Let’s skip ahead and take a look at the 2019 offseason. A limited amount of talent, but it will force teams to be much more aggressive. Last offseason there was definitely more talent in the draft, and more talent in free agency at certain positions. Nonetheless, it will be another interesting offseason.
What makes this offseason so special, is how good every team is. Obviously, the record may not show it for every team, but each team has the potential to be a playoff team with maybe a handful of teams that are far off. Just like how the regular season is competitive, the offseason is going to be just as competitive with some big-name players available.
The 2018 trade deadline proved how exciting the offseason could be. You have to expect the unexpected. That is what every fans mindset should be during this upcoming offseason. Nobody would have expected the Cowboys to give up a first round pick for Amari Cooper, or for the Eagles to acquire Golden Tate. Maybe that is the way it’s supposed to be. Teams have been getting more and more aggressive in the NFL, and it's working. Just look at the Rams after making a bevy of moves last offseason.
We’re going to look at the draft, free agency, and trades that will be the most surprising this offseason. These are 21 acquisitions that fans would not expect, including some of the biggest names in football, or the future biggest names. The NFL is about to get a lot more exciting, and that is a lot to say considering it’s been as fun of a season as it gets.
21 Trade: DeVante Parker To The Colts
It was pretty surprising that DeVante Parker wasn’t traded before the trade deadline. Many different reports had Parker being traded to the Cowboys for a sixth-round draft pick. Now that the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper, it looks like they will be going in a different direction.
While Parker has a lot of potential, he’s injury-prone. It doesn’t look like the Dolphins will want to spend more time waiting for him to stay healthy, especially with the other wide receiver talent they have. The Colts have a ton of money to spend in the offseason and give Andrew Luck another option that could help the future.
20 Signing: Jason Verrett To The Buccaneers
For five years, the Chargers have held on to Jason Verrett for only one full season to show for it. Verrett had an awesome 2015 season, where he had 12 pass deflections, three interceptions and a touchdown, which is why the Chargers held onto him for so long. Unfortunately, by the end of 2018, Verrett will have missed 60 games through five seasons. That’s just not enough to keep your job.
Verrett will test free agency and a desperate Buccaneers team will likely cave in. With the possibility that they lose Brent Grimes this offseason, they can take a chance at a cornerback who should come really cheap.
19 Draft Pick: Quinnen Williams To The 49ers
The 49ers have a few different ways they can go in the draft, but their defense needs to improve. They currently sit in a division that has running backs like Todd Gurley, Chris Carson, and David Johnson. The point is, this 49ers team needs to be able to clog up the middle to win divisional games.
Quinnen Williams is one of the best defensive tackles of the 2019 draft, and should immediately be able to help this defensive line. Through two seasons at Alabama, he has over 20 tackles for a loss and has also demonstrated the ability to rush the passer. The Niners could very well pick him if Nick Bosa is off the board.
18 Trade: Sterling Shepard To The Bills
Talk about a stunner, but a Sterling Shepard trade is not what anyone would expect. Shepard is expected to be a long-term fixture in New York, but the Giants may have other plans. It’s not that Shepard isn’t good enough, it’s almost as if he’s too good. He’s going to be approaching free agency soon, and he’s going to be pricey to re-sign. The Giants should do good for him and trade him where he will gain a larger role and get paid.
The Bills need receivers, and the chances that Kelvin Benjamin returns are slim to none. The Bills may bring in some other receiver help, but they should be committed to extending Shepard and turning him into a No. 1 receiver.
17 Signing: Kelvin Benjamin To The Titans
Kelvin Benjamin is not going get the contract he may desire. The criticisms of him as a teammate, and even his regression in play with bring down his value. Benjamin has the body and strength to be successful, yet struggles to create separation and to put the effort into being a top-tier wide receiver, like some thought he would be in Carolina.
That being said, the Titans are desperate. They could really use another talented receiver, and maybe Benjamin will play better somewhere that he’s not considered the No. 1 receiver. Playing behind Corey Davis will take some of the pressure off of him, and make him a threat in the passing game.
16 Draft Pick: A.J. Brown To The Raiders
It only took A.J. Brown one season in college to prove he’s a guaranteed first-round draft pick. Likely the top wide receiver in the 2019 draft, a lot of teams will be interested in the Ole Miss receiver. One team that definitely will be interested and make the move, is the Oakland Raiders.
Expect the Raiders to use their second first-round pick (which will likely be Dallas's) to take the wide receiver, which should help them replace Amari Cooper. With the Cooper trade and Jordy Nelson possibly about to retire, Jon Gruden needs to figure out his receiving corps for 2019. Brown is the start to the solution.
