Collateral benefits: Mitchell Trubisky gaining from roster shuffle

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Jacksonville doubled down on Blake Bortles last offseason and the Jaguars wound up one sad quarter away from the Super Bowl. So it shouldn't be so surprising that they tripled down on him this year, with an eye on doing everything possible to make life easier for their tennis-loving quarterback.

That starts with building an offense around running back Leonard Fournette. The fourth pick of the 2017 NFL Draft and the third pick of the 2014 draft were among the veterans who saw their fortunes rise during free agency without going anywhere.

The Jaguars made Andrew Norwell one of the highest-paid guards in football to beef up a power running game that was more erratic than their top-ranked ground attack showed in pure yardage. The team said goodbye to power back Chris Ivory, who was made redundant by Fournette. They signed tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Niles Paul to a tight end position that lacked athleticism. After losing Allen Robinson in free agency, the team rebounded by keeping Bortles' favorite target from a year ago, Marqise Lee, and added a boom-or-bust option out wide in Donte Moncrief.

Jacksonville's always-active front office barely tinkered with a defense that is championship-ready. Instead, the Jags gambled by giving a contract extension to Bortles and trying to furnish him with the right mix of teammates. If they chose well, Bortles could become the most unlikely quarterback to win a Super Bowl since Nick Foles.

Bortles and Fournette weren't the only veterans to benefit from offseason movement. Here's a look at other players around the league who enjoyed some collateral benefits this month:

Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders: When Jon Gruden sang Lynch's praises at the NFL Scouting Combine, no one was sure whether to take the words at face value. (Gruden also lauded Michael Crabtree, who was subsequently cut.) But a few weeks and a small pay cut later, Lynch's spot on the Raiders' roster was all but guaranteed. So is Beast Mode's primary place in the archetypal offense inside of Gruden's brain.

That offense includes a fullback (former Cowboy Keith Smith), a pair of blocking tight ends (Lee Smith and Derek Carrier) and Gruden muttering quotes from the sideline like "He will ROCK you" and "There's nothing exotic about this SMASH mouth." Or maybe that's just the platonic ideal of Gruden in my mind. I'm going to miss him in the booth.

Mike Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It's hard to imagine how difficult the 2017 season was for Mike Smith, who was last seen on a national stage pulling his hair out during preseason games on "Hard Knocks." The Bucs finished dead last in yards per drive allowed and second-to-last in points per drive allowed, in large part because they couldn't pressure the quarterback.

In Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul, Tampa has added two legitimate pass rushers to fix one of the league's longest-running needs. JPP cost far more in salary and trade compensation, but don't overlook Curry's impact. He managed more pressures per snap than Pierre-Paul in 2017. Both players fit Smith's scheme perfectly and they should combine with third-year pro Noah Spence, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and free-agent pickup Beau Allen to form a much-improved front in 2018. These moves have the smell of a general manager (Jason Licht) who needs results fast before Bucs ownership considers making yet another housecleaning next offseason. Smith and the rest of his coaching staff should benefit, at least for now.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson were too expensive for the Cowboys to bring in. And the money in the secondary wideout market for players like Donte Moncrief, Paul Richardson and Marqise Lee made Bryant's $12.5 million base salary look a lot more reasonable in comparison. The focus for Bryant is now on improving his game, not where he will be playing in 2018.

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs' actions have spoken louder than any words, even when those words call Mahomes one of the best players they've ever seen. Kansas City couldn't wait to unload Alex Smith coming off his best season, the first rumble of thunder foretelling the NFL's trade tsunami to come.

The Chiefs didn't stop there, handing deep threat Sammy Watkins more than $30 million guaranteed to force defenses into deciding how to stop him, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt at the same time. When it comes to building an offense, unlike a two-minute drill, Chiefs coach Andy Reid always has a plan. Giving Mahomes a full offseason of starter snaps will allow Reid to construct Kansas City's schemes around Mahomes' prodigious gifts. I can't wait to see what Reid comes up with.

The Joshes of Los Angeles: I'd watch a reality show detailing the lives of Rams safety Josh Johnson and wide receiver Josh Reynolds, but I was also was one of the only Americans to see the entire run of "The T.O. Show" on VH1. March's episode of the Joshes would be all about newfound opportunities. Johnson knows that he has a chance to build on his quietly excellent rookie season following the additions of new Rams cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Reynolds has a chance to grow his role in the offense, possibly as a starter, after Watkins' departure for the Midwest.

Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings made their signings count, picking up our No. 1 overall free agent, Kirk Cousins, and our third-ranked defensive player available in Sheldon Richardson. The collateral benefits for the rest of the roster should not be overlooked. With Richardson drawing attention on the interior, starting ends Griffen and Hunter should see more one-on-one matchups on the outside. Good luck trying to decide where to send double teams against this front, especially with coach Mike Zimmer always threatening to blitz up the middle.

Second-year running back Dalvin Cook will also return to a much more dynamic offense than the one he left when he was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage as a rookie. Cousins is well-practiced at throwing to his backs and the improved passing game should only open up holes for Cook on the ground. The departure of Jerick McKinnon to San Francisco will clarify Cook's preeminent role in the offense, even coming off ACL surgery.

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Stewart is gone and the top spot in the Carolina backfield is McCaffrey's to own. More importantly, McCaffrey has a new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner with a history of maximizing running backs as pass catchers.

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears: The "Mr. Biscuit" nickname has seemingly come and gone, like most of the impressions from Trubisky's rookie season. His 330 pass attempts are little more than a warmup before the Bears hit reset on their franchise, completely starting over with his coaching staff and the weapons around him.

Trubisky feels like a blank slate. Anyone judging him too positively or negatively based on last season probably has an inherent agenda. But he has an objectively better chance to succeed with coach Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and a reborn group of pass catchers led by Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton. General manager Ryan Pace ensured this offseason that Trubisky has a legitimate chance for success, which is a lot more than he had a year ago.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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