2018 NFL Offseason: 10 Bold Predictions
The Philadelphia Eagles are your 2017 Super Bowl champions! This was a season full of twists, turns, and crazy storylines galore. Who would have thought both the Jaguars and the Rams would finish the year with a winning record, let alone make the playoffs? Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles was contemplating retirement not long ago. Is this the end of the Patriots dynasty?
As incredible as all of this was, we must move on to the offseason. There are many questions heading in, such as "what will the Vikings do with their three quarterbacks heading to the open market?" or "who will call the Eagles for a potential Nick Foles trade, and what will they offer?". I will take a crack at answering these questions and more, if you read on and allow me to...
Steelers sign Le'Veon Bell to a four year deal
This is an honorable mention because it's not too surprising. Bell makes up a huge portion of the Pittsburgh offense, and the Steelers simply can't afford to let him walk. The all-pro running back wants a long term deal, but the organization doesn't want to give it to him, based on the history of the position and the total workload he has received throughout his career. In the end, however, the Steelers will cave in and give Bell what he wants.
10. Seattle grabs Malcolm Butler
The "Legion of Boom" hasn't been quite as feared as of late. This is because the unit as a whole is getting old (in football years), and injured relatively often. The Patriots recently sat former Super Bowl hero (against the Seahawks, ironically enough), Malcolm Butler for reasons still not known for sure. The cornerback played over 97% of New England's defensive snaps throughout the 2017 season, and has shown plenty of ability as a good starting defender in the NFL. Getting back a healthy Richard Sherman and pairing him with Butler could bring back some nightmares for opposing quarterbacks in 2018.
9. Jarvis Landry signs with the 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo recently became the highest paid player in the league, with his five year contract. This means San Francisco has hitched their proverbial wagon to the former Patriot for years to come. One way to help out a quarterback is to supply him with weapons. Jarvis Landry is coming off of a solid season of over 100 receptions for 987 yards and nine touchdowns. This, of course was with a combination of Matt Moore and Jay Cutler throwing him the ball. Garoppolo can absolutely be better than both veterans next year, and grouping Landry with a veteran presence like Pierre Garcon and speedster Marquise Goodwin could be all the firepower "Jimmy G" needs to prove he's worth his contract.
8. Tyrod Taylor heads to New York
Tyrod Taylor and the Buffalo Bills have an interesting relationship. Buffalo seemingly always wants to move on from the 28 year old, yet he usually plays well enough to keep a benching from happening. Even when the Bills started Nathan Peterman in week 11 against the Chargers, he played so terribly, they had no other choice but to throw Taylor back in, and he didn't play too badly (158 passing yards and a score). The point is Tyrod is a solid NFL starter (evidenced by his 14:4 touchdown-interception ratio), and deserves a job elsewhere. With the Jets missing out on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes (more on that later), the former Bill is a good consolation prize.
7. Browns draft Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley
Cleveland is in a fantastic spot, with two of the first four picks in the draft. The Browns could go a number of ways here, including a trade down, or simply bpa (best player available) with their second pick. I'm predicting they try (yet again) to fix their quarterback issue with the very first pick. Baker Mayfield is (in my opinion) the most talented quarterback in this class. He can make every NFL throw, has more than enough mobility, and whatever other typical cliches you want to use. I don't think the whole "crotch grab" incident is any kind of big deal.
Assuming the next two picks go by with this guy still on the board, I see Cleveland expanding their offense even more with Saquon Barkley here. Isaiah Crowell isn't the lead back they hoped he would be, and pairing Barkley with Duke Johnson could be a great combination moving forward.
6. Sam Bradford signs with Buffalo
Earlier, I had Tyrod Taylor leaving Buffalo - if this happens, they obviously have a hole at the postion they need to fill. Sam Bradford seemed to have turned a corner in his career, playing very effectively and even setting a new record for completion percentage (at the time) in 2016. However, after his 2017 knee injury, Bradford became expendable. I'll get more into the Vikings in a bit, but they do not feel the need to bring him back in 2018 and beyond. The Bills could use a veteran signal caller, and I'm sure it would be tempting to work in an offense alongside running back Lesean McCoy.
