Every NFL Team's Biggest Offseason Regret

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2016

Every NFL Team's Biggest Offseason Regret

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    Should the Panthers regret letting go of cornerback Josh Norman, or should the Redskins regret giving him a massive contract?
    Should the Panthers regret letting go of cornerback Josh Norman, or should the Redskins regret giving him a massive contract?Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The 2016 NFL season is just around the corner, folks. The preseason is underway, and the offseason is now affixed to the pages of history.

    What an offseason it's been. The defending Super Bowl champion lost both starting quarterbacks from 2015, while the loser of The Big Game released one of the hottest young cornerbacks in the league. Prize free agents pocketed cash at a frenzied pace, and hundreds of college prospects received the chance to begin their pro careers.

    The number of moves made by NFL teams this past offseason is almost too great to count. Yet, all of those transactions have one thing in common—to improve an NFL franchise.

    Of course, not all of the decisions are going to work out. In fact, some are already beginning to look like mistakes. These are the moves we are going to examine here.

    We'll take a look at one move made by each NFL franchise that it is probably regretting. We'll base our picks on factors such as expectations, financial implications, player development, coaching and scheme fit, and offseason reports. To be clear, we're not calling any of these decisions total disasters—many of them will look much different by season's end. We're simply picking moves and non-moves that teams are likely regretting right now.

    Teams are listed in alphabetical order.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu is still recovering from a torn ACL.
    Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu is still recovering from a torn ACL.Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Not Adding More in the Secondary

    We're kicking off this list with the Arizona Cardinals, whom some view as the most loaded team in the NFL. The Cardinals are talented and deep, but a potential problem is looming over the season.

    The Cardinals are entering the year with a couple of key injury concerns in the secondary. Star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is still recovering from a torn ACL, while Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson is coming off ankle surgery.

    If either player misses time or is hampered early in the season, it could cost the Cardinals. The team did little to protect itself from such a scenario, aside from signing reserve safety Tyvon Branch and spending a third-round pick on cornerback Brandon Williams.

    As things stand, Williams could start when the regular season opens. This carries quite a bit of risk, as the former Texas A&M standout is a work in progress.

    The Oakland Raiders frequently targeted Williams during his NFL preseason debut.

    "Williams showed on Friday that he was a rookie who started playing the position just a year ago," Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com wrote. "He consistently got beat off the line and struggled to turn his head around on passes that, if caught, would have gone for large gains or touchdowns."

    Making matters worse is the fact that Jerraud Powers (started 13 games in 2015) and Rashad Johnson (14 starts) departed in the offseason.

    Had the Cardinals brought in some experienced defensive backs, the team wouldn't have to worry as much about injury risks or Williams' potential rookie struggles. Arizona didn't, and now there's a possibility that the secondary will be a weakness early on.

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Falcons want Devonta Freeman to handle the ball less but have done little to improve the depth behind him.
    The Falcons want Devonta Freeman to handle the ball less but have done little to improve the depth behind him.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Failing to Add More Depth Behind Devonta Freeman

    The Atlanta Falcons made it clear earlier this offseason that they want to lighten the load on emerging running back Devonta Freeman.

    “It’s about growth,” Falcons running backs coach Bobby Turner said back in July, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Free had a good year, but I’m expecting even a better year. Well, you’re saying, how can it be better? It can be even better with less carries or less catches because I’d obviously like to get Tevin [Coleman] more involved and that also keeps Free fresher.”

    The problem with the idea of lightening Freeman's workload is that the Falcons didn't take any steps to improve the depth behind him in the offseason. Atlanta has Coleman and little else. The team didn't go after a proven runner in free agency and didn't use a draft pick to add one.

    The issue could get worse if the Falcons choose to sit Freeman on passing downs. Coleman caught just two passes in 12 games last season.

    In the team's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins, the Falcons got a taste of just what the rushing game could look like this season—and it was bitter. Atlanta averaged just 2.8 yards per rushing play.

    We're not saying that Coleman and Freeman cannot be a successful running back tandem. However, the Falcons probably regret creating a plan that involves fewer touches for Freeman without making sure other players are in place to handle what he will be giving up.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Kelechi Osemele is now a member of the Oakland Raiders.
    Kelechi Osemele is now a member of the Oakland Raiders.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Parting Ways with Kelechi Osemele

    Offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele filled a couple of roles for the Baltimore Ravens last season. He served as one of the league's top young guards and then turned around and filled in at left tackle when an injury to Eugene Monroe made it necessary.

    Pro Football Focus rated Osemele 13th overall among guards and 91st overall among offensive tackles for the 2015 season. Though he was obviously less effective as a tackle, his versatility was valuable.

    Yet the Ravens allowed Osemele to walk in free agency, and the 27-year-old signed a five-year, $58.5 million deal with the Oakland Raiders.

    Baltimore likely found its new left tackle when the team drafted Ronnie Stanley in the first round. This means the Ravens didn't need Osemele to continue playing at tackle, but his presence as a standout guard would have been priceless.

    We're still early in the preseason, but it's worth noting that Pro Football Focus ranked the Ravens just 21st in run blocking for the first week. They still have an opportunity to improve their run blocking before the start of the regular season, but the task would be a whole lot easier with Osemele still on the roster.

