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In some cases, Team X spent so much damn money on Player Y’s blockbuster contract that there’s no way to spin another offseason addition as being more meaningful.
In other cases, when Team Z didn’t spend big bucks on one particular player, that franchise’s “biggest” addition ought to simply be the newbie who is most likely to make a significant impact in 2019 and/or beyond.
Based on recent career trends, accolades and oftentimes money, here’s a look at the biggest offseason addition for all 32 NFL teams.
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The Arizona Cardinals will likely make a more crucial addition to the roster in next week’s draft, where they hold the No. 1 overall pick. But for now, a rebuilding franchise’s clear-cut top acquisition is linebacker Jordan Hicks, who flashed playmaking ability during his four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The key with Hicks—and something that doesn’t apply with fellow newbie Terrell Suggs, who is 36—is the 26-year-old still has plenty of tread on his tires. He’s got just 43 career games under his belt and plenty of upside.
The 2015 third-round pick is coming off a three-sack, 91-tackle campaign despite missing four games due to a calf injury, and he’s a couple of seasons removed from a five-interception season at age 24.
He’s a top-notch all-around off-ball linebacker with the ability to play a wide variety of roles, and it’s easy to envision him as a Pro Bowler. There’s risk associated with his durability, but no other Cardinals addition is likely to make as large an impact.
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The Atlanta Falcons had set out to improve the interior offensive line this offseason, and it’s easy to understand why general manager Thomas Dimitroff is fired up about the “two big dudes” he signed to bring some toughness and experience to that position.
Between those guards, we’ll give the nod to James Carpenter over Jamon Brown because Carpenter is more established. The 30-year-old has lacked consistency for much of his career, but he’s made 97 starts over eight seasons and was one of the top performers at the left guard position while with the New York Jets in 2015 and 2016.
Carpenter might not be a Pro Bowl-caliber player, but he’s significantly younger than the departed Andy Levitre (32) and will provide a clear upgrade over last year’s starting right guard, Wes Schweitzer.
Brown is four years younger than Carpenter, but he’s also been inconsistent, is less proven, is a liability in pass protection and served a substance abuse-related suspension during a tumultuous 2018 season in which the Los Angeles Rams cast him aside.
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The Baltimore Ravens signed a pair of big-name 29-year-olds in March, but there’s little doubt that the acquisition of safety Earl Thomas trumps the signing of running back Mark Ingram.
Ingram could make a solid impact, but he’s likely low on gas at the position with the shortest shelf life in pro football. Meanwhile, Thomas plays a position in which players can shine deep into their 30s.
It’s fair to be concerned that injuries have caused Thomas to miss 19 games over the last three seasons, and more specifically that he’s recovering from a broken leg suffered in the fall of 2018. But the man had three interceptions in just four games before he incurred that injury in a September victory over the Cardinals.
When he’s healthy, he’s still one of the league’s most dominant players at his position, and a new environment could provide him an opportunity to get back on a Hall of Fame track in 2019.
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The Buffalo Bills’ primary focus of the 2019 offseason has been on bolstering support for sophomore franchise quarterback Josh Allen. While new receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley will help (the former to stretch the field, the latter as a safety valve), and new running back Frank Gore will add oomph to Allen’s running game, center Mitch Morse is the key new ingredient in Buffalo.
That’s because what the Bills will need more than anything for Allen is continuity and reliability across the offensive line. Teams are learning to build from the inside out so the quarterback is first comfortable with who’s snapping him the ball and then who’s protecting him, and then who he’s throwing to.
Morse will be responsible for those snaps as well as that protection, and he’s got the ability to become something special for Allen in Orchard Park. Per Ben Cooper of Pro Football Focus, Morse’s “81.2 pass-blocking grade ranked sixth among centers in 2018, and he was one of four centers with 600-plus snaps who did not surrender a sack.”
He has a ways to go as a run-blocker, and durability could be a concern for a player who has missed plenty of time due to multiple concussions, but the upside is there for a 26-year-old who will play a critical role immediately for the rebuilding Bills.
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Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers’ biggest expenditure in free agency was on the market’s other top-notch center. Cam Newton and Co. needed Matt Paradis in a major way, because they were left with a hole in the middle of the offensive line following Ryan Kalil’s retirement.
Kalil had been Newton’s regular center since the quarterback entered the league in 2011, but he was no longer playing at a Pro Bowl level while dealing with several injuries in his final few pro seasons.
