Barnwell sets off NFL offseason dominoes: 8 star players, 144 moves

Barnwell sets off NFL offseason dominoes: 8 star players, 144 moves

It’s hard to imagine Brady leaving the Patriots … but it sure is fun. If he hits the market in March, how could it shake up the league?

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The Bears sign Tom Brady to a four-year, $110 million deal

Trying to link up with the NFL’s best non-Patriots defense and win one more Super Bowl, Brady signs what really amounts to a one-year, $35 million deal with voidable years attached. Allen Robinson, weeping after six years of catching passes from Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky, hands Brady his No. 12 jersey at the G.O.A.T.’s unveiling.

Chicago trades Leonard Floyd to the Giants for a sixth-round pick

To free up cap room, the Bears need to move on from their former first-round pick, who has $13.2 million in unguaranteed salary left on the final year of his rookie deal. A Giants team desperate for pass-rushing help sends a late-round pick to the Bears for Floyd, whose sack total has dropped each season since a seven-sack campaign in 2016.

The Patriots trade a third-round pick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

Looking for an option with both short- and long-term potential, the Patriots go for the highest-upside passer left in the market by sending a pick to Carolina for the 2015 MVP. The 30-year-old passes a physical before the trade, but both sides agree that Newton should play out the final year of his deal before considering an extension.

Marcus Mariota signs a two-year, $18 million deal with the Panthers

With Carolina coach Matt Rhule looking for a quarterback who protects the football and offers some mobility if the Panthers want to use RPOs, he goes after a former Heisman Trophy winner in Mariota. This deal locks in Mariota as either a low-end starter or a high-end backup to compete with 2019 third-round pick Will Grier.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a four-year, $120 million deal with the Colts

After years of waiting for his opportunity, Bridgewater finally finds a long-term fit in Indianapolis, where the Colts are looking for an upgrade on Jacoby Brissett. Bridgewater’s deal really amounts to a two-year commitment, but the beloved former Vikings, Jets and Saints quarterback is the Week 1 starter for the Colts.

The Bears trade Mitchell Trubisky to the Dolphins for Josh Rosen

With the Trubisky era coming to a close in Chicago, the Bears decline his fifth-year option and free up much-needed cap space by trading him and a seventh-round pick to the Dolphins for a cheaper backup in Rosen, who joins his third team in three years. Miami passes on a quarterback in the 2020 draft and evaluates Trubisky behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Chargers sign Tom Brady to a five-year, $180 million deal

In desperate need of both a reliable quarterback and a marquee player to sell tickets in their new stadium, the Chargers find both in one fell swoop by inking the greatest player in NFL history. Brady’s deal crucially includes three guaranteed years, meaning that L.A. is committing to Brady’s long-discussed plan to play until he’s 45.

Philip Rivers signs with Jacksonville on a four-year, $100 million deal

With Rivers parting ways with the Chargers, the three teams in the Sunshine State are able to try to sign Rivers at a discount. The Jaguars have to add voidable years to the end of the deal and make another big move to make the money work, but Rivers will start in 2020 and mentor Gardner Minshew.

The Jags trade Nick Foles to the Colts in a salary dump

To get out of the $20.6 million guaranteed owed to Foles over the next two years, the Jaguars ship their deposed starter to Indy. To get the Colts to eat the money, though, Jacksonville has to send the 20th overall selection it received from the Rams in the Jalen Ramsey trade — similar to the Brock Osweiler deal in 2017 — although Indy ships the 110th pick back to the Jags.

The Colts package their first-round picks to trade up for Tua Tagovailoa

With plenty of cap room and draft assets left, general manager Chris Ballard decides to add Indy’s quarterback of the future, too. The Colts package the 13th, 20th and 44th selections and send them to the Lions for the third overall pick and a fifth-rounder to draft the Alabama star, who will spend most of 2020 recovering from his hip injury behind Nick Foles and Jacoby Brissett.

Taysom Hill signs a two-year, $20 million offer sheet with the Raiders

When the Saints hand Hill the second-round tender in restricted free agency, it opens up the possibility of the 29-year-old going elsewhere. The uniquely gifted Hill finds another unique coach in Jon Gruden, who sees the jack-of-all-trades as a supplement to Derek Carr. Since Las Vegas doesn’t have a second-round pick in 2020, it sends two third-round picks to the Seahawks to get the second-rounder.

New England gives Teddy Bridgewater a three-year, $60 million deal

With Brady leaving, the Patriots go after a quarterback whose comfort in the pocket, accuracy and smarts all might remind Bill Belichick of his now-departed passer. After going 5-0 while temporarily replacing Drew Brees, Bridgewater now has to replace another Hall of Famer. The Saints have to head into the draft for a backup.

Tom Brady gets a four-year, $160 million deal from the Colts

What’s the ultimate revenge on Josh McDaniels for leaving the Colts at the altar? I don’t seriously think they would be signing Brady merely to exact some revenge on their rivals, but it couldn’t hurt. Indianapolis has a sound offensive line, a strong long-term plan and the cap space to make Brady the league’s first $40 million-per-year quarterback.

The Patriots trade their first-round pick to the Lions for Matthew Stafford

With rumors that the Lions are considering moving on from their longtime starter, the Patriots aren’t likely to find a better option than the 2009 No. 1 overall pick. They would be acquiring the 31-year-old Stafford on a manageable three-year, $51.3 million deal. Detroit would eat a record $32 million in dead money on its cap, but it can take Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 3 pick in April.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a two-year, $60 million deal with the Chargers

After years of the Philip Rivers roller coaster, the Chargers opt for a smoother ride by handing their starting job over to Bridgewater. The contract is really a one-year deal, but it’s a clear path to a starting job on a would-be playoff contender. New Orleans fans can even thank Teddy when the Chargers come to town in 2020.

The Jaguars trade with the Dolphins to move up and draft Justin Herbert

If the Dolphins don’t want any of the passers in this year’s class, they could decide to spread their assets around. They drop down from pick No. 5 to No. 9 here, with the Jags moving ahead of the Chargers and Panthers to take the former Oregon star. The Jaguars also send their 2021 first-round pick, which could end up as one of the top selections in next year’s draft.

The Eagles somehow acquire Nick Foles

The other part of that trade sees Foles momentarily head to Miami, where the Dolphins restructure his deal and eat a significant portion, with the Jags sending along a fourth-round pick to sweeten the deal. Foles takes a pay cut in 2021 and 2022, and Philly then trades a fourth-round pick to reunite with its legendary backup.

The Saints sign Andy Dalton to a one-year, $6 million deal

After the Bengals draft Joe Burrow with the first pick and cut their longtime starting quarterback Dalton, the Saints pounce on him as a replacement for Bridgewater. With Dalton looking at backup jobs around the league, the opportunity to join a Super Bowl contender behind Drew Brees is the best opportunity available.

All options are on the table for the former MVP. With one year left on his deal, the retooling Panthers could keep him, trade him or cut him.

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The Chargers trade a second-round pick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

With Philip Rivers entering free agency, the Chargers are left with Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick on their depth chart. Adding Newton is a rare chance to acquire a 30-year-old former MVP in what could be the middle of his career, and the Chargers can install a roughly similar scheme for all three of their quarterbacks. Newton is signed through only the 2020 season.

Carolina signs Taysom Hill to a two-year, $18 million deal

While the Panthers might want to give Will Grier a legitimate chance to prove himself in 2020, here’s a way for them to add another threat to what will likely be a run-first offense under new coach Matt Rhule. Acquiring Hill hurts a divisional rival — though the Saints would net a second-round pick if the restricted free agent Hill is tendered as expected — and sets up all kinds of trick plays with Christian McCaffrey.

So long, Nick Foles. The Jags dump his contract on the Dolphins

In desperate need of cap space, Jacksonville makes a deal with the Dolphins to rid itself of the $20.5 million remaining on Foles’ deal. Miami, which paid $5 million for a fourth-round pick as part of the Ryan Tannehill deal, grabs its fourth first-round pick by moving up from No. 39 to No. 20 as part of the deal.

Jacksonville brings in Andy Dalton after he’s released by the Bengals

In need of veteran competition for Gardner Minshew, the Jaguars reunite a once-successful pairing by linking up Dalton with Jay Gruden, his former offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Dalton joins the Jags on a three-year, $48 million deal that is really a one-year, $7 million pact with options.

The Patriots trade a late-round pick for former top-10 pick Josh Rosen

After being deemed unplayable by a Dolphins team that was actively trying to lose, Rosen’s stock can’t be much lower. New England has a history of trying to buy low on high draft picks after ugly starts to their careers, and it can send the 182nd pick to Miami to evaluate Rosen behind Tom Brady, who signs a new deal with the Pats.

Marcus Mariota signs a two-year, $14 million deal with the Eagles

The Eagles couldn’t have anticipated Carson Wentz would suffer a concussion in the wild-card round, but the fact that he missed each of his two prior playoff runs via injury means backup quarterback is more of a priority in Philly than most other places. Mariota gives the Eagles a mobile, high-floor No. 2 option.

The Dolphins trade Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

While Miami plans to bring back the 37-year-old Fitzpatrick for 2020, he’s a stopgap, not a long-term solution. Newton might not end up as the answer, but he’s the sort of flier with massive upside the Dolphins should take while they wait to find its quarterback of the future. They add the 68th pick in the draft to get the trade over the line.

The Panthers flip Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Eagles for a fifth-round pick

Carolina doesn’t particularly need Fitzpatrick — the third-round pick in the Newton deal is the asset — so the team restructures his deal to eat $1.5 million and then sends the remaining $6.5 million to the Eagles, who install the Fitzchise as the backup to Carson Wentz.

The Lions trade Matthew Stafford to the Raiders for two first-round picks

If Detroit needs to be blown away by a Stafford trade, the Raiders and Jon Gruden are the most likely team to pony up the draft capital. Gruden has moved on from virtually every other player he inherited and would covet Stafford’s arm and marketability in Las Vegas. The Lions could use the third overall pick on a quarterback and add more valuable draft capital.

Derek Carr signs with the Chargers on a two-year, $50 million deal

With the Raiders no longer needing Carr’s services, he gets released with a small dead-cap charge. He can then stay in the Los Angeles area by taking over as the new starter for the Chargers. This deal has no guaranteed money after 2020, freeing the Chargers to pursue a more exciting option next offseason if Carr struggles.

Teddy Bridgewater re-signs with the Saints

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Nothing would make Saints fans happier this offseason than bringing back Bridgewater. While the 30% rule prevents the Saints from giving him a small 2020 salary with a significant raise to start in 2021, a one-year deal brings the former Louisville star back into the fold for one more season with Sean Payton & Co.

Taysom Hill returns to New Orleans, too

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RE-SIGN

Hill was a talented college quarterback, and teams are more open-minded about quarterbacks than they have been in decades, but let’s be realistic: It’s tough to imagine him having the same impact elsewhere. The Saints re-sign the restricted free agent to a three-year, $15 million deal.

The Raiders trade a third-round pick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

If the Raiders want a star for their new city, they can just hold on to their two first-round picks and trade a later pick to get their guy. Newton has box-office appeal, and his upside is literally as league MVP. Jon Gruden might prefer that upside in 2020 to another season with Derek Carr. Vegas also has two third-round picks.

Released by Vegas, Derek Carr signs a one-year, $7 million deal with Tennessee

The Titans made a move last year to add an unexciting veteran backup for their starter and landed on Ryan Tannehill, who had a career season. While they re-sign Tannehill, his injury history should lead general manager Jon Robinson to sign another veteran backup, with Carr, who gets cut by Las Vegas, fitting the bill.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a three-year, $90 million deal with the Panthers

With Carolina looking for a starter to replace Newton, Bridgewater emerges as the superior option to passers like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. The Panthers pay Bridgewater $35 million in Year 1 as part of this deal, but there’s no guaranteed money afterward, allowing them to pursue a prospect in the 2021 draft if it doesn’t work out.

The Chargers land Jameis Winston on a three-year, $99 million deal

With Philip Rivers “permanently” entering free agency, the Chargers decide to target a Floridian of their own to take over as their new starter. Winston’s mix of brilliant moments and inconceivably bad interceptions is reminiscent of Rivers, but the 26-year-old has some time to improve. In theory.

The Bears sign Marcus Mariota to a two-year, $14 million deal

I was more enthused about the idea of Mariota joining Chicago when former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was on staff as offensive coordinator, but Mariota’s mobility and ability to avoid takeaways still make him a high-end backup. He’s just good enough to sign without threatening Mitchell Trubisky.

Joe Flacco gets a one-year, $3 million deal to be the backup in Pittsburgh

Flacco joining his former rivals seems strange — and it’s unclear whether he will return from a season-ending neck injury — but the Steelers just saw their season go up in flames thanks to subpar backup quarterback work. Ben Roethlisberger should be healthy for 2020, but Flacco would give the Steelers a veteran option.

Rivers has moved out of California and cut ties with the Chargers. Where could the 38-year-old land in 2020?

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The Bucs give Philip Rivers a three-year, $90 million deal … with an out

It warms my heart to see Rivers and Bruce Arians come together for one ride into the sunset. It’s a great fit for both player and scheme, as both would throw the ball vertically every play if they could. This deal has minimal guaranteed money after 2020, freeing up the Bucs to pursue another quarterback in 2021 if it doesn’t work out.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a three-year, $90 million deal with the Chargers

The Chargers might rightfully feel like they’re a consistent quarterback away from the playoffs, and Bridgewater’s success filling in for Drew Brees in New Orleans makes him an obvious source of stability. With the Chargers loath to trade away draft picks, signing Bridgewater makes short-term and possibly long-term sense.

Baltimore trades a seventh-round pick to L.A. for Tyrod Taylor

The most logical landing place for Taylor is as a backup is Baltimore, given the presence of former Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He would be stuck behind the league MVP in Lamar Jackson, but trading for Taylor would allow Baltimore to run the same exact scheme if Jackson were to get injured in 2020.

The Raiders use their draft capital to trade up for Tua Tagovailoa

One way for the Raiders to mark the end of the Khalil Mack discussion and start their time off in Las Vegas with a bang is to find a new franchise quarterback. They send pick Nos. 12 and 19 plus a 2021 second-round pick to the Lions to draft the Alabama star, who spends 2020 on an injury redshirt behind Derek Carr.

Jameis Winston gets a one-year, $9 million pact from Chicago

While the Bears are publicly committed to Mitchell Trubisky, they need to bring in a quarterback who can compete for the starting job. Winston’s market is totally uncertain; there might not be any team that thinks he’s worth starter money, and if not, he might need to settle for a one-year deal and a competition. Trubisky’s backup Chase Daniel can return to Kansas City to sit behind Patrick Mahomes.

The Packers add Joe Flacco to be their backup on a one-year, $4 million deal

The current backup behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay is undrafted free agent Tim Boyle. Rodgers hasn’t missed a game in two years, but the Packers should still consider investing in a more experienced backup for their 37-year-old starter. Flacco can chase a ring with the NFC North champs.

The Colts give Philip Rivers a two-year, $62 million deal to be their starter

While the location isn’t ideal for Rivers, the three Florida teams are much further away from the playoffs than the Colts, who could upgrade on Jacoby Brissett. Rivers played under Colts coach Frank Reich when the two were in San Diego and would get one final shot at competing for a Super Bowl on this year-to-year pact.

Indy adds some help and signs Austin Hooper to a four-year, $44 million deal

Rivers loves throwing to his tight ends, and with Eric Ebron hitting free agency, the Colts add a second tight end to work alongside Jack Doyle for their new quarterback. Hooper’s career year likely priced him out of the cap-strapped Falcons’ price range. Ebron could end up as the replacement for Jimmy Graham in Green Bay.

The Vikings trade Kirk Cousins to the Chargers for a second-round pick

With the Vikings and Cousins unable to come to terms on a new contract — his deal ends after the 2020 season — both sides agree that a parting of the ways would make sense. The Chargers can negotiate a deal with their new starting quarterback, while the Vikings get to reunite with an old one …

Teddy Bridgewater reunites with Minnesota on a $100 million deal

I’m crying. Are you crying? The Vikings bring back their former first-round pick, who steps back into a starting role. Minnesota, which is in a salary-cap crunch, saves several million dollars by signing Bridgewater to a four-year deal, and it can use the space to keep the likes of Everson Griffen.

The Bills give Taysom Hill a two-year, $20 million offer sheet

While the Bills are happy with Josh Allen‘s development, you could understand if the coaching staff wanted to see its quarterback of the future take fewer hits in 2020. Allen excels on designed runs, but Hill can take some of those snaps and continue to make an impact without threatening Allen’s role as the long-term starter.

Marcus Mariota heads to New Orleans on a three-year, $21 million deal

After losing both their backup quarterback and their gadget athlete, the Saints try to fill both vacated spots by going after Mariota. This is really a one-year deal with two voidable years tacked on, but Mariota gets a chance to revitalize his career while backing up future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in New Orleans.

The Panthers sign Philip Rivers to a three-year, $96 million deal

Signing Rivers, who played his college ball a couple of hours away at NC State, gives Carolina a veteran who can help get the Panthers back to the postseason quickly. A deal like this would have one year of fully guaranteed money, allowing the Panthers a quick out if the 38-year-old Rivers struggles.

Marcus Mariota signs with the Chargers on a one-year, $12 million deal

With Rivers gone, Mariota and incumbent Tyrod Taylor create value in the same ways: They’re effective runners and avoid turning the ball over, although sacks are an issue for both. Anthony Lynn should be able to install a roughly similar scheme for both Mariota and Taylor, who would compete for the starting job.

Carolina trades Cam Newton to the Broncos for a third-round pick

Denver is excited about Drew Lock‘s late-season run, but after false hope with young passers like Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch quickly faded, general manager John Elway should know that five starts isn’t proof of much. Bringing in the 6-foot-5 Newton to compete with Lock is a low-risk, high-reward move by the Hall of Famer.

Jameis Winston signs a four-year, $128 million deal with the Dolphins

While Miami was expected to draft a quarterback to take over from Ryan Fitzpatrick in the long term, it heads in a different direction and signs the 26-year-old Winston, hoping to tap some level of consistency from the former No. 1 overall pick. Winston’s deal includes two guaranteed years, locking him as the starter through the end of 2021.

Tampa Bay gives Joe Flacco a one-year deal to be its short-term starter

Despite having one of the league’s strongest arms, Flacco has spent the past half-decade in offenses designed around checking down the ball. Here, he gets $12.5 million and a chance to play in a downfield passing attack under Bruce Arians, who isn’t done making moves ahead of the 2020 season …

The Buccaneers trade up to draft Justin Herbert in the top five

While there’s a chance that the Oregon product would fall to the Buccaneers at No. 14, Tampa isn’t taking that risk with the Dolphins, Chargers, and Panthers all in the market from picks 5-8. Herbert’s arm strength appeals to Arians, who gets one final shot at developing a franchise passer. The Bucs send pick Nos. 14 and 45 plus a 2020 first-rounder to Detroit to get the No. 3 pick.

The Seahawks can’t franchise Clowney, who will hit the market as the top edge rusher available. Only 27 or 28 teams should be interested.

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The Giants make Jadeveon Clowney the first $25 million-per-year edge rusher

With Clowney looking to play for a winner, New York needs to pay over the odds to persuade the 2014 No. 1 overall pick to solve its edge-rushing problem. Clowney gets a five-year, $125 million deal with $75 million guaranteed over the first three years. It’s a record annual salary and three-year guarantee among edge defenders.

Dante Fowler Jr. signs a four-year, $92 million deal with the Seahawks

The Jaguars once drafted Fowler with the third overall pick to serve as the “Leo” pass-rusher in Gus Bradley’s scheme. After losing Clowney, Seattle can acquire Fowler to play that same role for Pete Carroll’s defense. Signing Fowler also takes him away from the division-rival Rams, who could also lose free agent Michael Brockers this offseason.

