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Brynn Anderson / Associated Press
The heart of the NFL offseason is behind us. More than 300 free agents were signed, 254 players were drafted, more than a dozen head coach were either hired or fired, and dozens of veteran players were released.
Which of these movements were the smartest?
As we say goodbye to May, here's a look at the most tight step from any NFL team in what has been a wild 201
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Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press
The Arizona Cardinals will probably be rolled along with another rookie quarterback in 2019 and that rook-top pick Kyler Murray-has only one year's college start experience under his belt. Arizona must give Murray more support than it gave Josh Rosen, who was the victim of a bad offensive line in 2018.
Bringing in Marcus Gilbert should help a line that was placed last by Pro Football Focus in pass injury damage efficiency last season.
Injuries and a suspension caused the prolonged Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle to miss all but 12 games over the past two seasons, but he is still only 31 years old, owed only $ 4.99 million in 2019 and if he can hold Well, he will undoubtedly bring more stability to the right tackle position in Arizona.
The jury stays out on Murray and new main feature Kliff Kingsbury, both of whom are wild cards from the NCAA series, but Gilbert must make it easier for both of them.
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John Bazemore / Associated Press
The hijacked Atlanta Falcons reinforced the smart offensive line in the free agency and draft, but the team's decision to move from offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to two poor seasons at work will Probably make the biggest positive difference in Atlanta.
Personally wise, not much changed offensively for the Falcons between 2016, 2017 and 2018. And yet after scoring the NFL in the Super Bowl season under Kyle Shanahan, the sarcastic led Atlanta offense was hardly ranked in the top 10 with an average of 23.9 points per game in 2017 and 2018.
The talented Falcons struggled hard to finish the drive in the Red Zone over the past few seasons, and their inconsistent week-to-week results were remarkable. They were the only team in the NFL to score 30 plus points and 20 or fewer points for more than 10 times each over the two-year stretch that signaled a change was needed.
There is no one to tell what the new OC Dirk Koetter will do with an offense he helped push earlier this decade, but the key is that the Falcons do not let the sarcastic era continue.
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David Zalubowski / Associated Press
Of course, it hurts that the Baltimore Ravens still stand on the hook for a $ 16 million cap hit for quarterback Joe Flacco, but the key is that one of The most overrated players in this era are no longer pulling the franchise down.
A hot playoff run and an albatross contract are the only reasons Flacco stays in the NFL. The 34-year-old has never been elected to a Pro Bowl and is second best rated qualified fit in the league since 2013. He is not consistent, he is not accurate and he is just not good.
The Denver Broncos will soon realize that and at the same time, Ravens can focus on the Lamar Jackson era without disruption now that Flacco has been traded to Denver in exchange for fourth round picks used to drive back Justice Hill.
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Frederick Breedon / Getty Images
There was plenty of opportunity here for a Buffalo Bill team that experienced a huge offseason. New recipients Cole Beasley, John Brown and Tyler Kroft should help young quarterback Josh Allen, as well as new offensive linemen Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe and Cody Ford.
But the most beautiful thing that the bills did, did not care for this offseason when Ed Oliver fell into their laps in No. 9 instead of the draft.
The Billeres could have had larger positional gaps to fill, and they might have thought they invested enough in the inside defense line when they signed Star Lotulelei for a five-year $ 50 million deal and used a third round pick at Harrison Phillips. last offseason. But no, Buffalo stood pat and took the best player available – a view that could really have an Aaron Donald ceiling and drew Donald comparisons.
Buffalo continued on Donald and Khalil Mack five years ago, probably because Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Mario Williams were already on the route. This scheme refused to risk making the same mistake.
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Rick Scuteri / Associated Press
It has also been a promising offseason for the Carolina Panthers, replacing retired Julius Peppers with exciting first-round passport rider Brian Burns, upgrading the increasingly important backup quarterback Instead, by creating exciting West Virginia product Will Grier and cleverly brought back offensive tackle Daryl Williams on a one-year deliberate-it deal.
