To be fair, until the NFL seasons starts, we won’t know what off-season moves will pay off brilliantly or turn out to be terrible decisions. But that won’t stop us from thinking like we know what moves were right and what moves were wrong. With that in mind, here are the five smartest moves of the NFL off-season.
Ravens Signing Mark Ingram
As much as the Ravens want Lamar Jackson to throw the ball more, their offense is going to revolve around running the ball, preferably without Jackson doing too much with his legs and getting hurt. Obviously, things worked out well late last season with Gus Edwards. But Baltimore will need someone a little more reliable, and that makes Ingram a great addition. Ingram may have some injuries in his past, but he was a Pro Bowler two years ago and will be a great leader and complement to younger backs like Edwards and Justice Hill.
Patriots Bringing Back Jamie Collin
Collins didn’t have a great time in Cleveland, but you just know he’s going to have a renaissance now that he’s back in New England. Remember, he was a second-team All-Pro during his last full season with the Patriots. New England is getting him back cheap and there’s every chance he’ll fit right in and regain his old form.
Raiders Trading for Antonio Brown
Let’s see, trading a 3rd-round pick and a 5th-round pick for a seven-time Pro Bowler, yeah, sounds like a smart move. Brown may have been disgruntled in Pittsburgh, but teaming up with Jon Gruden in the Silver and Black seems like a good fit for all parties. He’ll have a Pro-Bowl-caliber quarterback in Derek Carr throwing him the ball, so this feels like a slam-dunk move.
Colts Signing Justin Houston
Houston probably isn’t the elite pass rusher he was earlier in his career. But he’s had at least nine sacks in each of the last two seasons, so he can still get after the quarterback. The Colts had some money to spend this off-season, and devoting $24 million over two years to Houston was a good way to spend some of it. The Indianapolis defense was top-10 in points allowed last season despite being last in sacks, so Houston should be a big help.
Browns Trading for Odell Beckham Jr.
The price was high but Beckham at his best is one of the most exciting and impactful players in the league. He provides genuine star power for a team that thinks they’ve turned a corner and is ready to compete for a playoff spot. In short, Beckham is a game-changer, and since the Giants made him available, the other 30 teams look stupid compared to the Browns for not finding a way to trade for him.