With the calendar flipping to June, we've essentially exited the musical chairs phase of the offseason and entered the preparation portion. In the wake of such a whirlwind of activity (from the coaching carousel to free agency to the 2014 NFL Draft), it couldn't hurt to quickly step back and take stock of things.
With that spirit in mind, which single acquisition -- player, coach or executive -- really caught your eye over the past five months? To put it another way, what was your favorite move of the offseason?
Revis Island's latest relocation significantly moves the needleLet's go back to 2010, when the New York Jets made their second straight run to the AFC Championship Game. Who was their MVP? Darrelle Revis. Who was their biggest rival? The New England Patriots. Now Jets coach Rex Ryan is short on corners and New England has Revis, signing him after he was released by Tampa Bay ... less than one year after he was traded to the Buccaneers by the Jets. The rivalry is still intense.
The next factor to consider is where Revis is in his career. When the coming season kicks off, he'll be nearly two years removed from ACL surgery. Revis was not all the way back in 2013, though his trainer feels he'll be operating at full capacity again in 2014. If the trainer is right, Patriots coach Bill Belichick will have a weapon on defense -- a shutdown corner -- of the kind that he has never truly had before in New England. The other part of the move I like is the contract. The two-year, $32 million deal features a $20 million team option for 2015, which means the Patriots are protected from future salary-cap ramifications. Revis should be motivated -- if he regains his form, he'll potentially get a chance to hit the open market and become the highest-paid CB in the NFL again. This marriage will be fun to watch all year.
One draft pick flipped the script in ClevelandWill the Factory of Sadness suddenly transform into the Factory of Gladness?
The Cleveland Browns have been one of the most nondescript organizations of the past two decades, sending football fans across the globe into an autumnal slumber. With just one simple draft pick, the franchise now has a chance to ride the Johnny Football wave as the "it" team on the sports scene and in American pop culture.
Having heard enough long-time NCAA followers tout Johnny Manziel as the most exciting college football player in history, I'm sold on the Manziel experience.
Patriots certainly won't regret (brief) Revis trystUnsolicited advice for Patriots fans: Do not purchase a Darrelle Revis jersey.
I don't say this because I believe Revis will struggle this season. Quite the opposite, actually. I believe a hyper-motivated and 100 percent healthy Revis will be a killer chess piece for Bill Belichick. In fact, there's a strong chance the 2014 season will end with Revis standing on the (proverbial) second turnbuckle hoisting the (proverbial) strap as the Greatest Cornerback On The Planet.
That makes him an incredible addition to New England's defense. Of course, that performance also will give Revis the leverage to sign with the highest bidder when he hits free agency again next offseason. And that's why you don't buy the jersey.
Explosive promise in a quiet move by San FranciscoI'm tempted to name that Vegas-lovin' kid the Browns drafted out of A&M ... but enough has been written and said about him already. So let's go with the Niners' relatively quiet trade for Bills receiver Stevie Johnson.
I know, I know -- it's not exactly as exciting as, say, Revis to New England, Clowney to Houston, Ware and Talib to Denver, or the 2006 all-stars to Oakland, but take a good look at Johnson and that San Francisco offense overall. Richard Sherman's opinion notwithstanding, Michael Crabtree is anything but mediocre. Anquan Boldin is as tough/dependable as it gets. Vernon Davis is the gold standard at tight end (and the most consistently dominant postseason pass-catcher over the past few years). Now add Johnson, who averaged 79 catches, 1,041 yards and eight touchdowns for Buffalo from 2010 to 2012, to a receiving corps that also currently includes Brandon Lloyd and rookie burner Bruce Ellington. Egad. Do NFL teams carry enough DBs to cover all those guys?
Between the power running of the ageless Frank Gore, the pedigree of rookie back Carlos Hyde, the mighty O-line and, of course, Colin Kaepernick -- who is really just getting started -- at the trigger, the Niners have what figures to be one of the NFL's deepest and most talented offenses in 2014. Good thing, too, because San Francisco's previously dominant defense is due to regress, what with the surgically repaired knee of NaVorro Bowman, the questions at cornerback, Justin Smith's age and Aldon Smith's ... issues.
With Lovie at the helm, Tampa Bay immediately deserves noticeMy favorite offseason development is Lovie Smith taking over in Tampa Bay. The mild-mannered head coach is the perfect guy to right the ship, as a proven winner with a defensive system that ideally suits his personnel. Smith also hired an offensive coordinator (Jeff Tedford) who does a great job of building a QB-friendly system that produces outstanding results, while maintaining sufficient run/pass balance from a play-calling standpoint.
Long story short, the Buccaneers have an overhauled approach that gives them a chance to be competitive immediately, even in the loaded NFC. With Smith adept at navigating rough waters, I'm expecting big things from Tampa Bay this season.