NFL Free-Agent Signings: Examining Best Deals of the Offseason

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Defensive end DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on prior to the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 29, 2013 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The 2014 NFL free-agency period has been one of the wildest in recent memory, and several blockbuster signings have changed the perception of what the 2014 season will look like.

With Denver rebuilding its defensive unit, New England signing Darrelle Revis and Green Bay adding Julius Peppers, the free-agency period has been full of franchise-changing moves.

Now that many of the top names have found their landing spots, it’s time to examine the best deals of the offseason thus far.


Denver Broncos Win Free Agency

The Denver Broncos made the Super Bowl last season on the power of Peyton Manning and the offensive unit alone, but that won’t need to be the case next year, as the franchise made several huge moves via free agency.

Denver upgraded the defense at the safety position with T.J. Ward, the cornerback position with Aqib Talib and the defensive end position with DeMarcus Ware. With three of the biggest names in the NFL added to a defense that struggled, improved results are almost guaranteed.

Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle talked about Ware's role in the defense:

Ward adds the versatile safety the Broncos needed in the pass and run defense, and the addition of Talib at cornerback to replace free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie makes the secondary a strength in Denver.

The addition of Ware to the pass rush could be the biggest move of the offseason, though. When Von Miller returns to an elite level following his knee injury, the combination of Miller and Ware will wreak havoc in the AFC.

The Broncos win free agency.


Darrelle Revis Replaces Aqib Talib in New England

The New England Patriots lost cornerback Aqib Talib to Denver via free agency, but the franchise was willing to address its need by taking an educated risk and signing former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Darrelle Revis.

Revis was widely regarded as the top cornerback in the NFL while with the New York Jets, but a devastating knee injury resulted in the Jets trading him away. Tampa Bay acquired him for a first-round pick and cut him after just one season.

Former teammate Johnthan Banks said goodbye via Twitter:

The Buccaneers' loss is the Patriots’ gain.

The loss of Talib left a major void on the defense, and New England had to address the issue, whether it was through free agency or the draft. While there is an element of risk associated with Revis after his knee injury, the franchise understands his potential.

This risk will be well worth the reward.


Green Bay Packers Steal Julius Peppers from Division Foes

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Thanks to injuries to outside linebacker Clay Matthews, the Green Bay Packers lacked a consistent pass rush all season. The addition of versatile defensive end Julius Peppers via free agency will be a difference-maker in the NFC North.

Especially considering Peppers left the Chicago Bears to sign with the Packers.

The skills of the 34-year-old pass-rush specialist have diminished over the years, but there is no doubt he can still add pressure off the edge to a defense more suited to his style.

Whether it is as an end or an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme or as an end or a tackle in the 4-3 system, the addition of Peppers is a smart move on multiple levels. Not only does he improve the team’s pass rush, but he also adds the veteran presence the unit needs for consistency.


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