15 Trade: Jalen Ramsey To The Eagles
It's no secret that the Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the biggest disappointments of the 2018 season. After making it to the AFC Championship last year, they've gone back to the basement of the AFC South. Not only has their offense been a major weakness, but the vaunted 'Sacksonville' defense just isn't what it was a year ago. Ramsey's name recently surfaced in trade rumors. While Ramsey is one of the most talented corners in the game, we've seen players wear out their welcome.
One team that badly needs help in their secondary are the Philadelphia Eagles and the Eagles have never been shy to make bold moves. It's very possible the Eagles could offer a first rounder, and possibly a second rounder to pry Ramsey out of Jacksonville.
14 Signing: Tyrod Taylor To The Bills
It’s time for the Bills to correct their mistake. Everyone thought Tyrod Taylor was holding this offense back, with his inability to stretch the ball down the field. While Taylor may have not been the best option, Josh Allen’s performance proved this season that Taylor was a steady hand to have for this offense. Allen hasn't been able to stay healthy this season and the Bills could use a backup that's capable of winning some games if Allen doesn't work out.
Taylor knows this offense and is smart with the football. Taylor could sign a one-year deal to come in and help the progression of their young quarterback. This signing helps the Bills have a chance to win, while also helping Allen learn.
13 Draft Pick: Will Grier To The Buccaneers
Jameis Winston’s time in Tampa is coming to an end. The Buccaneers have to make a long-term decision with Winston, and right now they can’t even commit to him each game. This offseason, the Winston era could be over in Tampa. Will Grier could become the new future quarterback of the Buccaneers.
He has a strong personality, but a lot of talent. He's smart with the football and doesn’t take too many risks in running with it. That said, Grier has to develop more but has the features to transition nicely into the NFL. He could potentially fall in the draft, where the Bucs could wait it out until the second round, or trade back into the first.
12 Trade: Jameis Winston To The Dolphins
So, what happens to Jameis Winston if the Buccaneers draft Will Grier? In this scenario, Winston does stay in Florida, as he gets traded to the Dolphins. Winston’s contract will have to be reworked completely so the team can afford both quarterbacks. Or who knows, maybe the Dolphins could trade Ryan Tannehill.
Winston is not going to be guaranteed a starting position next year, which makes it difficult to project where he'll go. He has potential, but he hasn’t proved he’s worth a contract extension to the Buccaneers. Ryan Tannehill's future is up in the air in Miami and Winston could get an opportunity to start there and redeem himself.
11 Signing: Tyler Eifert To The Cowboys
Cowboy fans anticipate Jerry Jones looking for a tight end this offseason, and that may be the biggest move they make this offseason. Most fans expect Jerry Jones to go after Earl Thomas, but even that seems far-fetched after they acquired Amari Cooper during the 2018 season.
Eifert can be a cheaper signing because of the recent injuries but has a lot of upside. When healthy, Eifert is one of the better tight ends in the league. The Cowboys could sign him to a cheaper two-year deal, to help give an extra boost to this offense. In the case that Eifert stays healthy, this could be a phenomenal move.
10 Draft Pick: Drew Lock To The Broncos
It’s a bad time to be a Broncos fan. Fans are really starting to question John Elway and what he’s doing with this franchise. They were excited about Case Keenum, but he’s turned the ball over too many times this season for fans to like the signing. It doesn’t look like Keenum will take this team back to the playoffs, and they may move on from him following this season.
Back to the drawing boards Elway goes, as they will use the draft to build their future in our predicted scenario. They can draft Drew Lock out of Missouri. Lock has been really accurate, and is good with the football. He can run the football if need be, but he’s a pure passer.
9 Trade: DeSean Jackson To The Browns
A few teams have a lot of crucial decisions to make this offseason. The Buccaneers are one of them. DeSean Jackson has been great for the Bucs, but his age and price may be enough of a reason for the Buccaneers to trade him. It also doesn’t help that Adam Humphries is playing really well, and could take over as the No. 2 receiver.
Jackson will go to a playoff team, and the Browns will feel confident enough that they can compete in the AFC North. The Steelers won't be able to dominate the division forever, and a duo of DeSean Jackson and Jarvis Landry could really help Baker Mayfield in his second season.
8 Signing: Landon Collins To The Panthers
Time is ticking for Landon Collins in New York. The Giants are in the process of rebuilding, and Collins will be due for a big contract fairly soon. Collins struggles in coverage but is incredible against the run. What will really drive his value is his youth. Collins is only 24 years old, with a ton of football left to play.