Buffalo Bills

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    Was it a mistake for the Bills to release Mario Williams?
    Was it a mistake for the Bills to release Mario Williams?Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Releasing Mario Williams

    The Buffalo Bills made the decision to part ways with pass-rusher Mario Williams this offseason. At the time, the decision made sense. He was gaining a reputation for a poor work ethic, and Buffalo was looking to invest more in areas like the offensive line.

    This decision—like several you will find on this list—may cost the team in hindsight.

    The Bills spent a first-round pick on pass-rusher Shaq Lawson to help replace Williams. Unfortunately, Lawson had to undergo offseason shoulder surgery and is expected to miss a significant amount of time.

    IK Enemkpali was next in line to serve as the team's edge-rusher. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in the preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. He's out for the year.

    This leaves Buffalo lacking in the pass-rush department, which is a problem. A poor pass rush was one of the team's biggest weaknesses in 2016. The Bills finished the year with just 21 sacks and rated dead last in pass rush by Pro Football Focus.

    It may be difficult to imagine the pass rush being any worse than it was last season, but with Williams gone and no obvious replacement on hand, it could be.

Carolina Panthers

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    The Panthers decided to release cornerback Josh Norman this offseason.
    The Panthers decided to release cornerback Josh Norman this offseason.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Releasing Josh Norman

    After originally branding emerging cornerback Josh Norman with the franchise tag, the Carolina Panthers eventually decided to release him. He immediately inked a five-year, $75 million deal with the Washington Redskins.

    Releasing Norman was a regrettable move for a couple of reasons. For one, it leaves the Panthers defense with one less starting-caliber player. I've written at length in the past about how Norman is a bit overrated and how he has struggled against top-tier receivers—Pro Football Focus rated him as the league's worst corner when he covered Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. during a three-game stretch. However, Norman is still an emerging talent and a quality starter.

    The Panthers drafted a trio of cornerbacks to help fill the void created by Norman's departure, but there's no guarantee the secondary won't decline.

    The more regrettable aspect of the move, though, is that the Panthers released Norman early in the offseason. This ended any chances of working out a long-term deal or exploring trade options. Given Norman's high-profile coming-out party in 2015, the Panthers may have been able to sign him to a long-term deal and then flip him for a high draft pick.

    Due to the timing of Norman's release, we'll never know.

Chicago Bears

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    Matt Forte's time with the Chicago Bears is over.
    Matt Forte's time with the Chicago Bears is over.David Banks/Getty Images

    Letting Go of Matt Forte

    Running back Matt Forte spent eight seasons with the Chicago Bears, but they decided to part ways with him this offseason. The decision is understandable because Forte is now 30 and is coming off an injury-hampered season.

    Still, the Bears should be second-guessing their decision because the plan to replace him isn't clear.

    Jeremy Langford is a popular candidate to become the new starting back in Chicago. He showed flashes as a rookie, especially as a receiving option, producing 816 combined rushing and receiving yards. However, he was often limited as a runner and averaged just 3.6 yards per carry.

    Langford didn't look any better in the Bears' preseason opener against the Denver Broncos. He produced just seven yards on four rushing attempts. In fact, the backfield as a whole was disappointing. The team averaged a mere 2.8 yards per carry and totaled just 48 yards on the ground. Quarterback Connor Shaw was responsible for 14 of those yards.

    Forte, who is now with the New York Jets, has been dealing with a hamstring injury. Therefore, we don't have a clear idea of how effective he'll be this season. What we do know is that he won't have an impact in Chicago. Without him, the Bears don't have an obvious workhorse back on the roster.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Cornerback Leon Hall is one veteran defensive back the Bengals let get away.
    Cornerback Leon Hall is one veteran defensive back the Bengals let get away.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Not Re-Signing Veteran Defensive Backs

    The Cincinnati Bengals may have some issues in their secondary this season, in part because of the offseason departures of Leon Hall and Reggie Nelson.

    Nelson was a Pro Bowler in 2015 and snagged an impressive eight interceptions. Hall, meanwhile, saw a reduced role at cornerback but still managed to produce at a high level. Pro Football Focus rated him 27th overall among cornerbacks.

    Nelson inked a deal with the Oakland Raiders, while Hall recently signed with the New York Giants.

    The team did bring back Adam Jones to secure one starting corner spot. However, Dre Kirkpatrick is manning the other spot; Pro Football Focus rated him just 216th overall among cornerbacks by last season.

    To make matters worse, the Bengals saw rookie corner and first-round pick William Jackson III suffer a torn pectoral muscle early in training camp. He could miss some, if not all, of the regular season.

    If the defense we saw in Cincinnati's preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings is an accurate indication, the secondary could be a weakness this year. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater shredded the Cincinnati defense with a 6-of-7, 92-yard, one-touchdown performance.

    If the Bengals had decided to bring back Hall, Nelson or both, they would have fewer questions at the back end of the defense. In fact, the unit would have looked like the playoff-caliber unit of the past few seasons. At worst, Cincinnati would be deeper and stronger in the secondary.

