It’s time to look forward to the future. What will NFL teams do this offseason that will guarantee future team success?
Fans and analysts alike are quick to point to specific weaknesses that the team must address. Fixing team flaws typically means adding new blood to the roster. New players can be added through the NFL Entry Draft, by signing free agents, and by trading with other teams. Some teams may feel they only need to make one or two changes before next season, while others will currently be looking for extra draft picks to rebuild the team over the next several years.
When modifying a roster, GMs must consider salary cap restrictions, and may trade away expensive players to make room for other signings. If a team finds themselves stuck with a player who no longer lives up to his salary, the decision may be made to release the player from the roster.
Next offseason, players will be traded and players will be released. Read on to discover seven likely offseason trades, the players to be traded, the likely recipients of those players, and the players to be released to make room for the new acquisitions. Which players do you hope will be traded, and who do you think should be released?
21 Trade: Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans started off the 2018 season with three consecutive losses, which were followed by nine straight wins. Over the three losses, Lamar Miller averaged 15 carries, 58 yards per game, whereas he averaged 15 carries, 80 yards per win. The fact that these numbers are nearly equal shows us just how little Miller contributes to the overall success of the team. He is heading into the final year of his contract, and with young RB D’Onte Foreman poised to take over the start position, the Texans will be looking for a trading partner next offseason. Miller is a seasoned NFL veteran, and should be worth a third- or fourth- round pick – an affordable price for most teams looking for an RB.
20 Traded to Washington Redskins
The upcoming 2019 offseason will see the Washington Redskins in the market to acquire players at multiple positions, including QB and RB. Tyrod Taylor, a QB with a similar style to Alex Smith, will be on the free agency market, meaning that the Redskins would have their third-round pick available to move in exchange for Lamar Miller.
The Washington Redskins are not a rebuild team, and will add pieces in an attempt to win in 2019. They play in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, with division leaders often making the playoffs on only 10 regular season wins. Miller would be a significant addition to the team.
19 Release: Jordy Nelson, Oakland Raider
Jordy Nelson will always be remembered as one of the greatest Green Bay WRs of all-time. He finished his tenure in Green Bay with the third-most receptions, fifth-most yards and second-most TDs in Packers’ history. Following the 2017 season, the Packers released the veteran, and he was immediately picked up by the Oakland Raiders.
Raiders Coach John Gruden believed that Nelson would play a key role in Oakland’s success, and signed him to a two-year contract. Unfortunately, the Raiders have not quite performed as planned, and Nelson hasn’t satisfied Gruden’s expectations. Gruden will continue to dismantle the Raider’s roster, and release the experienced receiver.
18 Trade: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Three years ago, Jordan Reed was considered one of the best TEs in the NFL; he finished the 2015 season in the top-five in receptions, yards and TDs amongst TEs. Following the 2015 season, however, Reed was limited to 18 of a possible 32 games due to persistent injuries.
This year, Reed has been able to re-establish himself, recording 54 receptions and 558 yards over 12 games. Reed is being paid $9.3 million over the next three seasons, and will be too expensive for a Redskins team that has to replace personnel at multiple positions this off-season. Washington should capitalize on Reed’s present production and trade the veteran while his value is high.
17 Traded to New York Jets
The New York Jets made a bold move during the 2018 NFL Entry Draft, jumping three spots to claim QB Sam Darnold with the third overall pick. Darnold is only the first of many pieces that the Jets need to draft, sign and acquire in order to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. This upcoming offseason, the Jets will be in the market for a quality RB and TE, and with virtually no elite TE free agents available, the Jets will be looking to trade.
The Washington Redskins, looking for cap space, will put Jordan Reed on the trading block; the Jets, on the other hand, currently have the second most cap space to spare for the 2019 season. Reed would provide valuable veteran experience to a Jets team that desperately needs it.
16 Release: Pierre Garcon, San Francisco 49ers
The 2017 offseason saw Pierre Garcon finishing five successful seasons with the Washington Redskins. The San Francisco 49ers believed he would have five more, and signed the receiver to a five-year, $47 million deal. Garcon, after serving the second year of that deal, he recorded the worst offensive numbers of his career since his 2008 rookie season.
Garcon’s contract contains an opt-out option at the end of the 2018 season. That option would carry $7.2 million against the 49ers’ 2019 salary cap, but would save San Francisco more than $10 million a year in cap space in both 2020 and 2021. The 49ers will part ways with Garcon and accept the cap hit in 2019 to open room for a younger receiver.
