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NFL's Offseason Winners and Losers

Graphic by Pat Pryor

Written by Cody Manning

The offseason offers teams a chance to reset and make the changes that they deem necessary to compete for the Super Bowl in 2019. General managers, coaches, and players can become winners or losers during this process. Free agency starts it all, as teams may bring in players who can benefit others already on the roster, and the draft presents an opportunity to bring in competition for position groups that need it. I decided to look at all 32 teams to find who left this offseason as a winner or a loser.

Arizona Cardinals

Winner: The biggest winner for the Cardinals is their new head coach, Kliff Kingsbury. He ended up getting the quarterback that he wanted in Kyler Murray. On top of that, he got three wide receivers that fit his offense in Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler, and KeeSean Johnson. It will be on Kingsbury to put together a productive product on the field.

Loser: While Arizona was able to bring in some solid additions to their team via free agency and the draft, their General Manager, Steve Keim, came out of this whole process a loser. Keim totally mishandled the Josh Rosen situation and looked incompetent as it was reported that he thought he could get a 1st round pick in a trade for Rosen. Keim’s career is on the balance as he hopes his new head coach can deliver with his new 1st round quarterback.

Atlanta Falcons

Winner: The Falcons struggled to protect Matt Ryan last year, but after grabbing some depth pieces in free agency and taking two linemen in the 1st round of the draft to help protect their franchise quarterback. Ryan becomes a winner this offseason because he should hopefully have more time to throw in 2019.

Loser: The play of the Atlanta defense was down in 2018, which could be blamed on injuries, but the unit still could have used some improvement from the offseason. Dan Quinn will have his work cut out for him as he hopes his players can return to their form prior to their injuries while also tapping into some potential for players that have been a letdown. Quinn comes out as a loser as his defense, who he takes pride in, didn’t bring in any help to get better for 2019.

Baltimore Ravens

Winner: The big winner from Baltimore is their franchise quarterback, Lamar Jackson. The Ravens showed that they’re committed to building their offense around Jackson. After grabbing Mark Ingram in free agency, they went into the draft to get him some weapons for the passing attack in Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. It will be on Jackson to help put everything all together on the field.

Loser: Normally, you wouldn’t call a player who was an UDFA coming off his rookie season as a loser. But Gus Edwards is leaving this offseason as a loser. After the season ended, John Harbaugh stated that Edwards was their lead back. Since then, they added Mark Ingram in free agency and drafted Justice Hill. Edwards’ role has slowly diminished as we get closer to the upcoming season.

Buffalo Bills

Winner: The Bills had a plan of entering this offseason of surrounding their franchise quarterback, Josh Allen, with as much talent as they can get. Buffalo went out and brought in competition to their offensive line via free agency. They also grabbed some weapons in John Brown, Cole Beasley, and Dawson Knox. Allen enters the season as a winner as he will have a lot more help then he did in 2018.

Loser: Buffalo wasn’t satisfied with their ground game from last year, and they brought in a few new faces to their running back group: Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon, and Devin Singletary. LeSean McCoy’s future in Buffalo has been in speculation for awhile now, and these moves seem to further those claims. Plus, he spoiled Avengers: Endgame, so he must be listed as a loser.

Carolina Panthers

Winner: After coming off a career year, it could be confusing that I believe Christian McCaffrey came out of this offseason as a winner. After the season ended, Ron Rivera mentioned that they would like to bring down his snaps and not lean on him that much. But Carolina’s moves say otherwise as they haven’t brought in someone that could take plays away from him. On top of that, Matt Paradis was signed in free agency and he will help them improve the running attack.

Loser: The Panthers offensive line was up and down last season, which led to Cam Newton suffering a season-ending injury. Taylor Moton is currently the starting left tackle, but Carolina isn’t satisfied with him at the spot. They invested a 2nd round pick in Greg Little and he is expected to come in to compete for the spot. Moton will need to be at his best during training camp and preseason.

Chicago Bears

Winner: Chicago isn’t afraid to continue to look for ways to get weapons for their head coach, Matt Nagy. While losing Jordan Howard, the Bears added Mike Davis and David Montgomery to their backfield. They also added Cordarrelle Patterson and Riley Ridley to their receiving corps. Nagy has even more weapons to play with in his offense for 2019.