Per PFF’s Austin Gayle, “Paradis’ four-year grade (86.7) ranks fourth among the 29 centers with 2,000 or more snaps in the NFL since 2015,” behind only stars Travis Frederick, Alex Mack and Jason Kelce.
And sure, he missed the final seven games of the 2018 season with the Denver Broncos after he suffered a fractured fibula, but the 29-year-old didn’t miss a start between 2015 and 2017. There’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll get back on a healthy track and provide a boost for Newton, Christian McCaffrey and the rest of the Carolina offense in 2019.
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The Chicago Bears’ top three “additions” have been obvious replacements. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will take over for the departed Adrian Amos, cornerback Buster Skrine will do the same for Bryce Callahan, and running back Mike Davis will probably become the new Jordan Howard.
But the Bears already have Tarik Cohen at running back, and quality players at that position can be found throughout the draft. Meanwhile, Clinton-Dix is a cheap prove-it replacement who could even face competition from 2016 fourth-round pick Deon Bush.
But good slot cornerbacks are tough to find, and that position continues to gain importance as offenses regularly use three-plus receivers and emphasize the slot. That’s why the Skrine signing is so important.
The veteran isn’t as talented as Callahan, who was one of the NFL’s top nickel corners last season, but he does at least have 85 career starts. The Bears are betting he’ll bounce back after he gave up an abysmal 124.2 passer rating into his coverage in 2018, according to PFF.
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Alex Redmond didn’t get the job done during his first season as a starting right guard with the Cincinnati Bengals, and it appears even the notoriously frugal, conservative Bengals weren’t willing to wait to see if Redmond might improve in 2019.
Why else would Cincinnati spend $16.5 million on a three-year contract for veteran guard John Miller?
Miller will team up with solid vet Clint Boling to form a strong guard duo in Cincinnati. Per PFF, he gave up just one sack on 529 pass-blocking snaps while earning an above-median grade as a 15-game starter with the Bills in 2018.
He might not be a Pro Bowl-caliber presence inside, but Miller’s still only 25 and will immediately improve the Bengals’ oft-criticized offensive line.
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The Cleveland Browns seemingly never stop adding to their roster, but one 2019 acquisition stands out from the rest. With all due respect to Jabrill Peppers, Olivier Vernon, Kareem Hunt, Sheldon Richardson and Morgan Burnett, this is the offseason of Odell Beckham Jr. in Cleveland.
Beckham is of course one of the game’s most talented, accomplished young offensive players. He caught 90-plus passes for 1,300-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns in each of his first three seasons, lost most of his fourth year due to an ankle injury but then saw most of his rate-based numbers grow despite poor quarterback play and a quad injury in 2018.
A new setting might just what Beckham needed after a somewhat tumultuous run with the New York Giants, and he might be just what the doctor ordered for a team that could use an elite deep weapon to go with security blanket Jarvis Landry at receiver.
OBJ just might put a strong Cleveland offense over the top in 2019.
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The Dallas Cowboys’ trade for veteran pass-rusher Robert Quinn might have made more headlines than the team’s signing of veteran receiver Randall Cobb, but Cobb might be a more critical puzzle piece.
Not long after acquiring Quinn, the Cowboys locked up franchise-tagged pass-rushing star Demarcus Lawrence to a lucrative long-term contract. They also have 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton on the edge. But they still have questionable wide receiver depth, and Cobb will be tasked with replacing the departed Cole Beasley in the slot.
Beasley was the team’s most targeted wide receiver in 2018, and he hauled in nearly 75 percent of the passes quarterback Dak Prescott threw his way.
It doesn’t feel like it because he’s been around so long, but Cobb’s only 28. He’s got a Pro Bowl season under his belt with the Green Bay Packers, and it’s possible a recent statistical decline has more to do with issues with the Green Bay offense than Cobb’s abilities. He’ll have to prove he can stay healthy in Dallas, but his addition is intriguing on a cheap prove-it deal.
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While cornerback Bryce Callahan, offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James and veteran defensive back Kareem Jackson might all be better offseason acquisitions for the Denver Broncos, there’s no bigger addition than new quarterback Joe Flacco.
That’s just the reality when a team makes a major transition at the game’s most important position, especially when said team is desperate for stronger play at quarterback and could be talented enough to compete in 2019.
Can Flacco rejuvenate his career in Denver? He’s got an upgraded offensive line and plenty of defensive support, but that might not be enough to help a veteran signal-caller who hasn’t been special since he was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII.