Cleveland Browns

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    Robert Griffin has been named starting quarterback of the Browns.
    Robert Griffin has been named starting quarterback of the Browns.Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Naming Robert Griffin III the Starting QB Before the Preseason

    When the Cleveland Browns first added quarterback Robert Griffin III as a free agent this offseason, many expected he would eventually slide past Josh McCown on the depth chart. However, the Browns made the curious decision to name Griffin as the starter after a short, one-sided camp battle and before the start of the preseason.

    After watching Griffin's rocky performance against the Green Bay Packers in the team's preseason opener, the Browns might be second-guessing their decision.

    Griffin got off to a strong start by tossing a 49-yard strike to wideout Terrelle Pryor, but then he repeatedly stumbled. He fumbled the ball once and threw an interception on the Packers goal line on the same drive.

    He completed just four of eight passes with an interception and no touchdowns.

    The advantage of naming Griffin the starter this early in the preseason is that the Browns can focus on developing him in exhibition games. The downside is that the team has essentially painted itself into a corner. If Griffin continues to struggle in preseason games, it could affect the team's confidence moving forward. It would also render any best-player-will-play sentiments coming from new head coach Hue Jackson meaningless.

    Griffin may well prove to be Cleveland's best option at quarterback, and it's not as if the team can view the 37-year-old McCown as the future. However, the team has to question its decision not to make Griffin earn the job in a real competition that involves games against real opponents.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Cowboys QB Kellen Moore is going to miss significant time with a broken fibula.
    Cowboys QB Kellen Moore is going to miss significant time with a broken fibula.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Not Sinking More into the Quarterback Position

    The Dallas Cowboys saw just how much an injury to starting quarterback Tony Romo could hurt the team last season. A pair of clavicle injuries limited him to just four starts in 2015, and the Cowboys went 1-11 without him.

    Yet, Dallas did little to provide injury insurance at quarterback for the coming season. The team retained Kellen Moore, who started two games in 2015, and drafted Dak Prescott in the fourth round. However, the team decided not to bring in an experienced veteran or use a high draft pick on a prospect with more immediate upside. Instead, the Cowboys placed their confidence in Moore as the backup.

    “He’s instinctive, an accurate passer, a quick decision-maker, and he’s a very good leader,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said, per Pat Doney of NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth. “There are a lot of things that quarterbacks have to distinguish themselves from the others, and the best ones have those traits.”

    The issue here is that Moore suffered a broken fibula early in training camp and will miss an extended period of time.

    As of now, the Cowboys face the prospect of the inexperienced Prescott starting in the event of another Romo injury. Obviously, this is a case of regret coming in hindsight—and if Romo stays healthy all season, it's moot—but the Cowboys have to regret not strengthening the backup quarterback spot more when they had the chance.

Denver Broncos

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    Linebacker Danny Trevathan was a key piece of Denver's Super Bowl defense in 2015.
    Linebacker Danny Trevathan was a key piece of Denver's Super Bowl defense in 2015.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Letting Danny Trevathan and Malik Jackson Walk

    The defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos enter 2016 with a new and relatively uncertain quarterback situation. However, that shouldn't be the team's main concern—we all know the killer defense, not stellar quarterback play, earned Denver the Lombardi Trophy last season.

    Therefore, it was strange to see the Broncos allow two top-tier defenders to leave in free agency. Versatile defensive lineman Malik Jackson signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, while linebacker Danny Trevathan rejoined coach John Fox with the Bears.

    Pro Football Focus rated Jackson ninth overall among 3-4 defensive ends for 2015 and rated Trevathan sixth overall among inside linebackers. Letting both of these guys leave in free agency significantly weakens the front seven of the defense.

    The Broncos would probably have needed to get creative to keep either player, especially with a deal for Von Miller looming—he ended up getting a six-year, $114.5 million contract. However, it would have been wise to keep at least one of the two, especially if the team plans to lean on the defense once again.

    The Denver defense should still be a stout unit, so feel free to accuse us of nitpicking here. However, it's still regrettable to let such a productive portion of the defense leave at the same time.

Detroit Lions

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    Wideout Marvin Jones got quite a raise when he signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason.
    Wideout Marvin Jones got quite a raise when he signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason.George Gojkovich/Getty Images

    Giving a Big Contract to Marvin Jones

    The Detroit Lions probably regret watching star receiver Calvin Johnson retire this offseason, but it's unlikely the team could have convinced him to stick around. However, the Lions did have control over the moves they made to help replace him.

    They could already be regretting the decision to hand receiver Marvin Jones a five-year, $40 million deal.

    It's not that Jones is a bad receiver. He isn't. It's that he has never been more than a No. 2 option and is now making what some No. 1 receivers make. The Lions overspent to secure his services and may not have needed to do so.

    They also added Jeremy Kerley and Anquan Boldin this offseason, who are both coming in on much more team-friendly deals. Kerley shined in the team's preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching five passes for 36 yards. Boldin proved he can still be an explosive weapon, taking his lone reception for 30 yards.

    Detroit may already be wondering why it gave so much money to Jones when other, cheaper options were available. It may have been a panicked response to the retirement of Johnson—and something the Lions regret.

