2014 IDP Free Agency Blog

Eric Olinger

Free agency is in swing and DLF is ready, as always.

This year, we’ll be covering all the free agency IDP moves as they occur via this blog with our real time (or as close as we can get to it ) analysis of each move and how they impact our world of dynasty leagues. This Premium exclusive blog will be updated constantly as free agency unfolds over the next few days. In addition, we’re also running a special Premium exclusive offensive free agency blog to cover the other side of the football.  Remember to read from the bottom as the most recent events will be listed at the top.

Here we go!

March 15, 2014

Bills add Brandon Spikes to man their middle

With Kiko Alonso moving to the weakside of the Bills 4-3 redux in 2014, Spikes will walk into the starting middle linebacker spot. When he’s played every down in the past with the Patriots, he’s been capable and productive. Unfortunately, with the recent addition of Keith Rivers on the strongside, Spikes will again be limited to a two-down role. From an IDP value perspective, this move is lateral compared to the value and production he held with the Patriots.

On the flipside with the Patriots, this again is great news for Dont’a Hightower. It was pretty certain that Spikes wouldn’t return and he’d be the top candidate to slide to the middle, but this should seal that presumption. Hightower will be a top breakout candidate in 2014. – SW

March 14, 2014

Patriots continue to strengthen secondary with addition of Browner

While they already added Revis earlier this week, the Patriots today signed cornerback Brandon Browner to a three-year deal worth $17 million. This is not good news for Alfonzo Dennard and his owners in corner-required leagues. Browner still is going to miss four games due to suspension in 2014, but after that, Dennard will be pushed to the nickel role. This secondary is extremely physical and the defense is much improved with the addition of this two corners this week. – SW

Wesley Woodyard’s speed added to Titans’ linebacker group

The Titans signed Woodyard to a four-year $16 million deal. He’s added to a speedy group of linebackers and will compete for a starting spot inside with Zach Brown, Akeem Ayers, Zaviar Gooden, and Colin McCarthy. It looked like Brown and Ayers would be favorites, but the addition of Woodyard adds an interesting twist. He struggled last season, so he isn’t a lock as a starter.Unfortunately, it looks like he’ll steal snaps inside regardless of whether he wins a starting spot. So, overall, this isn’t great news for the inside linebacker group in Tennessee. -SW

March 13, 2014

LaMarr Woodley joins the Silver & Black

For the first time in his career Woodley won’t be playing in a 3-4 defense. He will now make the transition to 4-3 defensive end. Even though the Raiders remain the NFL punchline, they now have two interesting defensive ends for IDP leaguers in Justin Tuck and Woodley. He has some nice DE2 appeal. – EO

Jason Hatcher signs with division rival Redskins

A year after breaking out in Dallas’ 4-3 defense with 11 sacks from the defensive tackle position, Hatcher will now move back to defensive end in Washington’s 3-4 defense and back into IDP irrelevancy. It’s hard to blame the guy for chasing the money though. At 32 years old he signed a four year, $27.5 million contract. – EO

The Raiders finally find someone to take their money, Justin Tuck

Tuck finished 2013 with 9.5 sacks over the final six games of his contract year and cashed in. Even thought the Giants are hurting for pass rushers they let him walk in an effort to get younger. He’ll 31 before training camp. He won’t repeat his 2013 sack numbers but could be a decent option for tackle heavy leagues. -EO

This is good news for second year defensive end Damontre Moore. Many thought that he may be one of the Giants’ long-term options when he was drafted and it appears he is. Mathias Kiwanuka is still in the mix, but Moore is the real winner here. -SW

March 12, 2014

revisRevis-island migrating the East Coast

Revis signed a one-year $12 million deal with the Patriots in an upgrade of Aqib Talib. This is more impactful from a real football perspective, but it will improve the play of the front seven who will be able to blitz more and have more time to get to the quarterback. In turn, that should increase their production and IDP value. Additionally, expect Alfonzo Dennard to see a lot more action and tackle opportunities with Revis shutting down one side of the field. Dennard gets a bump in corner required leagues. – SW

Broncos add DeMarcus Ware to Free Agency spending spree

The Broncos aren’t playing around, they want to win a Super Bowl and they want to win it now! Well, they better because they’ve mortgaged the future by shelling out another huge contract to a defensive player. Today they signed former Cowboy DeMarcus Ware to a three year, $30 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. It’s a big gamble for a soon-to-be 32 year old player coming off a disappointing injury plagued season. Again, they’re not really adding additional playmakers to last year’s roster, they’re just replacing or upgrading slightly. Ware is still a huge upside DE1 playing with Von Miller behind him. – EO

Aqib Talib gets paid!

