NFL Free Agency Winners: Browns, Giants. Losers: Vikings, Bengals

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With the bulk of NFL free agency completed, some teams have hope that they can win, and win big, this upcoming season with their new acquisitions. Other franchises, though, took a step back as they didn’t make a key move to help their teams improve this NFL free agency period.

Sure, there will still be some minor moves, but since nearly all of the major names made their move, here are the rising and falling squads in 2014.

NFL free agency 2014 Bicycling Up: We’ve had our failures, but our organization is on the way up for next season.

Cleveland Browns – In comes new GM Ray Farmer, and out goes Michael Lombardi. The Browns offseason began with a shakeup in the front office. Yet, regarding the product on the field, they also made some great signings. Safety Donte Whitner left the 49ers to join the “Dawg Pound,” and Karlos Dansby signed with the club shortly after.

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Both players have had success, beginning with Whitner, who has gone to three straight NFC Championship games; Dansby was a part of the Arizona Cardinals team that lost in Super Bowl XLIII against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007.

On top of that, the organization went out and signed former Bengals wide receiver Andre Hawkins and Texans running back Ben Tate. While Hawkins and Tate haven’t had as much achievement as Whitner and Dansby, the four players will bring a winning attitude to the Browns. If the team can find a solid quarterback in the draft, there could be a new team atop the AFC North next year.

Prediction: 9-7

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New York Giants –  Following two championships in four seasons, Tom Coughlin and company didn’t reach the playoffs in 2012 and 2013. Even with their past struggles, GM Jerry Reese found a way to improve the team this offseason. Former Raiders running back Rashad Jennings will be in the fold for 2014. When Ahmad Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs manned the backfield for “Big Blue,” Eli Manning was able to find time in the pocket with his deadly play-action pass.

Hopefully, Manning can get back to his old ways next season.

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The Giants also brought in safety Quentin Demps, who was a part of the Carolina Panthers turnaround last year, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, kickoff returner Trindon Holliday and wide receiver Mario Manningham. Manningham was a major cog during the team’s win in Super Bowl XLVI, making a great catch against the Patriots. Whether his grab is better than David Tyree’s catch is debatable, but the wideout’s return to New York should make Manning more comfortable.

Prediction: 11-5

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NFL free agency 2014 Skiing Down: We thought about making a few signings, but our organization decided to stay pat.

Cincinnati Bengals – After making the playoffs for the third straight year, Andy Dalton put on another awful performance. It seems as if the Bengals will re-up their quarterback, but they added some extra insurance in Jason Campbell. Other than re-signing the head coach Marvin Lewis, owner/GM Mike Brown made no other significant moves.

With losing one of their wide receivers to a division rival, how will they improve in 2014?

Dalton could put up some better numbers, and running back Geovani Bernard might take over the starting tailback role; however, Cincinnati hasn’t done a good enough job to secure their spot at the top of the division come 2014.

Prediction: 7-9

Minnesota Vikings – The purple and gold made the playoffs in 2012 and fell short this past season. Did the Vikings try to improve their most needed position for 2014? Nope. Re-signing Matt Cassel will not get the job done, especially if new head coach Mike Zimmer wants to keep Adrian Peterson healthy. Sure, the organization can look towards the draft to find their answer for under center.

They won’t find attractive options to start next season, though, as the Vikings could have signed Michael Vick or gone after Matt Schaub. These quarterbacks might not be top notch, but they are better than Cassel. GM Rick Spielman also re-signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who is not a threat on the other side of Greg Jennings. On top of that, while the Vikings should not have made an attempt to bring back defensive end Jared Allen, they’re going to miss his pass rush. Plus, losing him to the Chicago Bears will be even tougher to swallow.

Prediction: 3-13

These pretenders might become contenders next season. We’ll have to wait until the first kickoff to find that out. What should be understood is that while success can be built in the draft, teams can’t bypass the NFL’s version of National Signing Day.

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