The Biggest Risk Every NFL Team Is Taking in 2019

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2019

The Biggest Risk Every NFL Team Is Taking in 2019

0 of 32

    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    One thing that makes the NFL such an intriguing league is that each of the 32 teams enters the regular season with unique goals. Yes, the stated goal for every franchise is to compete for a championship, but that isn't realistic for every team every year.

    While the Los Angeles Rams do hope to compete for a title in 2019, the Cleveland Browns should focus on simply getting to the postseason for the second time this century. While the New England Patriots hope to get another title run out of Tom Brady, the Miami Dolphins should be happy to find out whether Josh Rosen is franchise-quarterback material.

    Another aspect that keeps the league interesting is the fact that these goals come with their own risks. This is the side of the coin that we'll examine: choices that—should they backfire—could derail the team's season, negatively affect its future or cause issues in the locker room and/or front office.

           

Arizona Cardinals: Banking on Kyler Murray to Start

1 of 32

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray is likely to be the Week 1 starter for the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona drafted him because of his potential fit in Kliff Kingsbury's offense and because of his unique skill set.

    For this marriage to work, the Cardinals must be all-in on Murray, and they have to tailor Kingsbury's offense to fit him.

    But what if Murray isn't ready to go in Week 1? Well, then Arizona will likely roll out former Green Bay Packers backup Brett Hundley or bring in a quarterback like Josh McCown or Mark Sanchez off the scrap heap.

    If that occurs, the Cardinals will be in a similar situation to the one they were in at the start of 2018, when Sam Bradford opened the season while Josh Rosen watched from the sideline.

Atlanta Falcons: Relying on a Barely Upgraded Pass Rush

2 of 32

    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    While injuries were the biggest issue the Atlanta Falcons had in 2018, a lackluster pass rush did the team zero favors. First-round picks Vic Beasley Jr. (2015) and Takkarist McKinley (2017) lacked consistency, and the team produced a mere 37 sacks.

    In a division that features both Cam Newton and Drew Brees, 37 sacks is not enough.

    However, Atlanta did nothing to upgrade its pass rush aside from bringing back Adrian Clayborn. He did have 9.5 sacks two seasons ago, but six of them came in one game. He had just 2.5 sacks for the New England Patriots last season and just 7.5 in the two seasons prior to 2017.

    The Falcons may get more production out of the pass-rushers they have, but they're taking a risk by expecting to do so.

Baltimore Ravens: Betting on Jaylon Ferguson

3 of 32

    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens used a third-round draft pick on former Louisiana Tech pass-rusher Jaylon Ferguson. While the small-school prospect does appear to have the tools needed to develop into a legitimate NFL edge threat, he's facing a sizable jump in competition.

    If Ferguson struggles to make a quick transition, the Ravens pass rush could take a step back. Baltimore parted with Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs in the offseason and did little outside of drafting Ferguson to replace them.

    The pressure isn't solely on Ferguson, of course. Players like Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser will also need to contribute. However, this is a sizeable risk for a team that plans to win with its running game and defense.

Buffalo Bills: Proceeding with a Patchwork Receiving Corps

4 of 32

    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills took steps to improve their receiving corps this offseason, adding Andre Roberts, Cole Beasley and John Brown. It still has the look and feel, however, of a group of complementary receivers without a true No. 1.

    Now, such receiving groups do often work—just look over at the rival Patriots for proof. However, the Bills want second-year quarterback Josh Allen to become a consistent passer and not just a scrambler who throws the occasional beauty of a deep ball.

    Zay Jones or Robert Foster could always emerge as Allen's go-to receiver, but going into the season without an established No. 1 is a risk that could hinder Allen's development.

Carolina Panthers: Relying on Cam Newton's Shoulder

5 of 32

    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    The biggest risk to for the Carolina Panthers is quarterback Cam Newton's surgically repaired shoulder.

    Newton was far from 100 percent down the stretch last season, and the Carolina passing attack suffered in a big way. If he isn't back to 100 percent, the same thing may happen again. Newton is throwing a regulation-size football already, per Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer, but that's no guarantee he'll be ready by Week 1.

    As Andrew Luck proved a couple of seasons ago, recovery from shoulder surgery can be unpredictable.

    What makes this an even bigger risk for Carolina is that it doesn't have a seasoned veteran on the roster as injury insurance. The Panthers have Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen, who started one game apiece last season, and rookie Will Grier.

