Every NFL Team's Biggest Mistake so Far This Offseason

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJune 2, 2017

Every NFL Team's Biggest Mistake so Far This Offseason

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    Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

    Everybody makes mistakes, including NFL teams. Some make more than others, but all of them do it.

    While it's impossible to definitively identify those mistakes without the benefit of hindsight, we can make our best guesses. 

    In the spirit of May, let's do that for each NFL team's offseason to date. 

AFC East

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    The Bills should have fired Doug Whaley after the season.
    The Bills should have fired Doug Whaley after the season.Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Buffalo Bills: Hiring their head coach before firing their general manager

    The Bills saw dysfunctional organizations like the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins make head-scratching, counterintuitive moves in recent offseasons. They then asked those teams to hold their beer. 

    Owners Terry and Kim Pegula appear as though they don't know what they're doing. They fired Rex and Rob Ryan near the conclusion of another disappointing season but kept general manager Doug Whaley. After hiring Sean McDermott as their new head coach in January, they proceeded to fire Whaley the day after the 2017 NFL draft concluded.

    New general manager Brandon Beane now inherits a draft class he didn't have any say over, a coaching staff he didn't hire and a supposed franchise quarterback who he'll be stuck with for at least a year. 

    Smart teams clean house, hire a new GM, allow that GM to hire a new head coach, allow that head coach to hire his assistants and allow that entire unit to draft and sign players. But the Bills are not a smart team. Between McDermott and Beane, who has more power? Who has more clout? This has dysfunction written all over it, but luckily, Buffalo is used to that. 

    Miami Dolphins: Giving $11 million guaranteed to Lawrence Timmons

    Lawrence Timmons is probably over the hill at the age of 31. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the sixth-worst qualified inside linebacker in 2016, one year after he ranked 56th among 60 qualifiers.

    The 2007 first-round pick was a Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014 and probably should have been one in 2010, and he hasn't missed a game in seven years. That said, he's no longer a starting-caliber player.

    Despite that, Miami gave him $11 million in guaranteed money, presumably to play a large role. That'll likely backfire when he fails to make last year's 29th-ranked defense any better. 

    It won't cripple the franchise, but it was still a mistake. 


    New England Patriots: Signing Stephon Gilmore without trading Malcolm Butler

    Had the Patriots traded Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler at some point this offseason, giving free-agent Stephon Gilmore more guaranteed money than every other corner in the league except Josh Norman would have made some sense. 

    But the Pats weren't able to work out a trade with the New Orleans Saints despite engaging in discussions, according to ESPN.com's Mike Triplett

    Gilmore has never been elected to a Pro Bowl (he was an injury replacement last year), and he's coming off a season in which PFF ranked him 59th among 119 qualified players at his position. He gave up completions on more than 60 percent of the passes thrown his way last season, and only 10 NFL corners took more penalties.

    None of that deterred New England from making him the league's eighth-highest-paid corner with a five-year, $65 million contract that contains $40 million in guaranteed money.

    That'll make it hard to justify keeping Butler on a huge contract next offseason, even though he's a better player. And with Butler now apparently on board for 2017, the Pats could have used that money elsewhere in order to refuel in a more balanced fashion for an attempt at a title defense. 

    New York Jets: Using their top two draft picks on safeties

    First-round pick Jamal Adams and second-rounder Marcus Maye both might become fantastic players. The draft is a crapshoot, and neither safety appeared to be a reach. 

    However, the rebuilding Jets still have Calvin Pryor on their roster, as well as a lot of other needs. Perhaps they picked the two best available players on their draft board, but a team with so many holes on offense would have been better suited spreading its draft resources out. 

AFC North

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    Marvin Lewis remains head coach of the Bengals despite having zero playoff wins in 14 years.
    Marvin Lewis remains head coach of the Bengals despite having zero playoff wins in 14 years.Associated Press

    Baltimore Ravens: Letting Rick Wagner go

    For the second consecutive offseason, the Ravens lost a key offensive lineman. Last year, it was versatile guard Kelechi Osemele, who signed with the Oakland Raiders and immediately became a first-team All-Pro. This year, it was Rick Wagner, who Pro Football Focus graded as the league's fourth-best right tackle in terms of pass-blocking last season. 

