The NFL offseason never fails to entertain, and this year’s big moves have been even more eventful than we’ve seen in a while.
We saw a couple of monster trades involving two of the NFL’s best receivers, both of whom could make a big impact on their new teams. We also saw players bringing in record deals as the salary cap continues to rise.
Not all big-money signings are created equal, however. Some teams seriously overpaid to land players that might not provide the boost they’re expecting.
With that in mind, we’re looking at the 10 moves that will lead to big success for the teams that made them.
Packers revamp defense with a flurry of moves
Last year we got a glimpse of what the Green Bay Packers will look like now that Ted Thompson has been replaced by Brian Gutekunst. This year, the young general manager really made his mark aggressively going after defensive players to revamp his roster.
The Packers now have two extremely dangerous pass rushers in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. On top of that, they landed one of the top young safeties in the league — signing Adrian Amos to a four-year deal. Combined with the young corners they drafted last year, they have quite the contingent of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
49ers add lightening to their thunder
This team has some incredibly talented young players on the defensive line, such as DeForest Buckner, Soloman Thomas and Arik Armstead. Yet none of these players is quick off the edge. As a result, the San Francisco 49ers were the worst team in the NFL last year at creating turnovers, and they ranked 22nd in the league with 37 sacks.
The 49ers solved that problem in a big way by bringing in Dee Ford — he had more pressures than any other player last year — in a trade with Kansas City. On top of that, blazing-fast linebacker Kwon Alexander was signed to a very team-friendly contract. These two provide lightening to complement the thunder inside.
Jets land playmakers on both sides of the ball
New York did a great job of bringing in elite talent on both sides of the ball. Obviously, the big one everyone’s talking about is running back Le’Veon Bell, who should provide a huge boost to the offense as both a runner and a receiver. One of the most productive players in NFL history on a per-game basis, Bell should have fresh legs and get back to dominating in short order.
Just as Bell will impact the offense, New York’s acquisition of inside linebacker C.J. Mosley should do wonders for the defense. He’s a do-it-all star who should bolster what was a very poor overall defensive unit last year.
The Jets could have done more. For instance, they missed on adding a center, which was a huge need. However, they did land Kelechi Osemele in a trade with Oakland. They also were spurned by linebacker Anthony Barr, who ended up taking less money to go back to Minnesota. But overall, this was a good haul in the month of March.
Rams score top safety for cheap
Given the crazy money handed out to the top safeties the past few days, the Los Angeles Rams made out like bandits getting Eric Weddle. The former Baltimore Ravens star reportedly signed a two-year deal worth up to $12 million. That’s peanuts compared to what Landon Collins signed for in Washington, and if you discount age it’s hard to argue Collins is in any way better than Weddle.
On top of that, Los Angeles re-signed pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. ahead of the tampering period, securing their top edge rusher.
Chiefs bring in the Honey Badger
There are few defensive backs in the game today that can fill as many roles as Tyrann Mathieu can. He’s a good pass rusher, is a vicious defender in the run game, can play slot corner, and can cover deep. He’s the perfect multi-tool defender for the modern NFL.
Sure, the Kansas City Chiefs broke the bank to bring in the Honey Badger, but it’s a short-term deal that should benefit both sides. He’ll be an instant-impact player for them next season. He’ll be a tremendous replacement for Eric Berry, who was released in part due to the foot injury that sidelined him last year.
Bills upgrade offense in a major way
The Buffalo Bills are all-in on Josh Allen. The work general manager Brandon Beane did this past week illustrates this point in a big way, even if his gambit to land Antonio Brown didn’t pay off.
The Bills landed former Chiefs center Mitch Morse on a record-setting deal, which should benefit both Allen and the team’s running backs. On top of that, they got a great deal on a two-year contract for tackle Ty Nsekhe. Then they brought in two very good receivers who didn’t break the bank, Cole Beasley and speedster John Brown. Continuing with this trend, they signed tight end Tyler Kroft, and brought in veteran running back Frank Gore.
Now it’s on Allen to have a breakout campaign. To be sure, the pieces are now in place for him to do just that.
Panthers find Ryan Kalil’s replacement
The Carolina Panthers have been blessed for years to have Ryan Kalil anchoring their offensive line from the center spot. After spending 12 years in the league, Kalil called it a career following the 2018 season, leaving a huge void in his wake.
General manager Marty Hurney came out of nowhere on Tuesday to land one of the best this year, signing former Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis to a three-year deal. He’ll be rock solid for the Panthers going forward, both in the run and passing game.
Raiders upgrade offensive weapons
First off, I’ll just get it out of the way that I didn’t like the Oakland Raiders overpaying for left tackle Trent Brown. I’m also skeptical that the Antonio Brown trade will end up looking amazing. This skepticism is based purely on his proclivity for stirring up drama in Pittsburgh — even though there were others at fault there — and the price tag involved.
Yet when you combine those two moves with the addition of former Los Angeles Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams, it’s impossible not to be impressed with just how much the offense gained this March. If Derek Carr cannot have a big season with this supporting cast, then he’ll be on his way out.
Ravens replace Eric Weddle with Earl Thomas
When the Baltimore Ravens let Weddle hit the open market, many wondered how they could possibly replace him. Despite his age (34), Weddle has played at an incredibly high level the past three seasons in Baltimore and is still one of the best safeties in the game today.
Well, general manager Eric DeCosta answered that question with one of the biggest signings of the free-agency period. Earl Thomas is coming to Baltimore, and despite some recent injuries he’s still the best deep safety the NFL has to offer. He’ll immediately fill a deep void for the Ravens, in more ways than one.
Browns trade for Odell Beckham Jr.
Perhaps no single move tilted the scales like the move John Dorsey made Tuesday night to land Odell Beckham Jr. in a trade with the New York Giants. Remarkably, Dorsey was able to fleece Dave Gettleman, giving up the No. 17 overall pick, a third-round pick, and safety Jabril Peppers. That just accentuates what a move this was by the Browns general manager.
Beckham joins former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry on an offense that now figures to be among the league’s most dangerous. Baker Mayfield is one of the most accurate passers to come into the NFL in a long time, and he now has multiple elite weapons to distribute the ball to. The Browns are now legitimate contenders in the AFC, to be sure.