NFL 2018-19: Your team’s biggest offseason headline (NFC)

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    Can Matt Ryan and the Falcons finally deliver on their promise? (Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)

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    The Philadelphia Eagles have a tough title defence ahead with their rival franchises in the NFC undergoing some big roster changes following one of the wildest offseasons in recent memory.

    After going through the biggest headlines from the AFC earlier this week, it is now time to discuss and dissect the biggest moments from the off-season in the National Football Conference.

    NFC East

    Dallas Cowboys: Witten and Bryant end Cowboys’ glory days
    Two of the Cowboys’ greatest receivers of all-time left, with Jason Witten and Dez Bryant departing. Witten announced his retirement following 14 seasons, going out with the franchise record for most receptions (1,152) and receiving yards (12,448).

    Wide receiver Dez Bryant was released after eight seasons with a franchise record 73 receiving touchdowns, he is yet to find a new home for the 2018 season.

    New York Giants: Pat Shurmur takes over in New York
    Pat Shurmur has been placed in charge at the Giants, taking his first head coaching role since serving as interim coach for the Eagles in 2015.

    Shurmur previously helped the Vikings all the way to the NFC Championship. His transformation of Case Keenum earned him the Assistant Coach of the Year award last year, this year the magic dust will help revive Eli Manning into a game-winning quarterback.

    Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles stays in Philadelphia
    Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles signed a two-year extension to stay in Philadelphia after helping them to a maiden Championship in 2017.

    Foles was the man of the moment in their 41-33 win over the Patriots, completing 28 of 43 passes for 373 yards, three touchdowns and and one interception. He will still have to fight for the starting quarterback role with Carson Wentz, returning from an ACL injury.

    Washington Redskins: Alex Smith replaces Kirk Cousins
    With Kirk Cousins acquired by the Vikings on the free agency, the Redskins found his replacement in Alex Smith. The No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Smith had a career-high passing season last year with 341 completions for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns.

    It earned him a 104.7 quarterback rating as the Chiefs won the AFC West. Smith has big shoes to fill, however, he could be the man to revive the Redskins’ playoff hopes.

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 03: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) prior to the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs on December 3, 2017, at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

    Smith has left the Chiefs for the Redskins. (Rich Graessle/Getty Images)

    NFC North

    Chicago Bears: Allen Robinson joins Bears’ offense
    2015 Pro Bowler Allen Robinson had his season cruelly cut short by an ACL injury in Week 1 last year and now moves from Jacksonville to Chicago.

    Robinson will add plenty of excitement to the Bears’ receiving corps, having demonstrated his prowess with 14 touchdowns in 2015 and another six the following season. Now fully recovered, Robinson will be hoping to inject new life into the team.

    Detroit Lions: Blount joins stacked Lions backfield
    LeGarrette Blount traded in the Super Bowl champions for the Lions signing a one-year, $4.5 million contract. Blount joins a stacked Lions backfield that also features Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and second-round pick Kerryon Johnson.

    New head coach Matt Patricia will be having headaches over how to play the four running backs, however, Blount will be expected to start at fullback with Abdullah and Riddick likely fighting it out for the halfback spot.

    Green Bay Packers: Jordy Nelson released
    After nine seasons as Aaron Rodgers’ number one receiving target, Jordy Nelson was released by Green Bay and headed to Oakland.

    Nelson scored 74 receiving touchdowns throughout his career at Lambeau, but five-time Pro Bowler Jimmy Graham will breathe new life into the franchise. Graham will benefit from his new home as he hunts Super Bowl glory.

    Minnesota Vikings: Cousins becomes the main man in Minneapolis
    Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum are now out of the picture with the Vikings placing their trust in Kirk Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million deal after leaving the Redskins.

    Cousins recorded his third consecutive season with at least 4,000 passing yards last year, passing for 27 touchdowns and rushing for four. Trevor Siemian also arrives in Minneapolis as backup quarterback following three years in Denver.

