Each NFL Team's Best Offseason Acquisition

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMay 17, 2018

Each NFL Team's Best Offseason Acquisition

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    The 2018 NFL draft is complete, and the bulk of free agency is over, save for a few veterans still on the market. All of the headlining moves of the offseason are done. 

    All 32 teams now believe they've added the talent necessary to be a contender in 2018. 

    Could a talented veteran be the missing piece? Will a rookie draft pick make a major difference? Each franchise is hopeful its prized addition will be the key to winning frequently in 2018. 

    Here's a look at every team's biggest acquisition this offseason. 

       

Arizona Cardinals: QB Josh Rosen

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    The Cardinals signed two veterans at quarterback (Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon), added two likely starters to the offensive line (Justin Pugh, Andre Smith) and found a young receiving option behind Larry Fitzgerald (Christian Kirk), but no acquisition was bigger than moving up to draft UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen at No. 10 overall in the first round. 

    In Rosen, the Cardinals are getting arguably the most developed first-year quarterback in the draft class and the future of the franchise at the game's most important position. 

    Taking Rosen could even pay immediate dividends, given the injury history of Bradford and the poor season Glennon delivered as a starter for Chicago in 2017. The Cardinals would probably prefer for Rosen to sit and develop as a rookie behind Bradford and Glennon, but it wouldn't be surprising if he jumps Glennon on the depth chart and starts if Bradford's failing knees become an issue at any point in 2018.

Atlanta Falcons: RG Brandon Fusco

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    The easy pick here would be first-round pick Calvin Ridley, who should give Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game another dangerous weapon as a second or third option behind Julio Jones. But rookie receivers often take time to produce, and there will be a lot of mouths to feed in Atlanta's offense in 2018. 

    Look back to free agency for the Falcons' best acquisition. Veteran guard Brandon Fusco, who has 80 career starts and excelled in Kyle Shanahan's scheme in San Francisco last season, could provide the final piece to a formidable offensive line in front of Ryan. 

    Fusco is a strong run-blocker and a capable pass protector. He's also athletic enough to take on stunts and get out in front of outside run plays and screens. Ryan and running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will appreciate a more stable right side of the offensive line.

    Ridley will help more down the road, but Fusco's veteran know-how and competence at right guard should provide immediate impact for Atlanta's offense. 

Baltimore Ravens: WR Michael Crabtree

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    The Ravens made eight draft picks on offense, adding help at quarterback (Lamar Jackson), tight end (Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews), offensive line (Orlando Brown, Greg Senat, Bradley Bozeman) and receiver (Jaleel Scott, Jordan Lasley). But the best acquisition might just be a 30-year-old pass-catcher.  

    Michael Crabtree should offer some balance and playmaking ability to a receiver group that has really struggled to produce for Joe Flacco in recent years. While Crabtree's numbers dipped in 2017, he still managed to haul in eight touchdown passes from Derek Carr. No Ravens receiver had more than four scores last season. 

    "I feel like I'm in my prime right now and I'm ready to go," Crabtree said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. "I feel young. I feel like I'm still 25."

    Only four receivers have more touchdown receptions than Crabtree's 25 over the last three years. Just nine receivers have more total catches over the last nine years. He'll give the Ravens production in the red zone and as an underneath receiver, which should make him Flacco's new best friend on offense in 2018.

Buffalo Bills: LB Tremaine Edmunds

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    Never in a million years could the Bills have predicted they'd land their quarterback of the future (Josh Allen) and a potential game-changing presence at linebacker (Tremaine Edmunds) in the first round. That's exactly what happened. 

    While Allen and Edmunds are similar in terms of having a raw toolset with impressive physical attributes, Edmunds at least proved to be a difference-making playmaker at the college level, while Allen struggled at times running the Wyoming offense. 

    Expect Bills head coach Sean McDermott to use Edmunds all over the field but mostly as an inside linebacker with the speed and athleticism required to chase down plays in the run game, attack the line of scrimmage as a run-stuffer or blitzer and cover running backs and tight ends in space. 

