Every NFL Team's Riskiest Move so Far This Offseason

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterJuly 2, 2013

Every NFL Team's Riskiest Move so Far This Offseason

0 of 32

    Every team in the NFL has the same goal, realistic or not: win the Super Bowl.

    Getting that elusive Super Bowl ring isn't easy, and it's never as simple as following a standard blueprint of building a roster through a safe draft and maintaining the right players on a year-to-year basis. At some point, each team that wants a crack at a championship is going to have to take a risk or two.

    When that risky move is made, the more calculated and precise the better. Low risk is by far a better solution than high risk. But not every team can play in the kiddie pool. Sometimes high-risk, high-reward is the right answer. 

    Sometimes high risk, however, is a recipe for disaster.

    Here is every team's riskiest offseason move to date.

Arizona Cardinals: Drafting Tyrann Mathieu

1 of 32

    Tyrann Mathieu was the ultimate risk/reward player in the 2013 draft.

    Two years ago, the star cornerback for the LSU Tigers was stating a case for the Heisman Trophy. Many failed marijuana tests later and Mathieu saw himself an ex-LSU Tiger. He hoped a team would take a chance on him in the draft.

    "Honey Badger" was drafted by the Cardinals in the third round and could wind up working his way into the nickelback spot as a rookie. He’ll have a friend to help keep him on the right path in cornerback Patrick Peterson, who played with Mathieu at LSU.

    If Mathieu stays on the right track, then the sky’s the limit for him. Despite a move to free safety, the early signs out of OTAs were good for Mathieu. But if he falls back into the bad habits that got him in trouble at LSU, then this pick could backfire on the Cardinals.

    The potential is there for this pick to work. If it does, Arizona’s defense, and specifically its secondary, could be one of the league’s best in the coming years. 

Atlanta Falcons: Releasing Tyson Clabo

2 of 32

    Tyson Clabo spent the past seven years in Atlanta, helping pave the way for some strong rushing seasons with Michael Turner in the backfield.

    Clabo asserted himself as one of the best in the NFL at right tackle, making Atlanta’s decision to release him a bit surprising. But the Falcons needed the cap space, as Clabo was due $4.5 million in 2013.

    Clabo’s now in Miami, where he’ll look to help rebuild the Dolphins into a winner, much like the process he was part of in Atlanta. As strong as the Falcons offense looks, the right side of the line is now a huge question mark.

    Mike Johnson is slated to step in as starter and has some big shoes to fill. This move hinges on Atlanta’s confidence in the inexperienced Johnson, who’s entering his fourth year in the NFL. If Johnson proves his worth, Falcons fans will be watching what could be one of the most exciting offenses in 2013. 

Baltimore Ravens: Trading Anquan Boldin

3 of 32

    Quarterback Joe Flacco is still thanking wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Not only for helping the Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII, but for getting him a contract worth more than $120 million.

    After another average regular season at quarterback, Flacco exploded in the playoffs, with Boldin catching 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns through four games. Boldin, known as one of the strongest receivers in the NFL, had to fight for a lot of the passes thrown his way in the postseason, making some of Flacco’s throws look better than they were.

    With Boldin unwilling to take a pay cut, the Ravens’ top two receivers look to be Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. While both are solid deep threats, neither can outmuscle defensive backs the way Boldin could, nor do they have the versatility to play outside or in the slot.

    The Ravens elected to build up their defense this offseason, which might’ve been part of the reason the receiver position was left neglected. Stepping in for Boldin is likely Tandon Doss, who’s been rarely used in his first two NFL seasons.  

Buffalo Bills: Drafting EJ Manuel

4 of 32

     

    The Buffalo Bills surprised a lot of NFL fans by taking Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel over West Virginia’s Geno Smith in the first round of the 2013 draft.

    Smith was presumed to be the first quarterback taken, though the Bills were obviously impressed with Manuel’s high football IQ in a college system that can be as demanding as NFL offenses. The risk is that Manuel showed plenty of inconsistent patterns in college. His accuracy isn’t the best and tends to panic under pressure.

    Manuel will compete with Kevin Kolb. Kolb, however, is expected to start, meaning Manuel could have some time to groom before assuming the role.

