Enough time has passed to safely consider the impact of NFL free agency. Which teams may have ended up with the biggest steals?
Antoine Bethea – S – San Francisco 49ers
How the rest of the NFL lets a Pro Bowler land in the laps of the San Francisco 49ers is beyond comprehension. Yet that is what happened. Antoine Bethea quietly entered the free agent market at 29-years old as a two-time Pro Bowler who hadn’t missed a game since 2007. Now he’s going to play with Eric Reid on one of the best defenses in the league. As if they needed to get any better.
Hakeem Nicks – WR – Indianapolis Colts
It’s hard to explain what happened to Hakeem Nicks in 2013. He made his share of catches for the New York Giants but could not score a touchdown and was far less effective than in previous seasons. Hopes are a change of scenery, particularly heading to the fast track of the Indianapolis Colts Lucas Oil Stadium will help get his career back on track. Playing with Andrew Luck certainly won’t hurt.
Willie Young – DE – Chicago Bears
Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston will be billed as the big signings for the Chicago Bears as they look to retool their defensive line. So the fact they got Willie Young too, who started every game for the Detroit Lions last season is a major bonus. On paper the Bears now have three starters in their end rotation, which is something defenses pine for every year. If Young can continue to hone his pass rush skill, Chicago may have one of the most underrated pass rushes in the NFL.
Tarell Brown – CB – Oakland Raiders
Nothing about his game is flashy but Tarell Brown is just a solid all-around cornerback. He does his job, which is to cover the wide receiver effectively and tackle the ball carrier. This apparently wasn’t good enough for the 49ers, who low-balled Brown in contract negotiations. So he went across the bay to join the Oakland Raiders who should instantly benefit from his presence, especially if their rebuilt pass rush can perform.
Jonathan Dwyer – RB – Arizona Cardinals
Andre Ellington looks like the starting running back for the Arizona Cardinals. That is not a surprise. However, the team is very cognizant of trying to keep their new weapon fresh and healthy throughout the season. To do that they have to take some carries off his load. So to think they got Jonathan Dwyer from Pittsburgh for a pittance is great new for them. Dwyer’s numbers are wowing, but it’s fair to say the Steelers never really committed to him. For his career there he did average 4.2 yards per carry. Perhaps Arizona will look to get him the ball more.