Chicago Bears: Not Exorcising the Curse of Robbie Gould

6 of 32

    David Banks/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears parted with kicker Robbie Gould following the 2015 season. That decision haunted the Bears several times in 2018, but none was worse than Cody Parkey's 43-yard miss that resulted in a playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Gould, meanwhile, made all but one of his field-goal attempts for the San Francisco 49ers.

    Will the Bears finally find a late replacement for Gould in 2019? This is the big question. Chicago has Chris Blewitt, Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro on its roster and could bring all three into training camp, according to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

    The Bears are gambling on a training-camp kicking competition, and it's a risk that could carry over well into the regular season and beyond.

Cincinnati Bengals: Not Having Real Competition for Andy Dalton

7 of 32

    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    If Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton doesn't perform well in Zac Taylor's offense, this could be his final season with the franchise. While he has two years remaining on his contract, there is no dead money, per Spotrac, meaning he can be released without compensation.

    Giving Dalton the opportunity to prove himself to Cincinnati's new head coach is fair. However, it seems odd the Bengals didn't bring in somebody to push Dalton in training camp and during the season. Cincinnati did spend a fourth-round pick on Ryan Finley, but he and Jeff Driskel are the "competition" Dalton will face for the starting job.

    If Dalton struggles to adapt to the new offense, it will be hard to justify benching him for Finley or Driskel. That wouldn't be the case had Cincinnati pushed to acquire a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater or even Josh Rosen.

    This will be a non-issue, of course, if Dalton doesn't struggle. If he does, though, it will pull down the offense and put a damper on Taylor's first season at the helm.

Cleveland Browns: Having Too Many Big Personalities

8 of 32

    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    After winning seven games in 2018—great by their standards—the Cleveland Browns are going all-in on taking the next step. General manager John Dorsey traded for Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon and also signed Sheldon Richardson and Kareem Hunt in the offseason.

    The risk is that Cleveland now has a plethora of big personalities—including Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield—and a first-year head coach in Freddie Kitchens who must try to corral them.

    If all goes well, the Browns could be a playoff contender. If it starts going south, however, this could be a disaster.

    "It has a chance to be a complete and utter dumpster fire," Colin Cowherd said on The Herd. "... Odell didn't want to go here ... the owner is a control freak, John Dorsey is a control freak, Freddie Kitchens could be over his head."

    Kitchens is already unhappy that Beckham has largely been absent from OTAs—and he's just one high-profile player the first-time head coach will need to manage. If he struggles to maintain control, the Browns could indeed be in trouble.

Dallas Cowboys: Expecting Ezekiel Elliott to Again Carry the Load

9 of 32

    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys added Amari Cooper last season and Randall Cobb this offseason. They should have a more formidable passing attack than they had in years past. However, they're still going to field an offense that is based around Ezekiel Elliott.

    There's good reason for this, as Elliott is a two-time rushing champion and one of the best all-around backs in the league. But Dallas doesn't have a sound backup plan in the event Elliott misses extended time—either because of injury or league discipline.

    According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, the NFL is "likely" to investigate Elliott's latest off-field incident—an altercation with a Las Vegas security guard.

    The Cowboys do not have an established veteran running back behind Elliott and will rely instead on Darius Jackson and fourth-round selection Tony Pollard. If Elliott misses time, Dallas could be in trouble.

Denver Broncos: Betting That Joe Flacco Is Still a Playoff Quarterback

10 of 32

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos traded for quarterback Joe Flacco this offseason with the hopes that he can still perform at a playoff-caliber level. This is a risk because if Flacco flounders, it could derail the team's season.

    Yes, the Broncos also used a second-round pick on Missouri quarterback Drew Lock—who may well be the future. However, Flacco seems to have zero interest in preparing Lock to take the starting job.

    "I'm trying to go out there and play the best football of my life," Flacco said, per Scott Gleeson of USA Today. "As far as a time constraint and all of that stuff, I'm not worried about developing guys or any of that."

    If Flacco doesn't play at a high enough level to put the Broncos in playoff contention, they may be tempted to see what they have in Lock. However, the rookie's development may also be stunted by Flacco's lack of desire to mentor him.

