Which free-agent move in the division surprised you the most? ESPN's AFC East reporters make their picks:
Rich Cimini, New York Jets reporter: To me, the Patriots’ contract for cornerback Stephon Gilmore was a stunner. It’s not The Patriot Way (cough, cough) to pay a top-of-the-market price for a free agent, but they doled out a five-year, $65 million deal for Gilmore, including $31 million in the first two years. He’s getting more than Tom Brady, which doesn’t seem right. I realize Bill Belichick is a genius and never makes any mistakes, but the Gilmore deal seems excessive for a player who, quite frankly, wasn’t even a top-10 corner last season. In Week 2, the Jets roughed Gilmore up, as their bigger receivers -- namely Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa -- beat him on 50-50 balls by being more physical. Don’t get me wrong, Gilmore is good, but not that good.
Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: Gilmore to the Patriots. The Patriots have a No. 1 cornerback in Malcolm Butler, who is a restricted free agent. Thus, I didn’t expect the team to invest so big in a top cornerback, especially considering it will be difficult to pay two top-tier cornerbacks at top-of-the-market levels. Also, Gilmore is coming off an up-and-down season, so it wasn’t like this was similar to the signing of Darrelle Revis in 2014 when there seemed to be more certainty of the level of play that would be delivered.
Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: Sticking with the Patriots theme, the most surprising move has to be their signing of Gilmore. The NFL world had been gushing about their savvy decisions to trade Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins instead of signing either player to a big deal. The thought was that New England would continually churn younger players through their system, building through the draft instead of taking financial risks by extending players or signing big-ticket free agents. So much for that belief. Gilmore's five-year, $65 million deal broke New England's mold in a way that we have not seen since Adalius Thomas' monster deal in 2007. At the time, coach Bill Belichick told Thomas the team backed up the Brinks truck for him, and that later turned out to be a mistake. We'll see if this gamble pays off for New England.
James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: Can the surprise be a non-move or non-activity? What in the world are the New York Jets doing this offseason? Why are they sleeping at the wheel in free agency when they are a five-win team with the most ground to make up in the AFC East? By my assessment, New York began the offseason with eight or nine well-defined needs. The Jets still have about seven big holes to fill, including quarterback, with the strongest part of free agency complete. If the Jets think oft-injured offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum and inconsistent cornerback Morris Claiborne are the answers to their problems, they are sadly mistaken. Maybe the Jets feel they are going to hit multiple home runs in the draft to plug their holes, but that's asking a lot. This looks like another losing season for the Jets.