In today's world of the NFL, there is a very simple formula to win: be the better team. How do you be the better team? Get play-makers on both sides of the ball. There are some teams that used that specific theory and came away with great results. The 2013 Broncos had a great defense led by pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. They also had a strong running game and a great quarterback in future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. You can also look at teams like the 2007 and 2011 New York Giants. They both had Eli Manning for their quarterback and played good enough defense in the big game to take home two Lombardi trophies. The big thing in the NFL right now is offense which requires you to have a good quarterback, running back, and wide receiver trio in the system.
Having a good QB, RB, and WR trio can do wonders for teams. Look at the New England Patriots last season as the prime example. They have arguably the greatest QB of all time in Tom Brady. They have James White who ended up scoring 20 of New England's 34 points in the Super Bowl, and Julian Edelman who has become Tom Brady's favorite target over the past few seasons. The offseason is a few weeks away and it is never too early to take a look at potential shakeups that we might not have seen coming. With that said, let's examine eight NFL QB, RB, and WR trios that could split up this off-season and seven that could form.
15 Split Up: Jay Cutler/Ryan Tannehill, Kenyon Drake, Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins)
The Miami Dolphins are in a tough spot in the AFC East. They always have to deal with the New England Patriots for two games a year, even though sometimes they split with them. They also have the up and coming Buffalo Bills to deal with. They looked to build off a 2016 playoff appearance, but fell short in 2017 as they finished 6-10. There could be some changes coming in Miami, starting with their trio.
Jay Cutler most likely will not be back as Ryan Tannehill should be back from his ACL injury. Kenyon Drake did a great job of picking up the slack for Jay Ajayi after he was traded to the Eagles, so he could be a piece to build around. That leaves wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who is a free agent. There are rumblings he would even consider signing with New England, but that remains to be seen. Despite setting the franchise record for single-season catches (twice) the Fins have yet to offer Landry an extension. All signs point to Landry leaving.
14 Form: Andrew Luck, Saquon Barkley, T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts)
The Indianapolis Colts seemed to have been a doormat for teams in the AFC. They had the franchise quarterback supposedly in Andrew Luck, but questions remain about his shoulder surgery and if he will ever come back to be the same player.
Assuming Andrew Luck is healthy next year, the QB problem is already solved in Indianapolis. However for Luck to ever bring the Colts to the promise land, he badly needs some help on offense. While Frank Gore again managed to rush for 1,000 yards this season, he doesn't have the game breaking ability he once did. Fortunately for the Colts, they're in a great position to draft Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, who should fall to them at no.3. Barkley is a do-it-all back and is easily the best option for the Colts to upgrade their backfield.
No need to worry at wide receiver, as the team still has T.Y. Hilton. Combining those three together could make for an explosive and high scoring offense to turn the Colts back into a playoff contender in the AFC.
13 Split Up: Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)
The Pittsburgh Steelers were upset at home this season in the AFC divisional game by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers have arguably the best running back in the game in Le'Veon Bell and best wide receiver in the game in Antonio Brown. They also have a good quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. But this trio could be splitting up for good.
Le'Veon Bell is a free agent and has publicly said he would consider retirement if he got franchise tagged again. Bell would get a lot of offers and could pick just about any team he would be willing to go to. Big Ben has also considered maybe retiring, but also said he wants to come back in 2018, so he is unsure of his future. Brown looks like he will stay put but the other two are in serious question. This trio could realistically be done playing together for good after this offseason. The Steelers have already let offensive coordinator Todd Haley walk, so you wonder how much more change there could be.
12 Form: Aaron Rodgers, Le'Veon Bell, Jordy Nelson (Green Bay Packers)
The Green Bay Packers had some back luck in the 2017 season. They lost franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a collarbone injury which cost him a good part of his season. This proved that the Packers are not nearly the same team without him as they are with him. With free agency coming very soon, they could look to strengthen their backfield. Maybe they could pick up a disgruntled running back from Pittsburgh to help out?
Le'Veon Bell could be the answer the Packers are looking for. Bell has threatened retirement, and if he and the Steelers can't work anything out, they could either consider a trade for his rights. Bell going to Green Bay would be an interesting fit. Obviously, he could play with Aaron Rodgers to start. He also could play with Jordy Nelson, who has proven he can put up big numbers with Rodgers looking to him a good majority of the time. Crazier things have happened, but anything is possible if the deal is right. The Packers' window lies with the health of Aaron Rodgers, but giving him a great running game would help immensely.