Among 30 qualified quarterbacks, only Blake Bortles has posted a lower passer rating than Flacco since the end of that 2012 Super Bowl season. Now, at age 34, he’s tasked with trying to finally recapture that magic in Colorado.
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The Detroit Lions made one of the biggest free-agent splashes in franchise history when they handed former New England Patriots edge-defender Trey Flowers an eye-popping five-year, $90 million deal at the beginning of the new league year in March.
After that, there was nothing the Lions could do to change the fact that Flowers was one of their most important additions since they drafted quarterback Matthew Stafford a decade ago.
The eighth-highest-paid defensive player in NFL history has yet to make a Pro Bowl, but he improved significantly during his four years under Bill Belichick in New England. He’s become one of the league’s most versatile, reliable players, and he’s yet to celebrate his 26th birthday.
Flowers can line up anywhere and make a tremendous impact as either a rusher or a run defender. It looks as though the Lions have purchased a soaring stock, and that the 2015 fourth-round pick will become a superstar in 2019.
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The Green Bay Packers added three high-profile defensive players in March, and you could make an argument for all three in this spot.
We’ll go with defensive end Za’Darius Smith over fellow pass-rusher Preston Smith and safety Adrian Amos because he’s getting the biggest bucks and will likely be tasked with leading the charge for Green Bay’s revamped pass rush.
Za’Darius Smith is coming off a breakout 8.5-sack season in Baltimore, where he excelled beyond that sack total. Per Pro Football Focus, Smith’s pass-rushing grade for 2018 ranked 14th among 103 qualified players at that position.
He offers a lot more positional versatility than Preston Smith, and he simply plays a more premium position than Amos, who is strong in coverage but doesn’t stand out as a playmaker.
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With slot specialist Aaron Colvin’s role inside likely to increase following the departure of safety Tyrann Mathieu, and with veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson also gone, nobody who’s joining the Houston Texans will face as much pressure as new corner Bradley Roby.
The Texans are betting big on Roby, who was a solid role player with the Broncos between 2014 and 2017 before he struggled in his first full season as an outside starter in 2018.
Houston essentially traded Jackson for Roby, but the former was a team staple coming off a strong season and is only making a tad more on an annual basis ($33 million over three years versus Roby’s one-year, $10 million deal).
They did, however, get younger. Jackson is 31 and could soon be better suited as a safety, while Roby is yet to turn 27. So it’s a reasonable swap between two players with first-round pedigree, but the Texans have to hope Roby becomes more reliable in 2019.
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There weren’t a lot of additions to choose from for the Indianapolis Colts, who remained disciplined and conservative in free agency despite having oodles of money to spend. The only key players they’ve added are wide receiver Devin Funchess and pass-rusher Justin Houston, and there’s little doubt Houston is the more significant acquisition.
Funchess should play a big role, but four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and breakout Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron are the top options in that passing game. Meanwhile, Houston immediately becomes the top weapon for a pass rush that was in desperate need of more talent entering the offseason.
Houston might be slightly beyond his prime at age 30, but he still had 18.5 sacks in 27 games over the last two seasons, and his PFF win rate of 19.3 percent ranked fifth among NFL edge-rushers. According to PFF’s Michael Renner, he actually had a higher pass-rushing grade last season than Trey Flowers, who landed the most lucrative defensive deal of this free-agent signing period.
Houston’s presence could be massive for a defense that, according to Football Outsiders, had the fourth-lowest adjusted sack rate in the NFL last season.
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Apologies to Geoff Swaim, Jake Ryan and Chris Conley, but this was the offseason of Nick Foles for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who finally have a proven winner with clutch tendencies at the quarterback position.
It’s now or never for a Jaguars team that is loaded with talent but possesses an increasingly expensive, aging roster. Blake Bortles was a bust, and the Jags couldn’t afford to roll the dice on another quarterback in the draft without having to wait for the verdict on said prospect. Instead, they invested in a Super Bowl MVP with a Pro Bowl nod and the third-highest-rated passing season in NFL history (2013) on his resume.
It’s fair to wonder if Foles can succeed outside Philadelphia, and even with the Eagles he provided a limited sample of sustained success. He has a lot to prove in his new home, but that doesn’t change the fact that he brings a lot more hope to Jacksonville.
How the 30-year-old performs in what is likely to be his first full season as an NFL starter will be one of the most interesting storylines of the 2019 NFL campaign.
