This NFL offseason has not been boring by any means. Every NFL team has made key moves in an attempt to better its roster and/or coaching staff this year. Though, this does not mean the general public necessarily agrees with some of those moves.
This year features a new highest-paid player in the league as well as a $100 million NFL head coach. In addition, there have also been several other big contracts inked by players who will undoubtedly fail to live up to expectations.
We have all of these stories and more covered here as we discuss each NFL team’s most head-scratching offseason moves.
Arizona Cardinals: Breaking the bank on Sam Bradford
Why? When the Cardinals signed Bradford to a one-year, $20 million deal, it ignited a social media riot. Bradford is one of the most injury-prone quarterbacks in the league, and should he miss any time this season, he still walks away with $15 million guaranteed. We are talking about a quarterback who has missed 48 career games and has earned $114 million since 2010. For the math geeks out there, Bradford has averaged $1.425 million per game. He also has not played a full season since 2012.
Atlanta Falcons: Thinning down Matt Ryan’s receiving corps
Behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons are now a bit sparse at wide receiver. Instead of re-signing one of the speedier guys on the team, the Falcons let Gabriel walk in free agency. Gabriel averaged an impressive 14.1 yards per catch with Atlanta and also caught 67.4 percent of his targets in 2017. The Falcons had better knock on wood that Jones stays healthy this year. Taking Gabriel’s slot spot will be Justin Hardy, who has just 62 catches on record with Atlanta.
Baltimore Ravens: Get cute and sign embattled Robert Griffin III
Quarterback Joe Flacco needs help at backup, so the Ravens dug deep into the pool of available free agents and pulled RGIII’s card. Apparently, the Ravens were impressed with Griffin’s workout and feel he could suffice if Flacco was to miss time. After all, it has only been since the 2016 NFL season that Griffin last played professional football. He started in five games for the Cleveland Browns and threw two touchdowns and three picks. Sounds like a perfect plan, right? Luckily, Griffin’s one-year deal is ultra-cheap and comes with very little guaranteed money.
Buffalo Bills: Gambling with AJ McCarron
Speaking of quarterback gambles, the Bills thought it prudent to trade away Tyrod Taylor only to sign former Cincinnati Bengals backup, McCarron. McCarron arrives in Buffalo having starting just three games for Cincinnati. The Bills are said to be working hard to trade up for a rookie quarterback in this year’s draft. But as it stands, McCarron is the starter and Nathan Peterman — who crashed and burned in his only start last year — is the sole backup.
Carolina Panthers: Letting Andrew Norwell go
Keeping quarterback Cam Newton protected has always been a challenge. So, the Panthers deciding to not franchise tag their former left guard may be a move that comes back to haunt them this year. After two productive 16-game seasons, Norwell migrates to the Jacksonville Jaguars with a massive five-year, $66.5 million contract. While quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Leonard Fournette are jumping for joy, this leaves Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey up a creek without a paddle in 2018.
Chicago Bears: Botching up Cameron Meredith
Oh those Bears. They only had one job when it came to retaining the up-and-coming Meredith and the Bears blew it. Instead of placing a second-round tender on Meredith, securing him for less than $3 million in 2018, they offered an original-round tender to an undrafted free agent. If the Bears had used a second-round tender that and another team offered to sign Meredith, Chicago would have received a second-round pick for him. But, the New Orleans Saints wound up signing Meredith to a two-year deal that the Bears did not match, and Chicago got nothing.
Cincinnati Bengals: Failing to cut ties with Tyler Eifert
We are not sure what the attraction is between the Bengals and Eifert. But Cincinnati seems resolved to paying a tight end who has played in only 39 of 80 possible games since 2013. Instead of parting ways with their former first-round pick, the Bengals re-signed Eifert to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million. Multiple injuries have pumped the brakes on Eifert’s five-year career. He last played only two games in 2017. He had one rock star campaign in 2013 when he tallied 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. But, that seems like ancient history.