Green Bay Packers

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    Cornerback Casey Hayward will play for the Chargers this season.
    Cornerback Casey Hayward will play for the Chargers this season.Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    Letting Go of Cornerback Casey Hayward

    The Green Bay Packers have a recent history of re-signing key contributors and otherwise staying out of the free-agent frenzy. The trend held true this offseason, as tight end Jared Cook was their only significant addition.

    However, the Packers may have made a mistake by letting go of cornerback Casey Hayward. Though they boasted a strong overall secondary in 2015—rated eighth overall in pass coverage by Pro Football Focus—and have quality starters at cornerback, losing Hayward still hurts.

    Pro Football Focus rated him 33rd overall among all cornerbacks for the 2015 season and credited him with playing 933 defensive snaps. Hayward was a big part of the Packers' pass defense. He signed a three-year, $15.3 million deal with the San Diego Chargers in the offseason.

    Green Bay could have easily retained Hayward, which would have helped the Packers compete against top-tier offenses in the 2016 postseason. Letting him walk was one regrettable move in an otherwise strong offseason.

Houston Texans

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    Will Brock Osweiler be a free-agent bust?
    Will Brock Osweiler be a free-agent bust?Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Giving Brock Osweiler a Massive Contract

    The Houston Texas made the bold decision to hand quarterback Brock Osweiler a four-year, $72 million contract this offseason. The deal includes $37 million in guarantees. 

    Several analysts—including me—had reservations about the deal because of Osweiler's limited resume. He has started just seven games as a pro and did so for a championship-caliber team. Yes, he has shown flashes, but they've been few and have come with a strong supporting cast.

    After watching Osweiler in Houston's preseason opener, the Texans may already be regretting that fat chunk of guaranteed cash they forked over.

    Osweiler completed four of his seven pass attempts but produced just 27 yards through the air and failed to put up any points on his three drives. Although this was his first preseason game with his new team, it came against a San Francisco 49ers defense that allowed 261.2 yards per game through the air and was rated 27th in pass defense by Pro Football Focus last season.

    We still have a long way to go until the start of the regular season. but the Texans might be wishing they had placed fewer dollars in the guaranteed pile and more in the incentives section.

Indianapolis Colts

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    How much can the Colts rely on Frank Gore this season?
    How much can the Colts rely on Frank Gore this season?Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Not Strengthening the Backfield

    The Indianapolis Colts got just 967 yards and 3.7 yards per carry out of aging running back Frank Gore in 2015. However, they appear content to rely on the longtime San Francisco 49ers star again this season.

    The Colts didn't try hard to upgrade the depth behind him. They brought in multi-team castoff Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman and undrafted free agent Josh Ferguson. If Gore gets injured or is otherwise forced to the sideline, Indianapolis' ground game could be in serious trouble.

    This past weekend against Buffalo, the Colts got a taste of just how bad their running game might be without Gore. He was held out of the team's preseason opener along with several other starters. Without him, the Colts averaged 1.3 yards per play on the ground.

    Todman did take a screen pass 42 yards for a touchdown, but that was pretty much the only backfield highlight of the night. He produced just two yards on eight carries, while Ferguson rushed eight times for three yards.

    Indianapolis could have better addressed the running back position in free agency and the draft but didn't. This is a course of action that is regrettable now and could become even more regrettable if Gore proves ineffective or misses time in the regular season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Former Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum is still working his way back from injury in Jacksonville.
    Former Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum is still working his way back from injury in Jacksonville.George Gojkovich/Getty Images

    Giving Kelvin Beachum a $45 Million Deal

    Many analysts—including me—commended the Jacksonville Jaguars for securing the services of left tackle Kelvin Beachum with a five-year, $45 million deal earlier this offseason. Beachum, who suffered a torn ACL last season, was a top-notch player before the injury, and the Jaguars haven't gotten the returns they had hoped for from former second-overall pick Luke Joeckel.

    Right now, though, the Jaguars could be second-guessing their decision to sign Beachum to such a large deal. The former Pittsburgh Steelers starter has been slow in his recovery and was held out of the team's preseason opener against the New York Jets.

    Meanwhile, Joeckel got the start against New York and performed well. Pro Football Focus rated him second among Jaguars offensive players, behind star wideout Allen Robinson.

    Any regret the Jaguars have over the Beachum signing, though, is only temporary. If Beachum can get all the way back to his pre-injury form, the team may be well off with him at left tackle and Joeckel at left guard. At worst, Beachum should be a quality backup, albeit one who is due nearly $3 million in bonuses this year.

    The good news is that the Jaguars can release Beachum after the season with little financial implication.

    We realize we're being picky here, but as of right now, this is looking like a deal the Jaguars didn't have to make.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Cornerback Sean Smith will play for the Raiders this season.
    Cornerback Sean Smith will play for the Raiders this season.Al Bello/Getty Images

    Letting Go of Cornerback Sean Smith

    Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters gained a ton of attention last season because of his ability to come away with the football. That makes it easy to overlook the impact Sean Smith had on the defense and on Peters' season.

    It was often Smith, not Peters, who guarded the opposing team's top receiver. His presence caused quarterbacks to target Peters, which led to eight interceptions for the rookie but also a lot of surrendered yardage. According to Pro Football Focus, only two cornerbacks allowed more yardage than Peters last season. He gave up 939 yards in total.

