greer; OT Jason Peters; WR Jonathan Smith; RB Shaud Williams.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: DE Ryan Denney; LB Mario Haggan; OT Greg Jerman; WR Josh Reed; LS Mike Schneck; LB Josh Stamer.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: S Matt Bowen; WR Andre' Davis; C Melvin Fowler; QB Craig Nall; TE Robert Royal; DT Larry Tripplett.

PLAYERS LOST: DT Sam Adams; DT Justin Bannan; TE Mark Campbell; S Lawyer Milloy; OT Mike Williams.


The Dolphins bolstered their offense last week by re-signing center Seth McKinney and adding fullback Fred Beasley, wide receiver Kelly Campbell and tight end Justin Peelle.

Although officially signing a two-year contract, McKinney's deal is essentially for one year because he is set to collect a $2.5 million roster bonus in the 2007 off-season. McKinney, a starter the past two seasons, took free-agent visits to New Orleans and Houston before re-signing with the Dolphins.

Beasley spent his first eight NFL seasons with San Francisco, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2003. Beasley is expected to compete with incumbent Darian Barnes for a starting position.

Campbell, who spent last season out of football, was one of Culpepper's favorite targets with the Vikings in 2003 and 2004. Peelle, who spent his first four NFL seasons in San Diego, will serve primarily as a blocker in two tight-end sets.


  1. Quarterback: Even with the Daunte Culpepper acquisition, the Dolphins don't have a proven backup with Gus Frerotte (St. Louis) and Sage Rosenfels (Houston) now playing elsewhere. Don't be surprised if the Dolphins add a veteran in case Cleo Lemon isn't ready to assume the backup role behind Culpepper, who may not be ready to start the season because of a knee injury.
  2. Outside linebacker: The Dolphins have flirted with signing LaVar Arrington, hosting him on a free-agent visit just days after his release from Washington. The Dolphins had interest in Julian Peterson, but he canceled a planned visit after agreeing to contract terms with Seattle. If the price tag for Arrington is too high, the Dolphins could look for a linebacker with pass-rush skills early in April's draft.
  3. Defensive tackle: Free agent Sam Adams appears too pricey for the Dolphins, which hosted Lional Dalton and Ron Edwards last week on visits. Dalton re-signed with Kansas City, while Edwards is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered last season while playing for Buffalo.



UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR David Boston; LB Jason Glenn; RB Sammy Morris; LB Nick Rogers; S Lance Schulters; CB Kiwaukee Thomas; LB Lester Towns.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): G Alonzo Ephraim; WR Kendall Newson; DT Eric Wilson.



PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Yeremiah Bell; TE Alex Holmes; CB Eddie Jackson; C Seth McKinney; RB Travis Minor.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: CB Will Allen; FB Fred Beasley; WR Kelly Campbell; QB Daunte Culpepper; CB Andre' Goodman; DB Renaldo Hill; LB Sedrick Hodge; TE Justin Peelle; OT L.J. Shelton.

PLAYERS LOST: QB Gus Frerotte; WR Bryan Gilmore; CB Reggie Howard; S Tebucky Jones; CB Sam Madison; OT Stockar McDougle; OT Damion McIntosh; QB Sage Rosenfels; LB Junior Seau.


The free-agent losses of WR David Givens, OLB Willie McGinest and K Adam Vinatieri have complicated the Patriots' off-season plans, creating major voids at each position that will have to be addressed. McGinest's departure is another blow to the famed linebacking corps, which lost run-stuffer Ted Johnson to retirement on the eve of last year's training camp and then dodged a major bullet when Tedy Bruschi returned ahead of schedule from an off-season stroke.


  1. Kicker: Pity the poor soul who replaces Vinatieri. It'll be a thankless job, but somebody has to do it.
  2. Wide receiver: It's Deion Branch, Reche Caldwell and not much else right now. Givens' blocking and big-game prowess (he caught touchdowns in seven straight playoff games) will be sorely missed. Caldwell, a spare part in San Diego, is a starter by default at the moment, but the team must upgrade here.
  3. Linebacker: Mike Vrabel's versatility gives the Patriots some flexibility in choosing what type of linebacker they want to import to help replace McGinest. If Vrabel plays outside with Rosevelt Colvin, the Patriots will need a partner for Bruschi inside. If Vrabel stays inside (he played the last half of the 2005 season there), the team can target an outside linebacker.
  4. Running back: An optimist would say that Corey Dillon's miserable 2005 season can be chalked up to a rash of injuries. A pessimist would say that he's simply slowing down at age 31. A realist would say that regardless of what the explanation was, the Patriots need to groom a replacement, preferably a big, every-down back who could fill in for Dillon if he is again unable to recapture his 2004 magic.



UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: FB Heath Evans; QB Doug Flutie; S Michael Stone.


EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: CB Randall Gay; WR Michael McGrew; OL Gene Mruczkowski; S Gus Scott; DL Santonio Thomas; OL Billy Yates.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Troy Brown; WR Bam Childress; LB Don Davis; DB Artrell Hawkins; OG Stephen Neal; CB Hank Poteat; CB Chad Scott; OL Ross Tucker.


PLAYERS LOST: OT Tom Ashworth; LB Chad Brown; LB Matt Chatham; WR Andre' Davis; WR Tim Dwight; TE Christian Fauria; WR David Givens; WR Cedric James; LB Willie McGinest; CB Tyrone Poole; CB Duane Starks; PK Adam Vinatieri.



  1. Quarterback: Chad Pennington is spectacularly iffy with a surgically repaired shoulder. The Jets traded for Redskins backup Patrick Ramsey to compete with Pennington for the starting job, but they still need to draft or trade for a young quarterback they can build with over the next several seasons.
  2. Offensive line: It's undersized right now and needs to get younger. Pete Kendall is moving from left guard to center, where he's adequate but not a replacement for perennial Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae. The Jets currently have Jonathan Goodwin, a career backup, starting at left guard. Left tackle Adrian Jones and right guard Brandon Moore are the only other returning starters.
  3. Defensive line: With John Abraham gone and defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson slightly questionable with a chronic knee problem, the Jets need depth here. End Shaun Ellis will team with free agent signee Kimo von Oelhoffen as the Jets move to a 3-4 defensive scheme, but they have few backups there or at tackle.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: DE John Abraham (traded to Falcons).


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OG Jonathan Goodwin; OT Scott Gragg; DT James Reed; QB Vinny Testaverde; LB Kenyatta Wright.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): LB Mark Brown.


PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: TE Chris Baker; P Ben Graham.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB Matt Chatham; WR Tim Dwight; QB Patrick Ramsey; DE Kimo von Oelhoffen.

PLAYERS LOST: DE John Abraham; S Oliver Celestin; OT Jason Fabini; QB Jay Fiedler; LB Barry Gardner; CB Ty Law; DT Lance Legree; C Kevin Mawae; FB Jerald Sowell.


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