But everyone can be trumped by the team's decision to sign the center of Matt Paradise to replace retired Ryan Kalil.
It should be huge for quarterback Cam Newton when he tries to get back from offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder. Kalil had been Newton's regular center since the star quarterback entered the league in 2011 and it was important that Carolina replace him with someone reliable.
Paradise is not only reliable, but the 29-year-old has been one of the top centers of football since he became a starter with the Broncos in 2015. In fact, per. PFF is his four-year class of 86.7, fourth place among 29 centers with 2,000 plus snaps during this span.
If he can recover, Paradise must be every penny of his three-year $ 29 million contract.
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Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press
It was not easy offseason for Chicago Bears who lost a few key-free free agents in Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan and did not pick in any of the first two rounds of the draft. But their third round choice can be a steal.
Weeks after the cleverly shattered team ran back Jordan Howard after a bad season, replacing Bears Howard with enticing Iowa State product David Montgomery.
Bleacher Report draft guru Matt Miller notes that Montgomery is "built as a beginning to run back with thick thighs and big shoulders" and adds that he is a "fantastic natural recipient out of backfield with soft hands ." He lacks the elite speed he ran a 4.63 second 40-yard dash on the NFL Scouting Combine before he improved that number to a 4.57 on his day – but Miller still sees 21 -year as "an instant NFL starter" after he accumulated over 2,800 scrimmage yards while scoring 24 touchdowns the last two seasons in Big 12.
Don't be surprised if Montgomery immediately becomes this year's day 2 star in running back position.
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Kirk Irwin / Getty Images
We do not yet know whether the new Cincinnati Bengals leader Zac Taylor was a good rental or if he was in the right place at the right time thanks to his relationship with Sean McVay. It is possible that Cincinnati nailed it with top pick Jonah Williams and made good calls according to Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Bobby Hart, Darqueze Dennard and Preston Brown.
Again, there were no great Bengals splashing this offseason, at least as far as the player's staff were concerned. But there is no doubt that the organization was entitled to share roads with the head coach Marvin Lewis.
It had become a sick joke that Lewis was responsible for Bengals despite having gone 16 seasons without a playoff victory. Lewis went fun in 0-4 at home game card games as a division championship in Cincinnati, but he somehow held his job for three last lost seasons before even the famous patient Mike Brown had to make a change.
Kudos to Bengals to finally pull the trigger. They were in desperate need of a new start.
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Ron Schwane / Associated Press
One step can be both clever and risky, and it applies to the two main features that Cleveland Browns made this offseason.
They took the risk of promoting Freddie Kitchens to a main coaching role despite the fact that he only had eight gaming experiences as an offensive coordinator, but Brown's offense saw so much success during the kitchen's tutelage that they were wise to roll those dice and maintain some continuity for a young offensive core.
They also risked potentially interfering with this continuity by acquiring superstars broadly receiving Odell Beckham Jr., but OBJ's on-field track record made it impossible to pass on a trade that only cost the team a mid-first round pick, a late third choice and Jabrill Peppers.
What feature was smarter? We go with kitchens because it was less of a no-brainer. Brown's coaching job probably looked very attractive, and they could have tried real in a big-name retread, but instead they went on the conservative route and rolled with a guy who got the best out of Baker Mayfield and the offense down the line in 2018.
During kitchens, Browns averaged more yards per day. Play any other offense in the NFL.
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Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press
The smartest thing the Dallas Cowboys did this offseason was against temptation. Resist the temptation to act back in round 1 of the draft, resist the temptation to make a splashy signature, resist the temptation to risk a franchise tag battle with Demarcus Lawrence, who might have been an unsustainable distraction.
Cowboys will soon deal with potential extensions to the key players Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and Jaylon Smith, and they have admitted ] to hold this group together will require creativity. They could not afford to sacrifice much of this offseason and they remained disciplined.