    Smith, by comparison, allowed just 575 yards and came in 17th overall among all cornerbacks in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Smith, for some reason, was allowed to depart in free agency and landed with the rival Oakland Raiders. This means that the decision to part with Smith not only hurts the Chiefs but strengthens an AFC West foe.

    The departure of Smith is magnified by the fact that star safety Eric Berry has not signed his franchise tender or joined the team in training camp. The inability to get a long-term deal done with Berry is another move the Chiefs could easily regret, but it won't be an issue if Berry decides he wants to make $10.8 million to play this season.

Los Angeles Rams

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    Will anyone emerge as a go-to receiver for the Rams in 2016?
    Will anyone emerge as a go-to receiver for the Rams in 2016?Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Not Adding to the Receiving Corps

    The Los Angeles Rams have made it clear that rookie quarterback Jared Goff is the future under center. He may even be the starter this season if he can work his way into the job. Unfortunately, the Rams have not done a standout job of surrounding him with top-tier receiving talent.

    The Rams have one solid option in the speedy Tavon Austin; behind him is a lot of uncertainty. Kenny Britt and Brian Quick have been spotty at best for the Rams, and the unit was an overall mess last season.

    Pro Football Focus rated the Rams just 31st in receiving for the 2015 season.

    Curiously, L.A. didn't try to add a quality starter in free agency and didn't draft a receiver before taking South Carolina's Pharoh Cooper in the fourth round.

    With so much riding on Goff's development as a pro quarterback, it would have made sense for the Rams to put a lot more effort into giving him quality targets. While it's great that L.A. can protect Goff with a strong defense and a dangerous ground attack, providing him with a mediocre group of receivers is regrettable.

Miami Dolphins

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    Can Byron Maxwell help transform Miami's secondary?
    Can Byron Maxwell help transform Miami's secondary?Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Not Taking More Steps to Strengthen the Secondary

    Pass defense was an issue for the Miami Dolphins in 2015. The defense allowed an average of 250 yards per game through the air and finished the season rated 25th in pass coverage on Pro Football Focus.

    Miami's big move to improve the secondary was to trade for Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell and spend a second-round pick on Xavien Howard. This might not be enough to transform the defense into a playoff-caliber unit.

    Howard is a raw prospect coming out of Baylor, but he has potential. The problem is that he had offseason knee surgery and is missing valuable preparation time.

    Maxwell has been a solid cornerback in the past but was a liability last season. Pro Football Focus rated him a 159th overall among cornerbacks in 2015.

    The Dolphins play in a competitive division and will face three quality quarterbacks in the AFC East this season. If Miami is going to contend in the division, its pass defense will have to hold up. As of now, there's no guarantee that the secondary will be significantly better than it was a year ago.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Can Andre Smith solidify the right side of the Vikings' line?
    Can Andre Smith solidify the right side of the Vikings' line?Associated Press

    Not Doing More to Strengthen the Offensive Line

    The Minnesota Vikings took some steps to help strengthen their offensive line this offseason. They added guard Alex Boone and right tackle Andre Smith, but the addition of those two might not be enough.

    Pass protection was often an issue for the Vikings last season. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked 44 times, and Pro Football Focus rated the team just 24th in the league in pass blocking. Of course, much of the issue stemmed from the fact that starting right guard Phil Loadholt missed the season with a torn Achilles.

    The problem now is that Loadholt won't be returning. He announced his retirement this offseason.

    The addition of Boone should help bolster the interior of the line, but there's no guarantee the right tackle spot will be much better than it was in 2015. Smith is coming off a down season with the Bengals, as Pro Football Focus rated him just 130th overall among tackles. Making matters worse is the fact that left tackle Matt Kalil, who was rated 104th overall by Pro Football Focus, is also coming off a poor season.

    If Kalil doesn't improve, this group could be a mess.

    Minnesota didn't go after one of the top tackles available on the open market and didn't draft a lineman until the fourth round. Now that Loadholt is retired, Minnesota may be regretting those decisions.

New England Patriots

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    The Patriots will have left tackle Nate Solder back on the field in 2016 but could have done more to strengthen the line.
    The Patriots will have left tackle Nate Solder back on the field in 2016 but could have done more to strengthen the line.Jerome Davis/Getty Images

    Not Bringing in a Proven Lineman

    Losing starting left tackle Nate Solder for the majority of the season hurt the New England Patriots in 2015. However, his absence wasn't the only issue for a line that came in just 31st in pass blocking on Pro Football Focus.

    The Patriots constantly shuffled the offensive line, and the rotation at guard wasn't especially effective. Josh Kline was solid, but he was the only Patriots guard to receive a positive grade from Pro Football Focus last season.

    With Solder out, the tackle position was also a big issue. Chris Barker was the only Patriots tackle to receive a positive grade from Pro Football Focus last season, and he only played four snaps at the position.

    The return of Solder should help the line improve, and rookie guard Joe Thuney has shown promise. However, the Patriots had the opportunity to strengthen another spot on the line by bringing in a quality veteran free agent. Instead, the team traded for Jonathan Cooper, a former seventh overall selection and potential bust.