Losers: The trio of Anthony Miller, Allen Robinson, and Taylor Gabriel will have some competition in training camp. As I mentioned, the Bears added Patterson and Ridley to the group, so those players are expected to come in to compete for snaps. It will be on them to compete at their best and remain as healthy as possible if they want to keep their roles in the offense.

Cincinnati Bengals

Winner: A lot of analysts thought the Bengals could draft their heir apparent to Andy Dalton with their 1st round pick. They had a chance to select Dwayne Haskins or Drew Lock but decided to pass on both. With no expected competition for the starting job, Dalton escapes this offseason as a winner.

Loser: Typically, when teams sign a new head coach, they will try to go get players that will fit under his new system and playing style. But, for Zac Taylor, it was quite opposite. In my opinion, the team didn’t go out and get any significant upgrades to their roster. Taylor has his hands full for the 2019 season.

Cleveland Browns

Winner: Entering last season, there was no thought that Freddie Kitchens would be an NFL head coach in 2019. After proving himself as the interim head coach, he got interim removed and became the guy. Since then the team has added players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt. Kitchens was a big winner from this offseason.

Loser: It was hard to find a loser on the Browns, but if I had to choose it would be Duke Johnson. After signing his contract extension, he has yet to carve out a significant role in Cleveland. After adding Hunt, he requested a trade, but John Dorsey seems to be hesitant to do so. Johnson just can’t find himself as a winner as he heads into the 2019 season.

Dallas Cowboys

Winner: After bombing it in the Monday Night Football commentating booth, Jason Witten somehow finds himself as a winner from this offseason. Not only he can leave that in the past, but Dallas paid him to come out of retirement, and he is slated to return to his starting job. The Cowboys don’t have any significant competition for him in the tight end room.

Loser: Since being their 2017 1st round pick, Taco Charlton has failed to live up to expectations. The Cowboys aren’t happy with him since they traded for Robert Quinn to be their starting defensive end opposite Demarcus Lawrence. Dallas also added Joe Jackson through the draft to add competition to the group.

Denver Broncos

Winner: After getting blasted after the season ended plus eve more since the Joe Flacco trade, John Elway saved face by having a strong 2019 draft class. Elway was able to trade back out of the #10 spot to collect more draft capital and grabbed a weapon for his offense in Noah Fant. Lastly, everyone assumed that he would take Drew Lock at #10, but remained patient and got his guy in the 2nd round.

Loser: After giving his all for the organization and a ‘hometown discount’ on his last contract, Chris Harris Jr. finds himself as a loser because Denver seems to be hesitant on giving the cornerback a pay raise he has requested. After giving money to new players like Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan, Harris Jr. has found himself on the outside looking in as he tries to get traded to a new team.

Detroit Lions

Winner: The Lions offense needed some improvement from last season, and they brought in a couple pieces to help Matthew Stafford out. Detroit will get Marvin Jones Jr. back from injury, acquired Danny Amendola to be their new slot receiver, and drafted T.J. Hockenson to provide him a reliable target. After speculation that the team could target a potential replacement for Stafford, the team passed, and Stafford finds himself as a winner heading into the 2019 season.

Loser: The Lions spent money in free agency to help improve their roster, but those moves may not result in more wins. While players like Amendola, Trey Flowers, and Jesse James will make contributions in 2019, most analysts feel that Bob Quinn overpaid to bring those players to Detroit. If the product on the field doesn’t show any improvement, then fans could be restless with their General Manager after the 2019 season.

Green Bay Packers

Winners: Most analysts thought the Packers could target a receiver in this year’s NFL Draft to help get Aaron Rodgers help in their passing attack. While they did grab tight end Jace Sternberger, they didn’t address the receiver position. Last year’s rookie receivers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, J’Mon Moore, and Equanimeous St. Brown ended up as winners because of this. It will be on them to earn the trust of Rodgers in 2019.

Loser: Just over a month ago, a story broke on Bleacher Report about the dysfunction of the relationship between former Packers former head coach Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. While some of the story has been disputed, Rodgers still comes out of it looking like he can be a prick sometimes to his teammates. He enters this season with a cloud hanging over his head as he looks to reshape the precepted image of himself.

Houston Texans

Winner: The Texans have been comfortable with Lamar Miller as their lead back over the past few seasons. But most analysts thought it was time they could look for help in their backfield as his up and down play can be a detriment to the offense. Well, after free agency and the draft, Houston hasn’t brought in any extra competition to the position. Miller escapes another offseason as a winner.

