The offseason is approaching, and that means that many NFL fans will have to say goodbye to some of their favorite players. While the offseason can be one of the most exciting times of the year, it can also be one of the most disappointing. Even with teams having over $50 million in cap space, that doesn’t save them from cutting players or leaving them to sign with another team in free agency. These decisions aren’t easy, but they have to be made.
While fans may not fully understand why teams have to move on from players, there’s usually a plan that works out for the better. Or, at least they hope it works out for the better. The Packers and Cowboys were criticized for releasing their No. 1 receiver last season. Jordy Nelson ultimately dealt with injuries and struggled throughout the season, and the Cowboys ended up acquiring Amari Cooper and has been a perfect fit in Dallas. So, there are reasons why the front office does these things.
Changes happen, it’s sports. Especially with the current state of the NFL, where teams and players don’t value loyalty as much. In the past, sports players and teams wanted to have a commitment throughout the length of a player’s career. Now, it’s not as common to see that.
This offseason, we will see 20 surprising departures whether it be through free agency or trade. Some may be more surprising than others, but you definitely wouldn’t have expected these departures to occur.
20 Brent Grimes - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Some information was released following the end of the season about the Buccaneers cornerback. Apparently, Brent Grimes’ refused to follow star cornerbacks because he’s making $7 million a year, while “star” cornerbacks make $14 million a year. This makes sense considering Jason Pierre-Paul made a comment that not everyone was keeping it real in Tampa. Grimes even blamed the Buccaneers' poor year on his cheaper contract.
Talk about the perfect time to part ways with a player; it looks like the Buccaneers won’t even try to re-sign Grimes this offseason. This story has flown under the radar but should be known. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Grimes possibly retires because he doesn’t get offered the contract he wants.
19 Sheldon Richardson - Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings added some strength to their defense when they signed Sheldon Richardson to a one-year deal. The deal could’ve been a prove-it deal, or an added player to contribute to a possible Super Bowl run. Well, a playoff run didn’t even occur, and the Vikings have a lot of players that are approaching free agent within the next few seasons. There are plenty of talents that are free agents this season,
As good as Richardson was, they'll let him walk, considering it’s a defense-heavy draft. Expect the Vikings to put a lot of their money into rebuilding that offensive line.
18 Olivier Vernon - New York Giants
If the New York Giants opt to bring back Olivier Vernon in 2019, he will be due $15 million next season and the following one as well. Vernon has the talent to be owed that money, but he doesn’t have the health to make it worth it. In the past two seasons, he’s missed nine games.
When he’s on the field, he’s a difference maker. There are no questions about that. The issue is that they would be paying him all this money, to not play a full 16 games. Giants could look for a defensive end in the draft, and use the money they will save elsewhere.
17 Lamar Miller - Houston Texans
If you’re the front office of the Texans, you have to be second guessing Lamar Miller as your franchise running back. Most would probably say he's not a top-tier starter. Miller shows glimpses of excitement but doesn’t look great on other days. Miller is inconsistent, and with an offseason where there are plenty of running backs available, the Texans will cut Miller and explore their options in free agency.
Cutting Miller saves the Texans a little bit over $6 million, which could be enough right there to pay another running back. The value of those backs may be down this offseason as well, considering how many will be free agents.
16 Brandon Graham - Philadelphia Eagles
It will be sad, but Eagles fans should prepare for the team to move forward from Brandon Graham. A big part of that Super Bowl team is set to hit free agency this offseason. Graham struggled this season, finishing with only four sacks and a fumble return. It was much different from last season when he finished with 9.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble return for a touchdown.
Graham will be 31 years old next season, coming off of maybe his weakest season since 2013. With other needs and little cap space, the Eagles will likely let Graham explore free agency.
15 Chris Hogan - New England Patriots
The trend continues, as the Patriots will let Chris Hogan walk in free agency. Hogan comes off a pretty disappointing season where he caught 35 passes for 532 yards and scored three touchdowns. Hogan was an important piece this season due to the absences of players like Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon.