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Even though it had three star front-seven defenders in Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Chris Jones, the Kansas City Chiefs defense put up poor broad numbers in 2019. That might have been partly a result of the fact that the defense lacked balance, as the secondary was a major weak spot throughout the year.
So with Houston, Ford and injury-plagued star safety Eric Berry gone, plenty of pressure will fall on new Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu to give the secondary more of a playmaking presence in 2019.
The Honey Badger is still only 26 years old, we know he’s got All-Pro capabilities and he’s coming off a strong season in Houston. He isn’t the player he was when he went to the Pro Bowl with five interceptions in 2015, and his injury history could prevent him from climbing back to those heights. But again, he’s still young, wildly talented and super-versatile.
That should make him a welcome addition to a defense that ranked 31st in the league in pass D in 2019.
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For the eerily quiet Los Angeles Chargers, this either had to go to Thomas Davis or quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who in a perfect world won’t see the field in 2019 anyway. So the ageless three-time Pro Bowler gets the nod ahead of his 15th NFL season (but first outside Carolina).
Davis, who signed a two-year, $10.5 million deal to join the Bolts last month, is no longer a star but remains a steady presence at a position that requires steadiness. He’ll bring much-needed depth to that linebacker corps and inject leadership and experience into a relatively young defensive unit.
Per PFF, Davis’ “forced incompletion rate of 10.6 percent ranked sixth out of the 48 linebackers who saw at least 40 targets during the regular season.” So he’s still a highly effective player and is bound to make a difference in L.A.
Even at age 36.
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The Los Angeles Rams won’t have veteran safety Lamarcus Joyner in 2019, but his replacement is a potential Hall of Famer who is 34 on paper but about 24 in spirit.
Eric Weddle might be beyond his prime, but it’s hard to tell. The 12-year veteran is coming off an incredible three-year stretch with the Ravens in which he didn’t miss a single game and was a perennial Pro Bowler. Per PFF, he missed just five tackles and gave up only 111 yards in coverage throughout the 2018 season, and he’s only a year removed from a six-pick 2017 season.
So look for Weddle to play a tremendous role as part of an old but remarkably talented Rams defense. This team is all-in but is only on the hook for $10.5 million over the next two years with Weddle.
Throw in that the two-time first-team All-Pro is also a well-reputed leader in the locker room and this is a no-brainer.
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The rebuilding Miami Dolphins smartly stayed away from the free-agent market, but they did make a transition at the game’s most important position by trading quarterback Ryan Tannehill before signing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Since Fitzpatrick is projected to be their starting quarterback in 2019, that move is inevitably the biggest one of the offseason by a team that might prefer losses over wins in the fall. And if that’s the case, the Fitzpatrick acquisition could be a dangerous one.
The 36-year-old lacks consistency and isn’t likely to lead Miami to the playoffs, but he did average a league-high 9.6 yards per pass attempt in 2018 while becoming just the 14th quarterback in league history to post three qualified passer ratings of 140 or higher.
Fitzpatrick can get hot, which might cause Miami to back into some wins. And for better or worse, that’s big.
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The Minnesota Vikings needed to bolster the offensive line this offseason after that unit struggled mightily across the board in 2018. Unfortunately, they didn’t make any monumental changes, but they’re gambling on new right guard Josh Kline.
The 29-year-old struggled last year with the Tennessee Titans, but he’s been a reliable starter at various points throughout a six-year career with the Titans and Patriots.
At the very least, Kline appears to be a good schematic fit for Minnesota. And it wouldn’t take much to provide an upgrade over the departed Mike Remmers, who was a mess last season and remains unsigned.
Plus, his three-year deal guarantees Kline just $7.25 million, and the Vikings will likely address the line early in next week’s draft.
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It won’t be easy for the Patriots to replace Trey Flowers, but Bill Belichick has mastered the art of replacing quality players, and at least he’s got veteran pass-rusher Michael Bennett to work with.
The Patriots acquired the 33-year-old three-time Pro Bowler in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles last month, and he should have a chance to make a tremendous impact where so many other past-their-prime vets have. After all, Bennett is far from done. He’s coming off a nine-sack season in Philly, and all three of his Pro Bowl campaigns came beyond his 30th birthday while he was a member of the oft-dominant Seattle Seahawks.
Per Pro Football Focus, only Von Miller and Khalil Mack have more pressures dating back to 2014 than Bennett, who had as many pressures as Flowers and J.J. Watt in 2018.