    New England should take the challenge of improving the line more seriously for a couple of reasons. One is that the Super Bowl window provided by quarterback Tom Brady is nearing its closing point. The other is that New England won't even have Brady for the first month of the season due to his Deflategate suspension.

    If the Patriots hope to succeed through that first month with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, they had better protect him. This task would be much easier had they added a proven starter in the offseason.

New Orleans Saints

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    Will anyone other than Cameron Jordan emerge as a pass-rushing threat this season for the Saints?
    Will anyone other than Cameron Jordan emerge as a pass-rushing threat this season for the Saints?Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    Not Adding More to the Pass Rush

    The defense of the New Orleans Saints was bad in 2015. It was really bad, and there were problems with virtually every aspect of the unit.

    The pass rush was no exception.

    As a team, New Orleans produced just 31 sacks in 2015 and finished the season rated 31st overall in pass rush by Pro Football Focus. Defensive end Cameron Jordan was responsible for 10 of those 31 sacks. Had the Saints made it a priority to add a dedicated pass-rusher to complement him, the unit might have been able to make a big leap this season.

    Instead, the Saints chose to continue developing in-house pass-rushers such as Hau'oli Kikaha. Unfortunately, Kikaha suffered a torn ACL earlier in the offseason and won't see the field in 2016. This leaves the Saints with a ton of questions about their pass rush.

    Obviously, injury derailed the Saints' plan. Therefore, the regret in not adding more pieces to the pass rush comes in hindsight. Still, it could hamper the team's attempt at turning around the defense.

    We're not saying the Saints cannot find a complementary pass-rusher on the roster—Kasim Edebali had two sacks in the team's preseason opener—but New Orleans would probably feel more confident about its pass rush with a proven veteran or high draft pick in the fold.

New York Giants

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    Can Ereck Flowers be a better player in his second season?
    Can Ereck Flowers be a better player in his second season?Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Not Adding to the Tackle Position

    The New York Giants put a lot of effort into upgrading their defense this offseason. Unfortunately, they didn't work as hard to upgrade the offensive line, which could prove to be a major issue.

    The biggest weakness for the Giants on the offensive side of the ball might be the tackle positions. Last year, New York was forced to start then-rookie Ereck Flowers on the left side due to a torn pectoral suffered by Will Beatty.

    The end results were not pretty.

    Flowers finished the season rated as the league's worst offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus.  His counterpart on the right side, Marshall Newhouse, came in just 134th overall among tackles. Obviously, this is not a good combination of rankings.

    Yet, the Giants did not take steps to upgrade either tackle position in free agency or the draft. They didn't even make an effort to re-sign Beatty, who remains a free agent. This could be a major misstep on the part of the Giants, especially if Flowers doesn't make a second-year leap. The Giants should be second-guessing themselves right now.

New York Jets

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    It took some time, but the Jets finally got a deal done with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
    It took some time, but the Jets finally got a deal done with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Waiting So Long to Do a Deal with Ryan Fitzpatrick

    This was a story that unnecessarily consumed a large portion of the 2016 offseason. The New York Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did their contract dance all the way up until late July. There seemed to be little reason for the faceoff, as Fitzpatrick proved to be a capable starter in 2015, leading the Jets to a 10-win season.

    New York, though, wasn't going to jump at the chance to give Fitzpatrick a sizable long-term deal or even a sizable short-term one, as he initially requested.

    The strange thing is that the Jets did eventually agree to a one-year, $12 million deal. According to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, this is the same deal Fitzpatrick was seeking in early June, though the Jets weren't interested in playing ball then.

    This means the Jets wasted two months of potential offseason work with Fitzpatrick just to come to an agreement they could have reached earlier.

    The good news is that the Jets got Fitzpatrick into training camp. The missed offseason time didn't seem to have had a significant effect on his ability to prepare for game action. He went a solid 3-of-4 for 72 yards in the team's preseason opener against the Jaguars.

    Still, the Jets should regret not getting Fitzpatrick even more offseason work strictly because of financial stubbornness.

Oakland Raiders

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    Will a receiver like Andre Holmes emerge as a reliable third option in Oakland?
    Will a receiver like Andre Holmes emerge as a reliable third option in Oakland?Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    Not Adding a Quality Third Receiver

    The Oakland Raiders may have had one of the top offseasons in recent memory this year. At least, it appears that way on paper. They addressed several defensive issues in free agency and the draft, upgraded the offensive line and improved the pass rush.

    One area the team could have improved and didn't is at the third receiver spot.

    Last season, the Raiders did not have a consistently dangerous receiver outside of Michael Crabtree and then-rookie Amari Cooper. Running back Latavius Murray was third on the team with 41 receptions. Seth Roberts was, at times, a serviceable third receiver, but he was far from elite. Pro Football Focus rated him just 200th overall among wideouts for the season.

    Oakland, though, decided not to pursue a proven third receiver in free agency and ignored the position in the draft. This decision is unlikely to doom the Raiders in 2016, but the offense would be more dangerous with an improved receiving corps.

    As things stand, the Raiders must hope that Roberts or Andre Holmes can emerge from the pack and solidify that spot.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Will Nelson Agholor live up to his potential in Year 2?
    Will Nelson Agholor live up to his potential in Year 2?Elsa/Getty Images

    Not Adding More to the Receiver Position

    The Philadelphia Eagles seem to have a plan at quarterback. While we can question the decision to hand significant contracts to both Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel, and then trade up to draft Carson Wentz, the Eagles seem content with what they have now and for the future.

