For many football fans, the NFL offseason is as exciting as the actual playing season itself. Utilising the NFL Draft and free agency, teams are constantly looking for ways to bolster their roster and find the missing link that will push their franchise into next year's Super Bowl conversation. Some moves make more noise, then others, however. Below is an offseason move for each franchise in the NFC that could move the needle and get people talking....
Free agent safety Landon Collins has spent the past four years playing for the Cowboys' rival, the New York Giants. He has been named to the Pro Bowl team three times during his career and was first-team All-Pro during his second season in 2016. He leads all NFL defensive backs in tackles since entering the league in 2015. As of right now, his future in New York is unclear. It is possible they use a franchise tag to keep him around. It is also possible they let him walk. If that is the case, the Cowboys could definitely use a tackling machine like Collins in their secondary next season. Given his prominence as a player, combined that this would be a move within the division, a transaction of this nature would make headlines.
Signing Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur as an undrafted free agent or, potentially, as a late round draft pick, will make some noise, as Kyle is the son of second-year New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur. Shurmur was a four-year starter at Vanderbilt and, after surpassing Jay Cutler, is the university's all-time leader in touchdown passes and passing yards.
The 35 year-old running back and return specialist Darren Sproles completed his first NFL season in 2005. He has played for the Chargers and the Saints before joining the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2014 season. He holds the all-time NFL record for all-purpose yards in a single season, with 2,696 in 2011. As a fixture in Philadelphia for the last few years, and a fixture in the NFL for over a decade, if the veteran running back decides to hang up his boots, it certainly will stir a reaction around the league.
Sadly, Washington's starting quarterback, Alex Smith, is dealing with a difficult injury and rehabilitation process that could potentially leave him unable to play at all during the 2019 season, if not longer. Without a lot of cap space, the Redskins may look to start from scratch. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones is definitely an option for Washington, as he could fall to their first-round pick at number 15. Jones is a dual-threat quarterback. The Redskins picked dual-threat quarterback Robert Griffin III in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and he led the team to the playoffs during his rookie season, before struggling with injuries for many of his years after. The Redskins may look to the draft to bring back the magic of 2012, with the hopes of extending that kind of spell for a few years longer.
The Atlanta Falcons have the 14th overall pick in the NFL Draft and they definitely need help in the secondary. They were the sixth-worst in the NFL this past season, with 4,153 passing yards conceded. Georgia CB Deandre Baker was the 2018 winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive back. Given that he had an illustrious career right down the road in Athens, expect this pick to be loved by the Falcon faithful if it comes to fruition.
The veteran tight end has put together a fantastic career. He ranks eighth in NFL history in receiving yards among tight ends with 7,847. He is the first tight end in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in three consecutive seasons. That being said, he has been injured for about half of the past two seasons. While he has indicated he has no plans to retire or give up on rehab, retirement it is certainly a possibility, given his age and recent injuries. Losing a veteran player like Olsen, who has often been a Walter Payton Man of the Year candidate, will certainly cause a reaction throughout the league.
Anytime that Dez Bryant does anything, the world hears about it. The former Cowboy was a stud receiver, racking up over 1,000 receiving yards in 2012, 2013 and 2014. After three less-productive years, he was released by the Dallas Cowboys after the 2017 season. He was not signed to an NFL team until the Saints signed him in November of 2018 to a one-year deal. After just his second practice, he tore his Achilles and missed the remainder of the season. If the Saints bring him back for another experiment, after a brutal injury no less, it will certainly be a story to follow.
Mike Iupati to the Bucs? This definitely seems like a realistic possibility. This would reunite Iupati with head coach Bruce Arians, who coached him in Arizona. In addition, the Bucs need some help on the offensive line and a veteran like Iupati would definitely help. Moreover, he will likely also come at a discount, given his recent injury history.
The Chicago Bears are definitely going to bring in a different kicker for 2019. Their starting kicker in 2018, Cody Parkey, struggled at times and was informed he would not be returning to Chicago this week. His most notable moment came when a potential game-winning field goal was blocked that would have likely sent the Bears to the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. Current free agent Seattle Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski is a guy they likely have their eyes on. He holds the honour of being the highest-drafted kicker in NFL history, when he was selected 17th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. He enjoyed a great career there for 17 seasons. After an injury-riddled 2017, he re-surfaced with the Seattle Seahawks for the 2018 season. He had an up and down year, but was serviceable, overall. His season ended during the Seahawks' wild card playoff loss to the Dallas cowboys, when he suffered a thigh injury on a long field goal try. Given Janikowski's near-legendary kicking status, combined with his questionable contributions these past couple of seasons, if this move comes to fruition, expect some noise both for and against the signing.
The great people of Detroit would be ecstatic to land former Michigan star defensive lineman Rashan Gary with the eighth overall pick of the NFL Draft and keep him within Michigan state lines. Lions head coach Matt Patricia is a defensive-minded coach who knows he needs to solidify the trenches, particularly with the likely loss of defensive end Ziggy Ansah.
Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews has played 10 seasons for the franchise since being drafted with the 26th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He is a fan favorite and beloved in Green Bay. He ranks number one in Packers' history with 80 career sacks and is also a six-time Pro Bowler. As a free agent this year, expect a large reaction if Matthews is in a different uniform for 2019.
The Minnesota Vikings need to improve their offensive line before the start of the 2019 season. The NFL Draft may be the best place to do so. Ole Miss offensive tackle Greg Little is regarded as one of the top offensive linemen in this year's draft and could fall to the Vikings at pick number 18. Given the Vikings only have five picks in this year's draft at this time, it may be difficult for them to trade up for any other higher-profiled linemen. That being said, at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, Greg Little is a pick that will excite fans of the Vikings.
The Arizona Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, who has several ties to Johnny Manziel, as their franchise's head coach during this offseason. Manziel might move the needle more than any football player ever. He had an illustrious college football career for Texas A&M, which included numerous off-field issues. He won the Heisman Trophy after his 2012 redshirt freshman season, becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman. Kingsbury was Manziel's offensive coordinator that season. After college, Manziel was chosen in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, but struggled with more off-field issues. After two years away from the game, he re-appeared in the CFL last season. Given that Kingsbury was one of Manziel's biggest advocates during the draft process, stating that he would have taken him with the first overall pick, and they share the same agent in Erik Burkhardt, there are obvious connections between the two. If Kingsbury brought in Manziel to provide competition for their quarterback, Josh Rosen, expect a media circus to come with him.
The Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle had a rollercoaster of a season in 2018. He started off very strong, slowed down towards the middle of the season and then played great throughout the playoffs. Suh was the highest paid player on the Rams' roster in 2018, making $14.5 million, despite being only the second-best defensive lineman on the team last season. The franchise tag value for defensive tackles in 2019 is $15.571 million. Given Suh likely did not necessarily play well enough to warrant a raise, it would be huge news if the Rams decided to dish out that kind of money to tag him.
The San Francisco 49ers could use an offensive weapon to assist Jimmy Garoppolo. The team is definitely in need of a wide receiver, as they are not bringing back veteran Pierre Garcon for the 2019 season. Given that they have over $65 million in salary cap space, it is not unrealistic for the 49ers to be able to afford Beckham. The 49ers also own the second pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, which could be used as a bargaining chip, as well.
Given that the Seattle Seahawks only have four picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, there is suspicion they may trade down in the draft to scoop up some extra picks. Seattle Seahawks General Manager John Schneider has executed a trade-down move multiple times in the past. The Seahawks have done well with low picks in the over the years, including Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, for example, so it is reasonable to expect them to trade down for more lower-valued picks.