    But if Manuel never becomes the starter, the organization would have to deal with major criticism of the wasted first-round pick.

    That stated, there’s a lot to like about Manuel. He has a strong arm and can take off running when needed. Time will tell whether this pick pans out. But high-risk picks in the first round are always scary prospects.

Carolina Panthers: Promoting Mike Shula to Offensive Coordinator

5 of 32

    It’s been a long time since Mike Shula’s had any success as anything more than a position coach in the NFL.

    The Carolina Panthers are willing to find out if Shula's ready for more responsibility after former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski took the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns.

    After Shula was fired as head coach from the University of Alabama after the 2006 season, he was the quarterbacks coach at Jacksonville before coming to Carolina. The only other time Shula was an offensive coordinator in the NFL was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four seasons starting in 1996.

    In his best season, 1998, Shula’s squad finished 22nd in the NFL in total yards. In his other three seasons with the Bucs, he finished 28th twice and 29th.

    Shula doesn’t have a proven track record as an offensive coordinator or head coach. But Carolina seems inclined to take the risk, especially since he already has two seasons mentoring quarterback Cam Newton under his belt. 

Chicago Bears: Hiring Marc Trestman

6 of 32

    Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith offered the organization a certain kind of limited security each year. The organization would often compete, but would fail to reach expectations. Smith led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, but reached the postseason only three times in nine years.

    This led to the firing of Smith and hiring of Marc Trestman, who spent the past five years coaching the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. Trestman has NFL credentials, having had stints as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with a bevy of teams. But can Trestman win as a head coach in the NFL?

    The move appeared to be out of left field, considering the amount of time he’s spent in Canada. But his players have apparently bought in, with quarterback Jay Cutler praising Trestman’s approach with his players to NFL.com.

    Trestman is known as a quarterback guru, so his success will depend on how well Cutler adapts to his offensive system. If Cutler fares well, Trestman has a shot to stick around in the NFL for a while.   

Cincinnati Bengals: Drafting Giovani Bernard

7 of 32

    The Cincinnati Bengals were looking for explosiveness at running back when they decided to take Giovani Bernard in the second round over bigger names such as Montee Ball and Eddie Lacy.

    Bernard isn’t the big, powerful running back those guys are. He’s a shifty, home run-hitting type of back. He can make defenders miss in the open field and can be utilized in the passing game as well. That type of versatility is likely what attracted the Bengals to Bernard.

    However, he’s small and injury prone.

    The Bengals were hoping BenJarvus Green-Ellis would produce a lot more than he did after a standout year with New England in 2011. Green-Ellis got out to a slow start in 2012 but finished with 1,094 yards and six touchdowns. Green-Ellis figures to have the starting job when the season opens, so it makes you wonder just how much Bernard will contribute.

    As the first running back off the board, there will be a lot of pressure on Bernard to produce, especially with the already high expectations that have been placed on Ball (Denver) and Lacy (Green Bay). 

Cleveland Browns: Signing Paul Kruger

8 of 32

    Judging by statistics alone, linebacker Paul Kruger had a great 2012 in Baltimore, recording 42 tackles and nine sacks. Then again, Kruger was rarely an every-down player and struggled until Terrell Suggs returned from an Achilles injury.

    Kruger, at 270 pounds, isn’t much of a threat to stop the run and is deemed a pass-rush specialist. However, the Cleveland Browns gave Kruger a five-year, $40 million contract to be an elite defensive end.

    This could turn out to backfire based on the fact that Kruger’s numbers do appear to be slightly inflated based on who he had around him in Baltimore, even though it wasn’t the kind of Ravens defense of past years.

    Kruger still has a lot to prove. Paying a pass-rush specialist that doesn’t play every down $40 million appears a bit shortsighted, with plenty of risk involved. 

Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo's $108 Million Contract Extension

9 of 32

    By giving Tony Romo a six-year, $108 million extension, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is putting all his faith in a quarterback who can look among the league’s best at times. But just as often as his successes are, his struggles appear mightily and in key moments.

    Though he did throw for 4,903 yards and 28 touchdowns last year, Romo tied his career-worst interception mark with 19 in 2012. Perhaps this wouldn’t be seen as much of a risk if Dallas' defense didn’t perpetually let the team down. Still, there’s no doubting that Romo needs to perform better in the fourth quarter.

