Recognizable National Football League names change teams literally every offseason for one reason or another. The hard salary cap utilized for the building and maintaining of rosters in the league leads to veterans and, in some cases, even stars becoming “salary cap casualties,” individuals released because their current clubs can no longer afford to keep them around. Those players change teams, in part, because they want to continue making as much money as they can while at the same time extending their careers. Others choose to change teams because they believe those organizations give them the best opportunities to chase rings, championships and Pro Bowl appearances before their careers end.
It must be pointed out that many of the players spotlighted in this piece had little, if any, choice regarding changing teams this past offseason. Front offices and general managers either move in different directions, or they offer players what they deem to be low-ball deals that are not worth signing. Hindsight is 20/20, as the adage says, and there is a long history of players later regretting changing teams during the winter or spring months because of varying factors. Leaving a championship franchise for money seems like a great idea at first, but cash isn’t everything, especially for somebody who has already made a solid living in the league.
20 Regret: Isaiah Crowell
Perhaps running back Isaiah Crowell picked the wrong time to make an exit from the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are a promising football team that features an offense with, believe it or not, a pair of decent, if not good, quarterbacks, a solid backfield and multiple weapons in the passing game. Rather than remaining with the Browns, Crowell instead agreed to a contract with the New York Jets in March. Sam Darnold is a potential future franchise QB, but the Jets will struggle to win games in 2018. Believe it or not, the Browns may legitimately be the better of the two teams if everything goes right for Cleveland.
19 Glad they did: Sam Bradford
One has to imagine that quarterback Sam Bradford is going to have zero negative feelings about signing with the Arizona Cardinals following the 2017 season, during which he had to step aside while featuring for the Minnesota Vikings because of lingering knee issues. The Cardinals made the move worth Bradford’s while, paying him $15 million in guaranteed money to compete for the starting job and also mentor rookie Josh Rosen. In total, the former first overall draft pick has made roughly $129 million off NFL salaries only. Bradford has had a great career, financially speaking, even if he has never guided a team to a title.
18 Regret: Brock Osweiler
We cannot emphasize this enough: Despite what Brock Osweiler is offered by any other team in the future, he needs to scratch, claw and do whatever else is needed to remain with the Denver Broncos. Osweiler’s career went down a dark path after he signed a massive contract with the Houston Texans following the 2015 season. In fact, he played so poorly with Houston that the team gave him to the Cleveland Browns in a deal Cleveland agreed to only because the team could afford to dump him while receiving a second-round pick in the process. After a second stint with the Broncos, Osweiler agreed to join the Miami Dolphins last March. South Beach will never be as kind to you as Colorado, Brock.
17 Glad they did: Sammy Watkins
Much like previously mentioned quarterback Sam Bradford, wide receiver Sammy Watkins has millions of reasons to be glad that he changed teams this past offseason. Watkins was traded by the Buffalo Bills to the Los Angeles Rams in the summer of 2017, and the Rams decided to not make the target-man a real offer after he and Jared Goff struggled to build long-term momentum. The Kansas City Chiefs were not too bothered about that or by Watkins’ injury history, as that franchise gave Watkins a contract that included $30 million in guaranteed cash. Watkins didn’t shine with the Chiefs during the preseason, but KC needs to be patient with him if the team wants to get the most out of his deal.
16 Regret: Allen Robinson
Once wide receiver Allen Robinson suffered a torn ACL in September 2017, his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars was, at best, in limbo, and finished entirely, at worst. In March, the Jaguars informed Robinson the team was not going to be using the franchise tag to retain him, and he ultimately cashed-in on a contract with the Chicago Bears that guarantees him over $25 million. Robinson may have been better off giving the Jaguars a bit of a hometown discount, especially if Mitch Trubisky doesn’t make needed improvements to his game in his second season. Robinson may wish he was playing alongside Cody Kessler, not Blake Bortles, in Jacksonville later this fall.
