By this point in the offseason most of the big-name, high-dollar contracts have already been inked. A majority of the offseason transactions have been finalized, and we’re left waiting for the regular season. While we sit and anticipate the few high-profile trades yet to come, there’s no better time to look back and reflect on the moves that have already taken place. With all the talent that has changed places, it’s tough to boil down this offseason into just 20 slots. But we don’t mind. All of that talent changing places makes the possibilities for the regular season so much better. With strong offenses seemingly getting stronger, and defenses around the league doing the same thing, it’s becoming tougher to analyze which teams will be at the top after the first few weeks of the season. But these transactions provide some insight on the teams that likely will be the one’s everyone else is chasing.
As always, some of these moves have transformed a team for the better – turning eventual failures into playoff bound teams. On the other hand, there are the teams that shelled out way too much money, or way too much talent, to acquire a new face for their franchise. There have also been a slew of signings that don’t seem to effect the outcome of the game for the better or worse … but we’re not talking about those transactions here. Here, we will focus on the top 20 transactions of the 2017 offseason. Here, we look at the 10 absolute best moves, as well as the 10 absolute worst moves. These are the 20 transactions that have changed team’s the most heading into the 2017 season.
30 BEST: The Raiders Trade For Marshawn Lynch
Oakland gave up a fifth round pick for Marshawn Lynch and a 2018 sixth-round draft pick. What a great trade. The Raiders got one of the best running backs in the game for essentially nothing. They got an all star running back in good health for trading a fifth round pick for a sixth round pick. That’s such a good deal for a team that is poised for a deep playoff run … as long as Derek Carr returns to full health.
Sure, the Seahawks essentially had to give Lynch away because he wasn’t returning to the game to play for the team he retired from. Lynch was open to the fact that he wanted to return to his hometown team. Luckily for the Raiders, they’re still in Oakland. It gave them a huge boost in terms of talent, especially after losing Latavius Murray.
29 WORST: Cowboys Extend Jason Witten’s Contract
This deserves a bit of elaboration. Yes, extending Jason Witten’s contract is a good move. Witten will go down as one of the best tight ends in NFL history and will be a legend in Dallas when his retirement ceremony eventually comes. But he’s not the great tight end that he used to be, and four more years is just insane to think about for a tight end who looked to be on his way out last season. Four years is just way too much time.
Without a doubt, Witten’s production is going to continue diminishing as the years go on. But it’s not fair to think that he’ll be able to play through 2021. By this time in 2021, Witten will be 39 years old. Heck, he may give one or two more years of solid production … but any more is just a pipe dream.
28 BEST: Eagles Sign Alshon Jeffery
The Eagles have done more than enough to equip their young quarterback with weapons after adding Alshon Jeffery to the arsenal. Jordan Matthews was a great start to the attack, but adding Jeffery immediately impacted Philadelphia’s offense. Jeffery has been one of the league’s top receivers despite playing on a Chicago team that has often struggled to score. The only risk is that Jeffery is coming off a year where he missed time because of injury.
But the big win here is the fact that Carson Wentz now has the tools surrounding him to grow into his franchise role. With his surrounding cast, there’s a chance Wentz can be solidified as one of the greats in the next wave of young quarterbacks. Or he can fail miserably. Either way, the Eagles did a good job surrounding him with talent.
26 WORST: Vikings Sign Latavius Murray
This just seems like a wasted signing. Initially, it seemed that the Vikings brought in Latavius Murray to take over as the starting running back. That statement itself should have forced Minnesota’s front office to reconsider this signing at the beginning. Making matters worse is the fact that now it looks like Dalvin Cook will be outranking Murray, which won’t bode well for locker room chemistry.
After three seasons in the league, Murray hasn’t proved much. Sure, the Vikings hope that he will post numbers somewhat similar to his Pro Bowl 2015 season (he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns that season). But it’s more likely that he’ll perform more like last season, when he started just 12 games and recorded 788 rushing yards, though he did still manage 12 touchdowns so there’s some potential upside there.