    With this contract, Romo has no excuses. As Jones told The Dallas Morning News, Romo needs to play like Peyton Manning. If he doesn’t, Jones and the Cowboys might want to think of a different risk-management strategy in 2014. 

Denver Broncos: Relying on Montee Ball

10 of 32

    When Peyton Manning’s your quarterback, it may not matter who the running back is. It's natural to see Manning's name on the depth chart and instantly skip over running back to see who his receivers are.

    But the Broncos organization appears to be taking a risk by relying on a rookie running back to open as the starter. By releasing Willis McGahee, it’s clear the Broncos want to go young at the position. Knowshon Moreno is entering his fifth year with the organization, but VP John Elway hasn’t been particularly fond of the former University of Georgia running back.

    Elway, and John Fox, are extremely fond of Ball. Elway even compared him to former Broncos great Terrell Davis.

    Ball was a terror at Wisconsin, rushing for more than 1,800 yards in his final two seasons. But you never know what you’re going to get with a rookie. It could be too much for the youngster to take at such an early point in his career.  

Detroit Lions: Signing Reggie Bush

11 of 32

    The Detroit Lions, who have built their offense around a high-flying passing attack with the game’s best receiver in Calvin Johnson, acknowledged with their actions this offseason that they need a better running attack.

    The organization targeted running back Reggie Bush to fill that role despite the fact that it has a couple of solid, young backs who did a decent job in 2012.

    As a secondary option due to Detroit’s offensive tendencies, running back Mikel Leshoure was still able to run for 798 yards and nine touchdowns, though his 3.7 yards per carry average was below par. Conversely, Joique Bell came on strong late in games, averaging 5.0 yards per carry for the year.

    How Bush fits in is uncertain. Bush has only one 1,000-yard season under his belt, so he’s not exactly a prototypical running back. If the Lions can’t improve up front then the move will be meaningless in the end.    

Green Bay Packers: Allowing Greg Jennings to Sign with Minnesota

12 of 32

    This offseason, the Green Bay Packers, based on salary cap concerns, appeared resigned to the fact that wide receiver Greg Jennings would leave for a bigger contract.

    He did, and signed a five-year deal with rival Minnesota for a maximum value of $47.5 million, according to ESPN.

    By letting Jennings go, the Packers are confident that Randall Cobb and James Jones can become the next big receivers in Green Bay. And they could be right. Often overlooked is the fact that Jones hauled in 64 receptions for 784 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012.

    Jennings was injured most of last season, which gave Cobb and Jones the opportunity to grow more within the offense. But a healthy Jennings gives any team problems, especially with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball around. It’s one less weapon for Packers opponents to worry about in 2013.

    But if Jones puts up comparable numbers, and Cobb and Jordy Nelson continue to play well, the risk of allowing Jennings to walk will pay off. 

Houston Texans: Signing Ed Reed

13 of 32

    Ed Reed will go down in history as one of the top three or four safeties to ever play the game. But at this time in his career, at age 34, is Reed still among the best safeties?

    He gambled on a lot of plays toward the end of his tenure with the Ravens. Shoulder and nerve injuries have affected his tackling in recent years, making him a liability against the run or against a receiver in the open field.

    In addition, after signing with the Houston Texans, Reed needed hip surgery that could force him to miss training camp.

    Reed’s clearly beaten up, but isn’t ready to give the game up yet. He still believes he has what it takes to be a premier safety. But in a new system he’s not as familiar with, he may have a harder time adjusting than one would think.   

Indianapolis Colts: Signing Darrius Heyward-Bey

14 of 32

    For the most part, the Indianapolis Colts have been risk-free this offseason, as their young team has appeared to improve. The lone risk, a minor one at that, could be the signing of wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

    Heyward-Bey was picked way too early by Oakland in 2009 based on his straight-line speed. He doesn’t have too many routes in his arsenal, though he sure can burn past most corners with the slightest misstep. How does that factor into Indianapolis’ offense with new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton?

