The NFL off-season is coming to a close. With most teams’ acquisitions finalized and the 2017 draft in the books, the team training camp rosters are nearly complete as off-season workouts approach. Most teams have begun their off-season training activities, ready to kick off the 2017 NFL Season. In the Big Apple, it has been a tale of two teams as the Jets and Giants have very different outlooks for their seasons.
The Jets entered the offseason with a bleak forecast for the future and they came out looking even worse. Gang Green parted with almost all of their veteran talent. The team released Brandon Marshall, its top wide receiver, who will be staying in the Meadowlands, as he signed with the Giants days after his release. The team also parted with seven-time Pro Bowlers Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold, who both remain unsigned. Finally, the team released former Pro Bowl receiver Eric Decker and linebacker David Harris, who remains second all-time in team tackles. These releases freed up cap space for the future, which allowed the team to sign on new players such as quarterback Josh McCown and cornerback Morris Claiborne. Both are solid players, yet are injury-prone.
While their off-season was bleak, the Jets had a strong draft as they drafted star safety Jamal Adams and speedy wide out ArDarius Stewart. It is hard to believe that this roster has been constructed to win with several question marks at key positions, and it seems as if the Jets will be playing for a pick in the 2018 draft instead of playing for a championship. The team is currently undergoing organized team activities and is set to begin mandatory minicamp on June 13.
While the Jets had a rough offseason, the Giants’ off-season was largely a success. They made several improvements while keeping the teams core intact, fortifying a team that made the playoffs this past season. Big Blue used the draft to add weapons for the Eli Manning-led offense. Tight end Evan Ingram and running back Wayne Gallman look to shine in their rookie seasons, and look to uplift an offense that had a rough finish to the 2016 season. While the team lost defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins in free agency, it immediately replaced him with second round draft pick Dalvin Tomlinson. It also looked to the future of the offense by drafting University of California quarterback Davis Webb, who will presumably be the quarterback once Manning retires.
Finally, the Giants made a splash in free agency, as they acquired Marshall, whom they signed away from the Jets, and offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, whom they signed away from the Chargers. They hope these two free agent acquisitions will bolster the offense, and lead them deep into the playoffs.
For all the good the Giants have experienced this offseason, the story of the Giants’ organized team activities is the absence of star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who claims to be working on his own. While he has been absent, the team expects him to show up at mandatory minicamp.
Other teams around the league have had very productive off-seasons, starting with the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.
The best team in the league got even better this off-season, as they traded their first-round pick for the New Orleans Saints’ former top receiver Brandon Cooks. The team also resigned defensive captain Dont’a Hightower, as well as acquired cornerback Stephon Gilmore and tight end Dwayne Allen. The defending champions are looking to become the first repeat champions in the NFL, since they did so in 2003 and 2004, and certainly have the roster to do so.
Teams elsewhere also made huge season-defining signings and moves this off-season. On the West Coast, the Oakland Raiders signed running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. Lynch was a touchdown machine for the Seattle Seahawks and helped lead the team to a Super Bowl victory in 2013, and an appearance in 2014. The Raiders are hoping he can do the same for them, as they have built a very similar team to the Seattle’s Super Bowl team. Also, in the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers signed star Martellus Bennett, six-time Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans and cornerback Davon House.
The free agent splash the Packers made is very unusual, as they usually choose to build through the draft. The free agents, as well as the rookies from a strong draft class look to lead Aaron Rodgers to his second Super Bowl appearance. Finally, the Saints signed future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson, the Seahawks signed running back Eddie Lacy, the Cowboys released Tony Romo, who will be joining Jim Nantz in the CBS Broadcasting booth and the Bears released Jay Cutler, who will be joining the Fox for NFL Color Commentary.
This NFL off-season was a busy one. Teams can finally focus on game plans, strategies and conditioning as the 2017 NFL Season nears. The NFL off-season is almost over, and kick off is coming soon.