Loser: Deshaun Watson left the 2018 season all banged up due to the poor play of his offensive line. Houston entered the offseason with the understanding that they must protect their franchise quarterback. Since then they added the #4 overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, Matt Kalil, who has been a letdown. They also drafted developmental prospects in Tytus Howard and Max Scharping. Howard and Scharping could be long-term answers but could not add anything to the 2019 season. Watson could be running for his life once again.

Indianapolis Colts

Winner: Entering this offseason, analysts thought the Colts could be in play for Le’Veon Bell’s services or could target other running backs via free agency. Indy passed on all options and steered away from the position in the draft. While they recently brought in Spencer Ware as a depth piece, he isn’t expected to be the lead guy. Marlon Mack is a winner in this situation and has a big opportunity in front of him.

Loser: The Colts have given Chester Rogers chances to carve himself out a role in their offense over the past few years, but he has failed to solidify a spot on the roster. Indy went out to bring in Devin Funchess in via free agency and drafted a speedster in Parris Campbell in the 2nd round. With Deon Cain returning from injury, who the staff was high on last year, Rogers could be looking in from the outside come preseason this year.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Winner: Entering this offseason, Leonard Fournette’s future with the Jags was in question. Since then, they have brought in Alfred Blue and Thomas Rawls in free agency. They also selected Ryquell Armstead in the 5th round. In my opinion, these players won’t have an impact on Fournette’s snap count. Without any significant competition, he is a winner as he remains Jacksonville’s lead back.

Loser: Jacksonville got in a favorable situation when Josh Allen fell to them at #7 in the draft. But that selection could have ramifications for the future of Yannick Ngakoue in Jacksonville. The edge rusher is entering the final year of his contract and has been pushing for an extension. The addition of Allen could make the Jags comfortable to move on from Ngakoue.

Kansas City Chiefs

Winner: When the Chiefs cut Kareem Hunt due to his off-field issues, the offense didn’t miss a beat with Damien Williams leading the way. Williams earned the trust of Andy Reid enough to where he was offered a 2-year extension on the contract. While Carlos Hyde was signed, it was for a cheap one-year deal, so don’t expect him to eat too much into Williams’ carries. He leaves the offseason as a winner since he is expected to be the lead back next to Patrick Mahomes.

Loser: Tyreek Hill is facing child abuse allegations at the current moment, and if they are deemed to be true, not only his future with KC is in doubt, but playing in the NFL should be out of the question. We don’t know what will happen until all the facts come out, but he will more than likely face a suspension. After being reported that he could become the highest-paid receiver, that is in much doubt after his off-field issues reemerged, and that the Chiefs drafted his potential replacement in Mecole Hardman.

Los Angeles Chargers

Winners: The Chargers have one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league, but entering the offseason, their defense still needs some pieces. Head coach Anthony Lynn and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley must be smiling about some of the additions to their defense. In free agency, they brought in veteran linebacker Thomas Davis while selecting Jerry Tillery and Nasir Adderley in the first two rounds of the draft. The defense will be much improved in 2019.

Loser: Everyone on the roster finds themselves in a favorable situation, the coaches are happy as I alluded to, and their General Manager, Tom Telesco, had a solid draft. I would be reaching if I called anyone from the Chargers a loser from this offseason.

Los Angeles Rams

Winner: There was speculation that Andrew Whitworth would retire after the Super Bowl, but he has decided to return for at least one more season. Jared Goff should be happy to have the veteran left tackle protecting his blindside again over a subpar free agency replacement or a rookie getting his feet wet. The Rams get their leader back on the line for another deep playoff run.

Loser: Todd Gurley’s injury woes carried into the offseason with him. While there hasn’t been any surgery, there are reports of wear and tear which includes that he may have an arthritis problem in his knees. The Rams matched Malcolm Brown’s tender offer in free agency, plus they drafted a homerun hitter, Darrell Henderson, in the 3rd round. Gurley will enter the 2019 season with a lot of questions surrounding his health.

Miami Dolphins

Winner: When Chris Grier overtook the Dolphins’ General Manager job, he had a daunting task of overhauling the roster. After shredding the team of underperforming players, he has set up Miami to have a projected $120M in cap space and 11 picks for the 2020 NFL Draft. Also, he managed to get a potential franchise quarterback in Josh Rosen after trading a late 2nd round pick. It might not lead to a lot of wins in 2019, but the future is bright in South Florida.

