clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

AFC East Report: Patriots have best free agent class, but rest of division also has some difference-makers hit the open market

Related: Breaking down the Patriots’ offseason capital relative to the rest of the NFL

New York Jets v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

A lot has already been written around these parts of the Internet about the New England Patriots’ class of free agents: 19 of the team’s players will see their contracts expire next month, including cornerstones such as quarterback Tom Brady, guard Joe Thuney, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, safety Devin McCourty, and special teamers Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner. The Patriots front office has its work cut out for them.

But while several difference-makers are scheduled to hit the market once it opens on March 18 and are therefore no safe bets to return to New England in 2020, the reigning AFC East champions are not the only team in the division that will have to work through a long list of free-agents-to-be. A look at the free agency classes of the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets illustrates that they too will have some work ahead.

Buffalo Bills

Expected salary cap space: $80,186,963

Free agents: 16 (12 unrestricted, 1 restricted, 3 exclusive rights)

2020 free agency: Buffalo Bills

Name Position Status 2019 Snaps Age Current APY
Name Position Status 2019 Snaps Age Current APY
Corey Liuget 34DE UFA 17% 30 $930,000
Dean Marlowe S UFA 10.30% 28 $600,000
Frank Gore RB UFA 34.90% 37 $2,000,000
Isaiah McKenzie WR RFA 41.60% 25 $600,000
Jason Croom TE ERFA 0% 26 $527,000
Jordan Phillips 43DT UFA 52.10% 28 $4,500,000
Julian Stanford ILB UFA 7.20% 30 $1,500,000
Kevin Johnson CB UFA 32.40% 28 $3,000,000
Kurt Coleman S UFA 6.70% 32 $930,000
LaAdrian Waddle LT UFA 0% 29 $2,000,000
Levi Wallace CB ERFA 76% 25 $525,000
Mo Alexander 43OLB UFA 6.90% 29 $1,000,000
Quinton Spain LG UFA 99.50% 29 $2,050,000
Robert Foster WR ERFA 20.10% 26 $525,000
Senorise Perry RB UFA 0.80% 29 $720,000
Shaq Lawson 43DE UFA 46.20% 26 $2,569,744

The biggest names on Buffalo’s list of free agents are offensive lineman Quinton Spain and defensive end Shaq Lawson, who both played key roles for the AFC East runner-ups in 2019: while Spain started all 17 contests at left guard, Lawson ranked third on the team with a combined 40 quarterback pressures. While neither is among the top free agents at their respective positions, they should create solid markets for themselves over the next month.

Other noteworthy names on the list above are cornerback Levi Wallace — one of the team’s primary perimeter cornerbacks, who will likely be brought back through exclusive rights free agency — as well as defensive tackles Jordan Phillips and Corey Liuget. Former Patriots swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle will also hit the open market after missing all of 2019 because of a quad injury.

Miami Dolphins

Expected salary cap space: $89,390,424

Free agents: 16 (7 unrestricted, 5 restricted, 4 exclusive rights)

2020 free agency: Miami Dolphins

Name Position Status 2019 Snaps Age Current APY
Name Position Status 2019 Snaps Age Current APY
Adrian Colbert S RFA 32.20% 27 $645,000
Aqib Talib CB UFA 30.50% 34 $9,500,000
Chase Allen ILB RFA 0% 27 $558,333
Clive Walford TE UFA 10.50% 29 $720,000
Deon Lacey ILB RFA 0.30% 30 $645,000
Evan Boehm C UFA 55.40% 27 $2,025,000
Isaiah Ford WR ERFA 20.60% 24 $570,000
J'Marcus Webb LT UFA 50.60% 32 $930,000
John Jenkins 34DE UFA 43% 31 $805,000
Kendrick Norton 34DT ERFA 0% 23 $487,500
Matt Haack P RFA 30.20% 26 $556,333
Trent Harris 34OLB ERFA 22.50% 25 $495,000
Trevor Davis WR UFA 20.10% 27 $641,794
Vince Biegel ILB RFA 56.30% 27 $645,000
Walt Aikens S UFA 9.20% 29 $1,350,000
Zach Sieler 34DE ERFA 11.10% 25 $570,000

No team in the NFL has the same amount of salary cap space to work with this offseason, which means that Miami is expected to be a big player in March. Some of that money will go towards bringing back members of the team’s free agency class even though not all of them can be considered priorities. Punter Matt Haack and linebacker Vince Biegel are probably the two biggest names for the Dolphins to retain, with both being restricted free agents.

Another big name on the list above is cornerback Aqib Talib, who was acquired by Miami via trade last October despite being on injured reserve. The team did not give up a lot to bring the then-32-year-old on board, which means that he likely will not be a priority moving forward. However, his history with Dolphins head coach Brian Flores — they were both with the Patriots in 2012 and 2013 — suggests that he might stick around after all.

New York Jets

Expected salary cap space: $49,693,190

Free agents: 29 (22 unrestricted, 2 restricted, 5 exclusive rights)

2020 free agency: New York Jets

Name Position Status 2019 Snaps Age Current APY
Name Position Status 2019 Snaps Age Current APY
Albert McClellan ILB UFA 2.50% 34 $930,000
Alex Lewis LG UFA 75.10% 28 $707,974
Arthur Maulet CB RFA 31.60% 27 $645,000
B.J. Bello ILB ERFA 0% 26 $645,000
Bennett Jackson CB ERFA 2.70% 29 $495,000
Bilal Powell RB UFA 16.20% 32 $1,020,000
Brandon Copeland 34OLB UFA 30.30% 29 $1,750,000
Brandon Shell RT UFA 79.50% 28 $643,992
Brent Qvale LT UFA 7.40% 29 $1,400,000
Brian Poole CB UFA 68.20% 28 $3,000,000
Daniel Brown TE UFA 28.90% 28 $895,000
David Fales QB UFA 0.80% 30 $805,000
Demaryius Thomas WR UFA 45.30% 33 $3,000,000
Frankie Luvu 34OLB ERFA 6.40% 24 $570,000
James Burgess ILB RFA 59.80% 26 $645,000
Jordan Jenkins 34OLB UFA 51.60% 26 $780,980
Kelvin Beachum LT UFA 78.80% 31 $8,000,000
Lachlan Edwards P UFA 33.20% 28 $603,949
Leo Koloamatangi G ERFA 0% 26 $570,000
Maurice Canady CB UFA 37.60% 26 $720,000
Neville Hewitt ILB UFA 69.40% 27 $1,500,000
Paul Worrilow ILB UFA 0% 30 $805,000
Robby Anderson WR UFA 91.20% 27 $3,095,000
Rontez Miles S UFA 1.90% 32 $1,907,000
Ryan Kalil C UFA 34.20% 35 $8,400,000
Sam Ficken K ERFA 25.90% 28 $495,000
Tom Compton RG UFA 35.50% 31 $1,600,000
Trevor Siemian QB UFA 1.90% 29 $2,000,000
Ty Montgomery RB UFA 14.40% 27 $895,000

The Jets have one of the biggest free agency classes in the entire league, with 22 of the 29 players listed about to enter unrestricted free agency — including starters such as wide receiver Robby Anderson, offensive linemen Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell and Alex Lewis, slot cornerback Brian Poole, and punter Lachlan Edwards. Furthermore, rotational linebackers Neville Hewitt is also set to hit the open market next month.

Anderson might be the biggest name on the list considering his status as New York’s number one wide receiver for the last few seasons. The impact of potential departures along the offensive line and at running back — Bilal Powell is also an unrestricted free agent, for example — cannot be underestimate either, however, especially when it comes to the development of third-year quarterback Sam Darnold.