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The team with the worst overall offseason was...
...The Indianapolis Colts!
The Indianapolis Colts are coming off of a historic 11-5 worst-to-first campaign. On the strength of Andrew Luck's arm, and the strength of the "Chuckstrong" movement supporting cancer-stricken head coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts had a season few will ever forget.
They were also, according to Football Outsiders DVOA, the worst 11-5 team in the history of the NFL.
In the wake of this lucky (and Luck-y) season, the Colts had offensive coordinator Bruce Arians plucked by the Arizona Cardinals. In order to protect Luck's development, the Colts hired Luck's former offensive coordinator at Stanford, Pep Hamilton.
Hamilton, according to backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, is installing a pastiche of what Arians did last season—what Peyton Manning liked to do with Reggie Wayne and what Hamilton did at Stanford. Maybe it's making sense to Luck, but Hasselbeck (a 14-year veteran) told ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky he's "swimming" trying to learn it.
Blessed with heaping piles of free-agent money to spend, the Colts aggressively pursued many mid-tier veterans in the prime of their careers. In theory, this was sound, but they targeted players with big question marks and gave them enormous contracts.
Outside linebacker Erik Walden was Pro Football Focus' lowest-graded 3-4 outside linebacker (subscription required) in 2012, and the Colts lavished a four-year, $16 million contract on him while letting Dwight Freeney walk. Right tackle Gosder Cherilus and strong safety LaRon Landry got big guaranteed money despite injury problems and inconsistent play. Defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois is a four-year veteran with two career starts.
Their best free-agent signing (wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey) is now day-to-day with a left knee sprain.
The Colts even had off-field problems, with safety Joe Lefeged facing gun charges.
Worst of all, the Colts had a poor draft, reaching for need throughout. I graded their draft a "C+" assuming first-round pick Bjoern Werner would be a developmental 3-4 end; instead, the Colts are using the 266-pound Werner as a linebacker.
Even given that the Colts are more talented in 2013 than 2012—and that may not be true—they've saddled themselves with huge guaranteed cap charges on players unlikely to be making an impact in 2014 and beyond. Not only have they hampered their chances of contending for the playoffs, they've seriously undermined their rebuilding effort.