The Panthers add Bud Dupree on a four-year, $64 million pact

Dupree was inconsistent for most of his time in Pittsburgh, but he matched his sack total from 2017 and 2018 combined by racking up 11.5 sacks in 2019. There’s obvious risk in paying him, but the Panthers are thin on the edge after Brian Burns and can add a 26-year-old from owner David Tepper’s former organization.

Michael Pierce signs a four-year, $60 million deal with the Dolphins

With Miami looking to start fielding a competitive team, it should focus on adding players who are both valuable now and who could still be valuable in 2022. The 27-year-old Pierce is a run-stuffing nose tackle who should immediately help the league’s 27th-ranked rush-defense DVOA.

Ndamukong Suh heads to New England on a one-year, $14 million deal

Suh seems destined to move around the league on one-year contracts. The Patriots need to address their offense, but with guys such as Danny Shelton and Kyle Van Noy hitting free agency, Bill Belichick might need to adapt. Suh’s rare athleticism and ability to stay on the field has to appeal to the legendary coach.

The Broncos sign D.J. Reader to a four-year, $44 million deal

Reader isn’t a household name, but like Pierce, he’s a valuable interior lineman for a team looking to improve its run defense. Signing him away from the Texans should help improve an inconsistent Broncos run defense and give Vic Fangio the closest thing he’ll have to Akiem Hicks in Denver.

The Raiders sign Jadeveon Clowney to a five-year, $125 million deal

Las Vegas invested a fourth overall pick on Clelin Ferrell and got an impressive rookie season from Maxx Crosby, but adding Clowney would end the discussion over the Khalil Mack decision and give the Raiders a superstar defender for their new digs. You can never have too many good edge rushers.

Seattle trades second- and third-round picks to the Ravens for Matthew Judon

Seattle sends the 59th pick and the compensatory pick it will receive for Earl Thomas signing with the Ravens to Thomas’ new team. The franchise-tagged Judon signs an extension and takes over Clowney’s role as the Seahawks’ primary pass-rusher, although the organization obviously still holds out hope for 2019 first-rounder L.J. Collier.

The Giants bring back Jason Pierre-Paul on a two-year, $32 million pact

JPP was quietly impressive during his two-year stint in Tampa, racking up 21 sacks and 36 knockdowns in 26 games. A reunion with the Giants would make sense for both sides. While it seems like the two-time Pro Bowler has been around forever, he turned only 31 on New Year’s Day.

Miami signs Arik Armstead to a five-year, $80 million deal

Armstead is another former first-round pick who broke out in 2019. While he had already proved himself to be a useful defender against the run, he topped the nine career sacks he racked up between 2015 and 2018 with 10 in 2019. The Dolphins just need talent, and Armstead could be massively valuable if he keeps up this level of disruption.

The Dolphins also add Danny Shelton on a four-year, $28 million contract

One defensive lineman shouldn’t be enough for the Dolphins. Signing away Shelton from the Patriots gives Miami one of the best two-down run-stoppers in football and a player to line up next to Christian Wilkins in the years to come.

The Chiefs franchise-tag Chris Jones … then trade him to the Cowboys

The Cowboys can move on from Tyrone Crawford with just $1.1 million in dead money, which would open up a spot in the lineup for an interior penetrator like Jones. If the Chiefs don’t want to re-sign Jones, they would probably be looking at a second-round pick from the Cowboys as the focal point of the return. The Eagles could pursue Crawford as defensive tackle depth.

The Ravens sign Jadeveon Clowney to a five-year, $115 million contract

After years of being hindered by the Joe Flacco deal, Baltimore finally celebrates its freedom from tyranny by going after one of the rarest things you’ll ever see: a healthy superstar edge rusher in his prime in unrestricted free agency. Clowney takes a slight discount to play for a Super Bowl contender.

Baltimore trades Matthew Judon to the Jets for second- and fifth-round picks

Rumors have already suggested the Ravens are shopping Judon, who will be an unrestricted free agent. As the Chiefs did with Dee Ford, Baltimore could franchise-tag Judon before trading him. The Jets desperately need a pass-rusher across from Jordan Jenkins; they send pick Nos. 48 and 138 to add Judon, who had 33 quarterback hits this past season.

Seattle signs Robert Quinn to a four-year, $60 million contract

To replace Clowney, the Seahawks go after Quinn, who led the league in pass rush win rate for the second consecutive season. Quinn receives interest from teams like the Patriots and Saints, but the Seahawks can offer more money and a second guaranteed season.

The Cowboys sign Vic Beasley Jr. to a one-year, $16 million deal

Beasley’s hot finish to the season — he had 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles over the second half — made him millions. The Falcons have already said they won’t be bringing him back, so Dallas can offer a one-year deal with a chance to get back in free agency after a potential big 2020 season.

Dante Fowler Jr. inks a five-year, $110 million deal with the Giants

The Jets aren’t the only New York team longing for edge-rushing help; the Giants need building blocks up front, and in addition to re-signing Leonard Williams, they add the 25-year-old Fowler after an 11.5-sack season in Los Angeles. If this seems like a lot for a guy with one effective season as a starter, well, go look at the Giants’ depth chart.

The Bills sign Mario Addison to a three-year, $42 million deal

Sean McDermott has brought in plenty of his favorites from Carolina and just hired former Panthers defensive coordinator Eric Washington as defensive line coach. Addison has been wildly underrated for years — he’s 11th in the league in sacks since 2016 — and would step in for Shaq Lawson in Buffalo’s defensive line rotation.

If Green persuades Cincy to let him leave, he’ll have a robust market. You’ve seen him with Andy Dalton; now, imagine him with …

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The 49ers sign A.J. Green to a four-year, $84 million contract

While San Francisco would likely be interested in bringing back Emmanuel Sanders, Green is a clear step above Sanders and would be an ideal primary receiver in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Injuries are becoming a concern for the 31-year-old Green, who didn’t play a snap this past season, but this is a chance to add a transformational receiver.

Emmanuel Sanders gets a four-year, $40 million deal with the Jets

With Quincy Enunwa‘s future uncertain after suffering his second neck injury in three years, the Jets could add a replacement for the 27-year-old by signing Sanders. The SMU product played well after returning from a torn Achilles and enjoyed his time under Jets coach Adam Gase when both were in Denver.

Robby Anderson signs a four-year, $52 million contract with the Packers

Aaron Rodgers also needs a second receiver behind Davante Adams; after a mostly successful free-agent spree from Brian Gutekunst in 2019, the Packers’ general manager could try to put his team over the top by adding a downfield threat in Anderson, who had 18 touchdowns in his past three seasons in New York. Rodgers ranked third in deep attempts but 25th in deep completion percentage in 2019.

Austin Hooper signs a five-year, $55 million deal with the Patriots

With Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu signed for 2020, the Pats really need to add a tight end (and add some cheap speed with someone like Seth Roberts). They need a tight end more than a wide receiver, so signing Hooper makes sense, especially if New England prefers Hooper’s ability to stay on the field to Hunter Henry‘s superior blocking.

The Patriots send a 2021 fifth-round pick to the 49ers for Dante Pettis

Let’s be real: The Niners probably owe the Patriots a favor after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. Pettis has gotten buried on the depth chart, but New England could use the 2018 second-round pick as a Julian Edelman understudy and punt returner.

Nelson Agholor signs a one-year, $8 million deal with the Colts

Agholor’s best season as a pro came in 2017, when the Eagles moved their first-round pick into the slot and he responded with 768 yards and eight touchdowns. Frank Reich was the Philly offensive coordinator that season, and a one-year deal for Agholor to rebuild his value in Indy could make sense for both sides.

The Colts sign A.J. Green to a four-year, $80 million deal

If Indianapolis wants to improve its passing game but can’t land on a better quarterback than Jacoby Brissett, bringing in Green could kick-start Frank Reich’s offense. Green and T.Y. Hilton both have injury concerns, but this would be one of the best one-two wide receiver punches in the league.

Robby Anderson lands a four-year, $48 million deal from Arizona

The Cardinals have Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald under contract, and it’s too early to give up on second-rounder Andy Isabella, but they desperately need somebody who can win on the outside and run past defensive backs. That’s Anderson to a T, and he would offer Kyler Murray a much-needed vertical threat.

The Chiefs release Sammy Watkins, who signs a three-year deal with the Jets

New York was supposed to get Sam Darnold some weapons in the 2019 offseason. The Jets still need to get Darnold weapons in 2020. Signing Watkins would give them a more physically impactful option. While he has disappeared at times in Kansas City, Watkins’ numbers would likely improve as the No. 1 target in New York.

Nelson Agholor gets a one-year prove-it deal from Kansas City

The Chiefs and Eagles organizations are intertwined, and while Kansas City doesn’t lack receivers, it could lose two regulars with Sammy Watkins released in this scenario and Demarcus Robinson hitting free agency. Mecole Hardman will pick up some of the slack in 2020, but Agholor would give the Chiefs another weapon out of the slot and come cheap at $4.5 million.

Green Bay cuts Jimmy Graham and signs Austin Hooper to a $60 million contract

With Graham disappointing during his two seasons in Green Bay, he’s an obvious candidate for release. He has the record contract for a tight end at $10 million per season, but Austin Hooper (among others) will likely top that mark this offseason. Hooper would get five years from the Packers, while Atlanta could very well sign Graham on a much smaller one-year deal.

The Patriots sign Eric Ebron to a one-year, $8 million deal

While nobody outside of George Kittle is ever going to be able to replace Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots got a league-low 37 catches from their tight ends in 2019. Ebron isn’t close to the caliber of blocker that Gronk was, but he’s a receiving threat who can make spectacular catches and run past linebackers in the play-action game.

Las Vegas trades for A.J. Green after he gets franchise-tagged by the Bengals

The Raiders tried to get a No. 1 receiver last offseason when they traded for Antonio Brown. That didn’t work out. Trading for Green is their second chance, with Las Vegas moving down from No. 19 to No. 33 in exchange for the longtime Cincinnati star and a swap of fourth-rounders. An extension follows shortly. The Raiders still have the No. 12 pick to help their defense.

Breshad Perriman lands a three-year, $33 million deal with the Colts

Perriman’s hot finish to the season — 25 catches for 506 yards and five touchdowns over the final five games — attracted some attention. He’s probably too expensive to be Tampa’s third wideout, but his downfield ability could serve him well as the second wideout behind T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis.

The Ravens sign Emmanuel Sanders to a one-year, $9 million contract

The Ravens have built their passing offense around the speed of guys like Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, but Sanders would give them another option as an intermediate receiver who can still get upfield and make big plays. He’s also a good blocker, which is essential when a team runs as much as the Ravens plan on running in 2020. Sanders, who turns 33 in March, might not have a huge market.

Cleveland signs Hunter Henry to a four-year, $40 million deal

Everybody knows the deal here. When Henry’s healthy, he’s a red zone weapon and a threat after the catch. He just isn’t healthy often, having missed 23 games in four seasons. New Browns coach Kevin Stefanski’s Vikings offense targeted tight ends just over 24% of the time last season, the ninth-highest rate in the league. The Browns were 28th in the same category.

The Patriots trade a sixth-round pick for David Njoku

The Browns appeared to sour on Njoku and barely played the former first-rounder after he returned from a wrist injury. Just about everyone who was making decisions for Cleveland in 2018 is gone, but if Njoku is following them out of town, the Patriots make sense as a landing spot for a number of reasons.

New England also brings back Danny Amendola on a one-year deal

While Julian Edelman is still an effective slot receiver, adding depth in the way of Amendola gives the Patriots more options with spread attacks and a backup if Edelman goes down injured or gets suspended. Amendola’s upside is limited by his own injury history, but a deal in the $3 million range makes sense for both parties.

Williams has sworn he’ll never play for Washington again. After sitting out all of 2019, where would the franchise left tackle fit in 2020?

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Cleveland trades a second-round pick for Trent Williams

Washington can’t realistically expect to net the 10th overall selection for its disgruntled left tackle, but Cleveland’s second-round pick at No. 41 would be a reasonable return. The Browns desperately need to upgrade on Greg Robinson at left tackle and would likely sign the 31-year-old Williams to an extension.

The Colts sign Jason Peters to a one-year, $8 million deal

Peters wants to continue his career, but the Eagles are likely going to move on with 2019 first-rounder Andre Dillard as their starting left tackle. There aren’t many other viable tackles on the market, so with Anthony Castonzo potentially retiring, the Colts could go for a short-term option by importing the 16-year veteran.

Jack Conklin signs a five-year, $70 million contract with the Dolphins

Tennessee’s decision to decline Conklin’s fifth-year option is Miami’s gain. If the Dolphins do plan on drafting Tua Tagovailoa, they’ll want to invest more at right tackle, since that will be the left-handed Alabama star’s blind side. Conklin is the highest-upside option available at the position, and he’ll still come in handy for right-handed throwers.

Miami also adds Andrus Peat on a five-year, $60 million deal

Peat played left tackle during his time at Stanford before moving to guard with the Saints, so the Dolphins could give the two-time Pro Bowler a shot at the most important position on the line. Peat has struggled at times, but his floor is still as an above-average guard for a team that needs linemen everywhere.

The Lions sign Joe Thuney to a four-year, $36 million pact

Any time a Patriots player leaves the nest, the first places to look are the various New England outposts around the NFL. With Graham Glasgow a free agent, the Lions could sign another former Patriots player by adding Thuney. The 27-year-old is an underrated contributor, but the Patriots already paid fellow guard Shaq Mason, so they might not pony up for Thuney.

The Panthers sign Kelechi Osemele to a one-year deal

Osemele is a couple of years removed from his All-Pro form, and his brief stint with the Jets was a fiasco when the team tried to prevent him from undergoing shoulder surgery, but the 30-year-old should be ready for 2020. Osemele’s run-blocking would make him a great fit at left guard for Matt Rhule in Carolina.

The Dolphins trade the 26th pick for Trent Williams and a second-round pick

It might seem a little weird for the Dolphins to go after a veteran, but Williams is still only 31 and should have years of good-to-great play at left tackle ahead, if he stays healthy. Giving Williams an extension would protect both Ryan Fitzpatrick and whoever follows and fill a huge hole along the Miami offensive line.

Ron Leary signs a one-year, $4 million deal with the Browns

Leary wasn’t able to make his mark in Denver thanks to injuries, with a torn Achilles and a series of concussions limiting him to 29 games over three seasons. Denver should decline his option. While the Browns need to upgrade at tackle, Leary could fill in at right guard under offensive line guru Bill Callahan, who coached Leary in Dallas.

The Colts trade a fourth-round pick to the Bengals for Cordy Glenn

If free agent Anthony Castonzo retires, Indy could either address left tackle in the draft or fill the void in March. Glenn feuded with the Bengals organization in October and will cede his spot on the blind side to 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams. With more buyers than sellers in the left tackle market, Glenn will have some trade value.

The Jets sign D.J. Humphries to a four-year, $56 million deal

Humphries just finished his first full healthy season as a pro, but the Jets are desperate for offensive line help. The former first-rounder has played just 43 games during his five years in the desert, and he could be one of the top veteran options available in free agency. New York left tackle Kelvin Beachum is also a free agent, so the Jets have a hole to fill.

Ben Garland signs a three-year, $18 million deal with the Jets

After the Ryan Kalil experiment went disastrously, Adam Gase will be looking for a new center this offseason. Garland has earned a long-term deal from some team after he impressed for the 49ers, where he has ably replaced the injured Weston Richburg.

Bryan Bulaga signs a four-year, $48 million deal with the Browns

While the Browns fired many of the former Packers in their front office, they could still opt to upgrade at right tackle by shelling out for Bulaga, who has spent his entire career in Green Bay. The move would lead the Browns to cut Chris Hubbard, who has disappointed in Cleveland after leaving the Steelers in 2018.

The Patriots trade their top pick for Trent Williams and a second-round pick

It’s too early for the Pats to give up on 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn, but he has missed 24 games over his first two seasons with a torn Achilles and turf toe. They can’t wait, with Tom Brady to make a decision, and trading for Williams would give them a franchise left tackle. Wynn could kick inside to left guard to replace Joe Thuney, who could leave in free agency.

Andrus Peat lands a five-year, $60 milion deal from Washington

If Williams leaves, Washington would probably look for a veteran replacement to protect Dwayne Haskins. It is likely to re-sign guard Brandon Scherff, and the former college left tackle could kick over to the blind side, but I wonder if they would do the same thing instead with Peat, who might be a better fit to make the switch.

The Bears sign Quinton Spain to a three-year, $21 million deal

In need of help at guard after Kyle Long retired and missing several picks in April’s draft, the Bears could look again toward free agency to build support around Mitchell Trubisky. The 28-year-old Spain impressed as a run-blocker for the Bills this past season and has likely done enough to earn a multiyear deal.

The Giants sign Germain Ifedi to a four-year, $40 million pact

Ifedi has been frustrating during his time in Seattle — he commits too many penalties — but teams are going to like the former first-rounder’s athleticism and what he does as a run-blocker. General manager Dave Gettleman will want to address right tackle after failing to find a solution the past two offseasons.

Jack Conklin signs a five-year, $80 million deal with the Jets

Gang Green’s recent big-ticket free-agent signings have mostly been disasters, but under new general manager Joe Douglas, they probably need to go back into the market for at least one significant offensive lineman. With no great left tackles available, signing the best right tackle on the board makes sense, but he’ll be expensive.

Gordon held out for a new contract and didn’t get it. Now that he’s a free agent, will any team pony up to pay the 26-year-old running back?

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Melvin Gordon signs a four-year, $36 million deal with the Bucs

If Bruce Arians tries to bring in Philip Rivers to play quarterback, the second-year coach might consider adding Rivers’ former teammate to play alongside him in the backfield, too. Gordon would be an upgrade on Ronald Jones and the sort of receiving back Arians hasn’t had since David Johnson‘s breakout year in 2016.

The Patriots send third- and fifth-round picks to the Chargers for Austin Ekeler

With the restricted free agent Ekeler likely to be tendered at the second-round level, the Patriots wouldn’t be able to sign the Chargers back, since they don’t have a second-round pick. Trading for Ekeler would allow the Pats to get more creative in terms of compensation and use the wildly efficient back as a slot receiver on a regular basis.

LeSean McCoy signs a one-year, $1 million deal with the Chargers

The veteran running back was reportedly negotiating with the Chargers in August before agreeing to terms with the Chiefs, and while McCoy ended up winning a Super Bowl in Kansas City, it was as a healthy scratch. Going to the Chargers would give him a chance at a starting job, which he probably wouldn’t get elsewhere.

New England cuts Rex Burkhead, who signs with the Lions

The Patriots can free up $2.9 million by cutting Burkhead, who played 23% of the offensive snaps in 2019 and hasn’t been able to consistently stay healthy. The Lions have struggled to keep Kerryon Johnson on the field in both of his first two seasons, and Burkhead would enter the Lions’ lineup as a change-of-pace back and special-teamer.

The Falcons cut Devonta Freeman, who signs a two-year deal with the Texans

Atlanta needs to get cheaper at running back, and Freeman should still attract interest around the league as the better half of a timeshare. He’s a great fit in Houston, where he would take the early-down carries and goal-line reps and cede the other snaps to Duke Johnson.

Kenyan Drake signs a four-year, $30 million deal with Washington

With Washington rebuilding under Ron Rivera, I’m not sure this organization is going to be as patient waiting for former second-round pick Derrius Guice, who has played five games in two seasons thanks to injuries. Drake would take over the Christian McCaffrey role in Scott Turner’s offense, which is likely to interest fantasy players.

Melvin Gordon signs a five-year, $50 million deal with Washington

From 2017 to 2019, Ron Rivera built his offense in Carolina around Christian McCaffrey, who could shoulder a heavy workload in both the running and passing game. Gordon isn’t exactly that sort of player, but at his best, he has been an effective runner and receiver while shouldering a significant workload. Signing Gordon also takes some pressure off Dwayne Haskins.