    The Bills lost top tackler Preston Brown in free agency, so Edmunds should have the inside track at a starting spot right away. If developed the right way, Edmunds could become a versatile star in the middle of the Bills defense. 

Carolina Panthers: WR D.J. Moore

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    The Panthers added Dontari Poe to the middle of the defensive line and restocked the secondary in free agency and the draft, but giving Cam Newton a multitalented receiver will likely turn out to be Carolina's best move of the offseason. 

    No. 24 overall pick D.J. Moore is tough, strong and fast, with route-running reliability and a dangerous skill set after the catch. He should create more safe, easy throws and big plays in the passing game for Newton, who completed only 59.1 percent of his passes and finished with career lows in yards per attempt (6.7) and passing yards per game (206.4) last season. 

    The Panthers only had one player at the receiver position catch more than 32 passes in 2017, and adding veterans Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright certainly didn't fill the team's need for more star power on offense. Moore could be the franchise's best receiver since Steve Smith

Chicago Bears: WR Allen Robinson

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    This pick was a tossup between Allen Robinson and rookie linebacker Roquan Smith, who might be the leading candidate to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Robinson gets the nod because of his ability to reshape the Bears passing game.

    Chicago finished last in the NFL in passing yards and second to last in passing touchdowns last season, which was partly a result of having a rookie quarterback under center but also because the Bears lacked weapons at receiver. 

    Robinson missed all but one game in 2017 after tearing his ACL in Week 1, but he averaged 76 receptions for 1,142 yards and 10 touchdowns between 2015-16. He has Pro Bowl potential, especially if he can develop chemistry with second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. 

    Smith might turn out to be a tackling machine for the Bears defense, but Chicago's entire offseason was about building the offense around Trubisky. Robinson is the centerpiece of that effort. 

Cincinnati Bengals: LT Cordy Glenn

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    The Bengals found a potential offensive line cornerstone in the first round in Ohio State's Billy Price, but there's nothing more valuable along the offensive line than a starting-caliber left tackle. Cincinnati went out and got just that, trading for Buffalo's Cordy Glenn. 

    A second-round pick of the Bills in 2012, Glenn should be the Bengals' best left tackle since they lost veteran Andrew Whitworth before the 2017 season.  

    While Price has versatility and should be a longtime starter at center, Glenn's arrival will provide stability in pass protection and impact in the running game. That's good news for the Bengals, a team that allowed 40 sacks and averaged 3.6 yards per rush in 2017.

Cleveland Browns: QB Baker Mayfield

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    Receiver Jarvis Landry, defensive back Damarious Randall and cornerback Denzel Ward are playmaking additions in Cleveland, but no acquisition will be more important to the future of the Browns than the new guy at quarterback. 

    And we're not talking about Tyrod Taylor. 

    The Browns have entrusted the franchise to Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback with the accuracy, athletic ability and leadership qualities to be the man who gets everything turned around in Cleveland. 

    Who knows when Mayfield will actually step onto the field for the first time, but his arrival has breathed new life into the organization. If he's the second coming of Russell Wilson, the Browns aren't far away from contending. The talent is coming together around the quarterback. Mayfield could be the final piece of the puzzle. 

Dallas Cowboys: WR Michael Gallup

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    The Dallas Cowboys suddenly have to replace their two leading pass-catchers from a year ago. Dez Bryant (released) and Jason Witten (retired) were both franchise stalwarts, and now both are gone. 

    That reality makes the Cowboys' steal of receiver Michael Gallup in the third round all the more important. He needs to come in and establish an instant connection with quarterback Dak Prescott, or the Cowboys might really suffer in the passing game in 2018. 

    Gallup actually has a similar game to Bryant, who leaves Dallas having scored the most receiving touchdowns in franchise history. The former Colorado State star wins all over the field with physicality and an ability to secure the contested catch, and he's hard to get to the ground once the ball is in his hands, just like Dez. 

