We've now reached the end of the 2016 NFL season and fans are already in football withdrawal. Coming off of one of the greatest Super Bowls ever, fans are itching for the 2017 season to start. With no football on Sundays, the focus has shifted to NFL Free Agency and of course, the NFL Draft this April. We've already seen countless mock drafts, as the focusis now on how teams will try to get better to detrhone the New England Patriots.
It's still really early to tell where teams will go in the draft in terms of addressing needs. After all, needs can be addressed through free agency and trades this winter, so by the time April rolls around, teams may only be focused on grabbing the best player available. This offseason is expected to be a busy one, with many big names expected to move on. All these moves will factor in to how teams decide to approach draft day. After all, if a QB needy team acquires a veteran, is there really a need for them to risk a high pick on a QB in a class full of question marks?
Between trades, cuts and free agent signings, here are 15 possible offseason moves that could affect this year's draft.
15 Jets Cut Darrelle Revis, Go CB
It was no secret this past season that Darrelle Revis is no longer the shutdown corner he once was. Revis openly acknowledged that he has lost a couple of steps and there's no way the Jets could keep him at a cap hit of $15.3 million. Cutting Revis would save the Jets approximately $9 million in cap space, as there's still some dead money left on Revis's contract.
If the Jets were to do this, then surely their top need on defense would be at corner and it isn't a bad year to need a cornerback. The Jets hold the no.6 overall pick and could very well pick up the likes of Marshon Lattimore or Jalen Taylor with that pick. The Jets have to get younger in the secondary and this would be a good start.
14 Chiefs Cut Jamaal Charles, Draft Christian McAffery
The Kansas City Chiefs have been able to make back to back playoff appearances and won the AFC West this past season despite Jamaal Charles not staying healthy. It's pretty clear it's time for Charles and the Chiefs to move on and cutting Charles would save the Chiefs over $6 million in cap space. Assuming the Chiefs cut Charles, that would leave them with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware carrying the load. With the success that recent rookie RBs have had, perhaps cutting Charles would tempt the Chiefs into drafting a tailback at 27th overall.
While Leonard Fournette would surely be off the board by the late 20s, the Chiefs have a good chance at landing Christian McAffery out of Stamford or Dalvin Cook out of Florida State.
13 Patriots Release Stephen Gostowski, Draft Kicker In Midrounds
Stephen Gostowski used to be seen as an automatic kicker but he struggled quite a bit this season. While his field goal percentage was in line with most of his career, he missed five extra points, incluing two in the playoffs. He also missed one in the Super Bowl which could have proven costly had the Patriots not converted on a pair of two-point conversion attempts. The Patriots are not a team to rest on their laurels so Gostwowski could very well see some competition thrown his way in training camp this year. Don't put it past New England to draft a kicker in the mid-to late rounds to compete with Gostowski, who's under contract for two more years. It's not like Bill Belichick lets the past cloud his judgement.
12 Kapernick Returns To San Fran - Niners Pass On QB
Kyle Shanahan's offense is very complex and he has openly admitted that it'd be difficult for a rookie to grasp his offense. In turn, it's very possible that the 49ers hang on to the veteran signal callers they do have and see what the wiz kid Shanahan could do with them. Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his contract in March but has said he's open to returning to San Francisco. If this does happen, the Niners may very well choose to pass on a QB with their second overall pick.
Mitch Trubisky has been linked as a possible trade target for the 49ers, but Shanahan is on a six-year deal as head coach and doesn't have to link himself to a rookie.
11 Tony Romo To Kansas City - Chiefs Draft QB
Tony Romo has been linked to multiple teams who would be willing to take on the aging signal caller coming off multiple back injuries. One dark horse team that has been thrown out there is the Kansas City Chiefs, who may be looking to upgrade from Alex Smith. While Romo may not provide the stability of Alex Smith, he does give the Chiefs a higher ceiling in terms of how their offense can perform and what they can do in crunch time.
If the Chiefs were to cut Smith and trade for Romo, that leaves them with a lack of depth at the position. Nick Foles is signed on to the roster, but the Chiefs can't feel comfortable with Foles on deck if an injury were to occur. If Romo comes in, you can rest assure the Chiefs will look for his eventual replacement this draft.
10 DeSean Jackson Walks - Redskins Go Back-To-Back At WR
DeSean Jackson is among the top names in free agency. While he doesn't provide consistency at the position, he remains an explosive playmaker that could turn any play into a touchdown at any given time. The Redskins don't seem to keen on re-signing DeSean Jackson, and Pierre Garcon's contract is up as well. That would leave the Skins very thin at receiver and they would seriously need to re-tool. Washington took Josh Doctson in last year's first round, but an Achilles injury kept him off the field for most of the season.
While it's usually not ideal to draft the same position two years in a row, the Redskins may have little choice but to go receiver again in the first round if Jackson (and possibly Garcon) were to walk.
9 Martellus Bennett Walks - Pats Reload At TE
Martellus Bennett enjoyed a career resurgence in New England and got extended playing time due to Rob Gronkowski's back injury that sidelined him for the second half of the season. Bennett has already made some news since the Patriots' Super Bowl win saying he will not visit the White House when the President invites the Patriots to do so. Without getting too political, it's very likely going to rub Patriots' execs the wrong way. At 30 years old, Bennett will want one last big contract and he might be able to make a decent buck on the open market. With Gronk set to return next season, the Patriots will likely let Bennett walk and find a backup plan for Gronk in the early rounds of the draft.
