Every NFL Team's Best Offseason Acquisition so Far
For many fans, the NFL offseason is the best time of the year, as teams make move after move, sometimes acquiring a dozen new players. But there is always one acquisition that stands out as a team's best.
Just what makes an acquisition a team's best move? For one, it has to be a player who will add value. Two, the price has to be appropriate, be that trade compensation, a contract or both.
For the sake of making this interesting, draft picks were not included. How fun would this list be if every team's best acquisition was its first-round pick? Only free-agent signings and traded players were considered.
You know the moves that were made over the offseason. Which ones stand out as each team's single best?
Best Acquisition: Martellus Bennett, TE
A great athlete and a better blocker, Martellus Bennett is a well above an average starting tight end. The 26-year-old signed a reasonable, four-year, $20 million deal with Chicago after spending a year with the New York Giants.
In 2012, Bennett caught 55 passes for 626 yards. If used properly, he could put up even better numbers while also impacting the Bears' run game.
For $5 million a year, that is not a bad deal.
Best Acquisition: James Harrison, OLB
Injuries have been more of a factor in recent years, yet James Harrison has 15 sacks over the past two seasons. That's not a bad number by any means, and Harrison can still be an impact player.
The 35-year-old will have plenty of chances to rush the passer in Mike Zimmer's defense, and he will pick up some sacks. Harrison isn't a defensive player of the year candidate anymore, but he is a useful player who can contribute on Cincinnati's young defense.
Best Acquisition: Manny Lawson, OLB
There aren't any great options here, as Kevin Kolb is Manny Lawson's only competition. And can a quarterback as bad as Kolb, who may not even start, be a team's best acquisition?
Lawson can play outside linebacker in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, having done both in the past, and Buffalo seems likely to use both looks. His versatility will be valuable for a transitioning defense, even if his play on the field isn't great.
Best Acquisition: Wes Welker, WR
Huge surprise, I know.
Wes Welker has caught at least 100 passes for at least 1,000 yards in five of the last six seasons. He is the model of consistency and a great option on underneath passes. He is also joining Denver on a surprisingly reasonable two-year, $12 million contract.
Peyton Manning, if you haven't noticed, is pretty much the king of underneath passes. He and Welker were made to play together. With Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker also at wide receiver, Manning should have plenty of options.
Louis Vasquez was also considered here, but his impact is unlikely to equal Welker's.
Best Acquisition: Paul Kruger, OLB
A remarkably efficient pass-rusher, Kruger is a good all-around player with the ability to improve. No one will mistake Paul Kruger for DeMarcus Ware, but he is a terrific addition for a team transitioning to a 3-4 defense.
With Kruger on the roster, Cleveland has three legitimate pass-rushers. The Browns have actual flexibility, and Kruger should help form a strong foundation in the team's front seven.
Another consideration here was Desmond Bryant, who will play defensive end. Bryant is an outstanding athlete who has flown under the radar because, well, he played for the Raiders.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Best Acquisition: Darrelle Revis, CB
If he recovers from his torn ACL like he should, Darrelle Revis will, once again, be the NFL's premier cornerback. Tampa Bay traded the No. 13 pick to acquire Revis, but he is more than worth the cost.
The Buccaneers did have to give Revis a pretty hefty contract, though he should play up to it. Revis' presence will immediately provide a huge boost to Tampa Bay's pass defense, which was beyond awful in 2012.
Acquiring a player like Revis is a big deal, and the aggressive move will pay off.
Best Acquisition: Carson Palmer, QB
There was a definite lack of options here. It was essentially either Carson Palmer or Antoine Cason, neither of whom can be called a great addition.
So it's Palmer. The former Oakland Raider isn't great by any means, but he is a capable stopgap who can at least throw vertically. Certainly, he is an upgrade over Arizona's options in 2012.
In all likelihood, Palmer won't be in Arizona for too long. He is just enough of an upgrade to give the Cardinals a couple more wins, but not much more than that.
San Diego Chargers
Best Acquisition: Derek Cox, CB
A solid cornerback, Derek Cox is capable of covering most teams' No. 1 wideout by himself. He won't be confused for Darrelle Revis, but he is a more-than-capable defender.
