Loved the Seattle Seahawks appeasing Marshawn Lynch with a contract extension through 2017 back in March. I know, I know -- extensions aren't typically headline-grabbers. But with Lynch, it's different. For starters, he's the best player on the Seahawks, whether or not Russell Wilson ends up making $100 million. Secondly, no one ever really knows how close he is to walking out the door. Why give him an excuse by underpaying him (per market value)?
While I thought Indianapolis' signing of Trent Cole was a smart under-the-radar move -- as detailed Monday in my review of the Colts' offseason -- it's not as impactful as Seattle having Lynch around longer. #BeastMode I like the New Orleans Saints wisely re-signing their own, crafting an affordable, four-year, $16 million deal for running back Mark Ingram. After watching New Orleans trade away tight end Jimmy Graham and deep threat Kenny Stills, Ingram looms as the centerpiece of an aggressive, ground-heavy attack for the Saints. When healthy, the former first-round pick looked as good as any runner in the NFL last season, showing great vision and punishing power.
Pairing Ingram with free-agent acquisition C.J. Spiller gives the Saints one of the most intriguing backfield combinations in the league. The Seattle Seahawks' acquisition of tight end Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints was arguably the biggest splash of the flurry of March 10 trades -- and could be the most impactful, as well. Graham will bring an entirely different dimension to a Seahawks offense that is already tricky to defend. The mismatch nightmare will prove to be a major weapon for quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Graham acquisition also allowed Seattle to focus on other areas in the draft, as only one of eight picks (Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett) was devoted to a pass catcher. Three moves stick out to me ...
» How about the New York Jets rebuilding their cornerback position by bringing back a pair of old friends, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie? They went from having one of the worst CB situations in the NFL to one of the best.
» And the Philadelphia Eagles did well in swapping out LeSean McCoy for DeMarco Murray (... even if that wasn't quite the plan from the beginning). I think Murray is an upgrade over McCoy, particularly in Chip Kelly's north-south ground game.
» Finally, the Cowboys ended up with three "first-round picks," as Byron Jones, Randy Gregory and La'el Collins all carried Round 1 grades through most of the pre-draft process. But, of course, there is some "buyer beware" here. Free-agent signings fail more often than not, in large part because paycheck veterans not viewed as nucleus players by their own teams are transferring to another system which might not even fit their talents. The Saints' signing of C.J. Spiller is an exception. Spiller was one of the NFL's most dynamic players in 2012, slashing defenses with his explosive lateral agility and 4.3 long speed.
New Orleans is getting him at a discounted rate because his production suffered due to a 2013 high-ankle sprain, a 2014 broken collarbone and the failure of Doug Marrone's coaching staff to get him the ball in space. Sean Payton, on the other hand, has gotten the best out of playmaking "satellite" backs such as Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush. This is a match made in heaven. I really liked the Giants signing special teams dynamo Dwayne Harris away from the Cowboys. He's a sure-handed punt returner and kick returner, and he can make plays in the passing game as a third or fourth receiver. In one move, the Giants landed someone who can fill a bunch of roles. As a bonus, they pilfered a key piece -- Harris was probably Dallas' best special teams player last season -- away from an NFC East rival. Seattle getting tight end Jimmy Graham from New Orleans stands out. Graham has been a machine the past four seasons, averaging 89 receptions and 12 touchdowns. His addition immediately shores up Seattle's passing attack, which wasn't that bad to begin with despite not having a true go-to receiver.
Seattle also added wideout Tyler Lockett in the third round. The Kansas State product should improve the Seahawks' return units and give them another weapon out of the slot. Losing Max Unger in the Graham trade hurt, but giving Russell Wilson more weapons far outweighs losing the stud center.