Football: it’s an evolving game every season. Players are constantly on the move from team to team due to age, money, or simply because it’s their last option. Teams can be just a few signings away from making a run at the Lombardi trophy, or on the contrary can be selling these last few pieces as they enter a “rebuild” period. This is a list of players that will be suiting up for new organizations in 2017. I will be hitting some of the big name offensive signees from the offseason free agency period. Lets get started with the “New Faces in New Places: Offense.”
2016 Team: Minnesota Vikings
2017 Team: New Orleans Saints
A true generational talent in Adrian Peterson was cut by the Minnesota Vikings after 10 seasons. Peterson’s career was filled with plenty of highs like his 2012 campaign where he rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. Peterson’s career also was hampered by injuries and being suspended for 15 games during the 2014 season. Peterson was due an $18M team option, which was declined. This left 32-year-old Peterson looking for a job. Peterson then signed a 2-year, $7M deal with the New Orleans Saints.
Peterson arriving in New Orleans creates a position battle for the starting running back spot. Mark Ingram is the current starter and has battled injuries throughout his career only playing a full 16 games in two-of-six NFL seasons. While being the starter, Ingram has only one season of 1,000 yards rushing compared to seven of such seasons for Adrian Peterson.
This lies the problem, Peterson is a Hall of Fame talent that is arguably out of his prime or at the tail end of it. While Ingram is a player who has yet to really put together great seasons consistently, Peterson will come in and be looking at a split backfield. Peterson could be the key to Ingram’s health, as Ingram played all 16 in 2016 while splitting the workload with now 49ers running back Tim Hightower. One big question you need to ask is will New Orleans get Hall of Fame Peterson or will they get an injured 32-year-old running back who can’t find a way to stay on the field?
2016 team: New York Jets
2017 team: New York Giants
After starting his Jets career in 2015, a season in which Marshall led the NFL in touchdowns and finished inside the top 5 in receptions and receiving yards, Marshall’s production dropped off in 2016 due to inefficient quarterback play.
The Jets finished the season 5-11 after being one touchdown short of making the playoffs in 2015. The organization fired most if not all of their assistant coaches while retaining head coach Todd Bowles, cut their starting quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick who was 3rd in the league in interceptions despite only playing 14 games. The Jets then decided to make roster moves that closed the door on any real attempt of making a playoff run. The 32-year-old receiver was released by the Jets in early March only to be signed by the New York Giants.
Marshall will be joining up with the duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning, which will make for an interesting situation. Odell Beckham is one of the best receivers in the NFL and needs to get his targets, so where will Marshall fit in? Marshall has been categorized as “vocal” and a bit of a “diva” when it comes to his thoughts and feelings. Beckham is essentially another Marshall in the way he acts towards the media. It will be interesting to see how two divas react to one another and if they will work together or constantly butt heads and step on one another’s toes.
Eli Manning had a disappointing 2016, finishing 24th in QB rating. Marshall has plenty left in the tank and is just another weapon that can open up more opportunities for Eli and Odell. The Giants also had a hard time moving the ball and gaining yards for first downs. Eli Manning finished 29th in first down percentage and 16th in actual first downs. With Marshall’s big frame and size should help move the chains in turn keeping the G-men’s drives alive.
2016 Team: New York Jets
2017 Team: Tennessee Titans
A former teammate of aforementioned Brandon Marshall, Decker was one of the roster moves that put the Jets into “tanking” mode. Decker was a great receiver in New York posting 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2015. Although in 2016, he only managed to play 3 games before having surgery on his hip and shoulder. The Jets cut ties with the 30-year-old receiver after only three seasons. Decker has since signed a one-year, $3.85M deal with the Titans.
With Eric Decker arriving in Tennessee, his skill set will open up so many opportunities for quarterback Marcus Mariota. In his breakout 2015 season, Decker led the NFL in targets inside the 20 while also leading in targets, receptions and touchdowns inside the 10-yard line. With his big frame at 6’3, 215 pounds, there is no reason he can’t continue to be a touchdown-maker like he has been his entire career. Marcus Mariota has made big strides in the red zone passing for 18 touchdowns to zero interceptions while having the best completion percentage inside the 10-yard line in the entire NFL. Decker will be a big help in the progression of Mariota, who has shown great potential thus far in his young career.
