The Cleveland Browns are trying to build a strong offensive line, and signing guard Kevin Zeitler was a good place to start. Even though the Browns had to pay a little bit more money than they probably wanted, Zeitler is a crucial piece to an O-line that just added former Packers center JC Tretter and extended the contract of guard Joel Bitonio. The Browns still have to solve their quarterback problem, but whoever wins that starting job will be better set up to succeed with this line. I really hate to take the obvious answer of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but not enough to keep me from taking it. I feel like my friends in Duval County have been waiting a long time, but this really is the season it gets going. Calais Campbell passing up Denver to head down to Jacksonville is the biggest evidence here.
I also would like to take some time to acknowledge the work the Eagles did to give Carson Wentz some major help at wide receiver. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith are great additions. Forget what Smith did with the 49ers -- nobody was going to be successful there. Jerry Rice in his prime wouldn't have been successful with that team. (And no, I'm not comparing Smith to Rice, it's just an example.)
But seriously, how are the Patriots able to add Stephon Gilmore? Ridiculous. So everybody is just playing for second place again, right? I'm a big fan of the Giants signing veteran receiver Brandon Marshall. He brings a grown-man attitude to an offense that lacks toughness and some grit to that locker room. The other early free-agent signing that caught my eye was cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots. This gives the Pats leverage next year in terms of Malcolm Butler (if they don't trade him this year). If all else fails, this CB tandem would be solid in 2017. I'm going to give credit to the Jacksonville Jaguars today. They signed A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell, who are two of the best players at their respective positions. Bouye will be a good complement to Jalen Ramsey, while Campbell lining up next to Malik Jackson speaks for itself. It's not very often that we get to say that the Browns are winning, but ... welcome to 2017. It's apparent that Cleveland's brain trust has a plan in place to build the franchise, and those folks started strong by strengthening the offensive line with the signings of JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler. Combine that with the mind-bending trade for Brock Osweiler and it's obvious that this group is ready to use methods -- both conventional and unconventional -- to change the output of production at the Factory of Sadness. I'm here for this. When teams sign free agents at a high price, they want difference makers. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson will be just that for the Buccaneers, who already have a good, young quarterback in Jameis Winston. Jackson's speed will provide a boost in 2017 to an already solid passing game. I also liked that the Broncos added guard Ronald Leary, an undrafted player who was outstanding for the Cowboys last year when he was on the field. For Denver to have any kind of offense this season, it needs to strengthen the offensive line. The Broncos certainly did Thursday.