    Wagner got big money in Detroit (five years, $47.5 million with $20.5 million guaranteed), but the Ravens couldn't afford to have their already mediocre line get worse. That group is protecting an aging, mistake-prone quarterback while blocking for a group of unproven and/or flawed running backs, and there are no accomplished or high-pedigree replacements waiting to take over on the right side. 

    A franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 2014 might grow to regret letting Wagner walk.

    Cincinnati Bengals: Keeping Marvin Lewis

    The Bengals scuffled through another mistake-filled offseason in 2017, as they let two key offensive linemen walk in free agency despite having money to spend, gave troubled cornerback Adam Jones yet another chance despite an embarrassing arrest and drafted major question marks in John Ross (injury concerns) and Joe Mixon (off-field concerns) in the first two rounds. 

    But their biggest mistake was keeping the head coach who had a say in all of the above. 

    How in the world is Marvin Lewis still employed? 

    Lewis has now coached the Bengals for 14 years. He's made the playoffs in seven of those seasons, six of which have come in the last eight years. But in all seven cases, he has lost on Wild Card Weekend. The Bengals have won the AFC North four times in that span (which isn't extraordinary in a four-team division) and have lost their first playoff game at home all four times.

    Despite having a solid franchise quarterback, a decent defense and one of the best receivers in the game, they're coming off a six-win season, and it appears they took a step backward in free agency. 

    The Bengals make a lot of mistakes, but Lewis is their biggest one. 

    Cleveland Browns: Giving Kenny Britt a bigger contract than Terrelle Pryor got

    Cleveland's decision to sign Britt wasn't bad on the surface. The eight-year veteran is coming off a breakout 2016 season in which he had 68 catches, 1,002 yards and five touchdowns with the offensively challenged Los Angeles Rams. 

    But the Browns already had their own 1,000-yard receiver in converted quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is slightly younger, more physically enticing and has less tread on his tires than Britt.

    They spent $32.5 million on Britt's four-year contract before losing Pryor to the Washington Redskins, who paid only $6 million on a one-year prove-it deal for the 27-year-old. If the Browns could go back in time, they'd likely re-sign Pryor instead of chasing Britt. 

    Pittsburgh Steelers: Signing Tyson Alualu

    The Steelers didn't do much wrong this offseason. They were again relatively quiet in free agency, which is their modus operandi. They hit on each of their first few draft picks, and they even added a promising young quarterback (rookie fourth-rounder Josh Dobbs) in case Ben Roethlisberger does more than just flirt with retirement next offseason. 

    But let's nitpick.

    They gave a two-year, $6 million deal to Tyson Alualu, who is on the wrong side of 30 after failing to live up to expectations as a top-10 pick with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The defensive lineman has never earned a positive PFF grade in his seven-year career. He doesn't make big plays, and he's more of a jack of all trades, master of none.

    Alualu is only due $1.75 million in guaranteed cash, but that still might be wasted money for Pittsburgh. 

AFC South

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    The Colts should have canned Chuck Pagano after back-to-back eight-win seasons.
    The Colts should have canned Chuck Pagano after back-to-back eight-win seasons.Associated Press

    Houston Texans: Trading up to draft Deshaun Watson

    This won't be a mistake if Deshaun Watson turns into a star, but the chances of that aren't high. Between 2006 and 2015, NFL teams drafted 26 quarterbacks in the first round. Only 10 of those 26 are starters heading into 2017, only 14 are currently under contract and only one—Joe Flacco of the Ravens—has won a Super Bowl. Seventeen of the 26 have never made a Pro Bowl. 

    It's one thing for a quarterback-hungry team to draft one in the first round, but it's another to trade away an extra first-round pick in order to move up for one. That's what the Texans did, and that hasn't worked out well for a team in nearly a decade.

    Here's a list of quarterbacks chosen in Round 1 after trade-ups since 2009: Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow, Blaine Gabbert, Robert Griffin III, Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch.  

    Good luck with that. 

    Indianapolis Colts: Keeping Chuck Pagano

    Like the Bills, the Colts are setting themselves up for dysfunction by forcing a new general manager to work with a head coach he didn't hire.

    It's understandable why GM Ryan Grigson got the boot after a talented team with an elite franchise quarterback went 8-8 in back-to-back seasons, but owner Jim Irsay would have been better off cleaning house and starting off fresh. 

