There are always a handful of blockbuster moves in any given NFL offseason, but 2019 is shaping up to be one of the most enticing in recent memory.
A great deal of starting quarterbacks will surely be changing teams this offseason, with some clubs finding younger and cheaper options to take over. We all know guys like Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Ryan Tannehill will be moving on from their respective teams, but which teams will land them?
There's a fun race for the first overall pick in 2019, between the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But who will win the Nick Bosa sweepstakes, and which of those teams will get their hands on two top quarterback prospects in Drew Lock and Justin Herbert?
In the trade market, we can expect a handful of players - especially ones entering the final year of their contracts - to get dealt this offseason. Will New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski accept a trade this time? If so, what will the price be? Or are the Patriots ready to give him he monster extension he's wanted for a while?
There are going to be some blocksbuster trades, major impact signings and big-time draft selections that promise to change the landscape of the league in 2019 and beyond. It's anybody's guess how things will play out, but it's never too early to play the predictions game.
Here's a look at seven debuts, seven trades and seven releases that could go down in the 2019 offseason
21 Debut: Quinnen Williams To Cardinals
If my calculations are correct, the Arizona Cardinals won't be finishing with the first overall pick, thus missing out on the Nick Bosa sweepstakes. But they'll find themselves an elite pass rusher in Alabama defensive end Quinnen Williams, who figures to be a top-three pick in this year's draft.
The rebuilding Cardinals have a promising looking offense with Josh Rosen, Christian Kirk and David Johnson. They need to focus on giving Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson some support, and Williams is the guy.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Williams is one of the greater pass rushers in recent memory, and he would make an impact right away. The Cardinals need to get their hands on Williams, who promises to change that defense right when he arrives.
20 Trade: Bobby Wagner To Chiefs
Though the Seattle Seahawks have surpassed expectations in 2018, don't think for a second that GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are done making changes to their defense.
This team let go of Richard Sherman, Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Jeremy Lane in the offseason, and they seemed close to trading Earl Thomas before his season-ending leg injury.
Linebacker Bobby Wagner will have just one year left on his contract, and it's unlikely the retooling Seahawks will want to extend him long-term. Rather, look for the Kansas City Chiefs to pry away Wagner for a second-round draft pick. They need a big-time game-changer on defense, and Seattle will be happy to give him up if it means landing a valuable draft choice.
19 Release: Devin McCourty
The idea of Bill Belichick releasing one of his most loyal soldiers seems crazy, but let's not forget he had no problem moving on from many cornerstone players from the dynasty years in Foxborough. If he could move on from Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork, Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law and Darrelle Revis, he can move on from McCourty.
The Pro Bowl safety is slowing down a bit, and he turns 32 years of age next year. The Patriots know they can replace just about any player through the draft or in free agency, so it makes sense to cut an ageing and expensive McCourty.
It wouldn't sit well in Foxborough, but Belichick will want to start transitioning towards a younger and faster defense. Cutting McCourty will be the first of many moves.
18 Debut: Nick Foles With Broncos
The Philadelphia Eagles certainly won't look to re-sign Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles, who will hit free agency this offseason and join a team that will let him become the full-time starter. It'll be a graceful exit from Philly, as Foles will understand that this team wants to roll with Carson Wentz for the long run.
With Case Keenum struggling in Denver, GM John Elway needs to stop wasting time and find a legitimate No. 1 quarterback to complement Courtland Sutton and Phillip Lindsay on offense.
Foles can probably be had on a two or three-year deal worth around $10-12 million a season. He'd fit nicely on a Denver offense that has its fair share of playmakers. At the very least, Elway should give Foles a one-year deal to push Keenum more for the starting job.
17 Trade: Emmanuel Sanders To Ravens
Even though I'm projecting the Broncos to sign Foles, I believe it also makes sense for Elway to trade his best wide receiver. It sounds crazy, sure, but hear me out.
Sanders will enter the final year of his contract in 2019, and he'll be turning 31 years of age. It doesn't make sense to extend an ageing wideout who's nearing the end of his prime years, and the Broncos need to start getting younger on both sides of the ball.
Sanders would be a nice fit for a Baltimore team that is devoid of top-flight playmakers, especially at wide receiver. He'd provide youngster Lamar Jackson with a much-needed and extremely reliable weapon. Baltimore could probably get Sanders for just a mid-round selection.
16 Release: Jimmy Smith
Once considered the MVP of the Baltimore Ravens secondary, veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith has endured a very frustrating 2018 season. Through Week 12, he had a terrible 55.3 rating from Pro Football Focus.
Smith carries a cap hit of just over $15.85 million for the 2019 season, and the Ravens can't afford to pay a 31-year-old that much money. Their secondary remains an elite unit, but Smith is no longer in his prime and shouldn't be starting for that defense anymore.
It'd be a huge surprise if the Ravens don't release Smith after this season. They have enough playmakers in there, and the front office could always find a cheap replacement in free agency or via the draft.
