Andre Johnson, Colts escalating AFC arms race

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The number one criterion for being an NFL genius, according to Bill Belichick's right-hand man Ernie Adams in David Halberstam's The Education of a Coach, is having a great quarterback.

Chip Kelly's press conference and the Colts' signings of a pair Pro Bowl staples were a recognition Tuesday of that football axiom.

Positional breakdowns

With no semblance of equivocation, Kelly shot down speculation that the Eagles might use Sam Bradford as a trade chip for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

"We didn't bring Sam in here to be a chip," Kelly quipped. "I'm the only Chip here."

Kelly's pugnacious presser performance lent credence to sentiment from the Eagles' official website that the coaching staff evaluated Bradford as a "special talent who can make this offense soar."

The Eagles reached the conclusion by last Halloween that Nick Foles would never develop into a great quarterback. If Bradford vindicates Kelly by leading his team to the promised land, it won't matter that Philadelphia paid a premium to conduct the experiment.

Kelly has only to glance West to Indianapolis for evidence of the ancillary value of a great quarterback. Andre Johnson followed Frank Gore to the Colts, citing Andrew Luck's presence as the deciding factor.

In fact, the Chargers not only had a plane waiting to whisk Johnson away, but also offered more money than the Colts, per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Indianapolis offers a symbiotic relationship, increasing the organization's Super Bowl opportunity while affording Johnson and Gore the chance to increase their Super Bowl odds -- and potentially walk off into the sunset.

For all of the chatter about the gap closing in the AFC East, it's the Colts that have escalated the arms race against the Patriots.

Here's what else we learned on Tuesday:

2. Less than 48 hours into the league year, Kelly has traded for a quarterback, signed an early-down hammer in Ryan Mathews to replace LeSean McCoy and added a pair of former Seahawks cornerbacks in Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond.

The biggest move might be yet to come, as the Eagles have a "very real" chance to land reigning Offensive Player of the Year DeMarco Murray, Rapoport reported. The former Cowboy will visit Philly on Thursday.

3. In contrast to the Eagles' remarkable excitement for the Bradford era, the Bears' new regime waited nearly two full months to announce that Jay Cutler will remain in Chicago as the starting quarterback. For better or worse, it's a two-year commitment, as the Bears will award Cutler another $10 million in guarantees for the 2016 season by the end of the week.

4. In other quarterback news, the Texans reunited Brian Hoyer with coach Bill O'Brien in Houston. We liked the Hoyer vs. Ryan Mallett competition better when it was for the right to serve as Tom Brady's backup. The addition of Hoyer freed up Ryan Fitzpatrick for his own reunion with former Bills coach Chan Gailey, now the Jets' offensive coordinator.

5. The Dolphins announced the signing of Ndamukong Suh on Wednesday, acknowledging the worst-kept secret in the league since the weekend. Suh's signing led to the release of veteran defensive tackle Randy Starks. Is the difference between Suh and the now departed tandem of Starks and Jared Odrick enough to propel Miami into the postseason?

6. While the Dolphins and Jets are splurging on free agency's marquee names, the more fiscally conservative Patriots signed one of our favorite bargains in pass rusher Jabaal Sheard. Even if there is work to do at cornerback, New England boasts one of the league's most versatile front sevens with Sheard joining Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Rob Ninkovich and Jerod Mayo.

7. If the Patriots are going to add another offensive playmaker in Percy Harvin, they will have to steal him from a division rival. Percy Harvin's first visit was to Bills headquarters on Wednesday.

8. With salary-cap space to spare, Oakland is stuck in a vicious cycle. Unable to convince the cream of the free-agent crop to take their money, the Raiders signed a pair of solid starters in nose tackle Dan Williams and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.

9. While the Raiders continue to overpay for mediocrity, the Jaguars are taking a different tack in gambling on part-time players such as Dan Skuta, Jermey Parnell and Davon House to emerge as building blocks.

10. The Buccaneers tacitly acknowledged the mistakes of last year's foray into free agency, cutting ties with defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Anthony Collins after one season in Tampa. It wasn't all subtraction on Wednesday. The Bucs also added athleticism to the defense, signing former Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter.

11. Tom Coughlin has emerged over the past half-decade as the No. 1 contender to former Lions coach Wayne Fontes' "Rasputin" moniker. No matter how poorly the Giants start the season, Coughlin rallies the troops to a strong finish, staving off the coaching world's version of the Turk. The Giants added to Coughlin's job security Wednesday, announcing a one-year contract extension after Odell Beckham revitalized the franchise in the second half of the 2014 season.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down every trade and free-agent signing and discusses the impact of Darrelle Revis' return to the Jets. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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