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NFL Free Agency Moves – AFC South

Jaguars Quiet as Colts, Titans & Texans Get to Work

The Jacksonville Jaguars look to build on an impressive first season under head coach Doug Pederson, in which they turned around a poor start and soared to the top of the division. Beating the two-time defending champions Tennessee Titans to the coveted crown as mounting injuries helped to derail Mike Vrabel’s side down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Frank Reich era came to an abrupt end, midway through yet another disappointing Indianapolis Colts season, and the Houston Texans were exactly what many predicted: one of the worst teams of the 2022-23 NFL season.

That was 2022-23 in a nutshell. And the ramifications of it have impacted the betting online landscape of the AFC South. The Jaguars are the runaway favorites on the NFL odds board. The Titans are their only genuine rivals, whereas the rebuilding Colts and Texans, with all their question marks, are the longshots of the division – though the latter more so than the former.

NFL Free Agency Moves – AFC South Mar 24
Head coach Doug Pederson of the Jacksonville Jaguars - Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP

Of course, this is just an early betting snapshot based largely on last season’s outcome. The new season is only just starting, with free agency kicking off last week. The ebb and flow of players around the league is only beginning. Then, the NFL draft and trades will generate more movement and change, all of which will help build a final picture of their value at the sportsbook exchange.

In this column, we look at some of the early personnel moves made up to this point – from key acquisitions and re-signings to losses as well.

NFL Odds – To Win AFC South

  • Jacksonville Jaguars -150
  • Tennessee Titans +300
  • Indianapolis Colts +550
  • Houston Texans +950

1. Jaguars -150

  • Key acquisitions: D’Ernest Johnson,
  • Key re-signings: QB C.J. Beathard, DL Roy Robertson-Harris, S Andrew Wingard, RB JaMycal Hasty CB Tre Hendon and CB Trevaughn Campbell, DE Adam Gotis
  • Key losses: OT Jawaan Taylor, DE Aiden Key

So far, the Jacksonville Jaguars have remained relatively quiet, mostly focusing on resigning some of their players and franchise-tagging tight end Evan Engram.

On the defensive side of the ball, the priority was to keep defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris. Safety Andrew Wingard, defensive end Adam Gotis and cornerbacks Tre Hendon and Trevaughn Campbell were locked down to deals as well, ensuring stability and continuity on a defense that really came together later in the season.

That said, they did see some losses with offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor deciding to go to the Kansas City Chiefs and defensive end Arden Key signing with the Titans.

The Jaguars will go as far as quarterback Trevor Lawrence can take them, but having a solid backup plan is imperative. Nobody knows that better than Pederson himself. After all, he led the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl LII glory with backup signal-caller Nick Foles at the helm. Resigning C. J. Beathard doesn’t mean he will be the next Saint Nick, but rather about maintaining continuity in the quarterback room and having a solid veteran. Beathard has been there since the Jaguars drafted Lawrence No. 1 overall.

2. Titans +300

  • Key acquisitions: G Daniel Brunskill (49ers), T Andre Dillard (Eagles), LB Arden Key (Jaguars), LB Azeez Al-Shaair (49ers), CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (Buccaneers). LB Luke Gifford (Cowboys)
  • Key re-signings: LS Morgan Cox, WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
  • Key losses: LB David Long Jr. (Dolphins), TE Austin Hooper (Raiders), LT Taylor Lewan (released), DE Bud Dupree (released).

The Tennessee Titans are going back to the drawing board after finishing their 2022-23 campaign on the back of a seven-game losing streak. And if the early signs are any indication, the Titans are having a bit of a spring clean.

Free agency is barely two weeks old, and there have been some noteworthy moves, such as linebacker David Long Jr. leaving for the Miami Dolphins, left tackle Taylor Lewan and pass-rusher Bud Dupree getting the cut and tight end Austin Hooper signing with the Raiders.

To counter a few of these losses, the Titans signed cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, linebacker Azeez Al Shaair from the San Francisco 49ers and LB Arden Key from the Jaguars. Key comes to Tennessee after spending one year in Jacksonville. Key is a bit of a wild card. He has hopped around the league since being drafted in 2018, enjoying varied success. That said, he hasn’t played a full season or started many games.

3. Colts +550

  • Key acquisitions: WR Isaiah McKenzie QB Gardiner Minshew (Eagles), DT Taven Bryan (Browns), LB Samson Ebukam (49ers), K Matt Grey (Rams)
  • Key re-signings: DE Tyquan Lewis, LB E.J. Speed, WR Ashton Dulin, CB Tony Brown
  • Key losses: QB Matt Ryan (released), WR Parris Campbell (Giants),

A new era is set to dawn in Indianapolis with first-time head coach Shane Steichen, who was the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles over the last two seasons. Steichen will have big decisions to make as he molds the Colts in his image this offseason. And one of the first has already come and gone: releasing veteran quarterback Matt Ryan.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew signed a one-year deal with the Colts. Minshew spent two seasons in Philly, working with Steichen as the backup quarterback for Jalen Hurts. Having familiarity with Steichman’s schemes and concepts underlines this move, but it’s a risky one nevertheless. Minshew is 13-19 in four seasons and 32 starts in the NFL. Last season, he started two games for the Eagles but went 0-2 straight up with a team that was otherwise considered to be the juggernaut of the NFC.

Linebacker Samson Ebukam comes to the Colts via free agency. His pedigree is impeccable, having played for both the Los Angeles Rams and 49ers in recent seasons. They’ve also signed defensive tackle Taven Bryan from the Cleveland Browns and Kicker Matt Grey from the Rams. On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Asthon Dulin was re-signed. Dulin had 15 catches for 207 receiving yards in 2022.

4. Texans +950

  • Key acquisitions: TE Dalton Schultz (Cowboys), RB Devin Singletary (Bills), QB Case Keenum (Bills), RB Mike Boone (Broncos), WR Robert Woods (Titans), WR Noah Brown (Cowboys), TE Andrew Beck (Broncos), S Jimmie Ward (49ers), DL Hassan Ridgeway (49ers), DE Chase Winovich (Browns), DT Sheldon Rankins (Jets), G Shaq Moon (Buccaneers, via trade), LB Cory Littleton (Panthers), LB Denzel Perryman (Raiders), C Michael Deiter (Dolphins)
  • Key re-signings: DE Derek Rivers, C Scott Quessenberry, S M.J. Stewart, CB Tavierre Thomas
  • Key losses: DL Mario Addison (released), DL A.J. Cann, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (released)

The Houston Texans are rebuilding under new head coach DeMeco Ryans, who spent the last two years as the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. What’s more, they have the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, with which everyone and their grandmother expects them to select a franchise quarterback.

Houston’s front office has been busy since free agency kicked open its door, picking up several recognizable players on both sides of the ball.

Wide receiver Noah Brown, tight end Dalton Schultz and running back Devin Singletary are great offensive scoops. Both are quality players with much experience within a winning system and culture. Veteran quarterback Case Keenum, who has the kind of skill set that will make him a great mentor for a young quarterback to learn from, is another great addition to the new-look Texans offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Texans appear to have loaded up on solid free agents and veteran cast-offs that still have some mileage left in them, including linebackers Denzel Perryman and Cory Littleton. Safety Jimmy Ward follows Ryans from San Francisco along with defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankings comes to Houston after spending several seasons under Robert Saleh in New York.

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