With the regular season now underway, we got a good feel for a decent number of players that switched teams this offseason. And if we didn’t get to see them play, we got to see how other players around the team played, which will ultimately affect how some of these new acquisitions will pan out. With the only major free agent still available being Dez Bryant, we have seen most of the major moves that were made this offseason, and now actually look at how they’re performing with their team.
Different teams make different moves based off of what the team can afford, and how it will benefit them. That may include releasing a player, getting involved with a trade, and signing a player, who may be new or from the team previously. Moves have to be made in the NFL for teams to improve. Even the best teams cannot be complacent. The most talented teams have great players, but other teams take their offseason to improve their team to eventually surpass others. You just can’t sit around in the NFL and assume that you can have the same team year after year and they will win.
Many moves were made this season, some good and some bad. We’re going to analyze the ten worst and ten best that teams made this offseason. So many factors can be included why it is what it is, and it can change as the season continues. Which teams took a step forwards or backwards this offseason?
20 Regret: Cardinals Signed Brice Butler
At the end of last season, Brice Butler spoke very highly of himself, and believed he could outplay Dez Bryant. So far, he is. That’s because Bryant is a free agent. Butler had only two catches this preseason, both against his former team, the Cowboys.
Once looked at as a deep threat for Dak Prescott, he failed to make the Cardinals' 53-man roster.
When the Cardinals first picked up Butler, it seemed like they found themselves a great deal considering he played well in Dallas, even though he wasn’t targeted that much. The same seems to be happening in Arizona, sadly.
19 Smart: Jets Sign, Then Trade Teddy Bridgewater
The Jets not only made the right move in bolstering their QB depth chart by bringing Teddy Bridgewater in back in March, but they doubled down and got some value for him. Signing Bridgewater was a big gamble for the Jets, but fortunately for them, Sam Darnold fell into their laps at the draft and they had a good asset on their hands. Bridgewater ended up playing well in camp, and was arguably the best of the Jets' QBs. Seeing as how the Jets were ready to begin the Darnold era, they got a 3rd round pick for him from New Orleans. So the Jets essentially signed Bridgewater for a bargain, then turned it into a draft pick.
18 Regret: Bears Overpay Prince Amukamara
It was important the Bears improved their secondary, but it didn’t make sense for them to sign Prince Amukamara to a three-year deal worth $27 million. For some reason, the Bears front office has struggled to make smart business moves the past two seasons.
Amukamara is going to be 30 next year, and hasn’t had an interception in two seasons. He’s definitely a good starter, but the Bears could have gone and drafted somebody, or signed someone else for cheaper, maybe like Bashaud Breeland. On the opposite side the Bears have Kyle Fuller which is solid, but they could have saved money to maybe sign a defensive end, rather than overpaying a corner.
17 Smart: Giants Sign Nate Solder
Finally, the New York Giants decided to follow lead of the Dallas Cowboys. Building a dominant offensive line is crucial to a team’s success, and already looks beneficial to Eli Manning in the preseason. But the biggest part of that offensive line, is offensive tackle, Nate Solder.
Quarterbacks can’t see what’s coming from behind, so they need a guy that they can trust to protect them.
Solder is one of the better offensive tackles in the game, and will really help Manning be the best quarterback that he can be in 2018. Upgrading the offensive line could help the Giants go from one of the worst teams, to one of the best.
16 Regret: Chiefs Sign Orlando Scandrick
After Orlando Scandrick was released by the Dallas Cowboys, he showed his frustration on social media. With so many young talents in their secondary, there was no spot for Scandrick to start. Well, little did he know the same thing would happen when he ended up in Washington. Now, his most recent adventure includes signing with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Right after being signed, Scandrick was made a fool of himself as Bears Kevin White completely burned him, on a move that didn’t look so sharp, and what could be considered an underthrown ball. Scandrick may have proven why two teams released him already.
15 Smart: Patriots Sign Adrian Clayborn
Considering most of Adrian Clayborn’s sacks last season came against the Cowboys, it seemed like the Patriots would have too high of expectations for a player who really only dominated in one game. Nope. Clayborn has been pretty impressive, and showed great speed in training camp and early in the season. Fans shouldn’t expect him to walk away with 10 or more sacks, but he could be a consistent pass rusher.
