Another year, another free agency frenzy. The new league year officially began Tuesday and we immediately experienced a flurry of activity, including a dash of marquee signings (headlined by Mike Wallace and Dannell Ellerbe going to the Miami Dolphins), a touch of headline-grabbing releases (Ryan Fitzpatrick cut by the Buffalo Bills; Nnamdi Asomugha dropped by the Philadelphia Eagles) and a healthy pinch of general roster reconstruction.
Take a deep breath and ponder one simple question: Who made the best move right out the gate?
Broncos' key acquisition helps Peyton, hurts division rivalI like the move by the Denver Broncos to bring in offensive guard Louis Vasquez from the San Diego Chargers. He is a big, powerful blocker who can help keep Peyton Manning upright.
This is not only a big addition for the Broncos, it's a big loss for the Chargers. Offensive line is an area of need this offseason for the Bolts, who must do a better job of protecting Philip Rivers in 2013. Unfortunately, they just lost one of the few stalwarts from last year.
Titans make moves to improve offenseI love the Tennessee Titans' moves at the start of free agency.
Andy Levitre solves their biggest issue on the offensive line. He is a rugged player in the middle, and his presence will help Chris Johnson get back on track. Delanie Walker gives the Titans a dynamic tight end to replace Jared Cook in the passing game. He also is a significant upgrade as a blocker.
Mike Munchak wants to alleviate the pressure on Jake Locker by relying on the ground game. The moves today will certainly help the Titans follow that through on that premise.
Dolphins create the biggest splash with a pair of high-profile signingsThe Miami Dolphins came out of the gate flying on Tuesday. Of course, the signing of Mike Wallace was of little surprise, and it's surely the move most Dolphins fans are talking about on Tuesday evening. But the key move just might have been the acquisition of inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
The Baltimore Ravens didn't flinch when Paul Kruger left for the division-rival Cleveland Browns, but the defending Super Bowl champs wanted to keep Ellerbe around. The Ravens will enter next season without Ray Lewis, Kruger and Ellerbe.
The best move came weeks ago, courtesy of the 49ersThe best move was made weeks ago, and officially announced on Tuesday. The San Francisco 49ers built up a broken-down quarterback in Alex Smith, benched him and traded him for a high second-round pick in 2013 and a conditional mid-round pick in 2014.
Oh, and they cleared a ton of money along the way.
Jake Locker: You're officially on the clockI absolutely love what the Titans are doing. As I wrote Monday, Levitre to Tennessee made sense. There was a reason Chris Johnson bashed the Titans offensive line on our SiriusXM radio show. Levitre is a great, reliable guard who helps both Johnson and Jake Locker. And playing for coach Mike Munchak, a former all-pro lineman, makes it better.
Plus, I have thought Delanie Walker was underrated for years. Away from Vernon Davis' shadow, he will thrive.
Jake Locker is officially on the clock. And the Titans, who have three talented receivers, were smart to help him out.
New Browns regime immediately makes its mark with Kruger coupCall me crazy, but I like the Cleveland Browns getting Paul Kruger right out of the gate. Did they overpay? Of course they did, but you have to when you're the Browns. They're trying to create a winning atmosphere while at the same time convincing free agents that Cleveland can be a "destination." This helps with both of those things.
A close second place is the Buffalo Bills cutting Ryan Fitzpatrick (with an assist from Deadspin.com). If a player isn't going to be a part of your team going forward, make that decision as soon as possible. Don't postpone the future. The Bills made the right call. Now I look forward to that Tarvaris Jackson/Ryan Nassib QB derby.
Still buzzing from Seahawks' blockbuster trade for Harvin (which does carry a risk)The best move, to me, comes with a risk: Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. The risk is Harvin's past issues, including his health. On the positive side, he is a true game changer as a returner and receiver. Not to mention, he's just is entering his prime.
The Seahawks lacked a deep-threat receiver on offense last season. Now they have one.
Return of CJ2K? Titans make it possible by signing LevitreI like the Titans signing Andy Levitre. This team sorely needed help at guard. If you watched the Titans play last season, you saw Chris Johnson hitting a wall in the middle of the line over and over again. The interior of Tennessee's line had to be addressed.
Getting an overachiever like Levitre is one of those under-the-radar moves that often pays off. Did Tennessee overpay? Perhaps. But when your best player can run in between the tackles, and you have the money, it behooves you to take a swing. That's what the organization did Tuesday.