Sometimes in life it’s important to rip off the bandaid and address problems head-on. The statement holds true with NFL franchises, as every offseason many mid-tier teams are faced with the choice to attempt to contend or start the process all over. Not all rebuilds succeed rapidly enough to please fans (just ask Browns fans), but recently teams like the Dolphins and Cardinals have proven that quick turnarounds are possible. Like Thanos, rebuilding is inevitable for many NFL teams this offseason and in the future. Here’s four teams that need to rip off the bandaid and start over, as well as two key players per team: one that should stay through tough times and one that needs to be gone by the end of the rebuild.
After an embarrassing 6-game losing streak, Bears fans are rightfully calling for the firings of HC Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, and rightfully so. It’s the same old scenario for Da Bears; despite having a borderline elite defense, the offense is in the cellar, so they end up going nowhere as a team. After the Mitchell Trubisky experiment lasted a long four years, the Bears are back to square one. The defense has some solid pieces that should stick around, but the offense needs total reconstruction.
Gotta Go: Khalil Mack
Mack’s better days are behind him and his talent is being wasted on a non-contending team. The Bears need to see what value they can get from a trade and use their picks for the future.
Needs to Stay: Allen Robinson
It may take a miracle for Robinson to remain in Chicago, but the 27-year-old is the only offensive standout on the team. Robinson is still relatively young and will be key in the development of a young quarterback.
New England Patriots
Hearing of a Bill Belichick-led team in rebuilding may have sounded weird in 2019, but the Patriots currently sit at a mediocre 6-6 with an appalling offense. With the exception of a few offensive linemen and running backs, every player on the Patriots offense is unsatisfactory (I consider Gunner Olszewski a special teamer). Neither Cam Newton nor Jarrett Stidham have shown any reason to remain on the Patriots roster, but to be fair, they have no quality weapons to target. The recent blowout win over the Chargers made the offense look good, but if not for Anthony Lynn and the god-awful Chargers special teams, the game would’ve been much closer.
On the other side of the ball, the Pats are aging and reportedly willing to trade big names, such as 2019 DPOY Stephon Gilmore. The defense can’t rely on Gilmore, the McCourty twins, and Patrick Chung for another half decade plus. While Bill Belichick seemingly turns nobodys into stars, especially on defense and for white slot receivers, their roster is simply inadequate. With the Bills and Dolphins showing out this season, 2019 may be New England’s last division title for a while. Either way, they won’t be a contender, so the Patriots are better off rebuilding
Gotta Go: Stephon Gilmore
Gilmore will be 31 when his current deal ends, with his prime behind him. The Patriots should try to find a suitor for Gilmore this offseason, but his contract may pose difficulties.
Needs to Stay: JC Jackson
Jackson currently sits second in the league in interceptions and has risen to the occasion in a vital contract year. The Patriots need to retain Jackson, who will be a strong defensive cornerstone in a time of rebuilding.
Matt Patricia had quite the atrocious performance for Detroit Lions, posting a 13-29-1 record as head coach. But the lack of roster turnover in times of failure shows little indication that the Lions were rebuilding or tanking under Patricia. However, the recent firings of Patricia and GM Bob Quinn may suggest that a rebuild is in the near future for Detroit. It’s clear the Lions aren’t going to win with Matthew Stafford at the helm, and the defense is in need of major patchwork, so a rebuild is the answer.
Gotta Go: Matthew Stafford
While Matthew Stafford is a solid quarterback, the Lions aren’t going to contend with anytime soon. Due to his contract, the Lions must wait until June 2021 to move Stafford, who hopefully will find a home with a more successful franchise.
Needs to Stay: TJ Hockenson
Hockenson is a reliable young tight end and will be good for 800+ yards a season. He is the best young player on the Lions and should be entering his prime by the end of the process.
Ever since dreadful Super Bowl LI, a.k.a. the biggest choke in sports history, the Falcons have been in a downward spiral. In hindsight, Atlanta would’ve been better off firing HC Dan Quinn and a few other coaches on the spot after the game. The Falcons finally got rid of Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff earlier in the season, but the roster still isn’t worthy of contending. Overall, the defense is the weak link, but with aging offensive stars like Julio Jones (31), Matt Ryan (35), and Alex Mack (35), the offense will need some new faces soon. It’s clear that the window has passed in the ATL and that the new regime should start fresh.
Gotta Go: Julio Jones
Julio Jones is still an elite receiver, but injuries have led to a decline in production recently for the former All-Pro. While he does have a difficult contract to move, Julio’s last few years as a top receiver shouldn’t be spent with a rebuilding Falcons team.
Needs to Stay: Younghoe Koo
While picking a kicker may seem trivial, Koo is a franchise favorite and will be a Pro Bowler, so keeping him is necessary. Koo is 29 for 30 on field goals this year and is arguably the best in the NFL at onside kicks. His special name, great accuracy, unique onside kick ability, and league wide fandom are plenty of reasons for the Falcons to #KeepKoo.