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NFL teams aren’t afraid to make trades now, and the offseason is better for it

If this is the new NFL, we won’t be mad.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

This NFL offseason is more fun than we could have imagined. There are big free agent signings every offseason, but the amount of trades there have been has been a gift from the football gods.

There’s never truly an “offseason” in the NFL, or other major sports, thanks to social media and a 24-hour news cycle. But in 2018, it has felt like the NFL has taken a page from the NBA’s free agency period, where big moves make the league a year-round product of entertainment. It started early, when it was reported that Alex Smith was being traded just before the Super Bowl, and has yet to let up. On Wednesday, we got two more trades, and even Odell Beckham Jr.’s name is popping up in rumors.

It’s been exciting, both for players, fans, and everybody’s Twitter timeline. The best part is the trade activity is likely not close to being over either, with the NFL Draft coming up.

Notable trades this NFL offseason have included:

  • Alex Smith from the Chiefs to Washington
  • Marcus Peters from the Chiefs to the Rams
  • Robert Quinn from the Rams to the Dolphins
  • Michael Bennett from the Seahawks to the Eagles
  • Alec Ogletree from the Rams to the Giants
  • Aqib Talib from the Broncos to the Rams
  • Cordy Glenn from the Bills to Bengals
  • Jarvis Landry from the Dolphins to the Browns
  • Tyrod Taylor from the Bills to the Browns
  • Damarious Randall to the Browns and DeShone Kizer to the Packers
  • Danny Shelton from the Browns to the Patriots
  • Torrey Smith to the Panthers and Daryl Worley to the Eagles
  • Jason McCourty from the Browns to the Patriots
  • Trevor Siemian from the Broncos to the Vikings
  • The Colts and Jets swapping picks
  • Cordarrelle Patterson from the Raiders to the Patriots
  • Jason Pierre-Paul from the Giants to the Buccaneers
  • Su’a Cravens from Washington to the Broncos
  • Cody Kessler from the Browns to the Jaguars

In the NBA offseason, there’s always at least one storyline going on that has people glued to Twitter for news updates or Woj bombs. This past offseason, it was Gordon Hayward’s free agency, with everyone anticipating where he would sign. In the NFL, we expected Kirk Cousins’ free agency to define the entire lead up to the new league year. But we were thrown a curveball, when the Browns started wheeling and dealing on March 9.

It ended in this:

The Browns didn’t stop there, either. They also traded former first-round defensive tackle Danny Shelton to the Patriots the next day, and have made a few more trades since. But that first wave was a thrilling couple of hours, to say the least. To see an NFL team go off on a trade spree like that was one thing. But this was the clearest sign that the lowly Browns — who are 1-31 in the past two seasons — aren’t messing around anymore. That helped set the tone for them and for the entire NFL offseason.

The Browns brought a storm of moves early, but they weren’t alone. Suddenly, trades dominated the offseason. More salary cap space and a lack of high-quality free agents are two causes, but it’s still hard to pinpoint a single reason why there’s been more trades.

And when it comes down to it, no one probably actually cares about the why. It’s been the best medicine for curbing our football cravings — giving us something to discuss, debate who won or lost a trade, anticipating what’s next for teams involved in the trades, and how certain divisions could pan out in 2018.

No one is probably happier than Roger Goodell. Since he’s been commissioner, he’s been taking steps to liven up the offseason, to keep everyone talking about the NFL even when games aren’t being played. Part of that has been attempting to make the NFL Draft more of an event.

The first round of the draft was moved to primetime in 2010, and the league has been experimenting with different locations since 2015, and even added a red carpet. Last year it was Philadelphia, and this year, it’ll be in Dallas at Jerry Worldand on pretty much every network — so if there were a time for the showmanship to go to another level, it’s going to happen on Jerry Jones’ watch. Next year, it’ll be in either Cleveland/Canton, Nashville, Kansas City, Denver, or Las Vegas. When the NFL turns 100 in 2020, that will be gassed up too.

Between these trades and the draft, there’s no doubt ol’ Rog is pleased with this offseason. The NFL is buzzing while baseball is starting and the NBA playoff race is heating up.

But for fans of the game, the trades have been a breath of fresh air. The offseason can get long, boring, filled with stupid takes, and meaningless quotes. Trades that gave the Rams a fearsome secondary, the Eagles a defensive line that will be must-watch football, the Browns hope, and twists in the draft are more than we could have reasonably asked for going into the offseason.

There’s no telling whether or not this new NFL where trades happen frequently is going to be the new norm. Next year’s free agent class could be better, and in a few years, there will be a new collective bargaining agreement. But if it is, you won’t hear many complaints — it’s too much fun.