The New England Patriots have had a stranglehold on the AFC East of the better part of, well, this century really. They have managed to win all but two division titles since 2001 (with the New York Jets taking the crown in 2002 and Miami doing so in 2008). Every year it seems the Patriots are running away with the division while the rest of us are toiling away in obscurity. Well, with the happenings in free agency this year, I think those days just might be over.
Miami, as has been well stated in this blog, has made some major moves in the free agent market. They have signed one of the premier deep-threat receivers in the game. Miami has also stolen the Baltimore Ravens number one priority, and made sure to keep their most important player (WR Brian Hartline) away from the free agent market by signing him to a brand new deal days before he was scheduled to become part of an already stacked WR pool.
Not only did Miami make some huge moves, giving their fans all across the nation a reason to be hopeful for the first time since 2008, but every one of their competitors has been weakened in this free agency period. The aforementioned Patriots have lost their best wide receiver (Wes Welker) to the Denver Broncos. They have replaced him with a talented receiver in Danny Amendola, but one who has a tendency to get himself hurt and will most likely not finish the season healthy for them. Overall, a significant downgrade. The Buffalo Bills have not made any significant additions to their team, and have instead chosen to release their starting quarterback of the last two years, Ryan Fitzpatrick. A similar scenario has unfolded for the Jets, not making any significant moves (though restructuring the contract of Santonio Holmes was a good move on their part) and letting their biggest asset on the market, Dustin Keller, go free to likely end up also in Miami.
While Miami improves their team in a big way, every other team thus far has been diminished in a pretty big way. Move over New England, it looks like there just might be a new kid in town.