Even though the NFL is in its offseason, the business side of things do not stop. A free agency frenzy and the coming NFL Draft awaits. This means a lot of players will be shifting rosters and signing with new teams left and right. There are also bound to be some players who will either face the chopping or trade block.
And, this offseason in particular will be filled with a ton of quarterback activity. We have some big names hitting free agency and multiple college quarterbacks pegged as first-round draft picks.
With the unknown waiting right around the corner, we have made the following bold predictions for the 2018 NFL offseason.
Bengals attempt to trade Andy Dalton and prep A.J. McCarron to start
The Bengals need to get bold and find out what McCarron can do for them in 2018. This means they would need to move on from Dalton who would make an intriguing trade option. Even after an underwhelming season in which Dalton completed just 59.9 percent of his passes for a career-low 3,320 yards, he is still very much trade worthy. Then, the Bengals can experiment for their future with McCarron, who is set to become a restricted free agent.
Dallas Cowboys release Dez Bryant
Bryant has not been cutting it around Dallas ever since the team broke the bank to the tune of $70 million to extend his contract in 2015. His most productive seasons came between 2012-14 playing with former quarterback Tony Romo when he tallied 41 touchdowns. Now, he is coming off of an 838-yard, six-touchdown campaign. By cutting Bryant, the Cowboys save $8.5 million against the cap. This is just too much to pay a guy that is not producing at an elite level.
Kirk Cousins snubs the Denver Broncos
Most have the Broncos pegged as the favorites to land Cousins in free agency. Though, they would have to prepare to finagle their budget in order to offer Cousins a lucrative deal. This is when we predict that Cousins actually accepts a job with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have the seventh-most salary cap space and are a team that Cousins has shown interest in playing for. Also, Cousins may enjoy sticking around in the NFC where he will remain competition for a Washington Redskins unit that put the screws to him.
Ravens sign Terrelle Pryor on the cheap
Speaking of Washington, Pryor did not gel there one bit last season. The team overpaid him on a one-year $8 million deal and got disastrous results. After playing in just nine games and tallying 240 yards and one touchdown, Pryor can hardly sell himself high in free agency. We say the Ravens, who can stand to add more depth at receiver, give him a shot. Likely, Pryor lands only a one-year prove it deal that pays him drastically less than last season.
Cleveland Browns offer Drew Brees a deal
Down to offensive lineman Joe Thomas, the Browns would love to land a quarterback of Brees’ caliber. So why not actually extend a rich offer once free agency begins on March 14? The Browns currently have the most available salary cap space and could easily make Brees the richest player in the league. It is an interesting thought. Though, the likelihood Brees plays anywhere else other than New Orleans for the remainder of his career is slim. The Browns tossing an offer Brees’ way would at least push the Saints to be aggressive with their own contract negotiations.
Patriots select Lamar Jackson as Tom Brady’s heir apparent
The Patriots need to start enhancing their quarterback depth beyond Tom Brady. We predict the Patriots, with the 31st overall pick, select Louisville’s Lamar Jackson who could be around when New England goes on the clock. In picking a quarterback in Round 1, the Patriots would completely throw a monkey wrench into the draft. This is an organization that does not reach for quarterbacks. And speaking of reaching, the Patriots might even try to trade up for a higher-rated rookie quarterback. Their draft should be interesting.
Packers bring in Trumaine Johnson
Boy did the Packers prove they could use more help on their secondary last season. This is a team that gave up 25 passing touchdowns and managed just 11 interceptions. Adding Johnson, who the Los Angeles Rams are unlikely to retain, makes a lot of sense. The bold here is that the Packers would need to make some budget adjustments in order to sign Johnson. The Packers rank 23rd in available salary cap space.
Detroit Lions snag Alfred Morris
Morris’ days as a Cowboy are likely numbered. The team has workhorse Ezekiel Elliott and a capable backup in that of Rod Smith. So we like a guy with Morris’ skills landing with the Lions. Morris did enough replacing a suspended Elliott last season to prove he should be in a starting role. Last year Morris averaged 4.8 yards per carry and tallied 547 yards. He is an upgrade over Ameer Abdullah who is not an answer for a Detroit rushing offense that ranked dead last in 2017.
