The NFL's Biggest Offseason Moves
During the first week of no sporting events, the NFL offseason provided something that sports fans could focus on during this quarantine period. With lots of stunning trades and free agents signings, fans weren't let down. With that being said, let's go over the biggest moves.
1. DeAndre Hopkins
In the most stunning move, DeAndre Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. Throughout his seven seasons in the league, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has established himself as one of the most valuable non-QBs in the NFL. His tenure with the Houston Texans included four pro bowl appearances, three straight first-team all pro selections, and one second team all pro. He is one of the youngest receivers to record 600 receptions and 8000 receiving yards. Though his route running, size, and speed are amazing, his hands are a different story. He's always guaranteed to make tough catches in crucial situations that not a lot of other receivers could make. With franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson, Hopkins' production finally resulted in more wins with the two winning their first playoff game together. But on the first day of the legal tampering period, rumors started to pile up about Houston shopping Hopkins for draft picks. Those rumors became true shortly after when they sent him to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a second and fourth round pick this year, and a fourth round pick next year. It's a big win for the Cardinals, as they didn't give up much to get quarterback and Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray, a reliable long term weapon. He and the Cardinals' offense will be heading into next season with a lot of momentum.
2. Tom Brady
After 20 years, Tom Brady announced that he would be leaving the New England Patriots before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later that day. In his 20 seasons playing football's most important position, Brady's reign with the Patriots may be one of the best tenures an athlete has had. He won MVP three times, holds the record for career touchdown passes in the regular season and postseason with 614, and made both the 2000s and 2010s all decade team. His best ability is winning: something he's often done a record 249 times. Six of those wins came in the Super Bowl where he won MVP in four of those. However, things started to change when longtime coach Bill Belichick made him available at the 2017 trade deadline causing their friendship to take a hit. Although their success in the regular and postseason continued, Brady was plotting his exit, which became more of a reality when their season ended. On the second day of the legal tampering period, he announced his farewell to New England before signing with the Buccaneers hours after the announcement. Brady's age and decline in the second half of last season do bring some concerns to the signing. But with an offense featuring the best wide receiver duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, Brady has the chance to change the culture by making one last playoff run.
3. Darius Slay Jr.
In what was an expected move to eventually happen, the Philadelphia Eagles traded for cornerback Darius Slay Jr. of the Detroit Lions. Though he didn't make an immediate impact as a rookie, Slay has since emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL despite the losses piling up for the Lions in recent years. His ball skills are probably his best quality which is seen from his 19 career interceptions. Eight of those came in 2017: his breakout season that earned him an all pro appearance and the first of three straight pro bowl appearances. But that's not his only attribute. He has the ability to not only travel with the best receivers in the league, but hold them in check. This is demonstrated by the opponent's passer rating he's allowed in the last three years, which has never been higher than 81.6. Slay was happy for the his first five seasons as a Lion, but things changed when coach Matt Patricia was hired in 2018. He told Slay that he "wasn't elite" and later insulted him for previously applauding a teammate during a team meeting. Slay didn't fight back, but eventually requested a fresh start which he was granted in a trade to the Eagles for a third and fifth round pick. This is a major boast for an Eagles' secondary that hasn't been the same unit since winning the Super Bowl three years ago. Philly should be able to rely on Slay's cover skills to fill in their defense's biggest need.
4. Stefon Diggs
After tweeting that he wanted out of Minnesota, wide receiver Stefon Diggs got his wish in a trade to the Buffalo Bills. Despite being drafted in the fifth round by the Minnesota Vikings, wide receiver Diggs has had a productive five seasons. Since leading the team in receiving yards as a rookie, his role on the offense has increased. In his last three seasons, he never caught less than 94 passes and his receiving yards total has gone up. In addition, he helped the Vikings make the playoffs twice in that span with one play sticking out. Facing elimination with 10 seconds left in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints, Diggs caught a pass and stayed inbounds en route to a time expiring touchdown dubbed the Minneapolis Miracle. But despite the fact that Diggs' role with the team has increased, he felt like he should treated as the man. Rumors came out about Diggs' frustration in which he expressed at various times of the season. Although the team ended up advancing to the divisional round, Diggs still felt unhappy about his situation and demanded a trade. Later that day, he was sent to the Bills for a first and sixth round pick this year, and a fourth next year. Out of all the trades I mentioned, his was probably the most even trade. Minnesota got a strong return from Buffalo, and Diggs will be relied upon to provide young quarterback Josh Allen with another weapon after making the playoffs.
It's unfortunate that we have to wait until the NFL draft for some sporting events to occur, but this period of trades and free agent signings has kept us in tabs with sports. With all of the player transactions I mentioned, it'll be intriguing to see which move will make the biggest impact next season.
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