This NFL offseason is shaping up to have wild unpredictable drama more so than any year before, and the only thing that is predictable about it will be that there will be major player movement throughout the entire league. It is expected that a bunch of quarterbacks will be on the move this offseason through trades and free agency, and that could really shake up the NFL landscape. In the modern free agent era players now switch teams more than ever, and many players of all positions will switch teams this offseason as well.
There are many different reasons why a player ends up leaving his team. It could be that his play has declined, he has had injury problems, or he could not get along with teammates or coaches. The players that made this list are likely to leave their current squads for one or more of these reasons. Some of them are relatively young in their career and still have a lot of good football left, so they are valuable assets that another team would want. Other players on this list have been established veterans for quite sometime that are looking for possibly their last contract elsewhere. Some of these guys will be free agents at the end of the season, so they will be free to choose any team they want. Others will have to wait for their team to trade them because they will still be under contract.
16. Offensive: Sam Bradford
The Vikings quarterback situation has been questionable since the beginning of last season when Teddy Bridgewater went down with a major knee injury. After that giant road bump they traded for Sam Bradford who filled in nicely until his own knee injury put him out this season. Keenum has played shockingly well this year after stinking it up with the Rams under Jeff Fisher last season. This makes what will the Vikings do at quarterback for next season a giant question mark. A lot will depend on how Keenum plays in the playoffs, if the team makes a deep run then it is almost certain they will let Bradford walk this offseason as a free agent. Even if the Vikings go one and done it is still likely that he has played his last snap for the team considering his age and injury history.
15. Defensive: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
It seems like ancient history now, but early in his career Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was considered one of the best up and coming corners in football. He made a name for himself as one of the fastest players in the entire league. Fast forward to right now and he can barely even get playing time on a Giants team that has struggled to compete all year. The Giants will have to pay him 6.5 million dollars next season and he will cost 8.5 million against their salary cap. This is far too much money to waste on a player who is only the slot corner for the team. Basically Rodgers-Cromartie will probably be cut for financial reasons before next year. He should have some suitors in free agency because of his big name, but he will definitely have to take a pay cut to find a new team.
14. Offensive: Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant has been the Cowboys go to guy at receiver since he was drafted in 2010 out of Oklahoma State. He is known for using his great athletic ability to go over the top of defenders and come down with a big catch at the right time. The problem for the Cowboys is that Bryant is making less and less of those plays as each season goes by. After a game this season Dak Prescott had some interesting comments about Dez’s dropped pass saying “I think I have to throw him a better ball. Just put it right there on his face mask and don’t give him a chance to drop it, I guess.” If those two are not on the same page than it could be smart for Bryant to go to a new team for the tail end of his career. Perhaps state rival Houston?
13. Defensive: Pernell McPhee
Pernell McPhee has been a very solid defensive end for the Bears for the better part of his career. He is looked at as one of the leaders on the team especially on defence and that is why he is one of the team captains. However over the past few seasons his play has started to decline. The Chicago Bears are in the middle of a rebuild, so it would be smart for them to try to get younger at every position. If the Bears do decide to cut him they would only have to take a cap hit of 1 million dollars and that is why he is likely to get released. With most of the teams in front of the Bears in the draft needing a quarterback, they are in perfect position to draft an impact defender at the top of the 2018 draft.
12. Offensive: DeMarco Murray
After his one disappointing season with the Philadelphia Eagles in Chip Kelly’s offence, DeMarco Murray rejuvenated his career with the Tennessee Titans. This year his numbers have dropped off significantly and he has only rushed for 659 yards on less than 200 carries. The main reason for his drop in production is that he has to split carries with a young Derrick Henry. This season Henry has proven he is the better back pulling off multiple runs of over 40 yards to win games as time expired this season. The Titans can cut Murray this offseason and save some money and get better at running back at the same time. Murray has a third degree MCL year after injuring his knee against the Rams. He plans to play through the injury, but if he wants to have an increased role next season he should go to another team.
11. Defensive: Muhammad Wilkerson
Muhammad Wilkerson has been a vital member of the Jets defensive front for almost his entire career. Just as recently as 2015 he went to the Pro Bowl and had a 12 sack season. After his big year, the Jets decided to lock him up to a 5 year contract worth $86 million. That has proven to be a bad investment and he has played bad ever since he was given the big money. Somehow he has only produced 8 sacks in the past two seasons. Not only has his play been bad, but he has missed practices and team meetings as well. The Jets will likely have a young quarterback starting for them next season, so there is no need to overpay anyone on a non-contender. If a top team like the Patriots could find a way to motivate Wilkerson again he could be a steal signing this offseason.
10. Offensive: Blake Bortles
Before the season started Blake Bortles was benched in the preseason for back up quarterback Chad Henne. That should say everything about what the Jaguars think of Bortles long term. Quarterback has been the weak link of the Jaguars for quite sometime. However in the second half of the season, Bortles has played surprisingly well. His stellar play combined with the number one defence in the league helped the Jags secure their first playoff appearance this decade, and snapped one of the longest playoff football droughts in the league. Yet this means nothing if Bortles reverts back to his old turnover prone self this postseason. If the Jaguars lose at home in the first round of the playoffs, then look for Tom Coughlin to shake things up in Jacksonville. He could even go after his old quarterback Eli Manning if the Giants cut him this offseason.
