AFC South: 2014 Free Agency Week 1 Recap AFC

Free-agency review: Texans

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
9:30
AM ET
» NFC Free-Agency Review | AFC Free-Agency Review

Most significant signing: This is a tough one ... so many choices ... I think I'll go with ... Garrett Graham! Of course, Graham is the only player the Texans have signed during the new league year. They let him test the market for a few days before reaching a three-year deal worth $11.25 million last week. This was an important signing for the Texans. Having released last year's starting, tight end Owen Daniels, days prior, losing Graham meant risking a great deal of uncertainty at the position. Graham is ready to be a starting tight end and I anticipate he'll be a good one.

Smith
Mitchell
Most significant loss: Would have to go with Antonio Smith or Earl Mitchell on this one. Mitchell's body type isn't exactly what the Texans would have wanted, but they did make an unexpected attempt to re-sign him. I texted with Smith briefly on Friday night and he said he was most excited about his role with the Raiders. He told Mark Berman of Fox 26 the Texans wanted to turn him into a third-down rusher, a demotion from the starting role he's had in Houston.

Biggest surprise: I am a little surprised the activity has been so minimal, not just with signings but with inquiries. The Texans were scheduled to host quarterback Josh McCown after he visited Tampa Bay, but he never made it out. Houston's salary cap situation wasn't nearly as dire this year as it was last year. There is the theory that it's smart to sit out the first week of free agency to avoid overspending.

What’s next? Nose tackle Vince Wilfork requested that the Patriots release him and then went on vacation. He's a guy to watch in the near future because, if healthy (cue the Ed Reed flashbacks), he's a great fit for Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's defense.

Free-agency review: Jaguars

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
9:08
AM ET
Clemons
Most significant signing: The Jaguars have finished last in the NFL in sacks the past two seasons, so adding defensive end Chris Clemons, who has 58 career sacks, was a good move. The 32-year-old Clemons had just 4.5 sacks last season after compiling 33.5 from 2010 to 2012, but he was returning from a torn ACL he suffered during the 2012 playoffs. He's a speed rusher, which is something the Jaguars haven't had since Tony Brackens (1996-2003).

Most significant loss: There is still a chance the team can re-sign running back Maurice Jones-Drew, but it would be surprising at this point because the Jaguars signed Toby Gerhart last week. Jones-Drew is finding that the market for running backs isn't as lucrative as he hoped. The Jaguars aren't likely to re-sign tight end Allen Reisner or defensive tackles Brandon Deaderick and Kyle Love, but they didn't figure into the team's plans beyond 2013, anyway. Seattle signed receiver Taylor Price, who has missed the past two seasons with a foot injury.

Gerhart
Biggest surprise: The Jaguars needed to pursue a running back because of the uncertainty with Jones-Drew, but signing Gerhart was unexpected. It's a good fit, though, because Gerhart is exactly what the Jaguars wanted. He's young (he turns 27 later this month) and has low mileage (276 carries in five seasons). At 6-foot and 231 pounds, Gerhart is a physical, between-the-tackles runner who can give the Jaguars positive yardage on first down. The Jaguars averaged just 3.4 yards per rush on first down last season, the third-lowest total in the league.

What's next: The Jaguars aren't done in free agency. General manager David Caldwell said he'll let the market settle and then go bargain hunting, an approach that worked last year with defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. Caldwell would like to add another guard or center, an outside linebacker and a big, physical receiver. Those spots will also likely be addressed in the draft because the Jaguars have 11 picks. Beefing up the defensive line and adding guard Zane Beadles gives the Jaguars flexibility in the draft. They aren't stuck drafting for need.

Free-agency review: Colts

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
9:00
AM ET
Most significant signing: The Colts needed a legitimate cornerback to deal with quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the AFC. They had one on the roster last season and they just couldn’t let him go once free agency started. Indianapolis re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis to a four-year, $39 million contract that includes $20 million guaranteed. Now Davis has to live up to the contract and avoid the lapses he had at times last season.

Bethea
Most significant loss: Safety Antoine Bethea was the backbone of the secondary. He started every game he played during his eight years with the Colts. But Bethea knew there was a good chance he would be playing with another team next season. He signed a four-year deal with San Francisco hours into free agency on March 11.

Biggest surprise: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was the Colts’ most effective running back last season. His days with the team appeared to be numbered after a neck injury ended his season after Week 3 -- not because the Colts didn’t think he could be effective, but because they already had Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard on the roster. Bradshaw signed a one-year deal to return and hopefully give the Colts three effective running backs next season.

What’s next? The Colts need to find somebody to replace Bethea and start alongside LaRon Landry in the secondary. They also need to finish addressing the interior part of the offensive line. A possible guard isn’t out of the question, and they need to determine whether Cleveland center Alex Mack is worth throwing a lot of money at since the Browns used the transition tag on him, and considering Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa last week.

Free-agency review: Titans

March, 18, 2014
Mar 18
9:00
AM ET
Most significant signing: It’s hard to call one of the Titans' five additions the most significant. That’s either a testament to the class or an indictment. Right tackle Michael Oher is the only one who’s a guaranteed starter right out of the gate, so we’ll tab the former Baltimore Ravens first-round draft pick, who also got the biggest contract -- four years, $20 million with $9.5 million guaranteed.

Oher
Most significant loss: Alterraun Verner is the only Titans free agent who left, receiving a four-year, $24.5 million contract with Tampa Bay. The cornerback is a very good player who will be a great fit for what the Buccaneers want to do. The Titans were prepared all along to lose him and will promote from within.

Biggest surprise: That the Titans wanted to go a different direction with their veteran backup quarterback. Their choice to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick was a stunner. Charlie Whitehurst has been around a long time, but he’s hardly played, and when he has, it has not been pretty. He was with Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt in San Diego last season.

What’s next? The Titans had no visitors on Monday and I think they are going to pause and assess what’s out there and what they want to do in a second wave. They’ve failed to find pass-rushing help and the market is thin, but Shaun Phillips from Denver is coming off a productive year and could be a target.

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