The brunt of the offseason is in the books as every big-name free agent has found a home – be it with his old team or in a new city. Some teams improved greatly by adding top-tier help, while others faltered, watching players leave for more money.
A handful of players had to be extremely happy with their teams’ moves this offseason, namely the quarterbacks whose clubs added receivers and offensive linemen. These nine guys will benefit from the moves made this offseason.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
Winston will reap the benefits of the Buccaneers adding free-agent receiver DeSean Jackson on offense. Opposite Mike Evans, he’s exactly what Tampa Bay needs. Big plays were hard to come by last season for the Bucs, but that’ll change in 2017 with Jackson in the mix.
Winston has a big arm to chuck it deep, he just didn’t have the necessary playmakers on the outside to make those big plays happen. Jackson isn’t a one-trick pony, either. He can take slants 70 yards to the house, or turn a screen pass into a 15-yard gain and a first down. It’s his complementary style that will dramatically impact the Buccaneers’ offense next season, particularly Winston’s production.
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Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
The Eagles made it clear that surrounding Wentz with talent was a huge priority – and it still is. Adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith will work wonders for the second-year quarterback, giving him two more weapons on the outside. Jeffery in particular will be a big addition, especially considering how inconsistent and unreliable Philadelphia’s top receivers were last year.
Wentz should improve dramatically with not only another year under his belt but with a big possession receiver capable of making plays downfield at his disposal. Jeffery also doesn’t have the same issues with drops as Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams
The Rams’ offensive line still isn’t great, but the addition of Andrew Whitworth will help a great deal. And not just for Jared Goff. Gurley should see wider running lanes with Whitworth on the left side, taking the place of draft bust Greg Robinson.
The Rams also signed Robert Woods, who figures to be their No. 2 receiver. He’s a good run blocker in the slot, which will help Gurley when he bounces runs to the outside. Sean McVay has made it clear Gurley will be a big part of the offense, and adding Whitworth will certainly help in that regard.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins
Pryor has spent his entire career in Cleveland, which is never a good thing for any receiver. His quarterbacks last season were not good, nor did he have any consistency with who was throwing him passes each week. Now, he’s in Washington, where Kirk Cousins loves to sling it around the field.
Do you think Pryor will be happy about having one quarterback and one quarterback only starting for the entire season? He certainly will be, and it’ll help his production significantly. Look for him to put up more than 1,200 yards and possibly eclipse double-digit touchdowns with Cousins at quarterback. The Redskins had the seventh-most pass attempts in the league last season.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
Brady has proved he can get it done with a mediocre supporting cast at wide receiver, so he doesn’t need elite targets on the outside. Yet, that’s what Bill Belichick is giving him in Brandin Cooks. He’ll be Brady’s best receiver since Randy Moss, which is not only indicative of his ability but of the Patriots’ lack of stars the past 10 years.
Not to mention, the Patriots also traded for Dwayne Allen, an athletic tight end to pair with Rob Gronkowski. The rich get richer.
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The Browns’ entire backfield
The Browns addressed the offensive line right away in free agency, signing both Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter to contracts fairly early in the process. They were both huge additions to an offensive line that was abysmal in 2016, which should not only work in their quarterback’s favor but also to help the running game.
Isaiah Crowell – who has yet to sign his restricted free-agent tender – and Duke Johnson will have larger holes to run through, thus improving a ground game that was in the bottom half of the NFL last season.
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Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Giants
The Giants’ receiving corps had a chance to be the very best in the NFL last season, boasting Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. They were good, but all three players were very similar in their size and playing style. Now, the Giants are going in a different direction, adding a big possession receiver in Brandon Marshall.
He’s going to open up everything on offense for both Beckham and Shepard, drawing the attention of safeties when he goes over the middle and in the red zone. Beckham is going to benefit from having another alpha receiver on the other side, giving him more one-on-one matchups than he had last year.
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Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
The Lions lost offensive linemen Larry Warford and Riley Reiff in free agency, but they quickly made up for it. Detroit grabbed Ricky Wagner and T.J. Lang, upgrading at both positions for slightly more money. That’ll not only help Ameer Abdullah and the running game, but it’ll also keep Matthew Stafford upright … and probably happy.
Wagner is one of the best right tackles in the game, and when healthy, Lang is a terrific Pro Bowl guard. The Lions’ offensive line wasn’t among the worst in the league last season, but it certainly wasn’t one of the best. Things could have gotten really bad had the Lions lost Warford and Reiff without replacing them with Pro Bowl players.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
The Cowboys were quiet this offseason and didn’t add anyone on offense. In fact, they lost starting left guard Ronald Leary. You’re probably asking why Elliott will benefit from this offseason’s moves. It has to do with what the rest of the NFC East did, not what the Cowboys did (or didn’t do). The Redskins lost Chris Baker, the Eagles lost Bennie Logan and the Giants watched Johnathan Hankins sign with the Colts.
That’s not to say their defensive lines will be terrible now, but they certainly won’t be as strong as they were in 2016. Baker, Logan and Hankins are all great run-stoppers, and now Elliott will play six games in the NFC East without them in the mix. He’s going to have some big games in the division this season.