Free Agency – the story so far…. (part 1)

So, for anyone in the UK who hasn’t kept up to date with the Free Agency chaos the last few weeks, here is a round up of activity in the NFC:

NFC East

  • The Cowboys have been quiet bringing in new players, with the only recognisable name being RB Darren McFadden coming in to replace the outgoing 2014 rushing leader DeMarco Murray, who has signed for division rivals the Eagles.
  • The Giants should have an interesting ground game this year, adding Superbowl winner Shane Vereen to their backfield.
  • The Eagles have made headlines since Free Agency started – firstly Chip Kelly shipped out star running back Shady McCoy, then he let last years top reciever Jeremy Maclin leave the building. Kelly then traded QB Nick Foles to the Rams in exchange for Sam Bradford. The Eagles have also added blue chip talent on the ground in DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, and got very legion-of-boomy in their secondary with Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond.
  • The Redskins have improved the defensive line with the additions of Terrance “Potroast” Knighton from the Broncos and Stephen Paea from the Bears. CB Chris Culliver also came in from the 49ers, but they lost big name OLB Brian Orakpo who left on a big contract with the Titans.

NFC North

  • The Packers tied Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga to a new long term deals, but let experienced defenders AJ Hawk and Tramon Williams go. Traditionally, the Packers are usually quiet in Free Agency and like to pick up new players through the draft.
  • The Lions lost Ndamukong Suh when Miami outbid them to sign the all-pro Defensive Tackle to a $114million deal, and then let partner in crime Nick Fairley leave the building. To replace them, they picked up an able replacement in a trade for Haloti Ngata. Running back Reggie Bush also left to sign for the 49ers.
  • The Bears quietly added proven talent to their porous defence, bringing in Safety Antrelle Rolle and LB Pernell McPhee. They traded away the increasingly troublesome Brandon Marshall to the Jets for a low round pick, and brought in veteran Eddie Royal in replacement. Veterans like Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman remain unsigned, but aren’t expected back to John Fox’s new regime.
  • The Vikings have been quiet in Free Agency, but have picked up contraversial WR Mike Wallace from the Dolphins. Wallace comes in on a big contract, but is a good fit for Norv Turners offence, and an upgrade on the outgoing Greg Jennings. Draft bust Christian Ponder also moved on.

NFC South

  • The Falcons have a new head coach, and look to have a greatly changed roster in 2015. A load of new defensive players have been brought in, and have even more looking to be on the way out. No big names as of yet though.
  • The Panthers have also been quiet – big names Greg Hardy and DeAngelo Williams are out of the door, and only Michael Oher and Ted Ginn have come in, which won’t have the Panthers fanbase that excited yet!
  • The Saints however are in turnaround mode – a massive trade on the opening day of Free Agency saw crowd (and Drew Brees) favourite Jimmy Graham head to NFC rivals the Seahawks, and in came top Center Max Unger and a 1st round pick. The reinvention of this team continued – CJ Spiller was signed to join the re-upped Mark Ingram in the backfield. Brandon Browner is a new arrival from New England, while WR Kenny Stills was traded to the Dolphins for Dannelle Ellerbe, and Pierre Thomas was released.
  • The Buccaneers are yet to make any big Free Agency splashes, but Lovie Smith is recreating his Chicago Bears defence by bringing in Safety Chris Conte and tackle Henry Melton, neither of which should give much confidence to the Buccs fans. They do have the 1st pick in the upcoming draft though to console themselves with!

NFC West

  • The Cardinals have the best guard available in Free Agency, stealing Mike Iupati away from rivals, the 49ers. They’re losing a couple of pieces on defence though, as Darnell Dockett went in the opposite direction, and Antonio Cromartie followed Todd Bowles to New York.
  • The 49ers added Dockett and wideman Torrey Smith from Baltimore, but they’re realing from the shock retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland at linebacker. New HC Jim Tomsula will need to look a the uncertainty around Justin Smiths impending retirement and the volatility that surrounds Aldon Smith in order to stabilise the defence. They moved on from veteran Running Back Frank Gore, but brought in Reggie Bush.
  • The Seahawks look to be even stronger thanks to the Jimmy Graham – Max Unger trade, but they lost Superbowl champs Bryon Maxwell and Malcolm Smith. Jag CB Will Blackmon is the latest addition to the Legion of Boom.
  • The Rams got involved with one of the biggest QB trades of recent years, trading former 1st pick Sam Bradford for the Eagles’ Nick Foles. They re-signed Kenny Britt to a big deal, and also added even more depth to their D-line with Nick Fairley.

Tomorrow, we’ll profile the AFC teams……

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