Cleveland Browns: Paying Jarvis Landry elite money
While some receivers are waiting patiently (or not so much) for new contracts, the Browns just made Landry a very well-paid man. With big bucks to spend, the Browns signed Landry to a five-year deal worth $75.5 million. Landry is a great possession receiver and racked up a league-high 112 receptions last year. However, he averaged only 8.8 yards per catch. Julio Jones, who we mentioned earlier, earns less than Landry, and averaged 16.4 yards per reception in 2017. That is just the way the cookie crumbles around the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys: Wide receiver shuffle
The Cowboys totally shook up their receiving corps. They tried to sign Sammy Watkins, but failed. Next, the Cowboys inked Allen Hurns, who was expected to assume a No. 2 role behind Dez Bryant. Then the big shoe dropped. The Cowboys released Bryant without even asking him to take a pay cut. Knowing Bryant was going out the door (we assume), the Cowboys also failed to re-sign Brice Butler who averaged a big 21.1 yards per catch in 2017. Clearly, the Cowboys seem intent on rebuilding their receiver roster.
Denver Broncos: Giving up on a Pro Bowl cornerback
The Broncos’ main priority this offseason is to better their quarterback situation. With more salary cap space needed, the Broncos traded Aqib Talib, who made the Pro Bowl each of his four seasons in Denver. This move put an end to the Broncos’ scary “No Fly Zone.” Talib was a heavy contributor to that secondary and recorded a total of 11 interceptions, 50 defended passes and 186 combined tackles. He now joins a loaded Los Angeles Rams defense that we will chat about here a little later.
Detroit Lions: Quickly jumping on Matt Patricia
In need of a change, the Lions hired Patricia, who comes from New England as a former defensive coordinator. This is a move the Lions desperately need to pay off after firing former coach Jim Caldwell. Though, Patricia joins the Lions after coordinating a Patriots defense that gave up the fourth-most yards per game in 2017. All eyes will be observing the Lions on both sides of the ball, hoping the team made the right call choosing Patricia.
Green Bay Packers: Doing Jordy Nelson dirty to sign Jimmy Graham
The Packers blew it big time in the tight end department last year with the Martellus Bennett fiasco. Now, they are getting aggressive again at the position after signing Jimmy Graham to a three-year $30 million contract. Of course in order to sign Graham, the Packers released long-time receiver, Jordy Nelson. What they offered Nelson to stay was a humiliating 10-year veteran minimum deal. This would have paid him barely over $1 million in 2018. Now Graham, who is only 1.5 years younger than Nelson, is the guy getting paid in Green Bay.
Houston Texans: Brandon Weeden again?
Good grief the quarterback free agency pool is thin. Why else would the Texans re-visit the Weeden journey again? Weeden last suited up for a split season in 2015 where he played in four games with the Cowboys and two with the Texans. The embattled veteran is 34 years old and currently sits No. 2 behind Deshaun Watson on the Texans depth chart. All signs point towards Watson making a healthy return from a torn ACL in 2017. But, no signs foreshadowed Watson’s injury last year, either. Let’s just hope the young kid stays healthy all season.
Indianapolis Colts: Splurging…on a tight end?
The Colts’ defense was horrific last year, and the team let cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Rashaan Melvin depart. On offense, the Colts do not know exactly when quarterback Andrew Luck will be 100 percent. So, it makes all of the sense in the world to splurge on tight end Eric Ebron, right? For those who are curious, the Colts signed Ebron to a two-year, $13.5 million deal. That is a lot of money to pay a tight end who recorded only 11 touchdowns during his four years in Detroit. We hope a healthy return of Luck helps make this one of the Colts’ better offseason decisions.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Commit to Bortles, but could draft a rookie quarterback?
In somewhat of a surprising offseason move, the Jaguars extended Bortles’ contract which will pay him $54 million for three years. For some, this makes sense considering Bortles helped lead the Jags through the AFC Championship Game. But on a different note, the Jaguars said they are not ruling out drafting a rookie quarterback. This would definitely put the pressure on Bortles to live up to his end of the bargain. He passed for only 21 touchdowns in 2017, which marked his third-worst scoring season in Jacksonville.
Kansas City Chiefs: Bone-headed trade of Marcus Peters
The Chiefs will be interesting to watch this season with some new faces on the team. An old face that won’t be around is All-Pro cornerback, Marcus Peters. Los Angeles is where Peters will call home after the Chiefs made a lopsided trade that sent fans into a horrified frenzy. All the Chiefs got in exchange for the ultra-talented corner was a 2018 fourth-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick. The Rams not only landed Peters, but also got the Chiefs 2018 sixth-round pick. Peters managed 19 interceptions, two touchdowns and 55 defended passes during three years in K.C.
