Every NFL Team's Biggest Disappointment This Offseason
The continued growth of the media world means more coverage of our favorite sports. Both negative and positive storylines are heavily covered and talked about. This makes it pretty easy identify situations that disappoint each franchise and their fanbase.
There’s so much involved with building a Super Bowl-caliber team that every situation is closely monitored. This means that disappointments can come from anywhere.
The Arizona Cardinals’ two biggest weaknesses heading into this offseason were at the quarterback and offensive tackle position. They filled the void at quarterback by trading for Carson Palmer, but didn’t get a chance to properly address the tackle spot.
Arizona had to be disappointed when things didn’t fall their way during the draft. The first thing that happened was top-notch underclassmen like Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews decided to return to school.
Next, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson used the draft process to push themselves into the top five of the draft. Jonathan Cooper is a good addition to the offensive line, but I’m sure they would rather have one of the previously mentioned tackles.
It took a lot of convincing to get Tony Gonzalez to put off retirement for another season. However, truth is, Gonzalez is at the end of his career, and the Atlanta Falcons need to get a replacement plan in place. Atlanta added Stanford Levine Toilolo during this past year’s draft, but he’s a long way from being a finished product.
In fact, he needs to learn to do a better job attacking the ball at its highest point and developing as a blocker.
This recent draft featured a few other top-end tight ends like Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz who would’ve represented more upside. The Falcons might find themselves in a position next year where they need to be aggressive in order to replace Gonzalez.
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The Baltimore Ravens knew that they were going to have to make some tough salary-cap driven decisions this offseason. While players like Ed Reed and Paul Kruger received more media attention, the loss of Anquan Boldin could have the biggest impact.
Boldin was a major factor during last year’s Super Bowl run. His ability to make plays, despite tight coverage, helped Joe Flacco find confidence.
The receivers remaining on the roster are more of the speed type and haven’t shown the ability to work the middle of the field. Losing Boldin means that the Ravens will need to rely on tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson.
The Buffalo Bills drafted Aaron Williams, hoping he’d eventually develop into one of the team’s starting cornerbacks. He got an opportunity last year to earn a long-term starting job, but gave up too many big plays.
Buffalo decided to shift him to safety where they hope he’ll be a better fit. This move not only hurts the depth at cornerback, but it also means that Leodis McKelvin needs to take over as the starter.
As for Williams, he faces an uphill battle to get back into the starter lineup. He currently sits behind Jairus Byrd and Da’Norris Searcy. It’ll take an injury for Williams to get another real shot at solidifying a long-term role.
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When the Cleveland Browns decided to make Rob Chudzinski their head coach, it was a significant blow to the Carolina Panthers. Chudzinski did an excellent job drawing up game plans to maximize Cam Newton’s ability.
The Panthers decided to promote from within by giving the offensive coordinator job to Mike Shula. This move puts a ton of pressure on Shula to keep Newton’s development going in the right direction.
Consistency at the offensive coordinator spot is important for a young quarterback. A good example of this is Alex Smith. His career was filled with a revolving door of offensive play-callers. This made it tough for him to get comfortable. Losing Chudzinski increases the possibility that Newton sees some regression.
It’s always a tough pill for a fanbase and organization to have to cut ties with a former first-round pick who failed to meet expectations. The Chicago Bears recently traded Gabe Carimi to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a sixth-round pick.
Carimi is entering only his third season, but he has already worn out his welcome in Chicago.
His departure mostly centers on his inconsistent play and lack of development. However, the fact he was drafted by the old regime under Jerry Angelo likely also played a role. New general manager Phil Emery didn’t have any ties to Carimi.
Most people see the Cincinnati Bengals’ decision to draft Tyler Eifert as a luxury pick. They already had Jermaine Gresham in the mix and possibly could’ve used help elsewhere. However, Gresham’s career hasn’t progressed as much as many believe.
He has yet to top the 1,000-yard mark, has dealt with nagging injuries and has ill-timed drops throughout his career.
The Bengals’ used this pick to not only provide depth but also to have a replacement in the mix should Gresham continue to struggle. Don’t be surprised if Eifert is a bigger part of the offense than Gresham by the end of this upcoming year.