The Chargers add Kenyan Drake on a one-year, $8 million contract

Drake isn’t quite an exact replacement for Gordon, but the Cardinals improved dramatically on offense after he took over lead back responsibilities from David Johnson. If Drake doesn’t see a great multiyear deal on the table, he could take this one-year pact and head back into free agency after a stellar full season.

Lamar Miller signs a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Dolphins

While Miller once left the Dolphins in free agency, much of the front office that chose to let him go has been turned over. The born-and-raised Miami native might prefer a trip home, especially since he’ll have the inside shot at lead-back duties. Miami has more than $100 million of cap space this offseason.

The Bucs send a seventh-round pick to the Jets for Le’Veon Bell and a fourth-round pick

There’s no way the Jets will get meaningful value for Bell, whose contract is underwater, but they might be able to dump salary if they attach a draft pick. I’d love to see Bell in Bruce Arians’ system, though Tampa would be on the hook for $13.5 million in 2020. The Jets might be able to make this deal without attaching a draft pick if they eat some of his contract.

Jordan Howard signs a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Jets

Without Bell in the fold, the Jets suddenly have a hole at running back. Adam Gase has long struggled to find a running back solution, but Howard is a cheap short-term investment who played under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in Chicago.

The Bills sign Devonta Freeman to a one-year, $3 million contract

With Freeman likely to be cut by the Falcons and veteran Frank Gore moving on from Buffalo, the Bills need a back to take some of the reps away from Devin Singletary. Freeman would take over as the goal-line and early-down specialist.

The Texans sign Melvin Gordon to a five-year, $50 million deal

With Bill O’Brien officially taking over as general manager and the Texans firing contract negotiator Chris Olsen, chances are that we’re going to see O’Brien wielding his checkbook. Gordon’s versatility should make him an effective threat in the screen game and when Deshaun Watson scrambles.

The Chargers sign Lamar Miller to a one-year deal

Miller missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL but should be ready for Week 1. The former Texans back was a league-average starter before his injury, so the Chargers could get a relative bargain — something like $2 million — in using him as half of a rotation with Austin Ekeler.

Kenyan Drake inks a three-year, $21 million contract with the Bucs

Bruce Arians seemed unsure about committing to Ronald Jones during the second half of the season, and fumbles were a concern for the second-year back. Adding the resurgent Drake would give Arians a difference-maker in the passing game, which should help regardless of who ends up playing quarterback in 2020.

Atlanta cuts Devonta Freeman, who signs a one-year deal with the Dolphins

The cap-strapped Falcons can free up $3.5 million by releasing Freeman, who hasn’t been consistently effective or healthy since signing a big extension in August of 2017. A return to Miami, where Freeman grew up, would make sense given the Dolphins’ wafer-thin depth chart at running back.

Seattle signs Jordan Howard to a one-year, $1.5 million contract

There’s no such thing as too many backs for the Seahawks, who were forced to call Marshawn Lynch out of retirement for the postseason thanks to injuries. With Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson recovering from serious injuries, Howard could fill in between the tackles, particularly early in the season.

Jerick McKinnon gets a one-year flier from the Browns

McKinnon has missed the past two seasons with knee troubles and will surely be cut by the 49ers. New Browns coach Kevin Stefanski had McKinnon in Minnesota and could give him a shot to compete for the receiving back role with Kareem Hunt, who is a restricted free agent this offseason.

Harris’ last contract ended up becoming one of the NFL’s biggest bargains. The former Broncos star deserves top dollar this time.

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The Chiefs sign Chris Harris Jr. to a four-year, $48 million deal

Kansas City’s Super Bowl win came with transient cornerbacks. The only Chiefs corner set to come back who played significant snaps is Charvarius Ward. Let’s get them a star in Harris, who solidifies the weakest spot on their roster as they try to get back to the big game.

Bashaud Breeland signs a four-year, $40 million deal with the Dolphins

The Super Bowl hero finally gets his multiyear deal after having his Panthers deal rescinded in 2018. Breeland has generally been an above-average cornerback when healthy, and the Dolphins badly need secondary help. Having just turned 28, Breeland should lock down one corner spot for at least a couple of years during the Miami rebuild.

Miami cuts Reshad Jones, who signs a two-year, $11 million deal with the Bucs

Jones’ enormous deal will still require the Dolphins to eat $10.2 million in dead money to move on. He shouldn’t have to go far, though; Jones started his career in Miami under defensive wizard Todd Bowles, who is now the coordinator in Tampa. The Bucs could use Jones’ range and instincts in either safety spot.

The Jets sign Logan Ryan to a three-year, $42 million deal

Ryan had an active season in Tennessee; he was the nearest defender in coverage on 99 targets, the fifth-most in football. Trumaine Johnson is almost surely going to be cut by the Jets, and Brian Poole is a free agent, so Ryan could step in as a much-needed starting corner outside or (preferably) in the slot.

The Eagles sign Patrick Robinson to a one-year, $2 million contract

Cornerback was a disaster for the Eagles last season, and they have to do something to address the position this offseason. Let’s start by bringing back Robinson, who had a career year in the slot for the Eagles in 2017 and then got lost in the shuffle with the Saints.

Philadelphia signs Xavier Rhodes to a one-year, $3.5 million pact

Likewise, Rhodes was great in 2017 and then hasn’t been anywhere near as effective over the past couple of seasons. The Eagles, who don’t have a ton of money to spend, would be hoping that a fresh start and an offseason to heal would get the 29-year-old Rhodes looking like his former self. He is likely to be a cap casualty in Minnesota.

Chris Harris Jr. signs a four-year, $62 million deal with the Jets

Can you name the only cornerback with an average annual salary of $15 million? It’s Josh Norman. Jalen Ramsey will likely sign a record-setting deal soon, but Harris might be the next to top that $15 million mark. The Jets desperately need help at cornerback and will clear out Trumaine Johnson‘s deal this offseason.

The Giants land Trumaine Johnson on a one-year, $4 million contract

The Giants are going young at corner but likely need to add a veteran after cutting Janoris Jenkins in December. Johnson was a disaster with the Jets, but he just turned 30 and was one of the league’s best corners with the Rams as recently as 2017.

Bashaud Breeland signs a three-year, $30 million deal with the Broncos

If the Broncos lose Harris, they’ll need to add a cornerback to take his place. Bryce Callahan should be back to play the slot after missing all of 2019 with a foot injury, so Denver will likely look for a corner to play outside. Signing Breeland also steals from the rival Chiefs.

The Eagles sign Eli Apple to a one-year, $5 million contract

The 2016 first-round pick has had an up-and-down career, mixing impressive seasons in 2016 and 2018 with disappointing campaigns in 2017 and 2019. Apple played his high school football a half hour away from the Linc, and both sides of this deal could benefit from giving him a chance to prove himself in 2020.

Philly signs Brian Poole to a three-year, $18 million deal

Poole quietly rebuilt his career after being cut by the Falcons as one of the few bright spots for the Jets on defense — or really anywhere — in 2019. He would take over as the Eagles’ slot corner and reunite with former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, now the secondary coach in Philadelphia.

Byron Jones signs a five-year, $60 million deal with the Raiders

Let’s get Jon Gruden’s 31st-ranked defense by DVOA a new star. Cornerback has been a mess for the Raiders over the past couple of years, but Jones’ size, speed and physicality gives Las Vegas somebody who can compete with the likes of Keenan Allen, Travis Kelce and Courtland Sutton.

The Texans sign Chris Harris Jr. to a four-year, $56 million deal

A year ago, the Texans signed former Broncos corner Bradley Roby to a one-year deal to try to shore up a thin cornerback group. Now, they’ll make a more substantial deal with Harris, who will start alongside Lonnie Johnson and Gareon Conley in 2020. This contract would have two fully guaranteed seasons.

The Browns sign Bradley Roby to a three-year, $33 million pact

With former Broncos defensive backs coach Joe Woods taking over in Cleveland as defensive coordinator, the Browns might look to add a player in his peak with a Super Bowl ring to help serve as a leader on that side of the ball. Roby, a first-round pick in 2014, would beef up a corner position that includes Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams.

Washington cuts Josh Norman, who signs a one-year deal with the Bills

Norman has been a below-average player since signing a record-setting deal with Washington. He could retire, but I wonder if the Bills would give him a chance. Sean McDermott was the Panthers’ defensive coordinator when Norman broke out in 2015, and the deal likely wouldn’t have much guaranteed money.

The Jets cut Trumaine Johnson, who inks a one-year deal with the Vikings

Mike Zimmer will need to rebuild at cornerback with Xavier Rhodes a likely cap casualty and Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander hitting free agency. The Vikings will likely address corner in the draft, but taking a low-cost flier on Johnson after two disastrous years with the Jets is the sort of thing Zimmer should consider.

Byron Jones signs a four-year, $48 million deal with the Jaguars

Jones’ size should attract interest from teams who run variants of the Pete Carroll Cover 3 Buzz scheme. The Jags still do under Todd Wash and could use a cornerback to replace Jalen Ramsey on the outside across from A.J. Bouye, although this would be a tough squeeze given their cap situation.

Aqib Talib signs a one-year, $3 million deal with the 49ers

Talib and Richard Sherman? It’s rare to see a team start two cornerbacks on the wrong side of 30, but talent means more than age. Talib was good when he got on the field for the Rams the past two seasons, but he played only 11 total regular-season games in L.A. before a salary dump trade to Miami. He’s still good enough to get an opportunity to play.

Published at Mon, 10 Feb 2020 13:46:23 +0000

Barnwell sets off NFL offseason dominoes: 8 star players, 144 moves

Barnwell sets off NFL offseason dominoes: 8 star players, 144 moves

It’s hard to imagine Brady leaving the Patriots … but it sure is fun. If he hits the market in March, how could it shake up the league?

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The Bears sign Tom Brady to a four-year, $110 million deal

Trying to link up with the NFL’s best non-Patriots defense and win one more Super Bowl, Brady signs what really amounts to a one-year, $35 million deal with voidable years attached. Allen Robinson, weeping after six years of catching passes from Blake Bortles and Mitchell Trubisky, hands Brady his No. 12 jersey at the G.O.A.T.’s unveiling.

Chicago trades Leonard Floyd to the Giants for a sixth-round pick

To free up cap room, the Bears need to move on from their former first-round pick, who has $13.2 million in unguaranteed salary left on the final year of his rookie deal. A Giants team desperate for pass-rushing help sends a late-round pick to the Bears for Floyd, whose sack total has dropped each season since a seven-sack campaign in 2016.

The Patriots trade a third-round pick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

Looking for an option with both short- and long-term potential, the Patriots go for the highest-upside passer left in the market by sending a pick to Carolina for the 2015 MVP. The 30-year-old passes a physical before the trade, but both sides agree that Newton should play out the final year of his deal before considering an extension.

Marcus Mariota signs a two-year, $18 million deal with the Panthers

With Carolina coach Matt Rhule looking for a quarterback who protects the football and offers some mobility if the Panthers want to use RPOs, he goes after a former Heisman Trophy winner in Mariota. This deal locks in Mariota as either a low-end starter or a high-end backup to compete with 2019 third-round pick Will Grier.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a four-year, $120 million deal with the Colts

After years of waiting for his opportunity, Bridgewater finally finds a long-term fit in Indianapolis, where the Colts are looking for an upgrade on Jacoby Brissett. Bridgewater’s deal really amounts to a two-year commitment, but the beloved former Vikings, Jets and Saints quarterback is the Week 1 starter for the Colts.

The Bears trade Mitchell Trubisky to the Dolphins for Josh Rosen

With the Trubisky era coming to a close in Chicago, the Bears decline his fifth-year option and free up much-needed cap space by trading him and a seventh-round pick to the Dolphins for a cheaper backup in Rosen, who joins his third team in three years. Miami passes on a quarterback in the 2020 draft and evaluates Trubisky behind Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Chargers sign Tom Brady to a five-year, $180 million deal

In desperate need of both a reliable quarterback and a marquee player to sell tickets in their new stadium, the Chargers find both in one fell swoop by inking the greatest player in NFL history. Brady’s deal crucially includes three guaranteed years, meaning that L.A. is committing to Brady’s long-discussed plan to play until he’s 45.

Philip Rivers signs with Jacksonville on a four-year, $100 million deal

With Rivers moving his family to Florida, the three teams in the Sunshine State are able to try to sign Rivers at a discount. The Jaguars have to add voidable years to the end of the deal and make another big move to make the money work, but Rivers will start in 2020 and mentor Gardner Minshew.

The Jags trade Nick Foles to the Colts in a salary dump

To get out of the $20.6 million guaranteed owed to Foles over the next two years, the Jaguars ship their deposed starter to Indy. To get the Colts to eat the money, though, Jacksonville has to send the 20th overall selection it received from the Rams in the Jalen Ramsey trade — similar to the Brock Osweiler deal in 2017 — although Indy ships the 110th pick back to the Jags.

The Colts package their first-round picks to trade up for Tua Tagovailoa

With plenty of cap room and draft assets left, general manager Chris Ballard decides to add Indy’s quarterback of the future, too. The Colts package the 13th, 20th and 44th selections and send them to the Lions for the third overall pick and a fifth-rounder to draft the Alabama star, who will spend most of 2020 recovering from his hip injury behind Nick Foles and Jacoby Brissett.

Taysom Hill signs a two-year, $20 million offer sheet with the Raiders

When the Saints hand Hill the second-round tender in restricted free agency, it opens up the possibility of the 29-year-old going elsewhere. The uniquely gifted Hill finds another unique coach in Jon Gruden, who sees the jack-of-all-trades as a supplement to Derek Carr. Since Las Vegas doesn’t have a second-round pick in 2020, it sends two third-round picks to the Seahawks to get the second-rounder.

New England gives Teddy Bridgewater a three-year, $60 million deal

With Brady leaving, the Patriots go after a quarterback whose comfort in the pocket, accuracy and smarts all might remind Bill Belichick of his now-departed passer. After going 5-0 while temporarily replacing Drew Brees, Bridgewater now has to replace another Hall of Famer. The Saints have to head into the draft for a backup.

Tom Brady gets a four-year, $160 million deal from the Colts

What’s the ultimate revenge on Josh McDaniels for leaving the Colts at the altar? I don’t seriously think they would be signing Brady merely to exact some revenge on their rivals, but it couldn’t hurt. Indianapolis has a sound offensive line, a strong long-term plan and the cap space to make Brady the league’s first $40 million-per-year quarterback.

The Patriots trade their first-round pick to the Lions for Matthew Stafford

With rumors that the Lions are considering moving on from their longtime starter, the Patriots aren’t likely to find a better option than the 2009 No. 1 overall pick. They would be acquiring the 31-year-old Stafford on a manageable three-year, $51.3 million deal. Detroit would eat a record $32 million in dead money on its cap, but it can take Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 3 pick in April.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a two-year, $60 million deal with the Chargers

After years of the Philip Rivers roller coaster, the Chargers opt for a smoother ride by handing their starting job over to Bridgewater. The contract is really a one-year deal, but it’s a clear path to a starting job on a would-be playoff contender. New Orleans fans can even thank Teddy when the Chargers come to town in 2020.

The Jaguars trade with the Dolphins to move up and draft Justin Herbert

If the Dolphins don’t want any of the passers in this year’s class, they could decide to spread their assets around. They drop down from pick No. 5 to No. 9 here, with the Jags moving ahead of the Chargers and Panthers to take the former Oregon star. The Jaguars also send their 2021 first-round pick, which could end up as one of the top selections in next year’s draft.

The Eagles somehow acquire Nick Foles

The other part of that trade sees Foles momentarily head to Miami, where the Dolphins restructure his deal and eat a significant portion, with the Jags sending along a fourth-round pick to sweeten the deal. Foles takes a pay cut in 2021 and 2022, and Philly then trades a fourth-round pick to reunite with its legendary backup.

The Saints sign Andy Dalton to a one-year, $6 million deal

After the Bengals draft Joe Burrow with the first pick and cut their longtime starting quarterback Dalton, the Saints pounce on him as a replacement for Bridgewater. With Dalton looking at backup jobs around the league, the opportunity to join a Super Bowl contender behind Drew Brees is the best opportunity available.

All options are on the table for the former MVP. With one year left on his deal, the retooling Panthers could keep him, trade him or cut him.

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The Chargers trade a second-round pick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

With Philip Rivers relocating to Florida, the Chargers are left with Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick on their depth chart. Adding Newton is a rare chance to acquire a 30-year-old former MVP in what could be the middle of his career, and the Chargers can install a roughly similar scheme for all three of their quarterbacks. Newton is signed through only the 2020 season.

Carolina signs Taysom Hill to a two-year, $18 million deal

While the Panthers might want to give Will Grier a legitimate chance to prove himself in 2020, here’s a way for them to add another threat to what will likely be a run-first offense under new coach Matt Rhule. Acquiring Hill hurts a divisional rival — though the Saints would net a second-round pick if the restricted free agent Hill is tendered as expected — and sets up all kinds of trick plays with Christian McCaffrey.

So long, Nick Foles. The Jags dump his contract on the Dolphins

In desperate need of cap space, Jacksonville makes a deal with the Dolphins to rid itself of the $20.5 million remaining on Foles’ deal. Miami, which paid $5 million for a fourth-round pick as part of the Ryan Tannehill deal, grabs its fourth first-round pick by moving up from No. 39 to No. 20 as part of the deal.

Jacksonville brings in Andy Dalton after he’s released by the Bengals

In need of veteran competition for Gardner Minshew, the Jaguars reunite a once-successful pairing by linking up Dalton with Jay Gruden, his former offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Dalton joins the Jags on a three-year, $48 million deal that is really a one-year, $7 million pact with options.

The Patriots trade a late-round pick for former top-10 pick Josh Rosen

After being deemed unplayable by a Dolphins team that was actively trying to lose, Rosen’s stock can’t be much lower. New England has a history of trying to buy low on high draft picks after ugly starts to their careers, and it can send the 182nd pick to Miami to evaluate Rosen behind Tom Brady, who signs a new deal with the Pats.

Marcus Mariota signs a two-year, $14 million deal with the Eagles

The Eagles couldn’t have anticipated Carson Wentz would suffer a concussion in the wild-card round, but the fact that he missed each of his two prior playoff runs via injury means backup quarterback is more of a priority in Philly than most other places. Mariota gives the Eagles a mobile, high-floor No. 2 option.

The Dolphins trade Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

While Miami plans to bring back the 37-year-old Fitzpatrick for 2020, he’s a stopgap, not a long-term solution. Newton might not end up as the answer, but he’s the sort of flier with massive upside the Dolphins should take while they wait to find its quarterback of the future. They add the 68th pick in the draft to get the trade over the line.

The Panthers flip Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Eagles for a fifth-round pick

Carolina doesn’t particularly need Fitzpatrick — the third-round pick in the Newton deal is the asset — so the team restructures his deal to eat $1.5 million and then sends the remaining $6.5 million to the Eagles, who install the Fitzchise as the backup to Carson Wentz.

The Lions trade Matthew Stafford to the Raiders for two first-round picks

If Detroit needs to be blown away by a Stafford trade, the Raiders and Jon Gruden are the most likely team to pony up the draft capital. Gruden has moved on from virtually every other player he inherited and would covet Stafford’s arm and marketability in Las Vegas. The Lions could use the third overall pick on a quarterback and add more valuable draft capital.

Derek Carr signs with the Chargers on a two-year, $50 million deal

With the Raiders no longer needing Carr’s services, he gets released with a small dead-cap charge. He can then stay in the Los Angeles area by taking over as the new starter for the Chargers. This deal has no guaranteed money after 2020, freeing the Chargers to pursue a more exciting option next offseason if Carr struggles.