    The Cowboys added help along the offensive line (Cameron Fleming, Connor Williams), found an instant starter at middle linebacker in Leighton Vander Esch and signed Allen Hurns to provide veteran depth at receiver, but don't be surprised if Gallup is the addition most remember in Dallas. He's an ascending rookie receiver who could quickly become Prescott's new favorite target.

Denver Broncos: OLB Bradley Chubb

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    Quarterback Case Keenum could have been the easy pick here, but it's hard to argue with the Broncos' use of the fifth overall pick on Bradley Chubb, who should give Denver's defense another intimidating pass-rusher to team with Von Miller and his gang of talented outside linebackers. 

    Chubb brings a rare combination of size, athletic ability and technical prowess to the next level. His diversified skill set is a perfect match opposite Miller, especially if the Broncos can develop packages that put Chubb on the inside, sandwiched between Miller, Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray. That's a lot of talent coming at the quarterback on key downs. 

    The Broncos should have some stability at quarterback with Keenum, who is coming off a breakout year in Minnesota, but Denver was at its championship best when the defense dominated the line of scrimmage every single snap. By adding Chubb, the Broncos are one step closer to reproducing the group that once made life a living hell for quarterbacks. 

Detroit Lions: C Frank Ragnow

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    One of the NFL's shakiest offensive lines added one of the draft's best interior linemen in the first round. Frank Ragnow should immediately take over at center, giving the Lions stability in the middle and the potential to improve on last year's underwhelming effort up front. 

    The Lions finished last in rushing yards and yards per rush last season, and quarterback Matthew Stafford took 47 sacks. Ragnow should help in both areas after anchoring the Arkansas offensive line for 42 games. 

    Pro Football Focus graded Ragnow as the nation's top center in both 2016 and 2017. 

    The Lions also signed LeGarrette Blount and drafted Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson in the second round, giving Detroit's running game a chance to finally come to life. Expect Ragnow to be at the center of any improvement seen up front for the Lions offense. 

Green Bay Packers: DL Muhammad Wilkerson

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    First-year general manager Brian Gutekunst made a bunch of big moves to patch up the roster left behind by Ted Thompson, including trading for backup quarterback DeShone Kizer, signing tight end Jimmy Graham and cornerback Tramon Williams and using his first two draft picks on talented cornerbacks (Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson). 

    No move has the potential for bigger impact in 2018 than signing Muhammad Wilkerson to a one-year, prove-it deal. 

    When healthy and properly motivated, Wilkerson is one of the most disruptive interior linemen in the NFL. Over a three-year stretch from 2013-15, Wilkerson tallied 28.5 sacks, 15 knocked-down passes and six forced fumbles. Those are J.J. Watt-like numbers for a 3-4 defensive end. 

    The Packers need more pass rush after struggling to disrupt the quarterback on third down and in the red zone last season. If Wilkerson comes alive under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the Packers shouldn't have any more problems applying pressure. That alone could have a massive impact on the rest of the pass defense, including the young and rebuilding secondary. 

    Wilkerson is a rare talent up front. Throw in a change of scenery, a chance to compete for a Super Bowl, the financial incentives of a one-year deal, a chance to play next to Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark and an opportunity to reconnect with Pettine, and Wilkerson spells major potential for the Packers in 2018. 

Houston Texans: S Tyrann Mathieu

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    The Texans mostly lucked into an opportunity to add a versatile, playmaking defensive back when the Cardinals cut Tyrann Mathieu in March. He arrived in Houston on a one-year deal, providing Mathieu a chance to rehab his value and take another shot at free agency next year, while also giving the Texans an ideal solution to the team's issues at safety. 

    Houston gave up 30 touchdown passes and created only 11 interceptions on defense last season. 

    When healthy, Mathieu is a magnet to the football. He has 11 interceptions, 41 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and four sacks since entering the NFL in 2013. 

    The Texans also added cornerback Aaron Colvin, who should lock down the slot and allow Mathieu to play safety full time. Top draft pick Justin Reid will give the Texans more depth at the back end. 

