- Mike Wallace
After holding out part of the 2012 season and playing under a one year restricted tender, Wallace cashes in this off season. Signed to a 5 year, $60 million contract by the Miami Dolphins, Wallace becomes the NFL’s third highest paid receiver on a per year scale. While his statistics are likely set to drop from his 2010 and 2011 campaigns, he at least lands on a team with a strong armed passer in 2nd year pro Ryan Tannehill. Wallace brings a much needed injection of speed to the Dolphins receiving corps, and will look to justify his contract in 2013.
- Cleveland Browns
The Browns entered the 2nd off season in 3 years with a different defensive scheme in 2013. Fortunately for them, they were able to sign two new starters for their new 3-4 defense with a combined 23.5 sacks in the past 2 years. The first in the form of 6’4″ 265lb Paul Kruger, whom they were able to sign away from the divisional rival Ravens. If Kruger can prove his 2012 was no fluke, he will be well worth the 5 year, $41 million the Browns have invested in him. The second player, Desmond Bryant received 5 years, $34 million.
- Offensive Lineman
Seven offensive lineman received deals worth at least $20 million so far, with Andy Levitre topping the list so far with a 6 year, $46.8 million deal with the Tennessee Titans. The list of lineman receiving large contracts could potentially grow even longer in the coming days if franchised players such as Denver’s Ryan Clady or Kansas City’s Brandon Albert sign long term deals. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if how the most recent signings affect Cincinnati’s Andre Smith’s future contract, as he is believed to be looking for LT money despite being strictly a RT.
- Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings have yet to fully improve on their offense this off season. While signing Greg Jennings finally gives them a legitimate wide receiver for Christian Ponder, Jennings is a less dynamic and versatile player then Percy Harvin, who was dealt to the Seahawks earlier. The Vikings apparently were unwilling to commit to 24 year old Harvin, but were willing to lock up Jennings through his age 24 season, despite Jennings being 2 years removed from an 1,000 yard season and unable to offer the versatility Harvin displayed. Perhaps the draft picks acquired in the Harvin trade will pan out, but it looks like the Vikings took a backwards step in their passing offense big play ability, and will be forced to rely solely on Adrian Peterson again in 2013.
- Tennessee Titans
The Titans have made a big splash this free agency period, signing the top ranked guard available in Andy Levitre. Additionally, they’ve spent significant chunks of money on Delanie Walker, Shonn Greene, and Sammie Lee Hill. Unfortunately, many of these players represent downgrades from the players manning their respective positions last year. Additionally, while Levitre is a well-regarded durable interior lineman, he struggles to generate a push in the run game, a problem not likely to please expensive RB Chris Johnson, who continues to blame his line for his recent struggles.
- Cliff Avril
Following an 11 sack season, Cliff Avril looked poised to follow in Mario Williams footsteps as an elite pass rusher capitalizing on the desire of NFL teams to disrupt the quarterback. It was not to be, as Avril was franchised and was unable to reach a long term deal with the Lions. His 2012 season wasn’t quite as good as the previous season, but Avril was still the premier pass rusher available this off season by all accounts. He apparently found his market underwhelming, curiously settling for a 2 year, $15 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. Perhaps he is looking to improve his standing on a talented defense and finally snag his long term deal when he is 28, but it is quite surprising he wasn’t able to do so this offseason.