The Patriots could use help on the defensive line, and Clayborn is helpful. He’s looked motivated to become better, and to help this team make it back to the Super Bowl. Success is motivation.
14 Regret: Bills Sign A.J. McCarron
Who would have ever thought that the Bills signing A.J. McCarron would have actually hurt them? Before McCarron could make his regular season debut with the Bills, he suffered a shoulder injury. McCarron was supposed to be the stopgap until Josh Allen was ready, but Nathan Peterman beat him out for the starting job.
Looking at Teddy Bridgewater and seeing how well he played in camp, the Bills probably wish they signed him.
Bridgewater looks like he could be a decent starting quarterback, while McCarron is going to be on the bench, possibly for a few weeks until he gets better.
13 Smart: Browns Sign Carlos Hyde
In San Francisco, Carlos Hyde looked like he was a few carries away from being considered one of the better running backs in the league. While there were some questions on how Hyde would play behind the Browns offensive line, he looks pretty good. Hyde has shown strength and speed in his runs, including an unforgiving stiff arm on Bills safety Jordan Poyer.
The Browns have looked really good so far, and part of that has to do with the improved running game. With Hyde and Nick Chubb put together, this duo could be a lot more dangerous than opposing teams may expect.
12 Regret: 49ers Sign Jerick McKinnon
Jerick McKinnon never really was a starting running back in Minnesota. He's useful as a 3rd down back and to occasionally get involved in the passing game, but the 49ers signed him to be their starter, paying him $30 million over four years. McKinnon's 49ers tenure hasn't gotten off to a good start as he's now out for the 2018 season with a torn ACL. Obviously, injuries like that are never a player's fault, but from a 49ers perspective, it's gotta be discouraging to see one of their premier signings already lose a season of their deal. He'll have to redeem himself big time in 2019.
11 Smart: 49ers Sign Alfred Morris
So, we spoke about how Carlos Hyde is no longer with the San Francisco 49ers, so then who took over? Jerick McKinnon was set to take over the starting job for the 49ers, but the team decided to add some depth by bringing Morris in. It turned out to be the right move, because McKinnon tore his ACL late in camp.
Signing Morris was the right call and he could end up playing an even bigger role than anticipated on a bargain deal.
Matt Breida will share carries with him, but with the way Morris looks in this run game, how could you bench him? A smart, quick, strong downhill runner that can make people miss, Kyle Shanahan has to be satisfied with the front office for making this decision.
10 Regret: Seahawks Release Richard Sherman
Let’s bounce from one teammate to the next. Except now, we’re going to talk about how a current 49ers player being released, effects his old team. For years the Seattle Sehawks were known for the Legion of Boom, a team that was always in the playoff run. By releasing Richard Sherman, that team may have lost hope.
It wasn’t the fact that the Seahawks just released Sherman, but it was the endless parade of the Seahawks moving on from their stars. Many of those players played a big role in the success in Seattle, and will be a big reason why the Seahawks struggle moving forward.
9 Smart: Eagles Sign Mike Wallace
The unexpected fear follows Eagles fans around, as they are unsure of who will play week one for their team. Both Nick Foles and Carson Wentz are dealing with injuries, so right now, the fan base is pretty lost with how this season will look.
But one thing the Eagles did well, is add another key receiver. Mike Wallace is one of the most underrated receivers in the game, and will help any quarterback that has to play on this roster. Adding Wallace gives Wentz or Foles the opportunity to spread the football without their really being a main focus in the passing game.
8 Regret: Jaguars Extend Marqise Lee
Last year, the Jaguars' top three receivers included Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee. None of those three will be playing for the Jaguars this season. Robinson and Hurns both signed other teams, while Lee suffered a season-ending knee injury. With three options to pick from, the Jaguars extended the player who would eventually miss the whole 2018 season.
Lee signed an extension worth up to $38 million, and will already be missing year one.