The Cleveland Browns invested a lot when they used a second-round supplemental pick to land Josh Gordon last year. So far, that risk seems to be paying off as Brown has shown a ton of potential. However, this offseason hasn’t gone as smooth.
This suspension is a real negative for Gordan because this is an important part of his development. Cleveland is breaking in a new coaching staff including head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Missing these games takes away from time he could use to master the playbook and continue building a relationship with quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys are always a lightning rod for media attention. The Cowboys are just one of those teams that always seem to be in the middle of some intriguing story. Romo himself has had to deal with criticism surrounding this late-game struggles, inability to win playoff games and his personal life.
This is why it was shocking and disappointing to see Jerry Jones publically question Romo’s work ethic. Dallas generates enough attention that they don’t need their owner to stoke the fires.
The pressure placed on Romo each season is very high and will now only get worse, thanks to Jones’ comments. Jones needs to focus more on supporting his quarterback rather than questioning his commitment.
The way the Denver Broncos handled the Elvis Dumervil situation had a negative impact on the team. They ended up losing their second-best pass-rusher all because of a paperwork error. This highly publicized mishap was a really embarrassing moment for the team.
Losing Dumervil is going to put a lot more pressure on linebacker Von Miller. He now faces the likelihood of dealing with more double-teams and extra attention.
Opposing offenses are not going to be threatened by Derek Wolfe and Robert Ayers—the two who will be asked to fill in for Dumervil.
Most people were likely a little shocked when they saw the size of the contract Gosder Cherilus received from the Indianapolis Colts. I’m sure that the Detroit Lions were also a little surprised. Cherilus is a solid player, but it’s obvious the Lions didn’t feel he was worth that type of money.
Losing Cherilus is an issue for the Lions because it weakens an already shaky offensive line. Before this loss, the Lions were facing the task of replacing Jeff Backus who decided to retire.
Detroit now heads into the season with two new starting offensive tackles. It’ll be interesting to see if these changes have a negative impact on quarterback Matthew Stafford. He needs to be prepared to deal with some communication breakdowns and more pressure.
Green Bay Packers
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The Green Bay Packers overwhelming need at the running back position forced the team to use two of their draft picks on this spot. Both Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin will help give the offense a more balanced attack, but it also left some holes at other positions.
Jermichael Finley continues to fail to live up to expectations. He has a tendency to disappear for long stretches of time. Finley also gets himself in trouble on social media and during interviews. The Packers don’t need a distraction like this to be a part of their Super Bowl hopes.
Finley’s backup, Andrew Quarless, is too injury-prone to for the team to count on as a contributor. Green Bay could’ve used one of those picks to bring in another young tight end into the mix.
The Houston Texans added Ed Reed to their secondary to add some potential big plays and leadership. However, things haven’t gotten off to a great start as Reed is currently rehabbing from a hip injury he suffered late last season.
Rehabbing from an injury is a normal thing for an NFL player, but it’s a little different for Reed.
He’ll be 35 years old this season and may take more time than usual to get back to full strength. It’s even possible that he won’t be ready for training camp or start of the season. Despite his experience in the league, Reed will need some time to get comfortable in his new surroundings.
It’s easy to see that the Indianapolis Colts’ surprise playoff berth last season impacted this past offseason. General manager Ryan Grigson was very busy and handed out several big-money contracts. He did this hoping it would help them stay in the playoff picture.
However, as we’ve seen with teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, spending big in free agency doesn’t always have positive results.
It’s possible that Grigson and owner Jim Irsay were a little too aggressive this offseason. Some of these big-money contracts could come back and look like major mistakes.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars are trying to turn things around and gain some momentum. This is one of the reasons they brought in a fiery head coach like Gus Bradley. His presence has already started to create a positive vibe.
After the draft, things appeared to be heading in the right direction for Jacksonville. Things changed when news broke that wide receiver Justin Blackmon would be suspended for the first four games of the season.
Blackmon is seen as one of the more talented players on the roster. Jacksonville was hoping he would be able to build off last year’s strong finish. This is now the second off-field issue for Blackmon in only his second season. The Jaguars should be at least a little worried about his future.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs got themselves a high-upside player by drafting Eric Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick. He’s a hard worker and someone who is capable of developing into one of the better offensive tackles in the league.
