From Odell Beckham Jr. reuniting with Jarvis Landry in Cleveland to Super Bowl hero Nick Foles signing a massive deal to Jacksonville, as well as the shaky departures for the Steelers, the 2019 NFL offseason has been filled with splashes, drama and trades galore. Is the Patriots dynasty finished? Are the Browns actually good? Let’s dive into it. This is the good, the bad and the ugly.
NFL Homecomings: Several players returned to their original teams after stints across the league. DeSean Jackson returned to Philadelphia to give the Eagles another downfield threat at wide receiver opposite Alshon Jeffery. After several consecutive seasons plagued by injury, the now 32-year-old Jackson is running out of time in the league, but this could be the fresh start he needs.
Jason Witten left ESPN’s commentary booth to reunite with the Dallas Cowboys. The future Hall of Famer should fill what was a noticeable void in the Dallas offense and looks to help aid Dak Prescott’s development.
The Browns: The work that Browns’ general manager Glenn Dorsey has done so far in his two years has been very aggressive and has been largely praised. Dorsey added star receivers in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, two starting offensive lineman and a slew of other contributors.
Dorsey was also loaded with draft picks the past two springs, and he was able to select quality starters in Myles Garrett on defense and tight end David Njoku. The following year, he took quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first selection in the draft before taking cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick. In the second round, they would add running back Nick Chubb and later on would get Antonio Callaway at wide receiver. With the development of these young players, the Browns are a favorite dark horse team to make a run at the Super Bowl.
Gronkowski Retires: The league lost one of its most colorful personalities in tight end Rob Gronkowski. Since entering the league in 2010, Gronkowski has rumbled through defenses and has been a huge problem for anybody trying to cover him. He posted over 75 touchdowns and nearly 9000 receiving yards during his career.
He was plagued by injury the last few seasons and he ultimately decided to call it a career before he even reached the age of 30. He’s in the conversation as the greatest tight end to ever play after only nine seasons.
This isn’t the first time that Tom Brady lost weapons in the offense. He’s lost very productive receivers, like Wes Welker and Randy Moss in the past, as well as running backs Corey Dillon and LeGarrette Blount. It remains to be seen if the Patriots can replace Gronkowski in their offense and if the team can continue success without him.
Questionable Signings: The Washington Redskins inked offensive tackle Ereck Flower to a one year $4 million contract. While this isn’t huge money, it still is a move under scrutiny as Flowers struggled mightily for the Giants and has already been pronounced a bust by many.
Sticking with the offensive side of the ball, the Jaguars signed quarterback Nick Foles to a massive $88 million deal. It was clear that Jacksonville needed a new quarterback after the inconsistency of Blake Bortles, but it’s debatable if Foles was the right choice. The Jaguars have a top ten pick in the draft, meaning they most likely will have the selection of a very good young quarterback.
As extraordinary as Foles has been through the past two postseasons, signing Foles to a huge deal seemingly represents the Jaguars wanting to draft young talent elsewhere. Foles has surprised us before, so we’ll see what happens.
The Steelers: Pittsburgh might’ve had the most drama-filled, nightmarish season of any NFL team last season. Le’Veon Bell held out for the entirety of the season, all while providing the team with a constant media distraction. He’s off to the New York Jets.
Antonio Brown played the role of the diva on the team. His feud with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the whole team brass led to him eventually being benched for the final game of the season -- one with heavy playoff implications at the time. Brown got traded to the Raiders in return for a third and a fifth-round draft pick.
Freshman James Rothrock said, “In the end, it’s a good trade for the Raiders, and Pittsburgh will regret trading him away.”
It’s a huge season coming up for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin after the struggle and disappointment that came of the previous campaign.
The Giants: Giants general manager Dave Gettleman shipped out some key pieces this offseason. Most notably, he traded away Odell Beckham Jr., one of the most dynamic receivers in recent years. He has been a distraction off the field, similarly to Antonio Brown, but getting rid of Beckham seems like a bad choice, especially after resigning him to such a large contract less than a year ago.
Rothrock said, “The Odell [Beckham Jr.] trade was just crazy in my opinion because of his skill level on the Giants.”
The Giants also released Landon Collins, who was a finalist for the NFC Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2016 and Olivier Vernon, a good contributor on the defensive line. With 38-year-old Eli Manning still looking to lead the charge for New York, it may be an uphill climb for a Giants team that has had back-to-back 10+ loss seasons.
As the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville quickly approaches, teams are putting together their final scouting reports and wrapping up free agency. Even with the various successes and failures for the different teams and players, you can never truly predict how things will go next fall. What can be said is that the upcoming 2019 season will be the 100th anniversary of the NFL, and there could be some major fireworks.