Loser: Even though he hasn’t seen the field as a Dolphin, Ryan Fitzpatrick already finds himself as a loser after signing with Miami to be their starting quarterback. Since then, he showed up to workouts out of shape due to birthday cake and seen Miami trade for Rosen. Instead of playing all year and helping the Dolphins ‘tank’ their way to a high draft pick, he has found himself in a quarterback battle come training camp.

Minnesota Vikings

Winners: The Vikings offense struggled to put it together in 2018, which was due to the poor play of their offensive line. Since then, Minnesota added Josh Kline in free agency and selected the best center in the draft, Garrett Bradbury. They also found some depth pieces in the later rounds. Kirk Cousins should find himself with more time to throw the ball, and Dalvin Cook should see more open lanes for him to run through. Both should be happy to produce in 2019.

Loser: Minnesota decided to use their 2nd round pick on Irv Smith. Because of that, Kyle Rudolph’s future with the Vikings is in doubt. He is on the final year of his contract and the team could save money if they were to trade or cut him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up on a new team by the trade deadline during this season.

New England Patriots

Winner: Since the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, there was much speculation of who will try to replace his production from the tight end position. The Pats signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins in free agency while ignoring the position in the draft after most analysts thought they would target. With Tom Brady tossing him the ball, he could be in store for a career resurgence if he remains as the top tight end in New England.

Loser: The Patriots are coming off their 6th Super Bowl win, and besides the loss of Gronk, the team has had a solid offseason by adding more depth. Nobody finds themselves in a losing situation on this team. Well, unless you want to count Robert Kraft’s public image that has taken some damage due to a handy investigation by Florida authorities.

New Orleans Saints

Winner: The running back tandem of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram is now a thing of the past with Ingram leaving via free agency. This is now Kamara’s backfield and he should dominate the touches like he did at the beginning of the 2018 season. The Saints brought in Latavius Murray, but he will just spell Kamara. It’s his chance to show what he can do with a full season as the lead guy.

Loser: New Orleans is another team that really doesn’t put any of their coaches, front office, or players in a losing situation. The team was able to bring in Jared Cook among other depth pieces in free agency along with the draft. It’s Super Bowl or bust for this team in 2019.

New York Giants

Winner: It’s hard to point out a winner from the Giants. Is it Eli Manning for the team sticking by his side? Maybe, but they drafted Daniel Jones. With Odell Beckham Jr. out of the question, Saquon Barkley is now the face of the franchise. But I feel like that is a reach to make him a winner. I would be settling naming anyone a winner from this team.

Loser: The Giants fanbase has been through a lot over this course of the offseason. Between the trade of OBJ, letting Landon Collins walk, sticking with Eli Manning for the time being, and drafting Daniel Jones with the #6 pick, it has been nothing but disappointment. David Gettleman’s legacy is on the line with these decisions.

New York Jets

Winner: The Jets added Le’Veon Bell in free agency and their franchise quarterback, Sam Darnold, should be very happy about that. Darnold now has a legit weapon in his offense and someone that he can dump off to in dire situations. The team also brought in Jamison Crowder to give him a better receiver in the slot. We will see if he can take the next step in 2019.

Loser: Leonard Williams is entering the final year of his contract, and the Jets responded by taking Quinnen Williams with the #3 pick. While the Jets could pair the two for 2019, his future with the team is in doubt. If the team struggles at the beginning of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised hearing trade rumors around his name.

Oakland Raiders:

Winner: There was some speculation that Oakland could potentially look to move on from Derek Carr, but after passing on a quarterback in the draft, the starting job is his in 2019. The team also surrounded him with better talent with players like Antonio Brown, Josh Jacobs, and Tyrell Williams. It is now on Carr to prove he should be their franchise quarterback when they head to Las Vegas.

Loser: Oakland brought in some help for their secondary in free agency and the draft. Lamarcus Joyner and Jonathan Abram will help improve their pass defense, but Karl Joseph’s future is in doubt because of that. The Raiders declined his 5th-year option, so he is set to enter free agency after the season. He is another player that could be on a new team by the trade deadline.