Jarvis Landry meets up with Jimmy Garoppolo
Another free agent who could be on the move is Landry. Just imagine him pairing up with Garoppolo out west. The 49ers have tons of salary space to give Landry that juicy contract he is seeking. Landry led the league with 112 receptions last year and was targeted 10 times per game on average. And, this happened playing catch with Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. The sky would be the limit for Landry working with an even more accurate quarterback in 2018.
Broncos double-down on quarterbacks
The Broncos complete roster of quarterbacks needs to be scrapped. Though the Broncos won’t admit it, they need to draft a quarterback and sign an affordable one like Case Keenum. Keenum comes from a decent enough stint with the Vikings (3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns) that the Broncos can trust him to start. Though, Keenum cannot exactly command Cousins’ type of pay. Next as insurance, we predict that the Broncos take Baker Mayfield out of Oklahoma with the fifth overall pick. It was not long ago that the Broncos requested Mayfield play on their team at the Senior Bowl. These moves would assure the team starts with fresh options in 2018.
Frank Gore finally signs with a contender
Gore still has some gas in his tank and it would the Patriot way for New England to sign him to a short term deal. The veteran running back, who rushed for 961 yards and averaged 16.3 carries per contest last season, would make for a nice change of pace back in an offense that loves to split up its runners’ work. Plus, both running backs Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead become free agents. We cover their landing spots a little later on in this list.
Cleveland Browns roll with Teddy Bridgewater
Forever in need of an upgrade at quarterback, it would be awesome for the Browns reach out to Teddy Bridgewater in free agency. This is on top of the team also needing to select a rookie quarterback in the draft. The Browns need to double or perhaps triple their efforts to strengthen their quarterback position. Adding Bridgewater for his maturity and leadership skills certainly would not hurt. Plus, Bridgewater has been cleared to play so he could actually start while their younger option learns behind him.
Cardinals trade for Nick Foles
The Cardinals said finding a new quarterback is a top priority. But, they have some budget restraints which might inhibit them. This makes a trade for Foles an attractive option. From one bird team to another, the Cardinals would have a Super Bowl Champion quarterback under center. And this quarterback would cost the Cardinals a mere $7 million for the 2018 season. In exchange, the Cardinals would have to offer up a desirable draft pick or picks to make this happen. But this move is worth it considering Blaine Gabbert is currently the team’s best option.
Malcolm Butler’s new home is Indianapolis
The Colts secondary is dreary and a cornerback like Butler could certainly spruce up the situation. With how things ended for Butler in New England, he might surely love a chance to play with a Colts team that just said “the rivalry is back on“. The bottom line is Butler has talent and a fresh start should do his career wonders. Plus, the Colts have the second-most salary cap space to give Butler that big deal he is looking to ink.
Jimmy Graham finds familiar territory
Those who still don’t quite feel comfortable seeing Graham suit up in blue and green will likely get to see him in a different color. How cool would it be for Graham to return to the New Orleans Saints in 2018? He was Brees’ right hand man and a touchdown machine from 2011-14. During that span, he averaged 137.8 targets per year and scored 46 touchdowns. He was not nearly utilized to his full capacity in Seattle. The Saints’ offense would be even more explosive if it welcomed Graham back.
Browns don’t blow the first round of the Draft
Please say this is so. We predict the Browns finally do the “un-Brownsy” thing and take a quarterback at No. 1. This would be instead of trading away picks, or letting potential quarterbacks like last year’s Deshaun Watson slip. Even after adding a veteran like the aforementioned Bridgewater, Cleveland would be wise to swoop in and take UCLA’s Josh Rosen who has the ability to become a solid franchise quarterback. Next, selecting a top defensive back or running back at No. 4, would be brilliant.
Buffalo Bills take care of Sam Bradford
Free agency is chock-full of quarterbacks that need new teams. Bradford is a capable and reasonably-priced solution who could mentor a new rookie should the team take a draft flier on a quarterback they desire for the future. Coming off of an injury-plagued year, Bradford cannot demand a jaw-dropping salary. Nobody is going to pay him that. Instead, the Bills can take advantage of Bradford who would benefit tremendously with a workhorse like LeSean McCoy to lean on.