Los Angeles Chargers: Taking a flier on Geno Smith
The Chargers are having a pretty low-key offseason. But the move that stands out here as a potential red flag was the signing of quarterback Geno Smith. This will be Smith’s third team since he was drafted by the New York Jets in 2013. He never lived up to expectations there and eventually landed with the New York Giants in 2017. There he started one game when the Giants decided to bench quarterback Eli Manning. On the Chargers’ side, quarterback Philip Rivers has yet to miss a game since starting in 2006. We should not see much of Smith if all goes according to plan in 2018.
Los Angeles Rams: Build a room for the misfits
The Rams have been ultra bold in free agency. Big-name acquisitions include the aforementioned Talib and Peters, as well as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and wide receiver Brandin Cooks. There could be plenty of success to be had here, or big personalities and egos might trip things up. Talib is never shy to stir the pot. Peters got salty with his old team last year and Suh can be abrasive, too. And, it was only in 2016 that Cooks complained he was not getting enough attention from his former Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Will everyone play nice? Or might things backfire in 2018?
Miami Dolphins: Offering Brock Osweiler employment
If this was not a list sorted alphabetically, the Dolphins signing Osweiler would rank right up at the top of head-scratching offseason moves. Why did the Dolphins think it wise to sign Osweiler as quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s backup? Should Tannehill miss more time, there is no way Osweiler can complete in an AFC East division that houses Tom Brady. Circulated about the league as a part-time starter since 2015, Osweiler sports a dreadful average quarterback rating of 77. His career average percentage of passes completed is 59.2 and he’s known for epic blunders like this.
Minnesota Vikings: Making Kirk Cousins highest-paid NFL player
This is mind-blowing in itself. There are not many folks out there who believe Cousins should not be earning more than Drew Brees, Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. Yet, the Vikings had to break the bank secure Cousins in Minnesota. Cousins was signed to a three-year, $84 million contract. The real ringer here is Cousins received a fully-guaranteed deal. A new market has since been set with Cousins’ contract which will dictate quarterback money from here on. For what it is worth, Cousins averaged a 97.6 quarterback rating during his three years starting for Washington.
New England Patriots: Letting go of Nate Solder
If the Patriots were going to splurge on anybody this offseason, they should have on Solder. Solder wanted to stay with the Patriots, but was not about to take a hometown discount. Instead, the Giants opened their wallet and signed Solder to a four-year, $62 million contract. The 30-year-old left tackle will be sorely missed in New England. He played in 31 of the Patriots last 32 games and will provide a much-needed boost to New York’s offense line that has struggled tremendously at the position. Taking Solder’s position in New England (unless a rookie wins the job) is LaAdrian Waddle, signed by the Patriots in 2015.
New Orleans Saints: Forking over too much cash for Demario Davis
Not exactly the most cash-healthy team, the Saints inked a three-year, $24 million deal with Davis after he had his best season to date in 2017. Last year with the New York Jets, Davis tallied 135 combined tackles, which marked the third-highest total in the league. He also recorded a personal-best five sacks, which was the most of any Jets defender. The Saints surely expect the 29-year-old linebacker to continue where he left off after offering up some serious dough. Time will tell as to whether Davis lives up to such lofty expectations.
New York Giants: Fueling the Odell Beckham Jr. fire
Beckham is due a grand payday whether he remains with the Giants or lands on another squad. But while Beckham is out there airing his frustrations, it does not help that the Giants keep fueling the fire. They won’t directly put Beckham on the trade block, but at the same time there are reports indicating they want at least two first-round draft picks. All the while, the Giants brass say that they do not give up on talent. What exactly does all of this mean? The Giants would be at a huge loss if they traded Beckham. We saw how poorly the team played without him for 12 games last year. As it stands, OBJ has reported to the team’s OTAs where all remains peaceful for the time being.
New York Jets: Give up the farm to move up three spots in NFL Draft
The Jets can get by another season with quarterback Josh McCown under center. But the team moving up to No. 3 indicates the Jets are looking to add a rookie quarterback to sit behind McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. This likely could have happened with pick No. 6 in the upcoming draft. But instead, the Jets ridiculously traded away their sixth-overall pick as well as their 37th, 49th and a 2019 second-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts to move up only three spots. Aside from parting with all those picks, the Jets will now pay $25 million combined for McCown and Bridgewater as well as a hefty chunk of change to a third-overall quarterback pick in 2018.