    Head coach Chuck Pagano was supposed to make Indy's defense great. Instead, that unit has ranked below the league median in four of Pagano's five seasons, and the Colts are coming off their worst defensive season yet. In terms of DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), Football Outsiders ranked them 29th in football, and they surrendered more than 24 points per game for the second straight season.

    New GM Chris Ballard is saying the right things about Pagano and their relationship, but hiring a general manager to work with a coach who is already on board frequently backfires.

    Jacksonville Jaguars: Sticking with Blake Bortles 

    It made business sense for the Jaguars to exercise Blake Bortles' fifth-year option for 2018 once they decided he'd be their starting quarterback in 2017. The mistake is deciding he'd be their starting quarterback in 2017. 

    Bortles has regressed since coming into the league as the No. 3 overall pick in 2014. He's completed fewer than 59 percent of his passes in all three of his NFL seasons, the Jags have won just 11 of his 45 career starts and he's coming off a year in which he ranked in the bottom five among qualified quarterbacks in terms of completion percentage (58.9), yards per attempt (6.25) and passer rating (78.8). 

    It gets worse. PFF rated Bortles as the league's third-worst qualified passer last season, and his passer rating on throws that traveled 20-plus yards was 17.5. Thirty other quarterbacks attempted at least 25 such throws, and none had a rating below 45.0. 

    His third year was supposed to be a breakout season, and it's not as though he hasn't been relatively well- supported. The Jags should have recognized the possibility he's a bust and brought in some fresh blood to compete with him under center. 

    Tennessee Titans: Drafting Adoree' Jackson

    "N/A" could have applied here, because the Titans—like the Steelers—haven't made any glaring errors this offseason. But their decision to take USC corner Adoree' Jackson with the second of their two first-round selections doesn't look like an optimal use of their resources.

    Jackson has one strong year under his belt in the Pac-12, but he might need time to acclimate to the pro ranks. With the Titans on the verge of contending, somebody more NFL-ready could have made more sense. 

    Thus, Tennessee may have been better-suited taking Tre'Davious White, Kevin King or even Jabrill Peppers with that No. 18 overall pick.

AFC West

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    Chargers owner Dean Spanos moved the team to Los Angeles this offseason.
    Chargers owner Dean Spanos moved the team to Los Angeles this offseason.Associated Press

    Denver Broncos: Neglecting to bring in a QB better than Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch

    The Broncos won the Super Bowl despite posting the AFC's lowest team passer rating in 2015. After losing Peyton Manning to retirement and Brock Osweiler to free agency, they gambled that lightning would strike twice by using second-year seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian under center in 2016. 

    Lightning did not strike twice. Siemian wasn't terrible, but he posted a sub-60 completion percentage while ranking 23rd among 30 qualified quarterbacks with a passer rating of 84.6. Meanwhile, Lynch didn't do anything in limited action to indicate he's ready to take the reins. 

    The Broncos, who had the league's best DVOA on defense last season, are in win-now mode. But teams almost never win these days without high-quality quarterbacks. Denver was an exception to that rule in 2015, but general manager John Elway has become too stubborn as a result.

    Denver should have made runs at Tony Romo and/or Jay Cutler before both veterans retired. 

    Kansas City Chiefs: Trading up to draft Patrick Mahomes II

    Feel free to scroll back to the blurb on the Texans and what they did with Deshaun Watson. Basically, this has nothing to do with Mahomes, who could—but probably won't—turn into a star.

    As we noted regarding Watson, 26 quarterbacks were drafted in the first round between 2006 and 2015. Only 10 of those 26 are NFL starters right now, only 14 are currently under contract with NFL teams and only one—Joe Flacco of the Ravens—has won a Super Bowl. Seventeen of the 26 have never made a Pro Bowl. 

    It's one thing to draft a quarterback in the first round, but it's another to trade away an extra first-round pick in order to move up for one. 

    It's really that simple.

    Los Angeles Chargers: Becoming the Los Angeles Chargers

    The Chargers made a mistake by signing offensive tackle Russell Okung to a four-year, $53 million contract with $25 million guaranteed, as Okung hasn't been good in about a half-decade. However, their biggest error came on Jan. 12, when the Spanos family officially relocated the franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles. 