While the Jaguars are optimistic that they will be fine without him, it has to be gut-wrenching to see the projected no.1 receiver get hurt right after signing an extension.
7 Smart: Cowboys Trade For Tavon Austin
Trading for the speedy Tavon Austin didn’t seem like a big deal during the draft, but so far, it might be the best decision the Dallas Cowboys made all offseason. Austin was considered a disappointment in Los Angeles, but is fitting in with the Cowboys quickly. Throughout camp, Austin seemed to be one of Dak Prescott’s favorite long ball targets and we should see that chemistry gel in the season. That is something special to hear considering Prescott is not much of a deep ball quarterback.
Austin gives this team the ability to work out of their comfort zone, and get creative with the game plan. Austin’s ability to catch the ball will honestly go overlooked.
6 Regret: Broncos Sign Case Keenum
It might be true that the Denver Broncos are a quarterback away from making it back to the playoffs. But is Case Keenum the answer? Keenum gained a lot of attention in 2017 when he rose up the depth chart as a third-stringer and led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game. Starting this season out, Keenum doesn’t look nearly as effective as he did last season.
John Elway wasn’t keen on spending a lot of money on a quarterback, and now that he did, it seems to have backfired on him. Keenum still has time to learn the playbook, but right now it’s not looking pretty.
5 Smart: Titans Sign Malcolm Butler
When players leave New England, it’s always important to ask if they played well because they were with Bill Belichick or that they can actually succeed anywhere. Right now, that’s the running question that analysts would like to know about Malcolm Butler. And considering Butler was benched in the Super Bowl, it makes it an even more intriguing storyline.
Butler seemed to be overpaid, but has looked a lot better than expected so far.
The Titans look to have their no. 1 cornerback, which will be important if they want to make another playoff push. It will be fun to see Butler play away from those in New England.
4 Regret: Chiefs Sign Sammy Watkins
If Sammy Watkins were willing to take half the pay he got in Kansas City, this would have been a good move. But Watkins hasn’t looked good throughout the past two years. Early on, Patrick Mahomes has been clicking with Tyreek Hill, while Watkins isn’t getting involved as much. It would be interesting to hear why Mahomes believe the two aren’t building chemistry.
Teams were interested, but very few teams were interested in paying the type of money the Chiefs paid. Most of the teams willing to pay, were actually losing teams, so it’s surprising to see a playoff contender drop this type of money on this quality of a player.
3 Smart: Raiders Sign Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson to the Raiders is a lot more important than people may think. Yes, Amari Cooper is the star receiver in Oakland, but along with that star receiver, the Raiders needed a safety receiver that they could get the ball to. Nelson is also a star receiver, but late in his career, you don’t want place expectations too high.
It seems like Jon Gruden and Derek Carr are really getting a kick out of having Nelson on their offense.
Now, the Raiders have one of the most diverse, yet dominant receiver cores in the league. Gruden is going to be able to get creative with the playbook this year.
2 Regret: Dolphins Trading Jarvis Landry
HBO’s “Hard Knocks” will definitely have a part in why the Dolphins will wish they never traded Jarvis Landry. Landry may have been asking for more than Miami was willing to pay him, but he’s proven that he’s only going to get better, and that he can be a leader. On the Browns, Landry is using his voice and actions to show the other guys not to make excuses and to make sure you get on the field and practice, unless you’re hurt.
The type of energy that Landry is giving off is great for an organization, energy that the Dolphins will only dream of having. Instead, the Dolphins will have to make do with the makeshift receiving corps they formed.
1 Smart: Packers Sign Jimmy Graham
With Jordy Nelson out, what better way to improve your offense than by adding Jimmy Graham. Aaron Rodgers was far from happy to see Nelson get released, but has to love having one of the best tight ends in the game on his team. More needs to be seen with Graham on the team, but with the little tad bits we have seen, it looks really good.
Graham is great at catching passes in coverage, and is almost unstoppable in the red zone. Graham may be able to help in ways that Nelson couldn’t. If Rodgers stays healthy, Graham could easily catch over 10 touchdown passes.