Columnists, Sports

Helmet-to-Helmet: NFC offseason preview

The wheels of the 2024 NFL offseason are churning as the league enters the second week of free agency. 

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

Almost all the big-name running backs found new homes, as well as some other top-listed free agents like Kirk Cousins or Chris Jones, who struck big money deals. But with the draft still to come, and trade talks up in the air, the fun is just beginning. 

At this time, the two biggest moves that have happened both regard quarterbacks: the exit of a young star, and the arrival of a fierce veteran. The Falcons made a big splash by signing Cousins to a four-year, $180 million dollar deal and though their offensive talent is young, under the right guidance, they can compete with the Buccaneers in a weak NFC South division. 

With Cousins at the controls for the foreseeable future, I speculate that Atlanta will either trade back from their No. 8 spot, or beef up either their cornerback depth or their defensive line talent. The only thing I fear with Atlanta is lacking a veteran receiver who can be relied upon, but under new head coach Raheem Morris there are brighter days ahead for the Falcons. 

Onto the Chicago Bears, who just traded away Justin Fields to the Steelers for a conditional sixth round pick. This move all but ensures that the Windy City will get a fresh restart with an NFL-ready and generational talent in Caleb Williams.

In a division with ascending star Jordan Love and proven vet Jared Goff, props to the Bears for deciding to not fall behind on quarterback talent. Acquiring receiver Keenan Allen as well as signing running back D’Andre Swift signals what might be the most talented Bears skill position unit in, well, forever? 

Now on the defensive side of the ball, the Bears inked CB Jaylon Johnson for four more years and signed veteran safety Kevin Byard — two moves I loved. Their experience on the back end will be invaluable playing with an otherwise young unit, and they will be two catalysts as Chicago looks to revamp that defense.

Switching gears a little, it wouldn’t be an NFL offseason without some NFC East drama. 

Surprisingly, it hasn’t stemmed from the Cowboys and Jerry Jones, who always seem to make headlines about interesting player contract/coaching decisions. Pay day has finally arrived for Saquon Barkley, who left New York for the rival Eagles. The decision wreaked havoc throughout social media, with former Giants running back Tiki Barber telling Barkley he’s “dead” to him.

Nevertheless, the newest face of Eagles football landed a three year deal that will earn him a $15.58 million average-per-year salary. 

This move, however, left me very confused. The glaring concern for the Eagles is a defense that ranked 26th in total defense, and while they brought back difference-makers like CJ Gardner-Johnson and Josh Sweat, this is an aging and slow defense which needs to be addressed in the draft. 

Last but not least, the NFC West. All QBs, but particularly this division’s, should be rejoicing at the announcement of Aaron Donald’s retirement. Other than trading for Sam Howell, the Seahawks as well as the Niners have had a relatively quiet offseason. 

Where my eyes are drawn in this division are the Cardinals, who have already made some interesting moves. They traded away both of their top two receivers, Hollywood Brown and Rondale Moore, and traded for Desmond Ridder to back up quarterback Kyler Murray. They also signed a tackle in Jonah Williams, who has been good when healthy but has dealt with some injuries, and two starting d-linemen. 

Questions have to be asked about Murray’s lack of weapons and protection, but in a draft where the top three picks will most likely be QBs, Marvin “Maserati” Harrison could be an amazing solution. Look for Arizona to not finish making moves quite yet, as they continue to look for relevance since Larry Fitzgerald’s retirement.

More Articles

Comments are closed.