    Because they couldn't squeeze enough money out San Diego, the Chargers ditched a large, loyal and rabid fanbase to become a richer team's tenant as the second fiddle in L.A. There, they'll fight an uphill battle to gain fans, as the Rams already have short- and long-term history in a city that might not embrace two pro football teams. 

    If the Spanos family couldn't afford to build a new stadium in San Diego, they should have sold the team to somebody who wouldn't alienate San Diego football fans. But the Bolts might also have been better off monopolizing a new market like Las Vegas, rather than "splitting" L.A. with the Rams. 

    Instead, they'll likely become the Clippers of the NFL. 

    Oakland Raiders: Drafting Gareon Conley

    Though Gareon Conley will not face league discipline for the rape allegation levied against him in the days leading up to the 2017 draft, the NFL potentially could consider him a repeat offender if he gets into trouble again. With Jabrill Peppers, Tre'Davious White and Kevin King all still available when the Raiders picked Conley 24th overall, the reward may not outweigh the risk.

    Regardless of what happens with Conley, who hasn't been arrested or charged, the Raiders remain on the right track. As his potential off-field problems continue to play out, though, they could grow to regret that pick.

NFC East

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    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should have traded Tony Romo to anyone who would take him.
    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should have traded Tony Romo to anyone who would take him.Associated Press

    Dallas Cowboys: Not trading Tony Romo to Houston

    Ready for a hot take? Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn't want to trade Tony Romo to a fellow Texas franchise because he feared Romo could be the final piece of the puzzle for a Houston team that had the NFL's top-ranked defense last season.

    The Cowboys were never going to receive much in return for Romo, so it wasn't worth risking the ego bruise that would result from the Texans winning a Super Bowl with the highest-rated quarterback in Cowboys history, especially if that happened before Dallas won its next championship. 

    As it turns out, that take may be more lukewarm than scorching hot. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio suggested in March that Jones didn't want Romo in a Texans uniform because it would shift media and fan attention from Dallas to Houston. 

    Was this all about business? Remember, Jones runs the Cowboys like an entertainment product, not just a sports team. If he refused to take something from the Texans in exchange for Romo, he hurt his football team in order to protect his entertainment enterprise.

    From a football standpoint, that's problematic. 

    New York Giants: Not bringing in better offensive tackle options 

    Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers surrendered more quarterback pressures than any other NFL player at that position in 2016, and PFF graded him as the worst offensive tackle in football as a rookie. Meanwhile, Giants right tackle Bobby Hart was graded as the fourth-worst pass-blocker among 76 qualified players at that position last season. 

    Despite that, Big Blue didn't sign or draft a single high-profile offensive tackle this offseason. 

    Both players have room to grow—general manager Jerry Reese has expressed confidence in each of them—and the front office did add veteran tackle/guard D.J. Fluker in free agency. That might not be enough for a team which must do a better job protecting its aging quarterback and paving the way for a running game that ranked 30th in football with a 3.5 yards-per-attempt average last season. 

    Philadelphia Eagles: Not bringing in a good veteran corner

    The Eagles had a great offseason. They gave young quarterback Carson Wentz two new wideouts without breaking the bank on long-term contracts, they addressed defensive needs with their top three picks in the draft and they brought in potential No. 1 back LeGarrette Blount on a cheap deal after the draft.

    So this is also a bit nitpicky, but Philadelphia's cornerbacks were terrible last year. Two of their top three cover guys, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin, are now gone. PFF graded the other one, Jalen Mills, as the worst qualified corner in the NFL. Bringing in first-round bust turned journeyman Patrick Robinson won't fix things, and rookie second-rounder Sidney Jones is recovering from an Achilles rupture he suffered at his pro day in March. 

    Ideally, the Eagles should have made a run at an experienced free-agent corner with a better resume than Robinson. Maybe not the expensive A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore, but even somebody like Logan Ryan or Captain Munnerlyn, both of whom came cheaper but have had plenty of NFL success. 

    Washington Redskins: Signing Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain instead of Chris Baker

    One mistake that bit the Redskins this offseason was their decision to hire Scot McCloughan as general manager two years ago. The team fired McCloughan at the start of free agency, which one official attributed to his "ongoing problems with alcohol," according to Liz Clarke, John Woodrow Cox, Mike Jones and Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post. That left Washington without a general manager for most of free agency and the entire lead-up to the draft. 

