-- Just six more weeks until the start of the NFL season. Six weeks until the transition from speculation to proof. Teams have been tinkering for six months now, and at some point soon, we will start to find out which moves worked and which didn't.
Some offseason moves are made with the long-term future in mind. Some are quick fixes. Today, we lean in the latter direction. In no particular order, here are 20 offseason NFL moves likely to have an impact on the 2016 season -- for better or for worse.
The New York Jets finally get it together with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Hot off the press! As training camp got underway, the Jets reunited Chan Gailey, Brandon Marshall & Co. with their signal-calling BFF. This is obviously a 2016-focused move, as the Jets got within a game of the playoffs last year and want to clear that hurdle this time around. As well as Fitz knows the offense, he'll slide right in. The move to sign him erases all the moves they made to alienate him in the months before.
Tom Brady ends his Deflategate legal fight. Brady's move to stop fighting his suspension lends certainty to the New England Patriots' training camp. They're certain they won't have their Hall of Fame quarterback for the first four games. Jimmy Garoppolo is certain his preseason prep work will matter this time. Pats fans remain certain their team got hosed. Certainty abounds, and Week 5 looks like a must-watch.
The Denver Broncos let Brock Osweiler walk. This move is more likely to have a 2016 impact in Denver, Osweiler's former home, than in Houston. The Texans started four different quarterbacks last year and made the playoffs. They'll be fine if they put enough pieces around Osweiler. But the move leaves the champs with Eagles/Jets leftovers at quarterback while they wait for the thermometer to pop on Paxton Lynch.
Adam Gase leaves the Chicago Bears for the Miami Dolphins. Now the youngest head coach in the league, Gase, 38, is the man Miami is counting on to get Ryan Tannehill to bloom. But this may have more impact in Chicago, where Jay Cutler really liked Gase as offensive coordinator and may not get along as well with successor Dowell Loggains. It doesn't help that Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett left too. Lesser issues have sent Cutler into funks.
The New York Giants blow out the budget. Only two teams had fewer sacks than the Giants last year. No team gave up more yards. It's a long way back from there to respectable, and the big-money deals for Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins don't answer all of the Giants' problems. But there's little doubt that they should be better on defense this year. It would be tough not to be.
The Carolina Panthers rescind Josh Norman's franchise tag. Letting your best cornerback leave a team that went 15-1 and made it to the Super Bowl is a bold move, and in Carolina it means some young corners really need to step up their trash-talk game. But the real impact here is on the other end. Norman landed in Washington, where he'll tangle with Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. twice a year now. The first matchup is in Week 3. As a wise man once said, "Get your popcorn ready."
The Oakland Raiders sign Kelechi Osemele. At almost $12 million per year with more than $25 million guaranteed in the first two, this wasn't a cheap move. But the Raiders ranked 28th in the league last year in rushing yards, and if they're going to cash in on their high preseason expectations, they can't ask young Derek Carr to throw it 40 times a game. Having Osemele on the line makes the run game legit, whether it's Latavius Murray or DeAndre Washington getting the carries.
The Tennessee Titans hire Russ Grimm. What? An offensive line coach among the top offseason moves?!? Well, it sure was last year, when Bill Callahan jumped from 2014 division champ Dallas to 2015 division champ Washington. The Titans' 2016 is about the development and protection of quarterback Marcus Mariota, and of all the additions they made with that in mind, Grimm could matter the most.
The Bears sign Danny Trevathan. It takes two years and a bunch of new players to really transition from a 4-3 defense into a 3-4. The linebackers John Fox inherited last year weren't suited for it. Trevathan is. He and fellow newcomer Jerrell Freeman should make a difference in handling the signals and in coverage. And Trevathan can flash that brand-new Super Bowl ring, which is always helpful.
The Dallas Cowboys make no moves at all at defensive end. No one's saying they should have brought back unmitigated disaster Greg Hardy. But the Cowboys replaced him with no one at all, then watched as Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence got hit with drug suspensions. This looks like a team that should ring Dwight Freeney's phone, but ... it kind of always did, didn't it?
The Atlanta Falcons sign Alex Mack. Matt Ryan's biggest problem last year was red zone turnovers. But his second-biggest problem may have been actually getting the ball into his hands. Atlanta used three different starting centers in 2015, and two of them had trouble snapping the ball. Mack solidifies the position which the quarterback is uncomfortably closest to, and the Falcons' offense should benefit.
Eddie Lacy decides to move more. The Green Bay Packers made no secret of their belief that their star running back was out of shape last year. And Lacy took it to heart, spending his offseason working out with P90X founder Tony Horton. The Packers need a bounce-back from Lacy if they're to reclaim the NFC North title from the Vikings. His reduced waistline offers late-July hope.
The Panthers draft Vernon Butler. Already stacked on the interior of their defensive line, the defending NFC champs went big in the first round and expect Butler to contribute to the rotation right away. But the pick also impacts their current contract discussions with Kawann Short, who wants Fletcher Cox-type money but isn't likely to get it now that the Panthers can hold the franchise tag and his potential replacement over his head in negotiations.
NFL hits Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals hard with suspensions. The league has banned Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first three games, Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant for the year and is likely to suspend Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell for the first four games. All of this has obvious impact on one of the season's most-anticipated division races as well as a Week 2 matchup in Pittsburgh that a lot of important players seem likely to miss.
Justin Houston has knee surgery. The AFC West is so gettable, and the Kansas City Chiefs could so get it. But you saw in their playoff loss to the Patriots that they're not the same team without their star pass-rusher. The number of games Houston has to miss while he recovers from his February ACL surgery could go a long way toward helping decide this division.
The Philadelphia Eagles sign all the quarterbacks. They brought back Sam Bradford, signed backup Chase Daniel and traded their way up from No. 13 to No. 2 in the draft to take Carson Wentz. The result is a 2016 muddle, and a ton of outside pressure to make a move if Bradford struggles and/or gets hurt. There's always chaos in Philly, and the Eagles have invited plenty more with their QB-heavy offseason plan.
Laremy Tunsil smokes his way down the first round. The gas-mask video that sprayed its way into the collective NFL consciousness minutes before the draft dropped Tunsil from potentially being the No. 3 overall pick down to the Dolphins at No. 13. The 2016 impact will be felt in Miami, where Tannehill's protection gets a boost, and in places like Baltimore and East Rutherford, where the whole thing really messed with draft boards. The flustered Giants ended up taking a guy at No. 10, Eli Apple, for whom they don't even have a starting job.
Josh Gordon gets unsuspended. Sort of. Maybe. The NFL announced earlier this week that the Cleveland Browns' star receiver is reinstated, but has to miss the first four games. This all rests on Gordon's ability to not run afoul of the league's drug program between now and October, so it's no sure thing. But if he can answer the Week 5 bell, Gordon is a huge boost to a team that's woefully short on good players.
The Arizona Cardinals trade for Chandler Jones. If Bill Belichick wanted to trade me a 26-year-old pass-rusher who had 12.5 sacks last year, I'd be suspicious. But Arizona is going for it and couldn't care less about what Belichick knows about the potential long-range consequences. Jones is a free agent at the end of the season, but for 2016, he boosts the Cardinals' pass rush and didn't cost very much. They'll worry about whether they have to franchise him next year when the time comes. Right now, it's all about knocking down quarterbacks, which this guy can do.
The Rams move from St. Louis to Los Angeles. The average distance the Rams' division rivals have to fly to play them drops from 2,531 miles to 1,039 miles. If you don't think that has an impact, you haven't been flying lately.