Now that we’re just a few weeks away from the start of free agency, NFL teams have fully transitioned from the 2017 campaign to the offseason. We’ve already seen two major quarterback situations settled with Jimmy Garoppolo re-signing in San Francisco and Alex Smith being traded to Washington. That position is going to be the talk of NFL free agency.
Though, there’s a handful of big-name players that will be available in free agency or via the trade market. Where does Seahawks corner Richard Sherman land? Could a certain California team be the best fit for him? Will Denver dole out the big bucks for Kirk Cousins? Below, we check in on 10 NFL offseason moves that need to happen.
Raiders trade for Richard Sherman
It’s a trade that makes sense for both sides. Sherman entered the 2017 season firmly on the trade block and saw it come to a conclusion with him on injured reserve after suffering a ruptured Achilles in early November. He’s likely going to be part of a mass exodus of veteran defenders in Seattle as the Seahawks look to reinvent the wheel midstream. In fact, a recent reports suggests that Seattle is willing to move him this spring.
For the Raiders, there’s not a better low-risk option out there. Sherman will likely come cheap. He’s 29 years old and still rehabbing from a devastating lower-body injury. That’s definitely going to limit the return Seattle gets in a trade. Oakland yielded 24 touchdowns compared to five interceptions while giving up the seventh-most passing yards in the NFL last season. The primary issue here was corner. And if Sherman can come back healthy, he’d immediately become the teams most-reliable defensive back. A product of Stanford, this also makes sense from a logistical standpoint for Sherman.
Broncos sign Kirk Cousins
This is the most logical end result for both sides. There’s very little chance Broncos GM John Elway is going to spend another top pick on a quarterback after bombing so bad on the Paxton Lynch selection two years back. Instead, he’s likely going to look at the veteran market for a quarterback. Both Tyrod Taylor and A.J. McCarron have been linked to Denver. But is either a dramatic upgrade over what we saw from the trio this team threw out last season? We’re not too sure.
Instead, the Broncos should look to add the best quarterback of the free agent class on a lucrative deal. This would enable Denver to remain in contention as its still-elite defense continues to perform at a high level. Denver currently finds itself $25.9 million under the cap. If the team were to move on from the likes of Aqib Talib, C.J. Anderson and either Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders, that number would grow to north of $44 million. In the process, it would make a blockbuster Cousins signing doable.
Browns go all backfield in top five
This one scribe has wavered back and forth on what he believes Cleveland should do in the draft. Adding a quarterback with either the first or fourth pick is a no-brainer. But it’s the other selection that has created a ton of debate around the football world. Some conclude Cleveland should add Bradley Chubb to go with Myles Garrett, forming one of the best pass-rush tandems in the game. Others believe, the Browns should add a likely perennial Pro Bowler in Minkah Fitzpatrick to their defensive backfield. Both of those names would work.
Instead, Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is the move that must happen here. Remember when Dallas added Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in the 2016 NFL Draft? That changed the team’s entire future. In selecting Barkley, Cleveland would be getting one of the five most dynamic backs to enter the NFL Draft over the past decade-plus. Team him up with either Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold, and the excitement level would be real for this team’s long downtrodden fan base. It just makes too much sense not to happen.
Packers go running back in first round
It’s high time Green Bay invests something on a running back to help make Aaron Rodgers’ job easier. Sure Aaron Jones performed well as a rookie. He’ll definitely be in the mix next season. With that said, we’re looking at the draft as a must for Green Bay at running back.
Picking 14th overall, Green Bay won’t be able to land the above-mentioned Saquon Barkley. It’s also on the fringe when it comes to LSU’s Derrius Guice. Though, that’s the player these Packers need to be focused on. Guice is a true three-down back and can handle 20-plus touches per game. He’s a perfect fit in Green Bay’s offensive system and would do wonders for Mr. Rodgers. Maybe even a trade up into the top 10 to acquire his services could be in the cards here.
Saints sign Jimmy Graham
Graham never seemed like a fit in Seattle after the Seahawks acquired him from New Orleans prior to the 2015 season. The veteran tight end might have earned two Pro Bowl appearances in his three seasons in the Pacific Northwest. But he also failed to put up as much as 610 yards in two of those seasons. Now set to become a free agent, it’s highly unlikely Graham will return to the Seahawks next season.