    Without all of that front-office turmoil, it's possible the Redskins would have kept veteran defensive lineman Chris Baker rather than letting him go and signing inferior defensive tackles Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain. 

    Baker, who PFF graded as a top-12 3-4 defensive end in each of the last two seasons, signed a bargain three-year, $15.75 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meanwhile, McGee—a sixth-round pick in 2013 with one decent season under his belt—got a laughable $25 million over five years, and McClain—a tailor-made depth guy who has no business starting or being paid starter money—got a ridiculous $21 million over four years. 

    What were the Redskins thinking? Being shorthanded likely didn't help. 

NFC North

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    Bears general manager Ryan Pace took an unnecessary risk early in the draft.
    Bears general manager Ryan Pace took an unnecessary risk early in the draft.Associated Press

    Chicago Bears: Trading up to draft Mitchell Trubisky

    Alright, I'll say it again. Or you can read this. Or this.

    In summary, this won't be a mistake if Trubisky turns into a star, but the chances are good that he won't. The draft is a crapshoot, so trading multiple picks to move up to roll the same dice doesn't make sense. 

    Additionally, there's a chance the Bears could have drafted Trubisky had they stood pat at No. 3. In other words, they might have been able to keep their third- and fourth-round picks in 2017 and their third-rounder in 2018. 

    Instead, those now belong to the San Francisco 49ers.

    Detroit Lions: Giving T.J. Lang $19 million guaranteed 

    The Lions upgraded slightly at right guard by replacing Larry Warford with T.J. Lang, but that swap may not age well.

    Lang made the Pro Bowl last season, but he's four years older than Warford, has played 119 games since 2009 and is recovering from hip and foot injuries. How much tread is left on those tires? Regardless, the Lions gave him a deal worth $9.5 million a year and with $19 million guaranteed, while Warford signed with the New Orleans Saints for $8.5 million a year and $17 million guaranteed. 

    If the Lions don't bring back ageless wideout Anquan Boldin, who scored eight touchdowns and caught more than 70 percent of the passes thrown his way last season, that'll be their biggest mistake. For now, it's giving Lang all that money even though he might be running out of gas. 

    Green Bay Packers: Not bringing in an experienced running back

    The Packers drafted three running backs, but they spent their first four picks on defensive players and released veteran backs Don Jackson and Christine Michael soon after the draft. That leaves them with just Ty Montgomery and a batch of rookies in the backfield.

    Montgomery wasn't a running back a year ago, and he's carried the ball 12-plus times only once as an NFL player. He did pick up 162 yards on 16 attempts against the Bears in Week 15 last season, but he followed that up by averaging 3.9 yards per attempt in the final two games of the regular season and only 91 yards on 25 carries (for a 3.6 average) in the playoffs. 

    Montgomery either shined or was nowhere to be seen, but it's concerning that he has lacked consistency and doesn't have much experience. The element of surprise will now be gone, and opposing defenses will know what to expect. If he can't deliver and those rooks aren't ready to hatch, who'll be there?

    The Packers should have given another shot to Eddie Lacy, or a new one to Adrian Peterson, Latavius Murray or Rex Burkhead. 

    Minnesota Vikings: Giving Riley Reiff a $59 million contract 

    The Vikings needed a left tackle, and that offensive line needed a boost. They filled that hole and may get that boost from Riley Reiff, who is probably better than departed bust Matt Kalil. 

    But $58.75 million over five years with $26.3 million guaranteed? For a tackle who has never made a Pro Bowl in his five-year career? A guy who graded out as PFF's 52nd-best pass-blocker among 76 qualified players at that position last season? Reiff is now the third-highest-paid offensive lineman in football in terms of guaranteed money. 

    They would have been far better off paying former Bengal Andrew Whitworth, who was PFF's second-best pass-blocker at that position last year and is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl campaigns. Whitworth signed a three-year, $33.75 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams with only $15 million guaranteed. 


NFC South

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    Should the Falcons have fired head coach Dan Quinn after an epic collapse in Super Bowl LI?
    Should the Falcons have fired head coach Dan Quinn after an epic collapse in Super Bowl LI?Associated Press

    Atlanta Falcons: Keeping Dan Quinn?

