It seems like the NFL has no off-season these days because all the player movement keeps the league in the news every month of the year. During Super Bowl week the first off-season domino fell much earlier than normal when Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins. That meant their current quarterback Kirk Cousins was free to hit the open market and the bidding began to sign him. If Kansas City was that quick to move their franchise QB, it can only be imagined that the rest of the teams will follow suit and be as fast as possible in pursuing a new QB under centre for next season.
There are plenty of other players around the league that should switch teams, but the players that get the most attention in today’s NFL are arguably the quarterbacks and receivers. It is a pass happy league and fans love to see touchdowns, so it is no wonder why the players who throw and catch touchdowns are some of the most notable players in the league. This off-season there is expected to be a quarterback carousel with unprecedented player movement in free agency and through trades. This list consists of the 8 quarterbacks and receivers that are most likely going to leave their teams this off-season.
16. QB: Tyrod Taylor
Another quarterback that was disrespected by his team by being benched this season was Tyrod Taylor. Even though they were in the playoff hunt Taylor was peculiarly benched for rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman. The rookie then threw 4 interceptions in one half and then the Bills told Taylor to go back in. Taylor is better off going to a team that actually appreciates him and will commit to him being the starter long term. Taylor does not throw that many interceptions and is a duel threat at the position, so he would be an upgrade for some teams looking for a quarterback. The Bills will save a ton of money if they cut him this off season so it is likely he is done in Buffalo.
15. WR: Odell Beckham Jr
The New York Giants have been mired in controversy all season. While a lot of that has been fixed with the firing of coach Ben McAdoo, Some of the damage has been irreparable. When the decision was made to bench Eli Manning, ending his consecutive games started streak, the writing was on the wall.
The team has a great core of players, but Odell Beckham Jr may not want to stick around for the development. He is a fierce competitor, and may not want to have to wait for the Giants to once again become a contender. In a division that looks like it will be owned by the Eagles for the foreseeable future, Odell Beckham Jr may actually jump to the rivals to play with potential league MVP Carson Wentz.
14. QB: Sam Bradford
It’s difficult to remember now, but Sam Bradford was the starter of the Minnesota Vikings at the beginning of the season. He played well before he went down with an injury, yet backup quarterback Case Keenum seized the moment and went on an incredible run the NFC Championship game. Now Bradford is the odd man out in the quarterback room for the Vikings because Teddy Bridgewater is supposed to be the future and Case Keenum played well this season. Both Bradford and Keenum’s contracts end this offseason, so the Vikings will have a big decision to make between the two. It is likely that they let Bradford go in free agency. He will have plenty of teams give him offers because there just are not that many good quarterbacks out there to choose from.
13. WR: Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas is one of the greatest receivers in Denver Broncos history, but it might be time for him to find a team with a better quarterback who can actually get him the ball. Thomas dominated the NFL and was one of the best receivers in the league when he had Peyton Manning throwing the ball to him. However during the last couple of seasons with sub par quarterback play Thomas’ production has drastically declined. The Broncos could sign someone in the off season to remedy their quarterback issues or they could draft a young quarterback. If they go with someone young the Thomas should look to go to a team with an established veteran to rejuvenate his career. On the other hand if the Broncos sign someone like Kirk Cousins then he should come back and try to make it work with the team that drafted him.
12. QB: Josh McCown
Josh McCown has bounced around the NFL his entire career, so it would not be a surprise if he switched teams one more time before his career is over. He has played for almost ten teams in his career and he has been a backup for most of the teams he played for. He played relatively well as starter for the Jets this season, but he ended up on injured reserve. Injuries have been a big problem for him throughout his career. He could still be a serviceable backup for a team or even a temporary starter, but at this point in his career he is not a long-term investment. At 39 years of age he might even think about retiring. He has said he has plans to coach high school football in Texas after he calls it quits, so he is already thinking about life after football.
11. WR: Randall Cobb
Randall Cobb has made a living getting open in the slot playing for the Green Bay Packers. During that time he has been one of Aaron Rodgers’ favourite targets, a fan favourite, and one of the team’s most versatile players. All of this would make it seem like Cobb is destined to be a Packer for life, but after Davante Adams signed a contract extension this season to become one of the highest paid receivers in the league it seems like his days in Green Bay could be numbered. They also have Jordy Nelson on the roster and they would likely keep him over Cobb if they had to make a choice between the two. Cobb has a potential out in his contract this year and the team could save money by cutting him and drafting another slot receiver.
10. QB: Eli Manning
It’s not everyday you see a team bench a player that has been the face of their franchise their entire career, but that is what the Giants did to Eli Manning this season. In the midst of their most disappointing season of his entire career Manning was benched for Geno Smith who proved he was not a capable starter in New York with Jets already. Eli said during this season that he still has some good football left in the tank. If he went to a contending team like the Jacksonville Jaguars his big game experience might be enough to put them over the top. Manning has close ties to Tom Coughlin who runs the show for them and he might take a chance on his old quarterback if he is let go.