    NFC South

    Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan signs NFL’s richest deal
    Matt Ryan broke the league record for the richest contract during the off-season, signing a five-year, $150 million contract to stay in Atlanta.

    There will be plenty of pressure on Ryan’s shoulders to deliver, however, the four-time Pro Bowler continues to improve every year and will be wanting to guide the Falcons to their third successive playoff appearance.

    Carolina Panthers: Ownership change sees Panthers sell for record price
    The Panthers have completed a record sale, with David Tepper purchasing the club from for $2.2 billion. In a positive sign for the franchise, Tepper intends to keep the team in the Carolinas despite their lease of Bank of America stadium expiring at the end of the season.

    Tepper was former part-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and takes over from Jerry Richardson, under whom they won two NFC Championships in 2003 and 2015.

    New Orleans Saints: Mark Ingram suspended for PED violation
    Two-time Pro Bowler Mark Ingram was handed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy. Ingram had a career-best season in 2017, leading the Saints with 1,124 rushing yards and twelve touchdowns.

    It places the Saints’ backfield in a precarious position, especially with the veteran set to depart New Orleans at the end of the season. 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara will have the weight of expectation thrust upon him in his sophomore season.

    New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees

    Drew Brees will need to shoulder a heavier load without his first-choice running back. (dbking / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winston out for first three games of regular season
    Winston’s dangerous past caught up with him once again, with the quarterback suspended three games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following a 2016 groping allegation.

    The decision will not only see him sit out the beginning of the season but also resulted in his Nike endorsement ending. The Buccaneers will likely start 2018 with Ryan Fitzpatrick as starting quarterback.

    NFC West

    Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer announces his retirement
    After spending most of the 2017 season on injured reserve, Carson Palmer called it quits on a 14-year career. The 38-year-old makes way for Sam Bradford, who joins on a one-year, $20 million deal from the Vikings.

    The Cardinals’ new head coach Steve Wilks will be hoping Bradford can steer his franchise back to the playoffs and mentor No. 10 draft pick Josh Rosen.

    Los Angeles Rams: Stan Kroenke makes a splash in the free agency
    Four of the best in their respective positions landed in Los Angeles, with Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Brandin Cooks and Ndamukong Suh joining the Rams in 2018.

    Brandin Cooks will serve as Jared Goff’s preferred passing target after making his first playoff appearance with the Patriots in 2017.

    The biggest changes come in the Rams’ defence. Suh will line up at defensive tackle after being released by the Dolphins, with the five-time Pro Bowler boosting a young defensive line.

    The defensive backs will feature two AFC West heavyweights, two-time Pro Bowler Peters arriving from the Chiefs and Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowler Talib joining from the Broncos for his eleventh season in the NFL.

    San Francisco 49ers: Niners go all in on Garoppolo
    Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year, $137.5m extension to stay in San Francisco, making it the richest contract in league history before Matt Ryan re-signed with the Falcons.

    SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 12: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants changes the play at the line during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on November 12, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Giants 31-21.

    Both the Niners and Giants are tipped to improve this season. (Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

    Garoppolo made an immediate impact since arriving in San Francisco last year from New England, moving into the starting quarterback role with six games under his belt.

    He will be looking to thrive in his first full season after recording a 96.2 quarterback rating last year, finishing the season with 1,560 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns.

    Seattle Seahawks: Super Bowl defensive trio spark mass exodus
    The Seahawks parted ways with three of their biggest defensive stars. Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett leave Seattle having helped them win Super Bowl XLVIII.

    Chancellor announced his retirement in July after a neck injury sat him out of the back half of the 2017 season. It ends eight years in Seattle where he made a total of 701 tackles and was selected in four Pro Bowls.

    Richard Sherman was released by the Seahawks, agreeing to a three-year, $39 million deal with archrivals San Francisco. Over his seven seasons, he led the league with 32 interceptions and was selected in the Pro Bowl four times between 2013 and 2016.

    Michael Bennett traded five years in Seattle, where he appeared in three Pro Bowls between 2015 and 2017, for the Super Bowl champion Eagles.

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