    That question mark isn't there by accident.

    Coming off a surprise Super Bowl campaign, the Falcons have done just about everything right this offseason. They didn't lose any key players, they bolstered their defensive front by adding two-time Pro Bowler Dontari Poe and top pick Takkarist McKinley, and they couldn't do much about the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

    The Falcons shouldn't necessarily have fired head coach Dan Quinn after blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl, but it's worth discussing. The Falcons didn't win the NFC South and make that run because of Quinn. They got there because Shanahan's offense was the best in football. They got there because they averaged a silly 39 points per game in the six outings that preceded the Super Bowl. They got there because quarterback Matt Ryan was the league MVP. 

    How much did that have to do with the defensive-minded Quinn? Not a lot. But Quinn is in charge of making key strategic decisions in big moments, and the Falcons botched those moments as they endured one of the worst collapses in the history of American sports during Super Bowl LI. 

    Was a young team traumatized by that? If so, 2017 could be ugly regardless of how good the Falcons look on paper. If that's how things play out, we could soon be wondering whether Quinn should have taken the fall for that unforgettable debacle in Houston. 

    Carolina Panthers: Giving a $56 million contract to Matt Kalil

    It's tough to fault the Panthers for trying to give quarterback Cam Newton better blindside protection after opponents routinely roughed up the 2015 MVP this past season. But like the Vikings with Reiff, the Panthers overpaid the wrong guy. 

    The Panthers gave Matt Kalil $31 million guaranteed on a five-year, $55.5 million contract, making him the sixth-highest-paid offensive tackle in football in terms of guaranteed money. They did so even though the soon-to-be 28-year-old surrendered 18 sacks and took 22 penalties as one of the lowest-graded offensive tackles in the league in 2014 and 2015, per PFF, before missing most of the 2016 campaign due to a hip injury. 

    He wasn't much better as a sophomore in 2013, and he hasn't played consistently well since his 2012 rookie season. Regardless, Kalil will make about the same average annual salary and twice as much guaranteed money as Whitworth, who is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons in Cincinnati. 

    It doesn't make sense. Kalil likely won't help the Carolina offense, and he isn't worth that kind of money. 

    New Orleans Saints: Trading Brandin Cooks

    If you're not rebuilding—and so long as 38-year-old future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees remains on the roster, the Saints presumably are not—it seems counterintuitive to trade a key offensive player who is entering his prime in exchange for draft picks. 

    That's what the Saints did when they sent Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for a first- and third-rounder. Though Brees likely can turn a ballboy into a weapon, Cooks is coming off back-to-back 1,100-plus-yard seasons in which he combined for 17 touchdowns. 

    It's hard to envision the players drafted with those picks—offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk and linebacker Trey Hendrickson—making a larger impact than Cooks would have in 2017. Which means that in the short term, the trade probably made the Saints—a team whose competitive window is quickly closing—worse.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Not doing more with the offensive line

    The Buccaneers went out of their way to make young franchise quarterback Jameis Winston's life easier by giving him new weapons in three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, rookie tight end O.J. Howard and rookie wideout Chris Godwin this offseason, but they could have done more to address an offensive line that struggled in 2016. 

    PFF ranked that unit 19th in the league in terms of pass-blocking efficiency last season. Left tackle Donovan Smith often resembled a turnstile, and left guard Kevin Pamphile and center Joe Hawley weren't much better in pass protection. Despite that, the Bucs didn't sign or draft a single offensive lineman. 

    They could benefit from the return of veteran guard J.R. Sweezy, but he's been dealing with a lingering back issue and hasn't always been effective when healthy. Smith could put it together in his third season, but it won't be easy to recover from a year in which PFF ranked him 69th among 76 qualified offensive tackles. Hawley has solid intangibles and is the kind of veteran you want in the dressing room, but he's still a mediocre center, and the Bucs strangely gave him a new two-year contract worth $5.5 million. They might test Ali Marpet at center, but wouldn't that just open up a hole at right guard? 

    You know what they need? More talented options at every offensive line position. Too late now. 

