Since the offseason started on February 7, 172 players signed with new teams, either as unrestricted or restricted free agents, and six players changed teams in a trade. That's an average of 5.6 players per team that were signed from other teams.
Conventional wisdom holds that losing teams generally are the most active in free agency, often because they have the most holes in their roster. Losing teams also often have new coaches or new GMs who are intent on building a new roster quickly, or have coaches or GMs on the hot seat who are going all in to save their own jobs.
And as a general rule, that probably holds true. Of the nine teams that have signed eight or more players from other rosters this offseason, only one had a winning record. Similarly, of the 13 teams that signed four or fewer players from other teams, nine made the playoffs last year.
With the help of the team free agent pages at both Spotrac.com and OverTheCap.com, I compiled a list of which teams have signed the most players from other rosters since the start of the offseason. You'll find the full data in table form at the bottom of this post, but let's look at the top nine teams first.
13 New Players: Patriots
10 New Players: Lions, Dolphins
9 New Players: Philadelphia
8 New Players: Giants, Falcons, Bears, Jaguars, Titans,
13 New Players: Seeing the 12-4 Patriots at the top of this list comes as a big surprise. After all, with stability in the front office, at head coach, and at quarterback, one wouldn't have expected to see the Patriots bring in a lot of free agents. But the moves the Patriots made were perhaps less about fixing glaring roster holes and more about building roster depth. The 13 players also include two players brought in via trade: Jonathan Cooper from Arizona and Martellus Bennett from Chicago.
The situations are not quite as rosy for the other teams listed above.
10 New Players: Detroit fired GM Martin Mayhew in November last year, and interim GM Sheldon White is under pressure to build a team that can win a playoff game (the Lions last won a playoff game in 1992). Miami's numbers are little inflated by their trade for Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso from the Eagles, but coming off a 6-10 season, the new head coach and GM (Adam Gase and Chris Grier) are keen on rebuilding the Dolphins roster, and the more players they get for that, the better.
9 New Players: In Philly, the front office is in a desparate scramble to undo everything Chip Kelly did.
8 New Players: Five teams without a winning record
- In New York, the Giants "fired" Tom Coughlin, and GM Jerry Reese is fighting tooth and nail to keep his job. Reese drafted only two Pro Bowlers with 58 picks from the last eight drafts and had to break the bank in free agency to compensate for the lack of talent and depth on the roster he put together.
- In Atlanta, someone had to take the fall for a team that has been .500 or worse for three straight seasons and has obvious, longstanding roster holes. The team even issued a press release promising to make changes to scouting and personnel, but instead of firing Thomas Dimitroff and/or Scott Pioli, director of player personnel Lionel Vital (who has since joined the Cowboys), was made the fall guy. There won't be another fall guy for Dimitroff/Pioli if the Falcons disappoint again this season.
- It's been a while since the Bears were viewed as a serious player in the NFC North (they last won the division in 2010), and they went into 2016 NFL free agency looking to make some major moves to get back into contention.
- The Titans have a new GM (Jon Robinson) who's trying frantically to drum up interest in somebody giving him more picks in exchange for his No. 1 pick, and a new coach in Mike Mularkey. They'll need lots of bodies to fix what ails the Titans.
- The combo of head coach Gus Bradleey and GM David Caldwell has been in charge in Jacksonville since 2013, and have produced a 12-36 record over their three-year tenure. That's not enough, not even in Jacksonville, and if they don't get it right, they're likely both gone. No wonder the Jaguars edged out the desperate Jerry Reese in free-agency spending this year.
The bottom eight teams present an interesting mix of winning and losing teams..
3 New Players: Bengals, Chiefs, Panthers, Ravens
2 New players: Cardinals, 49ers, Rams
1 New Player: Packers
The 49ers, Ravens, and Rams are the three losing teams at the bottom of this list, but they are teams in very different places.
- The Rams have a stacked roster at almost every position except quarterback (Kase Keenum? Please). The Rams let seven free agents leave (Janoris Jenkins, Nick Fairley, Chris Long, James Laurinaitis and others) and are not noticeably worse off. Jeff Fisher hasn't had a winning season in six years, but that didn't seem to bother anybody in St. Louis. Maybe someone in L.A. will notice.
- The 49ers' biggest signing is renowned franchise-savior Chip Kelly. Why invest in free agents when a couple of smoothies will do the job just as well?
- The Ravens hope that their issues in 2015 were the result of injuries to Joe Flacco, and that a healthy Flacco will put them back into the playoffs in 2016.
The remaining teams here (Packers, Cardinals, Panthers, Bengals, Chiefs) have focused more on re-signing their own free agents. Combined, theses five playoff teams brought in 12 players from other NFL teams and re-signed 18 of their own players.
A 12/18 ratio is not exactly the ratio the Cowboys achieved this offseason, but like these teams, the Cowboys focused on re-signing their own guys, complementing their 10 re-signings (McClain, Claiborne, Hanna, Wilber, Leary, Heath, Dunbar, J. Crawfords, Thomas, Brown) with four free agents (Cedric Thornton, Benson Mayowa, Alfred Morris, Joe Looney).