    A team that should have a devastating pass rush headlined by J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus should now have the right kind of playmakers in the secondary, with Mathieu capable of helping create more big plays from a variety of positions.

Indianapolis Colts: G Quenton Nelson

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    The Colts are getting back Andrew Luck, who missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury, so general manager Chris Ballard spent his top draft pick on a player who should make Luck's life much easier in 2018. 

    Quenton Nelson is a plug-and-play starter at guard who could revitalize the Colts offensive line, and he's arriving at the perfect time.

    Indianapolis gave up the most sacks in the NFL last season, and only four teams averaged fewer yards per rush. Nelson should help in both areas, but especially in the run game, where his mauling style will open up more running lanes for the Colts' young stable of running backs. 

    At the very least, the Colts now have three strong starters up front in Nelson, center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Nelson could be the best of the bunch. He has Pro Bowl potential right away as a rookie.

Jacksonville Jaguars: G Andrew Norwell

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    The team that finished first in rushing yards and sixth in sack percentage added the top guard in free agency, fortifying an already strong offensive line and giving it a chance to become one of the best in football in 2018. 

    Andrew Norwell will provide the Jaguars with a Pro Bowl-caliber left guard. He'll be asked to keep interior defenders off Blake Bortles and open up running lanes for Leonard Fournette, who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a rookie in 2017. 

    It's hard to see the Jaguars becoming much better at protecting the passer or running the football, even with Norwell at left guard, but he should ensure there's no drop-off after the Jaguars mostly dominated the line of scrimmage last season. Jacksonville's identity as the NFL's new smashmouth football team should be reinforced next season. 

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Sammy Watkins

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    Strong consideration was given to linebacker Anthony Hitchens, an athletic, ascending player who will help replace veteran Derrick Johnson in the middle of the Chiefs defense. But it's hard to argue with Sammy Watkins, another big-play machine for a Chiefs offense already loaded with them.

    Kansas City now looks like the most explosive offense in football. Watkins, running back Kareem Hunt, receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are all capable of hitting the home run at any time. It'll fall on the shoulders of first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes to distribute the football to all his playmakers. 

    Over four NFL seasons, Watkins has averaged 15.9 yards per catch, with 45 catches over 20 yards and 15 over 40. He has at least one catch of 60 yards in all four seasons. 

    If Watkins can stay healthy and become more efficient catching the football (54.9 catch percentage since 2016), the Chiefs could be a dangerous group on offense in 2018. 

Los Angeles Chargers: S Derwin James

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    It'd be hard to find a more perfect marriage between player and team this offseason than the Chargers drafting Florida State safety Derwin James. 

    Not only is James an ideal fit for Gus Bradley's attacking defense, especially in the role of Kam Chancellor, but he's entering a secondary already packed with talent, which should give him an opportunity to roam around the defense and hunt the football. 

    James was at his best at Florida State when he was able to play all over the field and attack the offense from multiple positions. Expect Bradley to give James that freedom right away. He can handle deep safety responsibilities, play in the box as a linebacker, blitz the quarterback from multiple angles and cover a variety of positions in man-to-man coverage. 

    The Chargers added Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey to shore up the middle of the offensive line, but James has superstar potential and an opportunity to flourish under Bradley's leadership in Los Angeles. Don't be surprised if he ends the season as a front-runner to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Los Angeles Rams: CB Marcus Peters

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    Good luck picking just one from a list including Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks. That's a foursome of additions that has very few rivals in recent history in terms of overall talent added in a single offseason. 

    While Suh and Aaron Donald will make sure the Rams are unblockable up the middle and Talib and Cooks should make up for losses in free agency, the nod here for best acquisition goes to Peters, who brings swagger, coverage ability and game-changing takeaway potential to the perimeter of the Rams defense. 

    Peters has 19 interceptions, 55 passes defended, three defensive touchdowns, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries in just 45 games since entering the NFL in 2015. Cornerbacks that affect the game in so many ways are incredibly valuable in a game predicated on passing down the field and protecting the football. 