11 Split Up: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant (Dallas Cowboys)
When Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott first took the league by storm as rookies, many thought the Cowboys had found their magic trio that would lead the team to Super Bowls much like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin did. However, after two years together, it's evident that Dez Bryant may not be the final piece for the magical trio. While Dak and Zeke seem to be entrenched in the team's long-term plans, Dez Bryant's game has slipped by his standards. He hasn't been able to create separation with defenders and his stats have declined in the last three seasons.
The Cowboys could very well look to move on from Bryant and save $8.5 million on their cap by cutting him, or possibly trading him. Bryant has two years left on his deal, and there definitely is a team out there that'd be willing to take him. Perhaps the Cowboys would look for a receiver who would mesh better with Prescott.
10 Form: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Jarvis Landry (Dallas Cowboys)
There's no way Jerry Jones would cut ties with Dez Bryant unless he had an immediate answer to the no.1 receiver spot in Dallas. Enter Jarvis Landry, who's set to hit the free agent market, with no long-term deal in place with Miami. Whereas Dez Bryant's stats have dipped the last few seaons, Landry continued to produce this season, despite the Dolphins offense being out of sync so often and Jay Cutler instilling little confidence in Miami.
Landry finds ways to get the ball, something Bryant has had trouble doing and even on a team that relies on Ezekiel Elliott, Landry would still find ways to make plays when the ball's in his hands. He's a perfect fit for Prescott, who needs a go-to target at receiver with Bryant declining and Jason Witten's effectiveness dwindling.
9 Split Up: Jimmy Garoppolo, Carlos Hyde, Marquise Goodwin (San Francisco 49ers)
The first trio to likely be split up is in the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers had a tough first 11 games of the 2017 season, going 1-10. But then their fortunes started to change when they made a stunning trade with the New England Patriots to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G responded by leading the 49ers to a 5-0 record the last five games of the season and gave 49ers fans something to look forward to. They have a quality running back in Carlos Hyde and a good deep threat in Marquise Goodwin. But this trio might not be together for long.
Garoppolo and Hyde are both set to hit free agency. Jimmy G is a virtual lock to be re-signed by San Fran, or at least get franchise tagged. However, Hyde could very well look to go to a contender and add depth to a backfield. Goodwin seems like he'll stick around, with the 49ers receiving corps already lacking depth. It would be great to see this trio together and play for a full season next year, but with their contract situations, it's unlikely.
8 Form: Sam Bradford, Orleans Darkwa, Odell Beckham (New York Giants)
The New York Giants look like they are heading toward a retooling phase. They finished 3-13 while firing coach Ben McAdoo during the process. Eli Manning looks to be at the end of his career and it is time to change things up. Minnesota has all three quarterbacks heading to free agency and the Giants could lure a certain former Oklahoma star and number one overall draft pick to New York to take over the Giants.
The Giants have two good pieces in place with running back Orleans Darkwa and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. looking to return. Darkwa got more touches this season and will look to expand on that next season. Beckham has made a reputation for himself as a top five wide receiver in the league.
Adding Sam Bradford to the mix could be beneficial. He has proven he can move the ball down the field with good weapons around him. With Pat Shurmur coming to coach the Giants, he and Bradford have history together and if Bradford stays healthy, the Giants could see some rapid improvement.
7 Split Up: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Sammy Watkins (L.A. Rams)
The Los Angeles Rams are a young team that look to be on the rise in the NFC is all of their pieces stay in place. The only problem is that it doesn't look like their trio will stay put. Jared Goff seemed to take a step forward this season as a second year quarterback. Todd Gurley rushed for over 1,000 yards and was in strong consideration for the MVP award. They traded for wide receiver Sammy Watkins in Buffalo. But don't look for Watkins to return to the Rams next season.
Watkins has proven he can be a deep threat receiver with a good quarterback throwing to him. Watkins is a free agent and while he had his moments in L.A, he wasn't the consistent threat the Rams expected him to be. The Saints could be a potential fit, Drew Brees could use another weapon besides Michael Thomas .But don't look for this group to continue on when the 2018 season comes upon us.
6 Form: Alex Smith, LeSean McCoy, Kelvin Benjamin (Buffalo Bills)
The Buffalo Bills finally did it! No, they didn't win the Super Bowl. But, they finally made the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They had the longest playoff drought of any NFL team, but finally made its way in. Unfortunately, they were bounced first round. Tyrod Taylor isn't the guy to lead the Bills at quarterback, but could a certain Raiders quarterback be that missing piece?