15 Debut: Earl Thomas To Colts
The future is looking bright for the Indianapolis Colts, thanks to quarterback Andrew Luck returning to full health and rookie head coach Frank Reich doing a wonderful job rebuilding that offensive line.
While the Colts try to make an unlikely run to the playoffs this year, the front office should also be ready to make big moves. Indianapolis will have a ton of cap space next season, and they could use the money to upgrade their leaky secondary.
Earl Thomas is undoubtedly leaving the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, considering their refusal to extend him. He'll land a big contract that should pay around $12-15 million a season, and the Colts can easily afford that. Thomas would upgrade the defense big time, and he should top the wish list of GM Chris Ballard.
14 Trade: Derek Carr To Buccaneers
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had no problem trading away a generational pass rusher and defensive player in Khalil Mack. He was more than happy to deal a young, Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver in Amari Cooper.
So why would the $100 million head coach keep an overpaid quarterback in Derek Carr, who has significantly regressed since a career season in 2016? It's logical to believe Gruden will continue the teardown in Oakland, and look to give his struggling quarterback a fresh start elsewhere.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to make a change behind center, and Gruden would probably be happy to give away Carr for a very minimal return. The latter would work nicely in an offense with Mike Evans and O.J. Howard.
13 Release: Kevin White
The Chicago Bears traded Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets in 2015, then drafted West Virginia wideout Kevin White with the seventh overall selection that same year.
The hype on White was huge, but his career has unfortunately been completely marred by injuries. A fracture in White's shin forced him to miss his entire rookie year. Another leg injury forced White to miss most of 2016, and he also missed a large portion of 2017 with a shoulder problem.
Chicago declined White's fifth-year option in May, a clear sign they're ready to move on from the fourth-year wideout who has yet to put it altogether. Without a doubt, Chicago will be cutting White loose. Hopefully, another team will be kind enough to give him another chance.
12 Debut: Drew Lock With Raiders
As we said above, it makes sense for Jon Gruden to trade Derek Carr, clear salary and add more picks. That will give him the opportunity to draft his next young quarterback, and he'll have the picks to trade up if needed.
Gruden's target should be Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, who's expected to be the first or second signal-caller taken in the 2019 draft. Lock would fit Gruden's pass-heavy offense well, and the Raiders will have a bundle of picks and cap space to find the right playmakers for their young quarterback.
Lock has a great skill set and may need one or two years to fully develop, which is fine. This is a rebuild in Oakland, and it should all start with drafting the Missouri product.
11 Trade: A.J. Green To Colts
Cincinnati Bengals star wide receiver A.J. Green hasn't been linked to trade rumors, but if you put all the pieces together, it's easy to believe that the front office will trade their Pro Bowler pass-catcher soon.
For one, Green turns 31 years of age this offseason, and 2019 is the final year on his contract. For another, Bengals owner Mike Brown is known for refusing to spend big money - a big reason why he refuses to fire head coach Marvin Lewis.
Look for the Bengals to trade Lewis at some point during the offseson and 2019 trade deadline, and the Indianapolis Colts will make the deal. They'll trade a third-round to get Green, arming Andrew Luck with another star player to complement T.Y. Hilton and Marlon Mack.
10 Release: Vontaze Burfict
When he's on the field and playing it nicely, Vontaze Burfict can be one of the game's most dominant linebackers. The unfortunate part is he's racked up the suspensions throughout his career, and Burfict can't help but dish out a bunch of dirty hits that lead to flags, fines and suspensions.
As the Cincinnati Bengals prepare for yet another non-playoff season, it's time for owner Mike Brown to start making changes. Trading Greenand firing Lewis would be a good start, but so would releasing the troubled Burfict.
Burfict isn't on the field enough to warrant his contract, and it's amazing that the "cheap" Bengals ownership decided to throw so much money at him. Release Burfict and use that money elsewhere.
9 Debut: Justin Herbert With Giants
Most teams that are vying for the first overall pick already have young quarterbacks, so the New York Giants shouldn't have to worry about drafting Justin Herbert; they'll be picking in the top-five and can always trade up if necessary.
The Eli Manning experiment in East Rutherford is long overdue for its conclusion, and it's certainly going to be done with this offseason. The Giants need a new quarterback to build around, and Justin Herbert is the guy.
With great awareness, footwork and all-around athleticism, Herbert has the tools to succeed right away. He'll also have Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley at his side, ensuring that the supporting cast is there for him to comfortably take over the starting duties in Week 1 of next year.
8 Trade: LeSean McCoy To Eagles
The Buffalo Bills are rebuilding under head coach Sean McDermott, so it makes sense to start getting younger on both sides of the ball. Even though perennial Pro Bowler running back LeSean McCoy remains a potent piece of their offense, the Bills would be wise to trade him now.
McCoy turns 31 years of age next season, and everybody knows that running backs tend to decline around that age. And everybody knows just how replaceable running backs are (see Le'Veon Bell and James Conner in Pittsburgh).