The Broncos signed Talib to a six year, $57 million contract with $26 million guaranteed. With Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie not in the plan for the future, GM John Elway brought in his next shutdown corner. It seems like the Broncos are building a “Dream Team” but all they’re really doing is re-stocking the shelves with some high dollar additions. They’re “all in” for 2014. – EO

March 11, 2014

Falcons add Jackson and Soliai in 3-4 scheme shift

The signings themselves aren’t impactful from an IDP perspective, but it does show that the Falcons are likely to be running a lot more 3-4 packages (and potentially switching to a 3-4 base) given both Tyson Jackson’s and Paul Soliai’s skill set. In fact, Falcons’ general manager, Thomas Dimitroff noted, “this is going to be a combination of both 3-4 and 4-3. Mike Nolan is very adept at switching up defenses.” In the 3-4, expect Sean Weatherspoon and Paul Worrilow to man the middle with Joplo Bartu on the outside with another edge rusher added via the draft. This switch will be a hit to Bartu’s value in tackle heavy leagues and a bump in big-play leagues given the increase in snaps. Worrilow’s and Weatherspoon’s value and production should hold regardless of scheme. – SW

This is also good news for Allen Bailey who played well in limited action for the Chiefs in 2013 active in run support and getting to the quarterback. He’ll assume Jackson’s starting spot. While his upside is limited given the scheme, he’s a worthy add in deeper leagues given the increased opportunity. – SW

Verner joins Bucs to replace the soon-to-be-released Revis

The Bucs got a bargain in signing Alterraun Verner to a four-year $26.5 million contract. It’s been well publicized throughout the day that Verner is a perfect fit for Lovie Smith’s scheme. Expect Verner to be another top option in corner-required leagues in 2014 and look for Revis to be released in short order as it doesn’t appear a trade is going to happen. – SW

Jairus Byrd joins Saints with monster $28 million guaranteed

It’s well known that Byrd was unhappy with the Bills. He wanted to be a top five paid safety and cashed in nicely with a 6 year deal for $54 million and $28 million guaranteed. That guaranteed money is more than Alterraun Verner received IN TOTAL in his four year deal from the Bucs. Byrd will start alongside second year star Kenny Vaccaro and make a nice tandem. Byrd is a playmaker and Rob Ryan will make good use of him in his aggressive defense. The Saints offense should also create a good number of opportunities for Byrd. He’s a safe number two safety.

For the Bills, this means that an opportunity is created for Da’Norris Searcy or Duke Williams. The two will compete for the vacated spot. Searcy was adequate early in 2013 with Byrd out and may end up winning the initial position battle, but with Williams’ versatility as a deep safety in coverage and a sure tackler, he should be the long-term option. – SW

Cowboys release DeMarcus Ware

In an effort to create some cap room, the Cowboys cut Ware and saved a little over $7 million in 2014 after he was unwilling to take a pay cut. George Selvie will continue to start at one defensive end spot, but this creates opportunity on the other side. The Cowboys may add some depth via free agency, but expect them to make a bigger impact on the defensive line in the draft. Also keep an eye on Tyrone Crawford as a deeper option. The Cowboys have voiced their confidence in him this offseason. The biggest news will be where Ware ends as he’s likely to squash another IDP’s value. Reports suggest the Broncos are favorites with many other teams interested. More to come. – SW

D’Qwell Jackson bounces from one 3-4 defense to another

It’s well documented that Jackson is a better fit in a 4-3 defense, but the Colts don’t view it that way. They signed Jackson to a 4-year deal to start alongside Jerrell Freeman in the Colts’ 3-4 base defense. He’ll be in line for another season of solid numbers, but he continues to struggle. At the age of 31, he’s nothing more than a short-term option in dynasty leagues, but he should be able to post borderline LB2 numbers. – SW

Redskins re-sign Perry Riley

With London Fletcher retiring, the Redskins have a big gap to file. They’ll likely do that via the draft, but re-signing Riley to man one of the two spots in the middle is a nice step. Regardless of who they add with Fletcher gone, Riley should see a bump in tackle opportunities. – SW 