NFC West

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    New Rams head coach Sean McVay is a baby.
    New Rams head coach Sean McVay is a baby.Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Arizona Cardinals: Not drafting a quarterback

    It soon may be time to stick a fork in Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer.

    The 37-year-old has enjoyed a nice career, but his rate-based numbers plummeted in 2016, and it's beginning to look as though his Pro Bowl 2015 campaign was a late-career anomaly. After all, he threw 22 interceptions in 2013 and started just six games in 2014. 

    But the Cards didn't use any of their seven draft picks on quarterbacks, here's hoping no one in Glendale believes backups Drew Stanton or Blaine Gabbert are heirs apparent. 

    Arizona also lost several key defensive players in Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, D.J. Swearinger and Kevin Minter, but with Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Chandler Jones and 2016 first-round defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche on D and the dangerous David Johnson in the offensive backfield, this team has a chance to avoid a massive rebuild when Palmer fades or steps aside. 

    It would help, though, if the Cards had a quarterback or two waiting in the wings. 

    Los Angeles Rams: Hiring a millennial to be their new head coach

    I am one, so I can say this: 31-year-old men are not fit to run professional football teams. 

    The Constitution states that you have to be 35 to become president of the United States. The NFL should adopt the same rule for head coaches. Maybe it's the dynamics that come along with a coach being younger than some of his players, or maybe it's just a lack of life and/or football experience. Regardless, it doesn't work. 

    It didn't work for a 31-year-old Lane Kiffin in Oakland or a 32-year-old Raheem Morris in Tampa. It didn't work for David Shula (32) in Cincinnati or Josh McDaniels (32) in Denver. Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin had relatively recent success despite early starts, but they were all 34 when they were hired.

    McVay was still 30! When the Rams originally left Los Angeles, the dude was nine years old.  

    San Francisco 49ers: Giving $11.5 million guaranteed to Malcolm Smith

    With a new regime in place, the 49ers handed out several weird contracts this offseason. They might have overpaid 30-year-old receiver Pierre Garcon by giving him $47.5 million over five years, they signed two quarterbacks straight off the Chicago Bears depth chart and they made Kyle Juszczyk the highest-paid fullback in NFL history. 

    They could regret all of those moves, but there's also a lot of hope there. 

    The one unfathomable is the one they gave to Malcolm Smith, who continues to live off a decent 2013 season and the Super Bowl MVP award he won at the end of it. 

    PFF graded the 2011 seventh-round pick out of USC as one of the 10 worst inside linebackers in the game while in Oakland last season and one of the 20 worst (out of 60 qualifiers) the year before that. He hardly saw the field with Seattle in 2014, which means he peaked when he won MVP in Super Bowl XLVIII. 

    Smith does nothing but plug holes, but even in run defense, he's a replacement-level player at best. He can't rush the passer, he can't drop into coverage. He's just...meh. 

    But the Niners gave him a five-year, $26.5 million deal with $11.5 million guaranteed, making the soon-to-be 28-year-old the ninth-highest-paid inside linebacker in football. 

    It's baffling. 

    Seattle Seahawks: Continuing to neglect the offensive line

    Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is coming off the worst season of his career. It's no coincidence that Wilson wasn't healthy for much of that season, and that his offensive line ranked 30th league-wide at PFF when it came to pass-blocking efficiency. Per the same source, only Andrew Luck was pressured more frequently, while only Tyrod Taylor took more sacks. 

    Right tackle Garry Gilliam was terrible. Left tackle George Fant was worse. Left guard Mark Glowinski? Terrible. Right guard Germain Ifedi? Worse. But because the Seahawks stayed away from high-profile offensive linemen in free agency and the draft, several of those guys will likely be starting again in 2017. 

    Yes, they signed former No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel. But he was one of the worst left tackles in football in 2014 and 2015, was moved to guard in 2016 and then almost immediately shredded his left knee. He should no longer be viewed as a starter. Same for Oday Aboushi, who signed a cheap one-year deal for backup money but could wind up starting at right guard. 

    The Seahawks can only hope Joeckel suddenly wakes up or Aboushi breaks out. They can only hope Ifedi makes major strides in his sophomore season. They can only hope Fant or Glowinski becomes something other than terrible, or that rookie second-rounder Ethan Pocic earns a starting job right away. 

    Otherwise, Wilson and that offense could be in trouble yet again. 


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