Dec 22, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Brown (12) runs with the ball as Tennessee Titans strong safety Bernard Pollard (31) defends during the first quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Two weeks into 2014 NFL free agency period and the frenzy is in full force! Why waste anymore time? Let’s dive right in to who is winning in the AFC South:
CHAMPIONS: Indianapolis Colts
Who did they sign? D’Qwell Jackson (ILB), Arthur Jones (DE/DT), Hakeem Nicks (WR)
This is what good teams do – use free agency to build depth, and avoid the blockbuster contracts. Is there any question that the Colts are hands-down the winners of free agency so far (at least in the AFC South)?
Jackson is a veteran tackling machine that will provide depth at the position. The Colts now have bona fide starters at all four linebacking slots. Jones is a stud defensive lineman, and Nicks makes the Colts receivers a legitimate frontrunner for the best corps of the division.
Key Signings:? Vontae Davis (CB), Adam Vinatieri (K), Pat McAfee (P)
By re-signing McAfee and Vinatieri, Indianapolis, in essence, saved itself two draft picks this year. Keeping Davis means they have their No. 1 corner locked down and in place. Both smart moves.
First-round pick should be? Don’t have one. Colts fans can thank Trent Richardson for that one. Nonetheless, the two most important positions of need moving forward are safety and center.
RUNNER-UP: Jacksonville Jaguars
Key Signings: Chris Clemons (DE), Ziggy Hood (DT), Red Bryant (DE), Zane Beadles (G), Toby Gerhart (RB)
It’s obviously time for some new blood on the defense in Jacksonville! Paul Posluszny is stoked. He will no longer have to be the guy we all feel bad for because he’s too good to be on such a bad team.
As for the offense, I’m a huge fan of the Gerhart signing. His strong-willed, bruising style makes him the Marshawn Lynch of what Gus Bradley is turning into “Seattle Southeast.”
Who did they re-sign: Chad Henne (QB)
THE FRANCHISE IS SAVED! Nah – but it does provide stability to the most important position on the field.
First-round pick should be? All of the offseason moves have geared the Jaguars towards being able to comfortably draft a quarterback. They would be ecstatic to leave New York with Teddy Bridgewater.
CONTENDERS: Tennessee Titans
Key Signings: Dexter McCluster (WR/PR), Michael Oher (OT), Wesley Woodyard (ILB), Charlie Whitehurst (QB)
The Titans have quietly added numerous role players on both sides of the ball. This is going to provide some much needed depth and experience to a somewhat young roster. Michael Oher is the one player who was signed specifically to start and play a large role in the 2014.
Who did they re-sign: Bernard Pollard (SS), Ropati Pitoitua (DE), Antonio Johnson (DT)
Re-signing Pollard was paramount for Tennessee. He was an excellent addition who emerged as a leader as the season progressed. Bringing back the underrated behemoth, Pitoitua, was another move that had to be done. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has toys to play with.
First-round pick should be? Pass rush – whether it’s in the form of a defensive end or linebacker. Anthony Barr would be ideal, but there are 3 to 4 teams in front of the Titans who value his skill-set similarly. Otherwise, take your pick of the top two corners in the draft (Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard) to compete with Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson for the starting job opposite Jason McCourty.
SHOULD’VE STAYED HOME: Houston Texans
Key Signings: Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB)
Houston hasn’t been a major player in free agency at all. The biggest signing of the offseason was definitely new head coach, Bill O’Brien. The Fitzpatrick move is strictly to provide a veteran backup to whoever starts at quarterback.
Who did they re-sign? Garrett Graham (TE)
The Texans would’ve been sorry to let Graham go. He will likely start at tight end in light of Owen Daniels being cut. Rightfully so, if you haven’t heard of him before, be ready in 2014.
First-round pick should be? Quarterback – Blake Bortles all the way. No question about it.