Playoff contenders are going to be interested, and that is where the Panthers come in. While Eric Reid has played well, this is an opportunity for the Panthers to further improve their team. They can go after a talented safety, and immediately improve their secondary.
7 Draft Pick: Bryce Love To The Jets
Most people expect the Jets to go after Le’Veon Bell, but maybe this is where they play it smarter. They have seen that Isaiah Crowell can play well in that system, so instead of using a ton of cap space on a running back, they could decide to use the draft to find their franchise running back.
Bryce Love has been incredible, and with a season that is less impressive, he could drop to the second round. The Jets should find a way to get him and bring in the former Stanford running back. Love in 2017 rushed for 2,118 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Love brings life to this run game that has been inconsistent.
6 Trade: LeSean McCoy To the Eagles
Cue the music, LeSean McCoy is coming home. McCoy started his career in Philadelphia back in 2009 and played there through 2014. Reports surfaced that the Eagles would trade for McCoy before the trade deadline, but they stood pat. McCoy will be on the trade block, and the Eagles let their former running back finish his career in Philly.
McCoy has proved that he can still play at a high level, and he won’t have to do as much in a well-balanced offense. The Eagles could potentially give up a fourth rounder, as they improve their running game with McCoy.
5 Signing: Earl Thomas To The Chiefs
The Chiefs will be interested in a big-name safety this offseason. The one thing holding this team from being a clear AFC favorite is their defense. Basically, the Chiefs have to put up over 30 points a game in the playoffs to make it to the Super Bowl. That wouldn't be the case if the Chiefs had even an average defense, and they'll have to spend some money on defense this offseason. It's the ideal time, with stars like Patrick Mahomes and Kareem Hunt still on their rookie deals.
To help improve this secondary, they can bring in soon-to-be-former Seahawks safety, Earl Thomas. The Chiefs had some interest in Thomas before he got hurt, and now they will be more interested as the Cowboys will back away.
4 Draft Pick: Nick Bosa To The Raiders
Nick Bosa is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. That pick looks like it will belong to the Oakland Raiders. Bosa has been solid at Ohio State and is viewed as the top pass rusher in this draft. With the Raiders trading away Khalil Mack and releasing Bruce Irvin, this team desperately needs a pass rusher.
This is a defense heavy draft, and Jon Gruden will take the best available player to start. He may not be Mack yet, but he’s a pass rusher that has a ton of potential. It's a perfect storm of arguably the best player in the draft also filling a top need for Oakland.
3 Trade: Eli Manning To The Jaguars
Fans can see that Eli Manning does not want to retire yet. Manning still seems to be enjoying playing football and doesn't seem like he wants to retire after the season. Unfortunately, the Giants will likely have other plans, as they look to add a spark to this offense.
Eli will likely have the opportunity to join his former coach, Tom Coughlin, down in Jacksonville. While Eli has struggled and is turning 38 in January, he’s still an upgrade over Blake Bortles. The Jaguars have come out flat this season, and really need an improvement from their quarterback. Eli should benefit from a better offensive line, and one of the best defenses in the game.
2 Signing: Le'Veon Bell To The 49ers
Well, the soap opera in Pittsburgh is officially over. Le’Veon Bell will not play this season, and he will be entering free agency this coming offseason. Right now, the front-runners are the New York Jets. After all, they have a need at running back and the cap space to pay Bell what he wants. But watch out for a dark horse team to emerge.
While the San Francisco 49ers are paying Jimmy Garoppolo a lot of money and just signed Jerick McKinnon last offseason, Kyle Shanahan needs a true game breaker in his offense and Bell would certainly provide that. Bell might not get the contract he's looking for and if he's willing to come down on his price, the 49ers would be a good fit. Oh, and they still have over $60 million in cap space to work with in 2019.
1 Draft Pick: Justin Herbert To The Giants
Reports have it that Justin Herbert will be returning to Oregon. With the amount of interest the Giants have in Herbert, that may not happen. With a team like the Giants having a clear need for a quarterback and Herbert expected to be the first QB off the board, it's an opportunity he can't pass up. Playing for the Giants is an ideal scenario for a young quarterback coming into the league. If the Giants draft him, he will get to join a team loaded with offensive weapons that could make his life easier transitioning into the NFL.
If the offensive line improves, Herbert is in a great position. It’s a matter of him making the decision to head into the draft and leave school. There’s still time, and while it doesn’t seem likely now, eventually his decision will change.