Teddy Bridgewater re-signs with the Saints

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Nothing would make Saints fans happier this offseason than bringing back Bridgewater. While the 30% rule prevents the Saints from giving him a small 2020 salary with a significant raise to start in 2021, a one-year deal brings the former Louisville star back into the fold for one more season with Sean Payton & Co.

Taysom Hill returns to New Orleans, too

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Hill was a talented college quarterback, and teams are more open-minded about quarterbacks than they have been in decades, but let’s be realistic: It’s tough to imagine him having the same impact elsewhere. The Saints re-sign the restricted free agent to a three-year, $15 million deal.

The Raiders trade a third-round pick to the Panthers for Cam Newton

If the Raiders want a star for their new city, they can just hold on to their two first-round picks and trade a later pick to get their guy. Newton has box-office appeal, and his upside is literally as league MVP. Jon Gruden might prefer that upside in 2020 to another season with Derek Carr. Vegas also has two third-round picks.

Released by Vegas, Derek Carr signs a one-year, $7 million deal with Tennessee

The Titans made a move last year to add an unexciting veteran backup for their starter and landed on Ryan Tannehill, who had a career season. While they re-sign Tannehill, his injury history should lead general manager Jon Robinson to sign another veteran backup, with Carr, who gets cut by Las Vegas, fitting the bill.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a three-year, $90 million deal with the Panthers

With Carolina looking for a starter to replace Newton, Bridgewater emerges as the superior option to passers like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. The Panthers pay Bridgewater $35 million in Year 1 as part of this deal, but there’s no guaranteed money afterward, allowing them to pursue a prospect in the 2021 draft if it doesn’t work out.

The Chargers land Jameis Winston on a three-year, $99 million deal

With Philip Rivers “permanently” relocating to Florida, the Chargers decide to target a Floridian of their own to take over as their new starter. Winston’s mix of brilliant moments and inconceivably bad interceptions is reminiscent of Rivers, but the 26-year-old has some time to improve. In theory.

The Bears sign Marcus Mariota to a two-year, $14 million deal

I was more enthused about the idea of Mariota joining Chicago when former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was on staff as offensive coordinator, but Mariota’s mobility and ability to avoid takeaways still make him a high-end backup. He’s just good enough to sign without threatening Mitchell Trubisky.

Joe Flacco gets a one-year, $3 million deal to be the backup in Pittsburgh

Flacco joining his former rivals seems strange — and it’s unclear whether he will return from a season-ending neck injury — but the Steelers just saw their season go up in flames thanks to subpar backup quarterback work. Ben Roethlisberger should be healthy for 2020, but Flacco would give the Steelers a veteran option.

Rivers has moved out of California and seemingly cut ties with the Chargers. Where could the 38-year-old land in 2020?

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The Bucs give Philip Rivers a three-year, $90 million deal … with an out

It warms my heart to see Rivers and Bruce Arians come together for one ride into the sunset. It’s a great fit for both player and scheme, as both would throw the ball vertically every play if they could. This deal has minimal guaranteed money after 2020, freeing up the Bucs to pursue another quarterback in 2021 if it doesn’t work out.

Teddy Bridgewater signs a three-year, $90 million deal with the Chargers

The Chargers might rightfully feel like they’re a consistent quarterback away from the playoffs, and Bridgewater’s success filling in for Drew Brees in New Orleans makes him an obvious source of stability. With the Chargers loath to trade away draft picks, signing Bridgewater makes short-term and possibly long-term sense.

Baltimore trades a seventh-round pick to L.A. for Tyrod Taylor

The most logical landing place for Taylor is as a backup is Baltimore, given the presence of former Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. He would be stuck behind the league MVP in Lamar Jackson, but trading for Taylor would allow Baltimore to run the same exact scheme if Jackson were to get injured in 2020.

The Raiders use their draft capital to trade up for Tua Tagovailoa

One way for the Raiders to mark the end of the Khalil Mack discussion and start their time off in Las Vegas with a bang is to find a new franchise quarterback. They send pick Nos. 12 and 19 plus a 2021 second-round pick to the Lions to draft the Alabama star, who spends 2020 on an injury redshirt behind Derek Carr.

Jameis Winston gets a one-year, $9 million pact from Chicago

While the Bears are publicly committed to Mitchell Trubisky, they need to bring in a quarterback who can compete for the starting job. Winston’s market is totally uncertain; there might not be any team that thinks he’s worth starter money, and if not, he might need to settle for a one-year deal and a competition. Trubisky’s backup Chase Daniel can return to Kansas City to sit behind Patrick Mahomes.

The Packers add Joe Flacco to be their backup on a one-year, $4 million deal

The current backup behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay is undrafted free agent Tim Boyle. Rodgers hasn’t missed a game in two years, but the Packers should still consider investing in a more experienced backup for their 37-year-old starter. Flacco can chase a ring with the NFC North champs.

The Colts give Philip Rivers a two-year, $62 million deal to be their starter

While the location isn’t ideal for Rivers, the three Florida teams are much further away from the playoffs than the Colts, who could upgrade on Jacoby Brissett. Rivers played under Colts coach Frank Reich when the two were in San Diego and would get one final shot at competing for a Super Bowl on this year-to-year pact.

Indy adds some help and signs Austin Hooper to a four-year, $44 million deal

Rivers loves throwing to his tight ends, and with Eric Ebron hitting free agency, the Colts add a second tight end to work alongside Jack Doyle for their new quarterback. Hooper’s career year likely priced him out of the cap-strapped Falcons’ price range. Ebron could end up as the replacement for Jimmy Graham in Green Bay.

The Vikings trade Kirk Cousins to the Chargers for a second-round pick

With the Vikings and Cousins unable to come to terms on a new contract — his deal ends after the 2020 season — both sides agree that a parting of the ways would make sense. The Chargers can negotiate a deal with their new starting quarterback, while the Vikings get to reunite with an old one …

Teddy Bridgewater reunites with Minnesota on a $100 million deal

I’m crying. Are you crying? The Vikings bring back their former first-round pick, who steps back into a starting role. Minnesota, which is in a salary-cap crunch, saves several million dollars by signing Bridgewater to a four-year deal, and it can use the space to keep the likes of Everson Griffen.

The Bills give Taysom Hill a two-year, $20 million offer sheet

While the Bills are happy with Josh Allen‘s development, you could understand if the coaching staff wanted to see its quarterback of the future take fewer hits in 2020. Allen excels on designed runs, but Hill can take some of those snaps and continue to make an impact without threatening Allen’s role as the long-term starter.

Marcus Mariota heads to New Orleans on a three-year, $21 million deal

After losing both their backup quarterback and their gadget athlete, the Saints try to fill both vacated spots by going after Mariota. This is really a one-year deal with two voidable years tacked on, but Mariota gets a chance to revitalize his career while backing up future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in New Orleans.

The Panthers sign Philip Rivers to a three-year, $96 million deal

Signing Rivers, who played his college ball a couple of hours away at NC State, gives Carolina a veteran who can help get the Panthers back to the postseason quickly. A deal like this would have one year of fully guaranteed money, allowing the Panthers a quick out if the 38-year-old Rivers struggles.

Marcus Mariota signs with the Chargers on a one-year, $12 million deal

With Rivers gone, Mariota and incumbent Tyrod Taylor create value in the same ways: They’re effective runners and avoid turning the ball over, although sacks are an issue for both. Anthony Lynn should be able to install a roughly similar scheme for both Mariota and Taylor, who would compete for the starting job.

Carolina trades Cam Newton to the Broncos for a third-round pick

Denver is excited about Drew Lock‘s late-season run, but after false hope with young passers like Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch quickly faded, general manager John Elway should know that five starts isn’t proof of much. Bringing in the 6-foot-5 Newton to compete with Lock is a low-risk, high-reward move by the Hall of Famer.

Jameis Winston signs a four-year, $128 million deal with the Dolphins

While Miami was expected to draft a quarterback to take over from Ryan Fitzpatrick in the long term, it heads in a different direction and signs the 26-year-old Winston, hoping to tap some level of consistency from the former No. 1 overall pick. Winston’s deal includes two guaranteed years, locking him as the starter through the end of 2021.

Tampa Bay gives Joe Flacco a one-year deal to be its short-term starter

Despite having one of the league’s strongest arms, Flacco has spent the past half-decade in offenses designed around checking down the ball. Here, he gets $12.5 million and a chance to play in a downfield passing attack under Bruce Arians, who isn’t done making moves ahead of the 2020 season …

The Buccaneers trade up to draft Justin Herbert in the top five

While there’s a chance that the Oregon product would fall to the Buccaneers at No. 14, Tampa isn’t taking that risk with the Dolphins, Chargers, and Panthers all in the market from picks 5-8. Herbert’s arm strength appeals to Arians, who gets one final shot at developing a franchise passer. The Bucs send pick Nos. 14 and 45 plus a 2020 first-rounder to Detroit to get the No. 3 pick.

The Seahawks can’t franchise Clowney, who will hit the market as the top edge rusher available. Only 27 or 28 teams should be interested.

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The Giants make Jadeveon Clowney the first $25 million-per-year edge rusher

With Clowney looking to play for a winner, New York needs to pay over the odds to persuade the 2014 No. 1 overall pick to solve its edge-rushing problem. Clowney gets a five-year, $125 million deal with $75 million guaranteed over the first three years. It’s a record annual salary and three-year guarantee among edge defenders.

Dante Fowler Jr. signs a four-year, $92 million deal with the Seahawks

The Jaguars once drafted Fowler with the third overall pick to serve as the “Leo” pass-rusher in Gus Bradley’s scheme. After losing Clowney, Seattle can acquire Fowler to play that same role for Pete Carroll’s defense. Signing Fowler also takes him away from the division-rival Rams, who could also lose free agent Michael Brockers this offseason.

The Panthers add Bud Dupree on a four-year, $64 million pact

Dupree was inconsistent for most of his time in Pittsburgh, but he matched his sack total from 2017 and 2018 combined by racking up 11.5 sacks in 2019. There’s obvious risk in paying him, but the Panthers are thin on the edge after Brian Burns and can add a 26-year-old from owner David Tepper’s former organization.

Michael Pierce signs a four-year, $60 million deal with the Dolphins

With Miami looking to start fielding a competitive team, it should focus on adding players who are both valuable now and who could still be valuable in 2022. The 27-year-old Pierce is a run-stuffing nose tackle who should immediately help the league’s 27th-ranked rush-defense DVOA.

Ndamukong Suh heads to New England on a one-year, $14 million deal

Suh seems destined to move around the league on one-year contracts. The Patriots need to address their offense, but with guys such as Danny Shelton and Kyle Van Noy hitting free agency, Bill Belichick might need to adapt. Suh’s rare athleticism and ability to stay on the field has to appeal to the legendary coach.

The Broncos sign D.J. Reader to a four-year, $44 million deal

Reader isn’t a household name, but like Pierce, he’s a valuable interior lineman for a team looking to improve its run defense. Signing him away from the Texans should help improve an inconsistent Broncos run defense and give Vic Fangio the closest thing he’ll have to Akiem Hicks in Denver.

The Raiders sign Jadeveon Clowney to a five-year, $125 million deal

Las Vegas invested a fourth overall pick on Clelin Ferrell and got an impressive rookie season from Maxx Crosby, but adding Clowney would end the discussion over the Khalil Mack decision and give the Raiders a superstar defender for their new digs. You can never have too many good edge rushers.

Seattle trades second- and third-round picks to the Ravens for Matthew Judon

Seattle sends the 59th pick and the compensatory pick it will receive for Earl Thomas signing with the Ravens to Thomas’ new team. The franchise-tagged Judon signs an extension and takes over Clowney’s role as the Seahawks’ primary pass-rusher, although the organization obviously still holds out hope for 2019 first-rounder L.J. Collier.

The Giants bring back Jason Pierre-Paul on a two-year, $32 million pact

JPP was quietly impressive during his two-year stint in Tampa, racking up 21 sacks and 36 knockdowns in 26 games. A reunion with the Giants would make sense for both sides. While it seems like the two-time Pro Bowler has been around forever, he turned only 31 on New Year’s Day.

Miami signs Arik Armstead to a five-year, $80 million deal

Armstead is another former first-round pick who broke out in 2019. While he had already proved himself to be a useful defender against the run, he topped the nine career sacks he racked up between 2015 and 2018 with 10 in 2019. The Dolphins just need talent, and Armstead could be massively valuable if he keeps up this level of disruption.

The Dolphins also add Danny Shelton on a four-year, $28 million contract

One defensive lineman shouldn’t be enough for the Dolphins. Signing away Shelton from the Patriots gives Miami one of the best two-down run-stoppers in football and a player to line up next to Christian Wilkins in the years to come.

The Chiefs franchise-tag Chris Jones … then trade him to the Cowboys

The Cowboys can move on from Tyrone Crawford with just $1.1 million in dead money, which would open up a spot in the lineup for an interior penetrator like Jones. If the Chiefs don’t want to re-sign Jones, they would probably be looking at a second-round pick from the Cowboys as the focal point of the return. The Eagles could pursue Crawford as defensive tackle depth.

The Ravens sign Jadeveon Clowney to a five-year, $115 million contract

After years of being hindered by the Joe Flacco deal, Baltimore finally celebrates its freedom from tyranny by going after one of the rarest things you’ll ever see: a healthy superstar edge rusher in his prime in unrestricted free agency. Clowney takes a slight discount to play for a Super Bowl contender.

Baltimore trades Matthew Judon to the Jets for second- and fifth-round picks

Rumors have already suggested the Ravens are shopping Judon, who will be an unrestricted free agent. As the Chiefs did with Dee Ford, Baltimore could franchise-tag Judon before trading him. The Jets desperately need a pass-rusher across from Jordan Jenkins; they send pick Nos. 48 and 138 to add Judon, who had 33 quarterback hits this past season.

Seattle signs Robert Quinn to a four-year, $60 million contract

To replace Clowney, the Seahawks go after Quinn, who led the league in pass rush win rate for the second consecutive season. Quinn receives interest from teams like the Patriots and Saints, but the Seahawks can offer more money and a second guaranteed season.

The Cowboys sign Vic Beasley Jr. to a one-year, $16 million deal

Beasley’s hot finish to the season — he had 6.5 sacks and two forced fumbles over the second half — made him millions. The Falcons have already said they won’t be bringing him back, so Dallas can offer a one-year deal with a chance to get back in free agency after a potential big 2020 season.

Dante Fowler Jr. inks a five-year, $110 million deal with the Giants

The Jets aren’t the only New York team longing for edge-rushing help; the Giants need building blocks up front, and in addition to re-signing Leonard Williams, they add the 25-year-old Fowler after an 11.5-sack season in Los Angeles. If this seems like a lot for a guy with one effective season as a starter, well, go look at the Giants’ depth chart.

The Bills sign Mario Addison to a three-year, $42 million deal

Sean McDermott has brought in plenty of his favorites from Carolina and just hired former Panthers defensive coordinator Eric Washington as defensive line coach. Addison has been wildly underrated for years — he’s 11th in the league in sacks since 2016 — and would step in for Shaq Lawson in Buffalo’s defensive line rotation.

If Green persuades Cincy to let him leave, he’ll have a robust market. You’ve seen him with Andy Dalton; now, imagine him with …

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The 49ers sign A.J. Green to a four-year, $84 million contract

While San Francisco would likely be interested in bringing back Emmanuel Sanders, Green is a clear step above Sanders and would be an ideal primary receiver in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Injuries are becoming a concern for the 31-year-old Green, who didn’t play a snap this past season, but this is a chance to add a transformational receiver.

Emmanuel Sanders gets a four-year, $40 million deal with the Jets

With Quincy Enunwa‘s future uncertain after suffering his second neck injury in three years, the Jets could add a replacement for the 27-year-old by signing Sanders. The SMU product played well after returning from a torn Achilles and enjoyed his time under Jets coach Adam Gase when both were in Denver.

Robby Anderson signs a four-year, $52 million contract with the Packers

Aaron Rodgers also needs a second receiver behind Davante Adams; after a mostly successful free-agent spree from Brian Gutekunst in 2019, the Packers’ general manager could try to put his team over the top by adding a downfield threat in Anderson, who had 18 touchdowns in his past three seasons in New York. Rodgers ranked third in deep attempts but 25th in deep completion percentage in 2019.

Austin Hooper signs a five-year, $55 million deal with the Patriots

With Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Mohamed Sanu signed for 2020, the Pats really need to add a tight end (and add some cheap speed with someone like Seth Roberts). They need a tight end more than a wide receiver, so signing Hooper makes sense, especially if New England prefers Hooper’s ability to stay on the field to Hunter Henry‘s superior blocking.

The Patriots send a 2021 fifth-round pick to the 49ers for Dante Pettis

Let’s be real: The Niners probably owe the Patriots a favor after the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. Pettis has gotten buried on the depth chart, but New England could use the 2018 second-round pick as a Julian Edelman understudy and punt returner.

Nelson Agholor signs a one-year, $8 million deal with the Colts

Agholor’s best season as a pro came in 2017, when the Eagles moved their first-round pick into the slot and he responded with 768 yards and eight touchdowns. Frank Reich was the Philly offensive coordinator that season, and a one-year deal for Agholor to rebuild his value in Indy could make sense for both sides.

The Colts sign A.J. Green to a four-year, $80 million deal

If Indianapolis wants to improve its passing game but can’t land on a better quarterback than Jacoby Brissett, bringing in Green could kick-start Frank Reich’s offense. Green and T.Y. Hilton both have injury concerns, but this would be one of the best one-two wide receiver punches in the league.

Robby Anderson lands a four-year, $48 million deal from Arizona

The Cardinals have Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald under contract, and it’s too early to give up on second-rounder Andy Isabella, but they desperately need somebody who can win on the outside and run past defensive backs. That’s Anderson to a T, and he would offer Kyler Murray a much-needed vertical threat.

The Chiefs release Sammy Watkins, who signs a three-year deal with the Jets

New York was supposed to get Sam Darnold some weapons in the 2019 offseason. The Jets still need to get Darnold weapons in 2020. Signing Watkins would give them a more physically impactful option. While he has disappeared at times in Kansas City, Watkins’ numbers would likely improve as the No. 1 target in New York.

Nelson Agholor gets a one-year prove-it deal from Kansas City

The Chiefs and Eagles organizations are intertwined, and while Kansas City doesn’t lack receivers, it could lose two regulars with Sammy Watkins released in this scenario and Demarcus Robinson hitting free agency. Mecole Hardman will pick up some of the slack in 2020, but Agholor would give the Chiefs another weapon out of the slot and come cheap at $4.5 million.

Green Bay cuts Jimmy Graham and signs Austin Hooper to a $60 million contract

With Graham disappointing during his two seasons in Green Bay, he’s an obvious candidate for release. He has the record contract for a tight end at $10 million per season, but Austin Hooper (among others) will likely top that mark this offseason. Hooper would get five years from the Packers, while Atlanta could very well sign Graham on a much smaller one-year deal.

The Patriots sign Eric Ebron to a one-year, $8 million deal

While nobody outside of George Kittle is ever going to be able to replace Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots got a league-low 37 catches from their tight ends in 2019. Ebron isn’t close to the caliber of blocker that Gronk was, but he’s a receiving threat who can make spectacular catches and run past linebackers in the play-action game.

Las Vegas trades for A.J. Green after he gets franchise-tagged by the Bengals

The Raiders tried to get a No. 1 receiver last offseason when they traded for Antonio Brown. That didn’t work out. Trading for Green is their second chance, with Las Vegas moving down from No. 19 to No. 33 in exchange for the longtime Cincinnati star and a swap of fourth-rounders. An extension follows shortly. The Raiders still have the No. 12 pick to help their defense.

Breshad Perriman lands a three-year, $33 million deal with the Colts

Perriman’s hot finish to the season — 25 catches for 506 yards and five touchdowns over the final five games — attracted some attention. He’s probably too expensive to be Tampa’s third wideout, but his downfield ability could serve him well as the second wideout behind T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis.

