By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and last week, Chicago made an expensive acquisition, trading for quarterback Nick Foles. The move wasn’t costly in value heading back to Jacksonville in the exchange, but rather in Chicago’s assumption of the bulk of Foles’ remaining contract. Plus, bringing in Foles is a clear sign the franchise—rightfully so—believes Mitchell Trubisky may not be the long-term answer at quarterback. Trubisky will likely enter the preseason as the starter for the Bears, but it is unlikely he holds on to the gig for the duration of the 2020 season, setting the Foles acquisition up to a be high-cost move worth making for the playoff hopefuls.
Elsewhere in the NFC North, Detroit made a wise move that eluded headlines, signing cornerback Desmond Trufant to fill the void created by Darius Slay’s move to Philadelphia. Trufant struggled as part of Atlanta’s talent-poor defense, but he has proven to be more than capable of shining within a man-to-man coverage scheme similar to the one embraced by the Lions. Detroit is also positioned well to add a cornerback opposite Trufant at the top of the draft, either with the third pick or elsewhere in the top ten via trade. The Lions are likely to be keying in on cornerback Jeff Okudah early in the draft.
Running back Kenyan Drake took control of the backfield in Arizona following a mid-season deal in 2019, and he’ll be returning to the Cardinals for 2020 following the singing of a one-year deal. Drake racked up 643 rushing yards and eight scores in eight games with the Cardinals, and he will once again be a focal point of the team’s offense. With All Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins now in town and quarterback Kyler Murray due to improve in his second season, Arizona’s offense is shaping up to be a formidable draw next season. The Cardinals defense remains an issue despite a few signings (Devon Kennard, Jordan Phillips), but at least now Arizona’s offense looks more than ready to win some shootouts in 2020.
While Drake’s return is exciting for Arizona, the biggest cause for celebration within the franchise is the acquisition of Hopkins. Of course, on the opposite end of last week’s shocking deal were the Houston Texans. The Texans followed up the inexcusable trading of Hopkins with more curious moves, including giving a lucrative multi-year deal to receiver Randall Cobb. The Texans also lost star defensive tackle D.J. Reader to free agency, a move that went overlooked amongst a flurry of signings but will be a tremendous blow to Houston’s defense. Trying to find a long-term plan at work in Houston is proving to be nearly impossible.
As for Reader, his addition to Cincinnati’s defense gives the Bengals one of the more impressive collection of talent along the defensive line in the NFL. Reader is potent against the run, but he is also effective rushing the passer, and he will give defenses nightmares while operating alongside longtime ignored superstar Geno Atkins. Paired with the team’s move to retain receiver A.J. Green, signing Reader is an indicator the Bengals are not keen to do a long rebuild following last year’s disastrous season. Provided the Bengals address its need along the offensive line, assumed top overall pick quarterback Joe Burrow is entering a solid situation to begin his career.
Despite being named a Pro Bowler in 2019, the season was far from a successful one for cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Easily among the least productive cornerbacks in the NFL, Rhodes earned his release from the Minnesota Vikings with his play, ignoring his hefty salary. Rhodes will look to revive his career with the Colts, as the veteran signed a one-year deal with Indianapolis on Thursday. This is another interesting, low-risk move for the Colts as Rhodes has a track record of success and Indianapolis has a glaring need in its secondary. With the signing of Phillip Rivers, re-signing of Anthony Castonzo, the acquisition of DeForest Buckner, and a series of smaller moves to address holes on the roster, the Colts are gearing up to make a run in the AFC South.