The start of this year’s NFL season didn’t see a huge amount of offensive talent available in the free agency. However, some teams did manage to find some true gems amongst the rabble of the signing frenzy. So here are the top 5 offense additions from the opening hours of the NFL’s free agency. Warning, this does not include trades.
- Coby Fleener – Colts to the Saints ($36m over 5-years)
It was once said that Coby Fleener and Andrew Luck were attached at the hip; well no more, the tight-end has moved over to Drew Brees’ offense now. Last season, Fleener’s numbers fell substantially, but so did everyone’s – who was hoping to find a pass from Luck – because their O-line had more holes than Swiss cheese, Luck had zero protection and got banged up big time because of it. In previous years Fleener has served his team well on both sides of the play, but he shines as a receiving tight-end – claiming over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns in his four-year career. Drew Brees will find the Stanford man to be a great addition to his offense.
- Alex Mack – Browns to the Falcons ($47.5m for 5-years)
The Atlanta Falcons have struggled at center since Todd McClure retired back in 2012. But they’ve finally amended this problem by going for the best center available in the free agency. Alex Mack, now 30-years-old, was the centerpiece of Cleveland’s high caliber offensive line last season. He played all 16 Browns games in 2015 – despite suffering a season-ending injury early in 2014 – and was as solid and durable as ever. He’ll be a great asset to the Falcons, and will allow their ever-improving offense to excel come the regular season.
- Matt Forte – Bears to the Jets ($??.?m for ?-years)
The New York Jets lost running back Chris Ivory – who was the star of the Jets’ offense for the last couple of years – to the Jacksonville Jaguars early in the window. But they replaced their tank with one of the sturdiest, all-around backs in the game. The Jets went big and pulled in Matt Forte, who’ll bring a much-enhanced receiving game to NYJ’s running back position. Despite missing three games in 2015 with an MCL sprain, and losing further snaps to rookie sensation Jeremy Langford, Forte still raked in 1,287 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns. Forte will be a huge boost for the Jets next season, who are piecing together an offense worthy of wearing the same jersey as their elite defense.
- Marvin Jones – Bengals to the Lions ($40m for 5-years)
Marvin Jones served as a fantastic secondary wide receiver, to A.J. Green, at the Bengals – with 816 yards and 4 touchdowns being major helpers in Cincinnati’s immense regular season. It was often said that he would be a worthy number one receiver at many NFL clubs. Well, he might just be getting that chance in Detroit. The Pride is mourning the retirement of their superstar, Calvin Johnson, and although Jones is no like-for-like replacement to Megatron, he will allow for more balance in the receiving corps. It’s quite possible that Marvin Jones and Golden Tate will work as a receiving committee next season, both providing lightning pace and eccentric catching ability. As a duo they could wreak havoc downfield, providing a double threat that’s due equal attention. In flashes, during 2014 and 2015, Tate would come alive when Megatron was the focus of the defense, and Jones found similar success when A.J. was tied up. Both receivers have the talent to take on a more important role and should flourish if Stafford is given the time to find them.
- Lamar Miller – Dolphins to the Texans ($26m for 4-years)
Miami born and bred, but that means nothing in the NFL. Lamar Miller reignited the Dolphins’ defense after interim head coach Dan Campbell (P.C. Principle) fired up more aggression and physicality in their play. Despite being underutilized by the offensive coordinator, and Ryan Tannehill, Miller peeled off some game winning performances last season. He ended the season with 1,269 total yards and 10 touchdowns – totaling 19 scores in the last 2 years. He will provide an enormous improvement on Houston’s running game of 2015. Arian Foster was broken for all but four games of last season, and the remaining rushers – Blue, Polk, and Grimes – combined for just four touchdowns all season. The Texans have also acquired the talented 25-year-old Brock Osweiler to anchor their offense. Giving the new quarterback a strong option on the rush will allow him to integrate into the team much easier than if he was being forced to attempt 30-yard passes to DeAndre Hopkins on every play. Which brings us to the next benefit of signing in the class Lamar Miller. His presence, and ability to rip through defensive lines will force teams to sit closer to scrimmage – rather than park back to attempt to limit Hopkins, giving the star receiver even more upside.