With less than two weeks to go before the season starts, teams are making their final preparations by refining their rosters and updating their depth chart.

The offseason is a time where teams can make transactions in order to put themselves in the best possible position for the upcoming season whether it be through the draft, free agency, or trades. Due to the lockout, the majority of the player movement occurred over a span of a few days. Nevertheless, there were plenty of intriguing moves made, some of which could play major implications in determining a team’s ultimate outcome.

That being said, here is my ranking of the Top 10 best offseason moves in 2011.

1. Eagles ‘Dream Team’

Well this sure isn’t a surprise. The Philadelphia Eagles made bold headlines not once, not twice, but several times over. Whether it be snatching the marquee free agent of this year’s class in Nnamdi Asomugha, dealing away Kevin Kolb, or making Vince Young their backup behind Michael Vick, the team was constantly in the headlines this year. Will they live up to the hype? That’s yet to be seen. But at least we know that this team is looking to win now.

2. Panthers Re-Signings

You’ve got to start somewhere when you’re coming off a 2-14 season, and considering the limitations that the lockout brought on, what better way than to re-sign your own nucleus of talent? Even though they were forced to dish out hefty contracts, I loved the fact that they retained DeAngelo Williams, Charles Johnson, and their entire linebacker corp. No doubt, that’s a great start to Ron Rivera’s rebuilding project.

3. Bengals Offensive Makeover

The Bengals were in complete disarray last season as their team never seemed to mesh, making them the laughing stock of the NFL. Despite keeping Carson Palmer for bizarre reasons, you have to credit owner Mike Brown for at least getting rid of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and replacing them with rookie A.J. Green. Moreover, drafting Andy Dalton should provide the organization with some flash of hope for the future.

4. Patriots Trade For Chad Ochocinco

One man’s trash is another man’s gold should be the story with Chad Ochocinco. Just because things fell apart in Cincinnati, shouldn’t mean that the 6-time Pro Bowler won’t be successful with Tom Brady in New England. He probably won’t have the same record-breaking season that Randy Moss did, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpasses 1,000 yards receiving.

5. Texans Switch To a 3-4 Defense

The Houston Texans have the explosive offense to put points on the board with talents like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster leading the way. However, their defense has been the Achilles heel that prevented them from making their first postseason appearance in franchise history (opened in 2002). They brought in Wade Phillips to coach the unit, and he will implement a 3-4 base defensive scheme. Knowing the system requires a unique personel group, he went out into the draft and found a five-technique defensive end to set the edge in J.J. Watt and then got a poor man’s Clay Matthews in ASU’s linebacker Brooks Reed in the 2nd round. Tack on the signing of cornerback Jonathon Joseph via free agency, and those are three critical pieces that should improve a defense that ranked last 30th in yards allowed.

6. Colts Re-Sign Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is one of the best players to ever step on the gridiron so making sure he ended his career with the same team that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft was their highest priority. Like planned, they got the deal done and even did so for a discount as he agreed to less money in order to accommodate for other players to stay. But at the same time I like what general manager Bill Polian did by saying that he’ll hold onto making a decision on Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis. This will keep them motivated to perform their best this season and will allow the organization to have additional time to evaluate their options.

7. Vikings Trade for Donovan McNabb

Don’t forget; the Minnesota Vikings are just one year removed from the NFC Championship Game. Even though they’ve slipped a bit in overall talent, the nucleus including running back Adrian Peterson still stays in tact. The only reason they took such a landside last season was because of shaky quarterback play. Brett Favre got beat up and clearly Travaris Jackson isn’t the answer (which apparently Pete Carroll didn’t get the memo on). The Vikings decided to draft Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick and even though he was a big reach, they’re confident with his ability to become the franchise quarterback for the future. Of course, they knew he wasn’t ready to be the Day One starter so they went out and traded for Donovan McNabb. He’s coming off a disappointing year as well, but I feel that he’s motivated to redeem himself.

8. Jaguars Draft Blaine Gabbert

Aaron Rodgers was a classic example that allowing a young signal caller time to develop on the sidelines while learning behind a veteran is one of the best methods to take in finding your quarterback of the future. The Jacksonville Jaguars tried to replicate that success as they traded up to draft Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the tenth overall pick of the draft. He should refine his skills while backing up David Garrard, and then hopefully be ready to lead the team in a couple of seasons. If it all works out, we’ll look back at that brilliance of that move.

9. Jets Keep Holmes, Cromartie

The New York Jets didn’t win the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, and I’m sure every quarterback in the league is ecstatic about that because in reality, is it even possible to throw against a defense that has both Darrelle Revis and Asomugha? Nevertheless, the Jets did execute Plan B by keeping Antonio Cromartie who is still a quality starter. Moreover, signing Holmes to a hometown discount was a wise move.

10. Giants Steal the Prince

With the 19th overall pick, the New York Giants got the steal of the 1st round when they drafted cornerback Prince Amukamara. Even though he suffered an injury in practice, there’s no denying the value they received with that selection. Many scouts graded him just a notch below Patrick Peterson and in a pass-heavy league, we know how important talented cornerbacks can be.


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