T.J. Ward sign with the Broncos

In a bit of a surprising signing, the Broncos appear to have gotten a bargain by signing Ward to a four year, $23 million contract with $14 million guaranteed. It’s surprising he got less than both Whitner and Bethea though. He will roam the Broncos defensive backfield as an enforcer and maintain DB1 status. Unfortunately, his signing means 2013 IDP break out player, Duke Ihenacho, will go to the bench. – EO

Linval Joseph signs with Vikings

This might not be the biggest splash in free agency but I really like the fit for IDP purposes. In leagues required to start a defensive tackle, Joseph has DT1 appeal playing on a line with Sharrif Floyd, Brian Robison, and Everson Griffen. He rushes the passer as well as he plays the run. New coach Mike Zimmer will definitely get the most out of him. He has some nice sleeper appeal.  – EO

This is an interesting signing given that they just took Floyd last year. While it’s an overall improvement to the defensive line, this hurts Floyd’s IDP stock for me. He’ll continue to battle with Joseph for snaps and won’t be the main force in the middle. – SW

49ers move quickly to replace Whitner, sign Antoine Bethea

Now this is interesting, Bethea is not the enforcer Whitner was but plays very similarly to new teammate Eric Reid. The Niners will now be able to disguise defenses with their interchangeable safeties. Apparently the team values coverage ability over the in-the-box abilities of Whitner because the four year, $26 million contract signed by Bethea is only $2 million cheaper and Bethea is a year older. As a Niners fan I would rather have kept Whitner but for fantasy purposes Bethea remains a solid DB2 and a solid bounce back candidate for 2014.  – EO

Donte Whitner returns home

Shortly after adding Karlos Dansby to lead the linebacker group the Browns add a hard hitting enforcer to the roam the back end in Donte Whitner. Signed to a four year, $28 million contract to replace T.J. Ward, his fantasy value gets a big bump in Mike Pettine’s safety friendly defensive scheme. Look for his tackle numbers and even his sack numbers to increase while Tashun Gipson plays center field. Whitner will remain a DB1 for the next 2-3 years.  – EO

Lamarr Houston signs with the Bears

Houston signed a five year, $35 million contract with the Chicago Bears, presumably to replace Julius Peppers. Houston is a 6’3″, 300 pounder who has never recorded more than the six sacks he had in 2013. Granted, it’s a lot more difficult to collect sacks when you get off the bus down two scores, but this seams like a big overpay. Houston doesn’t hold a candle to Peppers’ ability, even at his current stage of his career. I don’t view this as an impactful IDP signing. – EO

With the subsequent release of Julius Peppers, it surely looks like Houston was signed to replace Peppers. He’s a quarterback pressure king with a top 10 finish in 2014, but he has difficulty converting those to sacks as Eric alluded to. The positive aspect to Houston’s game is that he is active in run support and racks up the tackles. He should be another solid defensive end option in 2014 as a starter for the Bears after finishing as a DE1 in 2013. – SW

Karlos Dansby cashes in with the Browns

A year after betting on himself and signing a one year contract with the Cardinals for $2.25 million, Dansby cashed in at 32 years old. He received a four year contract from the Cleveland Browns worth $24 million, $14 million guaranteed. He will immediately take over the role vacated by the recently released D’Qwell Jackson who signed with Indianapolis. Look for Dansby to remain a LB1 in Coach Pettine’s 3-4 defense.  – EO

BIG jump for Kevin Minter here. He should slide right into the starting lineup and see a nice chunk of snaps. – SW

Michael Johnson signs with Buccaneers

There was absolutely no chance Johnson re-signed with the Bengals unless they were the highest bidder. They were not. The Bucs stepped up and paid the 27-year old $43.75 million contract over five years with $24 million guaranteed. That’s a lot of money for a player coming off a 3.5 sack campaign and only one season with over 5.5 sacks. He will bookend Adrian Clayborn and flirt with DE2 numbers but overall he’ll most likely remain an inconsistent week to week option in the IDP world.  – EO

On the flipside in Cincinnati, this is good news for second year defensive end Margus Hunt. After not seeing many snaps as a rookie, the raw defensive end is in a nice spot to see a big jump in snaps this upcoming season. Big time sleeper appeal for 2014. – SW

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