The New England Patriots have avoided this free agency period like the plague. If it seems like the team has been oddly quiet, they have. They've been the 2nd- or 3rd-least involved team this period, trailing only the hapless Cleveland Browns, and tied with the Arizona Cardinals.
Outside of the 3-year, $12 million contract for Bills restricted free agent wide receiver Chris Hogan, the Patriots have done nothing of note. They've retained special teamer Nate Ebner, they signed 4th string tackle LaAdrian Waddle to a 2-year deal...yeah, that's pretty much the level of excitement for this team.
At least New England isn't Cleveland, who has managed to sign Seahawks RFA OL Alvin Bailey (the Seahawks had the worst OL in the NFL in 2015 and let him walk) and LB Justin Tuggle. That's spectacularly weak.
The Patriots didn't have any real free agents of note this offseason, other than defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and running back LeGarrette Blount, so there was some hope that the team would try to sign a few of the more popular free agents.
It didn't happen and the New England front office looks to be retaining as much cash as possible so they can eventually dish out the necessary extensions to a defense that looks to be worth a lot more on the open market than previously thought.
But until the Patriots start spending money, it can be interesting to see which teams are spending a lot of money, and to how they have been able to do so.
There are generally three types of spenders: hot seat spenders, rebuilding spenders, and middle-tier spenders.
General managers on the hot seat can mortgage the future with awful and expensive contracts with the hopes that a great season could buy them a few more seasons in control, when they would be able to navigate and restructure the bad deals.
Rebuilding spenders have had to go through a few lean seasons to get rid of some horrible deals of the prior regime (generally the Hot Seat Spenders), but now they are flush with cash and can invest heavily in the top tier free agents.
Middle-tier spenders are usually general managers that are established in their position with job security. They are trying to flesh out the rest of the roster with middle-tier talent, instead of investing in a few big name players.
Texans GM Rick Smith, 1st year as GM in 2006
Major Contracts: QB Brock Osweiler, 4/$72 million; OL Jeff Allen, 4/$28 million; RB Lamar Miller 4/$26 million
Total: $142.7 million (5th most)
Average Per Year: $41.2 million (5th most)
The signing of Osweiler should make or break Smith's reign in Houston as the team has struggled to find and develop a quarterback for the entirety of its existence. Owner Bob McNair has made it clear that the team had to find its QB of the future this season. No pressure, Brock.
Giants GM Jerry Reese, 2007
Major contracts: ED Olivier Vernon, 5/$85 million; CB Janoris Jenkins, 5/$62.5 million; DT Damon Harrison, 5/$46.25 millon; ED Jason Pierre-Paul, 1/$10 million
Total: $206.4 million (1st)
Average Per Year: $51.4 million (2nd)
New York just fired head coach Tom Coughlin, but Reese was kept aboard for the time being. He'll definitely be on the hot seat in 2016 after three straight losing seasons.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, 2008
Major Contracts: OL Alex Mack, 5/$45 million; WR Mohamed Sanu, 5/$32.5 million; ED Derrick Shelby, 4/$18 million
Total: $107.3 million (6th)
Average Per Year: $27.3 million (13th)
Dimitroff has already started to lose control of the team, giving up responsibilities to Scott Pioli. Another bad draft will end his reign in Atlanta. That Sanu contract is stupid expensive, too.
Rams GM Les Snead, 2012
Major Contracts: CB Trumaine Johnson, 1/$13.95 million; S/LB Mark Barron, 5/$45 million; ED Williams Hayes, 3/$17.5 million; ED Eugene Sims, 3/$10 million
Total: $93.7 million (10th)
Average Per Year: $36.6 million (7th)
The Rams are still hoping to find an average quarterback that can ride the team's high quality defense in an extremely difficult division. They're hoping Case Keenum is the answer. That alone puts Snead on the hot seat.
Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman, 2010 (2015 hiatus during Chip Kelly Dark Age)
Major Contracts: QB Sam Bradford, 2/$36 million; DL Vinny Curry, 5/$47.25 million; OL Brandon Brooks, 5/$40 million; S Rodney McLeod, 5/$37 million; QB Chase Daniel, 3/$21 million
Total: $193.5 million (2nd)
Average Per Year: $55.0 million (1st)
Roseman had to get the Eagles off of Chip Kelly's Wild Ride and that involved demolishing The House of Cards that Chip Built. Roseman shipped away RB DeMarco Murray, CB Byron Maxwell, and LB Kiko Alonso, and he's been trying to reconstruct the roster.
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie, 2012
Major Contracts: OL Kelechi Osemele, 5/$28.5 million; CB Sean Smith, 4/$38 million; ED Bruce Irvin, $4/37 million; P Marquette King, 5/$16.5 million
Total: $153.0 million (4th)
Average Per Year: $36.8 million (6th)
McKenzie has been doing a tremendous job rebuilding the Raiders roster, but his team is flush with cash only because he was building from the ground up. He acquired an Oakland roster devoid of talent and flush with awful contracts. He's bide his time over the past few seasons before cashing in on shallow free agency markets. Drafting a good quarterback in Derek Carr also helps.
Jaguars GM David Caldwell, 2013
Major Contracts: DT Malik Jackson, 6/$85.5 million; S Tashaun Gipson, 5/$35.5 million; RB Chris Ivory, 5/$32 million; TE Marcedes Lewis, 3/$12 million
Total: $190.9 million (3rd)
Average Per Year: $45.1 million (3rd)
Caldwell made the biggest splash this offseason with the Jackson signing, but he has Jacksonville in the same position as McKenzie has the Raiders: on an upswing with a ton of cash. The offensive side of the ball is extremely promising, so Caldwell dedicated mega-millions to the defense. There is also an unknown contract with CB Price Amukamara that could increase the team's spending.
Buccaneers GM Jason Licht, 2014
Major Contracts: RB Doug Martin, 5/$35.8 million; ED Robert Ayers, 3/$21 million; CB Brent Grimes, 2/$13.5 million; OL J.R. Sweezy, 5/$32.5 million
Total: $104.6 million (8th)
Average Per Year: $28.3 million (11th)
Licht managed to retain Martin, but added in three new faces for some serious cash. Sweezy is a sub-par offensive lineman, while Grimes played his way off of a weak Miami defensive roster. This could be a major offseason footnote in Licht's tenure.
Chiefs GM John Dorsey, 2013
Major Contracts: S Eric Berry, Franchise 1/$10.7 million; ED Tamba Hali, 3/$22 million; LB Derrick Johnson, 3/$21 million; OT Mitchell Schwartz, 5/$33 million; DL Jaye Howard, 2/$12 million
Total: $107.1 million (7th)
Average Per Year: $43.6 million (4th)
Dorsey's free agency period consisted of taking care of a lot of in-house players, with Schwartz being the only real big acquisition. A 1-year, $4.8 million deal for WR Rod Streater is also worth noting, but overall the Chiefs were accomplishing a similar goal as the 2016 Patriots: extending the players the team developed.
Chargers GM Tom Telesco, 2013
Major Contracts: WR Travis Benjamin, 4/$20 million; OT Joseph Barksdale, 4/$22.2 million; TE Antonio Gates, 2/$11 million; CB Casey Hayward, 3/$15.3 million; DT Brandon Mebane, 3/$13.5 million
Total: $94.3 million (9th)
Average Per Year: $30.1 million (9th)
Telesco signed a 3-year contract extension prior to the 2015 season, so he's not going anywhere. It's also difficult to argue with his signings this offseason as there's no individual ground-breaking deal, but instead a large number of middle-tier contract players that build quality depth and ability across the entire roster.
Bears GM Ryan Pace, 2015
Major Contracts: WR Alshon Jeffery, 1/$14.6 million; LB Danny Trevathan, 4/$24.5 million; OT Bobby Massie, 3/$18 million; CB Tracy Porter, 3/$12 million; LB Jerrell Freeman, 3/$12 million; DT Akiem Hicks, 2/$TBD
Total: $83.9 million (11th)
Average Per Year: $36.1 million (8th)
Pace has put together a quality offseason, similar to Telesco, with a heavy investment in quality mid-tier players that don't require breaking the bank.