The NFL offseason has been a wild one. Superstar wide receivers have been traded, All-Pro safeties have been released and signed, the Jaguars FINALLY moved on from Blake Bortles, and yet, despite all of this, the Patriots are still probably going to win the Super Bowl next year.
The teams in the AFC have vastly improved while some NFC teams made small upgrades and some huge downgrades (cheers to the new worst team in the NFL, the New York Giants). Here are the top five most impactful (in no order) moves that have happened so far this offseason and how they could affect things in this upcoming NFL season.
OBJ Gets… Traded?
This was one of the bigger head-scratchers of the offseason. Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns for Jabrill Peppers and a first and third-round pick. This was another Giants move that seemed to say “Hey guys, we’re just gonna’ sit this next year out when it comes to being competitive.”
They let Landon Collins, a Pro Bowl safety, walk instead of simply franchise-tagging him. And then they trade their best player for a first round pick and a safety who, big surprise, isn’t as good as Collins? Huh?
The shame of all of this is that if they wouldn’t have made these moves, they could’ve drafted a young quarterback with their own first-round pick and maybe be contenders within the next couple years. They made a smart, but smaller deal trading linebacker Olivier Vernon for Kevin Zeitler, a solid offensive lineman from the Cleveland Browns.
It may not have been a huge, game-changing deal. But, if they would’ve done that, kept Collins and OBJ, this team wouldn’t be one to sleep on. But now? Yikes.
The Browns, however, get a monster of a player, and now have one of the most talented offenses in the AFC. They have two explosive wide receivers, who have been wanting a reunion after their LSU days together since they entered the NFL, a franchise quarterback, two really interesting and talented running backs and a solid offensive line. Combine that with a defense that could be above-average if everything works out.
The Browns are dangerous.
The AB Saga Finally Ends
After weeks of speculation, a weird move to dye his facial hair blonde, some cryptic social media posts and an appearance on Lebron James’ show “The Shop,” Antonio Brown finally got his wish. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a third and fifth-round pick in this upcoming draft.
That’s… not a lot of value for one of the most productive receivers in the NFL. But, he requested a trade. Teams didn’t have to give up a lot because they knew Brown didn’t want to be there, and the Steelers definitely didn’t want him there. So, they could lowball the Steelers until they caved.
I guess this is the best offer the Steelers could get. Brown also immediately got a raise going to the Raiders, and the Raiders got an elite target for Derek Carr to throw to for the next few years. As much as the Raiders have been criticized for trading their superstars Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack this past year, they now seem to have the makings of a team that could make some noise this upcoming year.
They have three first-round picks to play with and some talented players that they signed/traded in the offseason. There’s still work to be done on both sides of the ball, with the offensive and defensive lines lacking talent, and there’s still the question of who the number one cornerback is.
But hey, it’s a start.
Broadway Banking on Bell
Le’Veon Bell chose which team he wants to play for this upcoming year. And it’s the New York Jets. He got paid, getting a four-year, $52.5 million contract, and he gets to play in the biggest market in America. It was a win-win for both sides.
The Jets get a top-five running back to help their second-year quarterback continue his development, and Bell can have a chance to prove he can be great without the Steelers sensational offensive line. The Jets still aren’t contenders as they still play in the same division as Tom Brady. But they should be at least competitive as the signing of CJ Mosley also improved their defense by adding a proven leader to a relatively young defense.
No, they won’t win the division. They probably won’t make the playoffs either. But, they won’t be the joke of the division anymore. Wait, I forgot the Bills are in that division too. Never mind.
But the Jets have a chance to maybe make some noise. If they make smart draft choices and Sam Darnold makes some improvements to an already solid game, they could try for the second wild-card spot and maybe make a team nervous in the first round of the playoffs. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
They are the Jets, after all.
Nick Foles Gets Paid
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a problem, and that problem’s name is Blake Bortles. But they seemingly solved that problem by signing the Philly Special quarterback Nick Foles to a four year, $88 million deal. The Jaguars have a great defense, but they struggled throughout the season to find some consistency at the quarterback position by going back and forth between Bortles and backup, Cody Kessler.
Now, the Jaguars have a quarterback who knows how to win in the playoffs but hasn’t really had to lead an offense for a whole year in recent years. Foles had success at the end of the year last year with the Eagles and led them to a playoff appearance, but Carson Wentz started most of the year at the helm for the Eagles.
But, the Jaguars needed a change at the quarterback position, and, as talented as their defense is, they didn’t want to develop a young quarterback and wait for him to learn how to play in the NFL. So, they turned to Foles.
This is one of those wait-and-see moves as nobody really knows how Foles will perform when given the keys to an offense for a whole year. He did have those stints with Philly and the Rams previously, but he seems to be a different quarterback now. He’s older, and he has playoff experience and a Super Bowl ring. So, he could be better, but he could also just be… bleh. Average.
But hey, anything’s better than Bortles.
Joe Flacco Goes to Mile High
Joe Flacco was pushed out of his starting role in Baltimore by young dynamic rookie Lamar Jackson this past year. He was a Super Bowl winning backup and an overpaid one at that. So, the Ravens traded him to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick.
Honestly, all things considered, the Ravens got something for a guy who wasn’t really going to contribute this next season anyway. So, props to them.
As for the Broncos? I mean, I guess he’s better than Case Keenum? Maybe? Who knows. They’re kind of throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something sticks at this point. They have a really good defense, and they’re just waiting for someone to come in and make a difference on the offensive side of the ball.
Spoiler alert: Joe Flacco is not that guy. But, I guess you can’t blame the Broncos for trying? I don’t know. This is one of those moves where you kind of just shrug because neither of these teams are going to be impactful this upcoming season.
The Ravens lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and, unless Lamar Jackson makes a huge leap forward in his throwing ability, the offense will remain stagnant and unable to put up big points. The Broncos will throw out a good defense paired with a mediocre-at-best offense and maybe go over .500 if they play out of their minds.
So, yeah- there’s nothing really goin’ on here.