8 Bills Cut Tyrod Taylor - Draft DeShone Kizer
New head coaches will often come with new quarterbacks. Bills GM Doug Whaley was not a fan of Tyrod Taylor getting the starting job in Buffalo a couple of seasons ago after having drafted E.J. Manuel in the first round in 2013. Taylor's future is up in the air right now with Sean McDermott coming in to coach the team, as does Manuel's future.
Assuming the Bills move on from Taylor, that would leave a huge need at QB. DeShone Kizer has been linked to the Bills in multiple mock drafts and at this juncture seems like the QB most likely to end up in Buffalo, if in fact the Bills are looking for a new signal caller. The Bills need a long-term solution at QB.
7 Giants Re-Tool On Offense
The Giants wasted little time in making roster moves this offseason. Just one week after the Super Bowl, the Giants announced they had parted ways with receiver Victor Cruz and running back Rashad Jennings. With the Giants still having Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard at wide receiver, there's no need to draft a wideout in the first round. Paul Perkins is pencilled in as the Giants' no.1 back for now, but you have to figure that won't last into the season. While the Giants could possibly go QB and look for Eli Manning's heir apparent, it's more likely they go for someone who can help the team win now. Dalvin Cook should be available to the Giants and he would slot in nicely in New York's backfield.
6 Chicago Bears Lose Alshon Jeffery
The Bears tagged Alshon Jeffery last year, but it seems they won't be willing to place the high price tag on Jeffery this year, as tagging him would cost the Bears $17.5 million. That's a huge price to pay for one receiver when a team is rebuilding everywhere. Assuming Jeffery walks in free agency, that leaves the Bears thin at receiver. Former first rounder Kevin White has yet to stay healthy in two seasons so the Bears need a little more insurance at the position. Drafting a wideout at no.3 overall may seem too high but the Bears would have the option of trading down with a team who may want a QB badly.
This could leave them with drafting Mike Williams in the middle of the first round, which would be a valuable pick and with his frame, would seem like a logical replacement for Jeffery.
5 Raiders Don't Re-Sign Latavius Murray
Latavius Murray is coming off a strong season in his late 20s and for running backs, that usually means it's time to cash in. The Raiders will obviously do everything they can to re-sign Murray but if they don't, that leaves a huge hole in their backfield. Coming off an amazing 12-4 season that was derailed by an injury to Derek Carr, the Raiders will need some insurance that they could rely on their running game if disaster strikes again. Drafting in the 20s, the Raiders would likely want to address their secondary, but that could change if Murray walks. That would likely leave the Raiders with their choice of Dalvin Cook or Christian McAffery out of Stamford.
The Raiders should do what they can to keep Murray, because addressing their secondary should be their no.1 priority come draft time.
4 Jets Cut Brandon Marshall - Draft Mike Williams
Mike Williams is getting the most attention of all the receivers in this class. Part of that has to do with the fact that DeShaun Watson was throwing him the ball the last couple of seasons, but he also seems to have the highest ceiling of any receiver in this draft class. He could go as high as a top five pick or he could slip to the teens. Reports are that the Jets are leaning towards cutting Brandon Marshall this offseason, who had a disappointing 2016 season after an amazing 2015 campaign. Now in his 30s, cutting Marshall would allow the Jets to get younger at receiver.
Drafting Mike Williams with the sixth pick may seem high for the Jets, but trading down and taking Williams in the early 10s is another possibility.
3 Carson Palmer Returns (Confirmed) - Arizona Takes DeShaun Watson
After reports surfaced that Carson Palmer was pondering retirement, Palmer announced that he would return for the 2017 season. While that's good news for Arizona, it's time for them to look for a long-term solution, as Palmer is 37 and coming off one of his most disapppointing seasons. There's no QB in this class that's a guaranteed slam dunk, nor is there one who looks like they'll be able to make a huge difference in year one. Enter DeShaun Watson for the Cardinals, as Watson has a high ceiling and enough intangibles for the Cardinals to work with.
Sitting behind Palmer in the short term while joining a talented team in Arizona would be a great scenario for Watson and the Cards would have an option if Palmer disappoints again in 2017.
2 Jay Cutler To The 49ers
Jay Cutler is very likely to leave Chicago this offseason, as the Bears have a chance to cut him and save $14 million on their cap. The Bears are set to continue their rebuild so it makes sense to cut the 10-year veteran as soon as possible. The 49ers will likely not be turning to a rookie to go under center in 2017. Kyle Shanahan has been able to turn several QBs' play around so taking a flier on Cutler on a team-friendly deal could be a possibility for the 49ers. Playing under Shanahan would give Cutler his best chance to revive his career and it could buy the rookie head coach some time before having to turn to a young signal caller.
If this happens, the 49ers can focus on landing the best player available at no.2 overall, whether it be Myles Garrett or Jonathan Allen. The bottom line is the Niners need TALENT everywhere, so going best player available is the right choice come April.
1 Jimmy Garoppolo To The Browns
After a 1-15 season, Hue Jackson will be under some pressure to improve on the Browns' win total. Hue Jackson is as strong as any coach when it comes to building QBs. Just look at the difference in Andy Dalton with and without Jackson in Cincinnati. The Browns are reported to have an "astronomical" grade on Myles Garrett, so barring a terrible combine, Garrett will likely be the no.1 pick. The Browns also hold the no.12 pick, so they have some pieces to work with in landing Jimmy Garoppolo from New England.
Cleveland's no.1 pick should be out of the question, as Garoppolo has only played six meaningful NFL quarters. He was injured in Week 2 this season after a strong showing against Arizona in Week 1. The Browns also hold the no.33 pick, which should be the piece they offer the Patriots in exchange for Garoppolo. With QB taken care of, the Browns could address other areas of need and give Garoppolo the best possible chance to succeed in Cleveland. (He'd need all the help he could get)
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