    Throwing Peters into a star-studded defense coordinated by Wade Phillips has the potential for serious fireworks. Could he threaten double-digit interceptions, or will quarterbacks simply avoid him in 2018?

Miami Dolphins: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick

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    The Dolphins made several additions before the draft, signing veterans such as Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, Josh Sitton and Frank Gore and trading for Robert Quinn, but getting versatile defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round should pay off immediately for Miami’s defense. 

    Not only will Fitzpatrick be asked to play slot cornerback and safety, but he could be the weapon the Dolphins need to combat a tight end like Rob Gronkowski, whom Miami faces twice a year. His ability to wear many hats and handle responsibilities against both the run and pass should give defensive coordinator Matt Burke an answer for all kinds of offensive formations and sub-packages. 

    The Dolphins secondary is rounding into shape nicely, with young cornerbacks (Cordrea Tankersley, Xavien Howard), veteran safeties (Reshad Jones, T.J. McDonald) and Fitzpatrick, the versatile chess piece, tying it all together. 

Minnesota Vikings: QB Kirk Cousins

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    Winners of 13 games and champions of the NFC North in 2017, the Vikings swung for the fences in free agency, signing Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed three-year deal worth $84 million. He'll replace Case Keenum, who came off the bench and helped the Vikings get to the NFC title game last season. 

    In Cousins, the Vikings are getting a quarterback who has, over the last three years, completed 67 percent of his throws, averaged 27 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions per year and produced a 97.5 passer rating. While his completion percentage and passer rating dipped each of the last two years, Cousins still comfortably ranks among the top 10 or 12 quarterbacks in the NFL, and that's all the Vikings might need to get over the hump and win the NFC.

    Cousins is now surrounded by weapons, both on the ground (Dalvin Cook) and in the passing game (Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph), and he'll have the benefit of playing with one of the game's best defenses. If he can provide an edge at quarterback, while managing the game and accentuating what the Vikings already do well, Minnesota should be a clear favorite atop the NFC in 2018. 

New England Patriots: RB Sony Michel

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    The Patriots retooled the defensive line with Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton, added Isaiah Wynn to stabilize the offensive line and reunited Jason McCourty with his twin brother, Devin, but the thought of acquiring a talented, do-it-all running back like Sony Michel for New England's offense is downright frightening. 

    In fact, it's easy to picture Michel with the Patriots and envision the same kind of game-changing impact Alvin Kamara brought to the New Orleans Saints a year ago. Michel has nearly identical talent, both as a runner and receiver. 

    Expect head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to maximize Michel's production right away. No offense has proved to be more running back friendly, especially for versatile backs, and the Patriots have a hole to fill after losing Dion Lewis in free agency. It's not crazy to think Michel will produce well over 1,000 total yards as a rookie in New England. 

New Orleans Saints: DE Marcus Davenport

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    Stealing Cameron Meredith from the Bears will provide an intriguing new receiving option for Drew Brees and the offense, and Patrick Robinson returns to provide depth at cornerback, but the Saints are banking on Marcus Davenport, the 14th overall pick, to aid in disrupting the passer. 

    He has size, power and athleticism, but he's still raw after playing at UTSA. The Saints might not get instant impact as Davenport learns how to rush the passer at the professional level, but it's not unreasonable to think he could become a factor late in the season as New Orleans is pushing for another trip to the playoffs. 

    In fact, Davenport, Cameron Jordan and Alex Okafor could be an imposing trio of pass-rushers come playoff time. If the Saints take another step in terms of disrupting the quarterback, New Orleans could be Super Bowl-quality in 2018. 

New York Giants: LT Nate Solder

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    Saquon Barkley and Jonathan Stewart should revitalize the Giants run game, but no newcomer will be more critical to extending Eli Manning's career in New York than left tackle Nate Solder, who signed after seven years protecting the blindside of Tom Brady in New England. 