The Eagles have recently been linked to McCoy, and Doug Pederson can probably get the explosive RB for a mid-round pick. The Bills need to trade McCoy while his value is high, and Philly needs a new No. 1 back. It works out for both sides here.
7 Release: Ryan Tannehill
The Miami Dolphins would probably love to keep Ryan Tannehill long term, but it's no longer a possibility at this point. He missed the final quarter of 2016, all of 2017 and half of 2018 thus far due to injuries. Not good for an inconsistent quarterback that turns 31 years of age next year.
Miami can save much-needed cap space if they release Tannehill this offseason, compared to if they were to wait until 2020. Consider that guys like Brock Osweiler and Matt Moore also found success in Adam Gase's offense, and it's safe to say Miami can go better and cheaper.
There are a handful of options at quarterbacks the Dolphins can choose from this offseason. Nick Foles and Blake Bortles will be free agents, plus Joe Flacco and Eli Manning might hit the trade block. It makes all the sense in the world for Miami to cut Tannehill loose, save cap space and upgrade at quarterback.
6 Debut: Nick Bosa With 49ers
Between the San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, it's difficult to guess who will wind up with the lucky first overall pick in 2019. But given San Fran's ultra-difficult schedule, it looks like they'll wind up winning the Nick Bosa sweepstakes.
Bosa is a virtual guarantee to go first overall in 2019. The younger brother of LA Chargers star Joey comes with just as much upside, if not more. Ask any football coach, and they'll tell you if not a quarterback, a pass rusher is the first thing to build a team around.
The 49ers will have an easy choice to take Bosa first overall. He'll single-handedly change the dynamic of that young and long-struggling defense. With quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hopefully healthy for next season, the future will be looking extremely bright in San Fran once again.
5 Trade: Rob Gronkowski To Lions
Due to a contract dispute - along with rumors that he had grown tired of Bill Belichick's tight ship - New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was almost traded to the Detroit Lions this offseason.
But Gronkowski admitted that he nixed the deal, even threatening to retire if the Patriots traded him. Gronkowski said he didn't want to play anywhere else, but that doesn't mean he'll be a Patriot for life.
Gronkowski is experiencing a down season, and he's not going to meet those incentives to earn bonus money. The Patriots surely won't be extending a player who's oft-injured and is about to turn 30.
Look for the Patriots to finally deal Gronkowski to the Lions this offseason, this time with his full approval. The trade will reunite him with Matt Patricia once and for all, putting an end to the drama in New England.
4 Release: Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston has had four years now to show that he can lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the promised land, and it's become evident that he just isn't the guy to turn this franchise around.
Winston had a strong rookie season, then led the Buccaneers to a 9-7 record in his sophomore year. But over the past two seasons, Winston has struggled with consistency, had clashed with head coach Dirk Koetter and has been in troubles off the field.
It's not promising when career journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Winston multiple times this season. The Buccaneers need to shake up both sides of the ball a bit, and it all starts with cutting Winston loose and finding a new quarterback in the free agent market.
3 Debut: Le'Veon Bell With Jets
Le'Veon Bell is undoubtedly the best player set to hit free agency in 2019, and it already sounds like the New York Jets are going to win the sweepstakes.
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report spoke to sources who said Bell was going to the Jets, with one person in the Steeler organization calling it "a foregone conclusion." With over $100 million in cap space, New York can easily outbid other teams for the star running back.
The Jets need to surround young quarterback Sam Darnold with as many weapons as possible, and Bell would be the perfect player for him to work with. A five-year deal worth around $15 million a season seems like a fair deal for both sides.
2 Trade: Eli Manning To Jaguars
Eli Manning probably should have been let go by the New York Giants in the offseason, but the team thought new head coach Pat Shurmur and the draft selection of running back Saquon Barkley would help him regain his old form.
But the 37-year-old Manning hasn't been able to produce behind a terrible offensive line, and Shurmur hasn't installed the right offense for the two-time Super Bowl champion. The Giants know they need to move on, but the front office will be kind enough to trade Manning to a team of his choice.
The Jacksonville Jaguars absolutely need a new quarterback, and reuniting Manning with former head coach Tom Coughlin (now president of baseball operations in Jacksonville), makes perfect sense.
With a rush-first offense and stout offensive line, the Jaguars have the perfect system in place for Manning to be an effective quarterback. One or two mid-round selections should be enough to land him via trade.
1 Released: Joe Flacco
The Baltimore Ravens will have an easy choice in letting quarterback Joe Flacco go in the offseason. The Super Bowl 47 champion and MVP is putting together a fourth consecutive uninspiring and lackluster season, and the Ravens have done just fine with rookie Lamar Jackson leading the offense.
It's not very often where a guy who wins you a Super Bowl and wins 10 playoff games gets released, but the Ravens have a younger, cheaper and simply better option in Jackson. Moving on from Flacco will be difficult sentimentally, but it's a very easy choice from a business standpoint.
There will be interest in Flacco from a handful of desperate teams, but he won't be playing in Baltimore after this season. Almost a zero percent chance here.