However, the Chiefs have to be a little disappointed with the fact that he missed out on a chance to add a franchise quarterback. I’m sure they’ve laughed that, just one year earlier, they would’ve had a shot at either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.
Kansas City needs to play with the hand they were dealt, but that doesn’t mean some in the organization are playing the "what if" game.
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In the weeks leading up to the draft, the Miami Dolphins were talking with the Kansas City Chiefs to try and land left tackle Branden Albert in a trade. Miami was in the market for a new starting left tackle after they allowed Jake Long to sign with the St. Louis Rams.
The trade talks ended up breaking down forcing the Dolphins to head into the offseason with second-year player Jonathan Martin filling Long’s void.
Martin showed promise last year, but Albert would’ve provided a more experienced option. Miami spent a lot of money this offseason with the hopes of contending for a playoff spot. The uncertainty at the left tackle spot could derail those hopes.
The Minnesota Vikings were put in a tough situation because of Percy Harvin’s continual push for a new contract. This forced them to trade Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks and weaken an already lackluster wide-receiving corps.
It’s rare to see a team trade a talented player from a position where there’s already a great need.
Unfortunately, Minnesota and Harvin were just not able to see eye-to-eye on his value to the team. It had to be disappointing to the fanbase, coaching staff and management to have to part ways with such an explosive player.
New England Patriots
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Rob Gronkowski has proven himself to be one of the bigger mismatch problems in the entire NFL. His combination of size, strength and quickness makes it a nightmare for defenses to take him out of the game.
Everybody is saying that he should be fine for the start of the season, but the New England Patriots should still be concerned. Football is a physical sport that takes a toll on an individual’s body. It’s obvious that Gronkowski gets beat up just as much as anyone.
New Orleans Saints
The Chicago Bears took two important pieces away from the New Orleans Saints’ puzzle. Both offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and left tackle Jermon Bushrod will be missed. The fact they left in the same offseason only increases the impact on the Saints.
New Orleans now needs new offensive line coach Bret Ingalls to develop a replacement for Bushrod. The two most likely candidates are Charles Brown and Terron Armstead.
Brown is the more experienced of the two players, but has failed to develop into a starting caliber player. However, the Saints are counting on him to figure it out and take a step forward. If he’s not up to the task it might fall on the rookie Armstead to pick up the slack.
Either way, Ingalls is in for a busy training camp.
New York Giants
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Any time a player takes as long as Victor Cruz took to sign his one-year tender, there needs to be some level of concern. Cruz has made it known that he’s looking for a long-term deal that pays him a competitive salary.
The New York Giants don’t appear to be in any hurry to match Cruz’s number. In fact, they almost seem resigned to the fact his future with the team is limited.
Signing his tender last week means that Cruz will be in a New York Giants uniform for at least one more season. However, it’ll take a dramatic change in New York’s thinking to continue this relationship beyond this season.
This is disappointing because Cruz has proven to be a playmaker and crowd favorite.
New York Jets
Since Rex Ryan took over, the strength of the New York Jets has come on the defensive side of the ball. The offense has always been the one stumbling block in the team’s Super Bowl hopes. This season won’t be any different as New York’s offense lacks enough top-end talent.
The Jets’ offensive issues can be traced back to the most recent drafts. New York continues to use first-round picks to add more talent on defense. The team’s last five first-round picks have come on the defensive side of the ball. This group includes Kyle Wilson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner.
Using their two first-round picks this past April was a real interesting decision. This team is basically in the same situation it was last year
The Oakland Raiders took a real risk when they selected D.J. Hayden in the first round of this year’s draft. A unique injury to his heart that nearly cost him his life is something that the Raiders must continuously keep in the back of their minds.
Already during offseason workouts, Hayden had an issue that resulted in hospitalization and some nervousness within the organization.
The word is that Hayden will be fine, but this situation is scary; it could cost Hayden his life, and at the very least, his football career.
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The Philadelphia Eagles made some really good offseason moves in both free agency and the draft. One of those moves was bringing in Cary Williams to help out at the cornerback position. Williams earned his contract after his strong play during the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl run.
His tenure with the Eagles hasn’t gotten off to a great start. Williams has let it be known that he won’t attend offseason OTAs and isn’t concerning himself with what the organization thinks.
