BETTER: The Texans bid farewell to several productive starters from back-to-back playoff teams in James Casey, Connor Barwin and Glover Quin. They responded by signing a group of veterans in Ed Reed, Shane Lechler and Greg Jones.
The drafting of DeAndre Hopkins, an explosive wide receiver from Clemson, might provide Andre Johnson the complementary talent that the team’s long been missing. I think Quinn’s one of the better young safeties in the league, but the Texans doubled up on veterans to get them over the hump.
They’re in win-now mode and they approached the 2013 offseason in that manner.
BETTER: The Jaguars have a new front office, head coach and coordinators on both sides of the ball.
Instead of going on a spending spree on veteran free agents like they did last year — Laurent Robinson, Aaron Ross — the Jags looked towards the future and began building long-term. Yes, there are question marks at quarterback, cornerback and along the defensive line. But, by not signing every available veteran, the Jags proved they’ve actually got a plan in place.
I loved their draft, bringing in Luke Joeckel, two defensive backs that can play right away in Dwayne Gratz and John Cyprien and playmakers in Ace Sanders and Denard “Shoelace” Robinson. I even liked what they did the night after Day 3, signing deals with undrafted quarterbacks Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers. There isn’t a lot of celebrating in Jacksonville over this offseason, but that could be a good thing. It means they’re not trying to just make the big splash.
Tuesday’s news of Justin Blackmon’s suspension for the first four games certainly does take a bit of wind out of the sails, though.
BETTER: The Colts went from a 2-14 team to a playoff squad a season ago.
Andrew Luck, Vic Ballard, T.Y. Hilton and tight end Dwayne Allen were all big rookie performers, while Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis proved they were worth keeping around for the new era in Indy.
This offseason, the Colts beefed up the depth chart through free agency, adding LaRon Landry and Greg Toler to the defensive backfield and Aubrayo Franklin and Ricky-Jean Francois on the defensive line.
The Darrius Heyward-Bey signing, for next to nothing, is intriguing, too. I didn’t love their draft, but adding Bjoern Werner to a thin defensive line certainly helps.
BETTER: It’s officially time for Jake Locker to put up or shut up. In Year 3, he doesn’t have any more excuses and will be expected to get the job done.
The Titans front office went above and beyond this offseason, giving Locker another running back in Shonn Greene, three interior offensive linemen in Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke. They also gave him a pair of new weapons in Delanie Walker and Justin Hunter.
This is it for Locker. The front office did their part. It’s certainly time the quarterback does his.