And if there is one feature that indicates this approach, it is the Randall Cobb signature. The former Green Bay Packers recipient is likely to play a major role as Cole Beasley's replacement in the slot, yet he costs the cowboys much less than Beasley costs the bills.
The 28-year-old Cobb is also two years younger than Beasley, and he has a Pro Bowl season under his belt. His statistics took a dive over the past few years, but it could be due to damage and problems with Green Bay's crime more than Cobb's abilities. Now he has a chance to prove himself again on a low-risk one-year deal of just $ 5 million.
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David Zalubowski / Associated Press
The key here? round 2 . Had the Denver Broncos drafted quarterback Drew Lock with their original No 10 overall round 1 round, it would not have been the smartest move of an offseason that also included a smart firing (sayonara, Vance Joseph!) And a top notch signature (welcome aboard, Bryce Callahan!).
But Denver sold smoothly that No. 10 picks for the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for Pittsburgh's first and second round elections (as well as a third round in 2020), took the small chip strip Noah Found later in round 1, crafted first round caliber offensive tackle Dalton Risner with their own second round pick and then only after gathering two other amazing prospects and raising oodles of draft capital traded up to take Lock 42nd together.
It was fat navigation from general manager John Elway that got tremendous value for Lock a prospect that is far from safe, but was a four year starting in the SEC. He has work to do mechanically, but 6 ", 4", 228 pounds The Missouri product has a gun arm that can make each throw and his accuracy seemed to improve enormously during his career career He sees part.
Critically, the pressure will not be so high on Lock (or Elway) that comes out in the middle of the second round. Props to the Broncos to wait to increase its value. Fortune was on their side but it was also brilliant draft strategy.
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Gregory Payan / Associated Press
New Detroit Lions Tight End TJ Hockenson can become a superstar, but tight ends often require time to be acclimatized, And it's also early to draw conclusions about a top-10 pick at that position, so instead we give Lions credit to move on from the tired, inconsistent and unreliable Ezekiel Ansah and replace him with a versatile new star in Trey Flowers on the edge.
You will not often find m ig praising a team for nding a free agent a $ 90 million contract, but flowers are a rare exception. Yours truly experienced him as the top free agent of this year's market – a player rising at a prize position coming from The School of Belichick. He only beat free agency because the New England Patriots could not afford to keep him, and now he could be on the brink of the star for 25 years.
Flowers can cause chaos as a rush from several places, but he is also one of the best run-defending edge players in the NFL. He became strong with seven sacks in eight games leading to the Super Bowl LIII, and he had 2.5 sacks in New England's Super Bowl LI over Atlanta. In other words, he is a big-game player with speed in his side, and his workload was easier than usual as part of New England's rotation.
Flowers can be the best free agent investment in franchise history. He can become a game changer in Detroit.
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Mike Roemer / Associated Press
Green Bay Packers Did You See This Offseason? Not your father's. Firing coaches that make it rain for several cheap free agent defenders in the open market, trade up the draft. It was all very un-packer-like.
I for a approved of it all, especially the team's uncharacteristic expenses spree six weeks before the draft.
Of course, we still have to see how new head coach Matt LaFleur gets started with Aaron Rodgers, and top pick Rashan Gary will take some time before we judge. But it was time Green Bay did something dramatic. The franchise spread his wheels and wasted what was left of Aaron Rodgers prime before he became serious this offseason.
New Edge Rushers Za & # 39; Darius Smith and Preston Smith are big-born potential game changers on the rise at age 26, but the victory goes to the new security Adrian Amos. This signature resembles a coup for Packer's general manager Brian Gutekunst, who landed a guy Pro Football Focus calling "one of the most consistent NFL collateral" at a surprisingly reasonable rate of $ 9 million a year.
Amos is a coverage whiz, and that is the area where Packers needed the most help. They will not regret this.
