Without NFL free agency, the past two Super Bowl champions would have had to win without Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Darrelle Revis and others such as Rob Ninkovich and Brandon Browner. The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots would have had a tougher time reaching championship form, even though everyone in the league knows free agency isn't the primary way to build a contender.
The veteran market can supplement a healthy diet, but it cannot replace the diet. That is why weaker teams have a harder time maximizing their investments in veteran players. My list of "best values" roughly one week into the signing period features players headed to a range of organizations, from the Super Bowl champion Patriots to teams holding top-five picks in the 2015 draft. Three quarterbacks acquired by trade also made the cut for varying reasons.
1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets
Fitzpatrick wouldn't rank among the five best players on this list, but he sits in the top value spot for a combination of reasons: margin of upgrade, importance of position, fit with coaches, price of trade and salary of player. The level at which Fitzpatrick has played over the past two seasons should be worth about 2.5 additional victories per season relative to the level Jets quarterbacks have played over the same span.