    Hamilton, who coached quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford, will be a lot more detailed than telling Heyward-Bey to run deep almost every play like he did in Oakland. Heyward-Bey will need to refine his game to see consistent action considering Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton are coming off solid seasons.

    The upside is that Heyward-Bey’s speed and explosiveness could be used more with a better team and quarterback. The downside is not knowing if paying him $2.5 million for potential alone will be worth it.  

Jacksonville Jaguars: Not Upgrading at Quarterback

15 of 32

    Sure, quarterback Blaine Gabbert was a first-round selection a couple of seasons ago. But from what everyone has seen from Gabbert, there's no reason that Jacksonville should have forgone any effort to upgrade the quarterback position.

    Gabbert has been one of the most ineffective quarterbacks over the past two years. He played in just 10 games in 2012 due to a right forearm injury and threw for 1,662 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. His completion percentage did improve from 50.8 percent to 58.3 percent from 2011 to 2012.

    But on top of his poor play, Gabbert has dealt with anonymous teammates, and even an anonymous coach, trashing him to the media (the coach calling him “Blame Gabbert”).

    The Jaguars will enter training camp knowing that their starting quarterback will be either Gabbert or Chad Henne.

    Both quarterbacks split time during offseason workouts, so this battle is far from over. Henne could end up with the job, which only speaks to the kind of talent (or lack thereof) Jacksonville has at the quarterback position. By not making a move in free agency or the draft, the Jaguars are almost destined to finish right where they did a year ago, new coach or not. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Trading for Alex Smith

16 of 32

    Quarterback Alex Smith was deemed a bust until Jim Harbaugh arrived in San Francisco.

    Before Harbaugh, Smith had thrown double-digit interceptions in four of his first five seasons. With Harbaugh leading the way, Smith’s interceptions dropped to just five in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

    But when a concussion forced Smith to miss time, Colin Kaepernick was able to pass him for the starting job.

    Smith was dealt to Kansas City, where he’ll try to prove that he’s still a quarterback capable of leading an NFL offense. It’s tough to see which direction Smith heads. He was downright dreadful early in his career, but had been able to become a game manager in his final two years in San Francisco.

    Andy Reid has had a pretty good track record with quarterbacks and will look to keep Smith on the winning track. Kansas City will find out early whether Smith’s success in San Francisco was a result of Harbaugh’s system, or the fact that Smith finally had some continuity in what was previously a laughingstock of an organization. 

Miami Dolphins: Paying Dannell Ellerbe $35 Million

17 of 32

    With linebackers Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain experiencing injuries in 2012, former Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe earned a lot of playing time and ultimately got himself paid. But was the five-year, $35 million deal worth the production he gave Baltimore?

    He did record 92 tackles and 4.5 sacks, but hadn’t had a comparable season close to that at any point prior during his four-year career. Beginning last season as a backup, Ellerbe only saw added playing time due to injuries before missing three games late in the season due to an ankle injury of his own.

    The Ravens reportedly weren’t close to offering the kind of money Miami threw at him, which says something considering the track record Baltimore’s front office has.

    Ellerbe will have to learn a new defensive system and hope his transition is smooth. All eyes will be on him to produce at a high level consistently now that he’s paid like a top-tier linebacker. 

Minnesota Vikings: Trading Percy Harvin

18 of 32

    The Minnesota Vikings brought in wide receiver Greg Jennings this offseason, but traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks. This could end up being a zero-sum game.

    Harvin, who dealt with ankle and hamstring issues in 2012, was explosive for Minnesota. He could line up as a wide receiver, slot receiver or even in the backfield as a running back. His versatility is something coveted in the NFL, which relies on teams trying to figure out the best mismatches to exploit on a weekly basis.

    Harvin was a threat for a big play at any time, having scored 24 touchdowns over four seasons. But with him out of Minnesota, that versatile threat to pair with running back Adrian Peterson is no longer present. Harvin is now surrounded by a much more talented Seattle roster and could be poised for a big season.

    This decision hinges on how well Jennings meshes with quarterback Christian Ponder. If they’re unable to gain that needed chemistry, then Vikings fans will wish they had Harvin back. 