15 Glad they did: Richard Sherman
It was not all that long ago when the idea of defensive back Richard Sherman being released by the Seattle Seahawks and then signing with the San Francisco 49ers would have been a hint that his career was nearly over. Sherman may, in fact, be in the twilight of his playing days, but he is also probably happy to be away from Seattle considering that the Seahawks are in the middle of a rebuild, while the 49ers are a franchise on the way up thanks to several positive moves that have bolstered both sides of the lineup. The 49ers could, realistically, be the better of the two teams come next January.
14 Regret: Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis went from a running back with a career in jeopardy following multiple injuries to a Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. After playing on the Super Bowl LII New England team that lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, Lewis earned himself a nice contract with the Tennessee Titans. Will Lewis regret taking sides against the family — Tom Brady and Bill Belichick — in this instance? He’ll turn 28 years old this fall, and the Titans are not all that close to making a trip to the final game of the season anytime soon. For what it’s worth, he’s expected to be the top back in the Tennessee rushing attack at the start of the season.
13 Glad they did: Kirk Cousins
No player in this list is happier to have switched teams this past offseason than quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Washington Redskins, specifically owner Dan Snyder, never trusted Cousins to be the team’s answer at the position, and it often felt as if Snyder regretted the franchise drafting him in the first place. This past offseason, the Minnesota Vikings extended an offer to Cousins that guaranteed him $84 million to start under center for a team that nearly made it to the Super Bowl this past February. Cousins may never play on the final Sunday of a season, but he can rest easy knowing that he made it in a big way in the NFL.
12 Regret: Donte Moncrief
If we are talking about money and nothing else, than wide receiver Donte Moncrief is probably glad that he changed teams from the Indianapolis Colts to the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this year. The Jaguars paid Moncrief $9.6 million, a staggering amount of money for a receiver with such an unimpressive resume. One reason Moncrief may find himself regretting this decision is that he will be playing alongside Blake Bortles (or maybe Cody Kessler) and not Andrew Luck, who is fully healthy and ready to begin the season back under center. Luck could have made Moncrief even more money if the signal-caller’s shoulder remains at 100 percent for 16 games.
11 Glad they did: Jimmy Graham
Tight end Jimmy Graham should feel great about changing teams this past offseason. He was one of several individuals to depart the sinking ship that is the Seattle Seahawks. Along with earning a contract from the Green Bay Packers that could be worth up to $30 million over three years, the future Hall of Famer also has an opportunity to play alongside Aaron Rodgers, who may be the best quarterback in the business when he is healthy. Rodgers and Graham is a nightmare duo in red-zone situations. It’s one that could also be a lot of fun to watch for neutral observers. This could be his final chance to win a Super Bowl ring.
10 Regret: Jordy Nelson
Unlike Jimmy Graham, this portion of the piece involves an individual who changed teams and moved away from the Green Bay Packers earlier this year. Veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson became yet another example of the Packers not paying somebody who had spent quite a bit of time — a decade in this instance — with the team, and he signed with the Oakland Raiders in March. $13 million in guaranteed money is nothing to sneeze at, but we’ve seen what happens when these types of receivers leave the only NFL homes they’ve known in the final years of their careers. Nelson could be missing the cold air of Lambeau Field in December.
9 Glad they did: Ndamukong Suh
We do not have to guess or wonder if defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is glad that he switched teams and signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams earlier this year. For starters, the Rams are paying him at least $14 million to feature for the club for a single year. Suh has also taken some shots at the Miami Dolphins, his former team and a side that may struggle to finish the year with a .500 record, on social media. Meanwhile, the Rams are a sexy pick to embark on a lengthy postseason run in season previews. We imagine Suh is not missing his former team one bit in September.
8 Regret: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was part of a New York Giants secondary that, like most of the team, struggled to live up to expectations throughout a disappointing 2017 season. Once general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur took control of the organization, it was learned that Rodgers-Cromartie was going to be moved to safety, but the Giants then surprisingly released him in March to save cash. The thought, at the time, was that the two could come back together if they agreed upon a price, but he eventually landed an unimpressive deal with the Oakland Raiders. Both the Giants and DRC may wish they would have negotiated differently earlier this summer.