    The problem is that Philadelphia probably doesn't have an idea of which wide receiver is going to help the quarterback of the present succeed.

    The wideout position was a disaster in 2015. In fact, Pro Football Focus rated the Eagles dead last in receiving and rated first-round draft pick Nelson Agholor as the league's worst receiver. If we were going back and talking about the biggest regrets of last offseason, the selection of Agholor would make the list.

    Unfortunately, the Eagles didn't do a whole lot to strengthen the position this offseason. The team brought in free agents such as Rueben Randle and Chris Givens, but they aren't going to keep a defensive coordinator up at night. Randle, in fact, is already being criticized for a lack of effort.

    "If Randle's performance is indicative of the way he plays the game, you won't find a quarterback anywhere that would ever want him on the field," Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com recently wrote about Randle's performance in the preseason opener.

    Maybe Randle will turn things around by the time the regular season opens. Perhaps Agholor will finally live up to his lofty draft status. The Eagles shouldn't hold their breath here, though, and likely regret heading into the season with the group they have assembled at receiver.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Can rookie cornerback Artie Burns really make a significant impact for the Steelers this season?
    Can rookie cornerback Artie Burns really make a significant impact for the Steelers this season?George Gojkovich/Getty Images

    Not Adding a Top-Tier Veteran Pass Defender

    Pass defense has been an issue for the Pittsburgh Steelers in recent years, and the 2015 season was no different. Pro Football Focus rated the Steelers just 24th in pass coverage, as they allowed an average of 271.9 yards per game through the air.

    An inconsistent pass defense was part of the reason why the Broncos ousted the Steelers from the playoffs. Outside of using a first-round draft pick on cornerback Artie Burns, however, the Steelers did little to improve their pass-coverage unit during the offseason. If Burns cannot find a way to make an early impact, the defense is likely to look much like it did a year ago.

    The problem is that injuries have caused Burns to miss a significant portion of training camp. He was held out of the team's preseason opener against the Lions.

    Things might have been a bit different if the Steelers had the services of former second-round pick Senquez Golson at cornerback. Unfortunately, Golson recently underwent surgery to repair a Lisfranc foot fracture. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he could miss four months.

    The Steelers had the opportunity to chase a quality defensive back in free agency but didn't get a deal done. The team has to be regretting that as the regular season approaches.

San Diego Chargers

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    Rookie defensive end Joey Bosa still hasn't signed his rookie contract.
    Rookie defensive end Joey Bosa still hasn't signed his rookie contract.Jon Durr/Getty Images

    Playing Chicken with Rookie Joey Bosa

    The San Diego Chargers don't know what they have in rookie pass-rusher Joey Bosa, because the former Ohio State star hasn't been present in training camp or the preseason. This is because the rookie refuses to sign the contract the Chargers have offered him.

    The problem is that Bosa and the Chargers seem to disagree on offset language contained in the deal and on the payment of his signing bonus. We're not going to say the Chargers regret drafting Bosa—though they may—but the team should regret how it has handled the contract situation. 

    Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman recently explained just how damaging San Diego's stubbornness could be:

    There is always frustration in holdouts. Yet this feels different. It feels slightly more personal. The feeling I'm getting from the source close to Bosa is that the Chargers are flexing their muscles unnecessarily, and they are poisoning their relationship with Bosa for no good reason other than because they can do it.

    "There is a bitterness that I'm not sure will ever go away," said the source.

    Even if the Chargers aren't straining their relationship with Bosa, their refusal to meet in the middle with his contract is preventing the rookie from preparing for the coming season. It's a no-win situation for everyone involved.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Who will emerge at receiver for the 49ers this season?
    Who will emerge at receiver for the 49ers this season?Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    Not Addressing the Receiver Position

    The San Francisco 49ers have a quarterback battle between Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick on their hands. Unfortunately, the team is going to have to rely on someone emerging from the receiver group if either man is going to succeed under center.

    The receiver position was a disaster for San Francisco in 2015. Pro Football Focus rated the 49ers just 29th in receiving last season, and Anquan Boldin was the only receiver on the roster to receive a positive grade.

    He is now a member of the Detroit Lions.

    There weren't a ton of quality options at receiver in free agency this offseason, but the 49ers didn't seem to make an attempt at grabbing any, Boldin included. The team also ignored the position during the draft until the sixth round, when it took Michigan State product Aaron Burbridge.

    New head coach Chip Kelly has had some success in the past with a mediocre receiving corps. Pro Football Focus graded his 2015 Eagles as the worst receiving team in the league, yet the team was still in the postseason hunt late into the year. However, the 49ers cannot expect such an approach to work this season.

    The 49ers have to regret not putting more effort into building their receiver group this offseason.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Can Garry Gilliam hold up as Seattle's left tackle?
    Can Garry Gilliam hold up as Seattle's left tackle?Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    Gambling with the Offensive Line

    The offensive line has been a weakness for the Seattle Seahawks for a while now. The team has regularly overcome issues along the line because of the sheer amount of talent in other areas of the team and because of the mobility possessed by quarterback Russell Wilson. However, Wilson has often been the one to pay for the line's mistakes.