New England Patriots: Letting Wes Welker Walk

19 of 32

    The New England Patriots quickly signed wide receiver Danny Amendola when they realized Wes Welker was leaving for Denver in free agency. Even so, there’s no way Amendola will be able to live up to the legend Welker created for himself in New England.

    In six seasons with the Patriots, Welker totaled 7,459 receiving yards and 37 touchdowns. Welker was almost impossible to stop as a slot receiver in New England’s offense, as quarterback Tom Brady looked for him frequently.

    Then all hell broke loose in New England this summer.

    Tight end Rob Gronkowski had his seventh surgical procedure. Former tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder, according to Pro Football Talk, and will likely never play in the NFL again regardless of the outcome of his case.

    The Patriots released wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who didn’t quite catch on as hoped. With everything that’s happened in New England this offseason, the Patriots are probably kicking themselves, even more so now, that they weren’t able to keep Welker. 

New York Giants: Releasing Ahmad Bradshaw

20 of 32

    Releasing Ahmad Bradshaw was a salary cap-driven move, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson, given that Bradshaw was expected to earn a base salary of $3.75 million in 2013. His injury-laden 2012 season probably didn’t help, given the Giants have young running backs David Wilson and Andre Brown.

    But Bradshaw was a major factor in New York’s running and passing games. Just as tough of a runner than he could be between the tackles, Bradshaw could take passes out of the backfield and screen game for big gains.

    Even though he missed two regular season games in 2012, Bradshaw still finished the year with 1,015 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The Giants, though, appear confident in Brown and Wilson. Brown’s a bruiser and averaged 5.3 yards per carry a season ago. Wilson, a rookie, took the ball 5.0 yards per attempt, but only accrued 71 carries.

    Bradshaw had become a key figure in the Giants offense and will be missed. For New York’s sake, Brown and Wilson need to step up and fill the void. 

New York Jets: Drafting Sheldon Richardson

21 of 32

    When the New York Jets got the 13th pick from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for cornerback Darrelle Revis, it was assumed they’d use the pick—or the ninth overall (the Jets had two, early first-round picks)—on a quarterback. Given the Jets got lucky and got quarterback Geno Smith anyway, perhaps picking Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson might not be that big of a risk in the end.

    However, he was selected a bit too high for his value given the fact that he’s undersized and could use more strength. But Richardson’s upside is his explosion off the snap.

    He’s a hard worker with a high motor and plays all the way until the whistle. Still, the pick would appear to be a bit of a reach from an organization that’s reached quite often in recent years. The Jets defense struggled in 2012, and Richardson, who figures to start as a rookie, will need to step up and contribute early. 

    The Jets could have made a splash with two picks in the first round. Their first pick was cornerback Dee Milliner, who qualifies as flashy. It would have been nice to see New York make more noise than it did with the Richardson pick.

New Orleans Saints: Trading Chris Ivory to Jets

22 of 32

    The running game hasn’t been a primary focus in New Orleans with Drew Brees at quarterback. This team wants to air it out and move the ball quickly down the field. The running game is seen as more complementary, even though a good one can get wins sooner and with less stress.

    Out of the five running backs to take carries in 2012, Chris Ivory led the team in yards per carry at 5.4. He also had the longest rush of the season among Saints players, a 56-yard touchdown run.

    However, the Saints never saw Ivory as starter-caliber, penciling him in only after injuries. Ivory is now expected to be the starter with the Jets and would likely disappoint a lot of Saints fans with a solid year.

    Ivory always looked like an NFL-caliber back with New Orleans, though he’s never been given an extended opportunity. How he fares in New York will decide whether the Saints got rid of the right running back this offseason. 

Oakland Raiders: Trading for Matt Flynn

23 of 32

    With quarterback Carson Palmer wanting out of Oakland after being asked to take a pay cut, the Raiders looked up the West Coast to for its next quarterback in Matt Flynn.

    Flynn signed a $16 million deal to become Seattle’s starting quarterback, only for rookie Russell Wilson to beat him out during the 2012 preseason. But what are the Raiders actually getting in Flynn?

    Flynn gained notice after throwing for 480 yards and six touchdowns against the Detroit Lions in the 2011 regular season finale with a Packers playoff spot locked up. That game helped secure Flynn a large contract in Seattle and ultimately brought him to Oakland in a trade.