7 Glad they did: Jason Pierre-Paul
As much as those who fancy themselves as hot-take artists may not like it, there are instances when a trade works out for everybody involved. In dealing defensive end and pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year, the New York Giants freed necessary salary cap space, some of which was utilized to sign wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to an extension. Meanwhile, Pierre-Paul joined a team that needed help in its pass rush and also a system that should, theoretically, be better for him than a new-look New York defense. Maybe Pierre-Paul and the Giants will enjoy a reunion down the road.
6 Regret: LeGarrette Blount
The market for veteran running backs with a reputation for being bruising ball-carriers is not what it was even a decade ago, but it was still somewhat of a surprise when LeGarrette Blount signed a deal with the Detroit Lions. That contract pays Blount only $2 million in guaranteed money, and his role with the club could, and likely will, be in doubt once rookie Kerryon Johnson gets up to speed. Numerous scouting reports and fantasy football previews are high in Johnson, to the point that he is a sleeper candidate to win Rookie of the Year. Johnson taking carries from Blount seems an inevitability. For all we know, the 31-year-old may be just fine with that.
5 Glad they did: Tyrann Mathieu
There is something to be said for a player who is willing to bet on himself and prove doubters wrong, and that is what safety Tyrann Mathieu did when he signed a one-year contract with the Houston Texans this past March instead of taking a cut in pay to stay with the Arizona Cardinals. Mathieu is hoping that he can earn a better deal with either Houston or another team following the 2018 campaign, and he goes from playing for an Arizona side that is in reset mode for the upcoming year to a Houston team that can make the playoffs if quarterback Deshaun Watson avoids another physical setback.
4 Regret: Jonathan Stewart
Everybody except for the accountant for running back Jonathan Stewart may be regretting that Stewart changed teams this offseason. Stewart was the Carolina Panthers all-time leading rusher and a franchise icon when he and the club went in different directions after the 2017 season, but his career continued after he came to terms on a deal with the New York Giants. That marriage has not gone well despite the fact that Stewart earned a few million bucks along the way. He has looked ancient in practices and in preseason games. The Giants have no reason to keep him on the roster even if rookie Saquon Barkley stumbles out of the gates.
3 Glad they did: Jarvis Landry
It is rare, if ever, that you will hear somebody who is happy about moving from Miami to Cleveland, but that appears to be the case regarding wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The Miami Dolphins granted Landry permission to seek out a trade in March, and he found a spot with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland then paid Landry to the tune of $47 million in guaranteed money via a contact that could be worth $75 million. Landry has become a vocal leader for a team that is looking to right the ship following an 0-16 campaign, and he will immediately become the No. 1 wide receiver for either Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield.
2 Regret: AJ McCarron
Remember when AJ McCarron filed a grievance so that he could leave the Cincinnati Bengals and become a free agent last offseason? McCarron earned himself millions of dollars doing so thanks to signing with the Buffalo Bills, but it looks like that was not the smartest career move he could have made. In fact, McCarron played so badly during August exhibition games, there were some who believed the Bills should part ways with him however possible. McCarron is going to lose his spot on the depth chart and in the starting lineup to Josh Allen sooner than later. At least he can know that he got paid before that happened.
Editor's Note: McCarron has been traded to the Raiders, where he'll backup Derek Carr.
1 Glad they did: Nate Solder
Former New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder may never win a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, but he won’t regret the move regardless. The Giants overpaid for Solder’s services due to a lack of talent on the offensive line, giving the veteran a contract that includes almost $35 million in guaranteed money. Moving to the New York region provides Solder with something better than rings and cash: top-tier hospitals and assistance for his two-year old son, Hudson, who is battling a form of kidney cancer. NFL fans around the league will be rooting for the Solder family to win off the field.