Detroit Lions: Starting the Season with Matt Patricia Under Pressure

11 of 32

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia isn't on the hot seat, not after just one season. However, early struggles could land him there, as owner Martha Ford isn't interested in fielding an average team.

    "I think Mrs. Ford is a very different owner than her husband and has a lot less patience and a lot less tolerance for mediocrity," team president Rod Wood said, via Fox 17.

    The pressure will be on for Patricia's squad to win, and that could lead to some decisions that aren't in the best long-term interests of the franchise.

    Coaches under pressure often make silly decisions—just look at some of Hue Jackson's 2018 decisions. As a result, Patricia may make some moves that are good in the short term—and for his own job security—but not for the development of the team's future.

Green Bay Packers: Betting Matt LaFleur Can Fix the Offense

12 of 32

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers offense wasn't working with Mike McCarthy at the helm. It wasn't creative, and it appeared to hinder and ever frustrate quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It was time for a change, but was Green Bay's gamble on the relatively unknown Matt LaFleur the right one?

    LaFleur has been a part of some impressive offenses. He served as quarterbacks coach under Kyle Shanahan with the Falcons. He served as the Los Angeles Rams' offensive coordinator for a season under Sean McVay.

    However, there's no telling if LaFleur really is another offensive genius or if he was simply in the right place at the right time to ride the we-want-the-next-McVay frenzy of the past year.

    This is a massive risk because if it doesn't work out, the result could be Rodgers wallowing in mediocrity for the last of his prime seasons.

Houston Texans: Relying on Rookies to Fix the O-Line

13 of 32

    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    The Houston Texans have two sack problems on their hands. One is an offensive line that allowed Deshaun Watson to be pressured far too often in 2018. The other is that Watson himself has a habit of taking unnecessary hits—not all of his 62 sacks last season can be blamed on the line.

    To "fix" the offensive line, Houston drafted Max Scharping and Tytus Howard. It didn't bring in a premier free agent, and if the rookies aren't ready to contribute, the line will be essentially the same as it was a year ago.

    Now, if Houston can convince Watson to practice better pocket awareness and support him with a strong running game, his sack total should decrease. However, betting on a pair of first-year players to improve the line is a sizeable gamble—especially considering Watson already has one major injury on his NFL resume.

Indianapolis Colts: Relying on Rock Ya-Sin to Be a Starter

14 of 32

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts secondary was merely average in 2018. It allowed 237.8 passing yards per game, 17th in the NFL. Yet Indianapolis did little to address the unit aside from re-signing Pierre Desir and using a second-round pick on Temple's Rock Ya-Sin.

    So, will the secondary be any better in 2019? If Ya-Sin is ready to start opposite Desir, then perhaps. The rookie has such upside, but he's also facing a big transition in competition.

    "Ya-Sin needs technique work across the board, but the ability to handle the duties of the position are all in place and waiting to be unlocked," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote.

    If Ya-Sin proves to be a reliable starter, the Colts may be a formidable playoff opponent. If he doesn't, though, Indianapolis may again struggle against premier passing attacks—a flaw that got it eliminated from the postseason.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Betting That Nick Foles Is an Upgrade over Blake Bortles

15 of 32

    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract this offseason. What if, however, Foles fails to be a significant upgrade over 2018 starter Blake Bortles?

    This may seem like a laughable premise considering how poorly Bortles played last season, but the risk is real. Foles has struggled mightily away from the Eagles before. He started 11 games for the St. Louis Rams in 2015 and posted a passer rating of just 69.0.

    Bortles posted a rating of 79.8 last season.

    The presence of former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator should help in Foles' transition. However, the fact remains that giving the keys to Foles is risky—even if it's a risk that Bortles-weary fans are willing to accept.

Kansas City Chiefs: Relying on a Scheme Change to Fix the Defense

16 of 32

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs didn't miss out on the Super Bowl because they kicked off in overtime of the AFC Championship Game. They missed out because their defense wasn't a championship-caliber unit. It was just plain bad, in fact, allowing 405.5 yards per game, second-most in the league.

    While Kansas City did make some personnel changes this offseason—it replaced Eric Berry with Tyrann Mathieu and Justin Houston and Dee Ford with Frank Clark—the Chiefs are largely banking on the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo to improve their defense.

