The Schein Nine  

 

Carson Wentz, Dontari Poe among players who won free agency

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We've already covered the moves we've loved and loathed in the free agency period thus far. Now it's time to weigh the domino effects of all the signings, trades and under-the-radar transactions and consider which players really benefited the most from the comings and goings across the NFL.

Below are nine players who have won the offseason and free agency period -- even if they never made a move.

1) Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles' wide receiver depth chart was paper-thin in 2016, featuring Jordan Matthews -- who posted just 11 yards per catch in his third pro season -- and not much else. Well, this offseason, Eagles EVP Howie Roseman brilliantly delivered a true No. 1 receiver for Wentz's second pro campaign, signing Alshon Jeffery for one year and $14 million. The game will slow down for Wentz now that he has the luxury of throwing to a star receiver. I bet Wentz guides a motivated Jeffery to a top-10 season in 2017. And then there's Torrey Smith, who -- though he dropped too many passes last year -- can still stretch the field and represents a major upgrade over the collection of also-rans and never-will-bes from a year ago. Combine this new group of receivers with tight end Zach Ertz and watch out.

2) Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

We already declared the Bucs' addition of DeSean Jackson to be a move we loved last week, given the receiver's ability to stretch the field for quarterback Jameis Winston and provide an element to the offense that was sorely lacking in 2016. The domino effect on Evans is going to be great. The Pro Bowler put up monster numbers (96 catches for 1,321 yards and 12 scores) with really nothing around him -- Adam Humphries and tight end Cameron Brate were the only other Bucs to be targeted more than 40 times last season, and Humphries and Brate each saw less than half as many targets as Evans did (173). Now, Evans won't be double-teamed as often, and defenses won't be able to roll coverage solely in his direction.

Adding DJax might be the best thing that could've happened to Evans.

3) Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft had a strong and reliable rookie season. Now, with Year 1 under his belt, there's an expectation of greatness in Year 2. Christmas came early for Ramsey in the hiring of coach Doug Marrone and EVP Tom Coughlin. Then, in free agency, the Jags signed defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye, two more moves that I loved. Campbell will provide a boost to the pass rush in addition to toughness and leadership. Bouye will make plays and take the heat off Ramsey. Watch Ramsey become a star in 2017.

4) Dwayne Allen, TE, New England Patriots

I've always admired Allen's true professionalism. And now, after being traded from the Colts to the Patriots, he goes to the perfect place for it to be appreciated. Allen is a sturdy blocker and underrated pass catcher. Watch his numbers go up as he fills the void left by departed free agent Martellus Bennett, who recorded 55 catches, 701 yards and seven touchdowns on 73 targets in New England last season. And there's no ego on him. This is a perfect match with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

5) Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

The Lions are set up to have the best offensive line they've ever had in the eight years Stafford's been their quarterback. The signing of ex-Packer T.J. Lang was fantastic, adding muscle, leadership and championship experience at guard. And Ricky Wagner was ideal at right tackle.

In 2016, Stafford was sacked 37 times, tied for sixth-most in the NFL. And according to Next Gen Stats, Stafford ranked 26th in average time to throw among QBs to attempt 100 or more passes last season, with an average of 2.54 seconds. The Lions need a running back to complete the offseason, but with Stafford actually having time to shine, 2017 could be a banner year for the former first overall pick.

6) Mike Glennon, QB, Chicago Bears

Nearly one year ago, I wrote a column explaining why I like Glennon and absolutely believe in him. I don't think he's a star, but I do believe he's a starter, 100 percent. His win-loss record in Tampa (5-13) wasn't great, but his touchdown-to-interception ratio (30:15) and passer rating (84.6) after three years with the Bucs weren't bad. He was treated unfairly and not given a shot by former Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith. I'm thrilled he now gets to be the guy for a historic franchise.

Moreover, Glennon is a major upgrade over former Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler -- Glennon will project positive vibes. I don't expect greatness, but I do expect solid play, and I'm really happy for him.

7) Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

Former Rams coach Jeff Fisher's special knack for offensive ineptitude was really working when he turned Gurley from a star who was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 into a pumpkin who barely managed to top 3 yards per carry in 2016. Before free agency, Gurley had already traded in the worst head coach and offensive coaching staff for the exciting, young and fertile offensive mind of Sean McVay. Then the Rams made a brilliant and needed pickup, inking three-time Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth to be their rock left tackle and leader for this young offense. Gurley will bounce back and show L.A. what all the hype was about in the team's second season out west.

8) Dontari Poe, DT, Atlanta Falcons

A Poe-to-Atlanta marriage was predictable, given that it reunites Poe with Falcons assistant GM Scott Pioli, who was the GM in Kansas City when the Chiefs drafted Poe 11th overall in 2012. Poe is a perfect fit for beefing up Atlanta coach Dan Quinn's defense, which ranked 25th last season. It's also a great opportunity for Poe -- who finished with less than 30 tackles last season for the first time in his five years in the NFL -- to get back to his dominant form.

9) Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills

I was so thrilled for Taylor when the Bills and his agent found a way to rework his deal to keep him in lovely Western New York. Taylor has been a good quarterback -- completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 6,058 yards, a 94.2 passer rating and a TD-to-INT ratio of 37:12 in two seasons as the Bills starter -- and a legit leader. I think he can elevate his game even more now that former coach Rex Ryan is gone and discipline will be restored in Buffalo -- the team won't be penalized like it was last year, when it racked up 127 penalties costing a total of 960 yards. Sean McDermott is a worker, and it goes noted he rightly wanted Taylor back. Taylor won't have to worry about being used as a pawn in a mind-numbing and unfair game between Ryan and GM Doug Whaley.

Taylor didn't need a change of scenery. He needed a chance to grow in Buffalo. And he will, right away.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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