Third-year G.M. Thomas Dimitroff prefers to build through the draft, but he will take calculated plunges in free agency. Bringing in cornerback Dunta Robinson from the Texans (six years, $25.5 million guaranteed) is just such a move. If Robinson is as productive an import as running back Michael Turner has been, the Falcons will be an even greater playoff threat.
The trade for Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie to play opposite All-Pro Darrelle Revis gives the Jets the league's best corner tandem and upgrades the NFL's top-ranked pass defense. The downside for New York was the release of 1,400-yard rusher Thomas Jones, although the Jets hope to re-sign him to a lesser contract.
With Kenny Phillips's return from knee surgery uncertain, New York landed the top available safety in Arizona's Antrel Rolle. But $15 million guaranteed on a five-year deal is steep for someone who had five interceptions over the past two years. New York must hope its pass rush returns—the Giants plummeted from sixth to 18th in sacks last season—or this could be a costly mistake.
Chicago signed three of the top available free agents at their positions—defensive end Julius Peppers (Carolina, six years, $42 million guaranteed), running back Chester Taylor (Minnesota, four years, $7 million guaranteed) and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (San Diego, five years, $6 million guaranteed)—but failed to address its most pressing needs: O-line and safety.