Even with Cox on the roster, San Diego's cornerbacks are bad. Without him, they would be dreadful, and Cox came at a fair price.
Cox provided a clear upgrade for the Chargers, and the team didn't even have to break the bank for it.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best Acquisition: Sean Smith, CB
Over the offseason, Kansas City signed a pair of cornerbacks in Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith. Smith is clearly the better player of the two, though, and will help the team more.
The 6'3", 218-pounder is huge for a cornerback and still young at just 25 years old. He had his best season ever in 2012, and he could still be improving. Smith's three-year, $16.5 million contract is an absolute bargain.
Best Acquisition: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB
The Giants signed Ahmad Bradshaw for just one year, $1.1 million. The 27-year-old has twice run for over 1,000 yards and averages 4.6 yards per carry over his career.
A solid player, Bradshaw should start over Vick Ballard in Indianapolis. Bradshaw has had some medical issues, but he is a better runner and will drastically improve Indianapolis' lackluster rushing attack.
The Colts signed numerous players in free agency, but Bradshaw was the best value.
Best Acquisition: Justin Durant, LB
Justin Durant is probably an average player, but he will start for the Dallas Cowboys. Next to Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, an average player is perfectly fine.
Dallas was able to get the 27-year-old on the cheap, according to Rotoworld, and he's a solid money value. There isn't anything spectacular here, but with the Cowboys' salary cap situation, spectacular wasn't an option.
Best Acquisition: Brent Grimes, CB
Brent Grimes is one of the NFL's best cornerbacks, but he's coming off a torn Achilles tendon. Fortunately, Grimes claims he is fully recovered, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
If this is true, the Miami Dolphins got a steal, as they are paying Grimes just $5.5 million. A healthy Grimes is worth much more money than that, and he should be a huge part of the Dolphins' defense.
Miami wasn't shy about spending money this offseason, but their best acquisition was one of their cheapest.
Best Acquisition: Kenny Phillips, S
Kenny Phillips is unreliable, not because of his on-field play but his persistent injury problems. When he's healthy, Phillips is a terrific player.
Fortunately, the Philadelphia Eagles aren't risking much here. They signed Phillips to a one-year, $2 million contract, which, even in the worst-case scenario, isn't so bad.
If Phillips is able to stay on the field for Philadelphia, he was a steal. If not, they didn't lose much anyway.
Best Acquisition: Steven Jackson, RB
Over the past eight seasons, Steven Jackson has never failed to exceed 1,000 rushing yards. The 29-year-old is a huge upgrade over the lethargic Michael Turner and will give the Atlanta Falcons an actual run game.
Jackson wasn't cheap—he signed a three-year, $12 millon deal—but he wasn't terribly pricey either. The cost is more than worth it, though, as Jackson adds a completely new dimension to the Atlanta offense.
San Francisco 49ers
Best Acquisition: Anquan Boldin, WR
For just a sixth-round pick, the San Francisco 49ers acquired Anquan Boldin from the Baltimore Ravens. Granted, San Francisco also had to take on Boldin's $6 million salary, but there are far worse deals out there.
No one will confuse Boldin for a superstar, but over 10 seasons, he has only once failed to gain at least 800 yards. In that year, 2004, Boldin played in just 10 games due to injury.
With Michael Crabtree out for all or much of 2013, depending on the rehab process, the 49ers will be relying on Boldin even more than they had anticipated. This deal could prove crucial down the stretch.
New York Giants
Best Acquisition: Cullen Jenkins, DT
The New York Giants' once-dominant defensive line isn't what it used to be and was in need of an influx of talent. Cullen Jenkins was just one of a few additions, but he was the only one to come through free agency.
An excellent interior pass-rusher, Jenkins is a natural fit next to the enormous Linval Joseph. The two could form an impressive duo, though Jenkins will need to improve upon his 2012 season.
It isn't likely that Jenkins will look like the Green Bay version of himself, but he can still be a capable starter.