    Spagnuolo is going to oversee the change to a base 4-3 defense, which may better fit the team's personnel but will also require a transition period. If the defense stumbles out of the gate and the Chiefs accrue some early losses, they could spend the remainder of 2019 chasing the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West.

Los Angeles Chargers: Expecting Mike Williams to Take Another Step

17 of 32

    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    The Chargers have a legit No. 1 receiver in Keenan Allen. They're gambling on 2017 first-round pick Mike Williams developing into a surefire No. 2 receiver—or even a 1A—this season. The gamble is underscored by the fact that L.A. allowed Tyrell Williams to depart in free agency.

    While Mike Williams did show flashes of greatness in 2018—he had 43 catches for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns—Ty Williams was nearly as productive. He caught 41 balls for 653 yards and five touchdowns.

    We're certainly not suggesting Los Angeles kept the wrong Williams—Mike is on a rookie deal for at least two more seasons—but the passing attack could take a step back if he and No. 3 wideout Travis Benjamin cannot replace the lost production.

    This may seem like a minor risk, but for a team as complete on both sides of the ball as L.A., it is noteworthy.

Los Angeles Rams: Not Finding Adequate Replacements for Departed Players

18 of 32

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    A team as chock-full of talent as the Rams should have little trouble surviving a few offseason departures. However, Los Angeles lost two big-time players in Ndamukong Suh and Rodger Saffold and has done little to replace them.

    Suh, who is a five-time Pro Bowler, helped prevent opposing offenses from keying on defensive centerpiece Aaron Donald. The end result was a career year for Donald, who amassed a ridiculous 20.5 sacks.

    Saffold is one of the league's most underrated offensive linemen; he was named a second-team All-Pro in 2017. He opened holes in the running game and helped keep Jared Goff clean in the pocket. Center John Sullivan is also gone, which means Los Angeles will rely on two new starters on the offensive line.

    The risk of taking a step back in the trenches is real.

Miami Dolphins: The Potential for Another Mediocre Season

19 of 32

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Dolphins traded for 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen during the draft. They'll likely give him an opportunity to be the long-term answer at quarterback.

    There's a huge inherent risk with that strategy, though. What if Rosen plays just as poorly as he did in Arizona? What if he can't even snatch the starting job from journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick? What if Fitzpatrick then produces enough FitzMagic to deliver six, seven or even eight wins—but doesn't play well enough to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs?

    Miami will then find itself back where it was at the beginning of the offseason: with a first-round quarterback who has an uncertain future and without a high enough draft pick to land one of the top quarterbacks in the next draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Expecting Kirk Cousins to Make a Jump in Year 2

20 of 32

    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Statistically, quarterback Kirk Cousins played well in 2018. He completed 70.1 percent of his passes, threw for 4,298 yards and tossed 30 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. However, he also had a habit of shrinking in the spotlight and went just 3-4 after the Minnesota Vikings' Week 10 bye.

    Minnesota doesn't have a whole lot of choice but to give Cousins a chance to improve in 2019—he has $58 million of fully guaranteed contract remaining, per Spotrac. Expecting Cousins to take a positive step is a risk, though.

    The Vikings do not have an experienced veteran backup on the roster. Sean Mannion brings the most experience, and he's made just one start in his four-year career. If Cousins again struggles or gets injured, Minnesota's playoff hopes will likely sink—unless it scrambles for the likes of Mark Sanchez and Brock Osweiler.

New England Patriots: Expecting Tom Brady to Again Avoid the Cliff

21 of 32

    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Quarterback Tom Brady played at a championship level in 2018. The New England Patriots are betting he can do it again in 2019, but this is a sizeable gamble. Brady will be 42 in August, and there is no clear succession plan in place.

    Should Brady suffer an injury or a dramatic drop-off in play, New England will be forced to turn to Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling or rookie Jarrett Stidham. This isn't to say one of them couldn't perform well as a spot starter. However, if, say, Hoyer is forced to play the final eight games of the season, the Patriots can probably kiss their title hopes goodbye.

    Of course, this isn't a new risk for the Patriots. They took the same one last season, and it paid off with a sixth Lombardi Trophy.

New Orleans Saints: Betting on a Backfield Without Mark Ingram II

22 of 32

    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Alvin Kamara has been the star of the New Orleans Saints backfield for the last two seasons. However, he's worked in tandem with bruising back Mark Ingram II, who is now in Baltimore. The Saints have already taken the risk of letting Ingram walk, and it's a risk that will carry over into the regular season.

