With free agency moves and trades, The Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and New England Patriots have all made strides to improve their teams that will make the AFC East, one of the most competitive divisions in football last year, even more competitive and potentially the best division in football.
The Buffalo Bills improved their team, while also weakening a division rival, when they came to terms with former New York Jet and free agent Brad Smith. Smith agreed to a four-year, $14 million deal with the team. The versatility of Brad Smith as a kick returner, wide receiver, and running back was a major factor in his tenure with the Jets, and the Bills hope to use him in a similar way.
The Miami Dolphins strengthened their team when they agreed to a trade for New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush. The Dolphins agreed on a two-year deal with Bush that totals around $10 million. Quarterback Kyle Orton has been rumored to be traded from the Denver Broncos to the Miami Dolphins as well, but now, a discrepancy over a third or fourth round draft pick to be included in the deal appears to be a major snag that may hold up the deal. If the Dolphins are able to add two potent offensive weapons in Bush and Orton, it will cause AFC defenses many problems.
The New York Jets re-signed wide receiver Santonio Holmes to a five-year, $50 million deal that will keep one of the most explosive players in the National Football League in green and white. The major story in New York hasn’t been about the Jets keeping Holmes though. As of today, Friday, July 29, 2011, the player making the most noise in the New York area is the player that the Jets, or any other team, has yet to come to terms with, Oakland Raiders cornerback and free agent Nnamdi Asomugha. It is not apparent where Asomugha is going, but the Jets appear to still be in the hunt.
The New England Patriots may have improved themselves more than any other team in the NFL with the acquisitions of Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. The Cincinnati Bengals agreed to a deal to sent their controversial wide receiver to the Patriots and will reportedly receive two draft picks, a 2012 fifth-rounder and a 2013 sixth-rounder. The Washington Redskins agreed to a deal with the Patriots to send their defensive tackle Haynesworth north in exchange for a 2013 fifth-round draft pick. If both players can return to their Pro-Bowl level of play, the entire league will be at their mercy.
The American Football Conference East was one of the most competitive divisions in the National Football League in the 2010 season, with two teams legitimate Super Bowl contenders. With the recent additions to the Bills, Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots, this tough division just got that much tougher for the 2011 season, and football fans should all benefit from it.