15 Trade: DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
DeVante Parker was selected fourteenth overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2015 NFL Entry Draft. Over the next three seasons, Parker took on more and more responsibilities with the team, eventually earning a consistent starting role in 2017. Unfortunately, Parker couldn't remain healthy this past season TD and had the worst season of his career since his 2015 rookie year.
Prior to the start of the 2018 season, the Dolphins exercised the fifth-year option on Parker’s contract, but that $9 million option is now looking too expensive for them. Miami will test the market and see what return they can get in exchange for their young receiver.
14 Traded to San Francisco 49ers
This offseason, the San Francisco 49ers will be searching for a new number one receiver as Pierre Garcon is not living up to expectations. The addition of Jimmy Garappolo to their roster proves that San Francisco is prioritizing youth for potential greatness in the not-too-distant future.
DeVante Parker has all the potential to be a great receiver, but has not yet exploded on the NFL stage the way he was expected to when he was drafted. The 49ers will be willing to give up a third round pick to take a chance on the receiver in the final year of his contract. Not much risk for the 49ers, but lots of potential.
13 Release: Jermaine Gresham, Arizona Cardinals
Jermaine Gresham signed a huge deal with the Arizona Cardinals over the 2017 offseason, making him one of the highest paid TEs in the NFL. Since the signing, however, Gresham’s production has plummeted. The Cardinals used 23 year-old TE Ricky Seals-Jones as their main target this season, and he will the number one TE option for the team moving forward. The Cardinals will be looking to exercise the “opt out” option in Gresham’s contract at the end of the year.
12 Trade: Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
When Eric Berry started Week 15 of the 2018 NFL season, it was his first start since Week 1 of the 2017 season. Berry saw no field action with the Kansas City Chiefs for 15 months, and over that time, the Chiefs logged 19 wins to only nine losses. While Berry is a good safety, the Chiefs’ record shows that they can win games without spending an enormous amount of money on the S position.
The Chiefs may not openly shop the veteran S, but this off-season, teams will ask if he is available. There will certainly be teams willing to pay Berry’s premium to improve their defense. The Chiefs would save close to $13 million a season over the next four years, which will help them maintain their current potent level of offense.
11 Traded to Arizona Cardinals
At just three wins, the Arizona Cardinals are struggling through their worst season since 2012, when they finished the season with only five wins. Over the 2018 offseason, the Cardinals’ QB roster saw a flurry of activity; QB Carson Palmer retired, QB Sam Bradford signed as a free agent and QB Josh Rosen was drafted in the first round. Unfortunately, the QB carousal has stagnated the offense, and added an enormous amount of stress on the teams’ defense.
Arizona is missing a veteran presence on defense to better support the young offense. The Cardinals will reach out to the Kansas City Chiefs and inquire about the availability of S Eric Berry, possibly offering up an exchange of first round picks.
10 Release: Marcell Dareus, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have lately been known to have one of the best defenses in the NFL, with no thanks to their defensive line. The Jaguars passing defense is so good that it compensates for their poor rushing defense. Four weeks into the 2017 season, the Jaguars acquired Marcell Dareus from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a sixth round pick. They thought they had added a premier run-stopping lineman, clearly not the case as the Jaguars’ rushing defense is now worse than what it was without him.
Dareus didn't contributing enough to justify the value of his contract. If the Jaguars were to release Dareus, they would not be penalized in cap space for the remaining three years of the deal, and they could use the additional money to sign more impactful players.
9 Trade: Jamie Collins, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are finally experiencing success due to improvements to both their offense and their defense. Mid-way through the 2016 season, the Browns acquired Jamie Collins from the New England Patriots in exchange for a third-round pick. When healthy, Collins has been an outstanding LB for the Browns; however, he has missed 10 of 38 games since joining the team.
The Browns will not go out of their way to trade Collins this offseason, but they will be entertain offers, especially those of offensive veterans who can mentor the youthful roster. Other than Jarvis Landry, the Browns do not have consistent WR starters, and if a team is willing to give up proven offensive talent, the Browns would be willing to part with Collins.
8 Traded to Baltimore Ravens
It is very uncommon to see teams exchange players within their division. The Baltimore Ravens are expecting LB Terrell Suggs to either retire or go to free agency following the 2018 season, which means more cap space and a roster spot available to acquire Jamie Collins.
