The emotional struggle of an NFL offseason for a fan is real. It can be some of the most grueling times for fans. However, watching the wave of moves each day is half the fun. This past year we’ve seen some great and exciting moves. Will it be Richard Sherman moving back to familiar stomping grounds going to the 49ers? Will Frank Gore find the fountain of youth in Miami for the Dolphins? How about Jarvis Landry shooting life into Cleveland? We won’t know until December or January. There are a ton of players that found new homes this offseason.
AFC WEST- Super Chargers, Raiders, Broncos, Chiefs
This division made some very nice additions over the offseason. Very important positions. For instance, offensive lineman rarely get the love and hype that specialty players receive. The biggest pickup in the offseason might just be a lineman. A very important position I might add. The Chargers signed C Mike Pouncey all the way from Florida. Pouncey, the 2 time pro-bowl center, brings a different attitude to this line. He still has the beach and sun, and a future Hall of Fame quarterback in our modern day Iron Man, Philip Rivers who’s started over 200 straight games.
The Raider Nation have to be excited to having Aaron Rodger’s former ace, Jordy Nelson. Don’t ask Rodgers what he thinks of this trade, I’ll give you a hint, he doesn’t like it. The 3 time all-star QB Derek Carr has had plenty of weapons in the past. Having Jordy on the other side of Amari Cooper will be a pretty scary combination if they can both stay healthy. Cooper also needs to work on his dropped balls. Something Jordy rarely does. He can be automatic when he’s healthy. Age is the only thing that can be questionable in Jordy’s production in ’18-’19.
The biggest name to walk into the Chiefs locker room this past offseason is wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins is yet to make the pro-bowl but he does have a 1,000 season with the Buffalo Bills, if you can get 1K with the Bills you can ball a little bit. Coming off a disappointing season with the Rams in 2017, Watkins is jacked up to start over with Pat Mahomes in Kansas City. Mahomes has a live arm but it is his first season as the starter in the NFL, so we’ll see if he can Watkins can get on the same page.
The time of uncertainty as to the QB in Denver is over, at least for this season. Case Keenum signed a 36 million dollar contract this offseason. With Elway forking out that kind of cash, they’ll have to let Keenum run this offense. Hopefully he can get Demaryius Thomas back on track. Thomas has seen a major decline in production since Peyton Manning retired. The Broncos have given up on former ’16 first round pick, Paxton Lynch, who’s only made 4 career starts. Keenum is coming off an 11-3 season with the Vikings, taking them to the NFC championship game in 2017. Not a bad option to sign for Elway and the Mile High City.
AFC South- Jaguars, Titans, Colts, Texans
The Colts and Jags were very quiet in the offseason. Most of the attention in this division is with the Titans and Texans. Let’s look at the Titans, a playoff team a year ago. Anytime you can bring over Belichick pupils you are doing something right. That is exactly what the Titans did. They picked up former Patriots RB Dion Lewis but more importantly they signed former Super Bowl hero, Malcom Butler, to shore up an awful secondary. A two-time Super Bowl champ with the Patriots and former pro-bowler. These two moves will help the Titans in more ways than one.
The Texans made a move that is being overlooked. The Texans brought in the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu. He signed a 1 year, $7 million deal. Mathieu also took less money to sign with the Texans. He felt like a ‘winning’ culture outweighed money. Mathieu joins a team that is the dark horse to take down the Jaguars in the AFC South. The return of all-universe JJ Watt and Deshaun Watson will help this team contend. If the Texans get the Honey Badger of 2015 where he would have been nominated for DPOY if he hadn’t got hurt at the end of the season.
AFC EAST- Bills, Jets, Patriots, Dolphins
The AFC East kept it very ‘low-key’ in the offseason. No big moves or blockbuster deals in this division. The Bills added Vontae Davis, that’s the big news out of Buffalo. Jets also had a very mediocre offseason. Which is something we can’t have in NYC. NY sports are never quiet. The only notable move so far has been the addition of former QB, Terrelle Pryor. Pryor has made the transition from QB to WR and took a step back last season. Pryor had 77 catches for over 1,000 yards for the Redskins. Give Pryor a few more years to learn how to play WR in the NFL and he could be a regular 1,000 yard receiver. He certainly has the size and speed to play WR in the NFL.
Well, Bill Belichick has put together a dynasty with the New England Patriots. Every other team in this division plays catchup all offseason, obtaining chess pieces to try and beat TB12 (Tom Brady). However, it never works. Probably will not end until Brady and Belichick ride off into retirement together. They make very good and quiet moves each season. This year they add Jeremy Hill, the RB for the Bengals who is used to sharing carries with others. They also picked up Adrian Clayborn, former 1st round pick for the Buccaneers. Clayborn should help plug the holes against the running game.