25 BEST: Buccaneers Sign DeSean Jackson
No one loved this move more than Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Finally, the Buccaneers have a trio of talent that really has the ability and talent to outscore just about any team in the league. Defenses around the league, especially in the NFC South, cringed when news was released that Tampa Bay signed DeSean Jackson.
Jackson is one of the quickest receivers in the game and he’s a guy that defenses have to plan around. That’s going to be tough given the fact that across from him is Evans, who has emerged as a top-10 wide receiver. Let’s face it, Winston and the Bucs offense were quite threatening before this signing. Now, they become on of the best in the league. Expect to see this team to be making a playoff push by the end of the season.
23 WORST: Browns Release Gary Barnidge
This was a tough one to watch. First, the Browns traded up into the end of the first round to draft tight end David Njoku. Shortly after, Gary Barnidge sent a tweet out welcoming Njoku to the team and expressed his interest in working with the young star. The next day, Barnidge sent out a tweet thanking Cleveland for his time spent with the team. That had to be a shock to Barnidge, as it was to all of his fans.
Barnidge has been one of the few bright spots on a roster that often saw consistent failures each game. Despite never having consistency from his quarterback, Barnidge was always one of the better tight ends in the league. Sure, his playing time might have been limited with Njoku on the field, but there was no reason to get rid of him before seeing how the duo meshed together.
22 BEST: Jamaal Charles Signs With The Broncos
The only way the Broncos screwed this one up is that they should have signed Jamaal Charles to a longer contract. But that’ll just end up costing them more money next year when it’s time to ink another deal with the extremely talented running back. As for this year, the Broncos are paying just about $4 million to reap the benefits of Charles rushing game. The discount comes from the fact that Charles has rarely seen the field over the past couple of seasons because of injuries.
Of course, surgeries to both knees is nothing to ignore. But Charles will be sharing the backfield with C.J. Anderson so there’s not much worry if he needs to take some extra time on the bench, especially as he begins to find his stride again.
20 WORST: Giants Sign Jason Pierre-Paul To Four-Year Deal
Although Jason Pierre-Paul is just 28 years old, it’s looking like the Giants just offered a four-year deal to someone who will only be able to play half of that time. Pierre-Paul is recovering from injuries that make it seem highly unlikely that he’ll be able to successfully start a full season ever again. But the Giants still offered him a four-year deal that includes more than $40 million guaranteed.
Pierre-Paul missed the final four games of last season, then needed four procedures during his surgery in December, which addressed issues with his groin and abdomen. Pierre-Paul has said he’s been training hard to get back to strength, but the nature of his injuries is just too risky to take on for such a long-term deal. Even if it works out this year, it’s unlikely the Giants will be happy about the deal for the entirety of his contract.
19 BEST: Eric Berry Signs Long-Term Deal
The Chiefs needed to do this quick and they got this deal done overwhelmingly right. Eric Berry has proved to be one of the NFL’s best safety’s and the Chiefs rightfully rewarded him with a long-term contract. Berry has an extremely uplifting story, adding to his prowess. Not only is he a five-time Pro Bowl selection, he has done that after injuring his ACL in 2011 and Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014.
Now 28, he’s set with the Chiefs for the next six years. Kansas City game him a $78 million contract in February to make sure Berry is happy sticking around for such a long time. Last year there was uncertainty in Berry’s future with the Chiefs. Luckily both sides were able to work it out early in the offseason this year.
17 WORST: Browns Draft DeShone Kizer
DeShone Kizer might eventually grow into a solid NFL quarterback, but that’s not going to happen this year and it likely won’t occur in Cleveland. The Browns have been in desperate need for a starting quarterback for as long as most Cleveland fans can remember. This year, the team had a lot of opportunities to draft a quarterback who could have potentially took over by Week 1, but they opted to wait until the second round.