    Despite never making a Pro Bowl, Solder was rock solid for the Patriots, particularly in pass protection. He should lock down the left side, which has been a problem area for the Giants in recent years. 

    All good offensive lines need a few core pieces. A left tackle is one of them. The entire pass-protection unit is dependent on the left tackle's ability to handle the top edge-rushers one-on-one. Solder has proved he can do it and is at least partially responsible for Tom Brady's ability to stay healthy and perform at such a high level even at age 40. Expect the entire Giants offensive line, which also added rookie guard Will Hernandez, to make considerable progress in 2018. 

New York Jets: QB Sam Darnold

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    Money spent in free agency brought help on offense and defense, but the future of the Jets franchise now rests with Sam Darnold, the third overall pick. 

    The former USC quarterback brings prototypical size, arm talent and potential to New York. He's not guaranteed to play early on as a rookie, especially with veteran Josh McCown returning, but Darnold has all the traits teams are looking for when searching for the answer at the game's most important position. 

    The Jets desperately need Darnold to pan out. Time spent on the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez under center has made New York one of the league's most desperate franchises at the quarterback position. Darnold can change that entire narrative by developing into an upper-tier starting quarterback in the NFL.

Oakland Raiders: DL Maurice Hurst

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    While Jon Gruden and the Raiders scavenged for big-name veterans (Jordy Nelson, Doug Martin, Derrick Johnson, Leon Hall) in free agency, a rookie fifth-round pick might be the team's most talented addition. 

    Maurice Hurst's heart condition is a question mark as he transitions into the NFL, but his talent isn't. Hurst can rush the passer and disrupt the running game as a defensive tackle in the 4-3 front, and it wouldn't be surprising if he makes instant contributions in both areas for the Raiders defense in 2018.

    Pro Football Focus ranked Hurst as the third overall player in the draft class, largely because of his impressive ability to rush the passer from the inside and overall consistency over four years at Michigan.

    Interior rushers have become so valuable in the NFL. Collapsing the pocket and applying quick pressure from the inside can really rattle quarterbacks and the passing game, which could help Hurst become a future Pro Bowler for the Raiders defense. 

Philadelphia Eagles: DE Michael Bennett

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    It almost isn't fair. The best defensive line in football in 2017 was able to add Michael Bennett, one of the NFL's most versatile and disruptive lineman, via trade this offseason with the Seattle Seahawks. 

    The Eagles harassed quarterbacks with wave after wave of pressure last season. Offensive lines couldn't consistently handle all the talent up front for 60 minutes. Throwing Bennett into the mix won't make life any easier for opponents in 2018, especially considering Bennett's ability to kick inside and rush from the interior on passing downs. 

    Imagine a front of Bennett and Fletcher Cox on the inside and Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett on the edges. Not many offensive lines could block that on every big passing down. While now 32, Bennett still has 23.5 sacks over the last three seasons. 

    Expect the Eagles to remain one of the NFL's best at pressuring the quarterback in big spots, which should make them one of the favorites in the NFC and a legitimate contender to defend their Super Bowl title. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: S Morgan Burnett

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers' future at safety might be first-round pick Terrell Edmunds, but the present should be Morgan Burnett, a 29-year-old veteran free-agent pickup who will provide Pittsburgh's defense with versatility and experience on the backend. 

    The Packers asked Burnett to play many roles, including deep safety, inside linebacker and even some slot cornerback. He handled all of them and never looked overwhelmed at any one spot. 

    The Steelers could see Burnett as able to replace some of what Ryan Shazier gave the defense at inside linebacker. While not nearly as fast, Burnett is capable of playing the run and covering several different positions while playing in the box at linebacker. 

    Good defenses need glue guys like Burnett. His ability to play all over the field, his experience in big games and his reliability should immediately help the Steelers in 2018. 

San Francisco 49ers: CB Richard Sherman

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    Richard Sherman might be 30 years old and coming off a major injury, but he's still one of the most respected and feared cornerbacks in the NFL, and his presence should help a defense that struggled to stop the pass in 2017. 