It really comes down to who they value more in free agency; Hogan or Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson is younger and has shown he can play a few different roles in this offense. On top of that, the Patriots have expressed interest in acquiring another receiver. With Gordon suspended indefinitely, expect the Patriots to draft a wide receiver as well as sign one in free agency.
14 Teddy Bridgewater - New Orleans Saints
When the Saints traded a third-round pick for Teddy Bridgewater, it became pretty clear who the successor for Drew Brees would be, or so we thought. Based on Bridgewater’s first performance as a Saint, they may want to consider who’s the future quarterback of this franchise.
Maybe they don’t want to put too much weight into it, but in Week 17, Bridgewater threw for 118 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, finishing with a 60.9 completion percentage. Not an ideal performance for a quarterback trying to find a starting job back in the NFL. His story is great, but it's clear that he can't be the only viable option for the Saints if Brees were to retire in the near-future.
13 Cole Beasley - Dallas Cowboys
As sad as it is to say, the Cowboys are going to have to move forward from veteran wide receiver, Cole Beasley. Beasley comes off another terrific season, finishing with 65 receptions for 672 yards and three touchdowns. The main reason why they will likely part ways with him is how much he was actually used once the Amari Cooper acquisition was made.
Beasley will be too expensive to keep, considering the Cowboys have many other commitments to be made. Expect them to re-sign Tavon Austin, who has a similar role as Beasley, but will be much cheaper. Beasley will see a lot of interest this offseason, looking for a contract that offers around $8 to $10 million a year.
12 Golden Tate - Philadelphia Eagles
Depending on the contract Golden Tate requests, it seems like he may not stay in Philadelphia past this season. The Lions traded Tate to the Eagles in return for a third-round pick. At the time, it seemed like a terrific trade, considering Tate was the No. 1 receiver for the Lions. For much of the regular season, it looked like he didn't fit very well in the Eagles’ offense, which led to a disappointing 30 receptions for 278 yards, and one touchdown within eight games. His biggest contribution by far, was scoring the team's winning touchdown on wildcard weekend.
In a way, the Eagles could benefit from Tate’s disappointing season could decrease his value. It depends on how much the Eagles value Tate in the passing game.
11 Clay Matthews - Green Bay Packers
When discussing the Packers’ free agency situation this offseason, everyone seems to focus on the fact that the team will move on from Randall Cobb this offseason. What they’re ignoring is that Clay Matthews has probably played his last season in Green Bay.
At one point, Matthews was considered one of the best pass rushers in the game. He hasn’t played that way the past four seasons, and won’t be worth re-signing. The Packers need to use their cap space to re-construct this offense, and then use the draft to continue to add weapons on defense, especially if they want a chance at winning again with Aaron Rodgers.
10 Adrian Peterson - Washington Redskins
If Andrew Luck didn’t lead the Colts to the playoffs, Adrian Peterson would've most likely been the Comeback Player of the Year. 2015 was the last full season Peterson played before he missed a total of 19 games within the past two seasons. Once Derrius Guice went down, the Redskins signed Peterson to be their starting running back this season.
Peterson looked like his old self, rushing for 1,042 yards and finishing with 208 receiving yards, and eight total touchdowns. With Guice set to be back in 2019, the Redskins will move forward with their young running back, and Peterson will be forced to play for his fourth team in the past three seasons.
9 Sammy Watkins - Kansas City Chiefs
This is kind of a surprising name to see on this list, considering Sammy Watkins just signed a three-year deal worth $48 million with the Chiefs. Watkins was a disappointment, following being the highest-paid wide receiver of the offseason. Watkins finished the season with 40 receptions for 519 yards while scoring three touchdowns in 10 games.
Watkins was considered a No. 1 receiver this offseason, but finished third on the team in receiving. Considering Watkins had the most productive quarterback in the NFL and still struggled, should give the Chiefs every reason to move forward. They should look to trade him and could see more trade value than one would think, considering the weak class of receivers in the draft and free agency.
8 Anthony Barr - Minnesota Vikings
Anthony Barr is going to be paid a lot of money this offseason, and it won’t be by the Vikings. The Vikings are going to have a lot of players to pay in the future, and Barr is replaceable. Barr’s strength has been against the run, but he’s also struggled some in coverage.
