There has been a substantial amount of player movement over the past couple weeks in the NFL. Many key players are now on different teams after a flurry of free agency signings and trades, but a few transactions stood out above the rest.
Here are the most impactful moves of the NFL offseason so far:
Antonio Brown traded to the Raiders
Raiders receive: Antonio Brown
Steelers receive: 2019 third-round pick, 2019 fifth-round pick
The Steelers were backed into a corner here. Despite Antonio Brown’s talent, the Steelers were never going to get a lot in return for the star wide receiver due to his attitude problems, money owed and age. To make matters worse for the Steelers, they had to eat over $21 million when they departed with Brown.
For the Raiders, John Gruden’s reputation is starting to change. After getting rid of Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, the former Monday Night Football announcer received lots of criticism. However, Gruden has recently received lots of praise for acquiring arguably the best wide receiver in football for just a third and fifth-round pick.
Now we have to ask if Antonio Brown will be a good fit in the Raiders locker room, and if he will make life significantly easier for Derek Carr, or whoever the Raiders quarterback is going to be moving forward. If the answer to both those questions is yes, then the Raiders got a steal.
Trey Flowers to the Lions: Five years, $90 million
Trey Flowers is a very good player, but is he worth that contract? No, but almost everyone gets overpaid in free agency, and the Lions needed to improve their defense. Amongst all edge defenders, Flowers ranked No. 2 in the NFL with 78 quarterback pressures this past season. The Lions will hope Flowers can continue to produce at that level now that he is reunited with his former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia.
Trey Flowers will join Da’Shawn Hand, Damon Harrison and Romeo Okwara on the Lions defensive line. When he draws double teams he will give the others an opportunity to get after the opposing team’s quarterback.
Nick Foles to the Jaguars: Four years, $88 million
This is a risky move by the Jaguars. Nick Foles is far too inconsistent for me to deserve $22 million a year. We all remember his amazing performances against the Vikings and Patriots during the Eagles Super Bowl run, but we can’t ignore his other playoff outings over these past two seasons.
Against the Vikings and Patriots, Foles threw for six touchdowns, an interception and averaged 9.5 yards per attempt while leading the Eagles offense to an average of 39.5 points per game. However, in Foles’ three other playoff starts over the past two seasons, less than stellar results have been produced.
He threw for three touchdowns, four interceptions and averaged seven yards per attempt while leading the Eagles offense to just 15 points per game. This is a model of inconsistency and shows why he was previously a backup quarterback.
However, the Jaguars won’t need Foles to consistently play like he did against the Patriots and Vikings given how good their defense is. If Foles can be just above average, the Jaguars could find themselves back in the playoffs.
Odell Beckham Jr. traded to the Browns
Browns receive: Odell Beckham Jr.
Giants receive: 2019 first-round pick, 2019 third-round pick, Jabrill Peppers
Many are wondering why the Giants decided to make this trade. The No. 17 overall pick, a third-round pick and an average safety in Jabrill Peppers is not even close to equal value for a generational talent in his prime. The Giants will likely look to draft a quarterback in this upcoming draft, but you know what would really help a young quarterback develop? A star wide receiver.
Browns fans should be ecstatic. With the way the team and Baker Mayfield played in the second half of this recent season, Cleveland’s future was already bright. Not to mention since the end of the season they have acquired Kareem Hunt and now Odell Beckham. The Browns are not only the favorites in the AFC North, but I would argue that they are the second best team in the AFC behind the Patriots.
Dee Ford traded to the 49ers
49ers receive: Dee Ford
Chiefs receive: 2020 second-round pick
After this trade, Dee Ford agreed to a five-year, $87 million contract extension to stay with San Francisco long term. Don’t let his horribly-timed offsides penalty against the Patriots in the AFC title game distract you, Ford was a dominant force this past season. Ford led all edge defenders with 84 quarterback pressures while adding 13 sacks.
With Ford and their recent first round picks on the defensive line in DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas, the 49ers process one of the scariest front fours in all of football. The Chiefs, on the other hand, will miss Ford on a defense that was already a weakness.
Le’Veon Bell to the Jets: Four years, $52 million
The Jets got their man. Originally it was believed that Le’Veon Bell was going to get around $18-20 million per year, and that the Jets would be in contention to sign him to that because of their massive amount of cap space. That amount of money per year is a hefty price tag, but for the Jets it would have been worth it because they had the money to spend and desperately needed more talent.
A price of $13 million per year for the All-Pro running back is an absolute steal. It also cannot be understated how big of a role Le’Veon will play in Sam Darnold’s development. If Darnold is as good as advertised, an offense led by these two players could spearhead the next Jets playoff run.
Earl Thomas to the Ravens: Four years, $55 million
During this free agency period the Ravens lost four starters in CJ Mosley, Eric Weddle, Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs. Adding Earl Thomas to a defense that was already one of the best in the NFL will help soften that blow.
Earl Thomas will be 30 years old by the time this next season starts though, and it remains to be seen if he will be the same player coming off of a broken leg injury. But if Thomas returns to his former level, then the Ravens may have a new leader in their secondary.