    Then again, that was the Lions defense.

    No one really knows anything about Flynn at this point. ESPN’s Ron Jaworski isn’t buying Oakland’s decision to bring Flynn in, as Jaworski ranks Flynn as the NFL’s worst starting quarterback. Flynn’s lack of arm strength is often cited as his biggest weakness. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Hiring Chip Kelly

24 of 32

    Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly has been under a microscope since arriving in Philadelphia to coach the Eagles, and for good reason. As great of a coach as he was at the college level, there are some who wonder if his offensive system will translate well to the NFL.

    Former Eagles passer Ron Jaworski isn't buying into Kelly, according to Philadelphia magazine.

    To Kelly’s credit, he’s put out some decent NFL talent, including Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson and San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James. But can Kelly sustain success with the read option in the NFL? Or will Kelly be able to adapt to a more traditional style of offense while utilizing the same tempo he became famous for at Oregon?

    In terms of personnel, Kelly has plenty of speed on offense that should be able to fit his system. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are shifty and can turn upfield quickly when given the chance. Then again, this is the NFL, and most NFL defenses can counter offensive speed with defensive speed of their own.

    Kelly knows this isn’t the college level, and he sure doesn’t want to end up another great college mind turned failed NFL coach. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Drafting Jarvis Jones

25 of 32

    Jarvis Jones very well could become the next great outside linebacker in Pittsburgh. His skill set does indicate a perfect fit, being that he’s a tough pass-rusher who can disrupt passing plays before they develop.

    However, Jones’ pass-rushing highlights overshadowed his ability to stop the run, which is average at best. Often times in the SEC, teams would run right at him with a lead blocker in front. He will need to improve his run defense to be an every-down linebacker in Pittsburgh.

    But more importantly, he has to stay healthy.

    Before transferring to Georgia, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis at USC. He got the injury after a routine hit against Oregon. USC wouldn’t clear him to play. Independent doctors cleared Jones to participate in football again, so he transferred to Georgia.

    The spinal injury very well could never affect Jones in his NFL career. Then again, that’s certainly a risk Pittsburgh is taking by choosing him in the first round.  

San Diego Chargers: Signing Danny Woodhead

26 of 32

    Running back Danny Woodhead is a perfect example of a New England Patriots player who found success based on the system he was in.

    Woodhead’s a small, shifty running back who doesn’t possess breakaway speed. He doesn’t offer much power either. But somehow, he was able to succeed in a role carved out for him specifically by Bill Belichick and the slew of offensive coordinators who coached under his watch. 

    The San Diego Chargers wound up signing Woodhead to a two-year, $3.5 million deal, meaning that the organization will likely use him a good bit to get the value they're paying for. But is it likely Woodhead becomes a key figure in San Diego’s offense?

    It could be tough for Woodhead to find as much success as he did in New England, given all the weapons he had surrounding him. San Diego’s roster doesn’t come close to matching the talented New England teams Woodhead was part of. That alone makes this move risky.

    Ryan Mathews has gotten off to a poor start in his career, and his top backup was very much a situational player on loaded New England teams. 

San Francisco 49ers: Drafting Tank Carradine

27 of 32

    The San Francisco 49ers made a lot of solid moves this offseason—trading for Anquan Boldin, drafting LSU safety Eric Reid and signing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to a one-year deal.

    Nitpicking a bit, the one risk the 49ers made—which they could afford to make—was drafting defensive end Cornellius "Tank" Carradine in the second round.

    Carradine could become a force on the defensive line if healthy, but there are health concerns.

    Carradine tore his ACL in 2012, but was able to do some limited work in front of scouts before the draft. Even though he was a second-round pick, Carradine could have some time to properly heal and learn the 49ers defense as a rookie before seeing extended playing time in his second season.

    But if Carradine’s ACL injury lingers, then the 49ers have to deal with the reality of spending a second-round pick on an injured player. 

Seattle Seahawks: Trading Matt Flynn to Oakland

28 of 32

    This one works both ways for the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders.

    With quarterback Russell Wilson blowing up the way he did for Seattle as a rookie in 2012, there wasn’t a need for Matt Flynn, who was being paid starter money. Flynn also wanted the opportunity to start, and the Raiders needed a starting quarterback with Carson Palmer wanting out of Oakland.

