Gregg Rosenthal previously detailed NFL veterans who suffered collateral damage in free agency. Below are the players who saw their situations improve this offseason, enjoying collateral *benefits, without changing teams:*
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins: Year 1 under Adam Gase was an extended tryout for Tannehill. He passed. After a patchy start, Tannehill was playing his best before a December knee injury. Gase revealed this week that Tannehill is fully cleared for all offseason activities, so the knee isn't a long-term concern. Neither is Tannehill's supporting cast.
The trade for Julius Thomas gives Tannehill the pass-catching tight end that was missing last season when Jordan Cameron didn't work out. Miami also surprisingly was able to keep Kenny Stills, the team's No. 3 receiver, at a starter's salary. Along with Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Jay Ajayi, Miami has a young skill-position core that can grow up together. The Dolphins also opened up the left tackle job so Laremy Tunsil could slide over into his natural position, where he could be one of the league's best blind-side protectors for years to come. It's taken a long time to get here, but Tannehill has all the support and stability he could ask for. It's on him now.
[Insert quarterback here], Cleveland Browns: No one knows who will be lining up behind center in Cleveland this September. Whoever it is should be supported up front. The additions of guard Kevin Zeitler and center JC Tretter, as well as the long-term extension for guard Joel Bitonio, proved that the Browns are placing a premium on protection. Whether its Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler, Jimmy Garoppolo or Paul McDonald at quarterback, the next Browns starter should have time to throw. He might even be throwing to Josh Gordon.
Look for more efficiency this season. With DeSean Jackson helping to attract safety attention deep, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter should be able to cook up more advantageous matchups for Evans.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, New York Jets: It's lonely out there on Hackenberg Island, but the last month could not have gone much better for the second-year quarterback. The Jets eschewed signing a starter like Jay Cutler in favor of giving Josh McCown a backup quarterback's contract. McCown's two greatest strengths are tutoring young teammates and seeking out contact on the field like he's a fullback from the 1970s.
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins: After Jackson bolted for Tampa and Pierre Garcon left for San Francisco, the Redskins were left without veteran wideouts. Crowder is ready to gobble up those missing targets, and should be ready to assume a Julian Edelman-like role in the Redskins' offense. Don't cry for Kirk Cousins, either. A receiving group comprised of Crowder, Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson is cooking with gas.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Coming off the best season of Stafford's career, the Lions upgraded at right tackle with Rick Wagner and added a strong starting guard in T.J. Lang. Drafting an early-down running back or picking up Adrian Peterson would finish this offseason nicely for Stafford.
Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Goodbye to the worst wide receiver group in the league. Hello to the best receiver available on the free agent market in Alshon Jeffery -- and a young veteran in Torrey Smith hungry to turn his career around. Wentz showed no hesitation about stretching the field vertically last season, so Philly picked up two receivers who can get deep. It doesn't hurt that the Eagles mostly kept their offensive line together, which brings me to the final players who received collateral benefits ...
Aging veterans who would have been cut in a different salary cap era:Eagles left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce combine to count $17.9 million against the cap this season. In a different time, one or both players would have been asked to take a pay cut or get lost. But the Eagles retained both starters because they can still play and it's not that hard to stay under the salary cap these days.
With the influx of television money and lower rookie salaries, teams can afford to keep veterans who might otherwise look overpriced. This is how the cornerback Adam Jones survives an offseason arrest and $8.166 million cap figure in Cincinnati. Or how Eddie Royal and Lamarr Houston survive so many injuries to go with nearly $13 million in combined cap hits. If teams have the room to keep pricey veterans until training camp, then why not give them another look?