    Yes, Kamara played an every-down role during Ingram's four-game suspension at the start of last season. However, Ingram still contributed 645 rushing yards, 21 receptions and seven touchdowns in his 12 appearances. Can the Saints get similar production out of Latavius Murray or Javorius Allen?

    Obviously, this remains to be seen.

    The bigger question is whether Kamara can be as dangerous without the hard inside running of Ingram to complement him. If he's not, the New Orleans offense may not be as balanced and as effective as it was in 2018.

New York Giants: Wearing Out Saquon Barkley in a Potentially Meaningless Year

23 of 32

    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Can the New York Giants be competitive this season? Sure. Are they likely to be playoff contenders? No. It's more likely this is a transition season in which Eli Manning plays out his final year or rookie Daniel Jones takes over the quarterback job.

    Laying a foundation for the future is important. However, the Giants will run the risk of diminishing their future by again centering the offense around running back Saquon Barkley.

    Barkley is special. We saw that during his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. As he endures the wear and tear of the NFL, though, he could become less special with each passing season. He had 352 touches as a rookie, and a similar season would put him over 700 touches before his third year.

    The Giants are going to feed Barkley—that's why they drafted him—but they have to find a balance between utilizing his talent and preserving him for a time when the team is ready to make a postseason run.

New York Jets: Not Having a No. 1 Receiver

24 of 32

    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The New York Jets are in a situation similar to the one the rival Bills are in. They have a promising second-year quarterback—in the Jets' case, Sam Darnold—whom they need to groom into being a franchise signal-caller.

    Like the Bills, the Jets are going to attempt to do this without a legitimate No. 1 receiver on the roster, which is risky. New York does have capable wideouts, such as Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa. Plus, the addition of Le'Veon Bell will help the passing game. However, Darnold could struggle to find a go-to target in clutch situations, which could exacerbate one of his biggest issues: turnovers.

    Darnold threw 15 interceptions and fumbled five times in his 13 games as a rookie. Without a receiver on the roster capable of regularly dominating one-on-one coverage, he could again force the ball into bad spots with regularity.

Oakland Raiders: A Questionable Pass Rush

25 of 32

    D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    The Oakland Raiders sacked opposing quarterbacks just 13 times in 2018. Six individual players produced more sacks than the entire Raiders defense did last year, and five more tied it. Yet, the Raiders did little to address the pass rush aside from drafting Clemson' Clelin Ferrell fourth overall.

    The Raiders didn't sign a player like Justin Houston or Ezekiel Ansah in free agency. They didn't trade for a player like Dee Ford or Emmanuel Ogbah. Oakland added Ferrell and fourth-round edge-rusher Maxx Crosby—and that's pretty much it.

    Even if Ferrell and Crosby somehow increase the sack total by 20, the Raiders would still be a bottom-five team based on last year's sack numbers. Being able to bring consistent pressure is more important than racking up sack numbers, of course—and Oakland may well be vastly improved in this area. However, going into the season with a pass-rushing unit that is still highly questionable is a sizable risk.

Philadelphia Eagles: Not Having a Better Backup Plan at QB

26 of 32

    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has finished each of the past two seasons on the sideline because of injuries. However, Philadelphia has overcome his absences with the presence of backup Nick Foles.

    The problem is that Foles is no longer a member of the Eagles. Philadelphia will instead rely on some combination of Nate Sudfeld, Cody Kessler and rookie fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson to back up Wentz. Kessler is the only one with starting experience.

    There's no way the Eagles can feel as good about that plan as they did with Foles on the roster.

    Of course, if Wentz stays healthy all season, there won't be any risk at quarterback. Given his recent injury history, though, fans will likely hold their collective breath every time he takes a hard hit or lands awkwardly.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Relying on the New-Look Receiving Corps

27 of 32

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Getting rid of Antonio Brown may help the Pittsburgh Steelers' chemistry in 2019. However, the trade was still a risk because it removed one of the most dangerous receivers in the league.

    Yes, JuJu Smith-Schuster appears capable of being a No. 1. He caught 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. But he won't be working opposite Brown and likely won't face as much single coverage.