The Ravens will likely give up Michael Crabtree, who is in the first year of his three year, $2 million contract. Crabtree will be 31 at the start of next season, and comes with a very affordable contract and Super Bowl experience. A trade of Collins for Crabtree and the Ravens’ fifth-round pick would benefit both players and both teams.
7 Release: Nate Solder, New York Giants
During the 2018 offseason, the New York Giants signed Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million contract. For seven seasons, the two-time Super Bowl Champion played for the New England Patriots and protected Tom Brady.
In New England, Solder benefited from a strong OL that made him look stronger than he is. With the Giants, he was expected to be a one-man show-stopper, and has clearly not lived up to expectations. Solder is being paid as one of the top OL in the NFL, but his play this season has been nothing more than mediocre.
6 Trade: Malcolm Butler, Tennessee Titans
This past offseason, the Tennessee Titans signed CB Malcolm Butler to a five-year, $61 million contract hoping to improve upon the team passing defense that ranked 25th in the NFL last year. While the Titans’ passing D has improved, that isn’t due to Butler; most games this past year have seen Butler relegated to nickelback.
Butler is producing decent numbers this season, and he should end up with similar stats as in previous years. Unfortunately, during only the first year of his contract, it appears that he is quickly falling out of the Titans’ long-term plans. Butler will be put on the trade block at the end of the season.
5 Traded to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off a 2017 season where they registered the worst passing defense in the NFL. The recent season wasn't been much different The Bucs D has improved but they could do even better with the addition of an elite CB this coming offseason.
Malcolm Butler would fit nicely in the Buccaneers’ system, who do boast a great pass-rushing defensive line, which has resulted in the Bucs recording the most INTs in the league. Adding Butler to the roster would further reduce the number of yards allowed in the air, which would be necessary if the Bucs are to content with for the NFC South Title.
4 Release: Travis Benjamin, Los Angeles Chargers
Travis Benjamin had the worst season of his seven-year NFL career. Following the 2015 season where Benjamin recorded 68 receptions and 966 yards with the Cleveland Browns, the San Diego Chargers signed the undersized WR to a four-year, $24 million deal. Benjamin played well over the first two of those seasons, hauling in 47 and 34 receptions, respectively. This past season, Benjamin was fighting for offensive snaps with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams; with his teammates playing so well, Benjamin isn’t earning many chances to get into the game.
If the Chargers release Benjamin during the final year of his contract, it would save the team $5.25 million next season. The extra salary cap room would allow the Chargers to both resign Tyrell Williams and upgrade another position on their roster.
3 Trade: Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
During the 2010 NFL Entry Draft, Reshad Jones was the steal of the draft; he has been Miami’s starting safety since his second NFL season, and has made the Pro Bowl in two of his last three seasons. This year, however, he is on pace to record his worst stats since 2011, the year he was named starter. It appears that the 30-year-old has started to decline, and Miami should capitalize on his reputation to get the best return possible for him.
Jones will be put on the trading block in the off-season, and Miami will have several offers to choose from, hopefully causing a bidding war for Jones’ services.
2 Traded to Seattle Seahawks
Next offseason, the Seattle Seahawks will be without a starting aafety, as Earl Thomas will undoubtably not resign with the team. While Thomas has been dealing with injury this season, Bradley McDougald has stepped in as starter, but hasn’t been able to live up to that role. This season’s free agent class at Safety has only a couple of elite players, which forces teams to look for replacements via a trade.
The Seahawks will be looking to acquire a Safety this offseason, and Reshad Jones would be a perfect fit to replace Earl Thomas. Jones has a similar playing style to Thomas, and would thrive playing for a team so focused on defense. While the trade would cost the Seahawks a talented player or a top round draft pick, it would be worth it for Seattle.
1 Release: Allen Hurns, Dallas Cowboys
Over the 2018 offseason, the Dallas Cowboys signed Allen Hurns to a two-year, $12 million deal. At that time, he was projected to be one of the top receiving options for QB Dak Prescott, but the two players have since had trouble building chemistry. The Cowboys began the 2018 NFL season with a 3-5 record, and a passing offense ranked near the bottom of the league. Through those eight games, Hurns was targeted 29 times but recorded only 14 receptions.
Prior to their 5fifth loss of the season, the Cowboys traded for WR Amari Cooper. The Cowboys now find themselves with the reciver they wanted. Cooper has completely overshadowed Hurns, and releasing Hurns at the end of the season will save the Cowboys $5 million on the cap next year.