Team decision-makers have done everything they can to rebuild/strengthen their rosters during this unprecedented offseason of 2020. In my opinion, here are three of the smartest additions that I think will pay big dividends for their new teams this season. On the flip side, these acquisitions might cause regret for the teams that allowed these players to leave.
Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders- During the 2019 season, Sanders was acquired by the San Francisco 49ers along with a 5th round pick, in exchange for a 3rd and a 4th round pick in the 2020 NFL draft. He played the final 10 games of the year and over this span, Sanders caught 36 balls and clearly emerged as a weapon. Incidentally, he made at least one catch in every one of the 17 regular season games he played in! Yes, that’s right, he played in 17 straight games with a reception. During the latter part of the 2019 season, Sanders made big catches in playoff games and in the Super Bowl for the 49ers, showing off his instincts, feel and consistent ability to catch outside his frame. I think he is going to be a very valuable player for the Saints to incorporate into their, already high-octane offense for 2020. He is just the kind of guy who will be important for Sean Payton and Payton will use him on third downs and in the red zone. I love this signing for New Orleans just as much as I dislike the replacement the 49ers brought in to fill a similar role. SF signed WR Travis Benjamin, who had spent the last four seasons with the LA Chargers. He was injured for half of 2019 and caught only 12 balls in 2018 after two semi-productive years with the Chargers in 2016 and 2017. Benjamin is really a small target who struggles to stay healthy. I think this is a substantial step back for SF and they will struggle trying to fill Sanders’ shoes.
Steelers TE Eric Ebron- I think this is a great signing by Pittsburgh. A former 1st round pick out of North Carolina by the Detroit Lions in 2014, Ebron is now, surprisingly, going to be playing for his third NFL team in seven years. He spent 2018 and 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2018. He has 283 career catches, but more importantly 27 TD receptions. His strength, without a doubt, is as a receiver. He can run, can catch balls in traffic, and has body control to get away from tight coverage. These qualities make him a third-down weapon which is very hard to come by for teams. At 6’4” 250 lbs., Ebron’s strength is catching touchdown passes and he can be a matchup problem for opposing defenses. He left Detroit in the midst of a coaching change after the 2017 season. In 2018, with Andrew Luck at QB, he caught 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 TDs (which lead all NFL TE’s in TD receptions). We all know what happened in 2019 and Ebron suffered as a result. Luck retired early on and his production fell. The Colts have shifted their focus and want to have a physical downhill running game in 2020. Ebron’s skill set doesn’t really match that and he will be a better fit in Pittsburgh. Indy will feel his absence in the red zone this year. Enter the Steelers who are looking for some passing game fire power to give QB Ben Roethlisberger options. Whether it’s in the slot or on the move, I would look for big numbers again out of Ebron this year. This is a very good addition who should make smart fantasy league players look very good this fall.
Giants LB Kyler Fackrell- The former 3rd round pick of the Packers signed as a free agent with New York in March. At 6’5” 245, he is versatile enough to be used to either set the edge vs the run, but maybe more importantly, as a pass rusher on third down situations. An under-the-radar performer in 2018 for the Pack, Kyler had a career-high 42 tackles, but it was his 10.5 sacks that impressed. Early in his collegiate career at Utah St, Fackrell was very adept at rushing the passer and he has the natural lean and bend around the corner that is hard to find in a player. A knee injury at Utah St was the only thing that kept him from coming out early and being a possible 1st or 2nd round pick. He returned for his senior year but wasn’t the same. Fackrell managed to learn different defenses during his stint in GB and withstood several coaching changes on the defensive side of the ball. Until 2018, however, his role was very much undefined and inconsistent. His breakout year in ‘18 was the same guy I saw that I liked as a young player in college. I really think, if the Giants use him as a nickel/sub rusher, he could be in line for a big year in 2020. I like this addition, A LOT.