The Browns acquired three first round picks, but neglected to address their biggest need (well, the third first round pick doesn’t quite matter). If the Browns were truly focused on winning this year, they would have held onto their second pick in the first round and drafted a quarterback, instead of allowing Houston to take that opportunity.
16 BEST: Brandon Marshall Joins The Giants
Brandon Marshall was wasting away with the Jets and New Yorkers should be thrilled that he’s moved on to greener pastures (unless you’re a fan of the Bills or the Jets). Marshall may not have much left in the tank, but he’s surly got enough skill and stamina to be a true asset to the Giants offensive attack. C’mon, with Odell Beckham Jr. on the field there’s not going to be much focus on you so as long as you can run a route successfully, you’re in for some good performances.
Eli Manning needed this. As good as he’s been when throwing the ball to Beckham, we all know that he could be better. Last year the team was stumped at times without having a true talent lining up opposite from Beckham, and that just led to more focus on the team’s biggest asset. Don’t worry about that this year.
14 WORST: Seahawks Sign Eddie Lacy
Signing Eddie Lacy to a one-year contract was the absolute wrong way to go about filling the running back position in Seattle, especially when you look at all of the talent that has been available this offseason. Currently, the Seahawks roster is jam packed with running backs, and they could have (and probably still will) find a better running partner to fit with Thomas Rawls. Of course, everyone quickly jumps to think they could have plugged in Marshawn Lynch if Lacy wasn’t around … but let’s face it, Lynch was only returning to play with the Raiders.
Implementing Lacy will have no effect on Seattle’s record this year. There doesn’t seem to be any potential reward for this risky signing. Lacy had spurts of great performances in Green Bay, but he was never a consistent producer or scorer and Seattle should expect nothing more.
13 BEST: The Seahawks Sign Luke Joeckel
We agree … offensive lineman aren’t that fun to talk about. But that’s why this is the only offensive lineman who shows up on this list. Although it’s arguably the most important position on the offense, it’s something that is boring for most fans. But Luke Joeckel deserves a lot of credit, especially since his initial years in the NFL were spent trying to improve a Jaguars offense that really never seemed to have any hope at getting better.
But now Joeckel is playing in Seattle, where he will likely be competing in the playoffs for the entirety of his contract. What’s even better is the fact that Joeckel, a former No. 2 pick, will be an integral part to that success in Seattle. Although this guy has never made it to the Pro Bowl, expect him to change that trend if he can stay healthy. As long as his health remains good, Seattle will surly offer him a multi-year contract. Oh, and that’s another reason this pickup is so good. The Seahawks needed help up front and now they’ve got it with very little risk in the form of a one-year contract.
11 WORST: Bears Sign Mike Glennon
This three-year deal should have Bears fans fuming. They should be absolutely enraged with the fact that their team facilitated a three-year $45 million deal for a guy who hopefully won’t be the starter by Week 1. Mike Glennon didn’t deserve this type of contract before the draft, and there’s no way that the team can justify this decision after the draft. The moment they decided to trade up to draft Mitch Trubisky was the moment that this pickup became an absolute disaster.
At this point, the best Glennon can contribute is to create the illusion that he’s competing with Trubisky to take over as the face of this franchise. In all reality, he’ll be lucky to be the starter during the first week. The Bears already got Trubisky’s mentor in Mark Sanchez, and there’s going to soon be no place for the quarterback they gave a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal to.
10 BEST: The Raiders Sign Jared Cook
The Raiders deserve the utmost praise for what they have been doing this offseason. After last year’s dismal ending to such a good season, fans and spectators around the league were left wondering if Oakland can return with such strength and if Derek Carr can return healthy. Lets all hope so because Oakland has done nothing but add weapons for the young rising star quarterback.
