Monday, February 11, 2013
Top AFC East offseason storylines
By James Walker
Every NFL team now has a clean slate. The Baltimore Ravens were world champions during the 2012 season, but now it’s time to get ready for 2013.
Here are the top storylines to watch this offseason in the AFC East:
New York Jets: Who stays and who goes?
The Jets are in for a major makeover. Thanks to former general manager Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets find themselves approximately $19 million over the salary cap this offseason and in need of gutting their already thin roster. New general manager John Idzik has a major cleanup job ahead. Veterans like Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Tim Tebow and Justin Smith are expected to be released or traded in the next several weeks. Other pending free agents like safety LaRon Landry, tight end Dustin Keller and tailback Shonn Greene are all looking for sizable contract extensions but probably won’t get it from the cash-strapped Jets. Even star cornerback Darrelle Revis, New York’s best player, reportedly could be traded for the right price.
New England Patriots: Fixing the secondary
For the second consecutive year, New England’s much maligned secondary cost the team in the playoffs. It’s time for the Patriots to fix the problem. The Patriots need more talent at safety and corner. The first order of business is to decide what to do with in-house free agent Aqib Talib. The talented by troubled corner had a good stint with the Patriots following a midseason trade and is looking to cash in. New England needs Talib or someone of equal talent in the secondary. The Patriots also have been linked to Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed, which makes a lot of sense on many levels. New England led the NFL in passes allowed of 20 yards or more and Reed, a free agent, is the best deep-ball safety of all-time.
Miami Dolphins: Will Jeff Ireland excel or flop?
The Dolphins have a chance to be the stars of the offseason. Few teams have Miami’s combination of immense cap space (approximately $40 million) and draft capital (10 picks). The Dolphins have deep resources to make vast improvements to their roster. But the person holding all the chips make many Dolphins fans nervous. Ireland is not a popular figure in Miami and has had an uneven tenure. How Ireland does this offseason will determine his fate -- and the Dolphins’ fate – for the next few years.
Buffalo Bills: Where will they find a quarterback?
The Bills’ starting quarterback in 2013 is presently not on the roster. Buffalo is expected to cut veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick before his $3 million bonus is due in March. The Bills will look to the draft and free agency. They have reported been linked to San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Alex Smith, who will seek an offseason trade. Buffalo also has done a lot of scouting this year’s rookie quarterback class. This is a team with some good pieces in place. If the Bills can find the right quarterback to be productive, they could be competitive in 2013.