SI’s MMQB Staff Debates the Best Offseason Moves

The Cowboys and 49ers decided to sign key players to extensions, while the Lions and Giants made two key additions to strengthen their defenses.
Dak Prescott is waiting on a contract extension from Jerry Jones going into the final season of his current deal.
Dak Prescott is waiting on a contract extension from Jerry Jones going into the final season of his current deal. / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the NFL offseason, where receivers get paid lots of money (just ask Justin Jefferson, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle and Nico Collins), the NFL continues to push for an 18-game season, the league and NFLPA discuss ways to ruin the offseason calendar and teams continue to go through their OTAs and mandatory minicamps. 

So we asked our MMQB staff to answer a series of eight questions over the next two weeks. They’ll debate the best and worst moves, the most and least improved teams, the best coaching move and more. 

So let’s get to the answers to today’s question as we get closer to the NFL taking a break before July training camps open.

The best offseason move was …

Matt Verderame: The Dallas Cowboys NOT extending Dak Prescott.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott
Prescott and the Cowboys were pummeled by the Packers in the playoffs. / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Prescott is a good player. But despite talented rosters, he has won exactly two playoff games in eight seasons and never reached an NFC championship game.

Furthermore, Prescott turns 31 years old this summer. He’s not likely to get better, and even staying at the same level could be a challenge throughout the duration of what would certainly be an extension-topping contract of $55 million annually. The team around him is also eroding, even if it has major stars in Micah Parsons and CeeDee Lamb. 

Throwing for 36 touchdowns and 4,516 yards was great last season, but rings hollow after you’re blown out by the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers in your own building, partially because of two interceptions.

While losing Prescott after this season would represent a reset, so be it. The goal is trying to win a Super Bowl. Although it’s not only his failure, Prescott hasn’t made a serious run yet at such an achievement. Dallas should be ultra-aggressive and find his replacement in the next 24 months, whether in free agency or the draft, and hope that quarterback has a higher ceiling.

Gilberto Manzano: The San Francisco 49ers NOT trading Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk. 

San Francisco wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel
Aiyuk and Samuel are still with the 49ers despite the team exploring trade offers for both. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers fielded trade offers for star wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel because they’re well aware of not being able to pay everyone on their loaded roster, especially with quarterback Brock Purdy possibly cashing in next offseason. 

But they were smart to have high asking prices for two players who have been instrumental in the team’s success the past few years. The 49ers didn’t cave to lesser offers during draft season and minimized the damage for shopping the two wideouts. Samuel attended the team’s OTA workouts, a good sign that the 49ers probably kept him in the loop with their business matters. And Aiyuk wasn’t going to show up without an extension. 

So no harm in exploring options. Either quickly reload with valuable draft picks or run it back with the same cast of star players. The 49ers’ core group will get another opportunity to end the organization’s 30-year Super Bowl drought. Oh, and they added more firepower with the first-round selection of wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, who could fill in if Aiyuk is traded during the summer, which doesn’t appear likely, or next year if he leaves in free agency. The good teams create options.  

Conor Orr: The Detroit Lions SIGNING D.J. Reader.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle D.J. Reader
Reader could have been among the best free agents this offseason. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

This is the kind of signing (two years, $22 million) no one is really going to talk about until mid-November when the Lions have one of the best run defenses in the NFL and Reader is mauling inferior offensive linemen en route to another artful tackle behind the line of scrimmage. I really think he was among the best free agents this offseason in terms of a player who you know is going to fit into any scheme and perform incredibly well. He’s a Dan Campbell-type of player. 

Albert Breer: The New York Giants TRADING for Carolina Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns.

New York Giants edge rusher Brian Burns
The Giants landed Burns from the Panthers for second- and fifth-round picks. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Going back to the middle of the 2022 season—when Carolina turned down first-round picks in ’24 and ’25, and a ’23 third-rounder for Burns at the trade deadline from the Los Angeles Rams—things were sideways for Burns in Charlotte. How could they not be? Negotiations were basically nonexistent from that point forward, the team was terrible, and Burns had to wait for his pot of gold. Because of all of that, the Giants landed him for a fraction (a second-rounder and a fifth-round pick swap) of what the Rams offered, and got him signed to a reasonable market contract (five years, $141 million) to play opposite Kayvon Thibodeaux. And they still had the second-rounder they got for Leonard Williams at last year’s deadline, along with a motivated 26-year-old edge rusher under contract for the next five years. 


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Albert Breer

ALBERT BREER

Conor Orr

CONOR ORR

Conor Orr is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, where he covers the NFL. He is also the co-host of the MMQB Podcast. Conor has been covering the NFL for more than a decade. His award-winning work has also appeared in The Newark Star-Ledger, NFL.com and NFL Network. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children and a loving terrier named Ernie. 

Gilberto Manzano

GILBERTO MANZANO

Matt Verderame

MATT VERDERAME

Matt Verderame is an NFL staff writer for Sports Illustrated. He hosts The Matt Verderame Show on Patreon; previously wrote for FanSided and Awful Announcing; and is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. A proud father of two girls and lover of all Italian food, Matt is an eternal defender of Rudy, the greatest football movie of all time.