5 NFL Players That Will Have Biggest Impact on New Teams
As we see every offseason, important players can have major impacts on NFL teams.
Last year it was the Philadelphia Eagles signing one-year deals with former 2012 draft pick Nick Foles, as well as wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, that proved to be the most important roster moves of the year. They both helped Philly get a Super Bowl win, after all.
Who will 2018’s most impactful roster moves be? Check out our predictions.
Alex Smith – Washington Redskins, QB
With Kirk Cousins now in Minnesota – a move we’ll get to in a moment – the Washington Redskins added former Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. The Redskins are extremely excited about Smith and the organization believes that it actually improved at that position. Smith brings veteran leadership and the ability to manage an offense better than the majority of QBs in the league.
Expect more deep balls from Smith this season than we’ve seen in the past, as he’ll have a deep threat in Paul Richardson. Coach Jay Gruden will also utilize Smith’s strengths including his ability to throw accurately over the middle. Smith will have multiple options including Richardson, Jordan Reed, Jameson Crowder, and even rookie Trey Quinn.
Jarvis “Juice” Landry – Cleveland Browns, WR
After four years in Miami – including a 2017 where he led the league in total receptions with 112 – Jarvis Landry made the move to Cleveland with the hopes of becoming more than just a slot receiver. If you’ve been watching HBO’s Hard Knocks then you’ve already seen what the Browns hope to do with Landry, and that’s turning him into a deep threat. He has unbelievable hands and great speed, so he’ll certainly be a major target for Tyrod Taylor (and inevitably Baker Mayfield at some point). His signing also opens things up for fellow deep threat Josh Gordon. Teams won’t be able to double Gordon as much with Juice Landry on the field.
Landry signed a five-year, $75.5 million contract back in April. He’s one of the highest paid receivers in the league and, because of that, you can bet the Browns’ offense will target him often.
Tyrann Mathieu – Houston Texans, DB
Sure he had an off year in 2017, but the Honey Badger can play some football. In 2015, he had 80 tackles and five interceptions in 14 games. The Cardinals got out of the Mathieu game because of his price tag and question marks about whether he can stay healthy or not, but his move to Houston makes an already scary defense even scarier. Think about it: the Texans now have Mathieu, J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. That’s a scary defensive core – one that, as a Colts fan, I’m not excited to see twice this regular season.
As a Texan, Tyrann Mathieu will see Andrew Luck, Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota two times each. Don’t be surprised if he picks off all three of them.
Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers, RB
In 2017, Jet McKinnon benefited from the unfortunate Dalvin Cook season-ending injury. McKinnon had a career year, finishing with 570 rushing yards, 421 receiving yards, and five total touchdowns. His ability to generate offense in both the running and passing game makes him a pivotal piece for his new team, the 49ers. With Kyle Shanahan as his head coach and Jimmy Garoppolo under center, Jet will get a lot of work in the number one running back role.
Garoppolo already showed what he can do as the leader of the 49ers (five starts in 2017, five wins) and a versatile offensive weapon like McKinnon will only help the NFC West squad. He could easily break 1,200 total yards and have 10 total touchdowns in 2018.
Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings, QB
Last year, the Minnesota Vikings made it all the way to the NFC Championship with Case Keenum under center. Now Keenum, former starter Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are all on different teams. Former Redskin Kirk Cousins is the new man in the driver’s seat for the Vikings offense and he’s poised to have a huge impact on this team, for better or worse.
If all goes well, Cousins will have one of the NFL’s best young running backs in Dalvin Cook for 16 games, as well as two top receiving targets in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. These three players are vital for Minnesota’s success, but Cousins will need to thrive in coordinator John DeFilippo’s offensive scheme in order for the Vikings to have a shot at the Super Bowl. If he can live up to his potential, this acquisition could prove to be the year’s most impactful one.
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(Cropped image courtesy of Quasimime via Flickr.)