Why not have Graham reunite with Drew Brees in New Orleans? After the Coby Fleener failure at tight end, the Saints are surely in need for an upgrade at tight end. And Graham had the best seasons of his career in the Bayou. From 2011-14, Graham averaged 90 receptions for 1,100 yards and 12 scores catching passes from Brees. If the tight end isn’t going to be valued at a high level in free agency, it makes perfect sense for New Orleans to re-sign him.
Bills move up to No. 2 for a quarterback
We’ve heard rumblings that Buffalo is smitten with former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. If that is indeed the case, this team will likely have to move up to the No. 2 spot with the New York Giants to add him. The issue here is that New York could very well look to either Rosen or Sam Darnold to be the heir apparent for Eli Manning under center. That makes it a bit more difficult for Buffalo to pull off a move up.
What we do know is that Buffalo boasts the 21st and 22nd picks in the first round as well as two second-round selections in the 2018 NFL Draft. It also has a potential franchise left tackle in Cordy Glenn that might be able to entice a Giants team that struggled big time in pass protection last season. Based on this trade value chart, Buffalo would have to yield both of its first-round picks, a second-round pick and change to move up for Rosen. Under this scenario, the Giants could add a couple more picks to their draft while picking up a starter-caliber left tackle. Heck, New York could even use one of those picks on a potential franchise quarterback like Lamar Jackson.
Cardinals add Nick Foles
A report this week surfaced indicating that Philadelphia might look for at least two first-round picks for Foles. That’s in no way going to happen. Foles might be coming off Super Bowl MVP and one of the best playoff runs for a quarterback in NFL history. He was also nothing more than an afterthought prior to Carson Wentz going down to a torn ACL back December. Should Wentz show signs of being able to return in time for Week 1, there’s no reason to believe Philadelphia would give up on the possibility of adding valuable draft assets and/or players by moving its backup quarterback.
This is where Arizona comes into play. Here’s a team that has continually made it a point to go after veteran stopgap options rather than bite the bullet in the draft. With the 15th selection in April’s draft, the Cardinals are not going to be able to add Darnold or Rosen. Considering Larry Fitzgerald is set to return for 2018, it’s also highly unlikely Arizona starts a rookie out of the gate. So why not offer up a second-round pick and a player in order to bring Foles into the mix? Arizona’s situation is similar to the Eagles in that it won’t have to ask too much of Foles. It has one of the best running backs in the game in the form of David Johnson and a still-elite defense. This just seems to be a match made in heaven.
Bengals trade A.J. Green to 49ers
To say that Green is wasting away in Cincinnati would be an understatement. Short of the Bengals deciding to ditch Andy Dalton in favor of impending free agent A.J. McCarron, this is going to continue remaining the case. Green recorded less than 1,100 yards last season and was targeted seven times or less in nearly one-third of his games. That’s just not going to cut it. Maybe Green demands to be moved from this situation. It’s possible the Bengals decide that a draft pick and a player might be best use of Green’s roster spot.
If he is indeed placed on the trade block, we’re sure Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers would come calling. Shanahan helped Julio Jones morph into a dominant receiver with Atlanta and would like nothing more than to give the newly extended Jimmy Garoppolo a true No. 1 receiver. It’s in this that San Francisco could offer up its second-round pick and backup C.J. Beathard for Green. After all, the Bengals are going to be in need of a quarterback to sit behind either Dalton or McCarron next season.
Patriots select quarterback in first round
It just makes too much sense. With an extra second-round pick acquired in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, the defending AFC champs have the capital to spend a top-round pick on a quarterback. And with no one currently seen as the heir apparent in New England, the time is now for the Pats to find a future signal caller for when Tom Brady ultimately does retire.
Working under the theory that Jose Rosen, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield are all off the board, this leaves the likes of Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Mason Rudolph as options for New England at 31. Given that using a first-round pick guarantees an extra year on a rookie deal, this makes much more sense than going the Garoppolo route again and using a second-rounder.
Dez Bryant for Earl Thomas swap
We already know that Seattle is looking to move on from multiple members of its Legion of Boom secondary. Heck, one current member of this unit pretty much admitted that recently. We also know that Thomas himself has talked about returning to Dallas to play for his hometown Cowboys. Let’s not even mention the fact that Dallas needs to upgrade its free safety position. Thomas makes the most sense.
From a Seahawks perspective, this would also make a ton of sense. The team is apparently looking to exhaust more of its cap room on offense while going younger on defense. Adding a true No. 1 for Russell Wilson would help here. Not to mention the fact that the Cowboys themselves might look to move on from Bryant altogether this offseason. It’s one of those player-for-player swaps we rarely see in the NFL, but it could work to perfection for both sides.