    No one really knows what Flynn can do as a starter, though the glimpses he showed with the Green Bay Packers were impressive. With Seattle using Wilson as a runner at times, you never know if he could take that one hit that could knock him out for multiple games.

    Flynn provided security as Wilson’s backup, and Seattle could have been selfish in this situation. Instead, it wanted to understandably relieve the cap space to gain two 2014 draft picks, according to the NFL Network.

    Brady Quinn and Tarvaris Jackson are now the backups behind Wilson, with both proving your surrounding cast is in trouble with them under center. 

St. Louis Rams" Failing to Lock Up Steven Jackson Before 2013

29 of 32

    Steven Jackson gave the St. Louis Rams nine tough seasons, with the organization giving him no opportunity to win in return. The only postseason Jackson experienced was in 2004 as a rookie.

    Desperate to compete for a Super Bowl after nine years without a winning record, Jackson, arguably still in his prime (though near the end of it), bolted for the Atlanta Falcons. The Rams should have seen this coming and made more of an effort to build around the face of the franchise.

    The only time Jackson failed to run for 1,000 yards was as a rookie, with the organization giving him more than 300 carries in three of his nine seasons.

    Unable to keep Jackson in St. Louis turned out to be an even bigger letdown, as running back Isaiah Pead is suspended for the first game of the season, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Daryl Richardson will likely be the Rams’ starter, which is a significant downgrade from Jackson.

    However, this does give the Rams an opportunity to evaluate their young talent in 2013 and assess the position for the future. But fans want their NFL teams to win now, and the Rams have failed to do that for far too long. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trading for Darrelle Revis

30 of 32

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers thought that cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is coming off an ACL tear, was worth the risk this offseason. Their dismal showing last season in terms of pass defense forced the issue.

    The Bucs traded their 13th overall pick to the New York Jets for Revis, who is still thought by many to be the best cornerback in the NFL. But there’s always a little bit of worry about a player coming off an ACL tear, even if modern science has been able to fully repair plenty of those kind of injuries.

    Tampa Bay’s made a lot of smart moves this offseason, and for the most part, this appears to be another one. The risk is more minimal compared to some of the decisions the rest of the NFC South made.

    But any time a major injury factors into the equation, a wait-and-see attitude is needed to ensure that a particular team receives the full value it hoped for when making the deal. 

Tennessee Titans: Signing Bernard Pollard

31 of 32

    Over the years, strong safety Bernard Pollard has gained a reputation for the unapologetic, hard hits he’s laid on receivers crossing the middle of the field. It’s as if Pollard lives by these kind of crushing hits.

    Most recently with the Baltimore Ravens, Pollard became a fan favorite due to this punishing style of football that often drew the ire of Roger Goodell and the NFL front office.

    But Baltimore didn’t want him back, partly because of his don’t-care attitude and because he’s a box safety who can hit but not cover. Pollard was a liability at times against the pass, though breaking six ribs and playing through the pain the majority of the season is quite impressive.

    But taking Pollard is a bit of a risk. He has a reputation for sulking when his team isn’t winning and pointing fingers at others after a loss. Pollard will probably show up on the highlight reel for a bone-crushing hit every once in a while, but he’s also liable to be on that same highlight reel for letting a pass get behind him. 

Washington Redskins: Hiring Former Chargers GM A.J. Smith

32 of 32

    After years of ineptitude, the Washington Redskins have put together one of the best rosters in the NFL, with solid players at every position. They may not be the best from top to bottom, but it’s a solid group looking to build upon the success of 2012.

    Therefore, it didn’t make much sense to hire former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith in any kind of executive capacity.

    Smith will be a senior executive in Washington, after playing a part in angering almost every San Diego Chargers fan over the last decade. Unable to get along with Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season, Smith fired Schottenheimer and hired Norv Turner.

    Each year, the Chargers regressed, with the roster dwindling in talent from year to year. The Redskins appeared to have done Smith a favor, given he’s friends with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen. If the Redskins give Smith any kind of major input, look out. That would be a nightmare for Redskins fans everywhere.