Every offseason, there are clear-cut winners and losers. Some teams have a tremendous free agency and draft while others act like they don’t plan on winning the next season. Today, we will be looking at the latter.
Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff’s massive contract is coming back to bite the Rams, as they have virtually no money to spend on free agents. They lost multiple starters and replaced them with cheaper, worse players. Their draft was uninspiring as well, as they picked few possible starters and when they did, they reached for them. LAR is primed for a regression.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Currently the leaders in the race for Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars traded away top-end talents Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye for more draft capital. Otherwise, they were fairly inactive in free agency, with their only major addition being Joe Schobert. Jacksonville is clearly preparing for a rebuild.
The Jaguars are perhaps the only team on this list to have had a good draft. They added players at all areas of the field and should see benefits eventually, but that doesn’t make up for the loss of starpower and their reliance on Gardner Minshew to develop as a passer. Jacksonville may improve soon, but it doesn’t appear to be this season.
4. Chicago Bears
The Bears could field an offense of Mitch Trubisky and 10 tight ends if the season started right now. If that doesn’t strike fear into any defense’s heart, I don’t know what will. Instead of bringing in true competition for Trubisky, they traded for Nick Foles. Their only upgrade in free agency was the addition of Robert Quinn. Otherwise, they are sticking with older, lower quality players.
You would think 9 tight ends is enough, but with their first pick in the NFL Draft, Chicago selected Cole Kmet, a tight end, 43rd overall. The only sure improvement they made in this phase was selecting corner Jaylon Johnson, who should develop into a quality starter. It would not be a surprise to see them go 8-8 again.
3. Houston Texans
It is a miracle that Bill O’Brien still has a job. Unless the Texans know something about DeAndre Hopkins that absolutely nobody else does, that trade makes zero sense. The only logical theory here is that O’Brien is getting paid under-the-table by the Arizona Cardinals. They also took a hit when they lost an up-and-coming star nose tackle in D.J. Reader. They added virtually no long-term starting talent in free agency to compensate for these losses.
However, one may ask, “Alright, well maybe they had a plan for the draft?”. The issue here is, they only had five picks. With these five picks, they once again added no real starting talent. It appears that they replaced Hopkins and Reader with Isaiah Coulter and Ross Blacklock, neither of which are surefire starters. If Bill O’Brien can get paid for this, someone should get me a job.
2. New England Patriots
At what point does Bill Belichick walk on the field and start playing? We all know that the Patriots lost Tom Brady (and Rob Gronkowski, if that counts) and that they feel confident in Jarrett Stidham, but will that be enough? Brady made the headlines, but they also lost key pieces on defense such as Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, and Duron Harmon.
A team can handle these types of losses through a good draft and acquiring proven talent, but they added little in free agency and the draft is rife with boom-or-bust potential. Their biggest risk may have been taking Kyle Dugger in Round 2, as it’s anyone’s guess as to how he translates to the NFL. Usually the Patriots’ front office gets the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard to find an area where they definitely improved.
1. Green Bay Packers
The Packers are seemingly content with wasting the back end of Aaron Rodgers’ career. In free agency, they allowed multiple key players to walk (Blake Martinez, Bryan Bulaga, Jimmy Graham) and replaced them with worse, riskier players. Their only major addition was Christian Kirksey, and it’s uncertain if he can even play a full season. Notably, they added no help at wide receiver.
Green Bay only made matters worse in the NFL Draft. It’s not often that you can confidently say a team got worse through the draft, but this is an exception. Not only did they not add any help for Aaron Rodgers, they drafted a quarterback in the first round, which will only serve to anger Rodgers. It can be said that he may play with a chip on his shoulder, but that won’t matter much when he still has next to no one to throw to on the field.