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Michael Wyke / Associated Press
A two-part movement takes the cake here for the Houston Texans, which seems to be serious about improving the passport protection for franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. He was fired a league-high 62 times last season, and the Texans took several steps in the spring to reduce the number in 2019.
The problem is free agency is a hard place to upgrade the offensive line. Few strong tackles make it to the open market, and Houston had to settle on a flier on the bust Matt Kalil after a mistaken run from 2012 No. 4 overall pick in Carolina.
In a perfect world, Houston would not have been blown up by the Philadelphia Eagles for much touted offensive tackle Andre Dillard in the first round of the draft, but they still rolled some dice in the draft crapshoot by taking Tytus Howard in round 1 and then doubling with Max Scharping in round 2.
Both may need time to develop, but Texan's main player Bill O & # 39; Brien has already stated both can play guard, possibly sooner than later . The key is that Houston swings bats, and there are now plenty of skilled players competing for jobs in front of Watson.
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Peter G. Aiken / Getty Images
Indianapolis Colts took a classic conservative approach to the free agency and acted out of the first round of the draft in a relatively quiet offseason, but they waited smartly for pass-rusher market and landed four-time pro bowler Justin Houston for a bargain price.
Houston can no longer be the player he was in his prime, but the long-standing Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker only became 30 in January and he has the talent and experience to make a big impact as part of a rotation on the edge of Indianapolis.
Houston has recorded 18.5 sacks in 27 games since early 2017, and his 2018 PFF winning rate of 19.3 percent was placed fifth among qualified edge defenders . Per PFF's Michael Renner he had a higher pass-rushing class in 2018 than Flowers, but he is slated to cost Colts only $ 24 million over the next two years.
Another work of art by Indy General Manager Chris Ballard. 19659023]
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John Raoux / Associated Press
Jacksonville Jaguars clung to Blake Bortles for too long, but at least they opted to move from their latest quarterback bust just in time to capitalize at a bar market for the more accomplished Nick Foles.
In his five years in Jacksonville, Bortles ranked last among 32 qualified passers-by with a completion rate of 59.3 and penultimate with a pass rating of 80.6. And his numbers in his fifth year were hardly better than those he wrote as a rookie in 2014. Meanwhile, Foles has been a Super Bowl MVP as well as a Pro Bowler and he owns the third-country's highest qualified single-season fit rating in league history. He has not been consistently awesome since joining the league as a third round pick in 2012, but he is a big-game player who rises to substantial occasions.
But because Jags didn't meet much if any competition for Foles in the free trade market, they actually pay Bortles more dead money ($ 15.5 million) than they owe to Foles in 2019 ($ 12 million). His average annual salary of $ 22 million makes him the 13th highest paid quarterback in football, which makes him steal as a fresh signature.
Charlie Riedel / Associated Press
Just before the NFL draft at all Kansas City Chiefs indefinitely suspended superstar wide, Tyreek Hill receives after the release of sound, where Hills fiancé, Crystal Espinal, asks Hill why their three-year-old son said Hill broke. arm. In the recording, Hill also told Espinal that she should be afraid of him. There is an ongoing police investigation, and while Hill has not yet been charged by the police or disciplined by the league, the bosses have been smart enough to realize Hill can never play football for them again.
It is not a case used a second round choice on broad receiving Mecole Hardman, who may need some time to evolve after catching only 60 passes over the last two years in Georgia, but looks similar to Hill on the track. Speedster runs a 4.33 40-yard dash and can be used in several ways. He also saw plenty of success in the SEC as a runner and a returning man (followed by 689 rushing and returning yards over his last two seasons).
"Every day he got a little better," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid of Hardman at the end of the team's rookie minicamp, per. Brooke Pryor ] Kansas City Star . "These are all new, these routes are new to him. He did a good job in the red zone, which is usually the hardest place to work, but he did very well there." He had a good finish. "  With the ruling MVP caste passing its way into Reid's creative offense, Hardman could have a great influence early in his career. Not bad for a late-second round pick. Gregory Bull / Associated Press