Teams wil obviously continue to sign and re-sign players over the coming weeks and months, so the numbers here only provide a snapshot of free agency. But with the bulk of the big free agency activity behind us, it gives a good perspective on how teams approached free agency this year.
In general it seems that re-signing your own players and complementing them with choice free agency additions is the more successful approach, but that approach may not work for all teams and in all circumstances, as we saw above.
Here's the full list of additions from other rosters this offseason (* denoes traded players):
|Team||No. Signed||Contract Value in M$
|NE||13||42.8||Chris Hogan, Chris Long, Clay Harbor, Donald Brown, E.J. Biggers, Frank Kearse, Jonathan Cooper*, Markus Kuhn, Martellus Bennett*, Nate Washington, Ramon Humber, Shea McClellin, Terrance Knighton|
|DET||10||54.6||Darrin Walls, Geoff Schwartz, Jeremy Kerley, Johnson Bademosi, Marvin Jones, Rafael Bush, Stefan Charles, Stevan Ridley, Tavon Wilson, Wallace Gilberry|
|MIA||10||38.6||Andre Branch, Byron Maxwell*, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Isa Abdul-Quddus, Jermon Bushrod, Kiko Alonso*, Kraig Urbik, Mario Williams, MarQueis Gray, Sam Young|
|PHI||9||115.0||Brandon Brooks, Chase Daniel, Chris Givens, Leodis McKelvin, Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Ron Brooks, Rueben Randle, Stefen Wisniewski|
|ATL||8||102.4||Alex Mack, Courtney Upshaw, Derrick Shelby, LaRoy Reynolds, Matt Schaub, Mohamed Sanu, Sean Weatherspoon, Tom Compton|
|CHI||8||68.7||Aaron Brewer, Akiem Hicks, Bobby Massie, Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Manuel Ramirez, Omar Bolden, Ted Larsen|
|JAC||8||216.4||Brad Nortman, Chris Ivory, Kelvin Beachum, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamara, Tanner Hawkinson, Tashaun Gipson|
|NYG||8||198.7||Bobby Rainey, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, Keenan Robinson, Kelvin Sheppard, Olivier Vernon, Ryan Seymour, Will Johnson|
|TEN||8||49.1||Antwon Blake, Ben Jones, Brice McCain, DeMarco Murray*, Matt Cassel, Rashad Johnson, Rishard Matthews, Sean Spence|
|NYJ||7||27.4||Bruce Carter, Darryl Morris, Jarvis Jenkins, Jeremy Ross, Khiry Robinson, Matt Forte, Steve McLendon|
|OAK||7||142.7||Andrew East, Bruce Irvin, Brynden Trawick, Daren Bates, Kelechi Osemele, Reggie Nelson, Sean Smith|
|BUF||6||5.6||Corey White, Fernando Velasco, Jim Dray, Robert Blanton, Sterling Moore, Zach Brown|
|MIN||6||39.1||Alex Boone, Andre Smith, Brian Leonhardt, Emmanuel Lamur, Michael Griffin, Travis Lewis|
|TB||6||71.8||Brent Grimes, Bryan Anger, Daryl Smith, J.R. Sweezy, Josh Robinson, Robert Ayers|
|CLE||5||31.6||Alvin Bailey, Demario Davis, Justin Tuggle, Rahim Moore, Robert Griffin III|
|HOU||5||132.6||Antonio Allen, Brock Osweiler, Jeff Allen, Lamar Miller, Tony Bergstrom|
|IND||5||18.5||Brian Tyms, Jordan Todman, Patrick Robinson, Robert Turbin, Scott Tolzien|
|NO||5||57.3||Coby Fleener, Craig Robertson, James Laurinaitis, Nathan Stupar, Nick Fairley|
|SD||5||60.0||Brandon Mebane, Casey Hayward, Dwight Lowery, Jeff Cumberland, Travis Benjamin|
|DAL||4||30.4||Alfred Morris, Benson Mayowa, Cedric Thornton, Joe Looney|
|DEN||4||75.5||Donald Stephenson, Jared Crick, Mark Sanchez*, Russell Okung|
|PIT||4||25.6||Ladarius Green, Ricardo Mathews, Ryan Harris, Steven Johnson|
|SEA||4||9.6||Bradley Sowell, Chris Clemons, J'Marcus Webb, Sealver Siliga|
|WAS||4||14.8||David Bruton, Kendall Reyes, Terence Garvin, Vernon Davis|
|BAL||3||44.5||Benjamin Watson, Eric Weddle, Mike Wallace|
|CAR||3||11.0||Brandon Boykin, Gino Gradkowski, Paul Soliai|
|CIN||3||5.3||Brandon LaFell, Karlos Dansby, Taylor Mays|
|KC||3||34.4||Andy Mulumba, Mitchell Schwartz, Rod Streater|
|ARI||2||12.0||Evan Mathis, Tyvon Branch|
|LA||2||20.5||Coty Sensabaugh, Quinton Coples|
|SF||2||10.5||Thaddeus Lewis, Zane Beadles|