May 25, 2024

The most puzzling move each NFL team made this offseason


After a wild NFL offseason, there are some moves that remain head-scratchers. These are the most puzzling moves made by each team during the 2024 offseason.

 

Arizona Cardinals: Signing Justin Jones

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Arizona’s defense was among the worst in the league for the second straight season in 2023, but it remains to be seen if Jones is the answer. The former Bear signed a three-year, $30 million contract with nearly $20 million guaranteed, but it remains to be seen if his impact is worth the cost.

 

Atlanta Falcons: Drafting Michael Penix Jr.

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Atlanta committed one of the biggest head-scratchers in NFL Draft history, selecting Penix with the eighth overall pick after signing Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed. Penix was one of the oldest quarterback prospects available with a checkered injury history and is now set to sit on the bench for at least the next two years.

 

Baltimore Ravens: Extending Rashod Bateman

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Bateman has struggled to stay on the field since Baltimore drafted him 27th overall in 2021, and the franchise has compensated for his struggles by drafting Zay Flowers and signing Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year deal last season. The team gave Bateman a two-year extension, betting he will have better luck going forward, but it’s a big bet for the team through 2026.

 

Buffalo Bills: Trading Stefon Diggs

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Perhaps Diggs was a distraction or unhappy with the Bills, but his trade remains tough to swallow for fans hoping to compete for a Super Bowl in 2024. The cap picture for Buffalo looks better, but the offense could be hindered as the team relies on Curtis Samuel and rookie Keon Coleman to replace Diggs’ production.

 

Carolina Panthers: Signing Jadeveon Clowney

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After multiple disappointing seasons, Clowney revived his career in Baltimore last season, tying his career high with 9.5 sacks. Thus, the desperate Panthers were buying high by signing Clowney to a two-year, $20 million deal to effectively replace former star Brian Burns.

 

Chicago Bears: Signing D'Andre Swift

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The running back position has been a revolving door recently in Chicago, and that continues with the addition of Swift. His ability to stay healthy was called into question by the Lions before he did just that in Philly last season, but the Bears are making a big bet that continues by signing Swift to a three-year, $24 million deal. The position wasn’t exactly the team’s biggest need, either, with Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson returning.

 

Cincinnati Bengals: Signing Sheldon Rankins

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Cincinnati had a massive hole to fill on the defensive line after losing DJ Reader, but it’s unclear if Rankins is the answer. The team gave him a two-year, $26 million deal, but Rankins is now 30 and on his fourth team in five seasons.

 

Cleveland Browns: Extending Jerry Jeudy

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Cleveland’s acquisition of Jeudy for fifth- and sixth-round picks wasn’t very costly, but their extension for the former first-round pick was another story. Jeudy received $58 million over three years with $41 million guaranteed. It’s quite a sum for a wide receiver who has struggled to stay healthy and has yet to tally a 1,000-yard receiving season in four years.

 

Dallas Cowboys: Hiring Mike Zimmer

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Zimmer was one of the top defensive minds in the game during his time as a defensive coordinator, but his defenses in Minnesota floundered late in his tenure as head coach. After two years as a college assistant, Zimmer returns to the NFL sideline at age 68. The pressure will be on Zimmer to fill Dan Quinn‘s shoes, but it’s not the safest hire given his time away.

 

Denver Broncos: Acquiring Zach Wilson

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Going to Denver is good for Wilson, but is it good for the Broncos? The former first-round pick looked lost during his time with the Jets, and isn’t the safest option backing up rookie Bo Nix. Denver barely gave up anything to acquire Wilson, but he’d probably be a better fit behind a veteran.

 

Detroit Lions: Signing Marcus Davenport

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Adding a pass rusher was critical for Detroit this offseason, and it remains to be seen if Davenport fits the bill. He’s set to have a big role with his new team but missed most of last season in Minnesota due to injury and was a bust for the Saints the previous season.

