April 10, 2014 by Ell and Mike Sports
The Chiefs appear to be on a downhill slide in free agency allowing some key players to walk without replacements. Allowing LT Braden Albert to walk to the Dolphins, might prove to be a big mistake, as blocking the blind side is important, and he proved to be a very valuable piece with #1 pick T Eric Fisher struggling. They will either have to force Fisher to that spot or find an adequate replacement. DE Tyson Jackson is known by a draft bust by many, but some consider him to be an underrated run stopping 3-4 defensive end, he was also allowed to exit via the Falcons and needs to be replaced. G Jon Asamoah was probably the best guard on the team and a good run blocker, but he fell out of favor with the team and will be missed as he also goes to the Falcons. WR/RB/KR Dexter McCluster was allowed to walk which will really hurt a team that had very little spark on offense outside of RB Jamaal Charles; his play as an x-factor in space will be missed sorely as he heads to the Titans. The team mostly replaced depth via free agency with lesser known players and has some holes to fill in the draft.
The Browns are on this list mostly because they had cap space and the most important move would have been to bring in one of the top CBs to play opposite star CB Joe Haden and they missed out. The Browns also released ILB D’Qwell Jackson who served as a good defensive captain and actually stayed healthy; he signed with the Colts. The Browns replaced him by overpaying ILB/MLB Karlos Dansby, he is a good LB, but he doesn’t seem to make a lot of big plays when he’s not playing for the Cardinals. The Browns allowed SS T.J. Ward to sign with the Broncos and he is a young physical in the box safety. They replaced him with SS Donte Whitner from the 49ers who is not only older, but they paid him more than Ward. Whitner is a tough physical hitter who will make big plays, but also rack up fines and he is more of a liability in pass coverage than Ward. The Browns signed RB Ben Tate from the Texans to be the workhorse back, but durability is a question for him and it will be interesting to see who they pair up with him. They also signed WR Andrew Hawkins from the Bengals due to overpaying him on an offer the Bengals decided not to match. He was a nice slot WR 2 seasons ago, but he was injured last season and they are hoping to get production. The Browns allowed QB Jason Campbell to sign with the Bengals and he should have stayed in my opinion as he did a good job for them down the stretch with no running game. WR Nate Burleson also signed with the Browns and should be a good veteran addition. A lot of depth along the O-line and all the QBs except Brian Hoyer, who is coming off of injury, were allowed to walk. In the draft, they need to get a franchise QB, O-line help, secondary help, LB depth, and a #2 RB with homerun speed.
The Panthers are another team who seems headed in the wrong direction after a poor free agency taking away parts from last season’s success. The one plus to the Panthers free agency was placing the franchise tag on star DE Greg Hardy, but now they need to sign him long term. They released long time WR Steve Smith who eventually signed with the Ravens, but didn’t have a replacement. They missed out on all the top tier receivers and eventually landed WR Jerricho Cotchery from the Steelers. To add to the punishment of Cam Newton, WR Brandon LaFell was also allowed to sign with the Pats as the Panthers lose out on a good receiver who can always come up with a play. Also, WR Domenik Hixon left for the Bears and WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. signed with the Cards depleting the unit of depth and speed. However, late in FA the Panthers added speedster, WR Tiquan Underwood from the Bucs, who should hopefully be a good deep threat and WR Jason Avant from the Eagles as depth. Safety Mike Mitchell was a beast once he signed with the Panthers and gained the starting spot, but he was allowed to sign with the Steelers. Mitchell will be replaced with SS Roman Harper from the Saints who will provide similar physical play and toughness, but suffer in pass coverage. CB Captain Munnerlyn was the best player in the secondary despite his size and even made his 1st Pro-Bowl, but he was allowed to sign with the Vikings. The Panthers signed CB Antoine Cason as depth, but he might be forced into a starting role; he has good size for the position. The Panthers loss most of their starting O-line due to retirement this offseason and allowed a lot of defensive parts to walk. The Panthers can’t afford to miss in the draft with needs at O-line, WR, LB, and definitely the secondary. Panthers also signed TE Ed Dickson from the Ravens late in free agency who will help as a blocker, but needs to improve as a pass catcher.
The Cowboys started free agency off on the wrong foot as they were millions over the cap causing them to part with veterans like DE/OLB Anthony Spencer, WR Miles Austin, and star OLB/DE DeMarcus Ware; Ware joined the Broncos. The Cowboys couldn’t afford to pay DT/DE Jason Hatcher coming off his 1st Pro Bowl season as he signed with the rival Redskins. C/G Phil Costa was also allowed to sign with the Colts, although he was inconsistent he could have provided depth as a lot of interior depth was allowed to walk. The main addition to the roster was DT Henry Melton from the Bears who was an absolute beast in the middle; but, he is coming off of injury and he is on a 1yr prove-it contract. DE Jeremy Mincey has good pass rush skills, but is best in a rotation; however, he should start for the Cowboys. QB Brandon Weeden from the Browns was brought in as depth; it will be interesting to see if he stays if/when QB Kyle Orton comes back. The Cowboys need to find interior O-line help, safety help, LB depth, and D-line help, mostly DE.