It’s not too often you see the kind of player movement that has a real impact on the NFL odds, but we’ve already had a metric boatload of high-quality NFL athletes change employers this offseason.
Do you remember where you were at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on March 11? If you do, you’re probably either from Crimea, or the NFL. The 2014 NFL season officially began at that very moment, which therefore also marked the beginning of one of the most impressive free agency periods we’ve seen in a while.
So many Pro Bowlers, so little time.
We’re not just talking about overpriced, perhaps washed-up names, either (although there are plenty of those around, as usual). Here’s a look at the top end of the talent pool, and the players who should have the biggest impact on how their teams perform against the 2014 NFL betting lines.
CB Darrelle Revis (from Tampa Bay to New England)
Okay, fine: Revis is going to get paid $12 million for his age-29 season. He’s only on a one-year deal with the Patriots, and he’s been to the Pro Bowl in five of the past six seasons. Even having to play for the Buccaneers last year couldn’t hold Revis back. Now, he gets to play for a Super Bowl contender, and yes, he should be an upgrade over the departed Aqib Talib (now with Denver).
CB Alterraun Verner (from Tennessee to Tampa Bay)
We could put Talib in this space after his own Pro Bowl campaign, but he’s an injury candidate, and he’s not the best team leader out there. Verner is also coming off a Pro Bowl, he’s only 25 years old, and he’s got the brains to get the most out of his body. During the 2011 offseason, he went back to UCLA, and finished his degree in mathematics. He is truly a man after our football betting hearts.
S Antoine Bethea (from Indianapolis to San Francisco)
The 49ers might have made it back to the Super Bowl with a better secondary – according to Football Outsiders, they ranked No. 11 last year in efficiency against their opponents’ top wideouts. San Francisco probably over-extended by signing Bethea to a four-year deal, seeing as he turns 30 this July and hasn’t been to the Pro Bowl since 2009. But the Niners are living very much in the now, and Bethea started every game for Indy the past six seasons.
DT Earl Mitchell (from Texas to Miami)
J.J. Watt may be the guy you think about when you think about Houston’s defense, but that just makes Mitchell all that more valuable for NFL betting purposes. He’s quite athletic for a 300-pounder, and certainly capable of generating pressure up the middle – which should happen even more now that he’s switching to a 4-3 scheme under Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
LG Zane Beadles (from Denver to Jacksonville)
Beadlemania is sweeping the nation! It’ll be a step down for Beadles after reaching the Super Bowl last season, but the former Pro Bowler will give the Jags the kind of pass protection they’ve been desperately lacking for some time. He’s also very good at run protection, and speaking of brains, Beadles scored a 36 out of 50 on his Wonderlic test coming out of Utah. He’s got a degree in mechanical engineering, by the way.
WR Golden Tate (from Seattle to Detroit)
Were you perhaps expecting someone else? DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia to Washington) was the biggest-name wide receiver to switch teams this offseason, but if you’re betting on the NFL, how comfortable are you with Washington’s football-like substance? The Lions need another viable threat downfield to complement Calvin Johnson (84 catches); last year, the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers in Detroit were running backs Reggie Bush (54 catches) and Joique Bell (53 catches). Tate led Seattle last year with 64 catches and was also very useful as a punt returner.