2016 Team: Retired (2015 Seahawks)
2017 Team: Oakland Raiders
Beast Mode is back and ready to “get his more than he get got, doe.” Yes, he actually has said that sentence in an interview. Returning from a brief retirement, Lynch is suited up for his hometown Oakland Raiders and ready to push the Raiders into Super Bowl contention. Lynch spent his early career in Buffalo, but then spent his last five seasons in Seattle, where he won a Super Bowl. Lynch then retired out of thin air after the 2015 season in which he battled some injuries. He took a year off and is now back in the NFL.
Oakland was successful running the ball in 2016 ranking 6th in rushing yards as a team and also in touchdowns. The Raiders offensive line as a unit comes in at number 7 according to Pro Football Focus. With a top-tier offensive line and an upgrade at running back from 2016 Latavius Murray, Oakland’s offense will be more high-powered than it has been in a decade.
Marshawn Lynch has always been a violent runner and I worry that this style of play will hurt his production. Marshawn only played seven games in 2015 and hasn’t taken contact since November 15th, 2015. There is really no way of knowing if his body can still take hits, or since he’s been out of the game for almost two years if his body just fall apart when he does get hit. If Lynch comes into the 2017 season and is the same Beast Mode that we remember, then Oakland will have a serious shot at a Super Bowl.
2016 Team: Kansas City Chiefs
2017 Team: Baltimore Ravens
After being a surprise cut from the Kansas City Chiefs, Jeremy Maclin was being pursued hard by the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens. Bills’ running back and former Eagles teammate, LeSean McCoy, was trying to recruit him to Buffalo. Maclin ultimately decided to take his talents to Baltimore.
Maclin is a very talent receiver and I think people seem to forget that because of his slow 2016 season and the emergence of Tyreek Hill, which put Maclin on the back burners in Kansas City. Maclin’s career stats don’t wow you, but it does show you that he has the potential to be a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown type of receiver. With the retirement of Steve Smith Sr., Maclin will come in and instantly fill that role. Joe Flacco finished 2nd in the NFL in passing attempts (only 1 attempt short of tying 1st place) so there will be plenty of passes to go around. I would expect Maclin to come in and be a great weapon to add to Joe Flacco’s arsenal.
2016 Team: New Orleans Saints
2017 Team: New England Patriots
As if Tom Brady and the Patriots really needed a new play-maker on their high-powered offense. Brandin Cooks spent his first three seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. As a member of the Saints, Cooks had two seasons with over 1,100 yards and 8 or more touchdowns. With a play-maker like Cooks heading to New England, it makes the offense even more difficult to stop. Cooks was traded for New England’s first round pick and also a third round pick. The Patriots also received a fourth round pick with Cooks.
With Cooks joining forces with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, it is definitely a good situation to succeed. The Patriots have to be one of the most consistently dominant offenses in the past decade, but the one piece they seem to be lacking is a big play receiver. The Patriots only had nine completions of 40 or more yards last season. Brandin Cooks himself was tied for first in the NFL with six 40-yard catches last season. I also think they have gotten a Julian Edelman replacement as he enters his 31 year old season. The Patriots are known for trading away their older players for draft picks. Expect Brandin Cooks to be the feature weapon coming in the near future.
2016 Team: Green Bay Packers
2017 Team: Seattle Seahawks
Eddie Lacy, the man who has more money than most of us will this year from simply weighing under a certain weight. Isn’t that a part of the job – being at a healthy playing weight? Lacy has made $110,000 from just being under a required weight and, of course, good for him that he can get these easily achievable goals in his contract. Eddie Lacy has shown great potential during his time in Green Bay, rushing for over 1,100 yards twice before his play tailed off due to injuries and conditioning problems. Still only 26 years old, Lacy has found himself a spot in the Seattle backfield.
Seattle struggled in 2016 with their rushing attack. Ranking 25th in rush yards per game and 16th in rushing touchdowns. The Seahawks leading rusher in 2016 was Christine Michael who had been nothing more than a journeyman up to that point. If Lacy can stay healthy and keep his weight down throughout the season, then a great season is in the cards for him and this could be a piece to the Super Bowl puzzle for Seattle.
Thank you so much for reading! If you enjoyed please check out more of my work and also our other great writers work. We are just getting started and we will be bringing more quality content your way! Follow me on twitter @evankthetank and the site @FlurrySports.