    The Steelers are also going to have to develop new on-field chemistry in the passing game. Second-year wideout James Washington is likely in store for a bigger role, while free-agent acquisition Donte Moncrief and rookie Diontae Johnson have been added to the mix.

    With Ben Roethlisberger under center, the passing attack should remain dangerous. However, it may no longer be the elite unit it was a year ago.

San Francisco 49ers: Banking on the Defense to Stay Healthy

28 of 32

    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers invested heavily in their defense this offseason. They traded a second-round pick for pass-rusher Dee Ford, drafted Ohio State's Nick Bosa with the second overall selection and signed Kwon Alexander to a four-year, $54 million deal.

    If these moves pan out, the defense should be markedly improved. If these players cannot stay healthy, though, it won't. This is a big risk based on the histories of Ford, Bosa and Alexander.

    Ford has played only two 16-games seasons in his five-year NFL career and missed 10 games in 2017. Alexander has missed 14 games over the past two seasons, and Bosa is already injured after he played just three games last season.

    Bosa has a Grade 1 hamstring strain, per Herbie Teope of NFL.com. That doesn't mean he won't be ready to go in time for training camp, of course, but it does raise some concerns.

    When you add in that safety Jimmie Ward is already out with a broken collarbone, the injury risk for San Francisco's new-look defense looms large.

Seattle Seahawks: Gambling with the Pass Rush

29 of 32

    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks had a young up-and-coming pass-rusher in Frank Clark, who amassed 13.0 sacks in 2018. However, they also had to pay quarterback Russell Wilson—who got a four-year, $140 million extension—which left little cap room for Clark.

    So Clark was traded to Kansas City, and Seattle is without its best edge-rusher from a year ago. The Seahawks drafted L.J. Collier in the first round and recently signed Ezekiel Ansah, but banking on those two to replace Clark is a risk.

    In a division that now features Jared Goff, Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyler Murray, the Seahawks are going to have to get after the quarterback without relying too much on the blitz. If they struggle to do so without Clark, then the decision to deal him will have backfired.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Betting on a Questionable Backfield

30 of 32

    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Quarterback Jameis Winston will show improvement in new head coach Bruce Arians' offense. That's the hope for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faithful. However, Tampa Bay is taking a risk by not supporting him with a strong rushing attack.

    Peyton Barber is a serviceable back, but he's nothing special. Second-round pick Ronald Jones was a disaster as a rookie in 2018, producing just 44 yards on 23 carries. According to Winston, Jones is at least improving.

    "He's getting comfortable in this offense," Winston said, per Greg Auman of The Athletic. "No one is breathing down his neck. He's more relaxed and executing at a high level."

    Can the Buccaneers field a high-end rushing attack with Barber and Jones leading the way? That's the gamble Tampa Bay is taking.

Tennessee Titans: Expecting Marcus Mariota to Stay Healthy

31 of 32

    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans' season will hinge on quarterback Marcus Mariota's ability to be at 100 percent. He had nerve issues last season, which affected his ability to stay on the field and Tennessee's ability to maximize its passing attack.

    The Titans did add injury insurance in the form of former Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill, but the risk of Mariota's health extends beyond this season. Tennessee needs to determine if Mariota is the franchise quarterback, as he is in the final year of his rookie deal.

    If Mariota cannot stay healthy, it's going to be difficult for head coach Mike Vrabel and the Titans front office to be sold on the Oregon product beyond this season.

Washington Redskins: Banking on a Questionable Receiving Corps

32 of 32

    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    The Washington Redskins scooped up Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick in April's draft. Washington is hoping Haskins can become the franchise's full-time starter sooner than later, but does it have enough outside receiving talent?

    "[Can the receivers] win in those 3rd-and-3, 3rd-and-5, 3rd-and-6 situations where you know he's going to get pressured—they're going to have to beat man-to-man—can they beat man-to-man coverage?" ESPN's Louis Riddick said on the John Keim Report. "Or is he going to be sitting there, holding the ball, going, 'Nobody's open,' and then all of a sudden getting his head knocked off?"

    Josh Doctson was Washington's leading wideout in 2018, and he finished with just 532 yards and two touchdowns. The Redskins also have Paul Richardson Jr. and rookie Terry McLaurin—a teammate of Haskins' at Ohio State—but the wide receiver corps is underwhelming.

    Whether it's Haskins or journeyman Case Keenum under center, the passing attack could struggle.