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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

2021 football preview: Plenty of familiar faces playing in new places around NFL

By Dennis Waszak Jr. Associated Press

NEW YORK – Wait a second. He’s playing where now?

With the NFL season about to kick off, it’s time for a quick refresher on some familiar faces in new places. Otherwise, you might be scratching your head while drafting your fantasy football team or doing double takes when you flip on the games in Week 1.

So, if you missed some free agent signings or trades in the offseason – or forgot – and spent your summer days and nights sipping cocktails by the pool rather than watching preseason games, we’re here to help.


– Matthew Stafford (Lions to Rams)

– Jared Goff (Rams to Lions)

– Carson Wentz (Eagles to Colts)

– Sam Darnold (Jets to Panthers)

– Teddy Bridgewater (Panthers to Broncos)

– Ryan Fitzpatrick (Dolphins to Washington)

– Andy Dalton (Cowboys to Bears)

– Gardner Minshew (Jaguars to Eagles)

Goff, two first-round picks and a third-rounder were dealt by Los Angeles to Detroit for Stafford in an offseason blockbuster. Both will start for their new teams. … Wentz was traded to Indianapolis, where he was reunited with current Colts coach and former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, for a third-rounder and a 2022 conditional second-rounder. Wentz had surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot earlier this month, but could be ready for the opener. … The Jets moved on from Darnold and dealt him to Carolina for a sixth-rounder this year and second- and fourth-rounders in 2022. New York drafted Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick. … After getting Darnold, the Panthers traded Bridgewater to Denver for a sixth-rounder and he has taken the Broncos’ starting job. … FitzMagic is still going strong and the 38-year-old well-traveled vet will be under center for Washington in Week 1 – the ninth NFL team for which he’ll start. … Dalton, in Dallas last year after nine in Cincinnati seasons, is Chicago’s expected starter. But the calls from Bears fans for Justin Fields, the No. 3 overall pick, have already begun.

Others: Joe Flacco (Jets to Eagles), Tyrod Taylor (Chargers to Texans), Mitchell Trubisky (Bears to Bills).

Running backs

– Tevin Coleman (49ers to Jets)

– James Conner (Steelers to Cardinals)

– Kenyan Drake (Cardinals to Raiders)

Coleman, who spent two injury-plagued seasons in San Francisco, joins a backfield in New York where he’s likely to complement Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine and rookie Michael Carter. … Conner was Pittsburgh’s backfield workhorse most of the last three seasons, but will be part of a 1-2 punch in Arizona with Chase Edmonds. … Drake broke out during his two seasons with the Cardinals, scoring 18 touchdowns in 23 games. Las Vegas is doubling down with Drake and Josh Jacobs.

Others: Sony Michel (Patriots to Rams), Mark Ingram (Ravens to Texans), Phillip Lindsay (Broncos to Texans).

Wide receivers

– Julio Jones (Falcons to Titans)

– A.J. Green (Bengals to Cardinals)

– Kenny Golladay (Lions to Giants)

Jones, the Falcons’ career leader in catches and yards receiving, was traded along with a 2023 sixth-round pick to Tennessee for the Titans’ second-rounder in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023. He hasn’t practiced much in training camp because of a leg ailment, but will form a formidable 1-2 receiving duo with A.J. Brown when healthy. … Green signed with Arizona after 10 years in Cincinnati, where he’s second to Chad Johnson in various team career receiving marks. … Looking to give Daniel Jones more weapons, the Giants signed Golladay to a four-year, $72 million contract.

Others: Corey Davis (Titans to Jets), DeSean Jackson (Eagles to Rams), Marvin Jones (Lions to Jaguars), Cordarrelle Patterson (Bears to Falcons), Sammy Watkins (Chiefs to Ravens).

Tight ends

– Hunter Henry (Chargers to Patriots)

– Jonnu Smith (Titans to Patriots)

Life at tight end without Rob Gronkowski hasn’t been great for New England, which brought in two of the more productive players at that position over the last few years.

Others: Jared Cook (Saints to Chargers), Kyle Rudolph (Vikings to Giants).

Offensive line

– Trent Brown (Raiders to Patriots)

– Joe Thuney (Patriots to Chiefs)

– Corey Linsley (Packers to Chargers)

– Morgan Moses (Washington to Jets)

The 6-foot-8, 380-pound Brown returns to New England, where he played left tackle in 2018, after two years with the Raiders. … Thuney bolsters the line in front of Patrick Mahomes after five years with the Patriots. … All-Pro Linsley, a fixture on Green Bay’s line the past seven years, signed a five-year, $62.5 million contract with the Chargers, making him the NFL’s highest-paid center. … Moses signed a one-year, $3.6 million deal with the Jets to play right tackle and form bookends with left tackle Mekhi Becton in front of Wilson.

Others: Marcus Cannon (Patriots to Texans), Rodney Hudson (Raiders to Cardinals), Alex Mack (Falcons to 49ers).

Defensive linemen

– J.J. Watt (Texans to Cardinals)

– Jadeveon Clowney (Titans to Browns)

– Yannick Ngakoue (Ravens to Raiders)

Watt became one of the faces of the league during 10 years with the Texans, so it’ll surely be strange seeing him rush the passer in another uniform after signing a two-year, $28 million deal with Arizona. … Browns fans are drooling over Clowney teaming with Myles Garrett to wreck opposing backfields. … Ngakoue split last season between Minnesota and Baltimore and finished with eight sacks, a total he has reached or surpassed in all five of his NFL seasons.

Others: Everson Griffen (Lions to Vikings), Solomon Thomas (49ers to Raiders).


– Melvin Ingram (Chargers to Steelers)

– Bud Dupree (Steelers to Titans)

– Matt Judon (Ravens to Patriots)

Ingram was a consistent pass-rushing threat during nine seasons with the Chargers except for last year, when knee injuries limited him to seven games and no sacks. … Dupree was a key performer on Pittsburgh’s defense the last six seasons, getting 39 1/2 sacks. He signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with Tennessee in the offseason and appears healthy after a torn ACL ended last season prematurely. … Judon was one of New England’s big free agent signings, getting a four-year, $56 million deal after being selected for the Pro Bowl the last two seasons.

Others: Benardrick McKinney (Texans to Dolphins), Haason Reddick (Cardinals to Panthers).

Defensive backs

– Patrick Peterson (Cardinals to Vikings)

– Malcolm Butler (Titans to Cardinals)

Peterson was a three-time All-Pro and established himself as one of the game’s top cornerbacks in 10 years in Arizona. … Butler, whose goal-line interception sealed New England’s Super Bowl win in 2014, spent the last three seasons in Tennessee.

Others: Shaquill Griffin (Seahawks to Jaguars), Adoree Jackson (Titans to Giants), William Jackson III (Bengals to Washington).


– Matt Prater (Lions to Cardinals)

Prater, who still holds the NFL record with his 64-yard field goal while with Denver in 2013, kicked for seven years in Detroit before signing a two-year deal with Arizona in the offseason.

Others: Randy Bullock (Bengals to Lions), Sam Ficken (Jets to Titans), Zane Gonzalez (Cardinals to Lions).