As a linebacker in 2019, teams want to see you do it all. If you’re struggling in coverage, there are other linebackers out there. The Vikings would rather explore other options, and pay a player whose more versatile. Plus, they can use the money like stated early to invest in other parts of this team.
7 Mark Ingram - New Orleans Saints (RB)
Before the season began, there were a lot of rumblings that Mark Ingram would be traded because he likely wouldn’t return to New Orleans following this season. Ingram played it out, and they have one of the best rush attacks in the game. This is where loyalty no longer exists, as Ingram will go elsewhere to find a maximum contract, as the Saints simply can't pay him what the open market would.
Ingram is good, but Alvin Kamara is the star running back of that team. Ingram is just a great complement to him right now. Ingram could be the second-highest paid running back after Le’Veon Bell, so he will take the money and run with it while the opportunity is there.
6 K.J. Wright - Seattle Seahawks
Seattle will continue the trend of revitalizing this defense, as they let K.J. Wright hit free agency with Earl Thomas. As great as Wright is, he will be 30 years old entering the 2019 season and comes off a season where he missed 11 games. It really comes down to how much Shaquem Griffin has developed since being drafted. Griffin was expected to be a third-round pick but dropped down to the fifth round.
Wright won’t be too expensive to re-sign, but the Seahawks believe in building up this young defense. The money they save could go towards improving the receiver corps.
5 Landon Collins - New York Giants
Landon Collins has been one of the best safeties in the league since being drafted but struggled this season in coverage, as well as missed four games. From the looks of it, the Giants want to go into full rebuild mode, and that may be without their 2015 second-round selection.
Collins is going to want a lot of money, for a position that may be the most replaceable on defense. Last offseason, we saw how minimal interest teams had in spending money to find a safety, which forced a lot of these players to take cheap contracts. Collins will find himself walking this offseason.
4 Antonio Brown - Pittsburgh Steelers
Most fans may not believe that Antonio Brown will be traded, due to the massive cap hit the Steelers will have to take. Brown will account for over $21 million in dead cap space, which is around 8% of their cap space. That is a whole lot of money for a player who won’t even be on the team.
We saw things unravel with Le’Veon Bell, and the same looks to be occurring with Brown. Mike Tomlin simply can’t keep this team under control, and it continues to show. If reports are to be believed, the argument between Ben Roethlisberger and Brown will cause the star receiver to be traded this offseason.
3 Jalen Ramsey - Jacksonville Jaguars
The Steelers weren’t the only organization who had drama with a star player this season. Jalen Ramsey made comments that had a lot of people questioning his dedication to this team, and if he wants a future in Jacksonville. It looks like Ramsey is looking for a contract extension that the Jaguars may not be interested in giving.
Ramsey could be worth a first-round pick and more this offseason, and will also prevent them from having to pay top dollar for their cornerback. It comes at a good time when the Jaguars are going to need to find a quarterback this offseason.
2 Carson Wentz - Philadelphia Eagles
It doesn’t matter how “committed” the Eagles are to Carson Wentz, it's hard to trade away a quarterback who had led you into the playoffs twice. The initial feel was that Nick Foles would be traded this offseason, but with the success he’s had, there's a legitimate case to be made they should move forward with Foles going forward.
Wentz is young and would be worth a lot, despite the injury concerns. This is where an interesting trade could be made. What if the Jags were to package Ramsey and a 1st rounder in a package to get Wentz? The Eagles and Jaguars may have some interesting talks this offseason.
1 A.J. Green - Cincinnati Bengals
There’s not a better time for the Bengals to trade A.J. Green. There’s not a wide receiver who looks like he can be a #1 receiver, and the best wide receiver who will enter free agency struggled with injuries this offseason.
Even though Green also sustained an injury, he should be back and healthy in 2019. Green has been one of the best wide receivers in the game since he was drafted in 2011. Out of the eight seasons of his career, he finished with over 1,000 yards in six of those seasons. Green should have high trade value this offseason.