5. Cowboys trade for Emmanuel Sanders
Dez Bryant hasn't been himself over these past few seasons. His production has fallen off a cliff since Dak Prescott took over the quarterback position (under 70 receptions and 900 yards, plus only 14 total scores since the start of 2016). He no longer should be considered a top 10 NFL wide receiver. However, pairing him with another good player could help alleviate some of the pressre.
Rumor has it that Denver is shopping wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, looking to save some cap space in the process. If Dallas makes a move to go and get him, then this has the potential to open up the passing attack for Prescott, provide more one-on-one matchups for Dez, and take advantage of some play-action plays when the opposing defense is focused too much on stopping Ezekial Elliott.
4. Denver signs Kirk Cousins
If the rumors are true, then Denver is a favorite to land arguably the top free agent of the offseason. The Broncos have struggled to find a good quarterback since Peyton Manning in 2014 (he was atrocious in 2015). From a washed up Manning to Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch, "quarterback purgatory" would seem like an upgrade to the Broncos offense. Cousins gives them that veteran presence that John Elway likes, though it will absolutely cost them. If they trade away a guy like Sanders, it will definitely hurt their offense, but it may be worth the risk to finally get their man at the most important position in football.
3. Vikings keep both Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater
Minnesota has a logjam of quarterbacks who can start for an NFL team. As previously mentioned, Sam Bradford became expendable, so he is now a Buffalo Bill (for the purpose of this article). Case Keenum was known around the league as a career backup before the 2017 season. Keenum has proved that he can hold his own at the highest level, as shown by his statline of 3,500 yards and 22 touchdowns, compared to only 7 interceptions. I don't see why the Vikings would want to risk messing up a solid offense by changing their starting quarterback.
Teddy Bridgewater, on the other hand, is in a different situation. As a young player (only 25 years old), he still has the potential to become a good passer. Despite not exactly lighting the world on fire during his initial run as the Vikings starting quarterback, he was a decent option. If Bridgewater stayed healthy, who knows how good he could be now? In any event, Minnesota should keep him around for a relatively cheap price, while he develops a little more as the backup.
2. Nick Foles gets traded to Arizona
Nobody would have predicted Nick Foles as the Super Bowl MVP before... well, the NFC title game, maybe. With big game after big game throughout the postseason, Foles showed he can not only hang with good defenses, but put up 350 yards and three touchdowns on the number one ranked defense in the league. This man deserves a shot at a starting job elsewhere.
The Cardinals are a team who can be sneaky good if they can get themselves a good quarterback. By acquiring Nick Foles here, Larry Fitzgerald finallly has a guy throwing to him that is not a bad passer, or reaching retirement age. If Arizona can make this move and nab another receiver to expand Foles' passing arsenal, this could become a red-hot offense in 2018. Let's just hope he doesn't end up like the last Philadelphia quarterback the Cardinals traded for...
1. Five quarterbacks go in round 1
This years' quarterback class is looking very interesting, especially at the top. As previously noted, I believe Baker Mayfield could (or at least should) go number one overall. There are other top guys coming out as well, such as Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen. Personally, I believe only the first four guys mentioned are actually worthy of consideration in the first 32 picks, but teams often feel forced to reach on someone or risk missing out on their guy.
I believe this will happen with Josh Allen. I see him as more of a second round "pet project" sort of pick, but since this is a qurterback-desperate league, someone is going to pounce on the opportunity of getting a quarterback even if he doesn't belong in the first round.
Also, I would keep an eye of Richmond's Kyle Lauletta as a guy who could rise to borderline top tier status, as I believe he can become a solid starter in this league (better than Allen).
How many quarterbacks will go in round 1 of the draft?
Those were some predictions for how the 2018 offseason absolutely could play out. What do you guys think? Do you agree with this list? Disagree? Let me know some of your bold predictions in the comments!