Mike Iupati, Jeremy Maclin, Kurt Coleman among best free agency signings of 2015

Free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Who are the best players available? Well, you'll have to take a look at Around The NFL's Top 99 Free Agents.

But of course, we won't actually know how favorable an addition will be until we see him hit the field with his new team in the coming season. On that note, now that last year's free-agent signees have a season under their belt, who ended up living up to -- or exceeding -- expectations? Here are the pickups who ...

Played a big role on a Super Bowl 50 team: FS Darian Stewart, OG Evan Mathis, TE Owen Daniels and LT Ryan Harris in Denver; WR Ted Ginn Jr., LT Michael Oher and FS Kurt Coleman in Carolina.

So, simple question: What was the best free agency signing of last year?

In 2014, Kansas City receivers couldn't even get in the end zone once. In his first season with the Chiefs, Jeremy Maclin provided a much-needed boost to that aerial attack, racking up 87 catches for 1,088 yards and, most notably, eight touchdowns.

[Alex Smith](http://www.nfl.com/player/alexsmith/2506340/profile) was credited with playing at a high level while not turning the ball over. The biggest reason Smith was able to do that in 2015? The reliable pair of hands and fine route running provided by No. 19. Bringing in Maclin changed the complexion of the offense and brought the 
[Chiefs](/teams/kansascitychiefs/profile?team=KC) back into contention. 

I think eight particular free agents from last offseason's market worked out as well as -- or better than -- expected. Of those eight ...

» Two played very well, but for teams that didn't make the playoffs: Michael Crabtree and Brian Orakpo.

» Four helped their teams get into the playoffs: Jeremy Maclin, DeAngelo Williams, Mike Iupati and Chris Johnson.

» And two started every game and helped their team get to the Super Bowl: Michael Oher and Kurt Coleman.

But if I have to choose one, I'll go with Coleman, who had seven interceptions in 2015 -- the third-highest total in the entire NFL. Coleman made a lot of big plays and did far more than what was expected of him. On the other side of the ball in Carolina, Oher started every game at left tackle and was a big reason why league MVP Cam Newton was so successful. DeMarco Murray. Sike!

Signing a free-agent running back doesn't always pay off, but in the case of DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers got a bargain. Pittsburgh needed a replacement for LeGarrette Blount and they got a veteran back who produced 11 total touchdowns and 5.3 yards per touch. Factor in his average salary of $2 million per year and he earned $8,333 per touch last season -- a steal when compared with Murray's $37,755 per touch. When Le'Veon Bell missed time in 2015, Williams stepped in and yielded his best statistical season since 2009.

Plus, he gets bonus points for this. I'll go with Mike Iupati -- especially considering the team reeled off such a successful season. Not only did the Cardinals take arguably the best offensive player from a division rival (San Francisco), but they added a piece that gave Bruce Arians an opportunity to shape his offense into exactly what he wants: a downhill, power-running attack that takes deep shots.

Iupati is a player who is going to be a mainstay in Arizona. The attitude from the head coach matched the attitude of the player, and that disposition permeated the team in 2015. That team was nasty this past season and it started up front, on both sides of the ball. Iupati was a great addition. I'm going to think about this in team terms, and as an organization, the Jets did the best job last year in free agency. Darrelle Revis was a signature signing for them. It brought immediate credibility back to the franchise. He brings tremendous leadership to the locker room and, of course, he made his seventh Pro Bowl in the past eight seasons.

Even though Ryan Fitzpatrick was not a free-agent signing, he came to Gotham as a result of moves made in free agency (and Houston signing Brian Hoyer). Fitzpatrick helped lead the Jets to 10 wins, setting career highs in touchdown passes (31) and passing yards (3,905). Few people outside of the Bills organization could've predicted Tyrod Taylor's success in 2015. The fifth-year quarterback went from being a lightly regarded backup in Baltimore to being a dynamic playmaker in Buffalo, a talent who nearly helped the Bills reach the playoffs and also played in his first Pro Bowl.

Taylor still needs to work on some things -- including staying healthy for a full season -- but he has the potential to be a leader for that franchise for a long time to come. While I believe Michael Oher is ideally a right tackle, Carolina put him in a tough situation and switched him to the left side. He brought toughness and heart to that offensive line at a low-dough price, all things considered. His presence on the offensive line was one of the main reasons the Panthers were as successful as they were on offense this season. Protection was an issue for the Arizona Cardinals in 2014, and Mike Iupati was a great talent to bring in last season. His physical style -- combined with a talented group of backs -- helped bring balance to the offense. Arizona was no longer a one-dimensional team, because the Cards had an offensive line that could move the defense off the line of scrimmage. The run game opened the field up for their talented receiving corps, and Carson Palmer played some of the best football of his career.

We saw in the Super Bowl -- and the entire playoffs, for that matter -- how games can be won in the trenches. Protecting the quarterback is a huge thing in this league, and Arizona's protection significantly improved with Iupati on the line.

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