The Best (and Worst) Offseason Moves in the NFL
The NFL offseason has always provided a full spectrum of emotions for fans. For the fan of a winning team, a new signing or trade could be the difference between making that last push to the Super Bowl and settling for another playoff loss. A fan of a losing team looks at the offseason as a start of rebuilding, fixing the issues that plagued the team all season, or in some cases, a waste of time between seasons if the team refuses to spend any money on legit playmakers. For every signing or trade that makes that reaps positive results, you could name almost five transactions that end up with a palm to your face in disappointment.
Recall the 2009 offseason for example. While the Washington Football Team did make a great signing in locking up DB DeAngelo Hall for six years, that offseason will always be marked with that atrocious 7-year, $100M deal that was handed to DT Albert Haynesworth. While the concept appeared that Washington was primed to field one of the best defensive units in the league, reality unfolded quickly, with Haynesworth lasting only two seasons with the team. This leads us to today, where we’ll examine a few moves this offseason that could benefit the team for years to come, along with a few that could haunt fans into the next decade.
Best Offseason Moves
New Orleans Saints Sign WR Emmanuel Sanders
Hate him all you want, fill my Twitter feed with every ounce of negativity that may feed your soul, call me every name in the book if you so choose. Even if you still do this, my opinion that WR Michael Thomas is the best WR in the NFL today will not change. Now, what happens when you take a WR of Thomas’ caliber, then add a receiver like Emmanuel Sanders, who showed last season that even at 33-years old, can still be a WR1 for an NFL team? Saints’ fans should be ecstatic for what’s to come in the 2020 season with this potentially loaded offense. QB Drew Brees has the playmakers at WR, and if history has shown us anything, I’m rather confident that he’ll find ways to get both Thomas and Sanders the ball.
Buffalo Bills Trade for WR Stefon Diggs
The changing of the guard is finally upon us! With the imminent fall of the New England Patriots’ dominating run of the AFC East, all eyes are shifting to Buffalo as the new favorites to take hold of the division. After a 10-6 finish in the regular season, and a heartbreaking overtime loss in the Wild Card round against the Texans, the Bills are ready to continue their progress to success. I had the Bills as the favorite to take the AFC East prior to this trade, but now with Stefon Diggs joining up, I’m almost willing to say that the division is now theirs to lose. QB Josh Allen should be excited for multiple reasons. Not only does he have a Pro Bowl caliber WR on his team, there’s solid evidence that this team is ready to build around him, and willing to cement him in as the franchise QB for years to come. Whether the Bills will reap the rewards from this move won’t be known for a few years, though I’d be shocked if this blows up in their face.
Arizona Cardinals Nearly Steal WR DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans
Since we’re on the topic of building around your potential franchise QB, it goes without saying that we’d have to throw the Cardinals into the conversation, especially now that QB Kyler Murray has 4-time pro bowler, and first team all pro WR with DeAndre Hopkins. The best part of this entire deal comes with what Arizona had to give up in order to nab Hopkins: RB David Johnson, a 2nd round draft pick in 2020, and a 4th round draft pick in 2021. Yes, this is correct. DeAndre Hopkins was traded for an RB who in his five years in the NFL, has played 10 or more games in a season twice, and without Arizona having to give up a first-round draft pick. Insanity does not even begin to describe my thoughts on how much Houston messed up with this trade. I’ll save myself from having to re-write this part later on and let you know that Houston is in the lead for the worst offseason move this year.
Denver Broncos Take a Stout Defense to the Next Level, Trade for DT Jurrell Casey
Since finishing 24th in the NFL in points per game allowed at the end of the 2017 season, Denver has seen a steady increase in production from their defense. Case in point, they finished 8th in the league in the same category at the end of last season, so it’s a bit frightening to imagine that this defense is only getting better for next season. Not only are they getting a four-time Pro Bowler in Casey, they only forked over a 7th round draft pick to snag him. While they could be chastised for only focusing on the defense this offseason, it’s honestly not the worst idea that could be made. Consider the fact that the Broncos have to take on the Chiefs’ elite speed offense twice a season, and the idea of doing what you can to improve your defense makes perfect sense.
