By SAMUEL WEINSTEIN
With the 2018 season in the rear view mirror, NFL teams must look to make changes to prepare for the 2019 season. From the Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots, to the lackluster Arizona Cardinals, every team in the NFL will need to adjust their roster in an attempt to compete for the next Lombardi trophy.
One way teams can do this is through free agency and offseason trading. The appeal here is that they would gain a proven veteran that knows what it takes to be in the NFL, rather than an untested rookie. Now let’s take a look at the biggest names that will be looking for a new home for next season.
Le’veon Bell, Running Back, (Pittsburgh Steelers):
The drama surrounding Bell and the Steelers this past season was anything but private. Bell’s wish for a big contract with a large payday went unfulfilled by the Steelers, resulting in a holdout in which Bell did not set foot on the field at all. Now a free agent, Bell has the eye of many teams looking for one of the league’s best in a demanding position.
The New York Jets ranked twenty sixth in rushing yards last season. Isaiah Crowell did not provide the ground game New York had hoped for, meaning they are likely in the market for a good RB1 to support quarterback Sam Darnold next season.
Similarly, the Green Bay Packers have lacked any real semblance of a run game in the past couple of years, finishing twenty second and seventeenth in rushing yards the past two seasons. The addition of Bell would give Green Bay a clear RB1 with the ability to relieve some of the pressure from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and help balance the offense. Miami could also make a good home for the elusive tailback.
Tannehill’s tenure with the Dolphins could be coming to an end, and head coach Brian Flores could look to reset his roster with new talent across the board. Overall, Bell would provide any offense with an efficient and elusive tailback that would force defenses to stop the run in a league that puts emphasis more and more on throwing the ball.
“I’d love to see Le’veon in Green Bay, maybe then they could get back to the playoffs.” said freshman Keelin O’Hara.
Joe Flacco, Quarterback, (Baltimore Ravens)
Baltimore’s decision to move on to rookie Lamar Jackson in Week 11 was the final nail in Flacco’s coffin. After 11 seasons in Baltimore, the former Super Bowl MVP will need to be traded or released, as his contract extends until 2022. As a proven postseason passer, Flacco will be in high demand as many teams will be looking for someone with experience at the games most important role.
The Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars are most likely to make a move for the veteran quarterback, as the Jaguars have moved on from Blake Bortles, and Tannehill has been mediocre at best for one of the league’s most inconsistent teams. Last year the Jaguars stout defense and sturdy running game made them a favorite to return to the postseason, before injuries and poor quarterback play tanked their season.
The Dolphins had one of the most whiplash-inducing seasons as they routinely bounced from win to loss, playing poorly against mediocre teams and then beating this year’s Super Bowl champions in Week 14 against New England. The Washington Redskins offer a different option for Flacco.
Flacco’s turbulent 2018 season mixed with his subpar campaigns since his 2012 Super Bowl win leave teams wondering; which Flacco is in the NFL now? With Alex Smith most likely missing the 2019 season, Flacco and the Redskins could sign a single year deal where Flacco could play in a team and show that he is still deserving of a starting spot, while the Redskins wait for more information on their QB1. Wherever Flacco lands, he will be sure to bring a vast amount of knowledge and experience at a position that requires large quantities of both.
“Flacco is so inconsistent he’d fit well in Miami. A disappointing quarterback for a disappointing team,” said freshman Hannah Goad.
Earl Thomas, Free Safety, (Seattle Seahawks)
Earl Thomas and Le’veon Bell were in similar positions at the beginning of the season. Both wanted contract with big money, and both were denied by their teams. The difference? Thomas suited up this season, something that he surely regrets now. After breaking his leg against the Cardinals in Week 4 of the regular season, Thomas flipped the Seattle sideline the bird, culminating all his frustrations into a single expression.
Now headed into free agency, and with no intentions of signing with Seattle, Thomas is one of the biggest stars looking for a new team this summer. Thomas hasn’t hid his top choice for long, calling out the Cowboys to trade for or sign him. Dallas is in the position financially to add Thomas and boost an already dominate defensive unit.
Similarly, the Cardinals look like they could make a run at the three time All-Pro. Richard Sherman, a former teammate of Thomas, has made it clear he would not mind joining back up with another member of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom.”
The Chiefs also pose an interesting choice, as they had been attempting to clear up cap space to trade for Thomas prior to his injury. The Chiefs, whose defense ranked thirty first in total defense, could use the six time Pro-Bowler to help plug the holes in a defense that couldn’t seem to stop anyone. The issue facing Thomas now is not if he will get the money he wants, but rather who will he get it from?
“We already have Sherman so we should get Thomas too so Josh doesn’t have to do everything,” said freshman Alberic Karina-Plun.
Nick Foles, Quarterback, (Philadelphia Eagles)
Nick Foles is a starting quarterback plain and simple. Two years in a row the Eagles have relied on him to carry them through the playoffs, and both time he has delivered, first with a Super Bowl, and then with a near loss to the NFC’s second best team, the New Orleans Saints. It is time for Foles to get the starting position he deserves.
While the Eagles have stated numerous times that they have no plans to trade Foles, all things have a price, and some teams have the means to find it. The Broncos pose as a team that could use the expertise of Foles. With the defensive line of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, the Broncos need only an offense with some spark to become a postseason threat. Case Keenum could not get the job done, it may be time for head coach Vic Fangio to find a quarterback with experience and skill, which is just what Foles has.
In New York, the Giants are beginning to realize that Eli Manning is not his brother, and they may need to look for someone else to take the reigns. Signing Foles could give them an experienced quarterback that could help the teams competitiveness while they groom a quarterback from this years draft.
The Redskins could also make a play for the backup of their division rivals, with Foles bringing postseason experience and a cool head to a team that looked so hot before the loss of their QB1. It is time for Foles to get what is his, a starting job on an NFL team, not playing backup to a constantly injured Carson Wentz.
“Foles would be great because then he could beat Wentz instead of being his backup,” said freshman Brittany Backus.
Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver, (Pittsburgh Steelers)
The three B’s of Pittsburgh look to be no more. With Bell on his way out in free agency, and Brown unhappy with the Steelers organization, Pittsburgh’s big three may have had their last season together. Brown is the undisputed best wideout in the NFL and any team would jump at the chance to bring him in.
The Browns pose an interesting choice. With $80 million in projected cap space and 12 draft picks, Cleveland could make a sweet deal to bring Brown to the Rock and Roll Capital of the World. The Raiders could also pose as a good spot for Brown. They have already brought in one discontented Pittsburgh receiver in Martavis Bryant, and have the draft picks to coax Mike Tomlin into letting Brown switch to the West Coast.
The Colts are in desperate need of offensive weapons for Andrew Luck to throw to, as tight end Eric Ebron and running back T.Y. Hilton pose as the only significant receiving threats on the team. Brown is worth whatever price it would take to bring him in, and it’ll be exciting to see how many teams make a play for the four time All-Pro.
“Brown should be on the Browns because it’s literally his name,” said freshman Sean Ellis.