An early look at the free-agent situation in the AFC East.
Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.
Key figures: The Bills' roster presumably will experience considerable turnover under new general manager Buddy Nix and new head coach Chan Gailey, who's switching the defense to a 3-4 scheme. The Bills don't have any free agents they must re-sign. Their most notable unrestricted free agents are Owens, Reed and Scott. The club probably won't go out of its way to sign any of them. Strong safety George Wilson and guard Richie Incognito are the most prominent players who would be impacted by the uncapped year, morphing from unrestricted to restricted.
Key figures: Some big names populate the Dolphins' free-agent list. Three of their captains -- Pennington, Ferguson and Taylor -- are unrestricted. They're trying to jettison a fourth captain, outside linebacker Joey Porter, onto the open market. Ferguson is 35 and coming off a leg injury. Yet he would be the toughest to replace because 3-4 nose tackles are commodities. If the NFL miraculously avoids an uncapped year, then running back Ronnie Brown would be unrestricted. Otherwise, a clause would keep him under contract for 2010.
Unrestricted free agents: OLB Tully Banta-Cain, CB Leigh Bodden, OLB Derrick Burgess, RB Kevin Faulk, DE Jarvis Green, P Chris Hanson, G Stephen Neal, LB Junior Seau, TE Benjamin Watson, NT Vince Wilfork.
Key figures: Wilfork is the only AFC East free agent worthy of a franchise tag. While most of the focus is on him, other significant contributors have expiring contracts. One of the Patriots' areas in need of an upgrade this offseason is their pass rush. Sacks leader Banta-Cain and Burgess accounted for 15 of the team's 31 sacks. There's a belief the Patriots will let Watson walk, creating a larger void at tight end.
Key figures: Richardson and Feely are the biggest names because a blocking fullback is integral to the offense, and a reliable kicker is crucial to the Jets' defense-first, grind-it-out approach. The Jets' list of free agents could grow if they don't want to fork over substantial roster bonuses next month for running back Thomas Jones, cornerback Lito Sheppard or safety Kerry Rhodes.