The Ravens sign Emmanuel Sanders to a one-year, $9 million contract

The Ravens have built their passing offense around the speed of guys like Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, but Sanders would give them another option as an intermediate receiver who can still get upfield and make big plays. He’s also a good blocker, which is essential when a team runs as much as the Ravens plan on running in 2020. Sanders, who turns 33 in March, might not have a huge market.

Cleveland signs Hunter Henry to a four-year, $40 million deal

Everybody knows the deal here. When Henry’s healthy, he’s a red zone weapon and a threat after the catch. He just isn’t healthy often, having missed 23 games in four seasons. New Browns coach Kevin Stefanski’s Vikings offense targeted tight ends just over 24% of the time last season, the ninth-highest rate in the league. The Browns were 28th in the same category.

The Patriots trade a sixth-round pick for David Njoku

The Browns appeared to sour on Njoku and barely played the former first-rounder after he returned from a wrist injury. Just about everyone who was making decisions for Cleveland in 2018 is gone, but if Njoku is following them out of town, the Patriots make sense as a landing spot for a number of reasons.

New England also brings back Danny Amendola on a one-year deal

While Julian Edelman is still an effective slot receiver, adding depth in the way of Amendola gives the Patriots more options with spread attacks and a backup if Edelman goes down injured or gets suspended. Amendola’s upside is limited by his own injury history, but a deal in the $3 million range makes sense for both parties.

Williams has sworn he’ll never play for Washington again. After sitting out all of 2019, where would the franchise left tackle fit in 2020?

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Cleveland trades a second-round pick for Trent Williams

Washington can’t realistically expect to net the 10th overall selection for its disgruntled left tackle, but Cleveland’s second-round pick at No. 41 would be a reasonable return. The Browns desperately need to upgrade on Greg Robinson at left tackle and would likely sign the 31-year-old Williams to an extension.

The Colts sign Jason Peters to a one-year, $8 million deal

Peters wants to continue his career, but the Eagles are likely going to move on with 2019 first-rounder Andre Dillard as their starting left tackle. There aren’t many other viable tackles on the market, so with Anthony Castonzo potentially retiring, the Colts could go for a short-term option by importing the 16-year veteran.

Jack Conklin signs a five-year, $70 million contract with the Dolphins

Tennessee’s decision to decline Conklin’s fifth-year option is Miami’s gain. If the Dolphins do plan on drafting Tua Tagovailoa, they’ll want to invest more at right tackle, since that will be the left-handed Alabama star’s blind side. Conklin is the highest-upside option available at the position, and he’ll still come in handy for right-handed throwers.

Miami also adds Andrus Peat on a five-year, $60 million deal

Peat played left tackle during his time at Stanford before moving to guard with the Saints, so the Dolphins could give the two-time Pro Bowler a shot at the most important position on the line. Peat has struggled at times, but his floor is still as an above-average guard for a team that needs linemen everywhere.

The Lions sign Joe Thuney to a four-year, $36 million pact

Any time a Patriots player leaves the nest, the first places to look are the various New England outposts around the NFL. With Graham Glasgow a free agent, the Lions could sign another former Patriots player by adding Thuney. The 27-year-old is an underrated contributor, but the Patriots already paid fellow guard Shaq Mason, so they might not pony up for Thuney.

The Panthers sign Kelechi Osemele to a one-year deal

Osemele is a couple of years removed from his All-Pro form, and his brief stint with the Jets was a fiasco when the team tried to prevent him from undergoing shoulder surgery, but the 30-year-old should be ready for 2020. Osemele’s run-blocking would make him a great fit at left guard for Matt Rhule in Carolina.

The Dolphins trade the 26th pick for Trent Williams and a second-round pick

It might seem a little weird for the Dolphins to go after a veteran, but Williams is still only 31 and should have years of good-to-great play at left tackle ahead, if he stays healthy. Giving Williams an extension would protect both Ryan Fitzpatrick and whoever follows and fill a huge hole along the Miami offensive line.

Ron Leary signs a one-year, $4 million deal with the Browns

Leary wasn’t able to make his mark in Denver thanks to injuries, with a torn Achilles and a series of concussions limiting him to 29 games over three seasons. Denver should decline his option. While the Browns need to upgrade at tackle, Leary could fill in at right guard under offensive line guru Bill Callahan, who coached Leary in Dallas.

The Colts trade a fourth-round pick to the Bengals for Cordy Glenn

If free agent Anthony Castonzo retires, Indy could either address left tackle in the draft or fill the void in March. Glenn feuded with the Bengals organization in October and will cede his spot on the blind side to 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams. With more buyers than sellers in the left tackle market, Glenn will have some trade value.

The Jets sign D.J. Humphries to a four-year, $56 million deal

Humphries just finished his first full healthy season as a pro, but the Jets are desperate for offensive line help. The former first-rounder has played just 43 games during his five years in the desert, and he could be one of the top veteran options available in free agency. New York left tackle Kelvin Beachum is also a free agent, so the Jets have a hole to fill.

Ben Garland signs a three-year, $18 million deal with the Jets

After the Ryan Kalil experiment went disastrously, Adam Gase will be looking for a new center this offseason. Garland has earned a long-term deal from some team after he impressed for the 49ers, where he has ably replaced the injured Weston Richburg.

Bryan Bulaga signs a four-year, $48 million deal with the Browns

While the Browns fired many of the former Packers in their front office, they could still opt to upgrade at right tackle by shelling out for Bulaga, who has spent his entire career in Green Bay. The move would lead the Browns to cut Chris Hubbard, who has disappointed in Cleveland after leaving the Steelers in 2018.

The Patriots trade their top pick for Trent Williams and a second-round pick

It’s too early for the Pats to give up on 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn, but he has missed 24 games over his first two seasons with a torn Achilles and turf toe. They can’t wait, with Tom Brady to make a decision, and trading for Williams would give them a franchise left tackle. Wynn could kick inside to left guard to replace Joe Thuney, who could leave in free agency.

Andrus Peat lands a five-year, $60 milion deal from Washington

If Williams leaves, Washington would probably look for a veteran replacement to protect Dwayne Haskins. It is likely to re-sign guard Brandon Scherff, and the former college left tackle could kick over to the blind side, but I wonder if they would do the same thing instead with Peat, who might be a better fit to make the switch.

The Bears sign Quinton Spain to a three-year, $21 million deal

In need of help at guard after Kyle Long retired and missing several picks in April’s draft, the Bears could look again toward free agency to build support around Mitchell Trubisky. The 28-year-old Spain impressed as a run-blocker for the Bills this past season and has likely done enough to earn a multiyear deal.

The Giants sign Germain Ifedi to a four-year, $40 million pact

Ifedi has been frustrating during his time in Seattle — he commits too many penalties — but teams are going to like the former first-rounder’s athleticism and what he does as a run-blocker. General manager Dave Gettleman will want to address right tackle after failing to find a solution the past two offseasons.

Jack Conklin signs a five-year, $80 million deal with the Jets

Gang Green’s recent big-ticket free-agent signings have mostly been disasters, but under new general manager Joe Douglas, they probably need to go back into the market for at least one significant offensive lineman. With no great left tackles available, signing the best right tackle on the board makes sense, but he’ll be expensive.

Gordon held out for a new contract and didn’t get it. Now that he’s a free agent, will any team pony up to pay the 26-year-old running back?

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Melvin Gordon signs a four-year, $36 million deal with the Bucs

If Bruce Arians tries to bring in Philip Rivers to play quarterback, the second-year coach might consider adding Rivers’ former teammate to play alongside him in the backfield, too. Gordon would be an upgrade on Ronald Jones and the sort of receiving back Arians hasn’t had since David Johnson‘s breakout year in 2016.

The Patriots send third- and fifth-round picks to the Chargers for Austin Ekeler

With the restricted free agent Ekeler likely to be tendered at the second-round level, the Patriots wouldn’t be able to sign the Chargers back, since they don’t have a second-round pick. Trading for Ekeler would allow the Pats to get more creative in terms of compensation and use the wildly efficient back as a slot receiver on a regular basis.

LeSean McCoy signs a one-year, $1 million deal with the Chargers

The veteran running back was reportedly negotiating with the Chargers in August before agreeing to terms with the Chiefs, and while McCoy ended up winning a Super Bowl in Kansas City, it was as a healthy scratch. Going to the Chargers would give him a chance at a starting job, which he probably wouldn’t get elsewhere.

New England cuts Rex Burkhead, who signs with the Lions

The Patriots can free up $2.9 million by cutting Burkhead, who played 23% of the offensive snaps in 2019 and hasn’t been able to consistently stay healthy. The Lions have struggled to keep Kerryon Johnson on the field in both of his first two seasons, and Burkhead would enter the Lions’ lineup as a change-of-pace back and special-teamer.

The Falcons cut Devonta Freeman, who signs a two-year deal with the Texans

Atlanta needs to get cheaper at running back, and Freeman should still attract interest around the league as the better half of a timeshare. He’s a great fit in Houston, where he would take the early-down carries and goal-line reps and cede the other snaps to Duke Johnson.

Kenyan Drake signs a four-year, $30 million deal with Washington

With Washington rebuilding under Ron Rivera, I’m not sure this organization is going to be as patient waiting for former second-round pick Derrius Guice, who has played five games in two seasons thanks to injuries. Drake would take over the Christian McCaffrey role in Scott Turner’s offense, which is likely to interest fantasy players.

Melvin Gordon signs a five-year, $50 million deal with Washington

From 2017 to 2019, Ron Rivera built his offense in Carolina around Christian McCaffrey, who could shoulder a heavy workload in both the running and passing game. Gordon isn’t exactly that sort of player, but at his best, he has been an effective runner and receiver while shouldering a significant workload. Signing Gordon also takes some pressure off Dwayne Haskins.

The Chargers add Kenyan Drake on a one-year, $8 million contract

Drake isn’t quite an exact replacement for Gordon, but the Cardinals improved dramatically on offense after he took over lead back responsibilities from David Johnson. If Drake doesn’t see a great multiyear deal on the table, he could take this one-year pact and head back into free agency after a stellar full season.

Lamar Miller signs a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Dolphins

While Miller once left the Dolphins in free agency, much of the front office that chose to let him go has been turned over. The born-and-raised Miami native might prefer a trip home, especially since he’ll have the inside shot at lead-back duties. Miami has more than $100 million of cap space this offseason.

The Bucs send a seventh-round pick to the Jets for Le’Veon Bell and a fourth-round pick

There’s no way the Jets will get meaningful value for Bell, whose contract is underwater, but they might be able to dump salary if they attach a draft pick. I’d love to see Bell in Bruce Arians’ system, though Tampa would be on the hook for $13.5 million in 2020. The Jets might be able to make this deal without attaching a draft pick if they eat some of his contract.

Jordan Howard signs a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Jets

Without Bell in the fold, the Jets suddenly have a hole at running back. Adam Gase has long struggled to find a running back solution, but Howard is a cheap short-term investment who played under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in Chicago.

The Bills sign Devonta Freeman to a one-year, $3 million contract

With Freeman likely to be cut by the Falcons and veteran Frank Gore moving on from Buffalo, the Bills need a back to take some of the reps away from Devin Singletary. Freeman would take over as the goal-line and early-down specialist.

The Texans sign Melvin Gordon to a five-year, $50 million deal

With Bill O’Brien officially taking over as general manager and the Texans firing contract negotiator Chris Olsen, chances are that we’re going to see O’Brien wielding his checkbook. Gordon’s versatility should make him an effective threat in the screen game and when Deshaun Watson scrambles.

The Chargers sign Lamar Miller to a one-year deal

Miller missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL but should be ready for Week 1. The former Texans back was a league-average starter before his injury, so the Chargers could get a relative bargain — something like $2 million — in using him as half of a rotation with Austin Ekeler.

Kenyan Drake inks a three-year, $21 million contract with the Bucs

Bruce Arians seemed unsure about committing to Ronald Jones during the second half of the season, and fumbles were a concern for the second-year back. Adding the resurgent Drake would give Arians a difference-maker in the passing game, which should help regardless of who ends up playing quarterback in 2020.

Atlanta cuts Devonta Freeman, who signs a one-year deal with the Dolphins

The cap-strapped Falcons can free up $3.5 million by releasing Freeman, who hasn’t been consistently effective or healthy since signing a big extension in August of 2017. A return to Miami, where Freeman grew up, would make sense given the Dolphins’ wafer-thin depth chart at running back.

Seattle signs Jordan Howard to a one-year, $1.5 million contract

There’s no such thing as too many backs for the Seahawks, who were forced to call Marshawn Lynch out of retirement for the postseason thanks to injuries. With Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson recovering from serious injuries, Howard could fill in between the tackles, particularly early in the season.

Jerick McKinnon gets a one-year flier from the Browns

McKinnon has missed the past two seasons with knee troubles and will surely be cut by the 49ers. New Browns coach Kevin Stefanski had McKinnon in Minnesota and could give him a shot to compete for the receiving back role with Kareem Hunt, who is a restricted free agent this offseason.

Harris’ last contract ended up becoming one of the NFL’s biggest bargains. The former Broncos star deserves top dollar this time.

chiefs

jets

texans

The Chiefs sign Chris Harris Jr. to a four-year, $48 million deal

Kansas City’s Super Bowl win came with transient cornerbacks. The only Chiefs corner set to come back who played significant snaps is Charvarius Ward. Let’s get them a star in Harris, who solidifies the weakest spot on their roster as they try to get back to the big game.

Bashaud Breeland signs a four-year, $40 million deal with the Dolphins

The Super Bowl hero finally gets his multiyear deal after having his Panthers deal rescinded in 2018. Breeland has generally been an above-average cornerback when healthy, and the Dolphins badly need secondary help. Having just turned 28, Breeland should lock down one corner spot for at least a couple of years during the Miami rebuild.

Miami cuts Reshad Jones, who signs a two-year, $11 million deal with the Bucs

Jones’ enormous deal will still require the Dolphins to eat $10.2 million in dead money to move on. He shouldn’t have to go far, though; Jones started his career in Miami under defensive wizard Todd Bowles, who is now the coordinator in Tampa. The Bucs could use Jones’ range and instincts in either safety spot.

The Jets sign Logan Ryan to a three-year, $42 million deal

Ryan had an active season in Tennessee; he was the nearest defender in coverage on 99 targets, the fifth-most in football. Trumaine Johnson is almost surely going to be cut by the Jets, and Brian Poole is a free agent, so Ryan could step in as a much-needed starting corner outside or (preferably) in the slot.

The Eagles sign Patrick Robinson to a one-year, $2 million contract

Cornerback was a disaster for the Eagles last season, and they have to do something to address the position this offseason. Let’s start by bringing back Robinson, who had a career year in the slot for the Eagles in 2017 and then got lost in the shuffle with the Saints.

Philadelphia signs Xavier Rhodes to a one-year, $3.5 million pact

Likewise, Rhodes was great in 2017 and then hasn’t been anywhere near as effective over the past couple of seasons. The Eagles, who don’t have a ton of money to spend, would be hoping that a fresh start and an offseason to heal would get the 29-year-old Rhodes looking like his former self. He is likely to be a cap casualty in Minnesota.

Chris Harris Jr. signs a four-year, $62 million deal with the Jets

Can you name the only cornerback with an average annual salary of $15 million? It’s Josh Norman. Jalen Ramsey will likely sign a record-setting deal soon, but Harris might be the next to top that $15 million mark. The Jets desperately need help at cornerback and will clear out Trumaine Johnson‘s deal this offseason.

The Giants land Trumaine Johnson on a one-year, $4 million contract

The Giants are going young at corner but likely need to add a veteran after cutting Janoris Jenkins in December. Johnson was a disaster with the Jets, but he just turned 30 and was one of the league’s best corners with the Rams as recently as 2017.

Bashaud Breeland signs a three-year, $30 million deal with the Broncos

If the Broncos lose Harris, they’ll need to add a cornerback to take his place. Bryce Callahan should be back to play the slot after missing all of 2019 with a foot injury, so Denver will likely look for a corner to play outside. Signing Breeland also steals from the rival Chiefs.

The Eagles sign Eli Apple to a one-year, $5 million contract

The 2016 first-round pick has had an up-and-down career, mixing impressive seasons in 2016 and 2018 with disappointing campaigns in 2017 and 2019. Apple played his high school football a half hour away from the Linc, and both sides of this deal could benefit from giving him a chance to prove himself in 2020.

Philly signs Brian Poole to a three-year, $18 million deal

Poole quietly rebuilt his career after being cut by the Falcons as one of the few bright spots for the Jets on defense — or really anywhere — in 2019. He would take over as the Eagles’ slot corner and reunite with former Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, now the secondary coach in Philadelphia.

Byron Jones signs a five-year, $60 million deal with the Raiders

Let’s get Jon Gruden’s 31st-ranked defense by DVOA a new star. Cornerback has been a mess for the Raiders over the past couple of years, but Jones’ size, speed and physicality gives Las Vegas somebody who can compete with the likes of Keenan Allen, Travis Kelce and Courtland Sutton.

The Texans sign Chris Harris Jr. to a four-year, $56 million deal

A year ago, the Texans signed former Broncos corner Bradley Roby to a one-year deal to try to shore up a thin cornerback group. Now, they’ll make a more substantial deal with Harris, who will start alongside Lonnie Johnson and Gareon Conley in 2020. This contract would have two fully guaranteed seasons.

The Browns sign Bradley Roby to a three-year, $33 million pact

With former Broncos defensive backs coach Joe Woods taking over in Cleveland as defensive coordinator, the Browns might look to add a player in his peak with a Super Bowl ring to help serve as a leader on that side of the ball. Roby, a first-round pick in 2014, would beef up a corner position that includes Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams.

Washington cuts Josh Norman, who signs a one-year deal with the Bills

Norman has been a below-average player since signing a record-setting deal with Washington. He could retire, but I wonder if the Bills would give him a chance. Sean McDermott was the Panthers’ defensive coordinator when Norman broke out in 2015, and the deal likely wouldn’t have much guaranteed money.

The Jets cut Trumaine Johnson, who inks a one-year deal with the Vikings

Mike Zimmer will need to rebuild at cornerback with Xavier Rhodes a likely cap casualty and Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander hitting free agency. The Vikings will likely address corner in the draft, but taking a low-cost flier on Johnson after two disastrous years with the Jets is the sort of thing Zimmer should consider.

Byron Jones signs a four-year, $48 million deal with the Jaguars

Jones’ size should attract interest from teams who run variants of the Pete Carroll Cover 3 Buzz scheme. The Jags still do under Todd Wash and could use a cornerback to replace Jalen Ramsey on the outside across from A.J. Bouye, although this would be a tough squeeze given their cap situation.

Aqib Talib signs a one-year, $3 million deal with the 49ers

Talib and Richard Sherman? It’s rare to see a team start two cornerbacks on the wrong side of 30, but talent means more than age. Talib was good when he got on the field for the Rams the past two seasons, but he played only 11 total regular-season games in L.A. before a salary dump trade to Miami. He’s still good enough to get an opportunity to play.

Published at Mon, 10 Feb 2020 13:46:23 +0000

Offseason predictions for all 32 NFL teams: Gurley trade, QBs on move

Offseason predictions for all 32 NFL teams: Gurley trade, QBs on move

The Super Bowl is behind us, and now the real intrigue begins for all 32 NFL teams with the start of the offseason.

We asked our NFL Nation reporters to give us a bold prediction for the 2020 offseason. Nothing was off limits — be it free agency, the draft, coaching.

One thing appears certain: Quarterbacks, young and old, will dominate the headlines. And the Rams might try to find a new home for Todd Gurley.

Jump to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE
NO | NYG | NYJ | OAK | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

AFC EAST

The Bills will sign Tre’Davious White to a market-setting contract extension.