 

Green Bay Packers: Signing Josh Jacobs

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The Packers deserve props for upgrading running back, as they saw the recent decline of Aaron Jones. However, the team is taking a risk with Jacobs’ addition. The four-year, $48 million number is deceiving in that Jacobs is guaranteed only $12.5 million, but he declined last year after a huge 2022 season. Green Bay might have been better to find a younger option.

 

Houston Texans: Signing Danielle Hunter

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Houston is effectively replacing Jonathan Greenard with Hunter, a risk given the veteran’s injury history and age. Hunter is coming off back-to-back strong years in Minnesota, but he played only seven games in 2021. The contract Hunter was given is massive, with $48 million guaranteed over two years.

 

Indianapolis Colts: Signing Joe Flacco

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The Colts were lucky to have Gardner Minshew waiting in the wings when Anthony Richardson went down last season. They were sure to add another capable backup in Flacco after he revived his career with Cleveland last year. $4.5 million guaranteed is a reasonable sum for a backup, but Flacco’s skillset couldn’t be much different than the mobile Richardson. If something happens to Richardson again, the Colts will be forced to rehaul their offense.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Signing Gabe Davis

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Davis showed flashes in four seasons with Buffalo, particularly in the playoffs. However, the team didn’t show much fight in retaining him after a disappointing 2023 season, and the three-year, $39 contract is a big one for a player who hasn’t proven to be anything close to a No. 1 receiver. The pressure is on Davis after the Jags lost Calvin Ridley in free agency.

 

Kansas City Chiefs: Trading L'Jarius Sneed

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The Chiefs are trying to become the first team ever to win three consecutive Super Bowls, but will have to do so without one of their top defensive performers from the last two seasons. Kansas City was able to re-sign Chris Jones, but traded Sneed to Tennessee in order to save money under the cap. The team has cornerback depth, but Sneed’s contribution will be difficult to replace as they enter a potentially historic season.

 

Las Vegas Raiders: Signing Gardner Minshew

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Minshew has done a fine job as a backup during his career, filling in with Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis. Still, he hasn’t done much to indicate he’s a great starting option, yet the Raiders are likely to turn to him after bypassing the quarterback position in the draft. Minshew’s two-year, $25 million contract with $15 million guaranteed is great for him, but there’s little reason to think he can carry the Raiders roster in the AFC West.

 

Los Angeles Chargers: Drafting Joe Alt

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New head coach Jim Harbaugh said the Chargers would run the ball more next season, and practiced what he preached by spending the fifth overall draft choice on Alt. He’s obviously an excellent tackle prospect, but wide receiver was a much greater need than tackle with former first-round pick Rashawn Slater manning the left side of the line already.

 

Los Angeles Rams: Signing Colby Parkinson

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The Rams had an eventful offseason, and their addition of Parkinson was curious. The former Seahawk has only 57 catches in four seasons, yet the Rams gave him a three-year, $22.5 million contract with $15.5 million guaranteed. The addition gives the Rams a top tight end while Tyler Higbee‘s knee heals following surgery, but it’s a high price to pay for a temporary need.

 

Miami Dolphins: Signing Jordyn Brooks

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Seattle moved on from Brooks after four seasons, but he landed a three-year, $30 million contract in Miami. It’s a hefty price to pay for Brooks’ position and also given his declining tackle numbers last season.

 

Minnesota Vikings: Signing Jonathan Greenard

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Minnesota effectively got younger by allowing Danielle Hunter to walk and signing former Texans pass rusher Greenard. He’s getting paid after a huge season with 12.5 sacks in 15 games, but there is some risk in his four-year, $76 million contract after Greenard struggled to record 1.5 sacks in eight games during 2022.

 

New England Patriots: Promoting Jerod Mayo

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The Patriots had a succession plan behind Bill Belchick, promoting Mayo from defensive assistant. It’s admirable that the team promoted from within, but they might have been better off finding new blood after the organization’s recent struggles under Belichick along with the history of failure from Belichick’s former assistants.

 

New Orleans Saints: Drafting Spencer Rattler

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Many were surprised when Rattler fell to the fifth round in the draft, so perhaps the Saints found his talent too good to risk. Still, it might have been a wasted pick for a team that needed as many contributors as it could get after fighting cap issues during the offseason. The Saints didn’t need another quarterback as they developed 2023 fourth-round pick Jake Haener and also signed veterans Nathan Peterman and Kellen Mond.

