Carolina Panthers This was a team that clearly needed to address some needs after representing the NFC for the Super Bowl and then missing the playoffs this last year. Julius Peppers coming back to the team he started with is a great story. Even at a late age, Peppers has done some damage to offenses and with the addition of Captain Munnerlyn and Mike Adams – you are adding three solid vets to a team that was needing the help on the Defensive front.
But one of my more favorite signings by this team would have to be Matt Kalil as Left Tackle. To preface, I am a Vikings fan, and I have had the same frustrations as anyone has with Kalil penalties. But as rough as our line was two years ago, it was nothing like this year without having Matt Kalil in the lineup. With O-Lineman in general there are a lot of injuries that they have to deal with each game in a high contact, physical position, and Matt Kalil has had his battles with injuries and surgeries, which were often disclosed after the season. For me, I always go back to his rookie season where he was everything you could have ever wanted out of a 1st round draft pick and I believe that he will get back to that point, because all the fundamentals were there and you don’t lose that. And the Panthers have had success with picking up players in a statistical decline before, like Michael Oher who also had his share of injuries. But the talent is there and I think Matt Kalil is another player that is worth the gamble because like to Michael Oher, you know their talent ceiling.
Green Bay Packers This even hurts to write but for Ted Thompson, a guy who doesn’t ever make a splash, I think he did a good job with signing both Martellius Bennett and Lance Kendricks. I like this acquisition primarily because you are taking two larger weapons and putting them in an offense that missed a regular performing Tight End since the early years of Jermichael Finley. With two players of their size (and rescuing Kendricks from the Rams), I think this provides depth as well as opening up a part of an offense that Aaron Rodgers never quite fully utilized.
But word of caution Martellius Bennett has been known for being a bit of a training camp headache and while the Patriots are good at controlling these types of players – I don’t see Green Bay having the same control that Bill Belichick has over his system.
New York Giants The Brandon Marshall pick up for the New York Giants was exactly what that offense needed. One of the things that makes Odell Beckham Jr. amazing in my mind is that he is literally THE ONLY player in that offense that you have to watch out for. Sterling Shepherd will come along but for the time being, it is just Odell. But he still puts up big numbers and is a threat to all secondaries every week.
The only weakness in my mind with Odell Beckham Jr. is that he has some maturing to do, and can be a bit of a head case at times. This is the main reason why I love this pick up of Brandon Marshall. With Marshall you have a guy who is a veteran, a solid locker room player that always back up his teammates. Brandon Marshall’s character is so refreshing because even when he left the Bears, he continued to back up Jay Cutler’s “elite” status, and on the Jets he backed up his Quarterback again by calling Ryan Fitzpatrick “elite” (and was a big reason why they resigned him to a 1 year deal). Brandon Marshall does not point blame and is the calming presence that I think will mentor Odell Beckham Jr. (not to mention Shepherd who is still young and developing).
And to boot, Brandon Marshall can still play! He is not a veteran that just signed a one year deal to be a leader and play just on third downs. A year ago he was a nightmare for Defenses with putting up over 1,500 yards and 14 Touchdowns. And honestly, despite what Brandon Marshall would tell you, he has never had an elite Quarterback throwing to him, and Eli Manning, while not elite, may be the best that he has ever had to work with. I love this pick up and pumped to see this Offensive Aerial Assault next season.
– Joey Almars