The Dolphins have been searching for a franchise QB ever since Dan Marino retired. After committing to Ryan Tannehill long-term, the QB is running out of time to showing why he is a winner. The offseason they brought in old faithful, Frank Gore. Gore showed in 2017 that he still has some juice left in his legs. Gore has played for 13 seasons, he was short of 1,000 just 4 times in 13 seasons. In 2 of those 4 seasons, he rushed for over 950 yards, including 2015 and 2017. Gore has his old number 21 and his back playing in his hometown state.
AFC NORTH- Steelers, Browns, Bengals, Ravens
The Steelers sit at the top of the division with talent at every level. They were quiet this offseason, because they didn’t need to be aggressive. Time to focus on the rest of the North. Let’s talk Browns football for a little bit. On paper, this team made some MOVES. The only thing they forgot to do is get a better coach, Hugh Jackson isn’t cutting it and he’s worn out his welcome. They made a bunch of moves, bringing in Tyrod Taylor at QB to help a rookie former Heisman Baker Mayfield. Browns also added Carlos Hyde and Jarvis Landry. Landry is going to line up on the other side of Josh Gordon and is a 3 time Pro-Bowler. In 4 years in the NFL, Landry is averaging 100 catches a year, that done while playing for the Dolphins is incredible. Even though Landry is on the Browns, he’ll find a way to make his presence known.
The Bengals also kept it quiet. They got rid of some guys, making room for Joe Mixon to be the featured back. Addition by subtraction was their philosophy this past year. The Ravens brought in the player with the greatest bling in football, Michael Crabtree. Crabtree has had two chains ripped off his neck from nemesis, Aqib Talib. Crabtree has had 2 thousand yard seasons, and at least 70 catches in 5 seasons. Solid option for Joe Flacco. He’s not a number 1 receiver but is a very good complement receiver because he is sure-handed. Still don’t think they have enough to beat the Steelers to take this division.
NFC WEST- Cardinals, Seahawks, 49ers, Rams
The Cardinals made a few key offseason moves to help rookie head coach Steve Wilkes. Bringing in Sam Bradford to help ease Josh Rosen’s transition from College to the Pros is the key move. Bradford brings a wealth of knowledge and unfortunately, his body hasn’t held up. His job is to help Josh Rosen, it will cost the Cardinals $20 million in 2018. Rosen better win a Super Bowl next season for that kind of money. They also brought in Safety Tre Boston to help shore up the defensive backfield. In 2017, Boston was a stud for the Chargers. He led a very stingy defense in interceptions and was always around the ball.
The Seahawks lost more players than they added. The Legion of Boom has a lone survivor, Earl Thomas. They made two decent acquisitions in Brandon Marshall, who’s age isn’t helping. Former #11 pick, DJ Fluker comes to the offensive line. Fluker has been very unimpressive so far in his young career. Brandon Marshal brings a veteran leadership and a sure-handed target for Russel Wilson. Marshal’s best years are behind him when he was a 6 time pro-bowl WR for the Broncos, Bears, and Jets.
The San Franscisco 49ers made a big splash when they brought in the very ‘shy’ Richard Sherman from their rival Seattle Seahawks. Sherman is a Super Bowl champ and 4 time pro-bowl, formerly a ‘shut-down’ corner, but it is clear he has lost a step. He can still be effective with his knowledge, he’s a very smart player as well and has good instincts which makes up for his lost speed.
The LA Rams are the crown jewel of the division. This organization went ALL-IN during the offseason. They’re defense is stacked on all levels focused around Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald. They made the defense even better bringing in Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters to the secondary. Talib is a 5 time pro-bowler and a Super Bowl champ. Peters has been in the league for three years and has been to the pro-bowl twice and won Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Rams also brought in Ndamukong Suh, a nightmare because you never know if he’s going to rip your face off. He’s a 5 time pro-bowler and was the DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year) in 2010. Sam Bradford and his delicate bones in AZ have to be freaking out to face Donald and Suh at least twice a year. Finally, shifting to offense, they bring in Brandin Cooks from the Patriots. Cooks has hit a thousand yards in 3 out of 4 seasons in the NFL. He also has 27 TD’s in 4 years, Jared Goff is going to benefit from having Cooks in the huddle. Especially since Cooks just played with Tom Brady, should have some good tips.
NFC SOUTH- Falcons, Buccaneers, Saints, Panthers
The division made some solid, under-the-radar moves this offseason. The Buccaneers did add some pieces. We’ll see if there is anything else left in the tank of Jason “Fire-Fingers” Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul is a 2 time Pro-Bowler and 1 time All-Pro DE, known for his time on the Giants front in their last Super Bowl. He’ll look to help a line that lacks a veteran presence.