Chiefs Lock Up QB Patrick Mahomes with the Richest Contract in U.S. Sports History
It’s not very often that we get to see a player of Mahomes’ caliber come into the NFL. In his first season as the starting QB, Mahomes led the Chiefs to the AFC Title game, and snagged the league MVP award. The next season, he does miss some time due to a dislocated kneecap, but still gets the Chiefs their first Super Bowl title in 50 years, and a Super Bowl MVP award to go with it. Not too shabby for a guy who will be 25-years old at the start of the 2020 season. Even better is the Chiefs committing to Mahomes for the long term, with a 10-year extension that could be worth $503 million at the end. What makes this a great move is not only does Mahomes get the extension that he deserved, it’s a move that could be very cost effective for the Chiefs a few years from now. Though, this is dependent on the salary cap, and how the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the revised CBA that was also agreed to, fluctuates over the next four to five seasons.
Worst Moves Made This Offseason
Chicago Bears Figure Something is Better than Nothing, Sign TE Jimmy Graham
I can fondly recall the time that Jimmy Graham spent with the Saints early in his career. The talk from New Orleans was how they found the next great tight end in the NFL, and I was indeed a believer for some time. His trade to Seattle in the 2015 offseason had me scratching my head, trying to deduce what New Orleans could be thinking in giving away a player of this quality. Fast forward to the end of the 2019 season, and the move really does make sense now. While Graham has played in all 16 games in each of the last four seasons, his games started has been on the decline since. Now, add in what could arguably be his worst season totals since his rookie season, and the 2-years, $16 million that Chicago is paying him seems like overkill. In contrast, Graham will make more money in the 2020 season than other TEs like Jack Doyle, Jared Cook, and Eric Ebron. Needless to say, I still feel that he’s a bit overpaid.
Texans Try to fill the Void that they Created, Sign WR Randall Cobb
As I mentioned earlier, the trade that sent WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona is by far the worst move that this team made during the offseason, and the worst move as a whole for any team thus far. We knew that Houston would look to fill the gap that they made by looking for another WR, but signing Cobb to a 3-year, $27 million deal only helps to cement a mindset that the Texans front office has no idea how to build around franchise QB Deshaun Watson. While Cobb was able to produce 828 receiving yards, the most since the 2015 season, the idea that he’s worth more than what the Saints are paying WR Emmanuel Sanders each year is questionable at best. His three receiving touchdowns last season with Dallas was the third lowest of his career, though that’s not saying much since he’s only posted one season thus far with more than 9 TDs total.
Time for Some Controversy! Tampa Bay Wants the Glory, Signs QB Tom Brady, & Trades for TE Rob Gronkowski
It’s very possible that I may be one of a handful of NFL writers for any sports site with this take, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Here we have a now 42-year old QB, (43 by start of the season), who is coming off of what could be considered his worst season thus far in the NFL statistically, and you sign him in the hopes that his legendary status will help to propel a team that has struggled to stay afloat in the NFC South over the past few seasons, and get them to the Super Bowl. While this is a great public relation move, though due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the expected increase in revenue from ticket sales is void at this point, it comes across almost as an act of desperation to me.
Yes, the idea that Brady now has WRs like Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin to throw to is a major upgrade compared to what he was working with in New England over the past few seasons, but I’m still not convinced that an aging QB, regardless if he is considered one of, if not, the best QB to ever play the game, can push the Bucs past the Saints for the NFC South crown. Add in Gronkowski, who missed last season after “retiring,” and has a history of injuries during his playing career, and while on paper, this offense may seem loaded, we have to recall the age and arm strength of Brady, coupled with any potential ‘rust’ that Gronkowski may have after missing a full season.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this isn’t an upgrade from QB Jameis Winston. Even at this current time, I’d probably still look to take Brady over him, but the efficiency of the offense isn’t my concern with this team. The Bucs finished in the top five in most of the major offensive statistical categories last season, including points scored per game, total yards per game, and first downs per game. My issue comes with their defense, and even with a rush defense that was the best in the NFL last season, they still ranked 29th in the league in most points allowed per game. Essentially, you’re hoping that the offense can find a way to keep up with other teams and hope for that one big stop on a drive late in the game from their defense. Personally, addressing the defense this offseason was my biggest priority for this team this offseason, but as of now, it appears that Tampa is hoping for a miraculous change in this defense going into the 2020 season. Sorry, but I would’ve shopped elsewhere.
Gripes? Complaints? Praises? How much hate will I get for this last take? Let me know via Twitter! @ThatBankaiLife