Best Acquisition: Marcus Trufant, CB
At this point, Marcus Trufant is essentially an average player. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, average is great.
Without Trufant, Jacksonville's secondary was in serious trouble. As it is, two rookies are likely to start, so it could still be ugly. Trufant provides experience, and the Jaguars know what they are getting from him.
This wasn't a mind-blowing signing, but it was a significant one. Besides, Jacksonville wasn't particularly active in free agency.
New York Jets
Best Acquisition: Chris Ivory, RB
The New York Jets traded a fourth-round pick to get him, but they will be glad they did so. The 25-year-old Chris Ivory has averaged 5.1 yards per carry throughout his career and has the ability to start. New Orleans traded him only because of its absurd running back depth.
Now, Ivory may not be a star. He is much better than anything else the Jets have, though, and he is an upgrade over last year's starter, Shonn Greene.
In the right situation, Ivory is a potential 1,000-yard rusher. Whether that situation is New York remains to be seen.
Best Acquisition: Reggie Bush, RB
It took some time, but Reggie Bush actually developed into a pretty decent runner. He isn't a star by any means, but he can gain some yards and provide a solid rushing attack.
The Detroit Lions were in need of an improved rushing attack, but Bush does more than provide that. He is also a dynamic receiver, whether it is out of the slot or the backfield. Detroit's passing attack was already elite, and Bush makes it even scarier.
Bush isn't one of the Lions' best or most important players. He is a playmaker, though, and teams can never have enough of those.
Green Bay Packers
Best Acquisition: Brad Jones, LB
OK, this isn't technically an acquisition. Brad Jones was a Green Bay Packer in 2012. Green Bay just re-signed him after he hit free agency this offseason. So why am I using him here?
Because the Packers didn't actually sign any free agents and they didn't make any trades either.
The only players Green Bay acquired were draft picks and undrafted free agents, which aren't eligible. So it's Jones.
The 27-year-old Jones is a solid, if unspectacular, player. He's the team's best inside linebacker and a big part of its run defense.
Best Acquisition: Drayton Florence, CB
The Carolina Panthers were another inactive team during free agency. Drayton Florence was one of only a couple moves made and easily the most significant.
Now 32 years old, Florence has jumped around quite a bit, and he's nothing more than an average player, and he probably isn't that. In Carolina, Florence will probably serve as the team's nickelback unless second-year player Josh Norman fails to meet expectations.
This isn't an overly impressive or significant signing, but it stands out when compared to Carolina's other moves.
New England Patriots
Best Acquisition: Danny Amendola, WR
When healthy, Danny Amendola is a productive player and an appropriate replacement for Wes Welker. The problem is that Amendola has only once played in 16 games. In fact, over four years, Amendola has played in just 42 games.
If the New England Patriots can keep Amendola on the field, they will not regret allowing Welker to leave in free agency. The 27-year-old Amendola is younger and offers a nearly identical skill set.
New England's weapons aren't quite as impressive as they have been in past years, so the team will need Amendola to stay on the field.
Best Acquisition: Kevin Burnett, LB
A solid player, Kevin Burnett found himself a free agent when the Dolphins signed Philip Wheeler. The Raiders then completed the flip-flop by signing Burnett.
At 30 years old, Burnett has never been much more than average, but he at least isn't a liability on the field. Any player like that is a great one by Oakland standards.
Due to a horrific salary cap situation and extensive rebuilding process, the Raiders didn't sign too many players. The ones they did sign were solid values, and Burnett provides the best of them.
St. Louis Rams
Best Acquisition: Jake Long, OT
Though clearly not the player he once was, Jake Long is still an above-average left tackle. The St. Louis Rams didn't pay too much here, dealing out a four-year, $34 million deal.
By signing Long, St. Louis solidified two positions. Obviously, Long steps in at left tackle, but former left tackle Rodger Saffold also moves to the right side, providing a clear upgrade there, as well.
The Rams' offensive line has been a huge issue in the past, and this move goes a long way toward fixing the problem.
Best Acquisition: Elvis Dumervil, OLB
One of the game's best pass-rushers, Elvis Dumervil became a free agent only because of the infamous fax machine debacle. Now, of course, Dumervil is a Raven, and the team couldn't be happier.
