NFL free agency begins on March 13, which officially kicks off the 2019 offseason. The unknown landing spots of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell brings intrigue, as two superstars are almost certain to be donning new uniforms next season. Former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is free to sign wherever, while the NFL Draft is less than two months away. In an exciting time for football fans, here are 10 bold predictions for the upcoming NFL offseason.
Antonio Brown Traded to Seahawks
The Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly prefer to trade embattled wideout Antonio Brown to an NFC team. The San Francisco 49ers are the odds-on favorite to acquire Brown, who has recorded an NFL-record six straight 100+ catch seasons. A trade to the 49ers makes plenty of sense as they need a No. 1 receiver, and Brown has made subtle hints he’d like to join San Francisco.
Refusing to trade Brown to the team of his choice, the Steelers instead deal him to the Seattle Seahawks. The Steelers acquire a future first-round pick and a mid-round selection from the Seahawks, who grab one of the most gifted receivers in league history.
Golden Tate Signs with Patriots
It didn’t take long for free agent Golden Tate to express interest in signing with the New England Patriots. Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett are all unrestricted free agents, so the Patriots will need to address the wide receiver position. Tate clearly likes the idea of joining the Super Bowl champions and could provide a spark to an offense that relied mostly on its running game to win it all.
Tate, who will be 31 by the start of next season, remains a reliable route runner who can make plays in the open field because of his elusiveness. The Pats ink Tate to a reasonable two-year deal and the wide receiver chases his second Super Bowl ring.
Le’Veon Bell Signs with Jets
The New York Jets have long been linked to Le’Veon Bell and remain the favorites to sign the tailback, who sat out the entire 2018 season. Now that Bell, the NFL’s all-time leader in yards from scrimmage per contest, is a free agent, the Jets break the bank for the guy they have coveted for years.
Most yards from scrimmage per game in NFL history, minimum 50 games played:
1. Le’Veon Bell: 129.0
2. Jim Brown: 125.5
3. Billy Sims: 119.6
4. Barry Sanders: 118.9
5. Terrell Davis: 113.9
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 20, 2019
The Jets are expected to release Isaiah Crowell, clearing the path for Bell to defect to the Big Apple on a four-year contract.
Jaguars Sign Nick Foles
There are rumblings that Nick Foles signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars is a done deal, but until pen is put to paper, nothing is a guarantee in the NFL.
Foles will be tasked with leading the Jaguars (5-11 in 2018) back into contention. That is a big ask, given the division the Jaguars play in. The Jags’ three AFC South divisional opponents–the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans–all finished with winning records last season.
Jacksonville is banking on the combination of Foles and a revamped defense, which unperformed last year following a dominant 2017 season, to return to relevancy.
As for Foles, he is set to make upwards of $20 million per year.
Dolphins Cut Ryan Tannehill, Trade for Case Keenum and Draft Drew Lock
With a massive $18.7 million salary and a cap hit of $26.6 million for 2019, Ryan Tannehill has almost certainly played his final snap for the Miami Dolphins, who drafted him eighth overall in 2012. The Dolphins can save $13.2 million in cap space by releasing Tannehill.
The Dolphins will be looking to nab a quarterback in the opening round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Enter Missouri QB Drew Lock, who set an SEC single-season record with 44 touchdown passes during his junior year in 2017. In his senior season in 2018, he threw for 3,498 yards and 28 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The mobile Lock rushed for 437 yards and nine touchdowns in his collegiate career.
Likely looking for a stopgap quarterback to help groom Lock, Case Keenum could fit into the Dolphins’ plans for 2019. Keenum is on his way out of Denver after the Broncos traded for Joe Flacco. It won’t take much to acquire Keenum in a trade, perhaps only a late-round draft pick. Keenum has had success in this league and can serve as a mentor to Lock.
Earl Thomas Signs with Rams
There is no love lost between Earl Thomas and the Seahawks. Thomas, a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, made a crude gesture towards the Seattle sideline when he was carted off the field after breaking his leg in a Week 4 contest against the Arizona Cardinals.