The 2017 first-round pick also has a fifth-year option available, but since earning All-Pro honors in his third season, he has established himself as one of Buffalo’s franchise cornerstones. As one league source told ESPN, White is simply too good to have to prove himself again with the fifth-year option. Expect him to be one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the league, if not the highest-paid, once his extension kicks in. — Marcel Louis-Jacques


The Dolphins will trade up to draft Tua Tagovailoa.

Miami is a top contender to select a quarterback with its top pick in the first round (No. 5), and Tagovailoa appears to be the most likely candidate. Between now and the draft, it seems likely that positive reviews will come out about Tagovailoa’s injured hip, enticing teams behind the Dolphins to trade up for him. General manager Chris Grier says the team has “more than enough” ammunition to trade up if needed, with three first-round picks and 14 projected total selections. Our bold prediction is the Dolphins will feel the need to trade up, possibly to No. 3 with the Detroit Lions, to secure Tagovailoa. — Cameron Wolfe


The Patriots will be aggressive at tight end.

Whether it’s making a run at one of the top free agents (such as Hunter Henry or Austin Hooper) or devoting notable resources in the draft, the Patriots will make a hard push at the position similar to in 2010, when they drafted Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and transformed their offense. While some analysts say this year’s draft isn’t strong at tight end, seeing the success of George Kittle (49ers, fifth round) and Travis Kelce (Chiefs, third round) serves up a reminder that there are always hidden gems to be found. — Mike Reiss


All-Pro safety Jamal Adams will not receive a new contract before the start of the season.

Adams says he expects to have a new deal, but the Jets will slow-play the negotiations because they have the leverage. They have rights to him for two more years, plus a third if they use the franchise tag, so there’s no sense of urgency. They will prioritize other needs before getting to Adams’ contract, which won’t make him happy. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

The Ravens will sign Calais Campbell in free agency.

Baltimore’s top priority is to upgrade its pass rush after recording a league-low nine sacks with its four-man rush. Campbell, an expected salary-cap cut in Jacksonville, has totaled 31.5 sacks over the past three seasons — seventh most in the NFL over that span (and just one fewer than Denver’s Von Miller). Even though he’s 33, Campbell has many of the traits the Ravens love: durability, versatility (can provide rush on the edge and interior) and strong leadership skills. While adding Jaguars pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue would create a bigger splash, Campbell would represent bigger value for a defense looking to restock its front seven. — Jamison Hensley


Joe Mixon will get $45 million guaranteed in a contract extension.

Mixon, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, has been one of the NFL’s most productive running backs and is looking to be compensated accordingly. The Bengals have historically been willing to re-sign their top guys and that shouldn’t change with the 23-year-old Mixon, who will be a building block for the Bengals’ rebuilding process. — Ben Baby


The Browns will add two starting tackles.

New general manager Andrew Berry will add one tackle through the draft and one through free agency or a trade. Such a move will shore up Cleveland’s biggest weakness last season. And it will give quarterback Baker Mayfield the time he needs to unlock his talented receiving corps downfield. — Jake Trotter


The Steelers will add a veteran quarterback to the roster.

Even if he’s not one who has been in the system for a decade, an experienced signal-caller could have solved many of the issues that arose when Ben Roethlisberger went down and they were left with Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges. The Steelers should be able to fix some of those issues with the hiring of new QBs coach Matt Canada, but adding a veteran to the room is a smart insurance policy. — Brooke Pryor

AFC SOUTH

The Texans will let nose tackle D.J. Reader walk, despite an excellent season.

Houston struck gold when it drafted Reader in the fifth round in 2016, but by not having signed him to a new contract before the 2019 season, the team might be priced out of keeping him. The Texans could use the franchise tag on Reader, but after giving extensions to center Nick Martin and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and with new deals on the horizon for quarterback Deshaun Watson and left tackle Laremy Tunsil, they might not be able to keep the nose tackle. — Sarah Barshop


The Colts will attempt to move up from the No. 13 pick in the first round of the draft to select Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Indianapolis has questions at quarterback, and general manager Chris Ballard will try to move ahead of Miami, which has the No. 5 pick, to get Tagovailoa. In Ballard’s favor is that Indianapolis has nine picks in this year’s draft. — Mike Wells


The Jaguars will get a deal done with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue — in August.

The Jaguars will use the franchise tag and try to work something out, but Ngakoue’s camp is pretty upset with the team after last year’s attempted negotiations. The sides were roughly $3 million apart on annual salary, and former executive VP Tom Coughlin’s decision to cut off negotiations resulted in a lot of anger. It’s going to take a while for GM Dave Caldwell to repair that relationship and a deal to get done, which means it’s unlikely Ngakoue will be in training camp. — Michael DiRocco


The Titans will sign quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry without using the franchise or transition tags.

Signing two of the top players in free agency will not be an easy task for Titans GM Jon Robinson. Armed with about $55 million in cap space, Robinson will keep his offensive formula intact by re-signing Henry and Tannehill. Both players are fully aware that Tennessee is the ideal situation for them, which will influence their decisions. — Turron Davenport

AFC WEST

The Broncos will be the most active team in the offseason.

If the Broncos are going to break their streak of three consecutive losing seasons — their first such streak since the 1970s — John Elway will have to do the best work of his front office career. The Broncos have the biggest combination of cap space (more than $60 million) and draft picks (projected to have 12) since Elway took over in 2011. They will certainly be willing to make trades during the draft, but the Chiefs are the Super Bowl champions with a 24-year-old franchise quarterback in Patrick Mahomes so this is also about improvement and playing the long game. The Broncos will finish out the draft with the largest class in Elway’s tenure as the top football decision-maker to help bolster a roster that has needs in the secondary, offensive line, linebacker and wide receiver.— Jeff Legwold


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Marcus Spears is confident Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will continue winning for years to come.

The Chiefs will keep their first-round draft pick.

That might not sound bold, but the Chiefs have traded theirs in each of the past two years, and general manager Brett Veach likes to deal. But with a contract extension for quarterback Patrick Mahomes looming this year, the Chiefs, who own the No. 32 pick, need all the good, young and cheap talent they can get their hands on. — Adam Teicher


The Chargers will draft a quarterback in the first round.

Since taking over as GM in 2013, Tom Telesco has selected just two quarterbacks in the draft — Brad Sorensen in the seventh round in 2013 and Easton Stick in the fifth round last year. With 38-year-old Philip Rivers a pending free agent and moving his family for good to Florida, it’s time for Telesco to find his successor. The No. 6 overall selection in the draft provides the best chance for the Bolts to secure a franchise quarterback. — Eric D. Williams


The Raiders will stand pat with Derek Carr at quarterback.

What, the purported franchise quarterback keeping his job isn’t bold enough for you? Well, Carr has become the most polarizing figure in recent franchise history, and predicting that the team would move on from him for the likes of (gulp) Tom Brady as it sets sail for Las Vegas would seem, well, trite. Plus, as Carr has pointed out, he is coming off career bests in passing yards (4,054) and completion percentage (70.4%) and he expects to excel playing in Jon Gruden’s offense for the third consecutive season … so long as the Raiders add a WR1. — Paul Gutierrez

NFC EAST

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Marcus Spears explains how the Cowboys, if they put everything together, can stop the Chiefs from becoming a dynasty.

Jason Witten will play a 17th season … but it won’t be with the Cowboys.

At the end of 2019, Witten said he would make a quick decision on his future, which led many to think he would retire and potentially get into coaching. He still hasn’t made one, which brings the playing element into focus. Witten is the franchise leader in length of service, games played, catches and receiving yards. He is one shy of equaling Dez Bryant’s team record for touchdown catches. He is a Cowboy through and through. The Cowboys like Blake Jarwin‘s development and could look to add a tight end early in the draft. Witten was productive in his return as a blocker and receiver in 2019, but he turns 38 in May and the arrival of Mike McCarthy as coach could mean the right time for an amicable separation. — Todd Archer


General manager Dave Gettleman will trade down in the draft for the first time.

There is a first time for everything; this is the time. The Giants have the fourth overall pick. With quarterback Joe Burrow and defensive end Chase Young expected to go 1-2 in the draft, it puts the Lions (3) and Giants in ideal positions. The demand for QBs Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert will be intense and the price steep, prompting Gettleman to act out of character and make a move down, where the Giants can still get a defensive playmaker or offensive tackle while adding valuable draft assets. — Jordan Raanan


The Eagles will make a splash move at cornerback.

Both starting corners from 2019, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, are free agents. While it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mills were brought back into the fold, Philadelphia will want import a proven difference-maker to hold down one side of the field. The Cowboys’ Byron Jones and the Broncos’ Chris Harris Jr. are among the top projected free-agent corners. Whether it be via free agency or a trade, Philly will make some waves. — Tim McManus


The Redskins will draft defensive end Chase Young — and still hold onto Ryan Kerrigan by giving him a contract extension.

While on the surface that might not seem bold, here’s why it is: Kerrigan is 31, is coming off the first season in which he missed games and is owed $11.5 million in base salary this season. They also have Montez Sweat to play end in a 4-3 along with Young, so Kerrigan might not even be a starter. But rather than simply cutting Kerrigan (or trading him, though he would not fetch much because of his age and salary), they can offset his cost by lowering his base salary this year but tacking on another season. He could then fill a role a la Clay Matthews with the Rams or Chris Long when he was with the Patriots and then Eagles — situational pass-rushers. Also, owner Dan Snyder likes and respects Kerrigan quite a bit. That’s important here, too. — John Keim

NFC NORTH

The Bears will acquire an experienced backup quarterback to push Mitchell Trubisky.

Chicago general manager Ryan Pace already committed to Trubisky as the Week 1 starter in 2020, but the Bears have to find better fallback options than Chase Daniel or Tyler Bray. Look for Chicago to either trade for or sign a proven No. 2 such as Andy Dalton or Marcus Mariota when the new league year begins. The Bears can’t afford to waste another season waiting for Trubisky — the second overall pick of the 2017 draft — to develop. It’s now or never. — Jeff Dickerson

The Lions will trade down to No. 5 in the draft and still take cornerback Jeff Okudah.

Yes, this might not seem that bold considering No. 3 is a logical trade-out spot and many mocks have the Lions and Okudah tied together. But saying it in January and having it executed in April are two different things. In trading with the Dolphins, who have the No. 5 pick, the Lions can potentially pick up another first-round selection, which might be able to land them DT Javon Kinlaw or DE Josh Uche — depending which pick it is. That would give Detroit two potential pieces to build its future defense around who would fill massive needs. It’s the smart, shrewd play — if GM Bob Quinn can pull it off. — Michael Rothstein


The Packers will finally draft a wide receiver in the first round.

This is something they haven’t done since 2002, when they took Javon Walker at No. 20 overall. It’s a receiver-rich draft, so even at No. 30 there’s a good chance they can find an impact pass-catcher. In fact, don’t be surprised if they take more than one. GM Brian Gutekunst took three receivers in the 2018 draft, but none higher than Round 4, and only one played last season. — Rob Demovsky


Mike Zimmer will hand over defensive playcalling duties.

We might not see this come to fruition for a while, but the Vikings’ head coach might decide to delegate calling defensive plays to one of his two co-defensive coordinators. Zimmer has been mulling over this idea for several seasons. The reason it’s believable now more than before is that his son, Adam, the Vikings’ linebackers coach, is the co-DC along with defensive-line coach Andre Patterson. What better way for the elder Zimmer to pass on his legacy as a defensive guru than to guide his son through the process of calling plays so he’ll be able to take over those duties this fall, or allow his close confidant in Patterson to finally get an opportunity to call his own game. — Courtney Cronin

NFC SOUTH

The Falcons will lose free-agent tight end Austin Hooper to the Packers.

Sure, they’ll offer Hooper a contract before free agency, but it won’t be enough to satisfy the two-time Pro Bowler. And the Packers, with more cap space and coach Matt LaFleur’s familiarity with Hooper, will make a move. — Vaughn McClure


The Panthers will sign Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in free agency and trade or release Cam Newton.

They’ll then draft Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 7 overall pick. OK, maybe they don’t get Bridgewater and Tagovailoa. If they get Bridgewater, they could use the seventh pick on a defensive player to replace Luke Kuechly. But they will make a bold move at quarterback in some form or fashion. — David Newton


Running back Alvin Kamara will miss much of the offseason in a contract holdout.

Kamara has not announced any plans to do this. But it feels like a no-brainer since he is heading into the final year of a supremely discounted rookie contract (he was a third-round pick). Perhaps the Saints will pay Kamara quickly, like they did with wide receiver Michael Thomas last summer. But agreeing on Kamara’s market value could prove more difficult since there aren’t many perfect comparisons for him and since all NFL teams wrestle with how much to pay their backs. — Mike Triplett


The Bucs won’t have a new deal for Jameis Winston before March.

The Bucs haven’t decided if he’s the long-term answer and would rather pursue a shorter-term deal, such as a franchise tag or two-year deal, while Winston wants more long-term security. — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

The Cardinals will part ways with running back David Johnson, who was once considered the future face of the franchise.

He’s scheduled to earn $10.2 million in 2020, with the entire amount guaranteed on the third day of the league year. But Johnson’s production continued to dwindle in 2019. He ran for just 345 yards, caught 36 passes for 370 yards and was benched throughout the season in favor of Kenyan Drake. While it’s not a guarantee that the Cardinals will bring back Drake, Johnson probably will be a casualty of his production and contract going in opposite directions. — Josh Weinfuss


In a pinch to find space under the salary cap, the Rams will attempt to trade running back Todd Gurley.

Whether L.A. can pull it off remains another question, given Gurley’s massive contract that includes $45 million in guarantees and runs through the 2023 season, as well as the uncertainty that continues to surround the long-term health of his surgically repaired left knee. This past season, Gurley played a diminished role in the offense, rushing for 857 yards, his fewest since the 2016 season (885). — Lindsey Thiry


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Dan Orlovsky and Dan Graziano discuss the possibility of the 49ers moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo and acquiring Tom Brady.

The 49ers will make George Kittle the NFL’s highest-paid tight end … by a lot.

Green Bay’s Jimmy Graham has the highest annual average value contract among tight ends at $10 million per season, as the price tag for top tight ends has remained relatively stagnant. That’s about to change as Kittle is entering the final season of his rookie deal and is scheduled to make just $735,000 in base salary after posting more receiving yards in his first three seasons than any tight end in league history. Kittle is also a dominant blocker, a team leader and one of the most valuable players in the league. All of that should add up to a contract averaging somewhere between $12 million and $14 million per season. — Nick Wagoner


The Seahawks will not re-sign Jadeveon Clowney.

He was the only consistent threat on one of the NFL’s worst pass-rush units, which made it all too evident that the Seahawks need more than just him. But they would have a hard time adding a second high-priced pass-rusher if they have to pay Khalil Mack-type money to keep Clowney, who might command that much since Seattle can’t tag him and thus can’t keep him from reaching free agency. The guess here is that GM John Schneider lets Clowney walk and puts that money toward a pair of pass-rushers a la the Packers, who got a combined 25.5 regular-season sacks from 2019 free-agent additions Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith and then four more of Russell Wilson in their playoff victory over Seattle. — Brady Henderson

Published at Thu, 30 Jan 2020 15:12:21 +0000

32 players who leveled up this season: Rising receivers and Year 2 leaps

32 players who leveled up this season: Rising receivers and Year 2 leaps

Super Bowl LIV on Sunday will showcase some of the NFL’s elite players from the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs — and many of those players have shown great improvement throughout their careers.

In an effort to highlight those players who have made big jumps from one season to the next, we asked our NFL Nation reporters to identify the player on each team who leveled up the most during the 2019 season.

That player could be someone who didn’t play much and became a solid starter, or a good player who broke through to become great.

Jump to:
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE
NO | NYG | NYJ | OAK | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

AFC EAST

Jordan Phillips, defensive tackle. The free agent’s stats speak for themselves — his 9.5 sacks in 2019 not only represent a five-year high but also make up 63% off his career total. While Buffalo decides whether to let the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Phillips walk this offseason, it’s clear he showcased solid production in a contract year with a first-round rookie in Ed Oliver competing at his position. — Marcel Louis-Jacques


DeVante Parker, wide receiver. We finally got the DeVante Parker breakout season in Year 5. Parker was a more confident, explosive and dominant receiver as he finished fifth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,202) one year after the worst season of his career (309). He also played 16 games for the first time in his career. A change in diet, a commitment to taking better care of his body, a coaching staff change and the arrival of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick all played a significant role for Parker, who signed a four-year, $40 million extension as a reward for his play. “I was perceived as a bust. Some of [the media] said it, too,” Parker said in December. “Things change now.” — Cameron Wolfe


J.C. Jackson, cornerback. The second-year player was second on the Patriots with five interceptions and 10 passes defended. After filling in admirably for injured starter Jason McCourty down the homestretch, he has positioned himself well to be a permanent starter in 2020. Jackson made the team as an undrafted rookie in 2018 and played well in his first season, but he took a decisive step up in 2019. — Mike Reiss


Folorunso Fatukasi, defensive tackle. The 2018 sixth-round pick, who barely got on the field as a rookie, emerged as a key contributor in the Jets’ defensive line rotation. He made a smooth transition to coordinator Gregg Williams’ one-gap scheme, finishing with 12 tackles for loss — tied for third on the team. His productive season was solid, considering he played 35% of the defensive snaps. In some ways, he outperformed linemate Quinnen Williams, the third overall pick in 2019. — Rich Cimini

AFC NORTH

Lamar Jackson, quarterback. Did any player make a bigger leap from the previous season? Jackson went from being the 32nd-rated passer to the favorite for NFL Most Valuable Player. As a rookie in 2018, Jackson was a promising quarterback who beat teams primarily with his legs. He improved significantly in every facet of his game in 2019, leading the league with 36 touchdown passes and breaking Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record for quarterbacks. — Jamison Hensley

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Damien Woody and Danny Amendola break down what the Ravens need to do next season to make a run in the playoffs.