With Bennett playing a large role, don’t be surprised if the Pats’ pass rush doesn’t miss a beat sans Flowers.
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The New Orleans Saints replaced retired center Max Unger with the more-than-capable and somewhat promising Nick Easton, which is a nice move but doesn’t rock the boat in an exciting way. Ditto for the addition of defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who has yet to live up to his potential and might have a limited impact if Sheldon Rankins gets healthy and David Onyemata can continue to flourish.
But then there’s tight end Jared Cook, who somehow lingered on the open market before landing with New Orleans, where he could immediately become a prime target for 40-year-old Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Cook has limited long-term upside as a 10-year veteran who is now 32, which might explain why he wasn’t in high demand as a free agent. Still, he’s perfect for a team that is in win-now mode and needed help at the tight end position.
Dude is somewhat quietly coming off an 896-yard Pro Bowl season in which he caught a career-high 67.3 percent of the passes thrown his way, and his rate-based stats could be even better with the super-efficient Brees throwing the passes in 2019.
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New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has made it clear that the Beckham trade hinged on Cleveland including safety Jabrill Peppers, even going out on a limb to equate the emerging 23-year-old with a first-round pick.
That argument was a stretch, because while Peppers was indeed a No. 25 overall selection in the 2017 draft, he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations 29 games into his pro career. And it’s safe to say the Giants wouldn’t be able to fetch a first-rounder in return for Peppers right now.
Still, Gettleman obviously has extremely high hopes for a young, talented player who did in fact make progress as a 16-game starter in his sophomore campaign with the Browns. He became a better pass-rusher, he became better in coverage, he improved against the run, and he took fewer penalties.
Peppers could be in for a breakout third season, and you know the Giants are going to give him every opportunity to flourish there.
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Maybe the New York Jets overpaid Le’Veon Bell for a running back, but Bell’s $13.1 million average annual salary still pales in comparison to the five-year, $85 million contract Gang Green handed to C.J. Mosley.
That made Mosley the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in the history of the sport by a wide margin. Next on the list are Anthony Barr and Kwon Alexander, both of whom signed deals last month worth $13.5 million per season.
So Mosley is automatically the Jets’ biggest addition, even if Bell or expensive new slot receiver Jamison Crowder have a more profound impact while providing support for young quarterback Sam Darnold.
The Jets are paying the 26-year-old four-time Pro Bowler like a megastar. And even if he never lives up to that money as a non-pass-rusher, Mosley will have a good chance of becoming a perennial All-Pro in New York.
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Yes, this deserves a “duh.”
Antonio Brown is easily the most decorated active receiver in the NFL, and he shouldn’t be far beyond his prime at the age of 30. He’s caught at least 100 passes for more than 1,200 yards and eight-plus touchdowns in an unbelievable six consecutive seasons, and he won’t have to do much more of that to be considered a Hall of Famer.
So while the Oakland Raiders also made Trent Brown the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history before signing LaMarcus Joyner and Tyrell Williams to big-money contracts, few will dispute the notion that Brown’s arrival in Oakland is more monumental than pretty much anything else that has happened in the NFL this offseason.
Of course, that could change if the Raiders wind up with Kyler Murray on the roster in a little over a week.
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New offensive skill-position players DeSean Jackson and Jordan Howard are hogging most of the buzz as they start (or restart) their Philadelphia Eagles careers, but Jackson is no longer the player he was during his original tenure with Philly and Howard will likely only be part of a rotation after an ugly 2018 season in Chicago.
Instead, watch for veteran defensive tackle Malik Jackson to be at least an equally significant factor at an even higher price than either Jackson or Howard.
The 29-year-old showed signs of decline during his final season with the Jaguars in 2018, but he’s still an excellent inside pass-rusher who was a Pro Bowler the year before that.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz probably can’t wait to get his hands on Jackson, who at the very least should bring some more veteran experience to a stacked defensive line that already includes Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. It’ll be interesting to see how Schwartz utilizes him and if he might be on the brink of a rebound season in a new environment.
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Only four NFL teams intercepted fewer passes last season than the Pittsburgh Steelers, who often struggled in pass defense and entered the offseason in need of an upgrade to the outside starting cornerback spot opposite Joe Haden.
Enter veteran Steven Nelson, whose PFF grade rose for the fourth season in a row as he intercepted a career-high four passes while generally performing well in coverage during his walk season with the Chiefs in 2018.