 

New York Giants: Drafting Malik Nabers

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New York’s mistake wasn’t so much selecting Nabers – an elite receiving talent. Rather, it was taking the wideout instead of a quarterback to replace Daniel Jones. The Giants are doubling down on their mistake to extend Jones’ contract last offseason. The excuse can be made that Jones missed most of 2023 due to injury, but he was 1-5 as a starter with 2/6 TD/INT and has generally been a turnover machine in his five NFL seasons. The team had several quarterback choices in this year’s strong draft and bypassed all of them.

 

New York Jets: Signing Tyron Smith

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There’s no doubt the Jets needed to fix their offensive line this offseason, and Smith had arguably the most upside of any lineman available. However, the 33-year-old has also been unable to stay healthy for four consecutive seasons, so hoping for better health after signing Smith to one-year deal worth up to $20 million is a fool’s errand. Fortunately, the Jets did draft his eventual replacement in Olu Fashanu.

 

Philadelphia Eagles: Signing Saquon Barkley

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The Eagles have proven they can have a productive running game with cheap running backs, so it’s curious they opted to roll out the Brink’s truck for Barkley. The former Giant was given a three-year, $37.75 million contract with $25.5 million guaranteed, a huge deal for the usually cheap position. Barkley has mostly put his injury-prone reputation behind him, missing a total of eight games over the last three seasons, but he averaged a poor 3.9 yards per carry last season.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Trading Diontae Johnson

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Wide receiver was among Pittsburgh’s top needs entering the offseason, so it was interesting to see the team move on from Johnson without making a major move to replace him. The former 1,000-yard receiver had only 717 yards over 13 games last season, and the team enters 2024 with minimal help for their new quarterbacks beyond George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth.

 

San Francisco 49ers: Signing Yetur Gross-Matos

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San Francisco has continuously made the defensive line a top priority, and did so again by adding Leonard Floyd, Maliek Collins, Jordan Elliott, Kevin Givens, and Gross-Matos this offseason. The 49ers obviously see more potential in Gross-Matos than what he showed in four seasons with the Panthers, giving him a two-year, $18 million deal despite the defensive end missing five games last season and playing limited snaps early in his career.

 

Seattle Seahawks: Re-signing Noah Fant

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Considered a gifted receiver when he was a first-round pick by Denver in 2019, Fant has yet to fulfill the lofty expectations. He’s also taken a giant step back since Seattle acquired him in 2022, and had only 32 catches for 414 yards without any scores last season. Thus, it’s interesting that the Seahawks re-signed Fant for two years, $21 million, despite his lack of production.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Re-signing Baker Mayfield

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The Bucs were in a bad spot this offseason, without a starting quarterback under contract. They signed Mayfield as a bridge quarterback last season, and the former first-overall draft choice performed better than expected, causing the team to re-sign him for three years, $100 million, with half of that amount guaranteed. Considering Mayfield’s inconsistent play, which even caused his release from Carolina in 2022, along with losing coordinator Dave Canales, the move could become a disaster.

 

Tennessee Titans: Signing Calvin Ridley

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It’s become en vogue for teams with starting quarterbacks on rookie deals to spend big on their weapons. Tennessee deserves credit for surrounding Will Levis with such weapons, but Ridley’s four-year, $92 million contract with $50 million guaranteed is excessive. The compensation puts Ridley in the top 10 among wideouts, but his production isn’t worthy of the deal, especially as he turns 30 in December.

 

Washington Commanders: Signing Austin Ekeler

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Washington has a young running back they really like in Brian Robinson, so adding a declining Ekeler was surprising. While he has a very different skillset as a versatile back with great hands, Ekeler has clearly been in decline due to ankle injuries and had a pitiful 3.5 yards per carry last season. The Commanders are betting on Ekeler returning to health, but it’s an unnecessary bet that guarantees Ekeler nearly $5 million this season.





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