This isn’t a good way to show your new team that you are committed to the cause. The Eagles’ fanbase is one of the more outspoken groups in the league, and they’ll be sure to let Williams hear it if he gets off to a slow start.
We continue to hear that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is starting to show signs of its age. This is why losing a young cornerback like Keenan Lewis via free agency really stings. Pittsburgh was unable to keep him from signing with the New Orleans Saints because of their poor salary cap situation.
The loss of Lewis means that more pressure will be put on Ike Taylor to handle the opponent’s top target. It also means that Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown will need to assume bigger roles within the defense.
These issues combine with the injury problems of Troy Polamalu to create a real uncertain situation in the Steelers’ secondary.
St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams targeted Jake Long in free agency in order to improve the overall performance of their offensive line. However, this decision caused some issues with the team’s current left tackle Rodger Saffold.
Saffold wasn’t keen on the idea of switching positions, and even made a public statement to the fact. He eventually accepted the position switch, but some damage was already done.
NFL teams need players who are willing to do whatever it takes to win games. Saffold is far from an elite player and had no ground to refuse a position change. He’ll have an opportunity to erase the ill will, but I’m sure there is a bad taste in the mouth of some of the Rams’ decision-makers.
San Diego Chargers
Adding right tackle D.J. Fluker during this past April’s draft was an important piece to the puzzle for the San Diego Chargers. Fluker is a big-bodied offensive lineman who does a good job opening running lanes and using his size to protect the quarterback.
However, his lack of great athleticism and quickness limits his ability to possible shift over to left tackle. The Chargers will be happy with what Fluker brings to the table, but he doesn’t solve the team’s biggest issue.
The left tackle spot has been a major area of concern since Marcus McNeill left town. San Diego missed out on addressing that position in this draft because prospects like Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson shot up the draft board.
San Francisco 49ers
Toward the end of last season, Colin Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree started to build a strong relationship. The two were hoping that a full offseason of work would only strengthen their connection.
However, those plans were foiled when Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason practice. Crabtree’s injury puts more pressure on other wide receivers like the newly acquired Anquan Boldin and A.J. Jenkins who is coming off a disappointing rookie season.
It’s important to note that Kaepernick is still developing as a player. Losing one of his best targets for a significant period of time isn’t going to help the development process.
The Seattle Seahawks have faced several potential suspensions because of players violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Bruce Irvin is one of the more recent players to receive a four-game suspension. Seattle will miss Irvin in those four games, as they expected him to help generate pressure on the quarterback.
His role was expected to increase because of the injury to Chris Clemons. He now could face a hard time getting back into the rotation with the presence of Cliff Avril.
Anytime a player is suspended, it’s a disappointment, but it’s even more of an issue when it happens to a player who is expected to be a major contributor.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Eric Wright’s time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been filled with disappointment. His on-field play was well below what the Buccaneers expected, as he gave up way too many big plays. This issue was exacerbated by a four-game suspension he received for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
The suspension resulted in an ugly contract issue where the Buccaneers aimed to void his deal. Fortunately, the two parties were able to work out a new deal to keep Wright on the roster.
However, the damage has already been done. Tampa Bay is going to give Wright a very short leash and won’t hesitate to cut him lose if he doesn’t turn it around.
The Tennessee Titans were able to use this offseason to address their problems along the interior of the offensive line. However, all that focus on one position means other needs were put on the backburner. The cornerback position is one of the positions the Titans failed to properly address.
Last year, Tennessee’s secondary allowed nearly 250-passing yards per game—good enough to rank 26th in the NFL.
The Titans head into this offseason with Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner as the projected starters. They’ll be backed up by Coty Sensabaugh and rookie Blidi Wreh-Wilson. All these players have some potential, but the Titans are in win-now mode which could cause some issues.
The biggest disappointment for the Washington Redskins is that they are forced to monitor Robert Griffin III’s rehab rather than his progression as a quarterback. Each week, the team evaluates his progress and hopes he’ll be able to play in the season opener.
Despite his sensational rookie season, Griffin III still has a lot of areas where he can improve. He can still spend some time in the film room, but he needs to be on the field working through some of his kinks.
Washington is putting a positive spin on the situation, but they definitely aren’t pleased with this situation.