The Bills haven't had a good passing quarterback since the days of Jim Kelly. Adding a guy like Alex Smith could be really beneficial for the Bills. It looks like the Chiefs are moving on to Patrick Mahomes and, but Smith would be a big time upgrade at QB in Buffalo. He would have a dynamic running back in LeSean McCoy. He would have a deep threat in Kelvin Benjamin and Smith proved at times this season he could connect on the deep ball. If the Bills are smart, they do whatever it takes to get Smith and form a fun trio to watch in 2018.
5 Split Up: Blake Bortles, Leonard Fournette, Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have proven that with time, things can become better for you in the NFL. After several last place finishes, they earned a 3 seed in the NFL playoffs this season behind a great defense and prolific running game. They are now playing for a spot in the Super Bowl, but have to go through the Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts to do so. Their offense has done just enough this season to get the Jags to this point, but don't expect this trio to stick around after this year.
Blake Bortles has shown in the playoffs so far that he can do enough to help a team make a postseason run. Leonard Fournette has shown in his rookie season that he can handle being the main runner in the backfield coming out of LSU. Allen Robinson has been hurt this season, but is a free agent this off-season. Robinson might not like the Jags contract offer and unless they franchise tag him, Robinson could walk out the door to take his services elsewhere and split up this trio.
4 Form: Josh McCown, Carlos Hyde, Jermaine Kearse (New York Jets)
The New York Jets are a team in a weird position. They were projected to win less than five games this season and they surprised some people by going 5-11. They have the sixth pick in the upcoming draft and also might be looking to add via free agency. Last off-season, they added Matt Forte and thought he could help out in the backfield. That didn't work out well, so they could add a running back from the NFC to help.
Josh McCown had an okay year for the Jets, so he will probably be re-signed to a one year deal, with the Jets likely drafting his long-term replacement. Jermaine Kearse proved during his time in Seattle that he can be effective for a good offense. Adding Carlos Hyde would be a great fit for the Jets. He is tough, he is shifty, and can bring a new element of offense that the Jets didn't have last year in Forte. Plus, he won't require a big contract to get him as well. That trio could do wonders for the Jets future.
3 Split Up: Tom Brady, Dion Lewis, Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)
This next one might come as a surprise to a lot of people. The New England Patriots have proven to be the model of consistency for nearly two decades now. Behind head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots have been able to go to seven Super Bowls and win five of them. But their trio could break up and break the hearts of Patriots fans in the process.
Brady could very well retire if the Patriots win their sixth Super Bowl considering he is 0ver 40 years old. Dion Lewis is a free agent and could look to cash in on a good contract; just look at LeGarrette Blount going to the Eagles after last season's Super Bowl win. Julian Edelman has been out the entire season with a knee injury we've all seen Belichick be quick to pull the trigger at the slightest sign of decline. Even if Brady returns, Lewis could very well be on his way out, as can Edelman. Then again, everybody seems to be leaving New England after this season.
2 Form: Kirk Cousins, C.J. Anderson, Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
The Denver Broncos have now missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons after winning Super Bowl 50 in Peyton Manning's final NFL season. The Broncos have a good, reliable running back in C.J. Anderson and another solid piece in wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The Broncos need somebody that can sling the ball downfield without difficulty. Perhaps John Elway can call for the services of Kirk Cousins.
This is a move that seems to make too much sense for the Broncos. It would help them be more competitive again in the AFC, Cousins is a free agent, and he could fit right into the offense. Imagine Kirk Cousins throwing the ball to Thomas and other guys like Emmanuel Sanders? It seems like a good marriage that is just waiting to happen in Denver. Cousins, Anderson, and Thomas can form to be a trio that a lot of teams would have trouble containing.
1 Split Up: Case Keenum, Jerick McKinnon, Adam Thielen (Minnesota Vikings)
The Minnesota Vikings have turned into one of the biggest surprise teams in the NFL during the 2017 season. With a solid defense, a good running game, and a rebirth year from quarterback Case Keenum, the Vikings defied all expectations. Although Vikings fans are happy now, that could be short-lived. The combination of Keenum, Jerick McKinnon, and Adam Thielen could be no more.
Keenum is a free agent just like Bridgewater is. Although the Vikings could look to make him their QB of the future, he could always get a bigger contract in free agency. McKinnon could stay in Minnesota, but also could be upset with splitting reps with Latavius Murray, and Dalvin Cook who's going to return from injury next season. Adam Thielen has proven to be a trustworthy receiver this year for Keenum and looks to be staying with the Vikings. But Keenum has a chance to leave and potentially cash in on a really good 2017 season, which not a lot of people saw coming.
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