Earl Thomas being carted off the field just gave the middle finger to his own sideline…. 💀💀 pic.twitter.com/PTix1XAUct
— Rob Hodge (@RobHodge) September 30, 2018
Unhappy that Seattle’s front office did not offer him a long-term deal to his liking, Thomas let his frustration show in what was probably his final showing with the team.
Thomas is a goner by all accounts, and while most expect the free safety to sign with his hometown Dallas Cowboys in free agency, what better way to get back at your former squad than to sign with a division rival? Why not join the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams?
The Rams have already begun to open up cap space by releasing Mark Barron, which saves them $6.3 million for the upcoming season.
A pre-free-agency surprise: Rams released starring inside LB Mark Barron, per league sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 5, 2019
With Michael Brockers and Ndamukong Suh potentially leaving in free agency, the Rams could have just enough money to sign Thomas.
Thomas should command $10-12 million in the open market.
Mark Ingram Signs with Ravens
Mark Ingram is a free agent and may not return to New Orleans, where he has played all eight seasons of his NFL career. The versatile Alvin Kamara is now the focal point of the Saints’ rushing attack. Ingram will seek a destination where he can carve out the lead running back role.
While Ingram is 29, he has not been overworked. He has not exceeded 250 carries in any of the past four seasons.
The Baltimore Ravens swoop in and sign the two-time Pro Bowler. Ingram, a major threat for goal-line carries and short-yardage situations, can pair nicely with Gus Edwards. As an undrafted rookie, Edwards rushed for an impressive 5.2 yards per carry. But Baltimore needs as much insurance in the rushing department as possible, especially with run-first quarterback Lamar Jackson under center.
Ingram has the opportunity to overtake Edwards for the the starting role in Baltimore, something he won’t be able to do in New Orleans at the expense of Kamara.
Redskins Trade for Josh Rosen
Josh Rosen endured a brutal rookie season. He registered a 55.2 completion percentage with a measly 5.8 yards per attempt and tossed 11 TDs with 14 interceptions as the Cardinals limped to the worst record in the NFL. Rosen started 13 of Arizona’s games, posting a 3-10 mark.
One season does not define a player’s career, especially his first. Rosen was stuck in an awful situation in Arizona. The offensive line was ranked dead-last in the league by Pro Football Focus and the coaching staff often look overmatched.
The Washington Redskins believe they can reinvigorate Rosen, who has first-round talent. In a new system under head coach Jay Gruden, who helped elevate Kirk Cousins to Pro Bowl honors in 2016, Rosen has a chance to revive his young career.
The Redskins need a new quarterback for 2019 as Alex Smith is expected to miss the entire season. Backups Colt McCoy and Josh Johnson are not viable starters in this league. The Redskins hope Rosen can reverse his fortunes in a similar fashion to Jared Goff, who averaged 5.2 yards per attempt in a horrific rookie season. Goff turned things around under the helm of head coach Sean McVay and ultimately became a Pro Bowler in 2018 and guided the Rams to Super Bowl LIII.
Cardinals Draft Kyler Murray
If the Cardinals do give up on Rosen after just one year, it’s because they feel their franchise quarterback is available in the upcoming draft. The Cardinals have the No. 1 pick and use it on Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.
Murray’s passing numbers are off the charts, as evidenced by his 42-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio and his NCAA-leading 13.0 adjusted yards per pass attempt in his senior season. A dual threat QB with noted rushing abilities, Murray becomes the face of the Cardinals’ franchise for years to come.
Giants Draft Dwayne Haskins
Finally recognizing the Eli Manning era is coming to a close, the Giants select Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins with the sixth overall pick.
The Giants could employ the same strategy the Kansas City Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes. As a rookie, Mahomes sat on the bench and observed Alex Smith. The following offseason, Smith was dealt to Washington and Mahomes became the starter. Mahomes went on to win MVP in his first year as a starter, so it’s safe to say the plan worked for Kansas City.
Haskins can develop his game backing up the two-time champion Manning and can take over his duties after the season–or possibly even during the year when the 38-year-old inevitably struggles once again.