    In his four NFL seasons including the playoffs, Wilson has been sacked 190 times.

    Seattle's line was again bad last year. Pro Football Focus rated the team 30th in pass blocking and 29th in run blocking. This is precisely why it made sense for the Seahawks to overhaul their line this offseason.

    Seattle, however, is going about the overhaul in an odd manner.

    The Seahawks parted ways with starting left tackle Russell Okung and starting guard J.R. Sweezy. The team then drafted guard Germain Ifedi in the first round and shuffled players around so that new personnel would fill four of the five spots. The line may improve this way—it's hard to see it getting much worse, after all—but it's an unusual approach.

    The biggest question mark may reside at tackle. Garry Gilliam started in the preseason opener in his old spot, but he wasn't exactly a star on the right side last year—Pro Football Focus rated him just 133rd overall among tackles. Bradley Sowell, who started against the Chiefs at left tackle, is a former reserve lineman with the Cardinals.

    The Seahawks have continued to back their new-look line publicly, but we're betting they'd feel a lot better about the group if they had brought in a couple of proven starters to help with the transformation.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Buccaneers have seen nothing from former Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy this offseason.
    The Buccaneers have seen nothing from former Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy this offseason.Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    Giving J.R. Sweezy $14.5 Million Guaranteed

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a huge gamble earlier in the offseason by inking former Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy to a five-year, $32.5 million deal that included $14.5 million in guarantees.

    The deal with Sweezy was a gamble because he isn't exactly known as one of the top offensive linemen in the game. In fact, he may have been one of the worst starting guards in the league last season. Pro Football Focus rated Sweezy just 131st overall among guards in 2015.

    Tampa isn't lamenting the signing of Sweezy because of poor play, however. The issue here is that he hasn't been able to get on the practice field and opened training camp on the PUP list.

    According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, Sweezy has been visiting with a back specialist in order to assess the extent of his health issues.

    "He's been seeing a doctor in California the last couple of days," head coach Dirk Koetter said of Sweezy, per Auman. "I'm not the doctor and I haven't talked to the doctor, but we'll let you know as soon we know something we can tell you."

    Given Sweezy's history of less-than-stellar play, there's no guarantee that he would upgrade the Buccaneers' offensive line. However, it's beginning to look like he might not even get the opportunity to try. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Sweezy could open the season on the PUP list.

    No matter what happens, the Buccaneers are going to be out at least $14.5 million.

Tennessee Titans

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    Is Tennessee's secondary good enough to help the team return to AFC South contention?
    Is Tennessee's secondary good enough to help the team return to AFC South contention?Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Not Adding to the Cornerback Position

    The secondary of the Tennessee Titans wasn't particularly bad as a unit in 2015. In fact, Pro Football Focus rated the Titans 12th overall in pass coverage. The problem is that the back end of Tennessee's defense lacks individual playmakers.

    The cornerback position appears particularly questionable. Then-rookie Cody Riggs was the only corner to receive a positive grade from Pro Football Focus last season.

    The Titans did bring in former Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson, but they didn't acquire a starting-caliber cornerback or even draft one until the fifth round.

    The decision to largely ignore the cornerback position could come back to haunt the Titans as they try to regain relevance in the AFC South. This is especially true if the secondary again struggles to create turnovers.

    As a team, the Titans produced just 11 interceptions in 2015. Cornerbacks made only four of those picks. This is a big reason why the Titans struggled to win games with a defense that, on paper, was quite productive. Last year's team ranked 12th in total defense, allowing an average of 342.2 yards per game.

Washington Redskins

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    Matt Jones is expected to help lead Washington's rushing attack this season.
    Matt Jones is expected to help lead Washington's rushing attack this season.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Adding Little to the Running Back Position

    The Washington Redskins said goodbye to former starter Alfred Morris this offseason, which means they have some legitimate questions at the running back position.

    Second-year man Matt Jones is widely considered the guy who will replace Morris as the lead back. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post reports that the Redskins are confident Morris is up to the task.

    “Matt Jones is gonna have a heckuva year,” Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said, per Steinberg. “Matt, I think, is going to step up and have a really good year. A really good year. I mean, shock people.”

    The problem is that while Jones showed some flashes as a rookie in 2015, he was inconsistent. Jones averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. Little-used back Chris Thompson, by comparison, averaged an impressive 6.2 yards per carry on his 35 runs last season.

    Washington decided not to add any significant pieces to the backfield through free agency or the draft. The team did draft Georgia's Keith Marshall in the seventh round, but he, Jones and Thompson proved to be an underwhelming trio in the team's preseason opener against Atlanta.

    Marshall carried the ball five times for minus-one yard. Jones and Thompson combined for one yard on three carries.

    We're not saying that the Redskins cannot find some productivity in their current crop of running backs. Undrafted rookie Robert Kelley, for example, shined in the preseason opener with 40 yards and a score on seven carries. Right now, though, Washington has to be wondering if leaning on the likes of Jones and Thompson, abandoning Morris and not spending free-agent or draft capital on a running back was the way to go.


    All contract information via Spotrac.com.


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