The Falcons also added a pretty decent piece to the secondary. The former Cardinals cornerback, Justin Bethel is a 3 time Pro-Bowler that can also be a threat on Special Teams. He gives maximum effort on every play. Bethel is also a very smart, veteran that can help a younger secondary. Similar to what Dwight Freeney when he came over to help Vic Beasley. We see how that turned out. Bethel will be an asset to this team.
The Panthers were also aggressive this offseason. Head Coach Ron Rivera, defensive-minded, went after 2 time pro-bowler Dontari Poe from the inter-rival, Falcons. As a Chargers fan I was glad to see him leave the division. He clogs up the middle of the line, making it very hard for a RB to run up the middle. The Panthers also had to fill the shoes of long time RB, Jonathon Stewart. They brought in former pro-bowl RB CJ Anderson from the Broncos. He has one thousand yard season as a lead back. Most of Anderson’s career he has split careers. He’s only there to give Christian McCaffrey a breather, but not a bad option to put in there, a former SB winning RB.
NFC EAST- Redskins, Eagles, Giants, Cowboys
The NFC East, as always, weren’t shy in free agency or via trades. They have added Alex Smith in a trade with the Chiefs. Smith might be the most boring QB in the NFL. Primarily because he doesn’t take many chances down the field. He is incredibly accurate on medium throws and he has deceiving speed. Smith is a 3 time pro-bowler and led the Chiefs to a 50-26 record in 5 seasons. But now he is on the Redskins, a far cry from the talent he left in Kansas City and the Head Coach, Andy Reid is far and away better than Jay Gruden. Adrian Peterson is convinced he has a ton left in the tank. Peterson is a 7 time pro-bowler, an MVP, the only thing AP doesn’t have a Super Bowl Ring. AP is currently 12th all-time in rushing yards with 12,276 and close to cracking the top 10.
The G-MEN grabbed a big piece to their new and improved running attack with Shaquan Barkley. Literally a BIG piece, they brought in former Patriots 1st round pick, Nate Solder, who is 6’8, 320 lbs. Solder is unbelievable pass blocker, having unusually quick feet for someone that size. Solder is also a two time Super Bowl champ. He’ll be easy for Barkley to squeeze behind and he’ll keep the Veteran and ‘aging’ Eli Manning from getting sacked. Great pickup for the Giants.
The defending Super Bowl champion Philidalphia Eagles didn’t need to do much. But they added two amazing pieces to an already stout defensive front. Bringing in Haloti Ngata and Michael Bennett to add to that Defense is ruthless. Good luck with that Shaquan Barkley, welcome to the NFL facing that twice a year. In his prime, Ngata was the best run stuffing DT in the game. They have the ultimate 12th man in effect at home games with that rowdy crowd in Philly. Plus two very good QB’s.
NFC NORTH- Packers, Bears, Vikings, Lions
The NFC North made some of the biggest splashes this offseason. The Packers just re-signed their Franchise QB and brought in 5 time pro-bowl Tight End Jimmy Graham, who was a savage when he played with Drew Brees. Graham was non-existent at times in the Seahawks offense. Russel Wilson and Graham never got on the same page in Seattle. Graham is turning over a new leaf in Green Bay. Rodgers has never had a target like Graham before. His last good TE was Jermichael Finley. This can turn out to be the game-changer the Packers needed, if they get the Jimmy Graham that played in New Orleans not Seattle.
The Minnesota Vikings did something no team has done before. They gave a FULLY guaranteed contract. 3 years $84 million is what the Vikings forked over for the pro-bowl quarterback, just one by the way. Huge risk to take on Kirk Cousins, who has a record of 26-30 as a starter in the NFL. Since the Vikings dished out this cash, it changed the market, we’ve seen more and more players this offseason get more guaranteed money. Case Keenum took this team to the NFC championship game a year ago. The Vikings have a top ranked defense which will keep them in just about every game, this takes tremendous pressure off of Keenum who just needs to take care of the football and move the chains, keeping the defense fresh.
The Bears just jumped to the top of this list by trading the Raiders for All-World defensive end, Khalil Mack. They ended up locking him up to a 6 year $140 Million deal. Mack is a 3 time pro-bowler and 2 time all-pro, he was also the defensive player of the year in 2016. Leave it to the Raiders to spend too much money on overrated players and forget about your BEST PLAYER and one of the best players in the NFL. They couldn’t afford him. The city of Chicago had to be ecstatic when they woke up to news of Khalil Mack. They also went out and got Allen Robinson, who only played in 1 game last year with Jacksonville. The WR did manage a 1,400 yard season in 2015. This is a solid move as well. Young QB Mitchell Trubisky needs more weapons at his disposal.
NFL is officially underway. The long wait is over. The boring Sundays that have taken over our lives for the past 7 months are over and Sunday Funday is about to start up again.