Auden Tate, wide receiver. Tate played in seven games and had just four catches in 2018. In 2019, he blossomed under coach Zac Taylor. The 2018 seventh-round draft pick had 40 catches for 575 yards and a touchdown and showed how valuable he can be moving forward. — Ben Baby


Nick Chubb, running back. The 2018 second-round pick was a good player as a rookie, rushing for 996 yards, but he became a Pro Bowler in his second season. Chubb finished second in the league in rushing with 1,494 yards while averaging 5 per carry. Jim Brown is the only Browns running back to have rushed for more yards in a season. — Jake Trotter


Bud Dupree, outside linebacker. Playing out his fifth-year option, Dupree exceeded expectations. Starting every game, he more than doubled his sack total from 2018 and set a career high with 11.5. The 2015 first-round pick was inconsistent during his first four seasons, but with his standout season opposite of Pro Bowler T.J. Watt, Dupree is a likely franchise-tag candidate. Both coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II say retaining Dupree is a top priority. Watt agreed, saying: “If anyone asks me that — it’s way above my pay grade — but if anybody asks me that, I’ll 100% advocate for Bud Dupree.” — Brooke Pryor

AFC SOUTH

D.J. Reader, nose tackle. The 2016 fifth-round pick has been a solid player for the Texans, but he took a big step forward during his 15 games played in 2019. Reader finished the season ranked by Pro Football Focus as the No. 6 interior defender, and his excellent play — especially when teammate J.J. Watt was on injured reserve — drove up his price in free agency. If the Texans are not ready to commit to a long-term deal with Reader, they could use the franchise tag on him. — Sarah Barshop


Khari Willis, safety. The Colts moved up in the fourth round of the 2019 draft to select Willis, who was supposed to be a backup behind starters Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker. Willis instead started nine of the 14 games he played in and eventually replaced Geathers in the starting lineup. Willis’ 620 snaps tied for the eighth most on the Colts’ defense. With Geathers headed for free agency, Willis is in line to become the permanent starter at safety alongside Hooker. — Mike Wells


DJ Chark Jr., wide receiver. He caught 14 passes for 174 yards as a rookie in 2018 and admitted in the offseason that he didn’t realize how hard he needed to work — and that he wasn’t even close to that level. One year later, Chark was the Jaguars’ most improved player, with 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s one of five players in Jaguars history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. — Michael DiRocco


Logan Ryan, cornerback. Ryan once again was a force rushing the passer in sub packages, as shown by his 4.5 sacks. However, he was also around the football a lot more this season. He posted four interceptions in 2019 after going without one in two seasons with the Titans (2017, ’18). Ryan’s 18 pass breakups were more than double what he had last season. — Turron Davenport

AFC WEST

Justin Simmons, safety. Defensive end Shelby Harris, poised to be an unrestricted free agent, was certainly a candidate here given his significant jump in his contract year, but Simmons went from being one of the Broncos’ best defenders in 2018 to playing at an All-Pro level in 2019. Simmons was a perfect fit both in coverage and along the line of scrimmage in coach Vic Fangio’s system. He played every snap on defense for the second consecutive season, with career highs in passes defensed (15) as well as interceptions (four), and he was second on the team in tackles. Simmons is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, but Broncos general manager John Elway has already told Simmons the team wants to re-sign him. The Broncos will have to make Simmons one of the league’s highest-paid safeties to keep him and are expected to do just that, unless there is some drastic change of heart in the coming weeks. — Jeff Legwold


Tanoh Kpassagnon, defensive end. The 2017 second-round pick was miscast and lost during his first two seasons with the Chiefs as an outside linebacker. But he benefited greatly by a move to defensive end in Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 base system. Kpassagnon had four sacks during the regular season and two in the AFC Championship Game. — Adam Teicher


Austin Ekeler, running back. The cat-quick running back benefited from Melvin Gordon‘s holdout at the start of the 2019 regular season, establishing himself as an impact player for the Chargers. Ekeler, who had 563 offensive snaps, finished with a career-high 1,550 scrimmage yards and 11 total touchdowns. — Eric D. Williams


Darren Waller, tight end. The physical tools were always there for the converted receiver. His personal demons in the form of substance abuse were what always got in his way. Until 2019. Waller has remained clean since Sept. 14, 2017, and he exploded on the scene in 2019 with 90 catches for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns (he had 18 catches for 178 yards and two TDs combined in his previous three seasons). Also, Waller’s 570 yards after the catch were the most among all tight ends in 2019. — Paul Gutierrez

NFC EAST

Michael Gallup, wide receiver. He showed flashes as a rookie in 2018, but he made major leaps in his second season, finishing with 1,107 yards and six touchdowns on 66 catches. He and Amari Cooper became the first Cowboys receivers to post 1,000-yard seasons in the same year since Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn did it in 2006. Gallup made some Dez Bryant-like plays in 2019 but still needs to work on route running and making contested catches. With Gallup and Cooper, the Cowboys could have one of the NFL’s best receiver tandems to grow with quarterback Dak Prescott for years ago come. — Todd Archer

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Cowboys new head coach Mike McCarthy breaks down his expectations for the team moving forward and why he can help Dallas make a deep playoff run.

Markus Golden, outside linebacker. He has done it before. The 2015 second-round pick had double-digit sack totals in 2016 with the Arizona Cardinals. But the previous two seasons were a struggle for Golden because of a knee injury; he had 2.5 sacks combined during that span. Golden leveled up in 2019, though, getting back to where he had been prior to the injury. Golden had 10 sacks and was the Giants’ best defensive player this season. — Jordan Raanan


Dallas Goedert, tight end. The 2018 second-round pick nearly doubled his production from his rookie season, finishing with 58 catches for 607 yards to go with five touchdowns, and he did so while sharing the field with Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz. Goedert played his best ball down the stretch, including in a wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in which he caught seven balls on eight targets for 73 yards. The Eagles head into 2020 with a nasty 1-2 punch at tight end thanks to the emergence of Goedert. — Tim McManus


Ereck Flowers, guard. He was a disaster as a tackle, both with the New York Giants, who made him a first-round pick in 2015, and with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018. But he revived his career by playing well at left guard for the Redskins this past season. It’s not as if Flowers was great, but he was good — and better than anticipated considering he didn’t fully make the switch until the middle of training camp. Flowers’ size made him a big help in the Redskins’ power run game, and despite his occasional whiffs, he was a pleasant surprise for Washington. He’s a free agent, but the Redskins would like him back. In November, former Redskins offensive line coach and interim head coach Bill Callahan said: “The thing that I love about him is he’s conscientious, he’s dependable, he’s a reliable guy, he loves football, got a passion for the game and he has a thirst for knowledge and getting better every day.” — John Keim

NFC NORTH

Allen Robinson, wide receiver. Robinson was still recovering from a torn ACL when the Bears signed him away from Jacksonville during the 2018 offseason. The 6-foot-2 receiver had a respectable first season in Chicago with 55 catches for 754 yards and four touchdowns, but the 2014 second-round pick took his game to another level in 2019. Robinson led Chicago with 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns. The Bears had one of the NFL’s worst offenses in 2019, and Robinson managed to deliver a Pro Bowl-caliber season. — Jeff Dickerson


Matthew Stafford, quarterback. After throwing for under 4,000 yards for the first time in a full season in his career in 2018 and tying a career worst in yards per attempt in a full season (6.8), Stafford once again proved he is Detroit’s MVP. Before a back injury ended his 2019 season after eight games, he was playing at a Pro Bowl and fringe MVP level — on pace for 5,000 yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (he had 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions). While safety Tracy Walker, center Frank Ragnow and receiver Kenny Golladay could all merit inclusion, it is Stafford who took a jump in play once again, and when the Lions didn’t have him, they saw how bad it could get. — Michael Rothstein


Aaron Jones, running back. Most Packers fans wondered what Jones could do if Green Bay gave him the chance to be the outright No. 1 back after two years of splitting time almost evenly with Jamaal Williams. He delivered in a bigger way than perhaps anyone imagined, tying for the NFL team lead in touchdowns (with 19) and totaling 1,558 total yards from scrimmage. Jones went from being a player with much potential to a player whom opposing defenses had to plan against. — Rob Demovsky

Ifeadi Odenigbo, defensive end. The 2017 seventh-round pick by the Vikings was cut, had brief stints with Cleveland and Arizona, re-signed with Minnesota’s practice squad in 2018 and then finally made the Vikings’ 53-man roster last August. His feel-good story of perseverance was made even better as the Vikings found an ideal fit for Odenigbo as an edge rusher, where he totaled seven sacks, which ranked third behind Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen. Odenigbo made the most of the playing time he earned in his third season (34% of defensive snaps) and emerged as a trusted pass-rusher who could play a number of different roles in the D-line rotation. — Courtney Cronin

NFC SOUTH

Grady Jarrett, defensive tackle. The 2015 fifth-round draft pick by the Falcons has been a good player, but he took another step in 2019. Jarrett joined the league’s elite at his position and was named to his first Pro Bowl. He was second on the team with 7.5 sacks while playing on the interior line and had a team-leading 12 tackles for loss (he had six sacks and eight TFLs in 2018). Jarrett’s first step is devastating and his motor never stops. That’s why the Falcons rewarded him with a four-year, $68 million extension in July 2019. — Vaughn McClure


D.J. Moore, wide receiver. The 2018 first-round pick went from 55 catches and 788 yards as a rookie to 87 catches for 1,175 yards and four touchdowns in 2019. That his jump in production came with undrafted Kyle Allen and third-round pick Will Grier at quarterback (since Week 2) made his success all the more impressive considering their combined inexperience. — David Newton


Demario Davis, linebacker. The 31-year-old has actually been leveling up for the past three years, but he finally seems to be getting proper notice as a first-team All-Pro. Davis, who began his career with the Jets and Browns, could make a strong case as the Saints’ best free-agent signing since quarterback Drew Brees, both because of his athleticism as an every-down linebacker and his leadership. He had 111 tackles, four sacks, 12 pass defenses and an interception in 2019. “Demario Davis is one of the most overlooked players in the league from a media perspective,” said Greg Cosell, the executive producer and on-air analyst for ESPN’s NFL Matchup. “Teams that have to play the Saints know what he is, but I think he’s one of the best three-down linebackers in the league.” — Mike Triplett


Chris Godwin, wide receiver. In his first season as a full-time starter, Godwin finished with 1,333 receiving yards — third most in the NFL despite missing the final two games of the season because of a hamstring injury. His nine touchdowns were also tied for fourth among the league’s receivers. Godwin benefited from a move inside in coach Bruce Arians’ offense, the same role once occupied by Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Arians said the priority is “high” to re-sign Godwin to an extension: “He’s earned it.” — Jenna Laine

NFC WEST

Joe Walker, linebacker. The 2016 seventh-round pick made significant strides in 2019 after being relied upon more this season than he has in his NFL career. Walker started 11 of 16 games this season, including the final 10. He had 58 tackles and a forced fumble while making strides in coverage. He was already an athletic linebacker in coordinator Vance Joseph’s system, but 2019 showed his on-field improvement. — Josh Weinfuss


Dante Fowler Jr., outside linebacker. The No. 3 pick in 2015, Fowler had yet to live up to his high draft selection — until the 2019 season. Playing on a one-year deal worth up to $12 million, Fowler proved his playmaking ability as he finished the season with a career-high 11.5 sacks, which ranked among the top 10 in the NFL. He surpassed his previous career best of eight sacks set in 2017. Fowler also forced two fumbles and had a fumble recovery. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent. — Lindsey Thiry


Fred Warner, linebacker. Warner was good as a rookie, but he was even better in Year 2, looking the part of a Pro Bowl-caliber player for a long time to come. Warner was one of three linebackers in the league with at least 90 tackles, four passes defended, three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception, elevating his game even further after fellow linebacker Kwon Alexander suffered a torn pectoral on Oct. 31. “He’s the quarterback [of the defense], and it all starts with him, and he does a phenomenal job,” coordinator Robert Saleh said. “Major improvement from a year ago, but it started last year.” — Nick Wagoner


Shaquill Griffin, cornerback. After an up-and-down 2018 season, Griffin changed his diet, hired a personal chef and dropped about 20 pounds in 2019. He also ditched what he called a “selfish” mentality that he needed to be Richard Sherman just because he was replacing him. The result was his best season yet. Griffin gave up fewer big plays — which marred his 2018 season — and upped his pass breakups from five to 13, which by Pro Football Focus’ count were tied for second most in the NFL. That helped Griffin make his first Pro Bowl as a replacement. — Brady Henderson

Published at Tue, 28 Jan 2020 19:21:01 +0000

Pro Bowl becomes tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

Pro Bowl becomes tribute to Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

ORLANDO, Fla. — What started as just another Pro Bowl quickly turned into a tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

News that Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among several people killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in California broke shortly before the Pro Bowl game began. The players found out in the locker room moments before the start of the AFC’s 38-33 victory at Camping World Stadium. Numerous players took time throughout the game to pay tribute to the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson led a prayer in the locker room before the teams took the field. NFC defensive players made multiple gestures to honor Bryant, the first coming during a timeout early in the second quarter when all the players in the huddle did a fadeaway jumper. That was Bryant’s signature move during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Everybody in our locker room was hurting,” said Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was named the game’s offensive MVP. “Some of these guys don’t know Kobe at all but he’s in our hearts. He did something for the game. … It’s hurtful seeing something like that. … It was devastating, like this has gotta be fake.

“This was my first Pro Bowl so it was right before the game, like it was crazy. But God always calls his angels home for a reason. God knows best.”

Green Bay linebacker Za’Darius Smith, as well as Detroit’s Darius Slay and Tampa Bay’s Shaq Barrett, did step-back fadeaway jumpers following Smith’s sack of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson later in the second quarter. Smith, Minnesota’s Eric Kendricks and Everson Griffen, and Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett were among a group of players who repeated the gesture after a forced fumble early in the third quarter.

“It was a tribute to Kobe and his family,” Smith said during the game’s broadcast on ESPN. “This what we’re gonna do: two steps, then a fadeaway for him. For everyone to participate as a team, I just hope that touched a lot of people in a special way.”

Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell, who was named the game’s defensive MVP, and Baltimore’s Matthew Judon each took a knee during a moment of silence at the stadium during the two-minute warning. The crowd chanted “Ko-be” after the moment of silence was over.

“Kobe’s one of my heroes. He’s a big inspiration to me. In the few times I got to meet him, I was super encouraged when I left,” Campbell said. “… Honestly when we went into the locker room, our mentality was, ‘Embrace every moment.’ Because every moment is precious. You don’t know if you’re gonna get another one. You can tell the guys locked in. I think we played harder because of that.

“This is Kobe Bryant. His legacy – millions are affected by him. Everybody who plays sports, we have respect for the great Kobe Bryant. It was just devastating for all of us. We definitely all wanted to pay tribute and homage to him because he is the epitome of what an athletes supposed to be.”

Green Bay’s Davante Adams twice flashed two fingers and then four fingers — a reference to Bryant’s No. 24 jersey he wore with the Lakers — after his third-quarter touchdown catch.

Bucs outside linebacker Shaq Barrett said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll came into the locker room and said, “Go play and go play hard, because if [Kobe] was here, that’s what he would do … If he was here that is something that he would do, like if something happened to somebody else, he would go out there and play and leave it all on the field.”

Brees gets the start: Wilson was supposed to be the NFC’s starting quarterback, but he gave up that honor to New Orleans’ Drew Brees, who was making his 13th Pro Bowl appearance. It was clearly a sign of respect for the 41-year-old Brees, who is contemplating retirement. Brees is scheduled to become a free agent in March and said earlier in the week that he was either going to play for the New Orleans Saints in 2020 or not at all. Brees told media after Saturday’s Pro Bowl practice that he would wait until after football is completely finished before announcing a decision.

Ravens fly: Baltimore had a league-high 12 players in the Pro Bowl and its offensive stars accounted for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Lamar Jackson — the game’s offensive MVP — threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and tight end Mark Andrews had a game-high nine catches for 73 yards and one touchdown. Running back Mark Ingram ran for 31 yards and caught one pass for 17 yards.

Safety Earl Thomas had one of the AFC’s two interceptions.

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter Jenna Laine contributed to this report.

Published at Sun, 26 Jan 2020 23:40:21 +0000

The best, worst and most underrated moves of the 2019 NFL offseason

The best, worst and most underrated moves of the 2019 NFL offseason

Hindsight is the most wondrous of evaluation tools. Just look back on all the “best offseason moves” lists from last summer if you’re looking for a laugh. Almost none of what we expected came true. But that’s the essence of sports anyway, so it’s fine.

With only one game left in the 2019-20 NFL season, we have the luxury of looking back on the 2019 offseason and knowing which moves were the best, worst, most underrated, etc. This isn’t an I-told-you-so exercise, because I didn’t. Like almost everyone else, I didn’t see much of this — or at least the extent of it — coming.

So enjoy this hindsight-driven look back on the 2019 offseason, and please keep it in mind when you read those preseason pieces this summer. The moves that look the best or the worst at the time they’re made often turn out much differently than you expect.

Jump to:
Best | Worst
Underrated | Still waiting…

THE FIVE BEST MOVES OF LAST OFFSEASON

The Chiefs’ defensive makeover

I was skeptical of the move to hire Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator. His track record has many more bad years than good ones. I grew even more skeptical as the Chiefs overhauled their defense on the fly and in ways Spagnuolo clearly had a hand in directing.

But after a bit of a sluggish start, Spags & Co. proved me wrong. The Tyrann Mathieu signing was a difference-maker. Replacing Dee Ford with Frank Clark worked out (though one could argue the Ford thing worked out for the 49ers as well). Chris Jones managed to continue to thrive as a pass-rusher in spite of Spagnuolo’s history of not asking his defensive tackles to be that.

And now the Chiefs are in the Super Bowl after holding Derrick Henry to 69 yards in the AFC Championship Game. With Patrick Mahomes and all those speedsters on offense, the Chiefs only needed their defense to elevate from terrible to OK in order to go further than last year’s Chiefs did. And that defense has been better than OK.

The Ravens’ offensive makeover

They won a bunch of games and made the playoffs when they threw Lamar Jackson into the starting job and retooled the offense around him on the fly in 2018. But offensive coordinator Greg Roman really took things to a new level with what he built for Jackson in the 2019 offseason.

Not only did the Baltimore coaching staff iron out Jackson’s rookie-year turnover issues, they made him the centerpiece of the league’s most dynamic scoring attack, earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and almost certainly won Jackson the MVP award in his second NFL season. In a year with the usual number of head coach openings, Roman might have been snatched up by another team for the big job — and another season averaging 33 points per game with Jackson could make him the hottest candidate for 2021.

This was a straight-up dump by the Dolphins, who were through with Tannehill and picked up a large chunk of his salary as part of the deal. But when Marcus Mariota faltered early in the season and Tennessee replaced him with Tannehill as its starting quarterback, things turned around in spectacular fashion. The Titans went 7-3 to close out the regular season with Tannehill as their QB, ranking third in the league in both points per game (30.4) and yards per game (406.2) before advancing to the AFC Championship Game.

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Tim Hasselbeck, Victor Cruz and Field Yates make their picks for the top free agents this offseason, including Ryan Tannehill and Dak Prescott.

The 49ers drafting Nick Bosa with the No. 2 pick

San Francisco never wavered during the draft process, rejecting offers to trade up and staying the course with Bosa, whom they correctly envisioned as the final Infinity Stone in their gauntlet of first-round defensive linemen. Watching Bosa and his fellow first-rounders dominate the Vikings and the Packers in the playoff games that landed the Niners in the Super Bowl validates the importance of drafting an exceptional edge rusher when you have the chance to do it. Bosa is the star of a stellar group, and he helped elevate that group to the game’s grandest stage.

Tampa Bay’s signing of the former Broncos linebacker to a one-year, $4 million contract generated barely a ripple on the free-agent market, but it may have been the steal of the season. Barrett needed 10 sacks to trigger a $1 million incentive clause, and he got nine in the Bucs’ first four games. He ended up leading the league with 19.5 sacks on the season and should fare considerably better in free agency this time around.

THE FIVE WORST MOVES OF LAST OFFSEASON

The Browns hiring Freddie Kitchens as coach

All of the hope and hype that accompanied the Browns into the 2019 season was alloyed by the question of whether first-year head coach Kitchens could bring everything together and manage his talented group into the playoffs. He could not.

The Browns were a mess from training camp, when Odell Beckham Jr. got hurt and Baker Mayfield had too many conflicting voices in his ear. They were a factory of the wrong kind of headlines all year. Kitchens continually sounded the wrong note publicly whenever he was dealing with a crisis, and the team’s performance indicates he wasn’t sounding too many right notes in private, either. The Browns fired Kitchens after only one year and hired Kevin Stefanski, who was their other finalist for the job last January, to replace him.

The Raiders’ trade for Brown, hailed as a coup when it happened due to the low price, ended up a total bust. He spent training camp feuding with the league about his helmet, freezing his foot in a cryotherapy chamber and arguing publicly with GM Mike Mayock over fine money for workdays he missed. The last bit got him cut right before the season started, and he never played a down for the Raiders.

The Patriots’ move to sign him hours after the Raiders cut him doesn’t look great either, as they’re stuck with $10.5 million in dead money and likely will have to pay Brown his $9 million signing bonus if he wins his grievance against them. (But at least he played a game for them.)

And to top it all off, Pittsburgh really could have used help at receiver this year. Would all of this have been different if he and the Steelers had found a way to patch things up? Probably not. Brown’s spectacular NFL career appears to have imploded due to his self-destructive off-field and social media behavior.

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1:42

Hollywood (Florida) Police Department spokesperson Christian Lata says Antonio Brown’s trainer, Glenn Holt, was arrested, and the incident is still being investigated.