Philadelphia Eagles

Winner: After letting go of Nick Foles and showing their commitment to Carson Wentz, Philadelphia went out this offseason to surround him with even more talent. The Eagles added Desean Jackson and Jordan Howard during free agency and drafted Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. It’s on Wentz to find his way back to playing at the MVP-level we once saw.

Losers: Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Josh Adams made contributions to the backfield in 2018. After the additions of Howard and Sanders, the trio seem to be heading into a competition for the third running back spot on the roster. At least one of them have a chance to be on the team, but their role will be reduced in 2019.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Winners: The Steelers are looking to put all the drama behind them which started by letting Le’Veon Bell walk and trading away the disgruntled Antonio Brown. After moving on from the “Triple B” era, it has opened the door for players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Connor to continue their development as the lead guys. It will be on them to prove that Pittsburgh made the right call.

Loser: Pittsburgh entered this offseason with the understanding that their cornerback group needed some upgrades. After adding Steven Nelson in free agency and selecting Justin Layne in the draft, Artie Burns roster spot seems to be coming to an end. After declining his 5th-year option, Pittsburgh showed that they are looking to move on from him as well.

San Francisco 49ers

Winner: The 49ers brought in a fluctuation of talent on both sides of the ball with players like Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. Kyle Shanahan should be happy with the roster he has headed into the 2019 season. If he can finally get a full season with Jimmy Garoppolo, then it will be on him to get San Fran to a winning record.

Loser: The selection of Bosa did help solidify the 49ers defensive front, but that also put 2017 1st round pick Solomon Thomas’ roster spot on the line. While he could provide them depth, San Fran could look to get some value out of him in a trade before it falls any further. If there isn’t a market and he underperforms in training camp, then he could be a surprise cut candidate come August.

Seattle Seahawks

Winners: Russell Wilson set a deadline to get a contract extension done, and based on reports, it sounded like he would have been willing to finish out his last year then potentially walk in free agency. John Schneider found a way to get the deal done so he can keep Seattle’s franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future. Pete Carroll can sleep easy knowing he has Wilson leading the way.

Loser: The Seahawks added depth and competition throughout their roster, but that hasn’t put anyone in a losing situation heading into the 2019 season. Besides the potential loss of Doug Baldwin due to retirement because of injuries, Seattle hasn’t had any big negative impact on their team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winner: During the 2018 season Jameis Winston’s future with the Bucs appeared to be in jeopardy due to his play on the field. After firing their head coach, Tampa went out and hired quarterback guru Bruce Arians. If anyone can get Winston back on track, it’s him. The team passed on selecting a young quarterback in the draft. So it’s now on Winston to prove he can be their franchise quarterback.

Losers: The Bucs are still looking to improve their secondary, which has been one of the worst groups over the past few seasons. The team selected cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean in the draft while adding versatile safety, Mike Edwards. Vernon Hargreaves, Carlton Davis, and MJ Stewart will have some competition come training camp. It will be on them to keep their spots from the rookies.

Tennessee Titans

Winner: The Titans’ offense just never could get it going in 2018, and the team decided to bring in some talent to help fix that. Tennessee added Adam Humphries and Rodger Saffold in free agency while using their 2nd round pick on AJ Brown. Marcus Mariota has the best offensive talent around him since entering the league. It’s time to show that he can be their franchise quarterback on the future.

Loser: I’m not sure it makes sense that someone can be a winner and loser in the same offseason, but Mariota finds himself in that situation. While the team has added the talent around him, they also made a trade for Ryan Tannehill. While Tannehill isn’t expected to compete for the starting job, Mariota’s leash could be much shorter. Mariota needs to finally have a healthy season while taking the next step. Otherwise, Tannehill could take over.

Washington Redskins

Winner: The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins as their franchise quarterback, and he has a chance to be their starter opening day. This was an ideal landing spot for Haskins so he could see the field early. He has a stable of running backs and a couple veteran tight ends who can help make his life easy. The team also drafted his college teammate, Terry McLaurin, and Kelvin Harmon. It will be interesting to see if he wins the starting job in August.

Loser: Jay Gruden is entering the last year of his contract, and there hasn’t been any talk of an extension. With some reports of conflict between Gruden and the front office, you must wonder if this is his last year with the Redskins. It doesn’t help that he will have to play it out with a rookie quarterback and more than likely needs a playoff run to save his job.

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