The 2015 third-round pick might never become a star, but he’s already a solid starter and there’s room for the 26-year-old to grow.
So there’s little doubt he was the key March addition for a typically conservative team that only added Nelson and borderline starters Donte Moncrief and Mark Barron on the free-agent market.
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Ben Margot/Associated Press
The San Francisco 49ers spent big bucks on off-ball linebacker Kwon Alexander and also added running back Tevin Coleman in March. But it’d be a shock if either of those guys made a Dee Ford-level impact for a 49ers team that not only traded a second-round pick for Ford but also signed the 28-year-old to a five-year, $85.5 million contract extension.
Ford’s coming off a breakout season in which he made the Pro Bowl with 13 sacks and a league-best seven forced fumbles. Per PFF, he also led all edge-rushers with 78 quarterback pressures.
The 49ers are betting heavily that said campaign wasn’t an anomaly.
That’s risky considering he had just 17.5 sacks and two forced fumbles during his first four seasons combined, but Ford was a first-round pick in 2014 and it appears he’s found his A-game at the pro level.
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Veteran guard Mike Iupati is the only player on either side of the ball acquired by the Seattle Seahawks thus far this offseason who is expected to have a chance to start. So he’s got to be the “biggest” offseason addition for a team that pinched pennies as it awaited critical contract-related junctures for several key in-house players, including the recently extended Russell Wilson.
Iupati was a strong player for much of the first seven years of his career in San Francisco and Arizona, but he’s missed all but 11 games over the last two seasons and didn’t perform well during that limited action.
Still, the accomplished 31-year-old might have a bounce-back campaign in him in a steadier environment with a more reliable quarterback, and he should at least be an upgrade over J.R. Sweezy in the left guard spot.
The Seahawks are in desperate need of a boost to their oft-ridiculed offensive line, and Iupati at least brings something new to that unit.
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It’s been a fairly quiet offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who sat out much of free agency but did add a high-upside linebacker at a low price with the acquisition of former Broncos role player Shaquil Barrett.
The 2014 undrafted free agent often displayed a strong repertoire as a pass-rusher during his five seasons with the Broncos, but he was always buried behind Von Miller and other highly drafted edge-defenders like Derek Wolfe, Shane Ray and Bradley Chubb.
He should have more opportunities in Tampa, where he should also be inspired on a one-year, prove-it contract. And there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll improve. Barrett is only 26 and should have almost all of the tread on his tires considering his workload in Denver.
The Colorado State product has posted strong PFF grades in each of his NFL seasons. Look for him to excel behind a deep defensive line with the Bucs.
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This was a tossup between wide receiver Adam Humphries and guard Rodger Saffold, both of whom should make life a hell of a lot easier on Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in 2019.
It might be a make-or-break season for Mariota, who has lacked durability and consistency and is now entering a contract year at age 25. But while the 2015 No. 2 overall pick has almost always had good offensive tackles protecting him against edge-rushers and relatively talented receivers out wide, Mariota could use the support of both an established veteran guard and a reliable slot receiver. That’s what he’s getting with Saffold and Humphries, although we’re giving the latter the edge here because the receiving corps was probably a weaker unit than the line to begin with.
Saffold takes over for Quinton Spain, who wasn’t a standout left guard but was at least a steady presence there in recent years. It’s been a while, though, since Mariota’s benefited from a steady presence in the slot, where Humphries gained steam with a quietly strong 2018 campaign in Tampa.
The 25-year-old has been steadily improving throughout his career, and he set career highs with 76 catches, 816 yards and five touchdowns while hauling in 72.4 percent of the passes thrown his way in 2018. Look for him to build on that in Nashville.
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We finish with an obvious one, although we did briefly consider quarterback Case Keenum for the Washington Redskins simply because of his position and Washington’s current conundrum under center.
Ultimately, though, this had to be Landon Collins, whom the Redskins turned into the highest-paid safety in NFL history despite the fact he’s a box safety who struggles in coverage.
Washington is clearly hoping the 25-year-old can become a game-changer on defense. And while it’s hard to get past the money considering Collins’ style of play in this era, he is still a three-time Pro Bowler who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting just three seasons ago.
If he can recapture some of that magic, Collins will undoubtedly make a massive impact in D.C. But even if he doesn’t, that $14 million average annual salary will keep him more than a tad relevant.
Transaction and salary information courtesy of Spotrac.