Which free-agent signing will have the biggest impact in the division? ESPN's AFC East reporters make their picks:
Rich Cimini, New York Jets reporter: Technically, this isn’t a free-agent signing, but Tyrod Taylor staying with the Bills on a restructured contract will have the biggest impact. Personally, I think it would’ve been a terrible move to dump Taylor, considering what else is out there. I guess the Bills realized the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I know Taylor has his warts, but he has won games as a starter and he’s not an interception machine. The Jets would kill for a guy like that. He’ll keep the Bills competitive, and the restructured deal is more cap-friendly than the previous one -- another plus. As for an actual free-agent signing, I’ll say Stephon Gilmore going to the Patriots. He could have an impact before he steps on the field, as his arrival could lead to Malcolm Butler’s departure.
Mike Reiss, New England Patriots reporter: CB Stephon Gilmore. This was the Patriots’ big splash, and its ripple effect could be that fellow cornerback Malcolm Butler -- a restricted free agent -- is no longer in New England. So that’s a big impact, one way or another. The Patriots handed Gilmore a generous five-year, $65 million contract, with $31 million in the first two years. They like his size (6-1, 190), length, man cover skills and steadiness off the field.
Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills reporter: I hesitate to give this honor to the Patriots signing Stephon Gilmore, but there is not another signing in the division that rivals it. I covered each of Gilmore's games for the past four seasons and do not believe he is a surefire upgrade from Malcolm Butler as the Patriots' top cornerback, if Butler is traded to or signs with the New Orleans Saints. The signing particularly surprised me because Patriots coach Bill Belichick seems to prefer players who played well against his team; Gilmore struggled against New England in a loss in Buffalo last season. He has the physical tools to be a top player at his position, but the consistency has not been there. Perhaps Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia can even out Gilmore's performance, but I am not sure he will deliver the same impact that Darrelle Revis did for the Patriots in 2014.
James Walker, Miami Dolphins reporter: I really like what the Patriots did by signing Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million contract. I've watched Gilmore his entire career and always liked his aggressiveness and willingness to play man and bump-and-run coverage. That's partially led to Gilmore's eight interceptions and 30 passes defended the past two seasons. You would be surprised by the amount of corners in the NFL who prefer to "play it safe" and avoid those responsibilities with zone or soft man coverage for most of the game. Gilmore is a great fit for New England and is entering his prime. He's had some ups and downs, but that comes with being a young player. Gilmore is about to get elite-level coaching in New England under Bill Belichick, which will only make the 26-year-old better. What's not to like with this move?