Beginning on March 11, N.F.L. teams are allowed to negotiate with the agents of unrestricted free agents and agree to contract terms. And because offseason has begun, teams have also been looking to make trades with each other. There has already been a lot of player movement this offseason, and in my opinion, four teams have fared better than the rest so far.
First of all, I believe that the Cleveland Browns are the biggest winners of the offseason. They traded a first-round draft pick, a third-round draft pick, and young safety Jabrill Peppers to the New York Giants in exchange for star wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. While it may seem like the Giants are getting a lot in return, many draft picks fail to live up to expectations, whereas Beckham is already a proven star player. I think the Browns will be a rising team in the coming years with young offensive talent in quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, receiver Jarvis Landry, tight end David Njoku, and now Beckham. It seems to me that the Browns are very serious contenders for the American Football Conference (A.F.C.) title, and they may even have a Super Bowl appearance in a few years.
The New York Jets also made an enormous move this offseason by signing Le’Veon Bell, the infamous running back who skipped the whole 2018-2019 season, to a four year, 52.5 million dollar contract. I believe this is a great move for the Jets. They are currently in the process of rebuilding, as they’ve just drafted quarterback Sam Darnold and to join other young and improving players like receiver Robby Anderson and safety Jamal Adams. Having an experienced player to help lead the offense is important, and a big reason why signing Bell was so good for the Jets. Bell will be able help lead the offense with league experience that many of his new teammates lack. I also think that since Bell got the money he was looking for, he will cause less drama and help this young Jets team greatly improve.
The Oakland Raiders are also doing well after acquiring two big-name players. Firstly, they traded away third and fifth-round picks to the Pittsburgh Steelers for superstar receiver Antonio Brown. I believe the whole Raiders organization benefited from this trade. Quarterback Derek Carr will now have an extremely talented receiver to throw to, and general manager Mike Mayock only needed to give away two late-round picks. I think that the Steelers should have pushed for a deal with more possibility of rebuilding, such as a first and second-round draft pick, as their team begins to fall apart. They just lost their best wide receiver and knew that their star running back, Bell, would not stay, so they should have traded Brown for higher draft picks, allowing them to rebuild their team faster. However, the Raiders also signed left tackle Trent Brown for four years and 66 million dollars, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in N.F.L. history. I think this is a terrible deal for the Raiders. Although Brown is a very good tackle, I expect that he will fail to live up to the expectations of his large contract.
Next, the Patriots made a move this offseason that may not appear to be important, but truly reveals one of their keys to success. Although the Patriots lost young defensive end Trey Flowers, they traded for Michael Bennett, a veteran defensive end who plays similarly to Flowers. This is a win for New England because Flowers was looking to get paid a lot more money than Bennett, despite being similar in skill. The Patriots got Bennett and a seventh-round draft pick in 2020 for a fifth-round draft pick in 2020, rather than paying the 90 million dollars that Flowers is now being paid over the next five years. Additionally, despite losing Trent Brown to the Raiders, they have 2018 first-round draft pick Isaiah Wynn as an option to step in for Brown at offensive tackle. I see no reason why the Patriots can’t go to the A.F.C. Championship or the Super Bowl next year. They have replaced their major losses, and each year after losing a star they have bounced back. To me, even after losing two near all-pro players, the Patriots are still going to be winning, which shows the importance of utilizing the offseason.
So far, this offseason has been crazy—with many high-profile players jumping from team to team. It will be interesting to see which moves will work out the best.