Which NFL Players Have Enjoyed Best Offseasons so Far?
While it's impossible to predict the future based only on offseason moves, there are certainly some NFL players who look like they have benefited more than others.
Sometimes it's because of things they are doing, while other times it's about what their teams did for them. Occasionally it's because of something bad that happened to someone else, which has improved their own position.
Whatever the reason, the following guys have had some very good fortune this past offseason and look poised to have a tremendous 2013.
Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
As bad as things have been going for the New England Patriots, it may turn out to be a good thing for Danny Amendola. The former St. Louis Rams wide receiver arrived this offseason to fill the shoes of Wes Welker, who departed for Denver.
However, with the continued injury concerns regarding Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez being cut due to his alleged involvement in a murder, Amendola appears poised to be an even more vital part of the offense.
Quarterback Tom Brady needs weapons. More than likely, the run game will be a bigger factor than we expected, but ultimately he's going to need to pass. At that point, he's got to have weapons, and Amendola is almost it.
For the Patriots, it hasn't been a great offseason. But for Amendola, the opportunity to prove himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL just fell into his lap.
Jake Ballard, TE, New England Patriots
Of course, Danny Amendola isn't the only one who could get a chance to shine on a bigger stage than expected. Jake Ballard was claimed off of waivers by the New England Patriots as the New York Giants tried to move him to injured reserve.
What seemed like a luxury might end up as a season-saving necessity now that the team has lost Aaron Hernandez and could be without Rob Gronkowski to start the season.
The Patriots target their tight ends a lot, and they'll need someone to pick up the slack. Ballard looked good during the Giants' 2011 Super Bowl run and showed some tremendous ability before he got hurt.
He should get a chance to prove that was no fluke.
Quinton Coples, DE, New York Jets
When the New York Jets drafted Sheldon Richardson in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, pundits wondered what that meant for a previous high pick, Quinton Coples (No. 16 in 2012).
It turns out what it meant was a position change, as first reported by Rich Cimini of ESPN.
Coples will be playing a lot of outside linebacker this season, though he will be playing defensive end as well. Early results have been favorable, according to Eric Allen of the New York Jets official website.
While there might be some rough spots ahead, it looks like he may be able to take full advantage of his speed on the edge, especially if Richardson creates the disruption the Jets are hoping he will.
While Coples had a reasonably good 2012, he may now be placed in an even better position to succeed in 2013.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler got a lot of shiny new toys to play with this offseason.
He got a legitimate left tackle in Jermon Bushrod, a new pair of guards in Matt Slauson and rookie Kyle Long, as well as a new target in Martellus Bennett.
What he no longer has is an excuse if he doesn't succeed. He's just got too many advantages now, especially with new head coach Marc Trestman, whose up-tempo offense should keep defenses on their toes.
Cutler has everything he wants now: a top wide receiver (Brandon Marshall), a true running back (Matt Forte), a decent offensive line and plenty of other weapons (Bennett, second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery, veteran Earl Bennett).
This offseason has put him in a great position entering 2013.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Right now, things could not be going more smoothly for Robert Griffin III.
After a devastating knee injury, he is ahead of schedule with his rehab, according to ESPN. Even if he misses a game or two early on, you know it's all but assured he will be on the field in a major fashion sometime during the season.
So far, no setbacks and no problems. For a guy on the turf with an injury six months ago, Griffin looks to be in great shape for the season.
Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Like fellow NFC North quarterback Jay Cutler, Christian Ponder got everything he could ask for. He got two new wide receivers in Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, improvements on the defensive side of the ball and the continued faith of the coaching staff.
Also like Cutler, Ponder is pretty much out of excuses.
However, it's hard to believe he won't be able to improve given that he has his new toys as well as the continued presence of Adrian Peterson, who is now more than a year removed from his knee surgery.
Ponder has had a quality offseason and has been placed in a position to succeed.
Darrelle Revis, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Darrelle Revis' 2012 season was a bust due to an ACL injury, and he left New York on less-than-glowing terms. However, Revis' rehab is going well, according to ESPN, and he may be able to participate in training camp. That would make him a good bet for an appearance in Week 1 against his former team.
Revis also moves to an up-and-coming defense with a solid secondary, which will set him up for success when he is fully healed. On top of that, while he didn't get guaranteed money, Revis got a lot of the regular kind (six years, $96 million).
He got the money he wanted, a team that wants him and a quickly healing ACL.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
Sam Bradford might have lost Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola, but he looks like he gained so much more.
Adding rookie wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey as well as tight end Jared Cook to the already solid gang of Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and running backs Daryl Richardson and rookie Zac Stacy will give Bradford the best offensive weapons he's ever had.
While the addition of Jake Long might not excite some, it's a desperately needed upgrade at left tackle.
Bradford has had an up-and-down career so far, but this offseason looks like it has primed him for a big year, and the Rams could be sneaky contenders in the tough NFC West.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
If you're Dwayne Bowe, you've probably prayed for a decent quarterback every night for several years.
Your prayers have been answered.
No, Alex Smith isn't the second coming of Len Dawson, and he doesn't have the biggest arm in the world. However, he can use his weapons and take advantage of a guy like Bowe who has been finally showing consistency the past few years (barring injury).
He loves the new offense new head coach Andy Reid is putting into place, via the Chicago Tribune, and he has raised his expectations of himself accordingly. On top of that, he got paid like he wanted and should be motivated and content now.
It's been a pretty exciting offseason for Bowe and Chiefs fans alike.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is another guy who got everything he wanted for Christmas.
- A new dynamic wide receiver (Mike Wallace)
- A legitimate running back to replace an aging one (Lamar Miller)
- An improving defense to keep games close (Dannell Ellerbe, Brent Grimes and first-round pick Dion Jordan)
If there is one down point for Tannehill's offseason, it's the concerns we still have about his offensive line.
But the offseason certainly had far more high points than low points. Tannehill has a lot of tools to improve with this coming season.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.