9. WR: Sammy Watkins
Coming out of Clemson, Sammy Watkins was expected to come into the NFL and make an impact right away. He has shown flashes of play making ability throughout his career, but injuries eventually lead him to be traded to the Los Angeles Rams this season. No one expected the Rams to be as good as they were on offence this season under rookie head coach Sean McVay, but they were one of the highest scoring offences in the entire league for pretty much the entire season. It seemed like everyone on the offence had a career year besides Watkins, who was supposed to be the number one receiver. Watkins will be a free agent in the off season and he might be better off going to a team that is need of an outside deep threat. There are plenty of teams around the league that might be able to get more use out of Watkins and the Rams will be fine without him.
8. QB: Aaron Rodgers
This is highly unlikely to ever happen, but Aaron Rodgers has to be tired of carrying the team on his back in Green Bay. He has the talent and numbers to be considered one of the best quarterbacks ever, yet he only has one Super Bowl to his credit. The offence in Green Bay has never been an issue since Rodgers took command after sitting behind Brett Favre. The defence on the other hand has been an issue since they went on a Super Bowl run back in 2011. One can’t help but wonder how many Championships Rodgers would have if he had a better team around him. Rodgers has a potential opt out in his contract this year. Maybe he will do like his predecessor and run to Minnesota to join that incredible defence and chase a second Super Bowl ring.
7. WR: Terrelle Pryor
It is hard to remember now but Terrell Pryor came into the league as a dual threat quarterback. He even had some success at the position during his time in Oakland under head coach Hue Jackson. These days Pryor is using his big frame and athletic ability to play wide receiver. In his first full year at the position with the Browns playing with his old coach again Hue Jackson, Pryor had a break out season and looked like he had potential to be a star at the position. He parlayed that season into a one year deal with the Redskins, but he had a very disappointing season and ended up being injured for most of the year. Now that he is a free agent Pryor should go back to the one coach that he has had success with, Hue Jackson and the Cleveland Browns who need help at receiver.
6. QB: Jacoby Brissett
After being traded to the Indianapolis Colts this season, Jacoby Brissett proved that he could win games starting at quarterback in the NFL. It is hard to win with a weak Colt roster, yet he was able to keep them in most games they played in this season. He also played well when he had to fill in for Tom Brady when he was with the Patriots. Brissett has put enough good film out there to earn a shot to compete for a starting spot for another team. If he stayed with the Colts he would surely be the backup when Andrew Luck comes back from injury. Although he would be a good insurance policy if Luck were to be injured again or was not the same player he was before the injuries.
5. WR: Cole Beasley
During his time with the Dallas Cowboys, Cole Beasley has emerged into one of the best slot receivers in all of football. He originally went undrafted but he has worked his way into being a highly productive receiver in the NFL. He is solid, yet he might not do enough to justify paying him $3.25 million next season considering his workload decreased this season. The main reason why it will be easy for the Cowboys to move on from Beasley is because they have Ryan Swittzer who is pretty much a Cole Beasley clone on a contract for much cheaper. So far Switzer only has contributed on special teams as a returner but he was a great slot receiver in college. Beasley is might get cut for this reason, but he will surely find work elsewhere because he is only 28 and is in the prime of his career.
4. QB: A.J. McCarron
AJ McCarron has been stuck behind Andy Dalton in Cincinnati for far too long and he is good enough to start for another team. The Bengals already tried to trade him before the trade deadline to the Browns but the league denied the deal because it was not done in time. It was a total Browns move to make a trade too late, but they could still go after McCarron this off season. They have a ton of draft picks to make a trade still and they are in need of a quarterback. With Marvin Lewis coming back as head coach for the Bengals it is likely Andy Dalton will be the starter again next season, so McCarron should demand a trade if he does not get to start.
3. WR: Mike Wallace
Mike Wallace was once the number one deep threat in the NFL playing with Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is weird to think that he was even considered to be a better receiver than Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders at the time. Since he left Pittsburgh he has sort of fallen out of the limelight. He signed a big contract with the Dolphins and failed to produce, so he was traded to the Vikings. It was thought that he would start to put up big numbers with the Baltimore Ravens when he signed with them in 2016 because Joe Flacco has a big arm and can throw a decent deep ball. That was the case in his first year with them he went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since 2012. This season his numbers dropped off and he caught 20 less passes than the year before. Wallace should go to a contending team in free agency, so he can win a Championship before his career is over.
2. QB: Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins will for sure hit the free agent market this offseason after Alex Smith was traded to essentially replace him in Washington. Now after playing back-to-back seasons on the franchise tag, Cousins will look to set the record for the biggest contract of all-time when he inks his deal this summer in free agency. There are plenty of teams that could use him at quarterback and if he goes to the right team he could win a lot of games. It should say something about Cousins that the team that drafted him and had him start the past few seasons does not want to invest in him. However he has played fairly well during his time as starter and put up pretty big passing numbers. He is for sure going to sign a massive deal with some team and has already even been rumoured to be discussing a deal with the Denver Broncos.
1. WR: Martavis Bryant
Martavis Bryant’s Steeler career has been full of drama since it started in 2014. In his second season with the team Bryant was suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Then he got busted for the same thing again and was suspended for his entire third season in the NFL. In the middle of this season Bryant said he was frustrated with his playing time and demanded that he be traded. He is still under contract for next season and he has recently come out and said he would like to be a Steeler next season. However it would probably be best for both Bryant and the Steelers to move on from one another via trade. Bryant can go to another team to get more playing time and the Steelers can get a veteran presence to help stabilize their locker room.
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