Oakland Raiders: Making Jon Gruden richest NFL coach ever
The Raiders have had a busy offseason thus far, ridding themselves of some talented players while signing on some questionable names. But the head-scratching move we are going to focus on is the Raiders signing Jon Gruden to a whopping $100 million contract for 10 years. Gruden coached the Raiders from 1998-2001. During which, he produced a 38-26 record. Gruden then went on to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2002-08 where he recorded 57 losses compared to 55 wins. The Raiders are apparently of the opinion Gruden is a miracle worker. We will see soon enough.
Philadelphia Eagles: Not trading Nick Foles while he was hot
Nobody would have guessed last September that Foles would be the 2018 Super Bowl MVP. But, he earned that honor after he expertly took over for the injured Carson Wentz late in 2017. After the Super Bowl was over many speculated that Foles would become quite the topic of trade talks. But instead of shopping the quarterback while he was red hot, the Eagles did the opposite. They did not flaunt him and seem sold on keeping him as Wentz’s backup. Though, Foles went on record to say he would love a starting job. Will the Eagles let Foles fly free or keep him stashed all to themselves?
Pittsburgh Steelers: Toying around with Le’Veon Bell
For the second year in a row, the Steelers have franchise-tagged Bell. The tag is exclusive, which prevents Bell from negotiating with any other teams that might be willing to pay him the elite salary he is seeking. Assuming the Steelers and Bell do not come to terms on a new contract, Bell will earn $14.5 million once he signs the tag. Add this to the $12.1 million he earned under last year’s tag and the Steelers will have paid Bell $26.6 million fully-guaranteed between 2017-18. Many think this kind of money would have gone to better use spent in a long-term agreement. Bell averaged a massive 27 touches for 129.7 yards per contest in 2017 and scored 11 times. He deserves a secure contract.
San Francisco 49ers: Keeping a toxic Reuben Foster on the roster
Things are finally getting exciting for 49ers fans. The team has found its franchise quarterback and is back on the path to winning games. But aside from the good, a dark cloud is suddenly looming overhead. The 49ers would be wise to move on from Foster, whom they moved up to draft 31st overall in 2017. The latest bad news for Foster are accusations that he seriously beat up his girlfriend and ruptured her ear drum. If convicted, he faces up to 11 years in prison. On top of this, the NFL has a zero tolerance policy when it comes do domestic abuse. It is time for the 49ers to practice the same and release Foster no matter how the legal process plays out.
Seattle Seahawks: Abolishing Legion of Boom
While the Rams look to be the team trending up in the NFC West, the Seahawks look to be in full-tank mode. This offseason the Seahawks released cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane, and traded defensive end Michael Bennett. The team is also entertaining talks involving trading All-Pro safety, Earl Thomas. It will take some extensive time for the revamped Seattle defense to take on that daunting aura it had with its Legion of Boom members in place. Now it looks more like the Legion of Gloom.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Going all-in on Mike Evans
Evans just recorded the worst yardage of his career (1,001) and scored only five times in 2017. But the real score here for Evans is the gigantic six-year, $82.5 million contract he recently agreed to. The 24-year-old receiver will now average $16.5 million per year, which pays him just $500,000 less than the league’s top wideout, Antonio Brown. Evans has averaged 1,144 receiving yards per season since being drafted seventh-overall by the Bucs in 2014. He also has a total of 32 touchdowns on record. Is the money justified in this case? The Bucs obviously believe so.
Tennessee Titans: Empty out pocketbooks for ex-Patriots
Currently with the fourth-most salary cap available, the Titans generously paid both running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler, both of whom the Patriots let walk. Lewis inked a four-year deal that will pay him nearly $5 million per season. We must keep in mind, Lewis has yet to rush for 1,000 yards in any of his five previous seasons. This might not happen in 2018 playing alongside Derrick Henry. Regarding Butler, the Titans just made him the 10th-highest paid corner. He will earn an average of $12.25 million per year. Will these two Bill Belichick-coached acquisitions pay off for Tennessee in 2018?
Washington Redskins: Failing to upgrade defensive line
Heading into the start of the 2017 NFL season, the Redskins had the 27th-worst ranked defensive line according to Pro Football Focus. The team finished off the last season allowing 24.3 points on average per game, which was the fifth-most in the league. Yet this offseason has seen Washington only re-sign inside linebacker Zach Brown and add 29-year-old outside linebacker Pernell McPhee. The aging McPhee recorded only 21 combined tackles last year in Chicago. Other than McPhee, the Redskins have failed to add any further depth to their flaying defensive line. Perhaps the upcoming draft will be of assistance.