9. Defensive: Eli Apple
What a roller coaster ride the past two seasons have been for Eli Apple after being drafted in the first round by the Giants out of Ohio State. This season Apple’s teammates have already called him “the worst teammate I’ve ever had.” Coming into the draft many scouts questioned whether he was first round worthy due to his character concerns. That has come to fruition this year and just this week he was suspended from the team for getting into an argument with some of the Giant’s coaching staff. Apple is now going finish the season on the inactive list and it is going to be hard to justify bringing him back next year. There is sure to be a team that will take a chance and trade a lower end draft pick for a player who was just taken in the first round just two years ago.
8. Offensive: CJ Anderson
Anderson has proven he can be a workhorse back for a team the past few seasons. He was a key member of the Bronco team that won Super Bowl 50 and even scored the touchdown that sealed the victory for them in that game. This decision might be based on what the Broncos do in the draft. They are in prime position to take a quarterback they like in the top 10, but if a talented running back like Saquon Barkley falls to them they might not be able to pass him up and that would mean Anderson would likely be cut. The Broncos will save $4.5 million if they release Anderson this offseason. That is a hefty price to pay for a running back who had injury problems in the past. Bronco fans might not want to hear this, but he would look great in the silver and black.
7. Defensive: Kyle Fuller
Kyle Fuller looked like the future of the Chicago Bears secondary after his stellar rookie season in 2014. Since then Fuller has had an injury plagued career, and with his rookie contract coming to an end this offseason the Bears have a big decision to make at corner. They can always place the franchise tag on him, but that would be a hefty price to pay someone big time money for a year if he might not be able to stay on the field. The reason why Fuller will be a free agent this offseason is because the Bears declined his fifth year option on his contract after Fuller missed the entire 2016 season with a major knee injury. If the Bears do not try to resign him he will surely have a team take a chance on him, because he is in the prime of his career.
6. Offensive: Randall Cobb
The Packers have a huge decision to make at the receiver position this offseason. Since Devante Adams has blossomed into their number one receiver they just signed him to a 4 year $58 million extension. This means the Packers will have three big money receivers on their roster and one of them might have to be cut. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have been great receivers for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for quite some time. Since Nelson is Rodgers favourite target he will probably be the one to stay on the roster. This leaves Cobb as the odd man out in this scenario and causing him to be cut before next season starts. He still is fairly young in his career and has some good football left in him, so it will not be hard for him to find a new team.
5. Defensive: Haloti Ngata
Haloti Ngata might actually be better off retiring instead of going to a new team, but it is unlikely that he ends up back on the Detroit Lions next season. This season he has had to deal with injury problems and that has caused his playing time and production to decline rapidly. He used to be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the entire NFL, so he could still help a team that is trying to get over the hump. He also has a ton of playoff experience and he has already won a Super Bowl. That type of knowledge would be great to pass on to a young team like the Eagles who might be Championship contenders next season. Ngata deserves to have one more season with a contending team and the Lions did not look like they were close this season.
4. Offensive: Alex Smith
The sign that Alex Smith was not the Chiefs future came during this year’s NFL draft, when the Chiefs traded all the way up to number 10 to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Smith was considered an MVP candidate early on in the year, but after the Chiefs lost four straight games in the middle of the season that talk dried up very quickly. The game against the Broncos will be the first chance to see Mahomes start for the Chiefs. If he plays well and Smith underperforms in the playoffs again it is unlikely that Smith will be the quarterback for the Chiefs next year. Smith is under contract for next year so he would have to be traded, but it should not be hard to find a team to trade with because it is a quarterback needy NFL.
3. Defensive: Dion Jordan
Dion Jordan was declared a massive bust after the Miami Dolphins drafted him at number 3 overall out of Oregon in the 2013 draft and he did relatively nothing for them. Jordan’s career as a Dolphin ultimately ended in him getting suspended multiple times for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing substance policy. The Seahawks have been known to take chances on players, so it was a good place for Jordan to show the rest of the league what he could do. Now that he has shown on tape he can get after the quarterback at the pro level, now maybe another team will throw a decent offer Jordan’s way. Jordan is playing at pretty much the league minimum at $615,000 per season a far cry from the many he was making as a top draft pick.
2. Offensive: A.J. McCarron Or Andy Dalton
After another mediocre season lead by head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati Bengals have to be thinking about making major changes. The team took a big step back this season and surprisingly AJ McCarron never got inserted into the starting line up. This is surprising because he played very well when Dalton went down with an injury last year. The Bengals already came close to trading McCarron to the Browns at the trade deadline for a second and a third round pick. However the NFL rejected the deal because the Browns were late to submit the trade. If the Bengals do not believe McCarron is their guy they should trade him right now while he is still valuable. If they go into next season with both quarterbacks they are doomed to have another mediocre year.
1. Defensive: Earl Thomas
It is not everyday that you see one of the best players on a team go to the other team’s locker room after the game and tell them he wants to play for them. However that is exactly what Earl Thomas did after the game against the Cowboys in Week 16 he told them “if you have a chance, come get me.” The legion of boom is pretty much a thing of the past in Seattle with both Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman going down with season ending injuries this season. He told Seattle Times that he did not mean for the Cowboys to literally trade for him now, but to come sign him when Seattle “kicks him to the curb.” It is no wonder why Thomas would want to play for the Dallas Cowboys, he grew up in Texas and was All-American at the University of Texas.
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