Lawrence: What Offseason?

From surprising trades to stunning retirements, the NFL saw no shortage of drama this offseason

Amy Lawrence
August 28, 2019 - 10:00 pm
Odell Beckham Jr Browns

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Here we go again!

As we put the NFL preseason to bed and set our sights on the 2019 campaign, it's time for a deep breath. Thirty-two teams launch forward into parts unknown. But honestly, it's difficult to decipher when last season ended and preparations for the new one began. Think about it—the NFL didn't actually take a break over the last six months. The "offseason" cycle of turnover, transition, and turmoil started even before the Patriots earned their sixth Super Bowl title in a defensive struggle in Atlanta.

More than ever, running an NFL franchise, coaching one or covering the league is a full-time, year-round endeavor. Since a pair of conference championship games that required overtime in New Orleans and Kansas City, the drama has persisted non-stop. Fallout from that Sunday alone included the end of Dee Ford's tenure as a Chief and an amended rule allowing coaches to challenge flags that were never thrown!

Off the field, the movement among coaches and players gave "fast and furious" a new meaning. From Bruce Arians emerging from retirement in Tampa to Adam Gase swapping AFC East addresses (eyeballs included) to Freddie Kitchens taking over in Cleveland to Kliff Kingsbury leaping at the Cardinals' offer to Vic Fangio getting a shot in Denver to Green Bay hiring a new partner for Aaron Rodgers to Mike McCarthy sitting out 2019—the coaching carousel dominated initial headlines. But soon after, free agency shoved it all to the back burner.

Kareem Hunt landed in Cleveland with the man who drafted him. Landon Collins chose the Redskins. Gronk walked away. Former Patriots Trey Flowers and Trent Brown found new homes in Detroit and Oakland. Veteran members of the Baltimore defense scattered around the league. Buffalo secured new receiving targets for Josh Allen. Le'Veon Bell ended his self-imposed sabbatical to sign with the Jets. Max Unger retired; Ryan Kalil came out of retirement. The Chiefs rebuilt their defense and avoided a Tyreek Hill suspension. Ndamukong Suh and Donald Penn moved cross-country. Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon opted to hold out. Jadeveon Clowney refused to sign his franchise tag. Suspensions were levied. Josh Gordon was reinstated. Jay-Z partnered with the NFL, despite the backlash.

On the quarterback front, Nick Foles earned a starting job in Jacksonville and the largest amount of guaranteed money in franchise history. The Broncos traded for yet another veteran in Joe Flacco, while Case Keenum was flipped to Washington where he locked up the starting gig. Russell Wilson signed the richest deal ever. The Cardinals drafted Kyler Murray, and the Dolphins acquired Josh Rosen. Ryan Fitzpatrick joined the Miami QB room, while Ryan Tannehill headed to Nashville. The Giants drafted Daniel Jones and set the NFL world on fire. The Redskins grabbed Dwayne Haskins instead.

It's an extensive list but not an exhaustive one. The top three changes of the NFL "offseason" will be talked about for years to come and could serve as major turning points for their respective teams. The Antonio Brown saga picked up steam in Week 17 of last season when he didn't play in a must-win game for the Steelers. He and the team agreed to part ways; after nixing a trade to Buffalo, he accepted new money to play in Oakland. And he's narrated the entire process on social media, taking aim at more than one former teammate. Mix in a pair of helmet grievances, an army of TV cameras, and an ultimatum from his new GM. AB sparked endless controversy and reaction.

The Giants cut ties with eclectic receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and gave Baker Mayfield a dangerous new target. Similar to Brown and Pittsburgh, OBJ has taken advantage of every opportunity to fire shots at his former club, and Baker defended his honor the same way. With all the changes orchestrated by John Dorsey, the Browns are a popular choice as this year's "mover and shaker," already swirling in hype, excitement and promise.

A lot of the same anticipation surrounded the Colts—a team expected to build on last season's rise. With a reconstructed offensive line, a stout defense powered by Darius Leonard, nine wins in ten games, and a playoff victory, the sky was the limit. Then Andrew Luck dropped THE bombshell of the century (literally). Months after expressing his joy over playing with abandon again, Luck ran into a brick wall with new injuries that stripped him of his joy just when he thought he was out of the woods. His abrupt retirement drops Indianapolis and the entire AFC South into major uncertainty.

Where does that leave football fans? Hungry for games that count, no doubt. And full of questions about how 2019 will unfold on the field. The "offseason" kept us engaged and entertained and provided the perfect backdrop for this fall. Of course, the NFL is happy for its year-round spotlight, which should power ratings and enthusiasm to even greater heights.

How can we miss you if you never go away, NFL? So far, over-saturation isn't serving as a detriment. Our thirst has yet to be fully quenched.

A well-traveled veteran of sports radio and television, Amy is the passionate host of CBS Sports Radio’s late-night program, After Hours with Amy Lawrence, from 2-6am ET on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. Listeners can tune in from Canada and overseas, thanks to SiriusXM, cbssportsradio.com and the CBS Sports app. Amy has also handled basketball play-by-play and color duties for various radio and TV outlets over the past 15 years. Amy graduated from Messiah College with bachelor’s degrees in Communications & Accounting before earning her master’s in TV & Radio from Syracuse University. She is a native of Concord, NH.

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