A Look Around The AFC South: 3.16.17

Intro: Colts.com’s Andrew Walker offers a comprehensive look at the latest offseason action around the AFC South Division.

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts and new general manager Chris Ballard appear set to reconstruct the team's defense this offseason.

And while the team has certainly been a mover and a shaker so far during the National Football League's free agency period, which began Feb. 9, Indy is certainly not the only team to make some noise so far in the AFC South Division.

In fact, many experts and pundits believe that of all teams in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars — who are trying desperately to get out of the cellar in the division — have been one of the more successful organizations in acquiring new talent to this point of the offseason.

So what moves have the Jaguars made? And how have the rest of the Colts' divisional rivals fared so far in free agency? Here's a look at the Houston Texans, Jaguars and Tennessee Titans' key moves so far:

Houston Texans:

  • Traded quarterback Brock Osweiler, a 2017 sixth-round pick and a 2018 second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for a 2017 fourth-round pick (142nd overall).
  • Re-signed punter Shane Lechler and kicker Nick Novak.
  • Re-signed tight end Ryan Griffin.
    Analysis: Yikes. While the Texans have largely ridden one of the league's best defenses to division titles in the past two seasons, their free agency period, to this point, can probably be considered a major dud. In fact, it might be more about which players the Texans lost than the players they gained. A.J. Bouye, regarded as likely the best free agent cornerback, signed with the division rival Jaguars; safety Quintin Demps signed with the Chicago Bears; edge rusher John Simon signed with the Colts; guard Oday Aboushi signed with the Seattle Seahawks and safety Don Jones signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

It'll be interesting to see what the losses of Bouye, Demps and Simon, particularly, do for this talented Houston defense, even taking into account the fact defensive end J.J. Watt will return in 2017 after missing the entire 2016 season with a back injury.

And that's not even factoring in the disaster that became Brock Osweiler. Signed as the prized free agent quarterback last year to a four-year, $72 million deal, Osweiler just couldn't get the job done in his first — and only — season with the Texans, who look to start over, once again, at the quarterback position this offseason. The rumors are that veteran Tony Romo could be headed from Dallas to Houston, but the Dallas Cowboys are yet to release or trade him.Jacksonville Jaguars:

  • Re-signed WR Bryan Walters.
  • Traded TE Julius Thomas to the Miami Dolphins for a 2017 seventh-round pick (240th overall).
  • Traded 2018 seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for tackle Branden Albert.
  • Signed cornerback A.J. Bouye.
  • Signed defensive end Lerentee McCray.
  • Signed defensive lineman Calais Campbell.
  • Signed safety Barry Church.
  • Signed defensive tackle Stefan Charles.
  • Signed offensive lineman Earl Watford.
  • Signed linebacker Josh McNary.

Analysis: For all that the Texans haven't been able to do this offseason in free agency, the Jaguars have certainly been on the opposite end of that spectrum.

What a haul so far. They get one of the top cornerbacks (Bouye) and defensive linemen (Campbell) in the league, and also brought in a solid veteran in Church to help out in the secondary. Jacksonville's defense, with those three additions on top of youngsters Myles Jack (pass rusher) and Jalen Ramsey (cornerback) give the Jaguars, on paper, one of the more formidable — and young — units in the league.

The challenge for the Jaguars, however, is up front on offense. Blake Bortles has been up and down, but has been one of the more pressured quarterbacks in the league the past few seasons. If Jacksonville can't find a remedy to this problem, then they could end up much like the Texans — great defense, but ineffective offense and hovering around the .500 mark.

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed safety Johnathan Cyprien.
  • Re-signed defensive end Karl Klug.
  • Re-signed linebacker Nate Palmer.
  • Re-signed quarterback Matt Cassel
  • Signed linebacker Daren Bates.
  • Signed cornerback Logan Ryan.
  • Signed safety Brynden Trawick.
  • Signed tight end Phillip Supernaw.
  • Signed wide receiver Eric Weems.
  • Signed nose tackle Sylvester Williams.

Analysis: The Titans knew they needed to address their secondary this offseason, which is exactly what they did by signing Cyprien, a huge asset in the run game, particularly, and Ryan, who had a strong end to the 2016 season. A couple solid pickups in the draft, and the Tennessee defense could be looking mighty strong heading into the 2017 opener.

Offensively, the Titans don't need to do too much. They're certainly one of the more up-and-coming units in the league, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, running back DeMarco Murray and a strong offensive line. But Tennessee still looks a little thin at wide receiver, and it didn't help matters when Kendall Wright signed with the Bears. So stay tuned for the storyline at that position moving forward.

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.

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