Logan Lockhart
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Where Does Each Team In The AFC East Stand As Free Agency Opens And The Road To The Draft Begins?

National Football League free agency is off to a running start--one that has seen chaotic movement around the league, including the greatest quarterback of all time changing teams, after spending 19 years in one place.

AFC EAST Power Rankings:

1. Buffalo

2. New England

3. Miami

4. New York


The story here is easy--after 19 years of owning the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins, Tom Brady has left the Patriots and opened the path for a new team reign at the top of the AFC East, similar to LeBron leaving the Eastern Conference in the NBA.


Despite the Dolphins bolstering its roster in free agency by adding CB Byron Jones, LB Kyle Van Noy and RB Jordan Howard, the story in the division will be whether Bill Belichick can win and continue dominance in New England without Tom Brady. In fact, this storyline will own the discussion of football for the entire year and may be on the most compelling storyline the NFL has ever seen, from both Brady’s side in Tampa and Belichick’s in New England.


Expect the Bills to feel confident that this is their time to shine after not winning an AFC East title since 1995, as well as coming off a 10-6 season led by QB Josh Allen and a dynamite defence in 2019. Though losing DE Shaq Lawson as a free agent to Miami, the Bills filled a need on offence, trading for WR Stefon Diggs and solidifying themselves as the early favourite to be the new kings of the AFC East.


Miami’s outlook for 2020 will depend solely on its draft. The Dolphins have been the most active team in free agency so far but still miss the most important piece on offence--a quarterback. With the Fins drafting fifth overall in the upcoming draft, Alabama standout QB Tua Tagovailoa will surely be available barring any shifts in the order. Miami will be competing with other teams in need of a QB to ensure Tua falls in their lap come April 23rd.


The Jets were one of the stories of the offseason in 2019, and as a result have quieted down in the 2020 edition of free agency. New York will see QB Sam Darnold entering his third year, and hope for better health all around the roster. The Jets hopes of competing for a wild card spot last year was taken away after Week 2 in 2019, due to injuries all across. S Jamal Adams remains a Jet for now, but the subject in question right now is WR Robby Anderson, who remains unsigned. Regardless of how the rest of the offseason plays out for New York, the team should be well positioned for a much improved record, especially with Brady out of the division.


It is impossible to ignore the greatness of Bill Belichick, no matter who is on the roster. Based on proxy alone, the Patriots should be in every conversation when it pertains to contention in the AFC. There is no better team in football when it comes to re-tooling through the draft. The Patriots missed out on some of the top end WR free agents in 2020, however improving the team through that outlet is not where Bill Belichick and company shine. The draft is where the Patriots have seemingly outsmarted the other 31 teams in the NFL over the last 15-20 years. With Brady gone however, the Patriots will have to answer several questions as the off-season continues and as we march on the the road to training camp--


Will fourth-round pick from 2019 Jarrett Stidham take over the reins as starting QB?


Are the Patriots going to use a first-round pick on the QB in 2020?


How will the Patriots improve a lack-luster receiving core and replenish the holes at TE?


Will Bill Belichick go the established QB route and take a run at either Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Cam Newton or Jameis Winston?


No matter how these questions are answered in the next few months, Patriots fans should have all the faith in the New England brass, and expect to be in the mix yet again in the AFC.


The defending AFC East champions for the last 11 years still deserve the respect from football fans everywhere to trust that they can re-tool and move on with the franchise without Brady.