    The 49ers defense ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in interceptions, passing touchdowns and total points allowed. Sherman isn't a cure-all, but he will give San Francisco a tough veteran cornerback with a track record of shutting down receivers. 

    In fact, Sherman leads all NFL cornerbacks in passer rating against his coverage (50.9) since entering the league in 2011, according to NFL Research Media Group, and he also leads the NFL in interceptions (32) and passes defensed (99) over that same timespan. 

    The 49ers are attempting to make a big jump into contention in 2018. Having Sherman, who knows what it takes for a team to make that jump, should help. He was a big part of Seattle's meteoric rise. He'll now attempt to lead one of the Seahawks' biggest rivals in the same direction. 

Seattle Seahawks: RB Rashaad Penny

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    Given his combination of athleticism, versatility and disruptive ability, fifth-round pick Shaquem Griffin was considered here, but he'll start his NFL career as a backup at linebacker and a special teams asset as a rookie. Instead, the nod has to go to Rashaad Penny, who will give the Seahawks a three-down back and an instant contributor. 

    Seattle remained one of the NFL's worst running teams in 2017, so it is hoping Penny can revive the offense's smashmouth style and take some of the immense pressure off Russell Wilson's shoulders. 

    During his final year at San Diego State, Penny produced a nation-high 2,248 rushing yards as well as 23 touchdowns. He used quickness and his tackle-breaking ability to cut through defenses and power the Aztecs offense. 

    The Seahawks can't expect the same kind of production, but they will ask him to be the engine of the running game. At the least, Wilson shouldn't end the 2018 season as the Seahawks' leading rusher like last year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Jason Pierre-Paul

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense finished the 2017 season ranked dead last in the NFL in sacks (22) and sack percentage (3.9, according to Team Rankings), so upgrading the pass rush was vital this offseason. 

    Instead of banking on the draft, which was light on impact pass-rushers, the Buccaneers acquired both Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry, providing a veteran rusher for each side of the defensive line. 

    Pierre-Paul figures to provide the most impact. He delivered 8.5 sacks over 16 games for the Giants in 2017, and he's remained productive in disrupting the quarterback and stopping the run despite suffering a serious hand injury in 2015. 

    Finally, it looks like the Bucs have serious talent next to Gerald McCoy along the defensive line. Pierre-Paul, Curry and rookie Vita Vea have reshaped the group, with Pierre-Paul likely providing the edge rush the Bucs have been missing for years. 

Tennessee Titans: CB Malcolm Butler

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    The Tennessee Titans added serious talent to the defense and acquired a spark plug on offense in running back Dion Lewis, significantly raising the overall talent level in Nashville this offseason. 

    Lewis will be a big helper for quarterback Marcus Mariota, and Bennie Logan, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry should provide instant impact for the front seven on defense. But the Titans will likely get the most out of former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, who has shutdown ability despite a highly publicized benching during Super Bowl LII. 

    The Titans now have three legitimate starters at cornerback (Butler, Adoree' Jackson and Logan Ryan) and a legitimate No. 1 option to throw at the league's top receivers. All great defenses are built on rushing the quarterback and covering receivers. The Titans suddenly look capable of consistently doing both in 2018, especially if Butler can lock down one side of the field. 

Washington Redskins: QB Alex Smith

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    The Washington Redskins added big-play receiver Paul Richardson, beefed up the run defense with first-round pick Da'Ron Payne and found a potential starting running back in Derrius Guice in the second round, but no acquisition will determine more about Washington's season in 2018 than quarterback Alex Smith. 

    The former Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller is coming off his best NFL season. He threw 26 touchdowns and only five interceptions while completing 67.5 percent of his passes, averaging 8.0 yards per attempt and finishing with a passer rating of 104.7. 

    If Smith is just as good in 2018, the Redskins will have upgraded at quarterback. His efficiency, reliability and track record of getting Kansas City to the playoffs has to be appealing for Washington, especially after the team never won more than nine games with Kirk Cousins as the starter the last three seasons.