Believing themselves to be a quarterback away from the kind of successful season they’d had in 2017, the Jags signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract with $42.125 million fully guaranteed in the first two years. But the season turned out to be a disaster.

Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey forced a trade due to his relationship with executive VP Tom Coughlin, and then Coughlin was fired late in the season after the NFLPA won a grievance against the Jaguars and ripped the team for the number of player complaints it had received during Coughlin’s time there. The Foles deal looks like it might be a massive mistake too, as he missed eight games due to injury and then four more due to a late-season benching in favor of sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew II, who may have already taken the 2020 starting QB job away from him.

The Jaguars owe Foles $15.125 million in fully guaranteed salary for 2020, and a $5 million 2021 roster bonus becomes fully guaranteed if he’s on their roster on the third day of the 2020 league year. They’d absorb a dead-money hit of about $34 million if they cut him and about $19 million if they trade him.

Giants apologists will point to Cleveland’s bad year and Beckham Jr.’s embarrassing behavior at the National Championship Game as evidence that GM Dave Gettleman was right to trade his star wideout. But even if you viewed the Beckham deal as addition by subtraction for the Giants, you can’t be thrilled with their plan for replacing him.

They signed Tate to a four-year, $37.5 million contract even though he’s a very similar receiver to Sterling Shepard, whom they’d just signed to a four-year, $41 million contract. Tate began the season on a four-game drug suspension and ended it with 49 catches for 676 yards and six touchdowns, while fifth-round rookie Darius Slayton looks like the real deal. The Giants still owe Tate $7.975 million in guaranteed salary for 2020.

This was a doozy. Williams, the Pro Bowl left tackle, stayed away all season after making it clear he didn’t want to play for Washington anymore. (He actually reported on the day of the trade deadline, so as not to lose a year of service time, but he was there one day and did not return after the team put him on the non-football injury list.) Williams was upset with the team’s medical staff for misdiagnosing a cancerous growth on his scalp, and he was upset with the front office for not offering to rework his contract after the guarantees ran out.

Washington overhauled its front office and medical staff this offseason, getting rid of a couple of the people with whom Williams was upset. It remains to be seen whether he’ll return there, but in the meantime a lot of damage was done. And the quarterbacks the team used, including rookie Dwayne Haskins Jr., had far less of a chance to succeed with Williams sitting out.

THE FIVE MOST UNDERRATED MOVES OF LAST OFFSEASON

The Titans promoting Arthur Smith to offensive coordinator

They lost Matt LaFleur to a head-coaching job after LaFleur spent only one year as their offensive coordinator. But instead of hiring from the outside, Titans coach Mike Vrabel elevated his tight ends coach to the coordinator job. Smith proved more than capable, designing a Titans offense that, yes, used a ton of Henry but also ranked among the most efficient passing attacks in the league behind Tannehill and rookie receiver A.J. Brown. The Titans may have unearthed a coaching star.

The Bills’ offensive makeover

None of Buffalo’s offseason moves made major waves on its own. But collectively, they rebuilt an offense that helped deliver the Bills’ second playoff appearance in three years. Wide receiver John Brown served as a reliable deep threat for second-year QB Josh Allen, while wide receiver Cole Beasley was a great safety blanket. Veteran Frank Gore and rookie Devin Singletary formed a strong run game. And the retooled offensive line kept Allen clean enough for him to advance as a playmaker.

Coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane are earning leaguewide praise for their approach to team-building, and you can bet we’ll be watching their 2020 offseason more closely.

This looked like a throwaway deal at the time. The Chiefs were about to cut Hyde at the end of training camp when the Texans, who’d just lost Lamar Miller to a season-ending injury, stepped in and offered backup guard Martinas Rankin. Hyde picked up the Texans’ offense instantly and delivered the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career as Houston won the AFC South for the fourth time in five years.

The Vikings hiring Gary Kubiak

He was not the offensive coordinator, but Kubiak (as well as run game coordinator Rick Dennison and QBs coach Klint Kubiak, who came with him) helped evolve Stefanski’s offense into one that played more to QB Kirk Cousins‘ strengths. A zone running scheme and an emphasis on play-action helped revitalize the Minnesota offense and propel the Vikings into the postseason.

Stefanski, who’s now off to Cleveland as a head coach, credited Kubiak as an invaluable sounding board and a helpful-but-not-intrusive influence on the offense, which performed at a high level for most of the season.

The preseason talk was that the Dolphins were “tanking” to try to get the top pick in the draft. This, as it turns out, was not true. What the Dolphins were actually doing was trading assets in an effort to stockpile as many early-round picks as they could in the next couple of drafts, which makes a lot more sense in the NFL than “tanking” for a specific pick.

Along the way they signed Fitzpatrick, the well-traveled veteran QB, even though they’d traded for Josh Rosen. And by the time they got halfway through the season, they realized Rosen wasn’t going to be their guy for the long term so they made Fitzpatrick the starter and ended up winning five of their last nine games, including the Week 17 victory over the Patriots that cost New England a first-round bye.

The Dolphins still have the No. 5 pick in the draft, and because of the Minkah Fitzpatrick and Laremy Tunsil trades, they also have the 18th and 26th picks. They’re set up better than fine draft-wise, and in the meantime they have a group of young players who got to feel and enjoy what it’s like to compete for and win something. That should help down the road with whoever ends up staying for the rebuild.

THE FIVE MOVES ON WHICH THE JURY IS STILL OUT

Elliott became the highest-paid running back in the league by holding out of training camp and forcing the Cowboys to confront life without him. The 2019 season was the first of his career in which Elliott did not lead the league in rushing yards per game. The Cowboys’ offense evolved and produced at an extremely high level behind quarterback Dak Prescott‘s career season.

Elliott didn’t play poorly by any means — he still finished fourth in the league in rushing. But given the money involved, and the way the offense seemed to lean on him less after he got it, it’s fair to wonder whether Elliott’s deal will prove to be worth it or whether it will become just another data point for teams that fear overpaying at the running back position.

play

2:06

Marcus Spears can’t believe Bart Scott would suggest that Dak Prescott take less money from the Cowboys.

The Jets’ free-agent moves

Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley were the headliners, signing deals with a combined $70 million in full guarantees. The Jets had a mess of a season, with second-year quarterback Sam Darnold contracting mono in September and backup Trevor Siemian suffering a season-ending injury in his first start. But it’s likely they weren’t going to contend this year anyway.

If Mosley comes back healthy and the Jets find a way to integrate Bell into the offense more, these moves could pay off in 2020. But for comparison’s sake: The Jets got those two guys for $70 million guaranteed; the division rival Bills signed Gore, Brown, Beasley, Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe and Jon Feliciano for a combined total of $53.3 million guaranteed.

Detroit gave Flowers a five-year, $90 million deal with $50 million guaranteed at signing, reuniting him with former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in hopes of revitalizing the Lions’ pass rush. In turn, Miami was the only team that had fewer sacks than Detroit did this year. Flowers had seven of the Lions’ 28 sacks, which is right on his career average, but his first-year impact on the defense doesn’t seem to have been very much.

The Giants may have been nuts for letting Collins walk without franchising him (or trading him if he really wasn’t going to play on the franchise tag), but Washington may have been nuts-er for giving Collins a six-year, $84 million deal with $36.825 million fully guaranteed.

The safety market went through the roof, with Earl Thomas and Mathieu landing deals in the same per-year average range, but Collins’ deal was the plum from a player’s perspective, and Washington likely could have used the money elsewhere had it been more frugal. Perhaps the defense improves and Collins becomes its centerpiece, but we have to wait to find out.

Obviously, this did not go the way Cleveland hoped it would go in the first year. But nothing did in 2019, and the Browns are hitting the reset button again on the coaching staff and in the front office. Beckham played hurt all year and just had surgery to correct a core muscle injury. He’s 27 years old, and it’s hard to believe he’s done being great. But if the Browns do keep him and don’t start winning, his deal will continue to be viewed as an albatross by those who don’t feel he’s worth the off-field headaches.

Published at Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:19:35 +0000

Hey, it’s the mayor!: Watching the Chiefs at Arrowhead with their biggest fan

Hey, it’s the mayor!: Watching the Chiefs at Arrowhead with their biggest fan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Logs are smoldering in abandoned barbecues as six Chiefs fans wander through the parking lot next to a monolithic Arrowhead Stadium. The smell of brisket — mixed with other less-pleasant odors that come with an outdoor tailgate — is hanging in the frigid January air. Plastic tables snapped in half, either under the weight of pregame meals or as byproducts of Bills Mafia-imitating Chiefs fans, are left beside trucks that are coated in salt from the frozen roads.

With just 45 minutes until kickoff of the AFC Championship Game, the lot is mostly empty, other than the six fans darting between the rows of cars from the F lot to the G lot. One carries a Coors in a gloved hand, while another wears a red Tyreek Hill jersey over his thick jacket. Two more wearing earpieces, sunglasses, black down coats and red scarves flank the man at the center of it all.

As they pass by another group of young men milking the last minutes of the final tailgate of the year, one of them starts yelling, gesturing toward the man in the middle.

“Holy f—, it’s the mayor!” he shouts.

Quinton Lucas, Kansas City’s 55th mayor, stops and smiles.

He laughs as the guys keep shouting and gesturing with blue cans of Bud Light, announcing his arrival. He extends a hand to one, and asks for his name.

“Mark, very nice to meet you,” Lucas says, shaking his hand. “Enjoy the game. Go Chiefs!”

Not long ago, Lucas used to be just like that group: One of the guys standing around a Highlander at 8:30 a.m. drinking his own Bud Lights. When it was time, he would leave the parking lot for his season-ticket seats in the 300 level and yell his lungs out for his team.

“We were doing that stuff before he was the mayor, and now it’s obviously a little different,” says Henry Hunter, one of the men with Lucas and a friend since kindergarten. “We’ll just be walking down an alley in a parking lot and Arrowhead, and people will just yell, ‘Hey! That’s the mayor.’

“It’s just funny. I don’t know how he handles all that stuff. I just get to sit on the sidelines and be the nameless face. He represents the city now.”

In some ways, that seems fitting. Lucas, 35, is a fan like so many others. A childhood fascination with the hometown team turned into a full-blown obsession by middle school and evolved to tailgates and season tickets by early adulthood.

“I miss elements of being that super chill Chiefs fan,” Lucas says. “Now, it’s different. That’s fine. I’m honored to have the position I have, and part of that is that you bump into your senators at a Chiefs game and you can’t be a mess.

“You [get to] talk to the owner and talk about the team’s involvement in the community. I hope what I exhibit to the Chiefs, I hope that what they see is the passion that I actually have for the team. I hope they see that — not just, ‘good Lord, the mayor’s a fanboy and maybe let’s try to avoid him next year at training camp.'”


QUINTON LUCAS REMEMBERS a lot about his first Chiefs game, but what sticks with him most about his first visit into Arrowhead is the feeling of enchantment — quickly followed by heart-sinking shame.

It was 1994 and the Chiefs were playing the Buffalo Bills in the final preseason game. Lucas’ mom, a single parent, bought four tickets to take Lucas and his two older sisters to their first game.

All four of them arrived at Arrowhead in outfits picked out by Lucas’ mom — which were red, white and blue. Within moments of walking through the parking lot, 12-year-old Lucas realized he made a grave mistake.

“Everybody’s like, ‘You’re a bunch of Bills fans,'” Lucas says, laughing as he tells the story. “Of course, my mom had no idea, even though I think we’d been in the AFC Championship Game against the Bills fairly recently.

“We’re walking around, and I’m talking about, ‘Oh, my God, I failed at Arrowhead.'”

Even then, Lucas loved the team for everything it represented about his hard-working community, for the way it unified the area’s many demographics, for the pride he felt as an Eastsider watching his team play on the city’s poor East Side.

He read the Kansas City Star and religiously listened to Sports Line with Don Fortune on 980 KMBZ. As he got older, his loyalty evolved. By the end of the 1995 season, Lucas didn’t just watch, read and listen — he chronicled the Chiefs’ season in a purple and green Stuart Hall spiral-bound notebook labeled the ‘The Quinton Lucas Sports Journal.” Below the title was middle school Lucas’ credo: “Sports, they’re good for you!!!”

On the first page, in careful cursive, Lucas detailed the 1995 NFL playoff picture — the Chiefs were atop the AFC with a 13-3 record, while the Cowboys led the NFC at 12-4. He wrote the records of every playoff team, and noted below the AFC list that Seattle, Oakland and Denver had a chance. Below, he made a list of golden helmet awards, making his own year-end superlative selections. Beside them, he wrote a disclaimer: “These are my selections, and don’t forget I watch more AFC football.”

On the back of the page, he gave another set of awards — these named the Jessies for his then-girlfriend. Among the awards: Best Turnaround (Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings), That’s What You Get Vegas (Chiefs, Carolina Panthers), and Good Riddance (Joe Montana).

He doled out annual installments of those awards after the next two seasons, and in between, chronicled the Chiefs’ seasons and other major sports stories with newspaper clippings, typed school assignments and short capsules after every Chiefs game — noting ahead of time the announcers, the network and his pregame thoughts, leaving space to later add the team’s record and a game summary.

After middle school, Lucas decided to retire the journal. But he couldn’t do so without some fanfare, in the form of a two-page letter — still tucked in the back even though it frayed and fell off the spiral years ago.

“I’ve been happy to mature as a person and a writer in the journal,” he wrote in the same neat script as on the first page. “But I’m also sad to be saying goodbye to a good friend. There will be a new sports journal, but it’ll never be the same.”

Lucas no longer keeps a sports journal, but he still has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Chiefs’ history.

Four days before the AFC Championship Game, Lucas was up before 6 a.m., rewatching the Joe Montana-led Chiefs’ 1994 playoff win against the Houston Oilers on YouTube.

Most of the time, though, Lucas watches the losses.

The 1997 playoff loss at the hands of John Elway and the Broncos, and the regular-season defeats to Elway a season later. The 10-7 loss to the Colts in the 1996 playoffs.

“I remember experiencing that,” he says. “I remember that we’re on the 18-yard line and we can’t actually score something. I remember that we can’t score more than seven points in a playoff game. I remember that we can’t actually force Indianapolis to do a single punt. I remember that because we have a guy lined up offside, that we likely lose an AFC Championship Game. That’s what gets me so passionate.”

Throughout the 2019 season, Lucas remembered those losses — and, yes, pulled them up on YouTube — to make him appreciate these Patrick Mahomes– and Andy Reid-led Chiefs even more.

Well, that and: “I think part of that is me probably building up a case for, look, when I start burning couches like Kentucky fans, after we win a Super Bowl, and I become the first mayor with a municipal ordinance violation for civil disobedience, I’ll be like, ‘This is why, people. This is why.'”


LIKE ALL LONG-SUFFERING Chiefs fans, Lucas certainly had his share of those low valleys. But now he’s experiencing the highest peaks in his evolution as a fan.

Lucas won his mayoral election in 2019 after four years on the city council. He was just 30 years old when he won his first election, entering politics in his hometown after moving to St. Louis for college before law school at Cornell. When he entered the council race, he was one of the youngest tenure-track law professors in the country, at the University of Kansas, but decided that he could do more good in his hometown in office.

He has tried to do that in both of his jobs in local politics, pushing policies on municipal criminal justice and housing. And in the year that he has been mayor, he’s also trying to take advantage of the perks the job affords in relation to his childhood team.

“Since I’ve been mayor, the connection with the organization has changed a bit,” he says. “Now, I actually can walk into the owner’s suite and people aren’t like, ‘Security! That man!'”

A minimalist, Lucas doesn’t have many decorations in his office on the 29th floor of city hall. But he does have a framed No. 55 Chiefs jersey — to represent his status as the city’s 55th mayor — with his last name stitched on the nameplate. He also has a signed Mahomes photo in the window, framed and given to him by aide Lotti Halpern, who worked with him on the city council.

The month he was sworn in, Lucas attended Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri. His shirt sleeves rolled up to combat the suffocating heat and humidity, Lucas shook hands with fans and players, making plans to connect with many of the Chiefs later in the season.

He has followed through. In October, he participated in Travis Kelce‘s Celebrity Challenge, where he competed in local versions of shows like Chopped, Lip Sync Battle, Project Runway and Minute to Win It. A month later, he attended Tyrann Mathieu‘s Celebrity Waiters Dinner, a fundraiser for Mathieu’s foundation, which helps to put computers into Boys and Girls Clubs of Kansas City and in low-income schools.

“He’s done an unbelievable job of just being in the community since elected,” says Kelce, who met Lucas at a Sporting KC game. “With that comes relationships. Him being a personable guy, it was natural for us to hit it off and accept each other and sure enough, we’re playing for the city, right? So it’s definitely a cool aspect having him around.”

But Lucas goes to great lengths to make sure they know he’s not a fanboy. Though he still tweets about sports and calls in for segments on local talk radio, he also knows that, because of his position, he has to be a more responsible fan.

“I hope they see that I’m not trying to use the team for anything,” Lucas says. “I don’t want anything special from them.

“What I want them to understand is that’s the passion I have. That’s the passion so many in the community have. That’s the difference that they can make each day. That’s the way they should try to encourage people to get involved.”

After all, if anyone knows the good that can come from connecting with the team and its players — it’s a homegrown fan turned caretaker of the city. Plenty of players see that impact too.

“Being in Kansas City for six, seven months now, you kind of expect everybody to have a Kansas City sports journal” like Lucas, Mathieu says. “The fans here are crazy. They fully immerse themselves in us. It’s a good feeling. It makes us want to go out there and represent the right way.”


AS THE SECOND half kicks off at Arrowhead Stadium, the fans in section 331 are wrapped in scarves and thick puffer coats, beanies and face masks. Puffs of their breath fill the frigid air as they joke about the tradition of dumping buckets of popcorn on each other after every Chiefs touchdown. They show off stacks of empty cups that helped build an alcohol blanket through the tense first half.

One man in the section, situated in the shade of the southwest corner of Arrowhead, takes issue with an official’s whistle, yelling, ‘That’s a clown call, bro,’ after the official has called an incomplete pass on a ball to Sammy Watkins.

They leap and shout about their typically cursed team’s unusual good luck as Andy Reid challenges the call — and wins.

They take advantage of the breaks between plays and the longer delay during the challenge review to take selfies — after all, one of their own is now the mayor of Kansas City.

This is where Lucas feels most at home — where he has had season tickets for five years, sitting with friends like Hunter.

“The upper deck, it’s like comparatively diverse,” Lucas says. “You get fans of all types — drunks of all types. The good people and others, but nevertheless …”

He doesn’t get to spend much time on the 300 level anymore. He pinballs between suites during the game, craning his neck to catch the action as he shakes hands and connects with anyone he can.

Sunday afternoon, he was on the 300 level for just a couple of minutes of game time.

But by the final whistle, he might have found a better vantage point than his old seats. As the Chiefs clinch their first Super Bowl berth in 50 years, Lucas is on the sideline.

He dreamed of this as a kid, of sneaking onto the field and celebrating with the team. Now, he’s ushered beyond the rope as a guest of honor along with actors Paul Rudd and Eric Stonestreet.

He claps vigorously, facing the stands as some 70,000 fans do their signature chop as Mahomes kneels in the victory formation, and then he walks out on the field with his arms high. A few moments later, a gray AFC Champions cap replaces the red beanie he has worn all day. He bends over, scooping up piles of red and yellow confetti and shoves it back into the cannons, recycling the shredded paper to keep the celebration going.

“Middle school Quinton would have some tears right now,” Lucas says. “And I think more than that, he would believe that anything is possible. That’s what sports is about. I think if you look at this team, if you look at the fact that we’re a hard-working, Midwestern city and there are not a lot of flashy people, but cool things like this can happen.

“That would mean a lot to middle school me. That’s why I came back home. That’s why I’ve loved following this team for all my life.”

Published at Tue, 21 Jan 2020 00:43:57 +0000