In six NFL seasons, Dumervil has accumulated 63.5 sacks. When, in 2009, Dumervil played in a 3-4 defense like Baltimore's, he picked up 17 sacks.
With a five-year, $35 million contract, Dumervil isn't cheap. He is, however, a terrific player who may actually be an upgrade over free-agent loss Paul Kruger.
Best Acquisition: Darryl Tapp, OLB
After making many moves a year ago, the Washington Redskins were quiet during the offseason. They didn't sign any starters and made moves for just a few backups. One of those backups was Darryl Tapp.
In recent years, Tapp hasn't done much. His best season came in 2007 when he picked up seven sacks. Tapp definitely isn't a starter.
He is a solid rotational player, though. The 6'1", 270-pounder is strong against the run and is flexible enough to play in coverage. He won't kill the Redskins when he's on the field.
New Orleans Saints
Best Acquisition: Victor Butler, OLB
Unfortunately, Victor Butler tore his ACL and won't be able to take advantage of his opportunity to start in New Orleans. After sitting behind Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware in Dallas, Butler finally had a chance.
The 25-year-old showed impressive pass-rushing ability while working off the bench, though, and he was a breakout candidate in 2013. The New Orleans Saints signed him to a two-year, $3 million deal, a steal for the team.
If Butler hadn't torn his ACL, this would have looked like a terrific deal for New Orleans. Down the road, it still might. So while this won't pay immediate dividends, it was still the best move the Saints made.
Best Acquisition: Percy Harvin, WR
Seattle's biggest weakness in 2012 was, without question, its lack of a true No. 1 wide receiver. So when they were presented with the chance to add one of the game's most explosive playmakers, the Seahawks jumped at it.
Percy Harvin's receiving numbers have never matched his play on the field. Credit that to misuse, poor quarterback play or any number of things, but expect the numbers to go up in Seattle.
The Seahawks paid an expensive price for Harvin, surrendering a first-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings. The price was clearly worth it, though, and the Seattle offense should be even more dominant in 2013.
Best Acquisition: Matt Spaeth, TE
Talk about an earth-mover, I know.
Matt Spaeth was actually with the Pittsburgh Steelers before jumping ship to the Chicago Bears, and now he's back in Pittsburgh. Never much of a receiver, Spaeth caught just six passes for 28 yards last year. His career high is 26 receptions for 136 yards.
Fortunately, Spaeth is an amazing blocker, probably the NFL's best. The 6'7", 260-pounder is almost another lineman on the field, and he makes a huge impact on the run game.
Best Acquisition: Ed Reed, S
This isn't the same Ed Reed who was once the NFL's best safety. Now, he is merely an average defender. Still, he's Ed Reed, he's won a Super Bowl and he's a future Hall of Famer.
He is also better than what the Houston Texans had at safety.
Reed is still good in coverage, but his never-amazing run defense has declined with age. He will help out Houston's pass defense, but he isn't going to be returning interception after interception for touchdowns.
Best Acquisition: Andy Levitre, OG
The Titans overpaid for Levitre. There is no denying that.
But they probably needed to. Tennessee's interior offensive line was dreadful, and it was seriously holding back the team's offense. And while Levitre's six-year, $46.8 million deal was too big, it wasn't horrifically so.
The addition of Levitre will have an immediate impact, and 27-year-old should continue to play at a high level for years down the road.
Best Acquisition: Greg Jennings, WR
Ugh. This deal really shouldn't be praised. But the Vikings' lack of other activity leaves no choice.
Greg Jennings, at one point, was a terrific wide receiver. He was Aaron Rodgers' No. 1 guy, and, despite not being overly big or fast, he dominated.
That time seems to be in the past.
Last year, the 29-year-old Jennings played in eight games and gained 366 yards. The year before, he played in 13 games, gaining 949 yards.
Based on this, Minnesota gave Jennings a five-year, $47.5 million contract.
On the bright side, Jennings could come back healthy and play like the player Packers fans loved. If he does, this deal was brilliant.