Tyrod Taylor shifts teams in the AFC East
Speaking of the Bills, Taylor looks to be on the move out of Buffalo. His mobility might just make for a refreshing change of pace for the New York Jets. Oh and the Jets have the fourth-most available cap space which makes adding Taylor a budget-friendly choice. Taylor cannot exactly sell his services sky-high with his injury history. This savings in salary would allow the Jets to spend some money in other areas like the running back and wide receiver positions.
Chicago Bears add Cowboys’ reject
We covered Bryant who we predicted could get the ax by the Cowboys. If so, the Bears should pursue him. They desperately need an upgrade at the position and Bryant would provide stability for second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky to improve on his deep passing game. Given a featured role, Bryant could get back his rhythm back. He might even rediscover his previously elite ability as the new top dog on a fresh offense.
Jon Gruden adds Colin Kaepernick just in case
If any team was to consider signing Kaepernick, it might just be the Oakland Raiders. According to a January speculation by Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, Kaepernick may be on Gruden’s radar as a backup to Derek Carr. The team needs a better option should Carr miss time on the field. Additionally, there is a rumor out there that indicates the NFL wants the Raiders to sign Kaepernick so that the league can be rid of his collusion case (more on that here). This is indeed bold, but the Raiders seem to be the front running team when it comes to Kap ever playing again.
Mike Wallace becomes a Jet
The Jets need some help at the receiver position to assist whoever is throwing passes next season. Wallace is a likely candidate for this job being one of the best free agent receivers out there. At 31-years-old Wallace showed this past season he can still contribute at a powerful level as displayed by his averaged of 14.4 yards per reception. With Robby Anderson likely facing a suspension, Wallace would be a wise and cost-efficient add the team should not pass up.
Patriots do the Patriot thing and sign veteran Vontae Davis
If the Colts wind up signing Malcolm Butler as we previously discussed, it would only seem appropriate that the Patriots take Indy corner Vontae Davis at a bargain value. Davis has been medically cleared from core surgery and should attract interest this offseason. The Patriots need more components in their secondary and are never shy to add veterans who can still contribute. Davis last tallied 31 combined tackles and defended two passes in the five games he played for Indianapolis last year.
Seattle Seahawks steal former Patriots running backs
Short of hanging a “help wanted” sign at their facility, the Seahawks need to add some productive running backs. Quarterback Russell Wilson led the team with 586 rushing yards last season. So how cool would it be for the Seahawks to sign both Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead? Lewis would be the costlier of the two, but neither one can exactly demand a bank-breaking contract. In 2017, Lewis recorded a total of 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns. Burkhead was valuable as a third-down back and he tallied 518 total yards and eight touchdowns. The duo would certainly help ease the pressure Wilson faces week in and week out.
Adrian Peterson reunites with Pat Shurmur
Peterson’s career in the NFL is winding down. But perhaps his former Vikings offensive coordinator from 2016 and new Giants head coach brings him aboard for one more run of things. The Giants’ rushing offense finished 26th in the league last year. If Peterson was the featured back rather than a backup or part of a committee, he might actually help the Giants improve their ground game. And because of Peterson’s uninspiring 2017 season, he can be signed on the ultra cheap.
Richard Sherman gets traded to the Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are going to be busy this offseason and a trade for Sherman makes too much sense. Oakland badly needs a cornerback of Sherman’s caliber, so acquiring a former Stanford star would perfectly fit the bill. Sherman is currently acting as his own agent when it comes to playing out his final year with the Seahawks. But, that might not be necessary if the Raiders get aggressive and land him in a trade. This would also reunite Sherman with former teammate, Marshawn Lynch.
Steelers trade up to draft a quarterback
Right now, Ben Roethlisberger wants to play beyond 2018. But a poor season or an unfortunate string of injuries as he has been prone to in the past, might change his mind. And with backup Landry Jones under contract for just one more year, it is time for the Steelers to strike in a quarterback-heavy draft class. With pick No. 28, they may need to trade up to make getting a first-round quarterback a realty. Roethlisberger, who turns 36 in March, was originally selected 11th overall in 2004.