Not only did they add a super talented running back, Carr now has an additional receiving threat in the form of Jared Cook. This is one that Washington will be cringing at by midseason. Cook will solidify himself as one of the league’s best tight ends with Carr tossing him passes, especially as the defensive focus will have to be on the very talented wide receivers or running back hitting the field each day for Oakland.
8 WORST: The Steelers Extend James Harrison’s Contract
Two more years for this guy seems impossible. How much longer can James Harrison continue to play with his bone crushing style of play? The Steelers think that he can get on that field for at least two more years … well, he might need a wheelchair to make it out there if he doesn’t call it quits after this season. If Harrison plays in the 2018 season, he’ll be 40 years old. It’s crazy that Tom Brady is doing it, but no one can doubt that Harrison’s body takes more of a beating.
This was not only an awful move because it doesn’t seem to help the team that much, but it also puts Harrison at risk of a lifelong injury. Sure, he’s still posting pics and videos of his absolute insane workouts. But that’s no reason to think that he can matchup with a guy two decades younger than him.
7 BEST: Saints Sign Adrian Peterson
The Saints needed to focus on their defense this offseason, and they have been. But they’re overwhelmingly best decision to date comes on the offensive side of the ball. It was becoming obvious last season that Mark Ingram wasn’t playing at a high enough level to properly matchup up with Drew Brees’ high-octane offense. Adrian Peterson, though, will compliment Brees gameplay more than just about all running backs have the ability to do.
Luckily for the Saints, they still have one of the best quarterbacks in the league along with a defense that has made major improvements over last season. So, when Peterson inevitably misses a few games (at the very least) the team won’t be left grasping at straws. They’ll still have a great formula setup to win, regardless who lines up behind Brees in the backfield.
5 WORST: The Redskins Sign Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins is one of the highest paid quarterbacks of 2017 because of his one-year deal worth more than $20 million. This was a good bump over his last one-year $19.5 million deal. But that was a risk as well. Though, it was one that paid off quite well as Cousins was a Pro Bowl selection as he started 16 games, had an 8-7-1 record, and threw for 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions.
That, however, was just his second year as the go-to starter. Sure, he’s started 32 straight games. But that doesn’t mean he’s a safe bet to make it through this season. Especially since he’s lost two of his main receiving threats in DeSean Jackson and Jared Cook. This is going to be a tough year for Cousins, and it’ll be tough for him to get a big money, multi year contract after this season.
4 BEST: Patriots Acquire Brandin Cooks
With the Patriots, Brandin Cooks quickly became a top-3 receiver in the league (we’ll leave it to you to figure out which one of these guys is no longer at the top). Whenever Tom Brady is paired up with a true No. 1 wide receiver, there’s no end to what he can accomplish – remember how powerful the Patriots offense was when an aged Randy Moss was lining up with Brady tossing bombs. Sure, Brady is older now, but Cooks is younger than Moss was and Cooks is just hitting his stride.
Last season, Cooks blew up defenders while running routes for Drew Brees. This year, the opposition won’t know what hit them when the Patriots take the field. Before, Brady was making Julian Edelman (a former Kent State quarterback) look like one of the best receivers in the league. Everyone should be excited to see what happens when Cooks takes the field with Brady.
2 WORST: Browns Trade for Brock Osweiler
This is a tricky one because the Browns, at first glance, received a ton in this trade as the Texans desperately needed to clear cap space by getting rid of the highly overpaid quarterback. In case you missed it, the Browns traded a fourth-round pick. That’s it. Just one late round pick. In return, Cleveland got a Brock Osweiler, a second round pick and a sixth round pick. The only downside was that the Browns had to take on the four-year contract that Houston gave Osweiler before last season, which included $37 million in guaranteed money.
Sure, this seems good now because Cleveland gets to implement a guy who has seen some success starting in the NFL. But Osweiler has not proved to be a consistently good starter, and Cleveland is generally a place where quarterbacks careers go to die. By the end of this season, the Browns front office staff will be kicking themselves for taking on this trade.